Martin Luther on the Apocryphal Book of Judith

In my recent posts I’ve mentioned that we’ve been studying the Apocrypha in our Sunday School class.  Here is another Luther quote I came across on the apocryphal book of Judith.  If you’re unfamiliar with this book, it tells the story of a widow, Judith,  who uses her womanly wiles to destroy an Assyrian general and save the people of Israel.  If you frequent art museums, you may have seen some paintings depicting Judith and the general which are pretty gory, since she cuts off his head!  The book is not considered a history, but more likely a story or parable.

Therefore this is a fine, good, holy, useful book, well worth reading by us Christians. For the words spoken by the persons in it should be understood as though they were uttered in the Holy Spirit by a spiritual, holy poet or prophet who, in presenting such persons in his play, preaches to us through them.” 

Martin Luther

For more on the Apocrypha see:

What is the Apocrypha?

Martin Luther on the Apocryphal Book of Tobit

For more quotes by Martin Luther go to:

Martin Luther on God’s Victory Over Death

Martin Luther on Charity

Martin Luther on the Psalms


Martin Luther on the Apocryphal Book of Tobit

We’ve been studying the Apocrypha in Sunday School, and I posted previously on what the apocrypha is What is the Apocrypha?.  I came across this quote from Martin Luther about the book of Tobit, and thought our readers might find it of interest, as I did.   Evidentally Luther found some moral value in this book, remembering, of course, that the Apocrypha is not Scripture.

Tobit shows how things may go badly with a pious peasant or townsman, and there may be suffering in married life, yet God always graciously helps and finally crowns the outcome with joy, in order that married folk should learn to have patience and, in genuine fear of God and firm faith, put up gladly with all sorts of hardships because they have hope.” (Martin Luther in his Preface to the Book of Tobit)

For more quotes from Martin Luther about marriage, see these posts:

Martin Luther on Marriage

Martin Luther on Marriage #2

Martin Luther on Marriage #3

Martin Luther on Marriage #4


God on the Brain by Bradley L. Sickler–Book Review

The topics covered in this short book are both deep and broad.  I’m fascinated with the brain and especially with the brain and religious experience.  God on the Brain covers so much more.  It requires careful reading, but will take you on a journey through cognitive science, neurophysiology, morality, psychology, theology, philosophy, Christian anthropology and more.  The author considers questions such as:

  • Are science and religion always at odds with one another?
  • Are the mind and body separate entities or connected?
  • Are evolutionary explanations for belief in God valid?
  • Is everything we experience just brain states?
  • What is human freedom (as it applies to conscious choice)?

Sickler approaches these and other questions clearly and logically.  He defends the traditional Christian worldview and maintains that the belief that God was only necessary to “fill in the gaps” of primitive knowledge is erroneous and an oversimplification.  However, he is also quick to show areas where theology and science can overlap and intersect without necessarily contradicting one another.

Sickler is thorough and convincing   He doesn’t claim to have all the answers.  He admits that every belief system (both religious and scientific) depends upon accepting certain presuppositions. However, he makes a good case for accepting that Christian beliefs are no less valid than scientific belief.  Reading this book will make you think hard about subjects you may have taken for granted.  I found it difficult, but illuminating.

VERDICT:  4 Stars.  Worthwhile, but challenging to work through.  Not everyone will be willing to stick with it.

If you would like to purchase this book, follow the link below:

The Lutheran Ladies received this as a free e-book in return for a fair and honest review. Disclaimer pursuant to FTC 16 CFR part 255.

For more on the brain see this post:

This Is Your Brain on Faith


Gracie’s Garden by Lara Casey — Book Review

Kudos to illustrator Jon Davis, for making this children’s book lovely inside and out.  Sporting dainty flowers on the cover and charming drawings inside, it will delight the eyes of your youngster.

The author, Lara Casey, draws on gardening experiences with her own children–Gracie, Joshua and Sarah who love to dig, play, and plant, and even more to eat what they have grown themselves.  The children learn how God puts little miracles inside each seed, giving every one exactly what they need to grow into scrumptious fruits and vegetables.

The narrative, although not especially inspiring, leads children through the process of planting, growing and harvesting a garden.  Included with the book purchase is an activity book which can be downloaded for free.  It includes coloring pages and other activities to use while teaching about plants and gardening.

VERDICT:  3 STARS.  If you are a gardener and want to get your children involved, you will love it.  Otherwise, I found it attractive, but not particularly compelling.

If you would like to purchase this book follow the link below:

The Lutheran Ladies received a free copy of this book in return for a fair and honest review. Disclaimer pursuant to FTC 16 CFR part 255.

For more books for children see these posts:

GraceFull by Dorena Williamson — Book Review

Where is Wisdom by Scott James — Book Review

The Promises of God Storybook Bible by Jennifer Lyell–Book Review




Do This Every Day

Edward Meyrick Goulburn (1818-1897) was an English churchman and writer.  He offers some good advice for all of us in the quote below:

“As, on rising we should hear Him saying to us ‘Take this yoke upon thee, my child to-day,’ ‘Bear this burden for me and with me to-day,’ so before retiring to rest, and collecting our mind for our evening prayer, it were well to put these questions to our conscience, ‘Have I, in a single instance this day denied myself either in temper or appetite, and so submitted myself to the Saviour’s yoke?’  And again, “Have I, in a single instance, shown sympathy or considerateness for others, borne with their faults or infirmities of character, given time or take trouble to help them, or be of use to them?’  If so, I have gained ground;  I have made an advance in the mind of Christ to-day, if it be only a single step.  Let me thank God and take courage.  A single step is so much clear gain.”

How Do You Know You’re a Christian?

This idea came from part of a sermon my husband gave earlier this month.  I thought it was worth repeating since all of us want to have the assurance that our faith is genuine.

How do we know we’re real Christians?  Well, the Bible identifies a number of ways.

First, we can know we are Christians if we confess that Jesus is Lord and believe in our hearts that He was raised from the dead.  The apostle, Paul tells us this quite plainly in the book of Romans:

“…. because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved”  Romans 8:9-10

We can also know we are Christians if we love our brothers and sisters in Christ.  John says:

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35

We know we are Christians if we trust solely in the atoning sacrifice of Christ on the cross for our salvation, not imagining we can be saved by being “good people” or doing “good works.”  Again, we read in Romans:

For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.”  Romans 3:22-25

If we are truly Christian, our lives will be characterized by the fruit of the Spirit.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.  Against such things there is no law.  Ad those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”  Galatians 6:22-24

Finally the book of Proverbs tells us this that if we are God’s children, He will discipline us for our benefit. Christians are not guaranteed a life of ease.

“My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.”  Proverbs 3:11

These are some Biblical marks of a faith that is real.  Does yours measure up?




An Introduction to John Owen by Crawford Gribben–Book Review

John Owen(1616-1683) is considered one of the leading English Protestant theologians.  He lived through Civil War, regicide, the change from republic to restoration, the Great Fire of London and the plague.  He was prodigious in output writing eighty titles over the course of forty years.  His works spanned a variety of genres including poetry, political commentary, New Testament exegesis and theology.  He endured personal tragedy, losing his first wife and all ten of his children.  Over the course of a tumultuous life, his opinions on issues such as baptism and the nature of church/state relationships evolved and changed considerably.

The author of this book on Owen describes it as a work of “biographical theology.”  Rather than focusing on Owen’s responses to major debates in the Reformed tradition, it highlights the kind of Christian life Owen sought to promote.  Owen was greatly influenced by Henry Scudder’s The Christian’s Daily Walk (1627) one of the best selling Puritan devotionals of the day.  He believed that an emotional and volitional response to the gospel was extremely important and the greatest threat to true faith was a scholastic Calvinism that engaged the mind but not the heart and will.

The book includes a time line, maps, and an introduction about Owen’s life and work.  There are sections on childhood, youth, middle age and death in which Owen’s views of the spiritual formation of each life stage are examined. There is also an appendix with Owen’s Prayers For Children, The Primer (1652). He saw the Christian life as growth in grace.  Every Christian needed to know God, walk with God and understand themselves.

I selected this book because my husband (a pastor) has developed an interest in the Puritans, and frankly I found it tough going.  Although it isn’t long, it is fairly academic and assumes a good bit of knowledge about English history of the time as well as Reformed theology.  It wouldn’t be a good choice for the average layperson.


For more information or to purchase this book follow the link below:

The Lutheran Ladies received a free e-book in exchange for a fair and honest review. . Disclaimer pursuant to FTC 16 CFR part 255

For more on the Puritans, go to this post:

Beyond Stateliest Marble by Douglas Wilson — Book Review


How Firm a Foundation

We sang this hymn in church recently and I was reminded of how much I love it.  Maybe resonates so strongly with Lutherans, because it appeals to our attachment to Martin Luther’s first sola — “Sola Scriptura” (Scripture Alone).  If you are not familiar with the lyrics, it exalts the Word of God.

First published in 1787 in a hymnbook edited by John Rippon entitled A Selection of Hymns from the Best Authors, the name of the author is a mystery.  In the hymnbook, it was attributed only to “K—.” This is thought by many to be a reference to Robert Keene, who was a friend of John Rippon’s and was the leader of music at the Carter Lane Baptist Church in London when Rippon was the pastor.  However, this is cannot be known positively.

Despite the anonymity of its origins, for over 230 years How Firm a Foundation has brought comfort and encouragement to countless believers. It was sung at the death bead of President Andrew Jackson and at the funerals of Robert E. Lee and Theodore Roosevelt.



What is the Apocrypha?

Right now our Sunday School class is doing a short study of the Apocrypha.  These books are unfamiliar to most Protestants, so I thought it might be good to take some time to discuss them on the blog.

In the third century B.C., Jewish scholars translated the Bible(the Old Testament) from Hebrew into Greek. The resulting translation was called the Septuagint. Several books were included in the Septuagint that were not considered divinely inspired by Jews but were part of the Talmud, which is a sort of supplemental interpretation of the Hebrew Scriptures. At the Council of Jamnia (90AD) non-Hellenistic Jewish scholars categorized these books as Serafim  (extraneous) and considered them outside the authentic Hebrew canon.

The word apocrypha actually means “hidden.”  Some think this means the books are heretical;  others that the their meaning could only be understood by those who were truly knowledgable.  Some of the books purport to be additions to other Old Testament works such as Ezra, Daniel and Esther.  Some are stories that were well known at the time, while others recount actual history.

When John Wycyff first translated the Bible into English, he made a distinction between the Apocrypha and the rest of Scripture, placing these books at the back.  Luther also did not consider them to be part of approved Scripture.  These reformers reasoned that if the Jews did not accept them as equal to the rest of the Old Testament, neither should we.

Catholics, the Eastern Orthodox and Anglicans do accept some apocryphal books as Canon, and selections from these books appear in their lectionaries.  The Catholic belief in purgatory and the efficacy of prayers for the dead come from apocryphal writings.

Here’s what Martin Luther said about the Apocrypha:

These books are not held equal to the Sacred Scriptures, and yet are useful and good for reading.”

In short, if read carefully, with a good and complete understanding of the Holy Scripture, the Apocrypha can give us good information on morals, behavior and faith, as well as fill in historical gaps between the Old and New Testaments.


Content in All Circumstances

In Chapter 4 of Philippians, the Paul tells his readers that he has learned to be calm and peaceful, no matter what was going on in his life.

“…for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.  I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound.  In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.  I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”  Philippians 4:11-13

Paul had certainly been through a lot — he had been shipwrecked, stoned, beaten, whipped, thrown into prison and rejected.  Yet he realized that those difficulties had taught him to depend upon God.  They had molded him into the person God wanted him to be.

This quote by H. L. Sidney Lear also explains why we should be content in the place we find ourselves:

“Do not let your growth in holiness depend upon surrounding circumstances, but rather constrain those circumstances to minister to your growth.  Beware of looking onward, or out of the present in any way, for the sanctification of your life.  The only thing you can really control is the present–the actual moment that is passing by.  Sanctify that from hour to hour, and you will sanctify your whole life.  The little act of obedience, love, self-restraint, meekness, patience, devotion, offered to you actually, is all you can do now, and if you neglect that to fret about something else at a distance, you lose your real opportunity of serving God.  A moment’s silence, when some irritating words are said by another, may seem a very small thing;  yet at that moment it is your one duty, your one way of serving and pleasing God, and if you break it you have lost your opportunity.”

So — live for God in the moment, accepting your circumstances.  Every situation, handled rightly will become part of your growth in grace and understanding.  Trust God.  He is the Potter — you are the clay.

For more on contentment see this post:

Good Stewards are Content

For another quote by H.L. Sidney Lear see this post:

Hold Your Tongue!