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Thursday, January 8, 2015

Martyrs 5b: L Kaiser– like Luther; "and die on it"; Luther's letter

This continues from Part 5a (Table of Contents in Part 1a and Part 1b) publishing the book of C.J. Hermann Fick on the martyrs of the Evangelical Lutheran Church.  —  Part 5b continues the account of Leonhard Kaiser.  It contains Luther's beautiful letter to Kaiser during his imprisonment.  And what a testimony the dear Kaiser brings!  As he lay in prison he speaks so beautifully on "faith and works".  Because he laid the stress on faith, he confessed:
... that He bought us with His blood, and yes, this more than too much for all the sin of mankind, and to believe these things, rely on it completely, and die on it.
Indeed, as I read Kaiser in this section, I thought to myself: Kaiser was a "little Luther"!  So why would anyone want to be anything but a Lutheran?
Some highlighting added; hyperlinks added for reference.
by C.J. Hermann Fick [after Luther]
(tr. by BackToLuther)
V. (b)
Leonhard Kaiser (Kayser).
"Christ, you must suffer with me."
(Leonhard on the way to death by fire.)
He was immediately taken to the mountain fortress of the upper house and thrown into a dull prison teeming with mice and rats, where he had to lie for ten weeks. But by neither love nor suffering could the dear Kaiser be made derogatory of the truth.  Even the Prince Bishop spoke to him; but his answer was always that  he wanted to be wise with the divine Scripture, otherwise with nothing.  He also suggested that they should send his and his friends' charges to Nuremberg, Augsburg and Ulm to investigate his supposed crimes.  Would he not to be overcome by the Holy Scriptures, so one should not justly complain of it further.  Only it was all in vain, because his death was already decided in the blood council of the Papists.
In his dreadful prison, dear Kaiser was constantly striving to strengthen himself through contemplation of the divine Word and prayer in the service of the truth.  We know His joyful faith from a letter which he wrote to Master Stiefel. It reads thus:
"Grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Rejoice with me, my dearest brother in Christ, that the eternal, almighty God, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, me, his unworthy servant and great sinner, worthy concerning the blessed profession, that I shall confess before the evil world His holy, sweet and blessed name; He is blessed forevermore. Amen.
"The same God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ whom began in me His work, has also carried it out, strengthened and directed my heart, all my senses and what I plan, on the way of of salvation; governs also my lips, mouth and tongue to the pleasure of His fatherly will that they pronounce His praise and glory, as long as I can encourage them that indeed through me, His weak blemished vessel, will not be weakened, nor blaspheme [Page 19] His holy, pure and sincere Gospel, that I have heard so often and long, oh! would to God with fruit and to the honor and glory of His holy name.
"That I am granted now to these my request and attain them: so your fiery, hearty prayer is taken seriously by me, and let your Leonhard Kaiser herein be ordered.  Also admonish your busy little ones that they clearly ask our dear God in the name of our Lord Christ in true faith and confidence for me, a poor sinner, according to the beautiful, comforting promise: Where two or three come together in my name, there am I among them, and wherefore they ask, it will be given them without saying, but happens by my Father in heaven. (Matt. 18:19)
"Let ye my Ulrich be ordered.  Salute the honorable and pious woman, Wolfgang Georgerin and Fuchshuber, the faithful servants of God and all our brothers. The grace of God be with me and with you all, Amen. From my prison, on Saturday before Invocavit, Anno 1527."
But the brothers did not forgot the dear Leonard in his bonds, but prayed for him and refreshed him with spiritual comfort.  Luther thought of him with the warmest love and sent him the following beautiful letter of consolation: [ref. Currie translation here]
“To the esteemed dear brother in Christ, the faithful servant and prisoner of Christ, Leonhard Kaiser:
“Grace strength and peace in Christ. That your old man should be a prisoner, dear Herr Leonhard, is the will of Christ your Saviour, who gave Himself up for you and your sins into the hands of the godless, so that He might redeem you with His blood, and make you His brother and co-heir of eternal life.
“We are in deep sorrow on your account, and pray earnestly that you may be set free, not so much for your sake as for the benefit of many and the honour of God, if it be His will.   But if it be the will of Heaven that you should not be free, still you are free in spirit. Only see that you are strong, and constantly overcome the weakness of the flesh, patiently bearing with it in the strength of Christ, who is with you in your cell, and will stand by you in all your affliction, as He has promised Ps 91:15: " I will be with him in trouble."  [Page 20]
“Hence you must confidently call upon Him in prayer, sustaining yourself with Psalms of consolation amid Satan's fury, so that you may be strengthened of the Lord, and not succumb too readily to the teeth of Behemoth [Job 40:15]. For you know he cannot injure you if you cry to Christ, whose presence and power are over all.  Offer Him to Satan in defiance and scorn of his fury and arrogance.  Because you are certain that he can not hurt you, and so much less, so much more he rages.  As St. Paul says Rom. 8:31, If God be for us, who can be against us?  Ps. 8:6: Thou hast put all things under his feet.  He can and wants to help everyone who is contested, who is also everywhere been tempted.  (Heb. 2:18, 4:15).
“Therefore, my beloved brother, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might, so that you may recognise, endure, love, and praise out of a full heart the fatherly will of God, whether free or not.  But that you are enabled so to honour His holy Gospel, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ will work in you, according to the riches of His glorious grace, who is the Father of all mercies and the God of all consolation. [2 Cor. 1:3]  Amen.  In this will I leave you, and also pray for us.  Given at Wittenberg on Monday after Cantate, 1527.”
This blessed Leonhard had to survive in prison against many battles with the flesh and blood: but he completely surrendered to the Lord and Christ,  defeating his old Adam and overcame the death in him, even before he was overcome in court and in the fire.  We hear him about it himself in a letter to a good friend: "You know, my fallen half of the old Adam, who is tormented there in hell, and is very much against me, and rises often to murmur in impatience against God, as if it suffered great injustice, so although the spirit is but weak, yet does it comfort him again.  O how poor and weak it is, as I complain to God and you, my dear; pray God for me, that he will be strengthened.''
"I have well agreed with how Paul says in Rom. 8:38 that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor powers should turn me away from the love of God and his holy Word. But there are but twelve hours in the day; to this, it is not [Page 21] someone who wills or runs, but of God's mercy, he says of us, chapter 9. [Rom. 9:16]  Wherefore it is sheer grace, if I remain steady and not my doing.
"I let it well happen that you strive and fill up with diligence on my account; but I will nevertheless especially before all things ask God to be my real home, who asked me to be thrown herein into the hole, although the old Adam often strives against it, and says: You would well have avoided this disaster, one has often enough warned you, you should be careful etc.  Because, however, Christ says Matt. 10:29: Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And the very hairs of your head are all numbered: so yes the old Adam must keep silent and say: it is by God's will, Lamentations 3: 37-39.  What murmurs the people against me, saying, There will be neither good nor evil from God?
"God is for them (the enemy), and in derision He says: You must not do anything to him, but that I willed it.  Oh, if my heart would remain firm there and could believe that that so would be, oh how happy I would then end my days!
Now that the dear Leonhard had languished ten weeks in prison, finally several interrogations with him were carried out around Pentecost, and he confessed his faith joyfully and fearlessly.  He wrote about himself to his friends: "Now I held at this time the first article which has been: "Whether faith alone, without works, makes justified? Answer: Yes, Scriptures of the Old and New Testament show this; they but reproach and do not dissuade me or give place against it.
"On the other hand, what therefore shall be of works, since faith alone makes justified?  I have answered: that faith alone acts before God, the works are but signs of my faith; they must be left down here with one’s neighbor, to serve him, and not have to lead to God.  We need to separate faith and works so far from each other as heaven and earth, as angels and devils: works act nothing before God, but the honor must be left for Christ alone, that He bought us with His blood, and yes, this more than too much for all the sin of mankind, and to believe these things, rely on it completely, and die on it.  Faith was enough before God, and makes us children of God, [Page 22] heirs of his kingdom, co-heirs with Christ, and a partaker of all his goods.
= = = = = =  cont'd in Part 5c  = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

In the next Part 5c, Leonhard Kaiser continues his instruction to those looking at him in prison... an instruction that reads like Luther's Catechism.

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