From Here to Forever


A Terrible Crisis

That was a terrible crisis for the Reformation. Luther was not blind to the tempest about to burst, but he trusted in Christ to be his support and shield. “What is about to happen I know not, nor do I care to know. ... Not so much as a leaf falls, without the will of our Father. How much rather will He care for us! It is a light thing to die for the Word, since the Word which was made flesh hath Himself died.”26 HF 88.4

When the papal bull reached Luther, he said: “I despise and attack it, as impious, false. ... It is Christ Himself who is condemned therein. Already I feel greater liberty in my heart; for at last I know that the pope is antichrist, and that his throne is that of Satan himself.”27 HF 88.5

Yet the mandate of Rome was not without effect. The weak and superstitious trembled before the decree of the pope, and many felt that life was too dear to be risked. Was the Reformer's work about to close? HF 88.6

Luther was fearless still. With terrible power he flung back upon Rome herself the sentence of condemnation. In the presence of a crowd of citizens of all ranks Luther burned the pope's bull. He said, “A serious struggle has just begun. Hitherto I have been only playing with the pope. I began this work in God's name; it will be ended without me, and by His might. ... Who knows if God has not chosen and called me, and if they ought not to fear that, by despising me, they despise God Himself? ...” HF 89.1

“God never selected as a prophet either the high priest or any other great personage; but ordinarily He chose low and despised men, once even the shepherd Amos. In every age, the saints have had to reprove the great, kings, princes, priests, and wise men, at the peril of their lives. ... I do not say that I am a prophet; but I say that they ought to fear precisely because I am alone and that they are many. I am sure of this, that the word of God is with me, and that it is not with them.”28 HF 89.2

Yet it was not without a terrible struggle with himself that Luther decided upon a final separation from the church: “Oh, how much pain it has caused me, though I had the Scriptures on my side, to justify it to myself that I should dare to make a stand alone against the pope, and hold him forth as antichrist! How many times have I not asked myself with bitterness that question which was so frequent on the lips of the papists: ‘Art thou alone wise? Can everyone else be mistaken? How will it be, if, after all, it is thyself who art wrong, and who art involving in thy error so many souls, who will then be eternally damned?’ ‘Twas so I fought with myself and with Satan, till Christ, by His own infallible word, fortified my heart against these doubts.’”29 HF 89.3

A new bull appeared, declaring the Reformer's final separation from the Roman Church, denouncing him as accursed of Heaven, and including in the same condemnation all who should receive his doctrines. HF 89.4

Opposition is the lot of all whom God employs to present truths specially applicable to their time. There was a present truth in the days of Luther; there is present truth for the church today. But truth is no more desired by the majority today than it was by papists who opposed Luther. Those who present the truth for this time should not expect to be received with greater favor that were earlier reformers. The great controversy between truth and error, between Christ and Satan, is to increase to the close of this world's history. See John 15:19, 20; Luke 6:26. HF 90.1