Plainly Spoken

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Daily Reformation, 1 Timothy 4:7b-16

From the Reformer

Therefore, as at that time, so at all times there are few who stand by the divine truth, and imperil and risk life and limb, goods and honor, and all that they have, as Christ has foretold: “Ye shall be hated of all men for My Name’s sake.” And: “Many of them shall be offended in Me.” Yea, if this truth were attacked by peasants, herdsmen, stable boys and men of no standing, who would not be willing and able to confess it and to bear witness to it? But when the pope, and the bishops, together with princes and kings attack it, all men flee, keep silent, dissemble, in order that they may not lose goods, honor, favor, and life.

Why do they do this? Because they have no faith in God, and expect nothing good from Him. For where such faith and confidence are, there is also a bold, defiant, fearless heart, that ventures and stands by the truth, though it cost life or cloak, though it be against pope or kings; as we see that the martyrs did. For such a heart is satisfied and rests easy because it has a gracious, loving God. Therefore it despises all the favor, grace, goods, and honor of men, lets them come and go as they please…

—Martin Luther, A Treatise on Good Works

Pulling It Together

Martin Luther was born, November 10, 1483, and died, February 18, 1546. In between, on October 31, 1517, he did something very risky. A young man, 33 years old, he wrote Albert, the Archbishop of Mainz and Magdeberg, about the accepted church practice of selling indulgences that absolved the buyers’ sins, using the money to build splendid structures to the glory of God—and man. Some would argue the greater glory went to the latter.

Luther enclosed in his letter to the Archbishop a copy of his “95 Theses” —propositions that tradition states Luther also nailed to the door of the Castle Church. This ensured that, not only the church leadership but, every common person would know what he had written.

Young Luther did not entertain some sense of grandeur. Instead, he plainly spoke from the authority of the scripture. Despite what some critics may say about Luther’s lack of humility, his boldness was no settled thing at this point in his life. It was exceptionally risky in his day to attack the status quo. All else aside, he put his life on the line in order to plainly teach from the scripture alone.

© Mark E. Ryman, Daily Reformation: Devotions with the Reformers

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