Richard offered us two stories from the reformation this past Sunday. These stories were of Martin Luther and Roland Taylor. For your encouragement, we wanted to share those stories in print form. This is what Richard shared with us about those two men:
On October 31, 1517 a monk named Martin Luther nailed his 95 complaints, against the practices of the church, on the church door of the Witternburg Castle.
In 1518, The Empeor in Rome charges Luther with heresy (because of his writings subsequent to the posting of the 95 theses). Even though Luther nobly defended his beliefs as biblical, he has to flee for his life and is protected by a man named Frederick the Wise, an Elector who lived in Lutherstadt, Wittenberg
In 1520, Luther threw himself into writing. Three men were assigned to reprint what he had written, yet he wrote so fast that even three could not keep up with him. Most importantly, he did not write in Latin which was the academic language of the day. Instead, he wrote in the peoples’ German so that common people could understand the gospel of Jesus Chrsit which had long been hidden from them.
In 1521, Luther is excommunicated from the official church and summoned to appear before the Diet of Worms (the Council of Worms, a city in western Germany). On the evening of April 16, 1521 Luther entered the city of Worms. Thousands lined the street to cheer for him. Yes, it looked like a triumphal entry, but Luther knew how the triumphal entry ended for Chrsit – death. In fact, Luther entered the city expecting death.
Determined to defend his teaching, Luther said;
“Christ lives, and we shall enter Worms in spite of all the gates of hell.”
At 4 pm on the next day, Luther, an excommunicated monk, the son of a German miner, entered the meeting hall where he stood before Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor, lord of Spain, Austria, Burgundy, Italy, the Netherlands. He was viewed by himself and his loyal followers as God’s viceroy, God’s representative on earth.
Soon after he arrived, the emperor’s spokesman pointed to a pile of Luther’s books on a table and was asked a simple question. Were these books his writings and was he willing to recant (retract, apologize for) everything he had written.
Luther was sincerely surprised that he was given no opportunity to defend his writings that he asked permission to not answer for another day. He was granted permission, but warned that if he said anything the next day, other than he recanted, he could expect a brutal outcome. Everyone in attendance thought Luther’s decision to wait a day was a sign he was going to back down. They were greatly mistaken.
The next day, Luther was brought in the meeting hall at 6 pm. Because the hall was packed with people holding torches, it was quite hot. Luther was profusely sweating. When Luther was asked if he were ready to recant he replied;
“Good God, what sort of tool of evil…I would then be. I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not retract anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. I cannot do otherwise, here I stand, my God help me. Amen.”
By God’s design, Luther escaped death during this time. God was not yet finished with His tongue and pen.
The second story is Roland Taylor
During the protestant reformation, 286 men and women were burned alive in England during the reign of Queen Mary. Hundreds more were killed in other countries throughout Europe during the same period.
The third man to die under the reign of Queen Mary was Roland Taylor. He was a pastor betrayed by two of his parishioners which led to his arrest and imprisonment.
The night before he was to be burned, he was allowed to have dinner with his wife and children. He gave his son a Latin book that contained notable sayings from old martyrs. And the back of the book he wrote these words, “I say to my wife and my children, the Lord gave you unto me; the Lord has taken me from you and you from me. Blessed be the name of the Lord. God careth for sparrows and the hairs of our head. I have never found him more faithful and favorable than now….Trust ye therefore in Him. Count me not dead, for I shall certainly live and never die. I go before and you shall follow after to our eternal home.”