From Here to Forever


Chapter 10—Progress in Germany

Luther's mysterious disappearance excited consternation throughout Germany. Wild rumors were circulated and many believed he had been murdered. There was great lamentation, and many bound themselves by solemn oath to avenge his death. HF 117.1

Though at first exultant at the supposed death of Luther, his enemies were filled with fear now that he had become a captive. “The only remaining way of saving ourselves,” said one, “is to light torches, and hunt for Luther through the whole world, to restore him to the nation that is calling for him.”1 The tidings that he was safe, though a prisoner, calmed the people, while his writings were read with greater eagerness than ever before. Increasing numbers joined the cause of the heroic man who had defended the Word of God. HF 117.2

The seed Luther had sown sprang up everywhere. His absence accomplished a work his presence would have failed to do. Now that their great leader was removed, other laborers pressed forward so that the work nobly begun might not be hindered. HF 117.3

Satan now attempted to deceive and destroy the people by palming off upon them a counterfeit in place of the true work. As there were false christs in the first century, so there arose false prophets in the sixteenth. HF 117.4

A few men imagined themselves to receive special revelations from Heaven and to have been divinely commissioned to carry forward the Reformation which, they declared, had been but feebly begun by Luther. In truth, they were undoing the work which he had accomplished. They rejected the principle of the Reformation—that the Word of God is the all-sufficient rule of faith and practice. For that unerring guide they substituted the uncertain standard of their own feelings and impressions. HF 117.5

Others naturally inclined to fanaticism united with them. The proceedings of these enthusiasts created no little excitement. Luther had aroused the people to feel the necessity of reform, and now some really honest persons were misled by the pretensions of the new “prophets.” HF 118.1

The leaders of the movement urged their claims upon Melanchthon: “We are sent by God to instruct the people. We have held familiar conversations with the Lord; we know what will happen; in a word, we are apostles and prophets, and appeal to Dr. Luther.” HF 118.2

The Reformers were perplexed. Said Melanchthon: “There are indeed extraordinary spirits in these men; but what spirits? ... On the one hand, let us beware of quenching the Spirit of God, and on the other, of being led astray by the spirit of Satan.”2 HF 118.3