Ellen G. White Writings

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Love Under Fire, Page 58

man the power to pardon sin and to remove its penalty. They clearly showed that God bestows His grace freely on all who seek it by repentance and faith.

Luther's theses spread through all Germany and in a few weeks had echoed throughout Europe. Many devoted Roman Catholics read them with joy, recognizing the voice of God in them. They felt that the Lord had begun to act to stop the rising tide of corruption issuing from Rome. Princes and magistrates secretly rejoiced that a limit was to be put on the arrogant power that denied the right to appeal from its decisions.

Crafty church leaders were enraged to see their profits endangered. The Reformer had bitter accusers to meet. “Who does not know,” he responded, “that it is rare for someone to suggest any new idea without ... being accused of stirring up quarrels? ... Why were Christ and all the martyrs put to death? Because ... they advanced novelties without having first humbly taken counsel of the established religious leaders.”13D'Aubigné, book 3, chapter 6.

The accusations of Luther's enemies, their misrepresentation of his intentions, and their hate-filled assaults on his character swept over him like a flood. He had felt confident that the leaders would gladly unite with him in reform. Looking forward, he had seen a brighter day dawning for the church.

But encouragement from some leaders had changed to criticism. Many officials of church and state soon saw that the acceptance of these truths would effectively undermine Rome's authority, stop thousands of streams now flowing into her treasury, and so restrict the luxury of the papal leaders. To teach the people to look to Christ alone for salvation would overthrow the pope's throne and eventually destroy their own authority. So they set themselves against Christ and the truth by opposing the man He sent to enlighten them.

Luther trembled as he looked at himself—one man opposed to the mighty powers of earth. “Who was I,” he wrote, “to oppose the majesty of the pope, before whom ... the kings of the earth and the whole world trembled? ... No one can know what my heart suffered during these first two years and into what sadness, even what despair, I had sunk.”14D'Aubigné, book 3, chapter 6. But when human support failed, he looked to God alone. He could safely lean on that all-powerful arm.

Luther wrote to a friend: “Your first duty is to begin by prayer.... Hope for nothing from your own labors, from your own understanding. Trust in God alone and in the influence of His Spirit.”15D'Aubigné, book 3, chapter 7. Here is an important lesson for those who feel that God has called them to present to others the vital truths for this time. Going against the powers of evil requires something more than intellect and human wisdom.

Luther Appealed Only to the Bible

When enemies appealed to custom and tradition, Luther met them with the Bible only. Here were arguments they could not answer. From his sermons and writings came beams of light that awakened and illuminated

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