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The Story Of The Rebaptizers Part 3

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
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June 23, 2023 1:00 am

The Story Of The Rebaptizers Part 3

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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June 23, 2023 1:00 am

It's one thing to die as a believer at the hands of pagans. It's quite another to die because fellow Christians don't like your doctrines or ways of running the church. In this message, Pastor Lutzer responds to questions about the Anabaptists. These people believed there was something that was worth dying for.

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Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. It's one thing to die as a believer at the hands of pagans. It's quite another to die because fellow Christians don't like your doctrines or ways of running the church. Yet that's what happened in Europe during the Reformation. Today, we finish up our look at Christians Killing Christians, the story of the Anabaptists. From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, I'm curious why you told us about the dark side of the Reformation. It would have been easier to hear a more sanitized version.

You know, Dave, that's an excellent question. It would be easier, of course, to sanitize the history of the Christian church, but I want it to be realistic, to be true. I want us to be able to look at the past and see the mistakes of those who have preceded us. I also want us to be warned about the possibility of false doctrine, how easy it is for us to get our eyes off of Jesus, how easy it is for people to fight battles not on their knees but physically. And that, of course, happened during the time of the Reformation when the church became involved in war and people went to war in the name of Jesus.

Very important issues. As a matter of fact, we're making this sermon series available to everyone for a gift of any amount. The sermon series is entitled The Reformation Then and Now. Here's what you can do.

Go to or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Then take what you learn and apply it in your life and in your church. So remember the Hutterites, the Amish, and the Mennonites all were Anabaptist.

Now, let's discuss some issues here. What does it mean for the church to be separate from the state? You see, the Hutterites and the Mennonites and those that withdrew, the Anabaptists, they would say, we do not need the state to promote the church. We do not need in God we trust on our coins as the official imprimatur of the state. We do not have to swear to the constitution or to say that the pledge of allegiance is under God. Let the state be the state. And they would say the church can survive very well without the state.

Well, we look at how they are surviving. Now, I may have mentioned to you that the Amish do not evangelize because that would mean that they are having contact with people who should be shunned. So they're not doing a very good job of evangelization. But isn't it interesting, this whole relationship of church and state for 2,000 years, the church has battled this. What about Barry Lynn of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State saying that the church does not need the state to survive. Doesn't the church have enough authority and power to be able to do it on its own?

Does it need to be propped up by the civil government of the United States? I'm only raising these questions so that you see their relevance and how the church has always battled this. Where you get to the magisterial reformers as they are called because they were reformed within Christendom. I'm talking now about Luther and Calvin and Swingly.

You find there that there is a very much appreciation for the state and sometimes too much input from the state. And there was no clear break between church and state. But then when you get to the Anabaptists, you see this clearer line, this pulling back.

By the way, most Anabaptists would not even become police officers because of their pacifism. Their view was that the state was instituted by God because man is sinful. Therefore, let sinful man run the state. We will run the church.

You say, well, that's extreme. I agree with that. I'm only raising the issues of the relationship between the two. Second issue that comes to mind is can the church be strong even as the state becomes pagan? Can you have a strong church and a pagan state? Or are our fortunes as a church so closely tied to our fortunes of the state that whether we are a strong church or a weak church is going to be determined by whether or not we get the right person for president in order to make sure that we have a strong church? Well, you say, yes, we do want to have a Christian president. We want to have a good president. We want to have a president that is favorable to us.

Yes, I understand that. But what if we don't get that? Can we still be a strong church? What is the relationship between church and state? What about that statement that I maybe read far too quickly about the Anabaptists? They had no confidence whatever in the state, but an overwhelming sense of confidence in the church because the church was ordained by God.

Wow, issues to be debated. Another issue is what is the relationship between the Old Testament and the New? In the Old Testament, you could go to war. In fact, God prescribed it in the New.

You have the Amish and you have all Anabaptists virtually saying that the Sermon on the Mount discounts the Old Testament because Jesus said that if somebody slaps you on the right cheek, you turn the left, et cetera, and that there should be no attempt made to defend yourself. Let God be your defender. Of course, the question to always ask is if a rapist came into your home, would you simply say, well, God is our defender or would you do something about it? I think most human beings would say, yeah, we would do something about it. We would look for a chair. We would look for a crowbar if we had one. And some people have guns.

They may take care of it one way or another. I think that all of us sense that it is naive to simply say, well, God is our defender. But the question is, what is the relationship between the Old and the New Testament? I'd like to preach on that someday, but I need somebody to help me figure it all out.

Finally, and last, are we willing to die for our faith? You know, whether it's Felix Montz or whether it is a couple that had been newly married by the name of Slatter, I believe was their name. Terrible story. How he was drowned in a river one day and then his new wife was kept and then she was drowned in a river the next day.

Why? Because they were Anabaptists. But when you think of the sense of tranquility that they had and the faith that God gave them to die like that, it is wonderful and we don't know anything about that.

I didn't read it to you, but in my notes it says that when Felix Montz was drowned, he was singing in Latin, Lord into thy hands, I commit my spirit. These people actually believed that there was something that was worth dying for. Did I ever tell you that in France, when martyrs were being taken to the stake, that the authorities had to get special bands even to drown out the songs that the Christians were singing as they were about to die? There is something about martyrdom that we have lost today and we are unwilling to die for our faith. Next time, I'm going to talk to you about the man with six wives and how he began a reformation in England.

I'm referring, of course, to Henry VIII. You will want to be here in one of the most fascinating stories in all of church history. One of the goals that I attempted to achieve in this brief series is to remind you that church history did not begin with the first Billy Graham Crusade as generally believed.

I always think I answer all questions. I'm always amazed that you folks have questions. When did the established church realize that persecution of Anabaptists was wrong?

Oh wow. Probably 1648, the peace of Westphalia when finally you have freedom of religion through Europe. Luther saw the seeds of it at vorums. My conscience is taken captive by the word of God. To go against conscience is neither right nor safe. But he didn't know how to live that out in the medieval society. But I think after 1648, you have a recognition that freedom of religion should have taken place and that, oh, this is a complicated question.

You know, the thing about you folks is you always have such good questions. It involves all kinds of things about Christendom and its value and its negatives and positives, but eventually people realized, hey, you know, this was wrong. How could Amish reject evangelism where it is all over the gospels and the epistles? You know, once you take that point of view that the church is to be very separate from the world and basically let the world go to hell, I guess you just kind of glide over those verses that tell us to evangelize.

These two are close together. Independent fundamentalists Baptists claim their roots in the Anabaptist and later just Baptist. I don't believe that. The Baptist movement as we know it today does not come through Anabaptism. It actually comes through England and that's where our Baptists come from generally, like the general Baptists and I'm sure that this was true of also the independent fundamental Baptists. I don't think that Anabaptism is their roots.

Another excellent question. How do present day Baptists relate to Anabaptism? Oh, the answer is, yeah, I don't think that those are their roots. I'll do more research on that, but the roots of what we know today as Baptists come through England. They do not come from the Anabaptist movement. Are Quakers associated with the Anabaptist?

Yes, more distantly, but those are the same kind of roots. I was of the impression that the Anabaptists were not Protestants. From your lecture, it sounds like they were also Protestants. You'd better believe they were Protestants. Now, technically the Protestants at Spire, at that council, that's where the Lutherans were called Protestants. See, if you think that a Protestant is a Lutheran, as was believed in Germany, if you were a Lutheran, you were a Protestant and those two are equated, then of course they weren't Protestants. But they were Protestants if you look at the word in a larger sphere, like we are Protestants, even though we aren't Lutheran.

So I would definitely call them Protestants. Is separation of church and state good for the church? Well, that's the big debate.

Anything else today? And the answer, of course, the obvious answer is yes. I mean, isn't it wonderful that we live in the United States where you can believe anything you want? You can be baptized in 40 gallons of water, like the 40-gallon Baptists, but you could also be baptized in 38 gallons of water if you weren't that big, or you could be baptized in our baptistry, which I'm sure holds probably 150 or 200 gallons of water. I'm being facetious here because baptism, which was intended to be a mark of the unity of the church, unfortunately, oftentimes has been a bone of contention. But isn't it nice to live in a country where you can pretty well believe anything you want and you are held together by the Constitution, not a common religion? Christendom says it is absolutely necessary that we have a common religion because if we do not have a common religion, we cannot have a common wealth. We cannot be together as a nation unless we have the same religion. And that was the dominant teaching in Europe until finally full freedom came in 1648.

Wow. And here we are in the great United States of America, where there is a separation of church and state. The problem is the way in which it is being interpreted today, where everything is a contribution to religion. The state Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion. So the ACLU say you having a Bible study on the lawn of the university? That's establishment of religion. And the state should have nothing to do with religion.

Kick them out. That is ridiculous. Does Fox's Book of Martyrs only focus on the Donatists? No, I think that Fox's Book of Martyrs has quite a history there.

Anabaptists too. You ought to own a copy of Fox's Book of Martyrs. What are some good books you'd recommend on church history, specifically the early church? I have a number of different books. You know, somebody asked me, what is the best book on the Reformation? And the problem is I have books on Calvin. I have books on Luther.

I have books on all of these. I have a book on Anabaptism. When it comes to recommending church textbooks, church history books, those probably are the best way to study the overview of history and the early centuries of the church. And you have Karen's, which I think is still being published today. Karen's church history, but you have so many others that it's difficult to keep up with them. Go to the bookstore, a Christian bookstore down the street and just take a look and you will find exactly what you need.

There are church history books on every facet of church history. Thank you so much for being here tonight. You had other options. You would not have been needed to be here, but because we live in a free country, you made the decision.

We didn't. You are free to worship according to your conscience. And please don't take it for granted. And the fact that you can be baptized as Jesus commanded and not fear repercussions or death, you ought to get on your knees and thank God that you live in the United States of America. But now don't get on your knees. Rather stand to your feet as we pray. And Father tonight, we want to thank you for church history. We thank you today for the many people who died.

I thought so often of Felix Montz, but he's one in thousands who died because he believed that he should be baptized. And we thank you for their, uh, their history and some of them we don't know anything about, but we have to believe that you keep the books and you know their names and they shall be appropriately honored. If not in this life, then most assuredly in the life to come, would you make us as faithful and as deeply convinced of our beliefs as they were of theirs so that we might be able to stand for the truth no matter what. Bless all the people that are here today. And even tonight, if there's someone here who's never trusted Christ as savior, may they do that. We pray. May they know that we have a savior who saves people from their sins. In his name, we pray.

Amen. I can't help but think that there are many people who are listening today who are saying to themselves, I wish that so-and-so could hear these messages because these messages on the reformation, they serve as a warning. They serve as a learning opportunity. They serve as an opportunity for us to be able to contrast what happened then with the issues that we are facing today.

They are stories of courage, stories of hope, and yes, stories of failure. That's why we're making this sermon series available for a gift of any amount. The sermon series is actually entitled The Reformation Then and Now. It's been my privilege to be at the sites of the Reformation, many times lecturing in various places in Germany and Switzerland. And I do it because I want to inspire people to know how important it is to hold to the faith that was given to the saints, and at the same time to avoid the mistakes of the past, but to take from the past the kind of courage and tenacity that we need in this present generation.

I mean, what can compare with Luther at the Diet of Worms, saying, my conscience is held captive by the word of God. I cannot and I will not recant. So help me, God. Here I stand. I cannot do otherwise. Whether you're Lutheran or you're not Lutheran, you have to admire his courage in the face of danger. Remember, the sermon series is entitled The Reformation Then and Now.

For a gift of any amount, it can be yours. I hope that you have a pen or pencil handy. Here's what you can do. Go to Of course, as you might know, RTWOffer is all one word. Or if you prefer, you can call us at 1-888-218-9337. Look for the sermon series, The Reformation Then and Now.

Go to or call us at 1-888-218-9337. You'll have these messages to play again and again. Share them with your friends, share them with your children, and learn something of the past that all of us might better understand the present and the future. Time now for another chance for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question you may have about the Bible or the Christian life. Dr. Lutzer, some questions have been asked for thousands of years. An anonymous listener wants an answer many have craved. How can some evil people live so long and enjoy prosperity, while some good people suffer so much? I'm so glad that you asked this question.

I've been waiting for it. The reason I say that is because in Psalm 73, we have an answer to your question. You know, the psalmist himself was asking the question, and he almost lost his faith because he saw the wicked prosper and he himself was not prospering.

He begins by saying, Truly God is good to Israel, to those who are of a pure heart. But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped, for I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. He goes on to say, For they have no pangs in death, their bodies are fat and sleek. They're not in trouble as others.

They are not stricken like the rest of mankind. Therefore pride is their necklace. You see, what he's saying is, I look at the wicked, and they are prospering more than I am, and here I am a follower of Jesus Christ. And so his faith begins to fail. However, he doesn't say anything about it publicly, because he says later on, If I would speak thus, I would have betrayed the generation of your people. He's saying, I'm going to keep my own doubts to myself. This, by the way, is all in Psalm 73.

But then he says he went into the temple of God, and that's where he found his answer. He says, Truly you have put them in slippery places. You have made them fall to ruin.

They're going to be destroyed in a moment. Bottom line, what he is saying is, I overestimated their prosperity, because what they have will not last. As a matter of fact, he says that they are like animals that are being fed for the slaughter. The day of judgment is coming, and they think to themselves that they are going to be prosperous forever, but they aren't as rich as they think they are, because their day is coming. Okay, lesson number one, he says, I overestimated their prosperity.

But there's a second lesson that ought to bless us, and that is, he said, I have underestimated my own prosperity. Look at what he says, verse 23. Nevertheless, I am continually with you. You hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you receive me to glory.

Whom have I in heaven but you, and there is none on the earth that I desire beside you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. What he's saying is, I overestimated their prosperity, because what they have will not last. They are headed for judgment. I underestimated my own prosperity.

I have God, and you're going to guide me with your counsel and afterward receive me to glory. The bottom line in terms of your question is simply this. The answer regarding the prosperity of the wicked and the trouble that often comes to the righteous, the answer is a long-range point of view.

Eternity often reverses the judgments of time. And that may well be the best answer ever given by Dr. Erwin Lutzer to a question here on Running to Win. If you'd like to hear your question answered, go to our website at and click on Ask Pastor Lutzer. Or call us at 1-888-218-9337.

That's 1-888-218-9337. You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60614. So far in our journey through the Reformation, we've stayed in continental Europe. Next time we cross the channel into England and meet the famous Henry VIII and learn how he reformed the church there. Make plans to join us. Thanks for listening. For Pastor Erwin Lutzer, this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-23 03:20:52 / 2023-06-23 03:29:38 / 9

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