In order to obtain pleasure and love for reading and studying the writings of Luther, it is first of all necessary that one remembers vividly that Luther is not to be expected among the common pure theologians, but was elected by God Himself as the reformer of the Church and revealer and destroyer of the Antichrist. (2 Thessalonians 2:8; Revelation 14:6-7)
Luther is the only theologian who is prophesied in Scripture. He is beyond all doubt the angel of which Revelation 14:6 says. He is no doubt the one who according to 2 Thessalonians 2 should reveal and kill the Antichrist. Everyone who still believes that the Pope is the Antichrist admits that Luther has revealed the Antichrist. Many do not admit that he has killed him though, but there is no doubt he has done it. Although he has not made an end to the papacy, whoever now can still be seduced by the Pope must first reject Luther; because Luther has so clearly shown him as Antichrist that a man must turn a blind eye if he does not want to believe that the Pope was the Antichrist. Whoever does not want to be deceived by the Pope cannot be deceived. Through Luther God has opened thousands and millions of eyes that previously in blindness honored the Pope as Successor of Peter and Vicar of Christ.
Luther has no equal in the church after the apostles and prophets. One should only mention a single doctrine which Luther would not have quite clearly and most gloriously set forth. Would it be not unspeakable ingratitude to God, Who sent us this man, if we did not hear his voice? Then we would have not known the time of our visitation. But we are currently seeing what wrath of God follows in the new German theologians who ask nothing of Luther, who basically even despise him because he did not expound scientific truth. When modern theologians once cite him, it always has a certain tendency; but it does not happen with the intention to portray him as a witness of truth. In contrast, an old theologian called Luther’s writings “the mantle of Elijah that he has dropped at his ascension,” while Bugenhagen sees Revelation 14:6-7 expressly fulfilled in Luther.
Therefore this first thesis is of great importance. God holds Christianity responsible if they do not recognize this man as the reformer of the Church. We must not think of Luther this way: “We also can do this; Luther has recovered the truth so well, so also we will find the truth so well by diligent study.” No, if God inspires His prophets with spirit and light, then He does this for the common good of the Church; and woe to the Church if they do not use God’s instrument, but will let it pass by her. A church in which Luther’s writings are not first studied by the pastors and then at their incitement also by common Christians, certainly does not have Luther’s spirit, and Luther’s spirit is the pure evangelical spirit of faith, humility, and simplicity.
The other dogmatic theologians of our church are not to be put on the same level as Luther. Luther had nothing but hellish mistakes behind him. He alone had to go into Scripture and bring out the truth. No one can understand how it was possible. It may look easy, but it could not possibly happen without very special illumination of the Holy Spirit.
“The Fruitful Reading of Luther’s Writings”
Lehre und Wehre, Volume 33, Number 11 (November, 1887)
Translation by DMJ