Here We Stand: Luther on Romans
Five hundred years ago this month, Martin Luther, a 33-year-old theology professor, posted his Ninety-Five Theses. And although he was seeking, at first, merely to refute a papal charlatan who was milking Luther’s flock by selling indulgences, Luther’s act of defiance became the spark that ignited the Protestant Reformation—and the world has never been the same since. Of course, much has changed since that day in 1517. But what has not changed is the Word of God and the truths in the Word that gave Luther the theological foundation to challenge Rome and to deliver to millions the great message of salvation by faith alone.
Central to that foundation is our study for this quarter: the book of Romans. Luther wrote in his Commentary on Romans: “The Epistle is really the chief part of the New Testament and the very purest Gospel, and is worthy not only that every Christian should know it word for word, by heart, but occupy himself with it every day, as the daily bread of the soul.”—Martin Luther, Commentary on Romans, translated by J. Theodore Mueller (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Kregel Publications, 1976), p. 8.
Yes, it was in Romans that Luther found the great truth of “justification by faith” alone. It was here that this man, struggling with assurance of salvation, uncovered the great truth—not just of Romans, not just of the New Testament, but of the entire Bible: the truth about the plan of salvation, “which was given to us in Christ Jesus Here We Stand: Luther on Romans 2 before time began” (2 Tim. 1:9, NKJV). And it is the truth that salvation is found only in the righteousness of Christ. This righteousness is credited to us by faith, a righteousness granted to us apart from the keeping of the law. Or as Paul so clearly expressed it in Romans: “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law” (Rom. 3:28, NKJV).
It was in regard to this truth, too, that Luther, defying the powers and principalities of the world and of the Roman hierarchy, appeared before the Diet of Worms in 1521 and declared: “ ‘I cannot and will not retract, for it is unsafe for a Christian to speak against his conscience. . . . Here I stand, I can do no other.’ ”—J. H. Merle D’Aubigné, D.D., History of the Reformation of the Sixteenth Century, translated by H. White (New York: American Tract Society, 1848), vol. II, p. 249.
Today, faithful Protestants also can do nothing other than stand on the Word of God over and against all unbiblical traditions and dogma. Thus, there is no question that Christianity has advanced greatly since Luther, freeing itself from centuries of superstition and false doctrine that not only distorted the gospel but, in fact, also usurped it.
Yet, over the long years the Reformation stalled. In some places the progress was replaced by a cold formalism; in others, people actually turned back to Rome. And now, in an age of ecumenism and pluralism, many of the distinctive truths that spurred the Reformation have become blurred, covered up under a fusillade of semantic chicanery that seeks to hide fundamental differences that have been resolved no more now than they were in Luther’s day. The prophecies of Daniel 7:23–25, 8:9–12, and Revelation 13 and 14, as well as the great news of salvation by faith as found in the book of Romans, show why those faithful to the Bible must adhere firmly to the truths that our Protestant forefathers defended, even at the cost of their lives.
We are Seventh-day Adventists, and we rest upon the principle of sola scriptura, Scripture alone; hence, we adamantly reject all attempts to draw Christians back to Rome and to pre-Reformation faith. On the contrary, Scripture points us in the opposite direction (Rev. 18:4), and in that direction we proceed as we proclaim “the everlasting gospel” (Rev. 14:6) to the world, the same everlasting gospel that inspired Luther 500 years ago.
1 The Apostle Paul in Rome—September 30–October 6 (5)
2 The Controversy—October 7–13 (18)
3 The Human Condition—October 14–20 (31)
4 Justification by Faith—October 21–27 (44)
5 The Faith of Abraham—October 28–November 3 (57)
6 Adam and Jesus—November 4–10 (72)
7 Overcoming Sin—November 11–17 (85)
8 Who Is the Man of Romans 7?—November 18–24 (98)
9 No Condemnation—November 25–December 1 (111)
10 Children of the Promise—December 2–8 (124)
11 The Elect—December 9–15 (137)
12 Overcoming Evil With Good—December 16–22 (150)
13 Christian Living—December 23–29 (163)
Editorial Office 12501 Old Columbia Pike, Silver Spring, MD 20904 Come visit us at our Web site at http://www.absg.adventist.org
The teachers edition components were written by the following:
1. The Lesson in Brief and the Learning Cycle, Lessons 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, and 10: Woodrow Whidden, PhD, professor emeritus of religion, Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan, U.S.A.
2. The Lesson in Brief and the Learning Cycle, Lessons 3, 7, and 8: Joseph Olstad, M.A., former pastor, Northern New England Conference; freelance writer, Whitefish, Montana, U.S.A.
3. The Lesson in Brief and the Learning Cycle, Lessons 9, 11, 12, and 13: Cory D. Wetterlin, MDiv., PhD candidate in religion from Andrews University; contract professor, Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan, U.S.A; and associate pastor, Calvary Road Community Church, Niles, Michigan.
Pacific Press® Coordinator
Art Director and Illustrator
Lea Alexander Greve
Clifford R. Goldstein
© 2017 General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists®. All rights reserved. No part of the Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide (Teachers Edition) may be edited, altered, modified, adapted, translated, reproduced, or published by any person or entity without prior written authorization from the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists®. The division offices of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists® are authorized to arrange for translation of the Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide (Teachers Edition), under specific guidelines. Copyright of such translations and their publication shall remain with the General Conference. “Seventh-day Adventist,” “Adventist,” and the flame logo are registered trademarks of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists® and may not be used without prior authorization from the General Conference. 1
Get Motivated to Explore, Apply, and Create We hope that this format of the teachers edition will encourage adult Sabbath School class members to do just that—explore, apply, and create. Each weekly teachers lesson takes your class through the following learning process, based on the Natural Learning Cycle:
And for teachers who haven’t had time to prepare during the week for class, there is a one-page outline of easy-to-digest material in “The Lesson in Brief” section. Here’s a closer look at the four steps of the Natural Learning Cycle and suggestions for how you, the teacher, can approach each one:
Step 1—Motivate: Link the learners’ experiences to the central concept of the lesson to show why the lesson is relevant to their lives. Help them answer the question, Why is this week’s lesson important to me?
Step 2—Explore: Present learners with the biblical information they need to understand the central concept of the lesson. (Such information could include facts about the people; the setting; cultural, historical, and/or geographical details; the plot or what’s happening; and conflicts or tension of the texts you are studying.) Help learners answer the question, What do I need to know from God’s Word?
Step 3—Apply: Provide learners with opportunities to practice the information given in Step 2. This is a crucial step; information alone is not enough to help a person grow in Christ. Assist the learners in answering the question, How can I apply to my life what I’ve learned?
Step 4—Create: Finally, encourage learners to be “doers of the word, and not hearers only” (James 1:22). Invite them to make a life response to the lesson. This step provides individuals and groups with opportunities for creative self-expression and exploration. All such activities should help learners answer the question, With God’s help, what can I do with what I’ve learned from this week’s lesson?
When teachers use material from each of these four steps, they will appeal to most every student in their class: those who enjoy talking about what’s happening in their lives, those who want more information about the texts being studied, those who want to know how it all fits in with real life, and those who want to get out and apply what they’ve learned.