“I cannot do otherwise, here I stand, may God help me, amen.”
Martin Luther said these words when on trial before Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, refusing to go against his conscience and recant his beliefs and writings. His name has become synonymous with the Protestant Reformation.
People often think the Reformation began on the night he posted his ninety-five theses on the door of Castle Church, Wittenberg—October 31st, 1517.
Did you know that when Luther put his theses up for debate, he still held to ‘un-reformed’ ideas? He accepted the Pope as head of the church; spoke against the abuse of indulgences, not the use of them; and believed in Purgatory.
And did you know that other reformers came before him?
In the 1300’s, John Wycliffe translated the Bible into English for the first time. People call him the ‘Morning Star of the Reformation’.
Jan Hus was burned for ‘heresy’ in 1414. He spoke of one to come after him who would not be possible to silence (many believe this was Martin Luther).
Martin Luther’s contemporaries include John Calvin in France, Ulrich Zwingli in Switzerland, William Tyndale in England, and John Knox in Scotland. God used them all in undeniable ways.
And yet how many smaller voices contributed to the cause of reform? They may never be known, but they touched lives around them with the truth. The great Protestant Reformation was not carried forward just by a few great names. The common people had access to the Bible for the first time in centuries. In cities and towns and villages, they read it, received it, and shared it with others.
You may never be a translator like Wycliffe or Tyndale, a writer like Calvin, or a speaker like Knox. But you can be a quiet voice, changing people around you—people who may become translators, speakers, and writers for God’s kingdom.