“I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not retract anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. I cannot do otherwise, here I stand, may God help me, Amen”
(Martin Luther, 1521)
There could be no more fitting way to end our Mission Month than by remembering that 31st Oct is billed as the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation. Generally linked to the 95 theses (or statements) that Martin Luther nailed to a church door in Wittenburg. You may also be surprised to learn that Playmobile (who make model figures for children) say that their most popular figure in the history of their company is the one of Martin Luther, of which it has sold over 1 million.
It is said this one act changed the world (the theses, not the toy!), and it certainly challenged the established Church of the day.
However, truth be told, it was a whole range of people who contributed to this change, and ultimately it was the Word of God that was behind it all. The Word of God, the bible, a library of books written centuries ago by a whole host of authors, the best-selling book of all time, the book translated into more languages than any other, the book that is the freely available to us today.
If the Reformation had not taken place, the bible could have remained unknown to a waiting world. If the Reformation had not taken place, we would not be here as a congregation, for the Reformation fanned the embers for the creation of the Baptists.
If the Reformation had not taken place we would not be celebrating Mission Month, for the Church five hundred years ago had lost its way and was no longer a missionary movement of God.
If the Reformation has not taken place, we would not be followers of Jesus, standing firm on the Word of God.
So in some senses we are just another person in the Reformation that began with Jesus, and continues to this day. The Reformation may continue through you if, like Luther, you stand on the truth of God.
The apostle Paul loved to use the phrase “stand firm”, notably saying towards the end of Ephesians
Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled round your waist
(Ephesians chapter 6 verse 14)
Whether we keep God’s Word, by our bed, in our hand on Sunday morning, in our bag at school or work, downloaded on our phone or tablet, or treasured in our heart and memorized in our head, let us never depart from it, for it began a reformation that continues in our heart for the glory of God.