Today's Expositor's Quote is from Martin Luther's exposition of Psalm 45:4, delivered as a lecture to his students. The first section is taken from his comments on the words "go forth and reign" (translated "ride on victoriously" in the NASB); the last paragraph is from "because of truth and meekness and righteousness:"
In this battle one minister of the Word dares to contend with ten thousand. . . . What single individual dare to take up arms against such great wisdom and power, and not simply against the wisdom and power of the world, but of Satan, too, and the gates of hell? That is why it is a difficult battle, not simply because of our obvious weakness and our small numbers, but because of the power, wisdom, and multitude of our adversaries. . . . Therefore it is not surprising that weak men would rather give up the office of teaching than arouse against them so many smart people, so many holy and powerful men - in fact, the whole world together with the gates of hell; to this should be added the ingratitude of the people, contempt and weariness with the Word. In short, everywhere there is nothing but misfortune: outside they persecute the Word; among us they despise and neglect it; pastors almost die of hunger and receive no other reward for their godly labors than ingratitude and hatred. Where is the prosperity here? Certainly only in the spirit.
Therefore rouse yourself. Do not give in to evils, but go forth boldly against them. Hold on. Do not be disheartened either by contempt or ingratitude within or by agitation and raging without. . . . It is in sorrow, when we are the closest to despair, that hope rises the highest. So today, when there is the greatest contempt and weariness with the Word, the true glory of the Word begins. Therefore we should learn to understand this verse as speaking of invisible progress and success. Our King enjoys success and good fortune even though you do not see it. Moreover, it would not be expedient for us to see this success, for then we would be puffed up. Now, however, he raises us up through faith and gives us hope. Even though we see no fruit of the Word, still we can be certain that fruit will not be wanting but will certainly follow; for so it is written here. Only we should not be discouraged when we look at present circumstances that disturb us, but we should much rather look at these promises. For according to the example of Christ, their Lord, Christians must be weak and despised people, who by their good deeds merit nothing but the greatest derision and the utmost ingratitude. So those who are in the teaching office should teach with the greatest faithfulness and expect no other remuneration than to be killed by the world, trampled under foot, and despised by their own. . . . Let the world be ungrateful as it wills, let it abuse the Word as it wills, we must still not give up the office of teaching. We should hold out and persevere, commending to God the success and good fortune of the Word. He is the kind of king who will have success, steadfastness, and victory - if not in this place and time, then at another time and place. This splendor and success is clearer than all the stars, even though we do not see it. . . .
Teach purely and faithfully, and in all you do expect not glory but dishonor and contempt, not wealth but poverty, violence, prison, death, and every danger. Your King foretells these things. In this life you should expect nothing else; only in the life to come will He give you a fitting reward for your labor. . . . . . After the faith has struggled valiantly in battle, victory will also come and be apparent, so that even in this life we shall gain peace and many other good things.
Luther's Works, Volume 12, edited by J. Pelikan (Concordia, 1955), p. 219-222. From lectures on Psalm 45:4 delivered in 1532. Part of this is quoted in Iain Murray, Evangelicalism Divided: A Record of Crucial Change in the Years 1950 to 2000 (Banner of Truth, 2000), p. 171.
[In the question and answer period during the Bethlehem Conference for Pastors last February, Al Mohler stated, "You are in the Reformation!" Luther's words are thus appropriate for us today. While few of us face prison and death, the true gospel today is despised and trampled under foot; those who proclaim its message faithfully are derided and held in contempt. But know this: our King will have success, a success clearer and shining more brightly than all the stars. So persevere, and preach the Word! - Coty]
[This year's Bethlehem Conference for Pastors will be held January 29-31 in Minneapolis, and once again promises to be greatly encouraging. Pray about coming - and let me know if you'll be there! Follow this URL for more information: http://www.desiringgod.org/conferences/BCP/pc01/BCP01Index.html]
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