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Saturday, January 17, 2015

Martyrs 8: Wilhelm of Zwolle (vs. Martin Noland)

Wilhelm of Zwolle


      This continues from Part 7 (Table of Contents in Part 1a) publishing the book of Hermann Fick on the martyrs of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Part 8 is the account of Wilhelm of Zwolle.  I am making an assumption that "Wilhelm von Zwollen" means that Wilhelm was from Zwolle, Netherlands.






Some highlighting added hyperlinks added for reference.
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by C.J. Hermann Fick
(tr. by BackToLuther)

VIII.
"All my hope and comfort is in God."
(Wilhelm before his death.)
Wilhelm was at first a soldier, trumpeter, or as others say, Fourir of the later disposed King Christian of Denmark.  But afterwards he became a brave soldier of the Lord Jesus, joyfully blowing the trumpet of the Gospel against the Roman Babylon, and gallantly fought against the Antichrist to the death.  His confession and martyrdom was already in 1530 put in print by Dr. John Bugenhagen.
Because he had aroused suspicion by his Lutheran doctrine, the doctors of Leuven presented to him nine articles which he should answer in twelve days, with the threat that if he did not accept them, so they would proceed further against him.
The first article was about swearing. Wilhelm replied: "That a Christian is not entitled to swear, as in Mätth. 5, than to swear only thus like a Christian as Paul does in Romans 1[:9] : "God is my witness etc."   a Christian may well do, and in matters of prosecuting justice, if I am forced or admonished by the authorities, to tell the truth concerning God or my fellow Christians.  So swears the [page 39] the subjects to the authorities and the subjects to the Lord.  For what regards ourselves, our words Yes, should be Yes, No, No, according to the teaching of Christ, Matt. 5, and the truth state freely.
Of obedience to the Pope, he said, "Christ says in Matthew 12: “He that is not with me is against me."  So can no Christian man be subservient to Antichrist with their inner man.  A bishop, pastor or other member of the clergy, who has the Holy Spirit, and has been ordained by the members of the holy Christian Church (whether he has no plate [Platten; tonsure?], nor is coated with the unction), has such great power as the Pope to shepherd, baptize, distribute the sacrament etc."
He rejected Purgatory, and all that the Papists would redeem the souls from it, as unfounded in Holy Scripture: "For," said he, "we are given no other name that we may be saved, than the name of Jesus, Act 4:12, and no other way to be righteous than through faith in Christ Jesus, Romans 3."  He also rejected the invocation of saints and the withdrawal of the chalice.
Of Confession, what did he know? "That we should go to an understanding man who has been enlightened by God and ordained by the holy Christian church, and his complain of the load that weighs our conscience, and receive from him the word of absolution, which Christ commanded his beloved disciples, for the remission of sins. And this confession is free to all Christians without all compulsion and torment of a mortal sin, but for only if he feels weighed down may he go."
Of fasting, he placed in the freedom of Christians; the monastic vows he rejected as unscriptural.  Finally he said, "That I have read the books of Martinus (Luther), I have not done so that I thereby despise the Imperial Majesty’s command, but only that I may see what is good or bad, and what was against God's Word, as man’s teaching and dreams, that I may reject them.
Now that Wilhelm of Zwolle had answered these articles by God’s Word, he added his confession of faith, and his confession: "First, I believe with all my heart the high article of the Divine Majesty, that the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit, three different persons a right, united, natural, true God is, creator of heaven and [page 40] of earth, of all things and creatures, even as everything is still held in the Roman Church and in all the world by the Christian congregations.
"Secondly, I believe and know that Scripture teaches us that the middle person in the Godhead, namely the Son alone has truly became man, conceived by the Holy Spirit without the intervention of a man, and from the pure holy Virgin Mary, born of true, natural mother.  Also the fact that God the Son not only body without soul, but also with the soul, that is a whole perfect humanity has received, in all measure and form a true person, like us, except he was without sin.  And that this Person is very God, a single undivided person of God and man, so that Mary, the holy Virgin, is a right true mother not only of the man Christ, but also the Son of God.  I also believe that this God and Son of Mary, our Lord Jesus Christ, for us poor sinners suffered, was crucified, dead and buried, is so that he has redeemed us from sin, death and eternal wrath of God through His innocent blood.  And that on the third day he rose again from death, and ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty, a Lord of Lords, King over all the kings and all creatures in heaven, earth and under the earth , life and death, over sin and righteousness.
"Thirdly, I believe in the Holy Spirit, who with the Father and Son is true God, and is eternally from the Father and Son, and yet a different person in a divine being and nature.  All believers are adorned with faith and other spiritual gifts by the same,  as with a living, everlasting divine gift and present, from death raised, from sins freed, joyfully and safely, freely and certainly in their conscience.  Then this is our consolation that we feel in our hearts such a testimony of the Spirit that God wants to be our Father, forgives sins and bestows and grants everlasting life free of charge.
"After this I believe that only one Christian church is on earth, which is the congregation or assembly of all Christians around the world, the single Bride of Christ and His spiritual body over which He is also the sole head.  And the bishops or pastors of the congregations are His servants and overseers, sustainers or [page 41] administrators.  And the same Christianity is not only among the Roman Church or the Pope, but around the world as the prophets have declared that the Gospel of Christ should come into the world, Ps. 2 and 19, so that Christianity is in the Roman Church and is scattered everywhere physically, but spiritually it is gathered in one Gospel and faith under one Head, which is Jesus Christ.  In this Christendom, where ever it is, there is forgiveness of sins, that is a kingdom of grace and of the true indulgence; for there is the Gospel, Baptism, the Sacrament of the Altar, in which forgiveness is offered, taken and received; and Christ and his Spirit, and God is also there.  And apart from this Christianity there is no salvation nor the remission of sins, but eternal death and damnation
"To conclude briefly, I believe in God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, that is, I recognize and accept forgiveness of my sins, eternal devotion and blessedness alone from God the Father, Creator of heaven and earth, alone with God the Son, Jesus Christ, in God alone, the Holy Spirit, my only Comforter. And not failing in this alone, was God Himself is and does, and holds that nothing else is needed or avails for my salvation.  But the works are herewith not laid down as if they should not be done by Christian believers, those outwardly happen from faith by love towards our neighbor, which are commanded of us by Christ.  In the same way also, receiving Baptism and the Sacrament, hearing preaching, etc. are thereby not despised nor rejected.
"This is the confession of God, and a public confession, which I confess to God and the world.
"So I pray first to all Christian members of the holy Christian Church, those I would have angered from childhood, as I have known what sin was, to these in my last hour, that they for God's sake (if I have done someone else, then I would that ye shall do this to me) through Christ His blessed Son would forgive me.  Then I confess that I have sinned before God my Creator from the first hour, as I knew what sin was, to this my last hour, I'm going to give up my soul in His divine hands, that the slightest sin [page 42] I have done, would be worthy to burn in the fire here on this earth, then after this to pass into the eternal fire.  But His divine goodness provides that not to happen, in Christ His blessed Son has redeemed me through his dear precious blood from sin, devil, death and hell, so that I am saved and finished with the infernal dog and snake, that he has no more strength and power over  me.  And He will see the penitent and humble heart of his poor, unworthy servant and workman, whom he has humbled by his divine, gratuitous mercy, so that He remembers my sin and iniquities no more. And no other absolution sought I to receive as necessary for salvation from the outer man, Psalm 32:1-2: “Blessed is the man to whom the transgressions are forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute iniquity.”  And as often as man sighs for his sin, God never will remember them, and of all those who are burdened and laden, Christ says: Come to me, I will give you rest.  There will I boldly venture, but do not disdain the authority of His beloved Apostles and Evangelists; John 20:22-23: Receive ye the Holy Spirit, whom ye remit sins, they are forgiven; and Matthew, 18:18: What you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, etc. Herewith I order my Father in heaven my spirit into His divine hand."
Shortly before the end, the blessed martyr wrote another song, highlighting his fervent love for the Lord Jesus.  The first verses of which are as follows: [the following is a rough attempt to translate Wilhelm’s verse - BTL]
So one [manich] Head, so one desire [Sinn]: —
He is well pleased with me.
For He changes me, no empress:
He loves me over all
In my desire, the bridegroom is mine.
Then I have reason for my heart,
My desire strives for Him.
He has my heart in his hand;
He has caught my understanding.
Not better my courage would build,
The world would be resplendent with me.
My beloved is mine and I am His,
I am delighted by His appearance,
He lays my heart to impress. [page 43]
All my refuge I put to God,
With Him I will remain.
Power in the world and their command
Should not drive Him from me.
From Him no one shall snatch me,
Neither devil nor his members all:
The world is with me fooled.
What do I care about the world’s  mockery!
I have heeded not a mettle [Meytle].
Let go its favor, honor and property,
My treasure is God's kingdom.
Because I have His divine word,
That spurned the sophists of Leuven,
Rejected with their Antichrist.
Now that the dear Wilhelm of Zwolle had deposited such a magnificent, scriptural confession, he was sentenced to death by the Papists, and was burned on October 20, 1529 at Mechelen in the Netherlands (now Belgium).
His blood, concludes Bugenhagen, calls out to God for vengeance and admonishes all Christians with the same resistance to persevere with God and his holy Word to a blessed end and eternal life.  May our eternal God grant us this, through Jesus Christ, His beloved Son together with the Holy Ghost. Amen.
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Annotations.
8.  Wilhelm of Zwolle. Source: Rabus Thl. 3. pg. 155. The story of his martyrdom was first made known in print in 1530 by Dr. John Bugenhagen Pommer.  Dr. Löscher in his historia motuum thl. Part 3. p 82: "Wilhelm of Zwolle taught at Mechelen and was burned in 1529, who had been so united with the Wittenbergers that Bugenhagius published in 1530 his martyr story.
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There is a statement in the above confession that flatly refutes Pastor Martin Noland's rejection of the "testimony of the Holy Spirit":
"Then this is our consolation that we feel in our hearts such a testimony of the Spirit that God wants to be our Father, forgives sins and bestows and grants everlasting life free of charge."
This is the same teaching that Franz Pieper brings in his Christian Dogmatics: (C.D. III, pgs 308-315).  And the martyr warns his inquisitors of Leuven:
"...but do not disdain the authority of His beloved Apostles and Evangelists"
...i.e. Holy Scripture.  Who are you going to believe for your certainty of salvation?  Martin Noland and his reliance on philosophers (Jewish!) ... or God's Word?  —  Maybe Pastor Noland needs to go back to what the Gospel actually means:
  1. as uncovered again by C.F.W. Walther (UOJ) and 
  2. as testified here by the Lutheran martyr Wilhelm of Zwolle.
The Lutheran martyrs staked their life (and death) on the true Gospel.  In the next Part 9 – Maria and Ursula von Becken.

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