Monday, 18 March 2013

Luther's last words: well known in heaven, on earth and in hell

Well not quite Luther's last words but almost... the line actually read: "Finally, I also ask of every man [...] that he would allow me to be the person which I in truth am, namely, a public figure, known both in heaven and on earth, as well as in hell" and was in fact one of the closing sentences of Luther's last testament and will. A reflection perhaps of the bold stance he had taken throughout his life. Luther's actual last words are purported to be:

"We are beggars. This is true."

Which apparently came about in a conversation with a friend Justus Jonas who had asked whether Luther was going to die "standing firm on Christ and the doctrine [he] had taught?" to which he replied "Yes!" and concluded "We are beggars. This is true." Here is someone who understood our total dependence on God  and the fact that apart from Christ we can do nothing and destined for destruction (John 15:5-6). Or as that great hymn of old puts it:

Guilty, vile, and helpless we;
Spotless Lamb of God was He;
“Full atonement!” can it be?
Hallelujah! What a Saviour!

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