Not only indulgences, pilgrimages, alms, repetitious prayers, and other so-called churchly good works felt Luther’s lash, but also every innate human impulse to make God somehow indebted to us. Luther knew not only the Scriptures; he also knew people. From the way in which, year after year, he glorified God’s undeserved grace despite our unworthiness, we can conclude that it was as hard for the Wittenbergers to say “Yes” to God’s judgment on their lives and “No” to the urge to bargain with God as it is for us today. The frequency and clarity of Luther’s words makes one wonder why he needed to say it so often, but they also give us a bit of comfort in our need to speak repeatedly to the perversions of the gospel in our day.
Luther himself said: