Focus on God's Word

Martin Luther

Three Angels Broadcasting Network

Program transcript

Participants: Graham Weir


Series Code: FGW

Program Code: FGW000026A

00:26 Hello, everyone.
00:28 I'm Graham Weir.
00:29 Welcome to part one of the six-part
00:32 Reformation Revisited series.
00:34 This is a dynamic series
00:36 examining the Great Protestant Reformation
00:39 and its vital implication
00:41 for the survival of Christianity today.
00:43 And today we'll be talking about that great reformer,
00:47 Martin Luther.
00:48 Let's begin with a prayer.
00:53 Loving Father in heaven,
00:55 we thank You once again
00:56 for the privilege
00:58 of remembering that mighty path,
00:59 that mighty heritage
01:01 that you've given us as Christians.
01:04 Our conscious, Lord,
01:06 that if we don't remember the lessons of history,
01:09 we're in danger of repeating the mistakes.
01:13 So please bless us.
01:15 Give us ears to hear and eyes to see and more than this,
01:20 incline our hearts to want to do Your work
01:22 because we ask these things in Jesus' precious name.
01:26 Amen.
01:31 Our text today comes from
01:32 the Book of 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4.
01:39 In this text,
01:40 Paul was obviously worried about something strange
01:43 going on among the believers in Thessalonica
01:47 when he wrote this letter.
01:48 Let's take a look at verse 1
01:51 and he says, "Now we beseech you brethren,
01:53 by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,
01:56 and by our gathering together unto him."
01:59 So we see here in this little piece
02:01 that Paul is talking about the second coming of Christ
02:05 and he has spoken about this previously
02:07 in 1 Thessalonians 4
02:10 when he encouraged them
02:11 to keep the second coming in mind,
02:14 so what he says here in his second letter
02:16 was something that his readers were not expecting.
02:19 Looking at verse 2,
02:22 he says, "That ye be not soon shaken in mind,
02:24 or be troubled, neither by spirit,
02:27 nor by word, nor by letter as from us,
02:31 as at the day of Christ is at hand."
02:34 Now Paul is telling them in this text
02:36 to be careful about becoming disturbed in mind
02:39 by any news that Jesus is on his way back,
02:44 even if they receive a letter
02:45 which appears to be signed by Paul.
02:48 Now that would come as a shock to the Thessalonians.
02:52 They'd be thinking about
02:53 what he had already said in his first letter
02:56 but verse 3 and 4 explain why he said this.
03:00 He says, "Let no man deceive you
03:02 by any means:
03:03 for that day shall not come
03:06 except there come a falling away first,
03:10 and that man of sin be revealed,
03:13 the son of perdition
03:15 who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God,
03:20 or that is worshipped,
03:22 so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God
03:25 showing himself or pretending that he is God."
03:29 So Paul was telling them
03:30 that before the second coming of Jesus could happen,
03:33 the truth of God's word will be so overwhelmed
03:36 with the tide of corruption so bad
03:39 that a man would arise sitting in the place of God
03:42 and claiming to be God.
03:45 Can you imagine this shock,
03:46 this news would give the believers in Thessalonica?
03:51 Paul had written a similar warning
03:53 to his younger fellow worker Timothy,
03:55 in the Book of 1 Timothy 4:1
03:58 when he said this,
04:00 "Now the spirit speaketh expressly,
04:02 that in the latter times
04:04 some shall depart from the faith
04:06 giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils."
04:10 And as we look at the early church history,
04:13 this is exactly what happened,
04:16 and I'm going to show you a brief example.
04:19 In AD 321, the first Sunday Law was introduced.
04:25 In AD 416,
04:27 the concept of infant baptism was introduced,
04:30 that ignored the Bible example of adult baptism
04:33 by full immersion.
04:34 A downward spiral had begun.
04:38 In 593,
04:40 the concept of purgatory became doctrine
04:43 and this idea was the idea
04:46 that at death a person didn't really die
04:49 but their soul went to some place
04:50 between heaven and hell called purgatory
04:54 where they supposedly suffered continual torment
04:57 until someone paid money for their soul to be released
05:00 to go to heaven.
05:02 And this false doctrine caused misery for millions.
05:06 Friends, let's think about this.
05:08 If it is true that at death the body doesn't really die,
05:12 but simply take some other life form
05:14 called the soul,
05:16 then we would have to say
05:17 that the devil must have told the truth to Eve in Eden
05:21 when he said thy shall not surely die.
05:24 But do you really think the devil told the truth?
05:28 Of course, he didn't.
05:30 The Bible calls him the father of lies.
05:34 In AD 787, the worship of images and statues
05:40 was declared acceptable ignoring
05:42 the second commandment.
05:45 And in AD 1190
05:47 the sale of indulgences was introduced.
05:50 This false doctrine
05:51 was supposed to enable dead souls
05:53 to be released from purgatory,
05:56 and it also granted freedom from sin for the buyer,
05:59 the person who put money in the box,
06:01 but thankfully some wise people were not fooled
06:04 and they called these things "ticket to sin."
06:08 And in 1545,
06:10 one of the worst errors were introduced.
06:13 This was the teaching that manmade tradition
06:15 was more important than what the Bible said.
06:19 And there were many more than we have time for here.
06:23 Whereas the false doctrine became more and more corrupted
06:26 and people sank into spiritual darkness,
06:29 the deluded church leaders,
06:31 many convinced governments that the heretics
06:33 were a danger to the state and had to be killed.
06:38 And as a consequence of that decision,
06:40 over the period of AD 336 to 1487,
06:45 a grand total of more than 100 million people,
06:49 more than four times the population of Australia
06:52 were branded heretics and killed
06:54 just because they didn't agree with the teachings
06:58 of the religious-political system
07:00 that claimed to be Christ's representatives on earth.
07:03 It was just as the Bible had prophesied
07:05 in Revelation 17:6,
07:08 which says,
07:10 "And I saw the woman drunk with the blood of the saints,
07:13 and the blood of the martyrs of Jesus
07:15 and when I saw her,
07:17 I wondered with great admiration."
07:20 And we know that in Bible prophetic symbolism,
07:23 the word woman is just a symbol or a code word
07:26 that really means a church.
07:29 And as the tide of corruption swelled,
07:32 the man of sin emerged like a monster from the deep
07:37 as the leaders of the church became known
07:39 for their depravity and their sin.
07:42 And in this list you're about to see,
07:45 we'll see a brief list of the sins
07:47 of the head of the church.
07:50 Murder, adultery, stealing,
07:55 sexual depravity,
07:56 and there were many other things
07:59 and these were just the popes.
08:01 The man who claimed to be God on the earth
08:04 and pretended to be God in heaven,
08:07 just as the Apostle Paul told
08:08 to Thessalonians it will happen.
08:11 Friends, Pope did not invent these lists
08:14 and I'm just showing you history.
08:16 Plenty of evidence is available for anyone
08:18 to read in classic books like these.
08:21 The decline and fall of the Roman Empire by Gibbon,
08:26 Saints and Sinners,
08:27 A History of the Popes by Eamon Duffy,
08:31 Truth Triumphant by Wilkinson,
08:34 and this book list
08:35 some of the grim details typically suffered
08:37 by many of the martyrs.
08:39 This isn't bedtime reading
08:42 but it's very enlightening.
08:45 Well by the 15th century,
08:46 the church had become swamped by an ocean of corruption.
08:50 The truth of God's word had become grand
08:52 and a thief tradition and meaningless rituals.
08:56 And upon this scene entered the early reformers
08:59 like John Wycliffe, Jann Hus,
09:02 and Jerome of Prague.
09:05 These early reformers protested strongly
09:08 against the excesses of the church
09:10 and in particular the selling of indulgences
09:13 and the immoral living of the popes and the priests,
09:17 and the misuse of offering money
09:18 to support evil lust out.
09:22 This didn't win them any friends
09:23 among the corrupt leaders of the church
09:26 and after Wycliffe's death
09:27 from a stroke at the age of 64,
09:30 the enraged church
09:31 actually dug up his bones, burned them,
09:34 and threw them into the River Swift
09:36 in Lutterworth.
09:38 Hus and Jerome were given mock trials
09:40 and they were burned at the stake.
09:43 About 100 years after these events,
09:45 there was a young man in Germany
09:47 by the name of Martin Luther.
09:50 He was growing up in the home with parents
09:52 who did their best to instruct their children
09:54 in the knowledge of God
09:56 and the practice of Christian virtue.
09:59 In fact, Martin's father, who was a copper miner,
10:02 often prayed in the hearing of his son
10:04 that the boy must remember the name of the Lord
10:07 and one day
10:08 aid in the advancement of truth.
10:11 Little did he know
10:12 what the Lord had in store for his son.
10:16 Unfortunately, it was common for most people at that time
10:19 to have gloomy
10:20 superstitious ideas of religion.
10:23 These ideas filled Martin with fear and dread
10:27 and made him think of God as a cruel tyrant
10:29 rather than a kind heavenly Father.
10:32 These were common views in those days.
10:35 In spite of this,
10:36 Martin spent several years at Erfurt University.
10:39 He was training to be a lawyer,
10:41 but in spite of these gloomy
10:43 spiritual attitudes surrounding him,
10:45 he still was deeply religious
10:47 and he never failed to seek the hope of God
10:50 on a daily basis with prayer,
10:53 and little did he imagine the great mission
10:54 that God was preparing him for.
10:58 Well, one day examining the books in the library
11:00 of the university,
11:02 Luther discovered a Latin Bible.
11:05 And this was a book he had never seen before.
11:09 Now for the first time,
11:10 he looked upon the whole of God's Word
11:14 and in awe he exclaimed,
11:16 "O that God would give me such a book for myself!"
11:21 And as he read,
11:23 a great desire to be free from sin and find peace
11:25 with God took hold of him,
11:28 and then something happened to Martin Luther
11:31 that would change his life's direction in a way
11:35 he could never have imagined.
11:37 On 2nd of July, 1505,
11:40 he was returning to university after a trip home
11:44 when during a thunderstorm
11:46 a lightning bolt struck near him.
11:49 It terrified him
11:50 and he fell to his face on the earth,
11:52 he was terrified at divine judgment.
11:53 In fact he thought
11:55 this was the Lord with a big stick
11:56 trying to strike him out because he was a sinner.
11:59 He fell to the ground and in desperation
12:01 he cried out, "Help!
12:03 Saint Anna, I will become a monk!"
12:07 And at that point we might ask, well, hang on a minute,
12:09 why did he pray to Saint Anna instead of God.
12:12 While the Bible talks about the dead knowing nothing,
12:15 it was still hidden by generations of error
12:17 in those days,
12:19 so it was common practice for people
12:20 to pray to dead saints.
12:23 But I believe God understood this lack of knowledge
12:25 and still allowed the young Martin Luther
12:28 to enter into an experience
12:29 that would eventually share a great flood of light
12:33 upon himself and the world.
12:37 While he survived the storm,
12:39 and because he felt he could never break his vow,
12:43 and in spite of the fact
12:44 his father was disgusted with him
12:45 and was so angry
12:47 about Martin giving up his education
12:49 that he wouldn't even talk to him for two years.
12:52 In spite of all this,
12:53 Martin dropped out of the law school,
12:55 sold his books, and a few days later on 17th of July, 1505,
13:01 he entered St. Augustine's Monastery
13:04 and offered to become a monk,
13:07 and in here he was required to perform the lowest drudgery
13:11 and to beg from house to house,
13:13 but he patiently endured this humiliation believing
13:17 that it was necessary
13:19 because he felt he was so sinful.
13:22 Years later, looking back on his early experience
13:25 in his monastery, he said this,
13:28 "I was indeed a pious monk
13:30 and I followed the rules of my order
13:32 more strictly than I can express.
13:34 If ever a monk could obtain heaven
13:36 by his monkish works,
13:38 I should certainly have been entitled to it."
13:42 Well, with all his efforts
13:43 to make himself worthy of salvation,
13:45 he found no relief in the guilt of sin.
13:49 But God didn't fail to help him.
13:52 His mentor Staupitz opened the Word of God to his mind
13:55 and this is what he said to him.
13:57 He said, "Instead of torturing yourself
13:59 on account of your sins,
14:01 throw yourself into the Redeemer's arms.
14:04 Trust in Him,
14:05 in the righteousness of His life,
14:07 in the atonement of His death.
14:10 Listen to the Son of God.
14:12 He became man to give you the assurance of divine favor.
14:16 Love him who first loved you."
14:20 Well, at this stage, Martin's experience,
14:23 he was still a true son of a papal church
14:25 and he had no thought
14:27 that he would ever be anything else.
14:29 And the providence of God, he was led to visit Rome.
14:33 He pursued his journey on foot,
14:35 lodging at the monasteries on the way.
14:38 He entered the city, visited the churches,
14:42 listened to fantastic stories repeated
14:44 by priests and monks,
14:45 and he performed all the ceremonies required.
14:49 But everywhere he looked,
14:50 he saw sins that filled him with astonishment and horror.
14:55 He saw that inequity existed among all classes
14:58 that were clergy.
14:59 He heard indecent jokes from pulpits
15:03 and was filled with horror
15:04 at the awful profanity even during mass.
15:09 Turn where he would,
15:10 in the place where he expected holiness,
15:12 he found evil.
15:14 Writing about his experiences later,
15:16 he said, "No one can imagine what sins
15:19 and infamous actions are committed in Rome.
15:21 They must be seen and heard to be believed.
15:26 But at this time the pope had promised
15:28 an indulgence to all
15:29 who would climb up Pilate's staircase
15:31 when they need.
15:33 And the church claimed that these stairs
15:36 were the very stairs
15:37 that Jesus descended
15:38 as he left the Rome in judgment hall.
15:41 And that they were miraculously moved
15:43 from Jerusalem to Rome.
15:45 They're still there today and the devout tourists
15:49 still climb up these stairs on their knees.
15:53 While Luther was devoutly climbing these steps,
15:57 unaware that the Lord was about to give him
15:59 an unforgettable conversion experience,
16:03 as he climbed,
16:05 suddenly a voice-like thunder seemed to say to him,
16:09 "The just shall live by faith."
16:15 Deeply shocked at the realization
16:17 of what he was doing,
16:19 he sprang to his feet
16:20 and hastened from the place in shame and horror
16:23 and immediately began his journey home.
16:26 Well, it takes never lost its power upon his soul.
16:29 From that time on he saw more clearly
16:31 than ever before
16:34 the futility of trusting to human works for salvation
16:40 and the necessity of constant faith
16:41 in the merits of Christ.
16:44 His eyes had been opened
16:46 and were never again to be closed
16:48 to the delusions of the papacy.
16:51 When he turned his face from Rome,
16:53 he had turned away also in heart,
16:56 and from that time
16:57 the separation grew wider and wider
17:01 until eventually
17:02 he severed all connection with the papal church.
17:07 Eventually,
17:08 he received the degree the Doctor of Divinity
17:10 from the University of Wittenberg
17:13 where he was employed as the professor of theology
17:16 and with the thunderous words
17:18 "The just shall live by faith,"
17:20 still ringing in his mind,
17:22 he began to teach that
17:23 "Christians should receive no other doctrine than those
17:26 which rest on the authority of the Sacred Scriptures."
17:29 That's good advice, isn't it?
17:30 Amen. Amen.
17:32 These words struck
17:34 at the very foundation of papal supremacy.
17:37 They contained divided principle
17:38 of the mighty Protestant Reformation,
17:42 presses with the message
17:43 which he brought to the eager crowds
17:45 that hung upon his words.
17:47 Never before
17:48 had such teachings fallen upon their ear.
17:51 The glad tidings of Savior's love,
17:54 the assurance of pardon and peace to his atoning blood
17:58 rejoiced their hearts
17:59 that inspired within them an immortal hope.
18:04 At Wittenberg, a light was kindled
18:06 whose rays should extend
18:08 to the uttermost parts the earth
18:11 and which was to increasing brightness
18:13 to the close of time.
18:16 Meanwhile, the Roman Church
18:19 will be making merchandise of the grace of God.
18:22 Under the excuse of raising fund
18:24 for the erection of St. Peter's Church at Rome,
18:27 indulgences to sin were publicly offered for sale
18:30 by the authority of the pope.
18:33 By the price of crime,
18:34 a temple was to be built for God's worship.
18:39 The cornerstone laid with the wages of inequity.
18:44 The official appointed to conduct
18:45 the sale of indulgences in Germany,
18:47 the chief salesman, Tetzel by name,
18:51 he had been convicted
18:52 of basest offences against society
18:55 and against the law of God
18:56 but he was still employed
18:58 to further the mercenary projects
19:00 of the pope in Germany.
19:02 He repeated glaring falsehoods and marvelous tiles
19:05 to deceive an ignorant and superstitious people.
19:08 In fact, at the end of the town
19:10 a messenger went before him announcing,
19:13 "The grace of God and of the Holy Father
19:15 is at your gates."
19:17 And the people walk on the blessings
19:19 pretending as if he were God himself
19:21 come down from heaven to them.
19:24 He set off this dishonorable traffic
19:26 in the church and ascended to pulpit,
19:29 and extolled the indulgences
19:31 as the most precious gift of God.
19:35 He even declared that
19:36 by virtue of his certificates of pardon,
19:38 all the sins
19:40 which a purchaser should afterward desire to commit
19:43 would be forgiven to him
19:45 and that not even repentance was necessary.
19:47 Imagine that.
19:49 You can do anything you liked
19:51 and you'd be quite confident
19:52 that it didn't matter what you did,
19:54 you'll be forgiven as long as you put some money in the box.
19:59 More than this,
20:00 he assured his hearers that the indulgences
20:02 even had the power to save
20:04 not only the living but the dead.
20:07 At the very moment the money should click
20:09 against the bottom of his chest,
20:11 the soul on whose behalf
20:12 it had been paid would escape from purgatory
20:15 and make its way to heaven.
20:18 And believe it or not,
20:19 Tetzel's offer was grasped by eager thousands,
20:22 and gold and silver flowed into his treasury.
20:26 Now the salvation that could be bought with money
20:29 was more easily obtained
20:30 than that which requires repentance, faith,
20:33 and diligent effort to exist and overcome sin.
20:38 Luther, though still a papacy of the state
20:40 of sort was filled with horror
20:42 at the blasphemous assumptions of the indulgence.
20:47 And many of his own congregation
20:49 had purchased certificates of pardon
20:51 and they soon began to come to their pastor
20:54 confessing their various sins and expecting absolution,
20:59 not because they repented and wished to reform,
21:02 but on the grounds of the indulgence.
21:05 Now Luther refused them absolution,
21:07 and he warned them
21:08 that unless they should repent and reform their lives,
21:11 they must perish in their sins.
21:14 Well, in great perplexity,
21:15 they returned to Tetzel
21:17 with the complaint that their confessor
21:19 had refused the certificate,
21:22 and some of them even boldly demanded
21:24 they get their money back.
21:26 Well, the friar was filled with rage.
21:29 He hurled at them terrible curses,
21:31 he even caused fires to be lighted in public squares
21:34 and he declared that he had received this order
21:36 from the pope to burn all heretics
21:38 who presumed to oppose his most holy indulgences.
21:42 This is the trigger for Luther
21:45 to boldly begin his work as a champion of the truth.
21:49 He told the people not to buy indulgences
21:51 but to look in faith to a crucified redeemer.
21:55 He told them about his own painful experiences
21:57 and vainly trying to end salvation
21:59 by painfully climbing up those stairs on his knee
22:03 and many other works of humiliation and penance
22:06 and he assured his heirs
22:08 that he was by looking away from himself
22:11 and believing in Christ
22:13 that he found peace and joy.
22:16 But as Tetzel continued his deceptions,
22:19 Luther determined to make a bolder protest against him.
22:23 First of all saints with depressing sin, so Luther,
22:27 knowing that Tetzel
22:28 would try to sell his indulgences
22:30 to the people who came to see the relics,
22:32 on the day before the festival,
22:34 he joined the crowds walking to the church
22:37 and posted on its door
22:39 a paper containing 95 propositions
22:42 against the doctrines of indulgences
22:46 and he declared his willingness to defend these
22:48 theses next day at the university
22:51 against all who should see fit to attack him.
22:54 Well, in these theses
22:56 it was shown that the power to grant
22:57 the pardon of sin and to remit its penalty
23:01 had never been committed
23:02 to the pope or to any other man.
23:05 Now I will scream with the facts,
23:07 a deception to extort money
23:09 by playing upon
23:10 the superstitions of the people,
23:13 and it was also clearly shown this important statement that
23:17 "The gospel of Christ
23:18 is the most valuable treasure of the church
23:22 and that the grace of God, it revealed,
23:24 is freely granted to all
23:25 who seek it by" money, is that what it says?
23:29 No.
23:31 it says by "Repentance and faith."
23:36 Luther could not have imagined what the Lord would now do.
23:39 Because remember this was the time
23:41 when printing had just been invented.
23:43 In a few days, they were being copied
23:46 and they were being spread all over Germany
23:49 and a year after the posting of his theses on the door,
23:52 Luther's writings and his doctrines
23:55 were extending to every nation in Christendom.
23:58 The work spread to Switzerland and Holland,
24:02 copies of his writings found their way to France and Spain.
24:06 In England his teachings were received
24:08 as the word of life,
24:10 to Belgium and Italy also the truth had extended.
24:14 Thousands were awakening from the death-like stupor
24:18 to the joy and hope of a life of faith.
24:21 The climb out of the Dark Ages had begun.
24:26 Rome was bent upon the destruction of Luther,
24:29 but God was his defense.
24:32 His doctrines were heard everywhere,
24:33 in cottages, in conference,
24:35 in the castle of the nobles, in the universities,
24:39 and in the palaces of the kings,
24:41 and the noble men were rising on every hand
24:43 to sustain his effort.
24:47 Now Luther felt confident
24:48 that the church leaders were reasonable men
24:50 and they would gladly unite with him in reform
24:53 but how mistaken he was.
24:56 Crafty ecclesiastics seeing their games endangered,
25:00 they were enraged.
25:02 They quickly saw that the people
25:04 looked to Christ alone for salvation
25:07 would stop thousands of streams of money
25:09 from flowing into the church's coffin.
25:12 They would overthrow the pontiff's throne
25:14 and eventually destroy their own authority
25:17 so their writings of against Christ
25:19 and the truth by opposing the man
25:22 that God had so cleanly sent to enlighten them.
25:26 The writings of Luther had kindled everywhere
25:28 a new interest in the Holy Scriptures.
25:31 Not only from all parts of Germany
25:33 but from other lands
25:35 students flocked to the university.
25:38 Young men coming inside of Wittenberg
25:40 for the first time
25:41 would raise their hands to heaven,
25:43 and bless God for having caused a lot of truth
25:46 to shine forth from Wittenberg.
25:49 But Luther's opponents burning with a desire for revenge,
25:53 urged the pope to take decisive measures against him,
25:57 and it was decreed that his doctrines
26:00 should be immediately condemned.
26:02 Sixty days were granted to reformer
26:04 and his adherence,
26:06 after which if they did not recant
26:09 they were all to be excommunicated.
26:13 That was the curve of crisis for the reformation.
26:17 But when the papal bull reached Luther,
26:19 with terrible power,
26:20 he flung back upon Rome herself the sentence of condemnation.
26:26 In the presence of a crowd of citizens of all ranks,
26:29 Luther burned the papal bull and he said this,
26:33 "A serious struggle has just begun.
26:36 Before this,
26:38 I've been only playing with the pope.
26:40 I began this work in God's name,
26:43 it will be ended without me, and by his might.
26:47 Who knows if God has not chosen and called me
26:51 and if they ought not to fear that by despising me,
26:53 they despise God himself."
26:56 While there was peace for Luther for a while,
27:00 the pope's edict was not enacted
27:02 because the princes of Germany were supportive of him.
27:05 But after a few years a new emperor,
27:07 Charles V ascended the throne of Germany.
27:11 The Electorate of Saxony to him,
27:13 Charles was in great degree indebted to for his crown,
27:17 he entreated the emperor and he said,
27:20 "Don't take any steps against Luther
27:23 until you give him a hearing and a safe conduct."
27:28 So Luther was summoned to appear
27:30 before the assembly
27:33 at the city of Worms on April 17, 1521.
27:40 And at length Luther stood before the council.
27:44 The emperor occupied the throne.
27:46 He was surrounded
27:47 by the most illustrious personalities in the empire.
27:51 Never had any man appeared
27:53 in the presence of a more imposing assembly
27:56 but not before which Martin Luther
27:58 was to answer for his sake.
28:00 And his appearance of itself a signal of victory
28:04 over the papacy.
28:06 The pope had condemned the man
28:08 and he was now asked to appear before a tribunal
28:11 which by this very activities about the pope.
28:15 The pope had laid him and do a indict
28:17 and cut him off from all human society
28:21 and yet he was summoned in respectful language
28:24 and received before the most august assembly
28:27 in the world.
28:29 The pope had condemned him to perpetual silence
28:32 and he was now about to speak
28:33 before thousands of attentive hearers,
28:36 drawn together
28:37 from the furthest parts of Christendom
28:40 and immense revolution had best been affected
28:43 by Luther's instrumentality.
28:46 Rome was already descending from her throne
28:49 and it was the voice of a monk that caused this humiliation.
28:54 In the presence of that
28:56 powerful entitled assembly
28:58 the lowly born reformer seemed at odd and embarrassed.
29:02 Several of the princes, observing his emotion,
29:05 they approached him and one of them whispered
29:08 "Fear not them which kill the body
29:10 but are not able to kill the soul."
29:13 Another said,
29:14 when you shall be brought
29:16 before governors and kings for My sake,
29:18 it shall be given you
29:19 by the Spirit of your Father, what you shall say."
29:24 So in this way the words of Christ
29:26 were brought by the world's great men
29:28 to strengthen his servants in the hour of trial.
29:33 When Luther was conducted to a position directly
29:35 in front of the emperor's throne,
29:38 a deep silence fell upon the crowded assembly.
29:42 Then an imperial officer arose
29:44 and pointing to a collection of Luther's writings,
29:47 he demanded that the reformer answer
29:49 two questions.
29:51 The first question was whether
29:52 he acknowledges the books as his own,
29:56 and the second one was whether he proposed
29:58 to retract the opinions
30:00 which he had expressed in them.
30:03 After the officer read out the titles of the books,
30:06 Luther replied to answer the first question,
30:08 he acknowledged the books to be his.
30:12 As to the second, he said,
30:14 "Seeing that it is a question
30:16 which concerns faith and salvation of souls,
30:20 and in which the Word of God,
30:22 the greatest and most precious treasure
30:25 either in heaven or earth is involved,
30:28 I should act imprudently
30:31 were I to reply without reflection.
30:34 I might affirm less than the circumstance demands,
30:38 or more than the truth requires,
30:40 and so sin against this saying of Christ who said,
30:43 "Whosoever shall deny Me before men,
30:46 him will I also deny before My Father
30:48 which is in heaven."
30:50 And that was in Matthew 10:33.
30:53 "For this reason I entreat your Imperial Majesty,
30:57 with all humility, to allow me time,
30:59 that I may answer without offending
31:02 against the Word of God."
31:04 Well, he got, he was given some time.
31:07 And the next day
31:08 he was to appear to render his final answer.
31:11 But that night in his room,
31:13 his heart sank within him as he contemplated the forces
31:18 that were combined against the truth.
31:21 His faith faltered, fearfulness and trembling came upon him,
31:26 and horror overwhelmed him, dangers multiplied before him,
31:32 his enemy seemed about to triumph,
31:35 and the powers of darkness appeared about to prevail.
31:39 Clouds gathered about him
31:41 and seemed to separate him from God.
31:43 He longed for the assurance
31:45 that the Lord of hosts would be with him.
31:47 In an anguish of spirit
31:49 he threw himself with his face upon the earth
31:52 and poured out those broken, heart-rending cries,
31:55 which none but God can fully understand.
31:58 This is what he prayed, listen carefully to his prayer.
32:03 He said, "Oh, almighty and everlasting God,
32:06 how terrible is this world!
32:08 Behold, it openeth its mouth to swallow me up,
32:11 and I have so little trust in Thee.
32:14 If it is only in the strength of this world
32:17 that I must put my trust, all is over.
32:20 My last hour's come,
32:22 my condemnation has been pronounced.
32:25 Oh, God, do thou help me
32:27 against all the wisdom of the world.
32:29 Do this, thou alone,
32:31 for this is not my work, but thine.
32:34 I have nothing to do here,
32:36 nothing to contend
32:37 for with these great ones of the world.
32:40 But this cause is thine,
32:42 and it is a righteous and eternal cause.
32:45 "Oh, Lord!" He says, "Help me!"
32:48 Faithful and unchangeable God, in no man do I place my trust.
32:53 All that is of man is uncertain,
32:56 all that cometh of man fails.
32:59 Thou hast chosen me for this work,
33:02 stand at my side for the sake
33:03 of thy well-beloved Jesus Christ,
33:05 who is my defense, my shield, and my strong tower."
33:10 In his utter hopelessness,
33:12 his faith fastened upon Christ, the mighty deliverer,
33:15 he was strengthened with the assurance
33:17 that he would not appear alone before the council.
33:21 Peace returned to his soul,
33:24 and he rejoiced that he was permitted
33:25 to uplift the Word of God
33:27 before the rulers of the nations.
33:32 While his mind stayed upon God,
33:33 Luther prepared for the struggle before him.
33:36 He thought upon the plan of his answer.
33:39 He examined passages in his own writing,
33:42 and drew from the Holy Scriptures
33:44 suitable proofs to sustain his position.
33:47 Then, laying his left hand on the Sacred Volume,
33:51 which was open before him,
33:53 he lifted his right hand to heaven and he vowed,
33:57 "To remain faithful to the gospel,
33:59 and freely to confess his faith,
34:02 even should he seal his testimony
34:05 with his blood."
34:08 Well, the next morning,
34:09 when he was again ushered into the presence of the Diet,
34:12 his countenance bore
34:14 no trace of fear or embarrassment.
34:16 Calm and peaceful, yet grandly brave and noble,
34:20 he stood as God's witness
34:21 among the great ones of the earth.
34:24 The imperial officer now demanded his decision
34:27 as to whether he desired to retract his doctrines.
34:31 Luther made his answer in a subdued and humble tone,
34:35 without violence or passion,
34:38 his demeanor was diffident and respectful,
34:41 yet he manifested a confidence and a joy
34:44 that surprised the assembly.
34:48 Proceeding to the question,
34:49 he stated that his published works
34:51 were not all of the same character.
34:54 In some he had treated of faith and good works,
34:57 and even his enemies declared them
34:59 to be not only harmless but profitable.
35:02 To retract these would be to condemn truth
35:05 which all parties confess.
35:08 And the second class consisted of writing
35:10 exposing the corruptions and abuses of the papacy.
35:14 To revoke these works
35:16 would strengthen the tyranny of Rome,
35:18 and open a wider door to many and great impieties.
35:22 In the third class of his books,
35:24 he had attacked individuals
35:26 who had defended existing evils.
35:29 And concerning these,
35:30 he freely confessed
35:32 that he had been more violent than was becoming.
35:35 He did not claim to be free from fault,
35:38 but even these books he could not revoke,
35:41 for such a course would embolden
35:42 the enemies of truth,
35:44 and they would then take occasion
35:45 to crush God's people with still greater cruelty.
35:50 "Yet," he said, "
35:51 I am but a mere man, and I'm not God.
35:55 I shall therefore defend myself as Christ did,
35:58 'If I have spoken evil, and bear witness of evil.'
36:04 By the mercy of God,
36:05 I conjure you, most serene emperor,
36:08 and you most illustrious princes,
36:11 and all men of every degree,
36:13 to prove from the writings of the prophets and apostles
36:16 that I have erred.
36:18 As soon as I'm convinced of this,
36:21 I will retract every error,
36:22 and be the first to throw my books
36:25 into the fire."
36:27 "What I've just said plainly shows, I hope,
36:30 that I've carefully weighed in considered the dangers
36:32 to which I exposed myself,
36:35 but far from being dismayed,
36:37 I rejoice to see that the gospel is now,
36:40 as in former times,
36:42 a cause of trouble and dissension.
36:45 This is the character,
36:46 this is the destiny of the Word of God.
36:49 He said,
36:50 "I came not to send peace on the earth,
36:52 but a sword" said Jesus Christ.
36:54 God is wonderful and terrible in his counsels, beware lest,
36:57 by presuming to quench dissensions,
37:00 you should persecute the holy word of God,
37:02 and draw down upon yourselves a frightful deluge
37:06 of insurmountable dangers,
37:09 of present disasters and eternal damnation.
37:16 I might quote many examples from the Oracles of God.
37:20 I might speak of the Pharaohs, the kings of Babylon,
37:22 and those of Israel,
37:24 whose labors never more effectually contributed
37:26 to their own destruction
37:28 than when they sought by counsels,
37:30 to all appearance most wise, to strengthen their dominion.
37:35 But God removed mountains, and they know it not.
37:39 Interestingly Luther had spoken always in German.
37:43 And he was now requested to repeat
37:45 the same speech in Latin.
37:48 He was exhausted by the previous effort,
37:50 but he complied with this,
37:52 and he again delivered his speech
37:54 with the same clearness and energy as at the first.
37:58 God's providence directed in this matter.
38:01 And the minds of many of the princes
38:02 were so blinded by error and superstition
38:05 that at the first delivery
38:07 they didn't see
38:08 the force of Luther's words or his reasoning.
38:11 But the repetition in Latin enabled them
38:14 to perceive clearly the points he was trying to point out.
38:18 Those who stubbornly closed their eyes to the light,
38:21 and determined not to be convinced
38:23 of the truth,
38:24 were enraged at the power of Luther's words.
38:28 As he stopped speaking,
38:30 the spokesman of the Diet said angrily,
38:33 "You have not answered the question put to you.
38:36 You are required to give a clear
38:38 and precise answer.
38:39 Will you or will you not retract?"
38:43 The reformer answered,
38:46 "Since your most serene majesty
38:47 and your high mightiness's require
38:49 from me a clear, simple, and precise answer,
38:54 I will give you one, and it is this.
38:57 I cannot submit my faith either to the pope
39:01 or to the councils
39:03 because it is clear as the day
39:04 that they have frequently erred and contradicted each other.
39:09 Unless, therefore,
39:11 I am convinced by the testimony of Scripture
39:14 or by the clearest reasoning,
39:16 unless I am persuaded
39:18 by means of the passages I have quoted,
39:21 and unless they thus render my conscience,
39:23 bound by the Word of God,
39:26 I cannot and I will not retract,
39:30 for it is not safe for a Christian
39:32 to speak against his conscience.
39:35 Here I stand, I can do no other.
39:39 God, help me.
39:41 Amen."
39:44 Well, at this speech,
39:45 the agents of Rome had been roasted.
39:48 They sought to maintain their power,
39:50 not by appealing to Scripture,
39:52 but by threats, Rome's unfailing argument.
39:58 Said the spokesman of the Diet,
39:59 "If you do not retract,
40:01 the emperor and the states of the empire
40:03 will consult what course to adopt
40:06 against an incorrigible heretic."
40:11 But Luther said calmly,
40:14 "May God be my helper, for I can retract nothing."
40:19 He was directed to withdraw
40:21 while the princes consulted together.
40:24 And Luther's persistent refusal to submit,
40:26 might affect the history of the church for ages.
40:30 It was decided to give him
40:32 one more opportunity to retract.
40:34 So he was brought back into the assembly.
40:37 And again the question was put,
40:39 would he renounce his doctrines?
40:42 "I have no other reply to make,"
40:44 he said, "than that which I have already made."
40:48 Well, as the Roman legate perceived
40:49 the effect produced by Luther's speech,
40:52 he resolved to employ every means at his command
40:55 to affect the Reformer's overthrow.
40:58 So with all his eloquence and diplomatic skill,
41:02 he went to the youthful emperor
41:04 and he whispered to him and spoke to him
41:07 about the danger of sacrificing the friendship
41:10 and support of Rome
41:12 for the cause of an insignificant monk.
41:15 And unfortunately,
41:17 this did have an effect on the emperor
41:20 because the next day Charles caused a message
41:24 to be presented to the Diet,
41:26 announcing his determination to carry out the policy
41:28 of his predecessors to protect the Catholic religion,
41:32 and use the most vigorous measures
41:34 to oppose Luther and his heresies.
41:38 With this decision,
41:39 the ruler of Germany decided
41:41 that he would not step out of the path of custom,
41:43 even to walk in the way of the truth and righteousness.
41:47 Because his fathers upheld the papacy,
41:50 he would do the same,
41:52 even with all its cruelty and corruption.
41:56 So he refused to accept any light in advances
41:59 for his fathers had received
42:00 or to perform any duty
42:03 that they had not performed.
42:06 It's like Pilate, centuries before,
42:09 permitted pride and popularity to close his heart
42:13 against the world's Redeemer,
42:16 just like the proud Agrippa confessed to the Apostle Paul,
42:21 "Almost they persuaded me to be a Christian,"
42:25 and yet he turned away from the heaven-sent message.
42:29 The same divine power had spoken through Luther
42:32 to the emperor and the princes of Germany.
42:36 And as the light shone forth from God's Word,
42:38 his spirit pleaded for the last time
42:41 with many in that assembly.
42:46 So Charles V,
42:47 yielding to the dictates of worldly pride and policy,
42:50 decided to reject the light of truth.
42:56 Well the take home message of this story for us today
42:58 is what.
43:00 It is this.
43:02 Many people today still cling to the customs and traditions
43:06 of their fathers.
43:09 So when the Lord sends a medicinal light,
43:11 they refuse to accept it
43:13 because not having been graded to their fathers
43:15 it was not received by them.
43:18 Friends, we are not placed in the same time period
43:21 or in the same circumstances that our fathers were.
43:26 Our duties and responsibilities are not the same as this.
43:30 We shall not be approved of God
43:32 if we continue to look at the example of our fathers
43:35 to determine our duty
43:37 instead of searching the word of truth for our souls.
43:42 Our responsibility is greater
43:44 than with that of our ancestors.
43:47 We are accountable for the light
43:48 which they received
43:50 and which was handed down as inheritance for us.
43:54 And we are accountable also for the additional light
43:57 which is now shining upon us from the Word of God.
44:04 The most prolific woman author in all history,
44:07 Ellen G. White,
44:08 she summed it up very well when she said this,
44:12 "The banner of truths and religious liberty
44:14 which these reformers held aloft has,
44:17 in this last conflict, being committed to us."
44:22 The responsibility for this great gift
44:25 rests with those
44:26 whom God has blessed with the knowledge of His Word.
44:29 Friends, that is you, and that is me.
44:33 She said, "We are to receive God's word
44:35 as supreme authority.
44:38 We must accept its truth for ourselves.
44:40 And we can appreciate these truths
44:42 only as we search them out by personal study.
44:46 And then, if we make God's word the guide of our lives,
44:50 for us is they answered the prayer of Christ,
44:52 'Sanctify them through thy truth.
44:55 Thy word is truth."
44:59 So the question for you and me today is this,
45:03 "Are you willing to search for truth in God's Word
45:06 as studiously as did Martin Luther
45:10 and the reformers of old?"
45:12 Think about this question.
45:16 And,
45:17 "Are you willing to stand for the truth
45:19 in God's strength alone,
45:21 whenever and wherever He calls you?"
45:26 Please, consider these questions
45:28 as you watch this beautiful hymn
45:30 written by Martin Luther
45:32 and sung by the Fountainview Choir
45:34 and Orchestra, our mighty fortress is our God.
46:08 Welcome, I'm your host John Bradshaw.
46:11 And I'm so glad you've joined us
46:13 for The Great Controversy production,
46:15 presented by Fountainview Academy
46:17 Orchestra and Singers.
47:23 A mighty fortress is our God
47:28 A bulwark never failing
47:33 Our helper He Amid the flood
47:38 Of mortal ills prevailing
47:45 For still our ancient foe
47:49 Doth seek to work us woe
47:53 His craft and pow'r are great
47:58 And armed with cruel hate
48:02 On earth is not his equal
48:10 Did we in our own strength confide
48:15 Our striving would be losing
48:21 Were not the right Man on our side
48:27 The Man of God's own choosing
48:32 Dost ask who that may be?
48:36 Christ Jesus it is He Lord Sabaoth
48:43 His Name
48:45 From age to age the same
48:49 And He must
48:51 Win the battle
48:59 And though this world
49:01 With devils filled
49:07 Should threaten
49:08 to undo us
49:13 We will not fear for God hath willed
49:20 His truth to triumph through us
49:26 The Prince of Darkness grim
49:32 We tremble not for him
49:37 His rage we can endure
49:42 For lo, his doom is sure
49:48 One little word
49:50 Shall fell him
50:15 That word above
50:19 All earthly pow'rs
50:24 No thanks to them
50:28 Abideth
50:34 The Spirit
50:36 And the gifts are ours
50:43 Through Him
50:45 Who with us sideth
50:53 Let goods and kindred go
50:58 This mortal life also
51:02 The body they may kill
51:07 God's truth abideth still
51:13 His kingdom
51:16 Is forever
51:42 Let us pray.
51:46 Loving Father in heaven,
51:48 we pray thee and thank you so much
51:49 for the mighty heritage of history,
51:52 the mighty price that had been paid
51:55 for the Reformation.
51:57 A great light that has shone out of darkness upon us today,
52:00 help us Lord to appreciate it, to apply to our lives.
52:04 Lord, we pray that you will fill us
52:06 with zeal and enthusiasm
52:08 that we might live according to the light
52:10 you've given us
52:11 and spread that light to others
52:13 because we ask these things in Jesus' precious name.
52:17 Amen.


Revised 2017-12-24