HERE I STAND, I CAN DO NO OTHER...


I saw the Cathedral of Worms in Germany, last week, where Martin Luther was put on trial in 1521 for standing against the heresy of the church.  He stood alone against the whole world as he was asked, “Did you write these books?”  “Yes.”  “Do you recant?”  Luther must have swallowed hard, but history says that he looked at the authorities and said, “Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason (for I do not trust either in the pope or in councils alone...), I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God.  I cannot and will not recant anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience.  Here I stand.  I can do no other.  May God help me. Amen." 

This speech is considered "world classic of epoch-making oratory."  I don't think we can imagine the courage it took for Luther to stand for the Truth.  In our culture the case would be, “The State vs. Martin Luther,” but really it was, “The Whole World vs. Martin Luther.”

I've always wondered if I would have the courage to stand for what I believed no matter what the circumstances.  I read the story of Columbine student, Cassie Bernall, who was asked with a gun in her face (by a deranged Dylan Klebold), “Are you a Christian?”  Knowing that an affirmative answer would mean death, she looked him in the eye and said, “Yes.”  He shot her in the face. 

When the authorities come in to our church with guns and tell everyone who isn't serious about Jesus to leave (like happened in the former Soviet Union) will I stay?  Will I leave?  Would my name have been in Martyr's Mirror as one of the faithful who was tortured but never denied Christ?

Thirty years ago some Russian Christians visited Holmes County.  One of their questions was, “Are you persecuted here for you faith?”  “Oh, no,” was the answer.  “We have perfect freedom.”  The lady's next question has haunted me for 30 years: “Then... how do you know that you are faithful?!”

Who would have thought that in my lifetime, in the free-est country in the history of the world, I would have a chance to find out?  We live in such anti-God, anti-Christian times, that I am bracing myself for the test.  Just last week a statement was made by over 200 Christian leaders as the US Supreme Court stands ready to redefine the four thousand year old definition of marriage:

Marriage Redefinition "a line we will not cross"


“We respectfully warn the Supreme Court not to cross that line,” read a document titled,
Pledge in Solidarity to Defend Marriage. “We stand united together in defense of marriage. Make no mistake about our resolve.”

The men and women who courageously signed this pledge did so knowing the hell storm that is about to be unleashed on them – and their families. 

“We have no choice,” Staver said. “We cannot compromise our clear biblical convictions, our religious convictions.”

That sure sounds like Martin Luther to me.

Friends, we live in perilous times.  We need revival.  We can blame the political parties and the powers that be, but in the end, the church needs to be the church.  “For it is time for judgement [revival?] to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” I Peter 4:17 

When push comes to shove, will I be like Martin Luther, Jan Huss, John Wycliffe, Cassie Bernall... will I say, “I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God.  I cannot and will not recant anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience.  Here I stand.  I can do no other.  May God help me. Amen.”  I pray that I will be faithful.

“...Stand firm.  Let nothing move you.  Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord...” I Cor. 15:58

Let us pray for each other that we will stand firm, be faithful, and believe that God will be with us... to the end?

My trip to Germany wasn't an evangelistic trip or a Christian Concert Tour like most of my trips are.  I was invited because I sing 'dialect' songs.  But while I was there I noticed that the land that birthed the protestant reformation, in fact the very town where it started, seems devoid of a vibrant Christian witness.  They think we American Christians are 'quaint;' a throwback to a former time when Germany believed such things. 

Common Ground Ministries

John was singing in a country western band at the time of his conversion in 1972. God changed his desire for stardom in Nashville to minitstry.

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