7 marks of a church by Martin Luther

I think many of you might be familiarized with Mark Dever’s 9 marks of a healthy church. Nevertheless, today I’d like you introduce you all to the marks of a church according to Martin Luther.

1. The word
“First, the holy Christian people are recognized by their possession of the holy word of God. And even if there were no other sign than this alone, it would still suffice to prove that a Christian, holy people must exist there, for God’s word cannot be without God’s people, and conversely, God’s people cannot be without God’s word.”

2. Baptism
“God’s people or the Christian holy people are recognized by the holy sacrament of baptism, wherever it is taught, believed, and administered correctly according to Christ’s ordinance.”

3. The Lord’s supper
“God’s people, or Christian holy people, are recognized by the holy sacrament of the altar, wherever it is rightly administered, believed, and received, according to Christ’s institution. This too is a public sign and a precious, holy possession left behind by Christ by which his people are sanctified so that they also exercise themselves in faith and openly confess that they are Christian, just as they do with the word and baptism.”

4. “God’s people or holy Christians are recognized by the office of the keys exercised publicly. That is, as Christ decrees in Matthew 18:15– 20, if a Christian sins, he should be reproved; and if he does not mend his ways, he should be bound in his sin and cast out. If he does mend his ways, he should be absolved. That is the office of the keys.”

5. Biblical offices
“The church is recognized externally by the fact that it consecrates or calls ministers, or has offices that it is to administer.”

6. Worship
“The holy Christian people are externally recognized by prayer, public praise, and thanksgiving to God. Where you see and hear the Lord’s Prayer prayed and taught; or psalms or other spiritual songs sung, in accordance with the word of God and the true faith; also the creed, the Ten Commandments, and the catechism used in public, you may rest assured that a holy Christian people of God are present.”

7. Suffering
“The holy Christian people are externally recognized by the possession of the sacred cross. They must endure every misfortune and persecution, all kinds of trials and evil from the devil, the world, and the flesh.”

Source: Luther’s works Vol.41

What Luther Said About His Own Name

“The first thing I ask is that people should not make use of my name and should not call themselves Lutherans but Christians. What is Luther? The teaching is not mine. Nor was I crucified for anyone. How did I, poor stinking bag of maggots that I am, come to the point where people call the children of Christ by my evil name?”

Martin Luther

For more quotes by Martin Luther see:

Martin Luther on Baptism

A Quote from Martin Luther

What Did Martin Luther Say about the Holy Spirit?

Martin Luther on Waiting

“Whilst a man is persuaded that he has it in his power to contribute anything, be it ever so little, to his salvation, he remains in carnal self-confidence; he is not a self-despairer, and therefore is not duly humbled before God, he believes he may lend a helping hand in his salvation, but on the contrary, whoever is truly convinced that the whole work depends singly on the will of God, such a person renounces his own will and strength; he waits and prays for the operation of God, nor waits and prays in vain.”

Martin Luther

For more Martin Luther quotes see:

Martin Luther on Doing Good

Martin Luther on Hope

Martin Luther on Youth

The Word Teaches

Of course, the best teacher, aside from Jesus Himself, is the Bible, the Word of God. In Isaiah, we read:

so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:11

That means if we’re serious about being teachable Christians, we should be reading the Scriptures regularly, if not daily. When we read, it’s helpful to use a commentary or a study Bible that can put the Word into the proper historical context, explain what those words would have meant to the original hearers, link the words to other references in the Bible, and so on. Of course, you also need to make sure the commentary you are using is a good one. Ask your pastor for suggestions,or check out what is available at Concordia Publishing (https://www.cph.org/), a safe source for Lutherans.

In addition, read slowly and carefully. Think about what stands out for you, and how it may apply to your own life. Bible study is not only about book learning, being able to spew out facts and information — it’s about allowing it to transform our lives.

Currently I’ve been using a tool called The M’Cheyne Reading Plan. It was developed by a 19th Century Scottish minister, Robert Murray M’Cheyne, (sometimes spelled McCheyne) who lived from 1813-1843. It takesreaders through the New Testament and Psalms twice a year, and through the rest of the Bible once each year. There are approximately 4 chapters per day in this plan. If you would like to give it a try, you can download a copy from this site: https://www.mcheyne.info/mcheyne-reading-plan/..

Tomorrow, I’ll be posting more about what the Word has been teaching me. Stay tuned!

For more about Bible study see:

The Greatest Bible Study

The CSB Worldview Study Bible

Study Resources for Ladies

Martin Luther on Teaching and Teachers

“Teaching is more important that urging.”

“Nothing is more unbecoming to a teacher of the Word than flippancy. He must be serious and not act like a clown.”

“I pray that God would open the mouth in me and the heart in you and that He would be the teacher in the midst of us who may in us speak and hear.”

Martin Luther

For more Martin Luther quotes see:

Martin Luther Quote on the Psalms #2

Martin Luther on Youth

Martin Luther on Doing Good

Martin Luther Quote about Advent

“For God’s ancient people that time was fulfilled with Christ’s advent in the flesh, and in like manner it is still being fulfilled in our daily life, whenever a person is illumined through faith, so that our serfdom and toil under the Law come to an end. For Christ’s advent in the flesh would be useless unless it wrought in us such a spiritual advent of faith. And verily, for this reason He came in the flesh, that He might bring about such an advent in the spirit. For unto all who before or after believed in Him thus coming in the flesh, even to them He is come. Wherefore, in virtue of such faith, to the fathers of old His coming was ever present.”

Martin Luther

Martin Luther on Sin

“If as God’s Son, Jesus shed His blood to redeem us and cleanse us from sin, and if we believe this, rubbing it under the devil’s nose whenever he tries to plague and terrify us with our sins, the devil will soon be beaten; he will be forced to withdraw and to stop pestering us.”

For more Martin Luther quotes see:

Martin Luther on Uncertainty

A Quote from Martin Luther

Martin Luther on Facing Challenges

Martin Luther’s Prayer about the Word

Dear God,
let your Word
shine in our hearts
by your Holy Spirit.
Make it
so bright and warm
that we always find
our comfort and joy
in it.

Source: Martin Luther, translated for A Collection of Prayers from Die Gebete Luthers#195.

For more prayers see:

Prayer to the Holy Spirit #2

A Prayer of Surrender

A Penitent Prayer

The Word Did It All –Martin Luther

What is Luther? The teaching is not mine. Nor was I crucified for anyone … How did I, poor stinking bag of maggots that I am, come to the point where people call the children of Christ by my evil name? … I simply taught, preached, wrote God’s Word; otherwise I did nothing. And while I slept, or drank Wittenberg beer with my friends Philip and Amsdorf, the Word so greatly weakened the papacy that no prince or emperor ever inflicted such losses upon it. I did nothing; the Word did everything.

Martin Luther

For more quotes by Martin Luther see:

Martin Luther on God’s Word

Martin Luther on Doing Good

Martin Luther on How to Respond to a Pandemic

Martin Luther on God’s Word

” We must make a great difference between God’s Word and the word of man. A man’s word is a little sound, that flies into the air and soon vanishes, but the word of God is greater than heaven and earth, yea, greater than death and hell, for it forms part of the power of God and endures everlastingly.”

Martin Luther