Martin Luther on the ‘will’…

“The will is a beast of burden.  If God mounts it, it wishes and goes as God wills;  if Satan mounts it, it wishes and goes as Satan wills;  Nor can it choose its rider… the riders contend for its possession.” Kaká!

                                                      – Martin Luther



Is this what ‘spiritual warfare’ is all about, contending for the human will by God and the devil?

5 Responses

  1. The question in people’s minds becomes how is it determined who does the riding? Why do some believe and not others?

    With Calvin, apparently, I am learning from raging debates on the internet, people are predetermined either to salvation or damnation (the “reprobate”). You can’t resists grace, nor turn yourself to God.

    With the Arminians, or at least some of them, there has to be a “free” will, so the decision is with man. (Of course, the inevitable question still remains, why some and not others and then salvation comes from yourself not God.) In some ways, in talking with them, I think we might be able agree with them more, if they were not reacting so strongly to a strong Calvinist position. (Arminians want a loving God, who wants all to be saved. I think we all want that and want to or do believe that about God.)

    In Luther, I see a backing away from this question. By the “light of glory” all will make sense. Right now we have the “light of grace”.

    He sees in the bondage of the will, that his salvation comes entirely from God, which is an inestimable relief to him, joy and comfort of the conscience. The Gospel is to be preached to all, sola-fide, no works, no ability or need to help yourself.

    The apparent “injustice” of our perfectly righteous God, he refers to the future resolution, where we will see by a different light.

    I’ve tossed this idea, of just leaving things that we can’t answer, alone, but the Calvinists and Arminians just keep going at each other, instead of responding to that.

  2. Brigitte,

    I appreciate your comments. You have made some good points.
    Just how is it that it is determined who is going to ride this “beast of burden”? The scriptures say it is a battle and that we naturally choose ourselves (Satan’s side). But God will not leave that alone because He loves us so.

    Who gets picked by God and who does not…and why? Another baffling question.

    If God chooses us, He gets all the credit and glory. If we reject Him we take all the blame.

    If I’ve got my Lutheran doctrine right, that’s basically how it works.

    That does drive the Arminians and Calvinists up the wall.

    If God chooses us can we then walk away from Him?
    The scriptures seem to say that is so, but the Calvinists and Arminians both have a tough time with that one.

    These things are certainly worth discussing.

    To be quite honest about it. There are times I think I understand it, and then the next minute I don’t.

    I guess it’s good to talk about.

    Thanks very much, Brigitte! I hope you will join in with more of your insights into the Christian faith.

    – Steve M.

  3. One thing I think helps but does not entirely answer this is this: What men reject, ridden by Satan, is in fact the free grace. They don’t reject the revealed God “another way”.

    It’s not at all clear under most Calvinism and Arminianism what they are rejecting. It’s as if the unbeliever “hears” something “other than the Gospel”.

    But we must keep in mind and the parables are crystal clear on this, that what the unbeliever rejects is the very free grace itself in objective fact and not as an offer “not really made” (Calvinism for the most part). Calvinist like to parse what Christ did up in this logical none-sense, “Christ’s death was sufficient for all but efficient for some (the elect). But the fact is Christ died for original sin and John 3:16 means “all the sins of the ENTIRE world”. Even John Calvin HIMSELF interprets it that way and that’s likely a great SHOCK to most modern Calvinist out of the more Puritan/congregational background.

    The heresy of universalism is not: Christ died for all and thus the fix is the Calvinist “sufficient/efficient election thing. Rather Christ died in FACT for all universally, BUT not all WILL BE saved due to rejecting grace (no universal salvation due to the rejection).

    An unbeliever means an “untruster” in Christ and “I’ll take care of my sins myself thank you very much.”

    There’s a bit of frightening irony for some Calvinist in this. They reject that Christ died for all and that the unbeliever rejects this “Christ died for you whether you believe it or not”. What is the danger? The danger and irony is that those that hold to that may indeed themselves not be trusting in Christ and it is apparent in the very thing they reject, namely, Christ died for all and the unbeliever does not reject this in fact true free grace for them. It reveals that they seem to think whether they overtly admit it or not that they themselves are “elect” for some other reason than that very free grace. How so? If you say you are elect by some other way than the Word and Sacraments, it must necessarily be some metric you are measuring. That metric is a measure of some kind of work in some form, that gives you “peace” (false peace) that “you are indeed elect. Because that gives you peace or the affirmation of election, and thus is your god and ‘savior’ because THAT is what you are trusting in reality instead of Christ, beware of the deception of the heart and what it ACTUALLY trusts in in spite of a mouthed confession.

    Seeking out your election in fear and trembling is this: The fear that I am ENTIRELY capable of denying God’s free grace. The real fear is “righteously” denying the grace of God. As Luther says men use the Law of God to withhold from themselves the free grace of God and that’s mortal sin! Mortal sin in fact not theory, to be REALLY and TRULY cut off from Christ. That’s also the great danger of “saved and cannot fall away”, it begets the metrics and works.



  4. “If God chooses us, He gets all the credit and glory. If we reject Him we take all the blame.”

    “If God chooses us can we then walk away from Him?
    The scriptures seem to say that is so, but the Calvinists and Arminians both have a tough time with that one.”

    I’m a Calvinist…

    Point #1 No problem here!

    Point #2 Sure we can…but, we won’t…the scales have been removed from our eyes and once we really see Jesus, though we might seem to wane in the battle…it’s a done deal…He is able to keep us from falling!

  5. Nancy,

    We are very, very close here.

    I think that in point #2, we preserve what it says in the bible about God’s chosen people abandoning Him (some come back and some don’t)

    It ‘s hard to imagine the circumstance where someone would walk away from God, but I don’t think God forces us to stay anymore than a loving mother or father forces their children to stay.

    Jesus says that “He has lost none that have been given to Him.” But losing and them leaving may be two different things.

    Thanks Nancy!

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