The Courage of a Biblically Informed Conscience

One of the things people most admire about Martin Luther was his steadfast courage in the face of great opposition. When the Reformation began to heat up Luther was summoned to appear before the Holy Roman Emperor and the senior authorities of the Church at the imperial Diet of Worms. They would have made for a very intimidating audience!

At the council Luther was shown copies of his writings and instructed to recant of his teachings. Refusing to do so would have very much put his life at risk.

Yet Luther replied: ‘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, since it is well known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), 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. May God help me. Amen’.

What was the source of Luther’s courage? It was God ’s encouragement of Luther through Luther’s biblically informed conscience. Luther knew what the bible taught about the gospel of Jesus Christ. And Luther trusted that God had spoken authoritatively through the bible. Thus for him the bible was the
highest authority on all matters of faith, and so Luther’s conscience was bound to live and obey the scriptures even if the highest authorities of Church or State demanded otherwise.

Like Luther, we too can have a great courage that comes from knowing what the bible teaches and standing firm upon its truths , even in the face of great opposition.

Ben Soderlund
Assistant Minister

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