Recently we visited a castle here in Germany (the Wartburg) where in 1520 Martin Luther worked to translate the Bible into German. Luther knew the value and power of God’s Word and spent the time necessary to make it available to the average person. Certainly this castle is historic place for all true believers, as the translation done here played a large part in the development of the Reformation.
In this castle is another historical site for true believers, a tall tower at the lower part of the castle yard. Here a believing farmer was held for the last 8 years of his imprisonment from 1533 to 1548.
His crime? He refused to have his newborn baby baptized because God’s Word said otherwise. He also had the audacity to act on what the Word commanded and was baptized as an adult. He most certainly learned the truth about these things from the Bible that Luther translated some years before in this castle.
During these long 15 years of miserable imprisonment, this farmer was periodically offered pardon if he would only recant his biblical beliefs. However, in spite of his draconian living conditions, he steadfastly refused and died in his jail.
In our visit to this castle, we could look down into his “cell”—or better put, his dungeon. Climbing halfway up the tower, we entered a small door and looked down through a hole in the floor, the only way into the prison below.
Twenty-five feet down we could see the bare stone floor of a windowless room about 10 feet in diameter. Here the farmer lived for his last 8 years, much of it without bed, toilet, light or heat, without fellowship, a Bible or support.
Yet this man remained faithful to what he knew of the Lord and His Word. I thought about myself: would I be willing to endure such punishment just to defend the concept of adult baptism? What about other biblical truths that are under assault today? This man thought it was worthwhile to stand on the Word, for he truly he believed what God said: that we should exalt above all things His name and His Word. And this man’s testimony rings strong and true some 470 years later!
I must come back to me, to us. Are we as wholeheartedly committed as this man to live by what the Word says? Are we willing to exalt God’s Word above all else, or do we give in to the subtle temptations and powerful pressures of culture, to the soft call of comfort, or to fear of man and thereby compromise what is important to God?
“I will bow down toward your holy temple and will praise your name
for your love and your faithfulness,
for you have exalted above all things
your name and your word.” Psalm 138:2