NOTE: Today’s devotion is a special recognition of the 500th Anniversary of Martin Luther’s confession of faith at the Diet of Worms on April 18, 1521.
Here I stand.
500 years ago yesterday, Martin Luther stood before Emperor Charles V and the leaders of the papacy challenged to recant his writings. Knowing that his life was on the line he famously and boldly proclaimed:
“Unless I am convinced by Scripture and plain reason – I do not accept the authority of the popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other – my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me. Amen.”
Watch a snippet of it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LksxZ8EVTS0
Can we stand with the same conviction today?
The pressures may not come from the papacy or the Roman Emperor, but they do come from the media, academia, culture and even other Christians. The threat is to make life difficult for all those that would hold to a faith system that a) claims an ultimate authority (Bible) and b) claims an exclusive way to heaven thereby excluding all who would believe differently (Faith in Jesus).
The temptation is to cower and recant or at least lay silent to our Spirit-given convictions that the Scripture is the inspired, inerrant Word of God and the sole norm of faith and life. It’s tempting to allow for many paths to heaven to avoid the accusations of exclusivity and judgmentalism.
At stake wasn’t just Luther’s safety, it was the eternal safety of souls. God used Luther to stand against the false teaching of the Catholic Church which was perpetuating a salvation by works (and still does) and an authority of a man-made church hierarchy that set itself above Scripture (and still does). As Luther spoke at the Diet of Worms, it was not only for his sake, but for ours as well. He wasn’t there to pick on the Catholic Church, but to stand boldly against the false teaching of the church. He simply wanted the church to get back to the authority of Scripture…alone and the message of Salvation by God’s grace…alone.
To teach and believe anything else left grace and truth hidden.
The irony, is those that accused Luther didn’t take him up on his offer. He was willing if they could show from Scripture or plain reason he was in error, he would consider recanting that work or portion of writing.
But they didn’t because they couldn’t.
Luther wasn’t perfect and our faith isn’t in Luther, but God used Luther to bring bold conviction back to the forefront of the Church the glorious focus of we are saved by GRACE ALONE through FAITH ALONE in CHRIST ALONE found in SCRIPTURE ALONE!
1 Peter 3:15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…
Apply: Take time to read a bit more of Luther’s Statement at the Diet of Worms on April 18, 1521. Find encouragement and courage to stand firm on the truth of Scripture!
Prayer: Lord thank you for the courage you gave to Martin Luther to stand firmly on the truth of Scripture. Give us the same boldness and courage to do the same today! AMEN.