Great comfort, heavenly refreshment, living hope, and rock-solid certainty–the great treasure of the Reformation!
“It would be a great error to maintain that Luther was pulled into the work of the Reformation because he yearned for freedom from the oppressive yoke of papal dominion and all that was connected with it. No, the true motive was this: Luther wanted to be certain of the grace of God and salvation but he did not know how to obtain them. After he had tormented himself for a long time by his own works, a strict monastic life, and constant prayer, fasting, vigils, and other mortifications, he found that he still had no peace. In deed, he was lead to the brink of despair by his failure. Then, by the reading of the Bible, which had come into his hands by God’s miraculous providence, it gradually became clear to him that a person, according to the Gospel, should be righteous before God and saved, not by his own works, but by the faith given him by God. His righteousness and salvation depended not on his worthiness, but only on grace; not on his own righteousness, but on an alien righteousness; not by his work and suffering, by the work and suffering of Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the Savior of sinners. This discovery not only brightened Luther’s outlook toward God (he wrote that he was like a hopeless person for whom the gates of paradise were suddenly opened), but it also made him happier and bolder toward all people, so that he felt a compelling need to proclaim the saving Gospel to the whole world. After all, it had given him such great comfort, heavenly refreshment, living hope, and rock-solid certainty that he simply had to share this good news. He would not be deterred, even if, as a defenseless monk, he was opposed by pope and emperor and threatened with excommunication, fire, and sword. The right understanding of the Gospel of the grace of God in Christ was the true treasure of the Reformation brought to Christendom.”
C.F.W. Walther, God Grant It: Daily Devotions (Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2006), p. 843-844.