For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods:
“Luther is now to be seen as a convicted heretic. He has 21 days from the 15th of April. After that time, no one should give him shelter. His followers also are to be condemned, and his books will be erased from human memory”
This was the edict resulted from the trial of Luther: Luther’s cause “will be erased from memory” By God’s help, the reverse has become true. Luther’s humble beginning restored the true Gospel of Christ. Luther made two enemies in high places. First, as we saw Luther refused to recant before the newly elected young Emperor Charles IV of Spain, challenging his authority. Second, earlier, the Pope issued similar condemnation of Luther’s theology and reformation. As soon as a copy of the Pope’s condemnation reached Luther’s hands. He burned the papal Bull! (Known as the Exsurge Domine) Luther questioned and rejected the authority of both the Pope and the Emperor! Because neither were above scripture when it comes to matters of the Church! Charles IV was a very ambitious man. He would never allow some monk to question his Imperial authority which he’s just attained.
I shared with you Luther’s prayer for God’s intervention on the night of April 17, 1521, before his final response in front of the Emperor. Luther knew as soon as he leaves the city, he would be kidnapped and burned at stake! How did he knew that? Because he knew what happened to his protégé, John Huss. John Huss was condemned as heretic for trying to reform the church, similar to what Luther just had attempted. As soon as his hearing was over, Luther too would be condemned and burned alive! Luther knew that. his fate was similar to that of Huss. That was why he prayed that night the way he did.
Our God is a mighty God. He answers prayers! Two unexpected chain of events took place right after the trial of Luther. Had not these two events took place, the church as we know it on this side of Protestantism, would never have happened at all. There would not have been a Luther, a Johnathan Edwards, a John Wesley, a George Whitefield, a George Muller, a Billy Graham. You get my point. There would not have been “salvation is through Jesus Christ alone, by faith alone, through grace alone and scripture alone (the famous reformation lingo: Sola Fide, Sola Scriptura, Sola Gratia, et.al.). There would not have been sinners populating the kingdom of our Father and His Christ for the last 500 years. That would mean you and I would still have been in our sins, trying to pay our own debt before the most high God. A sin only our Lord Jesus Christ could atoned for. My dear reader your sins are forgiven. God’s love is real because the true gospel of Christ is preserved. The reformation is not over. We too have this task of “still reforming” continue in our day!
The first miracle happened through a powerful man in Germany by the name Fredrick the Wise of Saxony. He earned this title because he was one of the few men who had the power and the prestige to elect the next Emperor of the Roman Empire! This young Charles would be elected as the next Emperor by powerful electorates, of which Fredrick was one of them. This man loved Luther for various reasons. When Luther’s condemnation was finally issued, by the diet, no one on earth could find Luther! He simply vanished on thin air. Where did he go? Luther could not have hid himself anywhere where the hand of the emperor and the Pope would not have found. But Fredrick can. He prepared an armed band who would abducted Luther and would take him to a Castle. Fredrick instructed the abductors not to tell him where they have hid Luther. Therefore where Luther was, no one knew, not even Fredrick. In this Castle, Luther in exile translated the New Testament to German. God prepared Fredrick the wise, a powerful man who took a step to prepare the reformer’s safety. After few years, he had to return from exile, risking his own life for he heard two events that threatens the reformation, namely the new prophetic movement and its association with the peasants’ rebellion of 1524 (3 years after). Though Luther was the one who insisted on the priesthood of all believers, three men came forward who never been trained in the study of scripture, proclaiming themselves as prophets. They claimed that God spoke to them directly therefore they have no need of scripture! Luther wrote to Fredrick that it was time for him to risk his life and return to his people, in order to settle these heresy. He wrote: ”what was at stake was nothing less than the gospel itself” insisting that he must return to Wittenberg. And he did return and the Lord protected Luther from being handed over once again.
The second divine intervention, answering Luther’s prayer, was that the new Emperor Charles IV was repeatedly at war with king Frances of France, from 1521 until 1525 (Francis was a possible candidate to become Emperor which he lost to Charles of Spain). Is not God almighty? If this war had not broken out- which was much more important than a run away heretic monk- Charles the Emperor would have crushed the followers of Luther in a day. Moreover, another miracle took place. Pope Leo X, who issued the condemnation of Luther, had died. In the meanwhile, the war with France finally have come to an end when King of France was captured. Now that the war was over, Charles was preparing to take a strong measures against Luther and his followers in Germany. Yet another miraculous event took place protecting the reformation. Turks army, led by Suleiman, marched against Charles on Vienna. Charles advanced and the Turks withdrew. Charles once again turned his face against the reformation and again divine intervention! There was nothing but chaos for Charles IV. There was a rebellion of knights, a peasants rebellion, etc. We will see while all of these were going on, God was working on reforming the hearts of nobles and princes on high places, who would join Luther in the reformation to a point it is impossible to stop the reformation.
“For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker! For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.” Ps 95:3–7.
Here is Luther, the man of prayer, giving God the glory!
© 2015, Samson Tilahun. All rights reserved.