Sun, 24 June 2018
Martin Luther was a devout Roman Catholic priest. He loved the word of God and held to its truths tenaciously. He came to question some of the practices and teachings of his church. He posted 95 theses (or points of concern) to the door of the parish church in Wittenberg, Germany where he often preached.
For his protests, he was ultimately put on trial before the emperor and ecclesiastical leaders. He was ordered to recant but he refused. He famously said,
Your Imperial Majesty and Your Lordships demand a simple answer. Here it is, plain and unvarnished. Unless I am convicted [convinced] of error by the testimony of Scripture or (since I put no trust in the unsupported authority of Pope or councils, since it is plain that they have often erred and often contradicted themselves) by manifest reasoning, I stand convicted [convinced] by the Scriptures to which I have appealed, and my conscience is taken captive by God's word, I cannot and will not recant anything, for to act against our conscience is neither safe for us, nor open to us. On this I take my stand. I can do no other. God help me.
For his disobediences he was excommunicated by the Pope and condemned as an outlaw by the Holy Roman Emperor. He could be killed with immunity.
A German prince gave him refuge in the Wartburg Castle. It became his temporal fortress and there he translated the Scriptures into the German language. But his true and eternal fortress was the Lord God.
To this point he wrote one of if not the best-loved hymn of all time: “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.” Some of the lyrics are:
A mighty Fortress is our God,
A Bulwark never failing;
Our Helper He amid the flood
Of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe
Doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great,
And, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.
Did we in our own strength confide,
Our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side,
The Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth His Name,
From age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.
And though this world, with devils filled,
Should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed
His truth to triumph through us:
The Prince of Darkness grim,
We tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure,
For lo! his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.
That word above all earthly powers,
No thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours
Through Him who with us sideth:
Let goods and kindred go,
This mortal life also;
The body they may kill:
God’s truth abideth still,
His Kingdom is forever.
For Martin Luther, God was his fortress. In that confidence he defied emperor and pope. In God he trusted.
What is your fortress? In what or in whom do you trust? To whom do you run in times of trouble?
Psalm 91 makes clear who ought to be our fortress and refuge. It also makes crystal clear the blessings that come when our God is our fortress. Let’s open our Bibles and our hearts to these truths this morning.
Songs of the Summer
“A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty (91:1).
I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” (91:2)
For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence(91:3).