I have two quotes for you to dwell on this morning. The first is from Martin Luther. Following his excommunication from the Catholic Church, Luther was tried for heresy at the Diet of Worms (a rather unfortunate name, in my opinion) in 1521. The trial’s climax came when the prosecution spread Luther’s own writings out before him and asked if he would acknowledge his authorship of the documents and continue to stand behind them. This is his famous response:

"Unless I am convinced by proofs from Scriptures or by plain and clear reasons and arguments, I can and will not retract, for it is neither safe nor wise to do anything against conscience. Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me. Amen."

For the record, most scholars say that the “Here I stand. I can do no other” was added later. But the sentiment remains the same.

The second was written by Deitrich Bonhoeffer some 400 years later just before he was executed for his cooperation in a failed attempt to assassinate Hitler. It’s part of his Letters and Papers from Prison:

“Who am I? This or the other?
Am I one person today and tomorrow another?
Am I both at once? A hypocrite before others,
And before myself a contemptibly woebegone weakling?
Or is something within me still like a beaten army,
Fleeing in disorder from victory already achieved?
Who am I? They mock me, these lonely questions of mine.
Whoever I am, Thou knowest, O God, I am Thine!”

Both of these men have something to teach us about belief, because, in both cases, their beliefs were about more than what was going on between their ears. Their beliefs were a matter of life or death. Their beliefs were the net that they trusted to catch them when they fell. Their beliefs were more than just ideas.

This morning I’m going to ask you to believe a verse in the Bible. And when I ask you to believe it, that’s the kind of belief I’m hoping for. I’m looking for more than a nod of the head and a pleasant smile. I’m asking you to wager your future on the truth of this verse. I’m asking you to take a leap of faith and believe that the truth of this verse will keep you safe. If our faith is a matter of life or death, hope or despair, this verse can make all the difference. I hope God uses it to speak to you today.