Luther was convinced that only the Holy Ghost, working through word and sacrament, can bring men to faith and an acceptance of the Christian gospel. Therefore we would expect him to lay little stress on Christian evidences. But the fact is that he does not reject this approach completely. He says, for example, that the Bible is proved to be the Word of God by the fact that while the Egyptians, the Babylonians, the Greeks, the Romans and many others have tried to destroy it, it has nevertheless survived all its enemies.
Luther sees one of the strongest proofs for the truth of the gospel in the very opposition that it engenders. The mark of true and divine promises is that they disagree with reason, and that reason does not want to accept them. There is no more certain sign that something is of God that that it is against reason and above our way of thinking. The gospel is a preaching which offends men--not only men of no consequence, but the holiest, the wisest the most pious and most powerful men on earth. When the fury of the tyrants and the heretics and the scandal of the cross come to an end, it is a certain sign that the pure doctrine of the Word has been lost.
"Paul holds that if it is preached with undisturbed peace, this is a certain sign that it is not the gospel. On the other hand, when the world sees that the preaching of the gospel is followed by great tumults, disturbances, offenses, divisions, etc, it considers this to be a certain sign that the gospel is a heretical and seditious doctrine. Thus God puts on the devil's mask and the devil puts on God's and God wants to be recognized under the mask of the devil and the devil is to be rejected under the mask of God."
Thus it is evident that if our gospel were received peacefully, it would not be the true gospel.
In evaluating these arguments, however, we must note that these evidences are entirely Biblically based and oriented. They are merely variations of the scriptural test of the fulfillment of prophecy (Deuteronomy 18:21 f; I Kings 22:28; Isaiah 41:22f). The Savior had said that his words would not pass away (Matthew 24:35). The fact that the Bible has survived all the concerted attacks of the centuries fulfills this prediction. Moreover, the Bible says that the unconverted man will always consider the gospel to be foolishness (I Corinthians 2:14).
From The Foolishness of God by Siegbert Becker (c) 1982 Northwestern Publishing House (www.nph.net). All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.