From Here to Forever


Chapter 7—Luther, a Man for His Time

Foremost among those called to lead the church from the darkness of popery into the light of a purer faith stood Martin Luther. Knowing no fear but the fear of God, and acknowledging no foundation for faith but the Holy Scriptures, Luther was the man for his time. HF 76.1

Luther's early years were spent in the humble home of a German peasant. His father intended him for a lawyer, but God purposed to make him a builder in the great temple that was rising slowly through the centuries. Hardship, privation, and severe discipline were the school in which Infinite Wisdom prepared Luther for the mission of his life. HF 76.2

Luther's father was a man of active mind. His sterling good sense led him to regard the monastic system with distrust. He was displeased when Luther, without his consent, entered a monastery. It was two years before the father was reconciled to his son, and even then his opinions remained the same. HF 76.3

Luther's parents endeavored to instruct their children in the knowledge of God. Their efforts were earnest and persevering to prepare their children for a life of usefulness. They sometimes exercised too great severity, but the Reformer himself found in their discipline more to approve than to condemn. HF 76.4

At school Luther was treated with harshness and even violence. He often suffered from hunger. The gloomy, superstitious ideas of religion then prevailing filled him with fear. He would lie down at night with a sorrowful heart, in constant terror at the thought of God as a cruel tyrant, rather than a kind heavenly Father. HF 76.5

When he entered the University of Erfurt, his prospects were brighter than in his earlier years. His parents, having by thrift and industry acquired a competence, were able to render him all needed assistance. And judicious friends somewhat lessened the gloomy effects of his former training. With favorable influences, his mind rapidly developed. Untiring application soon placed him in the foremost rank among his associates. HF 77.1

Luther did not fail to begin each day with prayer, his heart continually breathing a petition for guidance. “To pray well,” he often said, “is the better half of study.”1 HF 77.2

One day in the library of the university he discovered a Latin Bible, a book he had never seen. He had heard portions of the Gospels and Epistles, which he supposed were the entire Bible. Now, for the first time, he looked upon the whole of God's Word. With awe and wonder he turned the sacred pages and read for himself the words of life, pausing to exclaim, “O that God would give me such a book for myself!”2 Angels were by his side. Rays of light from God revealed treasures of truth to his understanding. The deep conviction of his condition as a sinner took hold upon him as never before. HF 77.3