by Egon Kopereck
God gave us His Word, clear and pure, for our guidance—for our solace and comfort. The author of Psalm 119:105 writes, “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” And in 2 Timothy 3:16, Paul says: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” This is the Word which we know and upon which we base our confession of faith and life. It must be defended, proclaimed, and lived by us in word and deed.
We live in a secularized world. The Bible, God’s Word, is relativised. For many, this Word seems outdated and retrograde in its values, ethics, and moral concepts. The marriage of a man and a woman, as God commanded, is no longer seen as valid. And so it is also with abortion and euthanasia: zeal for life as God’s gift is no longer respected or taken seriously in many countries and cultures. We see the family and Christian principles founded in the Holy Scriptures being trampled upon and tossed aside.
Faced with this reality, we must ask ourselves: What can we do? Do we just shake our heads? Or do we instead express our concerns and fight back, by writing, publicly manifesting our beliefs even though they run counter to public relativism. Are we brave enough to disagree, to debate, and raise high the banner of our faith based and grounded in the Holy Bible? We must act. We need to speak out. We must defend what we believe without fear or shame, even if it brings us adversity and discomfort.
So, dear fellow pastors, brothers and sisters in Christ! To defend an idea we need to know it well. We must first have conviction about it before we go into battle. In this sense, I point to the example of Martin Luther. He fought back. He did not ignore error, but rather defended his positions, not on the basis of reason but rather on the Word of God. Grounded on that foundation, he was willing to give his life rather than deny God’s Word. To do this as he did, he studied hard, meditating, researching, and reflecting upon what the Scriptures offered and pointed to. Look what he said and the example he left us:
“For several years, I have read the entire Bible at least twice each year. And if the Bible were a huge and imposing tree and if its words were branches, then I can say that I have shaken each of these branches to really know what was hung on them. And again and again I found I could gather more apples or pears. I want to see what is in Scripture—what is most durable—and only after that to read other writings based on Scripture, accepting it or rejecting it without caring who its author is.”
Luther not only recommended reading Scripture, but he actually read. He practiced what he preached.
God is the Lord, and if we are with Him we have nothing to fear. Believe that. And then live your life in a manner consistent with that belief.
Rev. Egon Kopereck is President of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Brazil and sits on the International Lutheran Council’s Executive as representative for Latin America.