Martin Luther and the Miraculous Gifts

The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him Who with us sideth.–Martin Luther

Martin Luther versus the Devil

1. PROPHECY. Luther, in 1522, wrote to a friend named Lincke, and appears to have foresaw a war, either by a dream or vision. He said, “I seem to myself to see Germany swimming with blood…I certainly am of the opinion that I speak these things in the Spirit” (i.e. of a strong persuasion, 1 Cor. 7:40). Three years later, this was fulfilled by the German Peasants’ War (182-183). On another occasion, Luther wrote to a friend that one of his enemies, named Emser, had sinned a sin to the death, and that he would pray against him; soon after this, Emser died with convulsions, after going to some “splendid entertainment” with some rich and important person (186). Luther prophesied a Franciscan monk revival in many areas where the Reformation took place; and that people would again return to Catholicism and abandon the Gospel (189). This was evidently fulfilled by the Counter-Reformation led by Teresa of Avila. Luther said, “It will be idolatry and the work of the devil.” He prophesied several times that this would happen in Germany after he would die; he also seems to have prophesied about the violence that Lutheran children would go through after they were fully grown. This is a possible prophecy of the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648) (191).

2. HEALING. Once when Luther was very sick with a deadly illness, a group of people prayed for his healing, after all medical means proved useless. Luther said, “They prayed so hard for me to God, that the tears of many people proved successful on my behalf…God has already wrought a miracle on me this night, and does so still, through the intercession of good people” (193). James 5:14-16: “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save (heal) the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” Luther appears to have suffered from mental illnesses, or strong headaches; on one occasion he thought he would die, because the pain in his head was so great. All medical means were used again, to no use. But his friend Pomeranus continued in “persevering intercession” for Luther’s healing, and he got better (195). On two occasions, Luther’s friend Friedrich Myconius (Mecum) was on his deathbed. On each occasion, he wrote a farewell letter to Luther, expecting to die. Luther wrote him back in friendly protest, and prophesied that Luther must die first, and then Mecum. Luther prayed for his recovery; and both times he was healed and continued to live, that is, of course, until one month after Luther died (196-199). Melanchthon was probably Luther’s best friend. He was on his deathbed, his eyes were gazing off into space, and he could hardly breathe. When Luther saw him like this, he got angry at the devil, and began to pray fervently to God for his healing, looking out the window. Then, he grabbed his hand and said, “‘Be of good courage Philip, thou shalt not die. Though God wanteth not reason to slay thee, yet He willeth not the death of a sinner, but that he may be converted and live. He takes pleasure in life, and not in death. Inasmuch as God has called and taken back to His favour the greatest sinners that ever lived on earth, namely, Adam and Eve, much less, Philip, will He cast off thee, or suffer thee to perish in thy sin and sorrow. Wherefore give not place to the spirit of grief, nor become the slayer of thyself; but trust in the Lord, who is able to kill, and to make alive.’ While he thus utters these things, Philip begins as it were to revive and to breathe, and, gradually recovering his strength, is at last restored to health.” Melanchthon later wrote, “I should have been a dead man, had I not been recalled from death itself by the coming of Luther.” Melanchthon had apparently fallen into some grievous sin, for which Luther thought he had become so sick, and later wrote, “I fetched back Philip out of Hell” (201).

3. DELIVERANCE. When praying, Luther saw an open vision of a demon (177). No visual description is given by Luther, but if Schongauer’s German woodcut of Saint Anthony below is in any way accurate, we may assume that Luther saw something like a hideous monster with warped, beastly features; and most likely a spirit of fear (2 Tim. 1:7). It is also clear from Roland Bainton’s Here I Stand, that demons harassed Luther in Wartburg Castle. Seckendorf’s Historia Lutheranismi (1688)–a friend of Luther’s great-grandson (189)–gives two accounts of demon-possessed young women who Luther helped with prayer in the name of Jesus.

Martin Schongauer’s “Saint Anthony Tormented by Demons” (Germany; 1475). This engraving was so popular in Catholic Europe, that it was turned into a color painting by Michelangelo in 1488 under the title of “The Torment of Saint Anthony.” Because so many of Luther’s reformation activities occurred in the 1510s-30s, it is reasonable to assume that if Luther ever saw a demon, it might have looked like one of these.

                       Michelangelo - The Torment of Saint Anthony

Page numbers from Thomas Boys’ The Suppressed Evidence.
Information about Luther from Seckendorf’s Historia Lutheranismi (1688)

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