500 years ago, a man stood ready to die for biblical truth.
In June 1520, Pope Leo X condemned 41 of Luther’s Ninety-five Theses (challenges to the church, nailed to the door of the Wittenberg church on Oct. 31, 1517), but he also gave Luther time to recant (his teaching that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone).
Luther refused to recant what he knew the Bible clearly taught to be true.
He was excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church on January 3, 1521. While the emperor should then have arrested and executed Luther, the intervention of Luther’s prince, Elector Frederick III the Wise of Saxony, led to the decision that he would appear for a hearing at the Diet under the emperor’s safe-conduct.
Under immense pressure to recant or be imprisoned and/or executed, Luther stood before the emperor and, defending his integrity, stated respectfully,
“If I am shown my error, I will be the first to throw my books into the fire.”
In other words, “If I am missing something, or altogether wrong, I ask you to please show me from the scriptures and I will be the first one to acknowledge my error.” (I recently read, “Truth does not mind being questioned. A lie does not like being challenged.”)
When the religious leadership self-righteously exposed themselves as having no interest in being challenged Luther made his now famous stand by saying,
“My conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything. For to go against conscience [conviction] is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I can do no other. God help me. Amen.”
God did help him. It’s an amazing story.
His story helps us to remember that biblical truth is (1) hated, and (2) worth standing up for.
If interested, I would highly recommend Eric Metaxas’ ‘Martin Luther: The Man Who Rediscovered God’s Word and Changed the World.’
Sola Gratia, Sola Fide, Solus Christus, nw