“Now, brothers, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, ‘Do not go beyond what is written.’ Then you will not take pride in one man over against another.” (1 Corinthians 4:6 NIV84)
“Here I stand!” This was the statement made by the great scholar and theologian Martin Luther when he was on trial for heresy as he was leading the Church of his day in a reformation. So, what did he mean? Did he mean, “This is what I believe and no one is going to change my mind? This is my opinion, you can have yours”? No! (Although those might be popular statements used today to defend one’s point of view.) For Luther, this was an emphatic declaration of his stance of truth. He was stating to all who would listen, “I stand on the truths of God’s word alone!” He refused to let human reason or opinion sway his position. He openly told his critics to prove him wrong by the Word of God and he would recant his teaching and correct his error. But if the criticism came from human reason, then “Here I stand!”
Paul was saying the same thing to the Corinthians in our verse for today. Paul said, “Do not go beyond what is written.” This is where we all get into trouble. For one reason or another it is deemed flawed to accept the Bible as the sole authority for spiritual and moral truths, and we turn to our own reason. As soon as we turn inward for the answers, we make ourselves the authority over the Word of God. That is how divisions and false teaching arise within the church. Like Paul and Martin Luther, it would be good for us to submit ourselves to the authority of God’s Word. Then we might lessen the division within the church and get back to the mission of the church.
When it comes to the truths of God’s Word, may we all be heard to say, “Here I stand!”