504 years ago tomorrow, a man fearless in his faith did something that could have well cost him his life. And it almost did.
I touched on this in this week’s Navigator but felt compelled to add the following.
Historians call it “Reformation Day.”
Pastor/author, John MacArthur, is spot-on:
“Clearly, the greatest triumph to emerge from the Protestant Reformation was the Bible being placed into the hands of the people, in their own language.”
Why was placing the Bible in the hands of the people so important? Because, in those days, unless you were wealthy or ranked highly within the clergy, you had no access to the written Word of God. The clergy could tell you the Bible said whatever they wanted it to say. (This is precisely why I exhort listeners to read and study the scriptures for themselves. Don’t take a preacher’s or a teacher’s word for it any more than the Bereans didn’t take Paul’s word for it.)
Michelle and I have stood inside the very room in Wartburg Castle in Eisenach, Germany, (see pic below) where the “outlaw”, Martin Luther, illegally translated Erasmus’ Greek New Testament into German, the language of the people. This is when the Five Solas became the war-cry of the reformers.
NOTE: I, in no way, mean to romanticize Luther. Although used mightily by God during his lifetime, Luther was, like all of us, merely human and, thus, deeply flawed. Nonetheless, his story is, both, engrossing and inspiring, challenging any and all to become a responsible student of the Bible.
The reformation is a fascinating period of church history when “all heaven broke loose.” As a result, Satan didn’t go quietly. Like the apostles of the New Testament, the men who championed putting scripture into the hands of all the people paid a high price, some being tortured and some executed.
At dinner one evening in the early 16th century, one Catholic scholar exclaimed that the word of the Pope superseded the Bible. In response, the reformer, William Tyndale, fired back,
“I defy the Pope and all his laws. . . . If God spare my life ere many years, I will cause a boy that driveth the plow, shall know more of the Scripture than thou dost.”
This cost Tyndale dearly. Soon after, he was strangled and burned at the stake. While dying, he cried out, “Lord, open the king of England’s eye.”
A half century later, God did just that as King James authorized the translation of the scriptures into English.
If interested, please permit me to recommend a few resources. It’s a story fraught with danger, risk and sacrifice.
I placed the biographies and references in the below photo on top of the Bible since, if Luther were in my office today, would be filled with fury should I not make it perfectly clear that God’s Word, and God’s Word alone, is our sole standard for truth. As the reformers exclaimed, “Sola Scriptura!”
Soli Deo Gloria, Nick
- “The Unquenchable Flame: Discovering the Heart of the Reformation” – Michael Reeves
- “Martin Luther’s Tabletalk: Luther’s comments on life, the church and the Bible”
- “Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther” – Roland Bainton
- “Martin Luther: The man who rediscovered God and changed the world” – Eric Metaxas
- “The Reformation: A History” – Diarmaid MacCullouch