Michael Sattler left his life as a monk and became an early leader of the Anabaptist movement. Brother Dean Taylor picked five highlights from the legacy of this dedicated Christian from which we can draw much inspiration — Michael Sattler was a man of the Bible. He studied Biblical languages and knew how to discuss doctrine. He was very concerned about love, boldly followed the commands of Christ in evangelism and mission work, loved the church, and followed the commands of Christ for the church. But most importantly Michael Sattler was faithful to Christ to the end.
Opening prayer by Curt Wagoner:
Gracious God, heavenly Father, in the name of Jesus, it’s a delight to call unto You again tonight, and to pray that you would bless our dear brother as he stands in this place and teaches, and instructs us, and inspires us from the example of one, Michael Sattler, from history. Father, thank you for this opportunity. Would you bless our dear brother? Give him strength, inspiration, and purge from his life any dross that would be a hindrance to this message tonight. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
By Dean Taylor:
Amen. It’s such a blessing to be here. I could listen to Brother John D. tell hymn stories, and sing, and hear the Scriptures being read, and there’s so much blessings, it’s tremendous.
You know, as I bring up – we’ve been given a character sketch today, and I was given the topic of Michael Sattler. And as I was listening to those Scriptures, you know, I think, what a perfect set of Scriptures to talk about these people who have lived these lives, and I think of that passage that we heard repeatedly “of whom the world was not worthy.” “Of whom the world was not worthy.”
And this line of testimony that the Scripture gives us of those brave men and women who have lived their life, not living their own life but seeking this Kingdom to come, and it’s so inspiring! But I wanted to – before I get into the message – call your attention to the very last verse of chapter 11. It’s easy to kinda look over it. This wasn’t in the message, but I really had it on my heart as I heard this Bible memory. The last passage, the last half of the last verse, is really, really important to the Hebrews 11, and it’s gonna be really important as we talk about Michael Sattler today. After it gives all these lines of all these incredible saints of God “of whom the world was not worthy” it ends with this thought: “that they, without us, should not be made perfect.”
Did you catch that? That the whole list of people and all the generations that were showing through time, and everything, and it finally gets to the last thing, and it says “that they” – all they accomplished through Christ – “that they without us should not be made perfect.”
Years ago I went and visited the place where the oldest Hutterite chronicles is placed in Bon Homme community in South Dakota. And as I was going through there – I loved this one section that showed this list of martyrs. And in the English and in the German, it just lists the different areas where the different martyrdoms were, and then it would jump to the next district, and jump to the next district. And I wanted to see this in the original hand-written version that the bishop keeps under a bed in Bon Homme, South Dakota.
And when I opened that up, and I looked, and there was all these blank spaces left in the chronicles – and as you ponder that, you’re like – that’s funny – well, that’s not in the English or the German and you start to say, “Why are all those huge…?; there were two whole pages of blanks. And it dawns on you; it’s this, “That they without us should not be made perfect.”
The writers of that chronicles had actually left whole sections that areas of martyrdom could continually be written in. Because it was part of being a Christian. It was part of being on fire for the Lord, that you were gonna have these kinds of things; you were gonna have martyrdom. You’re gonna have these things. And I said to the bishop, and he’s like, “No, I never noticed it before.” “Yeah, you’re supposed to be written in this.”
So, I praise the Lord, as I look at Michael Sattler today. We are given that topic. It’s very humbling to look at a man that so far passes me up, and I want to just, to some degree, to be inspired by his life, in the degree that he follows Jesus Christ. And I do not want to lift up anything else but Jesus Christ today. I think that Brother Curt prayed that.
So, as we look at this, I’d like to make a few acknowledgments before I start, and mention a few resources that bring together a character sketch about a person. You know, you get a lot of resources. I just want us to have a few acknowledgements here.
Start with this: First of all, I want to acknowledge the Kingdom Fellowship Weekend. You know, I’ve been coming here for many years, and it’s been a blessing to see it grow, and I don’t know, particularly if you’re a young person here today, I want to make sure you appreciate how rare it is to have a group like this, and what a blessing it is to bring people with a zeal for the Lord from many different backgrounds, many different experiences that we have, it’s an amazing platform, the things that are discussed here, and the groups that are brought together here, and I just wanted to give a blessing, first of all, to Kingdom Fellowship Weekend and what this represents, and wanted to make sure you really bless these brothers that put this together because it is rare to get us together in this way, so I bless the Lord for that.
I also – recently, you know, I moved to Boston working with Sattler College. So this was an interesting thing, and I couldn’t resist Brother Joel when he asked me to speak on Michael Sattler. He had me. And so, I wanted to dig even deeper into the life of Michael Sattler. And so, that’s been an encouragement to me, and it’s an example of what we’re trying to represent there in Boston. I did want to say that we are – as you know there’s a college there, but we also just recently started a one year, unaccredited track where all the focus is on our Bible languages, and apologetics, and church history, to just focus on those things in that one year. If they like it, they can continue that on. That’s an excellent resource that I’m very blessed to be a part of that’s coming up here just starting this next… we have people coming on Monday. So I bless the Lord for that. I’m looking forward to that year there.
Also, another resource kinda connected to the people that are here. We have a new thing called The Historic Faith, and we have both a booth and flyers back there that we have some information on this. And this is gonna look at things at early Christianity, of the historic faith, and we’re doing this – it’s kinda new – on a subscription basis. We’re trying to develop a group of people that can support each other, ask questions, and these types of things. We’re going to be developing more information and more things, more messages for that so you can pick up a flyer there in the back. And I’m really blessed to see that. David Bercot, his teachings are most of it at this point, and we’ve been really blessed to have a lot of his stuff on there. We’re hoping to get a lot more as time grows.
I also want to thank, as I prepared all these things together, you see two booths out there, one is for Scroll Publishing. I’ve been with Scroll Publishing right when I got out of the army. It’s been about twenty-eight years and I’m very blessed with a ministry that’s there and the different Kingdom resources that they have, and they have a booth out there and I encourage you to take a look at that.
And also, a very special blessing to Brother Andrew Ste. Marie who wrote this incredible book about Michael Sattler, and which I really leaned on in preparing this message. He said he brought a bunch of extras there. So make sure you stop by Brother Andrew Ste. Marie’s booth. And I’ve really appreciated his take; it has all the writings of Michael Sattler and also his life. They’re represented in that book. I bought a case of those for the students and we’ve loved going through them.
So okay, so now a sermon on a historic figure, and you see what I have up there: a bunch of dusty books. And so it can be kind of scary giving a message on you know, a character sketch on a historic figure. I’m wondering, what are the things that I should share about Michael Sattler, and so I’m going to try to give some different points of his life, some of the details you can get from Brother Andrews’s book on it, but I’m going to try to get some of the things I think would make a big difference to us today, some of his legacy, some of the things that he wrote, and how it affects us.
And here’s I’m gonna tell you something. I have a strange allergy. I’m actually allergic to old books. It’s true. Years ago when I was working with the Remnant; my wife and I were, you know, digging up any old source of things. I realized that I, like, break out into a rash when I’m reading old, old books, and I hate it. You know, I used to work in in the hospital, and I would literally take home surgical masks and gloves and, you know, I get these old books and ordered them, and you know, you couldn’t get a lot of these on the internet, and I’d put these masks on and read them. And I realized I have some sort of an allergy to the mold or something about old books, that I mean, it can get actually pretty bad sometimes, I can almost start wheezing from old books.
And I really asked the Lord, “Why is this Lord? You know, I love these these Saints of old and I love reading these old books.” And I really felt the Lord telling me something through this strange allergy, and that is to appreciate the past, but don’t stay in the past, that as I read those things I felt the Lord giving me a little bit of a rebuke to not just be in a bunch of moldy books, to not just be something, but that there’s a living message for today, “that they without us are not perfect,” that God has a plan for the 21st century. God has something that he wants for us to do today.
So while I bringing in this historic figure to us as I’m talking about him, and the Anabaptists that he helped to start, my heart in this is that we can be inspired on how to let the Holy Spirit create the church today.
So with that I have a passage that I would like to remind us all before I mention anything of the writings of Michael Sattler. And is this passage,
God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar.Romans 3:4
I want nothing of my own words, the words of Michael Sattler, the Anabaptists, or anything supplant the place of Jesus Christ. And if anything are my words, are Michael Sattler’s words, or anyone else that is in error against the words of Jesus Christ, and it’s exactly: I want Jesus to be lifted up. “Let God be true and every man a liar.”
So, Michael Sattler what an incredible character. What an incredible man of God. If you pick up an encyclopedia or if you these days if you just go to the Wikipedia or something, you get this little blog that comes up about Michael Sattler. “Michael Sattler,” it says (this is right off the first line of Wikipedia), “born somewhere around 1490 and died (we know exactly) on May 20th, 1527. He was a monk who left the Roman Catholic Church during the Protestant Reformation to become one of the early leaders of the Anabaptists.”
And so this question then brings in lots of other questions. Now interesting, just for information sake, I looked it up and that was 492 years, two months, and twenty-seven days ago that he was burned at the stake, 492 years, two months, and twenty-seven days. And it says that he was a leader of an Anabaptist movement. And so I thought I would first start with a few important definitions to define some of the terms that I’m going to be using, define some of the terms when we talk about Michael Sattler, you know, and to help us to speak the same language.
So I use this word Anabaptist, and so this is an interesting term, the Anabaptist. When you use the word Anabaptist – the Anabaptist is not a denomination. When I use the term Anabaptist or Anabaptism, I do not use it in a sense of a denomination. It is a hermeneutic. It is, in other words, a Biblical principle and I see within Anabaptism – I use it a lot and I frequently use the term to designate, not a denomination, but to designate a method or the common way that people interpret the Bible.
And so I do adopt this passage, but I do it with trepidation. I’ll tell you why I’m nervous about using the word Anabaptist. It’s for both extremes. There’s some pretty far out things that are called Anabaptist. When you look at those that are, let’s say for whatever reason, use the ones on the far left, you very much tend to have a sloppiness in the Scriptures. You have a weakness in the obedience of the Christ, you have a weakness in the Old Testament, you have many times speaking disparagingly about the words of Paul, and holiness of life and separation sometimes are very weak, by those that are represented, if we could use the term, on the far left. And so I get nervous. I mean even some emerging church, and different terms like that, would use the term these days with Anabaptist.
On the far right you would have, sometimes, situations where people are very closed off, they’re very distant. They are not open to evangelism or the obedience of Christ iin terms of evangelism, church planting. Many times there’s a strange attraction on the right to fundamentalist theology. There’s even closet and sometimes outward militarism. And, usually sometimes in the far right, a disappointing view of economics and evangelism. So there’s lots of reasons why to have carefulness when we use the term.
But I use the term, because I think it’s important to define some of those edges. I like the statement, “What can be defined can be scrutinized,” and I want you to ponder that just for a moment. “What can be defined can also be scrutinized.”
When we say what our theological positions are, when we can see where they lead both to the left and to the right, when we can see some of the mistakes that we make continually through the different generations, it gives us an understanding of where our weaknesses are. And I think so with humility we can look at this term and accept this term. And I feel it’s very instructive because I do think there’s some repeated mistakes that happen in the Anabaptist circles, if you would, and that’s from the time of the 1500s up into this very day.
Nowadays, you hear this other term attached to it, very commonly, and that would be neo-Anabaptist, and that’s basically what generally people would call all of you, whether you like it or not this term, it’s neo-Anabaptist. And that would fit both the far left and the far right. I would be all of us from different Mennonite groups, from different independent groups, from Charity from Boston groups, independents, and that’s what the general term has been that people use to describe Anabaptist and Anabaptism.
And you’re thinking here today, “Well, I don’t like that.” Well, that’s good. You’re not supposed to necessarily like it. You wouldn’t be a self-respecting Anabaptist if you were completely comfortable with it. And so it’s part of it, but what I’m trying to do is to gather the way of thinking that is common to an Anabaptist understanding of the Scriptures because I believe that in that Anabaptist understanding of Scripture that there are many strengths. But there are also some inherent weaknesses that we seem to keep repeating, generation after generation. And so I bring that out.
There’s an interesting book I read; I don’t know if anybody has seen this book “Anabaptist World USA” – it didn’t get very popular. It was interesting; he went through the different Anabaptist churches and gives a sketch of, and I remember I read it when I was a Charity minister and as we read through that, I was amazed, if you’re humble with it, how he kind of pegs your group. I mean he goes through it and he shows the different groups, their strengths, their weaknesses, their things like that, and I had to kind of chuckle. And this use of terms as Kraybill put in this book. I recommend the book. It’s interesting. I wish they would update it. It’s a fascinating book.
But here’s my point again: “What can be defined can be scrutinized,” and my heart is to gather us together to be able to critically, in a positive way to look at both our strengths and our weaknesses. Another thing that recently was a title thrown around is “intentionallist.” This was another term that another neo-Anabaptist – it was interesting – was an amusing critique by Cory Anderson, and he critiqued many of the groups like this: Kingdom Fellowship, Anabaptist Identity Conference, and gave us the term “intentionalist.” And I’ve been certainly called a lot worse, and I think that it’s an interesting and almost amusing term. But the thing is that, I believe, that when people like that write articles, that, if you’re humble and you realize it, that a lot of what he’s saying is true. And that many of the things that we can be honest about our strengths and our weaknesses, it would be good for us to read those things and let them reflect upon us.
I remember when I was at Charity, Chester Weaver had written one on “The Pietist” – if y’all remember that tract he put out once on “The Pietist”? It was a title being thrown around, oh fifteen years ago, or so. And again, every one of the criticisms that I thought that Chester brought were valid. Now, that doesn’t mean I didn’t still agree to some of the tenants that the “Intentionlists” or the “Pietists” or whatever, but nevertheless it’s good for us to recognize some of these common things.
The things that you’re going through in your church, the debates: you might think it’s new that that you’re discussing whether or not it’s okay to have a church standard, or not a church standard. To have debates over missions and church, to have even common debates over, like, the atonement and whether there’s a substitutionary atonement, or there is penal substitutionary, or there’s the Christus Victor. It’s amazing when you read through history how these are repeated debates and repeated discussions that go through our circles time and time again. And I think there’s a reason.
And so as I look at Michael Sattler and I think about what he’s done, I want to look at it with humility. And I want us to consider some of these things that has come from Anabaptism, come from what he and those brothers in Zurich did almost 500 years ago, and be blessed with it, encouraged with it, but instructed by it, both in the good things they did and also to look at some of the historical things that we’ve done that maybe were not all that great.
So now, after those definitions and those things, I’m going to give you what I consider the Dean Taylor definition of the essence of Anabaptist. Get out your pen and paper – I’m going to give it to you. Alright, I got this from a letter from Conrad Grebel. And Conrad Grebel was writing a letter to his brother-in-law and his mentor, Doctor Joachim von Watt, who by name is common called Vadian. He married his sister, and you know, a part of those early Bible studies but eventually took a position in Saint Gaul and eventually became mayor of Saint Gaul, which is north of Zurich in Switzerland. And he wrote him a letter saying, “Why are you leaving us? Why are you chasing after the world and its treasures instead of being with us?” And there’s two things that come out in that letter that I consider the essence of Anabaptism. And I again I’m using this not as a denominational sense, but as a Biblical interpretation. Here’s the two things:
I believe the Word of God without a complicated interpretation, and out of this belief I speak.
So in other words when you go through the scriptures and I’ve made the comment before: if we had an Anabaptist Study Bible, you know, and if you have an Anabaptist Study Bible you get to, like, the passages where you know, Jesus saying “Love your enemies” and you’d have the, you know, that quintessential line, then underneath, you know, the Study Bible then tells you what it really means. But then underneath the line, the Anabaptist Study Bible would say “What this really means when Jesus said to ‘Love your enemies’ is that we should love our enemies,” you know.
And I believe that the Word of God without a complicated interpretation and out of this belief I speak. The permanence of marriage, our views on separation, the head-covering, these things – they are simple and it takes an awful lot of gymnastics to make them to not say what they plainly say.
The other point I think is also very important, if not more:
The teaching of the Lord has been given for the purpose of being put into practice.
Yeah. Oh, this is a big difference. And so if I were to put anything as the center, Jesus Christ as the center of our christocentric hermeneutic, fancy word for the having Jesus Christ the center of the way we interpret our Bible. It is this: the teaching of the Lord has been given for the purpose of being put into practice. Not to be explained away. Not to be put on just a poster or something in different ways, but to be put into practice.
So let’s talk about how Michael Sattler played into these things. So Michael Sattler was born there and right on the bottom of South Germany Staufen, Germany, sometime in around the year 1490. If you see there, it’s kind of like close to Switzerland, and in this area Strasburg can kinda see to the left there. And eventually we know that he became a monk and was a prior of the Benedictine Monastery of St. Peter near Freiburg, Germany. (This is a beautiful part of town, a part of the country. Nowadays if you go to Freiburg, it’s where people go to buy cuckoo clocks. I bought a cuckoo clock when I was a soldier in the Army over thirty years ago there in Freiburg. It’s a beautiful area, lots of forests and things, and there this Monastery would be there. I imagine it was even more forested back then.)
So it tells us something that from early on he was a leader, he studied, and that he had a passion to just give his life for God living in a monastery. And the fact that he was prior means he was one of the top people of the monastery. Doesn’t mean necessarily the abbot but he was one of the leading people of the monastery.
The Hutterrian Chronicles records these early Anabaptists with both the ones in Zurich and Michael Sattler – the Hutterian Chronicles records that the original three leaders of the Anabaptists in Zurich had “A thorough knowledge of German, Latin, Greek, and Hebrew.” Of Michael Sattler, the Chronicle records that he was “…was a scholar in Hebrew and Latin with a wide knowledge of the Holy Scripture, a man who truly loved God.”
And so I would like to just bring out the fact that these early Anabaptist leaders were people that really studied the Word of God. This is one of the very things that inspired us to use the name Michael Sattler for Sattler College – was this: in every major we have this emphasis on learning the Biblical languages and studying Hebrew and Greek and knowing how to read the Word of God. And so Michael Sattler was an educated person, not in a puffed out way. And I think you see this in his life that he was still very humble. But when it came time for things being very important, Michael Sattler knew his Bible.
And so I’m going to bring out, I think it’s five things in particular that I’m going to bring out about Michael Sattler’s life. And the thing that I’m going to bring out particularly right now is that he knew his Bible. And all these early Anabaptists knew their Bible. When Michael Sattler was in the court, and he was being tried, and they were going back and forth on his different interpretations in a different things, he challenged the court there with this statement: He says:
Therefore, ye ministers of God, if ye have not heard or read the Word of God, send for the most learned, and for the sacred books of the Bible, of whatsoever language they may be, and let them confer with us in the Word of God; and if they prove to us with the Holy Scriptures, that we err and are in the wrong, we will gladly desist and recant and also willingly suffer the sentence and punishment for that of which we have been accused, but if no error is proven to us, I hope to God, that you will be converted, and receive instruction.
It’s this boldness that Michael Sattler had at this meeting was impressive, but I think some of that came – he had a confidence – Michael Sattler knew his Bible. When you see this beautiful train of people up here, you know quoting the Hebrews 11, please let’s keep this up. The 21st century needs churches that are completely devoted to the Word of God. That Jesus speaks through the Word of God to us, and we shape our life after that. We’re not making up our own philosophies. We’re not following the dictates of this world, but it’s the Scriptures. It’s the Word of God. And with that it gave him a very refreshing take on the way he described the Scriptures.
He only had about two years of ministry out of Michael Sattler. But what he had was a blessing. And one of those particular ones that he wrote in one of his different epistles that he had, and he had this idea of being aware of the scribes and the Pharisees. And it’s interesting the way he said it was that, you know, we can err in both sides. In other words, we can err by going about thinking that we can create our own righteousness by our own strength, that’s what he said they did when they were Catholics, and they would go on pilgrimages, or different things like this, and he said, you know, this is not right. This is not works. These works are vain. You can’t just go working works without having a faith in Christ. And he makes this very clear.
But then he also warned on the other end – and he compared that like the Pharisees – and he also warned on the scribes. And using perhaps the term a little loosely, he said the scribes write beautiful things. They preached beautiful sermons. There’s no change in their life. And so, Michael Sattler did a beautiful job of preaching a message that was completely devoted on Jesus Christ and his grace to create a real change in our life. And that that change would be real. Not just changing in our vocabulary, or our denominational differences, or our change in, you know, different outward things merely. But a change in our life and faith that came out in everything that we were about. And it’s beautiful to hear him and the other early Anabaptists speak very clearly that this change happens from the grace of God inside of us and when God gives us the grace of God, it’s real. And it’s going to change you. It’s impossible just to have an artificial faith. And so this idea of him knowing his Bible is something that I think we should take note for the 21st century.
In May of 1525, a group of peasants marched on St. Peter’s Monastery in protest of high taxes. Sometimes around this time, we know from history that he left the monastery. And so it’s interesting this group of this peasant revolt – it’s a very interesting little thing in history: there’s an interesting book I would recommend, kind of on a scholarly work, but it looks on this peasant revolt and how it affected and shows how some of the early Anabaptist would have been a part of this before they were enlightened with the teachings of Christ on non-resistance and things. And it’s amazing looking at the passion even in these peasants, and this group of people took over the monastery, and we know that shortly after that he left. And Andrew St. Marie talks a little bit about it in his book on some speculations of what came out of that.
He chose a godly wife. Michael Sattler married Margaretha, a former Beguine sister. Beguines were a religious group sort of like a nun, but it would have different orders and different levels that you could live in devotion to Christ. And we don’t know very much about here. There’s one little statement about her in history and I have it written up there. It says that somebody had written something about her and called her quote “a talented clever little woman.” Amen. Reminds me of my wife! So you know – and you just see the supportive – I don’t know, you read a lot into that idea of… You see her spirit of following Michael through these very difficult times of this new movement and what it was, and I’m just inspired by what little we do know about Michael Sattler’s wife. And so it’s encouraging at their end – and I’ll mention this hopefully – but at their end, you know, after Michael was finally burned at the stake, they pleaded with her, “Just give up. Just give up.” She wouldn’t do it. And so she also was faithful to the end.
So Michael came to Zurich around 1525. The Anabaptists were already sort of getting started. And sometimes around was baptized in 1526. Again Andrew brings a lot of good details in the book about this phase. After his baptism, and here’s one of the points I’m going to come to that I think are important for us, he came to Strasbourg (now France) and some of the original reformers were there. He was able to reason with them from the Scriptures, some of the famous early reformers, Wolfgang Capito, he stayed actually at Capito’s house, Martin Bucer were there at the time. And these actually go and become part of the founders of the Reformed people. But here’s something that comes out of this little encounter that I think it’s the second thing that I want to emphasize on Michael Sattler’s life that can be reflected on the church that I think we need today, that I need today. And that is his emphasis on love.
This man was a scholar. This man was a zealous follower of Jesus Christ. But from what we have of his writings and his life, and the testimony of even his enemies, this man was a lover who loved God and loved his brethren. And this comes out. As a matter of fact, when he went and disputed with these different reformers there in Strasbourg that he left there, after staying in Capito’s own house, and as he wrote he gives this statement when he writes his letter to them and he says, “Beloved brothers in God.” I don’t know – there’s something about that just touches me. There’s something about that desire to try in any way he could to see the good in these brothers in Strasbourg.
And I see in his title there’s something that just rebukes me, and that encourages me to have a more charitable spirit. Interestingly, even they writing back to him, or writing of him after his death, called him (and this is when he was condemned a heretic) “Dear friend in God.” The things that they brought in Strasbourg were important:
Christ came to save all those who would believe in him alone.
He who believes and is baptized will be saved, but he who believes not will be damned. Faith in Jesus Christ reconciles us with the Father and gives us access to him. Baptism incorporates all believers into the body of Christ of which he is the head. Christ is the head of his body of all believers o’er the congregation. As the head is minded, so must the members also be.
Here’s one that was controversial for them:
The foreknown and called believers shall be conformed to the image of Christ, and Christ is despised in the world; so are also those who are his. He has no Kingdom in this world, but that which is of this world is against his Kingdom.
Other things that he brought up:
Christians are wholly yielded and have placed their trust in their Father in heaven without any outward or worldly arms.
In other words, you don’t defend this faith with embattlements and with armies.
The citizenship of Christians is in Heaven and not on Earth.
Do we still believe that point? The citizenship of Christian is in Heaven and not on Earth. We’re little embassies of the Kingdom of God. As my brother John D. likes to say “Our job is that…” let’s all say it – “that we would show…” everybody know, say it with me – “the whole world what the whole world would look like if it would only follow the King.” Thank you Brother John D. It’s a great statement. We are citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven
Christians are the members of the household of God ,and fellow citizens of the saints and not of the world. But they are true Christians who…
…but they are true Christians who practice indeed the teachings of Christ.
Do we still believe this one?
…but they are true Christians who practice indeed the teachings of Christ.
The last two:
Flesh and blood, pomp and temporal earthly honors and the world cannot comprehend the Kingdom of Christ.
In some there is nothing in common between Christ and Belial.
These were hard statements, but still this spirit that he had! You know, one of the passages that I would take a lot of guidance from is in Mark chapter 9. And the passage there, if you recall in Mark chapter 9, is when the apostles were nervous that people were casting out demons without them. And Jesus rebukes them and, you know, it makes you think: “So, would we rather have people be demon possessed than not do it our way?”
I mean, I like it that we’re zealous brothers. But if we’ve gone so far that we’re nervous that people are getting their demons cast out because they’re not exactly with us, then maybe we’re erring a little too far, and Jesus rebukes him for that. And then at the very end of that passage in Mark chapter 9, there’s this passage that I take a lot of comfort with. He says in Mark 9:49:
For everyone will be seasoned with fire. And every sacrifice will be seasoned with salt. Salt is good. But if it loses its flavor, how will you season it?
But then he says the statement:
Have salt within yourself and peace with one another.
That’s what I see with Michael Sattler. He was very seasoned. He was very salty about the things that he believed. When we see him standing in persecution, Michael Sattler knew what he believed but, at the end of the day he was charitable and he had peace with one another. And you see this coming out in his statements. I think maybe we need some more of this spirit. I think this spirit would do us good to not… you see, if Jesus would have just said “Have peace with one another,” then we can maybe be in some sort of kind of fuzzy ecumenism, you know, everything goes, and that kind of thing. He didn’t say that. If he would just said, “Have salt within yourself,” then maybe that would have us be a little too edgy, but he said, “Have salt within yourself and peace with one another.” I love that balance, and I need more of that balance in my life. I think it’s a beautiful balance.
I’m going to read just a few things to the church from prison. He says,
Furthermore dear fellow members of Christ, you should be admonished not to forget love, without which it is not possible for you to be a Christian congregation. You know what love is from the testimony of Paul our fellow brother who says “Love is patient and kind, not jealous, not puffed up, not ambitious,” and he goes on to give the teachings of Paul and says that this is not to be this way, and he then encourages us that even when we have to excommunicate someone, that if we do this in a in a harsh manner, in a way that’s not right, then we’ve lost the Christian faith. And he’s rebuking the church to do this from prison.
There’s another letter I read in Anabaptism. This was Jacob Amman, one of the beginning people of the Amish. And his younger brother, years later after Jacob Amman, there’s a precious letter where he gives encouragement to a church that’s in trouble, a church that’s going through church splits, and things that are going wrong. And yes, back then they had those, too. But if there’s one thing you read in history, you realize the more you dig deep, there’s not a lot of things that changed. I even read the Bible so much different. When I read Paul now, and I read about the different things that he goes through and different things, and I, yeah, we’re the same. And God still is also the same, praise God, and he wants to do these things.
Anyway in this letter, he gives rebukes to the elders and he says, you know elders (and to the congregation) that we must have love. And at the very end into the letter he writes this, Ulli Ammann writes to this church in trouble. He says:
If it should happen that the minister’s or elder’s initial presentation on some important matter was not generally understood to be the best and dissension then follows…
I think some of you could imagine.
…and some supported the elder and his initial presentation while the opposing party thought they could not support it, then we think they should not argue about it to the point where love is lost.
That’s a good idea. And then he says this:
Oh, if only this could happen…
This is the very beginning of the Amish. This is Jacob Amman’s, I think, younger brother.
Oh, if only this could happen, which would be very necessary and good, that all elders and ministers would follow Christ’s example in all that is good, and especially in humble and Scriptural obedience to God, and could give the people a good model, and that a domineering nature—which is very closely related to destructive pride—would be given no place.
The spirit in early Anabaptism, particularly in the Swiss, I find very encouraging. I need it more in my life. And when I read these examples from Michael Sattler, and his take on it, it challenges me.
The next thing is evangelism. Really the evangelism of the early Anabaptists is incredible. In the book you have, and again Andrew takes us through in his book. He comes to a little town. It’s like a suburb of Strasbourg called Lar, and he goes and he begins to evangelize. There’s an amusing letter in there where one of the people that were evangelized says some bad things about Michael Sattler. And it just gives you some insights again on even his evangelism techniques. But what did this look like in early Anabaptism? What did evangelism and missions look like in early Anabaptism? And it’s very challenging! Within days after the movement, with death sentences still over their heads, the early Anabaptists went into neighboring cities with remarkable success.
In one account Conrad Grebel went to North and Saint Gaul and interrupted an Easter parade with the preaching of the Kingdom of God. And on that day brought over 500 people – left an Easter Parade – to go follow and get baptized right there in the water and follow Christ. Now, you know if you were to think – and you’re in persecution and things are coming – what would you do if persecution was coming on the church? I ask this question. So if you were going through all this, and gone through all this terrible persecution, and you had the choice: “Do you rest?” What do you think they did? Did they rest? No, they did not rest.
Another thing. Would you hide? I don’t think anybody would blame those early brothers or any of those we read in Hebrews 11, that they would hide out for a while. But they didn’t hide. They didn’t hide.
All right, how about here’s one? All right, would they hold a seminar? They did get together, but when they got together like this they expected change immediately. And so the big question then, “Would you go?” and the answer is yes, they went. And here’s why. And I don’t want you to miss this part of why Anabaptism went in so much evangelism. And I mentioned at the very beginning it’s for a really good reason. It’s for this reason. Everyone see this written up here? Everybody say it with me. “No go, no lo.” Say it again: “No go, no lo.”
Now let me give you where this comes from. Comes from this:
And Jesus spake unto them…
in Matthew 28
…All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations,…
That’s making disciples.
…baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe…
…all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the earth.
I know what you’re thinking. “Well, you don’t know what it’s like in our church. We’ve got all these problems and when we get past all these problems, we’re going to evangelize. And when we go through these different things, when we get it together, then we’re going to do something. But right now we’ve got so many church problems.” Okay, I can understand to some degree, but we’re using this as an excuse way too much, because the order that you see from Jesus Christ is with the power of the Holy Spirit, trusting him in faith, go. And then what? “Lo, I will be with you.”
You see, here’s the thing: what makes Anabaptism different is what? Those two things:
I believe the Bible with a simple interpretation and out of this I speak.
And the second one was what?
The teachings of the Lord were meant to be put into practice”
and they saw this as a command. We don’t give up on our permanence of marriage, on swearing of oaths, on these different things, on non-resistance. Why do we take these commands to evangelize and put them in a totally different category? They were the commands of Christ.
Just look at 1527 with me for a second. So Felix Manz was killed January 5th, 1527. Michael Sattler on May 21st, the same year. They got together before that in Schleitheim on February 24th to hammer out a few things before the church. They had a Synod in Augsburg on August the 20th, and they brought sixty ministers (already now!) in the same year. Sixty ministers now are gathering and why are they gathering? To have a conference of how they’re going to take the Gospel to the ends of the Earth. And when they do that, they write out different places of where they’re going; they had a Synod.
Okay, now in five years, guess how many of those sixty ministers were left? Two. That’s why it’s called the “Martyr Synod.” And you know what’s even more impressive – is that when you look at the court records that within two weeks, there’s arrests being made for people responding to what they heard in that Synod that they had on August 20th. By the end of the year 12,500 people are selling their homes, giving up their life, and going when the Count Liechtenstein opened up Moravia for them to come. Those days you had a 5% chance of survival if you look at that sixty ministers and only two of them being alive.
This was common everywhere. Menno Simons put it this way. Remember this is a command:
Therefore we preach as much as is possible both by day and by night, in house and in field, in forest and waste, hither and yon, in home and abroad, in prisons and in dungeon, in water and in fire, on the scaffold and on the torture wheel, before lords and princes, through mouth and pin, with possessions and blood, with life and death. We could wish that we might save all mankind from the jaws of hell, free them from the chains of their sins, and by the gracious help of God, add them to Christ by the Gospel of his peace. For this is the true nature of the love which is of God.
The ladies did this. There’s an interesting story in the Martyrs Mirror. This one woman asking this said,
Dear Mother, can you not just think what you like and keep it to yourself? Then you won’t die.
The Anabaptist lady responded, “Dear sister,” Now watch the term. Which word did I underline?
Dear sister, I am commanded to speak and am constrained to do so. Hence I cannot remain silent about it.
This one is my favorite, the Wartenberg government’s decision. This is in a court record. the Wartenberg government’s decision that
The propaganda activity of Anabaptist women through word and mouth and through booklets…
means they’re passing out tracts.
…was so grievous that those mothers who could not be banished because of their little children would be chained at home to prevent their leading so many people astray.
Wow! Wow! Why? Why?
It’s Christ. It’s Jesus, every bit of our life, our doctrine, our teaching, our practice, our motives, our goals. It is the person of Jesus Christ, our Salvation, our Sanctification, our Redemption, our Wisdom. Everything is the person of Jesus Christ.
Michael Sattler warns from prison:
Remember the Lord who gave you a coin? For he will again require the same with interest. Lest that one talent be taken away from you, place it at interest according to the command of the Lord who entrusted it to you. I testify to you by the grace of God that you are valiant, and that you walk as become the saints of God. Give heed how the Lord rewards lazy servants, namely the lazy and tired hearts, clumsy and cold in the love of God and of the brothers.
This idea – you know the passage that he’s quoting from. I love this. There’s also a Hutterite school teacher who was arrested, and then writing back to the colony who has grown cold already in the late 1500s, and he said:
Many in our time think the opposition has ended.
Many in our time think the opposition has ended.
Maybe we could relate to this. He said:
Many in our time think that the opposition has ended. They look back and think the war is over. But they’re deceived. If they would live the life, they would get persecuted again. Watch yourself therefore, you heroes of Israel. Take courage, strong men of Zion. Rejoice, oh city of Jerusalem. The time of your triumph is near. All tears will be washed from your eyes. The reward of your labor stands ready. Just hold on a little while longer.
Thank you, Peter Hoover, for translating that. Excellent! Excellent statement!
The parable that he’s giving is the parable of the talent, and the one, because of the fear of God, hid it in a napkin, buried it in the ground. And he thought, “When the Lord comes back, I’m gonna show him this shiny coin.”
Now what did Jesus call that servant? Yeah. “You wicked servant.”
There’s all kinds of different forms of wickedness. The early Anabaptists, and the early Christians, and the Christians today follow Jesus and this is part of it.
All right. Now that’s balanced with an incredible view that you will see in the early church, in the early Anabaptist church.
When he left Strasbourg, he became a leader in the Anabaptists, and he went to Schleitheim, Switzerland, to write an agreement for the new Anabaptists. And as he’s there, it’s amazing that they actually did this, but the heart of this is impressive. And if you look at it here, here’s a map of Switzerland, it’s sort of way up at the North there, is where Schleitheim is. And they came together to write a brotherly agreement as you see it written there.
And so “church” meant something to them. It wasn’t just an empty faith that was scattered but they believed that God would gather the people of God into committed cells of fellowship – committed brotherhoods – that would come together and discuss things and live life together as citizens in the Kingdom of God. And so they hammered out a few things together in a brotherly agreement. They looked at baptism. They looked at how we should do excommunication. To them, this was radical. It meant the difference in the whole state. They talked about communion and separations from the world. They talked about the pastors in the church. They talked a lot about the sword and the oath. And it was impressive.
You look at the congregational order that is also bound with Michael Sattler. You have a lot of things about church, about times that they would gather, three or four times a week, about encouraging each other to read godly things, to avoid frivolous behavior, of sharing things in common when people are in need. All these different things. How the Lord’s Supper would be frequent, and would be sharing their life together. And you see that they had this idea that they had their missions – but the way they did missions was with the church.
It’s a great statement by Peter Riedemann. And he looks at the balance; the early Hutterites were an amazing mission machine, very much like the early Moravians. But he had a two-fold way that they wrote explicitly in the way they would do missions, and they saw both the local church and the need for purity combined with the evangelism that would go out. And he said this, Peter Riedemann writes in the early 1500s, 1533 or 1540. Says Riedemann:
Let us know carefully what we are commanded.
And I underlined the word commanded.
Christ gives us a two-fold command. First we should gather with him as those who have been sent by Him. Second, we should do our most to keep those who are gathered so they do not again become scattered and torn apart by wolves.
So the debate that we have in our churches: Are we going to be a mission church? Are we going to be a dedicated church, or a separated church?
And I love the way Gary Miller in his book “Church Matters” – you can see it for sale out there – he does great dealing with this on how he works those two things out. It’s wrong to choose! God has given us the church as the instrument of the way we do missions, and we’ve got to get a hold of that. And so what they would do – they would have men that are called for the purity of the flock and to keep holiness in the flock. And they would have men that were called to have the spirit of evangelism. And I believe some of the tensions that we have in our church between these debates, between a holy church or an evangelizing church, are there because we have a wrong idea that they should ever be separated.
Interesting an early missiologist wrote – Roland Allen, he said this in the book “Missionary Method – St. Paul’s or Ours?” he said:
We cannot but recognize that everywhere we have established missions. And missions are not churches. If we establish missions instead of establishing churches, is because we differ from the apostles and the early church in principal and in spirit.
I summarize it this way: Everywhere we have churches without missions and everywhere else we have missions without churches. And it shouldn’t be this way. The early church, the early Anabaptists had both of these things.
These two passages:
Pure and undefiled religion before God and the father is this…
This is what pure and undefiled religion is:
…to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.
Do you see the two sides there? That one is the outward focus, that you were to be visiting the orphans and the widows and those in trouble. This is an outward focus approach, you know, of the evangelism. The other side is to keep oneself unspotted from the world. And it seems that we over and over again, in our Anabaptist mistakes, perhaps all the church, we tend to go into one camp or the other. We’re a church that is either very much talking about evangelism and missions, we should go outreach. Or we’re a church that talks a lot about being pure and being separated and unstained from the world. James is telling us through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that pure and undefiled religion is both. Having these together. Having that Evangelistic spirit. And having that heart before God again.
Gary Miller does an excellent job in church matters discussing that. It was Jesus that put it the same way:
Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added.
And then finally, Michael Sattler was faithful. Faithful to the end. I found a historian writing this period:
Anabaptism was made a capital crime…
(by other Protestants and by Catholics)
…Prices were set on the heads of Anabaptists. To give them food and shelter was made a crime…
(even giving them food or shelter)
…The duke of Bavaria, in 1527, gave orders that the imprisoned Anabaptists should be burned at the stake — unless they recanted, in which case they should be beheaded.
These were severe. This was severe. The historian goes on to say:
It is a fact recognized by many recent historians, that the persecution of the Anabaptists surpassed in severity the persecution of the early Christians by pagan Rome! Persecution began in Zurich soon after the Brethren had organized a congregation. Imprisonment of varying severity, sometimes in dark dungeons, was followed by executions. Within a short period the leaders of the Brethren lost their lives in the persecution.
It’s an incredible – faithful to the end.
Of whom the world is not worthy.
And I have just a few closing thoughts here. When you look at the details of the court trial – and you can read those – get the book and read it. You see this side of Michael Sattler that’s so loving. He’s writing in prison when he’s about to have this trial and being persecuted. He’s writing the congregation back: “Have peace with one another,” “Have love,” and when you see his spirit with a Strasbourg people. But when he’s being tested with the things of faith, he did not budge. And this is how I read in Jesus’ words about “Have salt within yourself and peace with one another.” And they called him a heretic, they called him different things. They accused him of different practices. And here the one thing the town clerk said, “The hangman shall convince you. He shall dispute with you, you arch-heretic.” And he said this statement. He said,
I appeal to the Scriptures.
I appeal to the Scriptures.
And that’s where Andrew wrote the title for his book.
I appeal to the Scriptures.
The judges returned with the sentence as follows:
It was as follows: “In the case of the Governor of his Imperial Majesty versus Michael Sattler, judgment is passed, that Michael Sattler shall be delivered to the executioner, who shall lead him to the place of execution, and cut out his tongue; then throw him upon a wagon, and there tear his body twice with red hot tongs; and after he has been brought without the gate (outside the gate), he shall be pinched five times in the same manner. After this had been done in the manner prescribed, he was burned to ashes…
(or to powder, as some say)
…as a heretic. His fellow brethren…
(who were also there interested)
were executed with the sword, and the sisters were drowned. His wife, also, after being subjected to many entreaties, admonitions and threats, under which she remained very steadfast, was drowned a few days afterwards. This was done May 21st, 1527.
Of whom the world is not worthy.
So in review these five things:
Michael Sattler was a man of the Bible. Studied biblical languages and knew how to discuss doctrine. With all the temptations, and all the heresies, and all the compromises, and all the different things that we are seeing today, we must be a church that also knows our Bible. I believe that he knew the God of the Bible, Jesus Christ. And he knew his Bible.
Number two, Michael Sattler was very concerned about love. We’ve got to have this.
Brothers, I have come – I originally heard about the Anabaptists and all these different people about 33 or 34 years ago. And I do not regret one moment. I love the faith and the encouragement and the blessings and the examples. And I have seen the fulfillment of the promise that if you would leave lands and houses and families that you will receive a hundredfold. You have been that for me. Brothers and sisters, we need to have more of this love.
Coming from the outside and coming into it and understanding it and being awkward and making all of my own mistakes. I’ve learned: I need a lot more love. And the older I get, the more I realize this very thing: we need more love. This was coming from Michael Sattler – young man.
Even, you know, the commonalities that bind us here together is a very strong thing. And to understand that we differ on some different applications and different things. But our focus is to see the teachings of Jesus Christ and to see Jesus Christ glorified in our generation. Let’s do this with love.
Michael Sattler followed the commands of Christ in evangelism and mission work, and he saw them as the commands of Christ. We have to stop putting missions and evangelism in a different category. And to be quite serious you’ve done, actually, a very good job. When I have studied about what’s happened in Central America, brother. I see the examples in Africa. I’ve seen some beautiful examples, and I am very blessed. Per capita, I have heard it said by people who’ve done a study that the Anabaptists – I’m not trying to boast or anything – but I’m going to encourage where I can encourage that per capita we actually do better than an average evangelical church in how many people go to full-time missions. We must keep this up. We need more of this.
When I‘ve come back from Greece just a week ago, I was over there and I gave sermons on the church and I’m encouraging these people from Afghanistan and people from Iran and I’m talking about the church and how we’re supposed to be committed and dedicated and how you got to keep – this is going to be the hardest thing. And with that there needs to be our follow-up.
There’s so many opportunities – that goes right into my thing on the church. He was a man of the church. Let me just tell you this: if there’s anything that’s been the hardest thing in my life, and the most beautiful thing, it is the church. It’s been really, really hard. And I told those Persians just two weeks ago and I was at the Bible study: “This will be your hardest thing. Satan will tempt you in this.” He will offend you. And just like when John the Baptist came to Jesus and He said:
Blessed is he who is not offended in me.
Satan works in these offenses. Satan works in these things, but if we can get ahold of his love, and we get ahold of this love of the church. But realizing it’s worth the trouble. And young people: if you’re here and you’re young – and I know many of us, particularly in a radical group like this, there’s been a lot of passion and I love that all that. But at the end of the day I want to encourage you: the church is worth it. Jesus Christ wants us to come together to worship him as a church, to be a communities of faith. Don’t give up on the church. Strengthen it. Encourage it.
And then finally Michael Sattler was faithful to the end. All right. I’m going to close with the introduction to the Martyrs’ Mirror and I’ll be done.
We’ve heard about one of the biggest heroes in the Anabaptist movement. It’s written in the Martyrs’ Mirror. A lot of what I just read was coming from the Martyrs’ Mirror. And Thieleman van Braght opens the introduction to the Martyrs’ Mirror with these words.
These are sad times in which we live. Nay, truly, there is more danger now than in the time of our fathers, who suffered death for the testimony of the Lord. Few will believe this, because the great majority looks to that which is external and corporeal; and in this respect it is now better, quieter, and more comfortable. Only a few look to that which is internal and pertains to the soul, and on which everything depends: “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”
When Thieleman van Braght was writing the Martyrs’ Mirror, Holland was experiencing a tremendous prosperity. And he was seeing his church go to hell quickly over the prosperity that was happening. It was what inspired him to write. And he goes on:
It grieves us to the heart that we must live to see these times and therefore speak in this way. O Lord, strengthen our faith! Help Thy weak, trusting lambs, that they may not be led into error nor moved from the foundations of the most holy faith.
On the other hand, through his instigation, the world now reveals itself very beautiful and glorious, more than at any preceding time, in a threefold pleasing form—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life. Almost all men run after her, to worship her as a queen supreme. But all are deceived thereby; yea, many who have drunk of the poisoned wine of her lusts from the golden cup of her iniquities and deceptions die a spiritual death.
As the first objective is aimed at the faith, so the second is directed against the true Christian life. Here lies great danger. Who shall escape these snares? He that would at no time be taken unawares by it must indeed be cautious and watchful. But our very flesh seems prone to it. Here must be fasting, watching, praying, and calling upon God for help, otherwise there is no escape.
And then a final word from Michael Sattler:
Let no one shift your goal which has been set in the letter by the holy Scripture which is sealed by the blood of Christ and of many witnesses of Jesus.
Amen. Let’s be faithful. And remember this passage as we heard these beautiful people give us these teachings from Hebrews. And remember, “God having provided some better thing for us…” And I don’t think he’s just talking about a prosperous life, is he? “…that they…” All these Martyrs, Michael Sattler included, “…that they without us…” – without you – “..should not be made perfect.” Their life is not complete, is not perfect, their testimony, their witness is not complete and not perfect, except for you. Just like that blank pagess in The Hutterian Chronicles in Bonham, South Dakota. There’s some blank pages with our name written in it. One way or another, we need to live faith to the end.
Let’s all – if we could – let’s bow our heads. Maybe we should stand, and I’ll hand it over to the moderator. And we’re going to close with the word of prayer and ask God to be with us.
Dear heavenly father, oh God, feel pretty small talking about your Hebrews 11 heroes. Feel pretty small talking about this Michael Sattler, your servant. God, I know that you are the same God that you were then. It is impossible for you to change. And you still – your eyes look to and fro around this entire earth to who you can completely trust. So God, we want to raise our hand to you today and ask you, Lord. Please have mercy on us, this generation. Have mercy on us Lord, and our children. Have mercy on us, oh God that we hear this and when – please do it again, Lord, in our heart. Give us the grace. We don’t want to try to muster this up with a bunch of dead books. We want, by your grace, the same source that you gave to the book of Acts. We want your Holy Spirit in power. So Lord, I pray, have mercy on us. Look past our sins. Forgive us of our pride and my sins and my pride and those things God, and I pray, Lord, inspire your church. And Lord, oh God, glorify your Son. Lord, this world – the enemy has come in like a flood. So we trust your promise that you will raise up a standard against that flood of unrighteousness. We thank you, Lord, and we ask you your grace to be on to us now. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.