Galatians 1:15-17 & John 14:1-7
From the Reformer
I tell you I stood in awe of the pope’s authority. To dissent from him I considered a crime worthy of eternal death. I thought of John Huss as a cursed heretic. I counted it a sin even to think of him. I would gladly have furnished the wood to burn him. I would have felt I had done God a real service.
In comparison with these sanctimonious hypocrites of the papacy, publicans and harlots are not bad. They at least feel remorse. They at least do not try to justify their wicked deeds. But these pretended saints, so far from acknowledging their errors, justify them and regard them as acceptable sacrifices unto God.
—Martin Luther, Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians
Pulling It Together
“You’ve got to believe me.” The man stood before the magistrate and swore he was telling the truth. The magistrate’s job was not to judge whether he was lying or not. That was either a judge’s or a jury’s job. The magistrate’s task was to set a bail commensurate to the charge — not to believe or disbelieve the one arrested. Do you believe a police officer because he is an sworn official? Do you disbelieve a person because he has a record of criminal offenses? Do you believe a preacher because he claims to be a “man of God”? People are sometimes given authority that they do not themselves believe in.
So, by what authority can one believe anything? This world is a treacherous place. Who do you trust? How do you know what is right? In the courtroom one swears on the Bible but it does not mean the truth will be told. That Bible is merely a prop if what it says is not known and believed by the one swearing. In the sanctuary the preacher holds a Bible that can also be a prop if he does not know and believe the words of life it contains. Pilate smirked to Jesus himself, “What is truth?” as though it were a pliable thing.
There is only one reliable source for discovering truth. The courts and churches are on the right track but they must stop using the Bible as a prop — and begin using it as a guide to the truth. John Huss’ words would never be given a chance of being found true if they were simply overruled by mere earthly authorities. The challenge must come by the word of God. Is it true by the standard of the book?
When so judged, the authority and testimony of popes, preachers, and police officers may be found wanting. Those we assumed were lying criminals may have been bearers of truth all the while.
© Mark E. Ryman, Daily Reform: Devotions with the Reformers