Easter 3 2021 Here I Stand Sunday
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud 
April 17, 18, 2021
Acts 3:11-21, 1 John 3:1-7, Luke 24:36-49

Sermons online: 
Text and Audio:         immanuelhamiltonchurch.com   click “sermons”
Text:                           pastorjud.org   
Audio:                         pastorjud.podbean.com 
itunes:                        bit.ly/pastorjud
Full Service Audio:   bit.ly/ImmanuelWorship

            In the year 1414 Jan Hus, a Czech priest, theologian and philosopher, was summoned to the Church Council of Constance in what is modern Southwestern Germany.  Hus believed in the authority of scripture alone and had opposed a couple of Popes on various issues including the selling of church offices and the selling of indulgences.  He had been excommunicated, but continued to preach and teach.  Hus was promised safe passage to and from the Church Council and so he travelled from Prague to Constance in order to help put an end to dissension in the Church.

            Hus arrived November 3 and on November 28 he was imprisoned after church authorities claimed that promises made to heretics do not need to be kept.  Hus is urged to recant his writings but he asks to be shown his error in scripture.  The following summer Hus is condemned to death and on July 6, 1415 he is tied and chained to a stake and burned as a heretic.  Before lighting the fire Hus is asked once more to recant his teachings and he replies.  “God is my witness that the things charged against me I never preached. In the same truth of the Gospel which I have written, taught, and preached, drawing upon the sayings and positions of the holy doctors, I am ready to die today.[1]

            The fire is lit and before he dies Hus it is reported that Hus said, “What I have taught with my lips I seal with my blood. You are now going to burn a goose, but in a century you will have a swan which you can neither roast nor boil.” The name Hus in Czech literally means goose. His ashes were later thrown in the Rhine River in order to prevent his followers from venerating his grave.

            One hundred years later Martin Luther is coming onto the scene to continue what Hus began.  Luther is often called the swan of the reformation.  500 years ago Martin Luther is summoned to the Imperial Diet in the city of Worms in western Germany, 322 miles from Wittenberg.  Luther is promised safe passage to and from the Diet of Worms but Luther knows about the promise to Jan Hus and how well these promises are honored.

            On April 17 and 18, 1521, Luther faces Johann von Eck who is the presiding officer of the Diet speaking on behalf of the Emperor Charles V.  Luther is asked to recant his 25 publications.  It is a tense moment.  Failure to recant likely means being burned alive.  On the afternoon of April 17 Luther asks for more time to prepare a proper answer. 

            After a long night of prayer and preparation at 4 PM on April 18 Luther appears again before the assembly.  He notes that his writings are of different types.  First, works which were well received even by his enemies: those he would not reject.  Second, books which attacked the abuses, lies and desolation of the Christian world and the papacy: those, Luther believed, could not safely be rejected without encouraging abuses to continue. To retract them would be to open the door to further oppression.  “If I now recant these, then, I would be doing nothing but strengthening tyranny”.  Third, attacks on individuals: Luther apologized for the harsh tone of these writings but did not reject the substance of what he taught in them. If he could be shown by Scripture that his writings were in error, Luther continued, he would reject them. Luther concluded by saying:

            Jan Hus stood on Scripture alone.  Martin Luther stood on scripture alone.  The true Christian church today stands on Scripture alone.  The Bible is our source of knowledge of salvation.  We don’t add to it.  We don’t subtract from it.  It is through the words of scripture that you know that Jesus is God in flesh who suffered and died to pay for your sins and rose from the dead to conquer death forever.  The Bible teaches that Jesus forgives your sins. 

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. I cannot do otherwise, here I stand,[2] May God help me. Amen.[3]

The pope declared that a believer could buy an indulgence to pay off the penalty for their sins and the Vatican was making big money.  Luther asked that the practice be defended from Scripture and not papal authority. 

            Jan Hus stood on Scripture alone.  Martin Luther stood on scripture alone.  The true Christian church today stands on Scripture alone.  The Bible is our source of knowledge of salvation.  We don’t add to it.  We don’t subtract from it.  It is through the words of scripture that you know that Jesus is God in flesh who suffered and died to pay for your sins and rose from the dead to conquer death forever.  The Bible teaches that Jesus forgives your sins. 

You would think that 600 years after Jan Hus and 500 years after Martin Luther we would not still be fighting the battle for scripture alone; but we are.  The battle continues.  The Roman Catholic Church still holds that the pope is infallible when speaking from the throne of St. Peter.  Teachings not in the Bible are declared to be dogma that must be believed in order to be a Christian. 

Many false religions have sprung up over the centuries; so many in American over the last 200 years.  People declare they have a new revelation from God.  They declare that there is a new scripture that is equal to the Bible or replaces the Bible.  Muslims, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christian Scientists, Scientologists and many others.  We can see these errors fairly clearly. 

There is more insidious threat that has made its way into Christian churches over the last hundred years or so.  Something else is taking the place of the Holy Bible as the authority. 

            We live in an age where more and more our ultimate authority is our feelings.  We want to disregard the authority of the Bible and be an authority unto ourselves.  We want to follow our feelings.  We want to make up our own theology and our own morality based on our own understandings and desires. 

            There is a growing movement to ignore scriptural guidance and trust your intuition; your inner feelings; your desires.  People do this in regards to sexual morality, abortion, greed, anger, hatred, laziness. “I know the Bible says this, but I feel like I know better.  So I will do things my way.”  There is a great desire to get rid of scripture alone and make a new god of your own design who does whatever you want him to do. 

            In the face of this ongoing movement to reject the Bible, we continue what Jesus started with His disciples and what Jan Hus and Martin Luther restarted.  We hold to Scripture alone and bring that message to the world.  Luke 24:46–47 (ESV) 46 [Jesus] said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.  

May God grant us the courage to continue to proclaim repentance and the forgiveness of sins in the face of a world of people that continue to reject the Bible and follow their feelings. May God grant us the strength to stand on Scripture Alone with Jan Hus and Martin Luther and so many others who have risked their lives for the truth of God’s Word.

            Martin Luther does get out of Worms and is quickly kidnapped by his own prince and held in protective custody for nearly a year at the Wartburg castle.  The emperor issues an order to capture Luther dead or alive and so Luther begins translating the Bible into German, which is a capital offense, but he is already under the threat of death.  Luther helps bring the Word of God into the language of the people.

            How blessed we are to have the Bible in our own language; what a great treasure to be able to read about Jesus saving all people from their sins; reading about how Jesus saves you from your sins.  What a tremendous blessing to know Jesus rose from the dead just like He said He would.  To know Jesus conquered death for you.  To know that in Christ you have eternal life. 

            There is a great temptation to add to the Bible or subtract from the Bible.  There is a great temptation to follow your feelings.  Resist the temptation.  Cling to Scripture alone.  Cling to Christ alone.  Even unto death.


[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jan_Hus

[2] “I cannot do otherwise, here I stand” is not recorded in some transcripts of the Diet

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diet_of_Worms

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