THE HINGE ON WHICH ALL THEOLOGY TURNS (2020)

THE HINGE ON WHICH ALL THEOLOGY TURNS (2020)

“There are few books which written over 400 years ago are still applicable today; Martin Luther’s masterpiece, The Bondage of the Will, is one of those books. Anyone desiring to know more about the root of dissent between Luther and the Catholic Church must read this book.

In his treatise Luther systematically demolishes Erasmus’ arguments in favor of free-will. Luther brilliantly illustrates why the will is in total and complete bondage and enslavement to sin, and why free-will is a completely meaningless term. Luther argues that the only thing the will is free to do is to sin and rebel against God.

Luther shows that salvation is totally dependent on the grace of God and His sovereign Will. To say that even a small part of the human will can prepare itself to receive God’s grace is an utterly ludricous sentiment. Erasmus believes that a human being by a very small effort can earn God’s grace. Luther totally destroys this view and shows that to espouse such a view makes one worse than the Pelagians, who held that it took numerous great works to earn God’s grace”.
[by Seth Aaron Lowry]

“This book is as applicable today as it was when Luther first wrote this book. When so many Protestant Churches hold to a soteriological view more akin to that of Erasmus, it is absolutely vital that the truth of the Reformation be brought back into the spotlight. Read this book to gain a greater understanding of the major area of disagreement among the Reformers and the Catholic Church of the time, and also to understand that our salvation is not predicated on any meritorious work that we accomplish, but simply on the grace of God.

The denial of free will was the position of the Reformation. The Reformers had always been settled on this crucial issue. This was the “manifesto” of the Reformation. On this issue the Gospel, and Reformation Christianity, stands or falls. The selling of indulgences and other ecclesiastical abuses were not the central issues. They were the occasion for the Reformation, not the cause. Luther at the end of his rebuttal, in his book ‘Bondage of the Will’, praises Erasmus thus:

“I give you hearty praise and commendation on this further account—that you alone, in contrast with others, have attacked the real thing, that is, the essential issue. You have not wearied me with those extraneous issues about the Papacy, purgatory, indulgences and such like trifles. . . . You, and you alone, have seen the hinge on which all turns, and aimed for the vital spot” (319).

Erasmus had understood the issues clearly and went straight for the jugular. If Erasmus had succeeded in this debate against Luther, Roman Catholicism would have triumphed, and the Reformation lost. What Erasmus failed to do 500 years ago, he now succeeds magnificently among the supposed posterity of the Reformation, who are even now returning to Rome.

If there is ever going to be a reclaiming of the Gospel, if there is ever going to be a second Reformation, this essential issue—the bondage of the will—must once again be proclaimed and successfully defended. No lesser victory will do”.

[Quoted from – ‘Martin Luther on Free-Will’ from The Highway]

Martin Luther’s take on “Free Will”

Martin Luther’s take on “Free Will”

Those who promote the free will of natural man will often, in their defense, offer up various passages from Scripture which declare to man what he MUST DO to be saved. The following is how Luther responded to such arguments:

“If thou art willing’ is a verb in the subjunctive mood, which asserts nothing…a conditional statement which asserts nothing indicatively.” “if thou art willing”, “if thou hear”, “if thou do” declare, not man’s ability, but his duty. The commandments are not given inappropriately or pointlessly; but in order that through them the proud, blind man may learn the plague of his impotence, should he try to do as he is commanded.

How is it that as soon as you get hold of a single imperative verb you infer an indicative meaning, as though the moment a thing is commanded it is done, or can be done? Does it follow from: ‘turn ye’ that therefore you can turn? Does it follow from “‘Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart’ (Deut 6.5) that therefore you can love with all your heart? What do arguments of this kind prove, but the ‘free-will’ does not need the grace of God, but can do all things by its own power. By the law is the knowledge of sin’ [Rom 3:20], so the word of grace comes only to those who are distressed by a sense of sin and tempted to despair. Imperative or hypothetical passages, or wishes of Jesus, by which is signified, not what we can do, or do do…but what we OUGHT TO DO, and what is required of us, so that our impotence may be made known to us and the knowledge of sin may be given to us.

As to why some are touched by the law and others not, so that some receive and others scorn the offer of grace…this is the hidden will of God, Who, according to His own counsel, ordains such persons as He wills to receive and partake of the mercy preached and offered … If man has lost his freedom, and is forced to serve sin, and cannot will good, what conclusion can more justly be drawn concerning him, than that he sins and wills evil necessarily?

…If any man doth ascribe of salvation, even the very least, to the free will of man, he knoweth nothing of grace, and he hath not learnt Jesus Christ aright!”

[From Luther’s De Servo Arbitrio or ‘The Bondage of the Will’]

 

YOU DON’T ‘BECOME’ A SINNER BY SINNING – YOU’RE A SINNER BY BIRTH

YOU DON’T ‘BECOME’ A SINNER BY SINNING – YOU’RE A SINNER BY BIRTH

Michael Jeshurun

A swine does not become one by wallowing in the mire! It wallows in it because BY NATURE it is a swine!

A raven does not become an unclean bird by eating carrion (decaying flesh), but eats carrion because it is BY NATURE an unclean bird!

Likewise a baby as he starts to grow does not ‘BECOME’ a sinner by ‘sinning’, but he sins because by NATURE HE IS ONE!

“Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? Not one!
Or how can he be clean that is born of a woman”? [Job 14:4, 25:4]

“Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me”! [Psalm 51:5]

“Lo, this only have I found, that GOD HATH MADE MAN UPRIGHT; but THEY have sought out many inventions”. [Ecc 7:29]

He is an alien by birth, and a sinner by choice!

“The inability under which he labors is not an inability to exercise volitions, but an inability to be willing to exercise holy volitions.

And it is this phase of it which led Luther to declare that “Free-will is an empty term, whose reality is lost. And a lost liberty, according to my grammar, is no liberty at all.”

In matters pertaining to his salvation, the unregenerate man is not at liberty to choose between good and evil, but only to choose between greater and lesser evil, which is not properly free will. The fact that fallen man still has ability to do certain acts morally good in themselves does not prove that he can do acts meriting salvation, for his motives may be wholly wrong”. [Loraine Boettner]

“In what does the sinner’s freedom consist? This question is naturally suggested by what we have just said above. The sinner is “free” in the sense of being unforced from without. God never forces the sinner to sin. But the sinner is not “free” to do either good or evil, because an evil heart within is ever inclining him toward sin.

Let us illustrate what we have in mind. I hold in my hand a book. I release it; what happens? It falls. In which direction? Downwards; always downwards. Why? Because, answering the law of gravity, its own weight sinks it. Suppose I desire that book to occupy a position three feet higher; then what? I must lift it; a power outside of that book must raise it. Such is the relationship which fallen man sustains toward God. While divine power upholds him, he is preserved from plunging still deeper into sin; let that power be withdrawn, and he falls — his own weight (of sin) drags him down. God does not push him down, any more than I did that book.

Let all divine restraint be removed, and every man is capable of becoming, would become, a Cain, a Pharaoh, a Judas. How then is the sinner to move heavenwards? By an act of his own will? Not so. A power outside of himself must grasp hold of him and lift him every inch of the way. The sinner is free, but free in one direction only — free to fall, free to sin. As the Word expresses it: “For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness” Rom. 6:20. The sinner is free to do as he pleases, always as he pleases (except as he is restrained by God), but his pleasure is to sin”. [A.W. Pink

WE OWE EVERYTHING TO GOD’S GRACE

WE OWE EVERYTHING TO GOD’S GRACE

Why is there a need for God to break into the universe and justify the ungodly by grace? What’s the problem? No comment has been made about the problem yet. Everything’s just hanging in the air. What’s this about? What’s wrong? And the biblical answer is EVERY HUMAN BEING IS DEAD — spiritually dead apart from grace — and every human being is under the wrath of God. Apart from grace, we are spiritually dead and legally guilty before God.

If anybody is going to escape hell and have everlasting pleasure at God’s right hand, God himself will have to raise the dead and find a way for the wrath that is just and holy against my sin to be absorbed so that he can be one hundred percent for me and not against me. So, God, in his great mercy, sent Christ to bear our punishment and to become our righteousness. Christ alone is the all-wrath-removing sacrifice and Christ alone is our all-justifying righteousness.

But since we are all dead and can’t believe any of that, don’t want to believe any of that, are strongly resistant to all of that supremacy of God in salvation — since we are all dead — grace alone, with no contribution from any corpse at all, must raise us from the dead.

“Even when we were dead in sins, (He) hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) [Eph 2:5]

Paul breaks into the sentence to make clear what Sovereign Grace is: it’s dead raising power and mercy. God made us alive together with Christ — by grace you have been saved — this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God.

The Protestant Reformation was a controversy with the Roman Catholic Church over how HELPLESS WE ARE to raise ourselves from the dead and be justified. If you want to see the biggest dispute, it’s between Erasmus and Luther. Their two books make it crystal clear. Luther thought this was the bottom issue and the most important book he ever wrote — ON THE BONDAGE OF THE WILL — which could be paraphrased, the deadness of the human soul.

That was the bottom issue: Are we really as helpless as the Bible says? Everything else follows if you believe we are. Only grace could raise us from the dead, only Christ could become our punishment and our perfection. Those two miracles — life from the dead and wrath removed — can only be received as a gift. A gift that’s unmerited and unearned, so that the entire transaction would lead ultimately to the glory of God, not me.” (Desiring God)

How can I say thanks
for the things You have done for me?
Things so undeserved,
yet You gave to prove Your love for me;
the voices of a million angels
could not express my gratitude.
All that I am and ever hope to be,
I owe it all to Thee.

To God be the glory,
to God be the glory,
to God be the glory
for the things He has done.

With His blood He has saved me,
with His power He has raised me;
to God be the glory
for the things He has done.
Just let me live my life,
let it pleasing, Lord to Thee,
and if I gain any praise,
let it go to Calvary.

Andrae Crouch

THE HINGE ON WHICH ALL DOCTRINE TURNS (2019)

THE HINGE ON WHICH ALL DOCTRINE TURNS (2019)

“There are few books which written over 400 years ago are still applicable today; Martin Luther’s masterpiece, ‘The Bondage of the Will’, is one of those books. Anyone desiring to know more about the root of dissent between Luther and the Catholic Church must read this book.

In his treatise Luther systematically demolishes Erasmus’ arguments in favor of free-will. Luther brilliantly illustrates why the will is in total and complete bondage and enslavement to sin, and why free-will is a completely meaningless term. Luther argues that the only thing the will is free to do is to sin and rebel against God.

Luther shows that salvation is totally dependent on the grace of God and His sovereign Will. To say that even a small part of the human will can prepare itself to receive God’s grace is an utterly ludricous sentiment. Erasmus believes that a human being by a very small effort can earn God’s grace. Luther totally destroys this view and shows that to espouse such a view makes one worse than the Pelagians, who held that it took numerous great works to earn God’s grace”.
[by Seth Aaron Lowry]

“This book is as applicable today as it was when Luther first wrote this book. When so many Protestant Churches hold to a soteriological view more akin to that of Erasmus, it is absolutely vital that the truth of the Reformation be brought back into the spotlight. Read this book to gain a greater understanding of the major area of disagreement among the Reformers and the Catholic Church of the time, and also to understand that our salvation is not predicated on any meritorious work that we accomplish, but simply on the grace of God.

The denial of free will was the position of the Reformation. The Reformers had always been settled on this crucial issue. This was the “manifesto” of the Reformation. On this issue the Gospel, and Reformation Christianity, stands or falls. The selling of indulgences and other ecclesiastical abuses were not the central issues. They were the occasion for the Reformation, not the cause. Luther at the end of his rebuttal, in his book ‘Bondage of the Will’, praises Erasmus thus:

“I give you hearty praise and commendation on this further account—that you alone, in contrast with others, have attacked the real thing, that is, the essential issue. You have not wearied me with those extraneous issues about the Papacy, purgatory, indulgences and such like trifles. . . . You, and you alone, have seen the hinge on which all turns, and aimed for the vital spot” (319).

Erasmus had understood the issues clearly and went straight for the jugular. If Erasmus had succeeded in this debate against Luther, Roman Catholicism would have triumphed, and the Reformation lost. What Erasmus failed to do 500 years ago, he now succeeds magnificently among the supposed posterity of the Reformation, who are even now returning to Rome.

If there is ever going to be a reclaiming of the Gospel, if there is ever going to be a second Reformation, this essential issue—the bondage of the will—must once again be proclaimed and successfully defended. No lesser victory will do”.

[Quoted from – ‘Martin Luther on Free-Will’ from The Highway]

A MASTERPIECE FROM LUTHER’S PEN

A MASTERPIECE FROM LUTHER’S PEN

“There are few books which written over 400 years ago are still applicable today; Martin Luther’s masterpiece, The Bondage of the Will, is one of those books. Anyone desiring to know more about the root of dissent between Luther and the Catholic Church must read this book.

In his treatise Luther systematically demolishes Erasmus’ arguments in favor of free-will. Luther brilliantly illustrates why the will is in total and complete bondage and enslavement to sin, and why free-will is a completely meaningless term. Luther argues that the only thing the will is free to do is to sin and rebel against God.

Luther shows that salvation is totally dependent on the grace of God and His sovereign Will. To say that even a small part of the human will can prepare itself to receive God’s grace is an utterly ludricous sentiment. Erasmus believes that a human being by a very small effort can earn God’s grace. Luther totally destroys this view and shows that to espouse such a view makes one worse than the Pelagians, who held that it took numerous great works to earn God’s grace”.
[by Seth Aaron Lowry]

“This book is as applicable today as it was when Luther first wrote this book. When so many Protestant Churches hold to a soteriological view more akin to that of Erasmus, it is absolutely vital that the truth of the Reformation be brought back into the spotlight. Read this book to gain a greater understanding of the major area of disagreement among the Reformers and the Catholic Church of the time, and also to understand that our salvation is not predicated on any meritorious work that we accomplish, but simply on the grace of God.

The denial of free will was the position of the Reformation. The Reformers had always been settled on this crucial issue. This was the “manifesto” of the Reformation. On this issue the Gospel, and Reformation Christianity, stands or falls. The selling of indulgences and other ecclesiastical abuses were not the central issues. They were the occasion for the Reformation, not the cause. Luther at the end of his rebuttal, in his book ‘Bondage of the Will’, praises Erasmus thus:

“I give you hearty praise and commendation on this further account—that you alone, in contrast with others, have attacked the real thing, that is, the essential issue. You have not wearied me with those extraneous issues about the Papacy, purgatory, indulgences and such like trifles. . . . You, and you alone, have seen the hinge on which all turns, and aimed for the vital spot” (319).

Erasmus had understood the issues clearly and went straight for the jugular. If Erasmus had succeeded in this debate against Luther, Roman Catholicism would have triumphed, and the Reformation lost. What Erasmus failed to do 500 years ago, he now succeeds magnificently among the supposed posterity of the Reformation, who are even now returning to Rome.

If there is ever going to be a reclaiming of the Gospel, if there is ever going to be a second Reformation, this essential issue—the bondage of the will—must once again be proclaimed and successfully defended. No lesser victory will do”.

[Quoted from – ‘Martin Luther on Free-Will’ from The Highway]

“CHOOSE YE THIS DAY WHOM YE WILL SERVE” DOES NOT NEGATE THE BONDAGE OF THE HUMAN WILL GOD-WARD

“CHOOSE YE THIS DAY WHOM YE WILL SERVE” DOES NOT NEGATE THE BONDAGE OF THE HUMAN WILL GOD-WARD

Michael Jeshurun

When Joshua said, “choose you this day whom ye will serve” he was not informing the people that they had a ‘free will choice’ to choose between the true God of the Bible and the false gods of the heathen, but rather the choice was between two sets of false gods – you have to read the scripture correctly and not make false assumptions – “choose you this day whom ye will serve; WHETHER THE GODS WHICH YOUR FATHERS SERVED THAT WERE ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE FLOOD, or THE GODS OF THE AMORITES, IN WHOSE LAND YE DWELL” [Josh 24:15]

As far as their ability to either choose or serve the God of the Bible, he bluntly tells them – “Ye CANNOT serve the LORD!” [Josh 24:19]

But some DO love and serve Him. How come? The man who almost single-handedly loved and served God the most tells us how come– “I laboured more abundantly than they all: YET NOT I, BUT THE GRACE OF GOD WHICH WAS WITH ME.” [1Cor 15:10]

But to return, why is that men in general cannot choose God or serve Him? Get this – It is because fallen man comes into the world as a sworn enemy of the God of scripture! The Apostle affirms, “there is NONE that seeketh after God!” Period! Oh yes they may love a ‘god’ of their own making and their own imaginations, but the Sovereign discriminating God of Scripture who hath mercy on whom He will and hardens whom He will, men hate with a passion! Their unified cry against THIS God is – “We will not have THIS MAN to reign over us!” [Luke 19:14]

All the offspring of Adam possess a fixed bias of the will against God, and instinctively and willingly turn to evil. As Loraine Boettner said long ago, “Fallen man is an alien by birth, and a sinner by choice. The inability under which he labors is not an inability to exercise volitions, but an inability to be willing to exercise holy volitions. And it is this phrase of it which led Luther to declare that “Free-will is an empty term, whose reality is lost. And a lost liberty, according to my grammar, is no liberty at all.” In matters pertaining to his salvation, the unregenerate man is not at liberty to choose between good and evil, but only to choose between greater and lesser evil, which is not properly free will.

The fact that fallen man still has ability to do certain acts morally good in themselves does not prove that he can do acts meriting salvation, for his motives may be wholly wrong.

Man is a free agent but he cannot originate the love of God in his heart. His will is free in the sense that it is not controlled by any force outside of himself. As the bird with a broken wing is “free” to fly but not able, so the natural man is free to come to God but not able. How can he repent of his sin when he loves it? How can he come to God when he hates Him?

THIS is the inability of the will under which man labors. Jesus said, “And this is the judgment, that light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their deeds were evil,” John 3:19; and again, “Ye will not come to me, that ye may have life,” John 5:40. Man‘s ruin lies mainly in his own perverse will. He cannot come because he will not. Help enough is provided if he were only willing to accept it. Paul tells us, “The carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can it be. So they that are in the flesh cannot please God,” Rom. 8:7.

To assume that because man has ability to love he therefore has ability to love God, is about as wise as to assume that since water has the ability to flow, it therefore has the ability to flow up hill; or to reason that because a man has power to cast himself from the top of a precipice to the bottom, he therefore has equal power to transport himself from the bottom to the top.

Fallen man sees nothing desirable in “the One who is altogether lovely, the fairest among ten thousand.” He may admire Jesus as a man, but he wants nothing to do with Him as God, and he resists the outward holy influences of the Spirit with all his power. Sin, and not righteousness, has become his natural element so that he has no desire for salvation.

Man‘s fallen nature gives rise to a most obdurate blindness, stupidity, and opposition concerning the things of God. His will is under the control of a darkened understanding which puts sweet for bitter, and bitter for sweet, good for evil, and evil for good. So far as his relations with God are concerned, he wills only that which is evil, although he wills it freely. Spontaneity and enslavement actually exist together.

In other words, fallen man is so morally blind that he uniformly prefers and chooses evil instead of good, as do the fallen angels or demons. When the Christian is completely sanctified he reaches a state in which he uniformly prefers and chooses good, as do the holy angels. Both of these states are consistent with freedom and responsibility of moral agents.”

To conclude: fallen man has not a ‘free-choice’ by which He can either choose or reject God. He already made that choice in his father Adam and comes into the world ‘estranged from the womb, going astray as soon as he is born, speaking lies!” [Psalm 58:3]

And when a man does turn and sincerely seek the God of the Bible, it is not because he chose Him of his own ‘free-will’ but because GOD has had mercy on him and ‘made him willing in the day of His power!” [Psalm 110:3]

And ALL the glory shall be to God ALONE!

 

THE GREATEST PIECE OF THEOLOGICAL WRITING THAT EVER CAME FROM LUTHER’S PEN

THE GREATEST PIECE OF THEOLOGICAL WRITING THAT EVER CAME FROM LUTHER’S PEN

“There are few books which written over 400 years ago are still applicable today; Martin Luther’s masterpiece, The Bondage of the Will, is one of those books. Anyone desiring to know more about the root of dissent between Luther and the Catholic Church must read this book.

In his treatise Luther systematically demolishes Erasmus’ arguments in favor of free-will. Luther brilliantly illustrates why the will is in total and complete bondage and enslavement to sin, and why free-will is a completely meaningless term. Luther argues that the only thing the will is free to do is to sin and rebel against God.

Luther shows that salvation is totally dependent on the grace of God and His sovereign Will. To say that even a small part of the human will can prepare itself to receive God’s grace is an utterly ludricous sentiment. Erasmus believes that a human being by a very small effort can earn God’s grace. Luther totally destroys this view and shows that to espouse such a view makes one worse than the Pelagians, who held that it took numerous great works to earn God’s grace”.
[by Seth Aaron Lowry]

“This book is as applicable today as it was when Luther first wrote this book. When so many Protestant Churches hold to a soteriological view more akin to that of Erasmus, it is absolutely vital that the truth of the Reformation be brought back into the spotlight. Read this book to gain a greater understanding of the major area of disagreement among the Reformers and the Catholic Church of the time, and also to understand that our salvation is not predicated on any meritorious work that we accomplish, but simply on the grace of God.

The denial of free will was the position of the Reformation. The Reformers had always been settled on this crucial issue. This was the “manifesto” of the Reformation. On this issue the Gospel, and Reformation Christianity, stands or falls. The selling of indulgences and other ecclesiastical abuses were not the central issues. They were the occasion for the Reformation, not the cause. Luther at the end of his rebuttal, in his book ‘Bondage of the Will’, praises Erasmus thus:

“I give you hearty praise and commendation on this further account—that you alone, in contrast with others, have attacked the real thing, that is, the essential issue. You have not wearied me with those extraneous issues about the Papacy, purgatory, indulgences and such like trifles. . . . You, and you alone, have seen the hinge on which all turns, and aimed for the vital spot” (319).

Erasmus had understood the issues clearly and went straight for the jugular. If Erasmus had succeeded in this debate against Luther, Roman Catholicism would have triumphed, and the Reformation lost. What Erasmus failed to do 500 years ago, he now succeeds magnificently among the supposed posterity of the Reformation, who are even now returning to Rome.

If there is ever going to be a reclaiming of the Gospel, if there is ever going to be a second Reformation, this essential issue—the bondage of the will—must once again be proclaimed and successfully defended. No lesser victory will do”.

[Quoted from – ‘Martin Luther on Free-Will’ from The Highway]

YOUR ‘DECISION’ IS NOT WHAT SAVES YOU

YOUR ‘DECISION’ IS NOT WHAT SAVES YOU

preacher Gary Shepard

Believers are not saved by their “decision.” No, they are saved because God decided upon them, chose them in Christ and blessed them with all spiritual blessings in Him before the world began. He redeemed us by His blood and calls us. Yet, as believers in Christ and servants of the living God in this world, we have many decisions in this life. These decisions, some big and some small (so we think), do not determine anything but they do reveal many things. You see, it is our decisions concerning the things of this life that prove to be the test of our faith. Decisions concerning family, work, recreation, worship, etc. Actually, every decision in life! In making these decisions there are a number of things we as believers should consider:

1. Will I be acting according to God’s plain commands and statements in His Word? The Spirit of God never leads us to act contrary to the written Word. “He that is of God hears God’s words” John8:47

2. Will my decision be for the glory of God above all things? “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” 1Co 10:31

3. Will what I choose to do really work for my spiritual and eternal good? “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.” 1Co 10:23“Set your affection on things above ”

4. Will the course of action I choose encourage or be a good example for the people of God? “Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.” Ro 14:19

5. Will my decision work for the good of Christ’s church in this world and the advancement of His gospel? Will it encourage the one He has sent to feed and watch over my soul?

Remember Joshua’s words to the people: “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” Jos 24:15 God give us grace to serve YOU!

THE HINGE ON WHICH ALL DOCTRINE TURNS

THE HINGE ON WHICH ALL DOCTRINE TURNS

“There are few books which written over 400 years ago are still applicable today; Martin Luther’s masterpiece, The Boncage of the Will, is one of those books. Anyone desiring to know more about the root of dissent between Luther and the Catholic Church must read this book.

In his treatise Luther systematically demolishes Erasmus’ arguments in favor of free-will. Luther brilliantly illustrates why the will is in total and complete bondage and enslavement to sin, and why free-will is a completely meaningless term. Luther argues that the only thing the will is free to do is to sin and rebel against God.

Luther shows that salvation is totally dependent on the grace of God and His sovereign Will. To say that even a small part of the human will can prepare itself to receive God’s grace is an utterly ludricous sentiment. Erasmus believes that a human being by a very small effort can earn God’s grace. Luther totally destroys this view and shows that to espouse such a view makes one worse than the Pelagians, who held that it took numerous great works to earn God’s grace”.
[by Seth Aaron Lowry]

“This book is as applicable today as it was when Luther first wrote this book. When so many Protestant Churches hold to a soteriological view more akin to that of Erasmus, it is absolutely vital that the truth of the Reformation be brought back into the spotlight. Read this book to gain a greater understanding of the major area of disagreement among the Reformers and the Catholic Church of the time, and also to understand that our salvation is not predicated on any meritorious work that we accomplish, but simply on the grace of God.

The denial of free will was the position of the Reformation. The Reformers had always been settled on this crucial issue. This was the “manifesto” of the Reformation. On this issue the Gospel, and Reformation Christianity, stands or falls. The selling of indulgences and other ecclesiastical abuses were not the central issues. They were the occasion for the Reformation, not the cause. Luther at the end of his rebuttal, in his book ‘Bondage of the Will’, praises Erasmus thus:

“I give you hearty praise and commendation on this further account—that you alone, in contrast with others, have attacked the real thing, that is, the essential issue. You have not wearied me with those extraneous issues about the Papacy, purgatory, indulgences and such like trifles. . . . You, and you alone, have seen the hinge on which all turns, and aimed for the vital spot” (319).

Erasmus had understood the issues clearly and went straight for the jugular. If Erasmus had succeeded in this debate against Luther, Roman Catholicism would have triumphed, and the Reformation lost. What Erasmus failed to do 500 years ago, he now succeeds magnificently among the supposed posterity of the Reformation, who are even now returning to Rome.

If there is ever going to be a reclaiming of the Gospel, if there is ever going to be a second Reformation, this essential issue—the bondage of the will—must once again be proclaimed and successfully defended. No lesser victory will do”.

[Quoted from – ‘Martin Luther on Free-Will’ from The Highway]