In honor of Reformation Day 2011, this is a repost of an older post that highlighted the trial of Martin Luther, several years after he boldly nailed his 95 Thesis to the Castle Church door of Wittenberg on October 31, 1517. An event which sparked the Protestant Reformation and changed the world forever: “Here I stand. I can do no other.”
In reading R.C. Sproul’s classic book, The Holiness of God, I was fascinated with the chapter entitled The Insanity of Luther in which he describes Luther’s trial at the Diet of Worms (dee-et of vorms). An interesting note that Sproul highlights is that at the initial inquisition, Luther was not the bold, fearless man that we’ve seen portrayed in movies or read of in books. Like his first mass after his ordination, he faltered. The first session met April 17, 1521 and prior to his arrival, Luther had spoken out boldly saying, “This shall be my recantation at Worms: ‘Previously I said the pope is the vicar of Christ. I recant. Now I say the pope is the adversary of Christ and the apostle of the Devil.” Such was Luther and the crowd expected much of the same, but instead to his 95 thesis Luther replied “The books are all mine, and I have written more.” When asked if he recanted them he replied, “I beg you, give me time to think it over.” That night feeling the weight of the situation Luther prayed:
O’God, Almighty God everlasting! How dreadful is the world! Behold how its mouth opens and swallows me up, and how small is my faith in thee!…Oh! the weakness of the flesh, and the power of Satan! If I am to depend upon any strength of this world – all is over….The knell is struck….Sentence is gone forth….O God! O God! O thou, my God! Help me against all the wisdom of this world. Do this, I beseech thee; thou shouldst do this…by thy own mighty power….The work is not mine, but thine. I have no business here….I have nothing to contend for with these great men of the world! I would gladly pass my days in happiness and peace. But the cause is thine….And it is righteous and everlasting! O Lord! Help me! O faithful and unchangeable God! Does thou not hear? My God! Art thou no longer living? Nay, thou canst not die. Thou dost but hide thyself. Thou hast chosen me for this work. I know it!…Therefore, O God, accomplish thine own will! Forsake me not, for the sake of thy well-beloved Son, Jesus Christ, my defense, my buckler, and my stronghold. Lord – where art thou?…My God, where art thou?…Come! I pray thee, I am ready….Behold me prepared to lay down my life for thy truth…suffering like a lamb. For the cause is holy. It is thine own!…I will not let thee go! No, nor yet for all eternity! And though the world should be thronged with devils – and this body, which is the work of thine hands, should be cast forth, trodden under foot, cut in pieces,…consumed to ashes, my soul is thine. Yes, I have thine own word to assure me of it. My soul belongs to thee, and will abide with thee forever! Amen! O God send help!…Amen!
And with that, literally one man against the entire Roman Church, the following day Martin Luther delivered the legendary defiant response similar to the scene captured in the movie clip below:
Oh that God would give us more Martin Luther’s to stand up against the attacks of God’s Word that are happening on a daily basis within the Church. Men whose consciences are captive to the Word of God.