Category Archives: Persecution

Hus Did What For The Sake Of The Gospel?

Okay, I confess. I didn’t do my homework. I’d intended to write about John Hus today, finishing my little sub-series on the pre-Reformation reformers. Instead of studying, however, I spent time learning a different digital art program that I’d bought three years ago and subsequently neglected. I do need to invest time in my art, yes. But we can only celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation once.

October 31st isn’t that far away, and we should start covering people who actually shaped the Protestant Reformation in the 16th Century. As important as John Hus was to church history, I must forgo writing about him, looking forward to introducing John Calvin next Tuesday.

But since Hus holds such a vital place in paving the way for Martin Luther, John Calvin and the other 16th Century Reformers,  I decided to post this 4 minute video summarizing his life, ministry and martyrdom.

Like Peter Waldo and John Wycliffe, Hus preached that the Bible had greater authority than Roman Catholic tradition and that justification comes through faith alone. Unlike these two men, Hus actually died for preaching Biblical Christianity. The very church that claimed to represent the Lord Jesus Christ ordered his execution, falsely convincing him of heresy.

Many more people would suffer martyrdom for espousing the Biblical tenets of the Reformation. In our own own century, when Pope  Francis declares that the Reformation is over, we need to remember why the Reformation happened and what it cost the men and women who stood for the true Gospel. Hus, and many Christians after him, chose death rather than recanting Biblical doctrine. If we now accept the Pope’s declaration, we certainly negate everything the Reformers suffered for the sake of the Gospel.

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Why Study Peter Waldo?

ancient-church-01In thinking about this Tuesday series on the Protestant Reformation, I realize that simply recounting the history probably wastes time. The Internet contains a plethora of articles and videos by people much more knowledgeable about church history than I, which means you can easily click or tap your way to understanding the key players and highlights.

I’m not convinced you would. As I’ve remarked on several occasions, most 21st Century Americans tend to avoid history, claiming that it’s boring and irrelevant. Okay, sometimes it certainly feels that way. But if you take the time to study church history, you’ll find that it’s fascinating as well as helpful in discerning problems confronting the present-day Church.

My job isn’t to spoon feed you  history. Rather, it’s to get you so excited about the Reformation that you’ll investigate it for yourselves. When I mention, for instance, Peter Waldo, I want you to see his Biblical challenges to Roman Catholic teachings as inspirational. How can this 12th Century Frenchman encourage us to stand for sound doctrine amid the aberrational teachings of our own day?

We know that, as a result of studying the Bible, Peter Waldo came to believe in justification by faith in Jesus and His finished work on the cross. Consequently, he rejected the doctrines of Purgatory and Transubstantiation.  As you can imagine,  the church hierarchy wasn’t exactly pleased.

Waldo suffered excommunication in 1184 for his views. At that point in time, excommunication presupposed a person’s damnation as well as virtually cutting him off from the rest of society. Clearly, he paid an enormously high price for his commitment to Scripture.

Why didn’t Waldo keep his dissenting views to himself? Here, we can only speculate, I guess. But let me suggest the obvious possibility that Waldo genuinely believed that the Roman Catholic Church had deviated from the truth of God’s Word. As he saw it, fidelity to Scripture. was more important than placating the church, but he was willing to take personal risks in order to honor Christ.

Ladies, are we as willing to stand against popular teachings that go against Scripture, even if we forfeit the approval of our friends and churches? That’s a serious question, and one that I hope the study of the Reformers will help us work through. I believe that the example of people like Peter Waldo can encourage us to stand on the Word of God, even as our own churches pressure us to compromise.

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I Won’t Conform To The Gay Agenda

be-the-gospelIn some ways, debating the morality of homosexuality seems ridiculous in 2017. Same sex marriage is legal in many countries, and I seriously doubt that will change. Gay activists are well on their way to force society to embrace the LBGTQ community, even when doing so violates a person’s religious convictions. Those of us who take what the Bible says, especially about homosexuality, know that most people (at least publicly) consider us bigots and haters.

Sometimes I think it world be easier to just pretend that I approve of homosexuality, divorce, sex outside of marriage and all the other sins that our postmodern world insists I condone. Facebook world certainly be more pleasant! Frankly, going against the tide of liberal groupthink can weary a person. I don’t enjoy having minority opinions. You probably don’t either.

But when I feel tempted to compromise with the world, the Lord brings Scriptures to mind that stop me. Right now, several come to mind, making me sorry I don’t have more time for blogging today. Let’s look at just one of them, though, to see how the Lord uses it to confront my temptation to acquiesce to popular sentiment.

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. ~~Romans 12:1-2 (ESV)

The world pressures me to condone homosexuality (as well as divorce and sex outside of marriage) as being right and good. One unsaved relative even tried to shame me for letting my faith inform my politics!  But the Lord tells me that His Word transforms me from the thinking of this world (which opposes Him) into a woman who bows to His will. He has renewed my mind so that I embrace what He calls good, acceptable and perfect regardless of what my culture screams.

Homosexuality represents only part of the issue, really. Currently it’s the spearhead of the world’s rebellion against the Lord, so I find myself coming back to it time and again. Consequently, people will label me as a bigot solely on my conviction that the Lord declares it sinful.

Friday, I plan to explain why love demands that Christians face the sinful nature of homosexuality and offer people freedom from its tyranny. That perspective, of course, flies in the face of 21st Century wisdom. Believe me, I fully realize that most people believe that love constrains Christians to champion same sex marriage as something the Lord blesses. But I stand with the Lord, Who liberates all sinners to present our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to Him.

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When I’m Not So Outspoken

Pray For AmericaBeing a Republican in 2017, particularly if you engage in social media, can be intimidating. I often approach Facebook cringing, keenly aware that most posts I read will be vitriolic diatribes enumerating all the ways President Trump is “ruining” America.

In the months leading up to the election, I dodged posts from fellow Republicans shaming those of us who voted for neither Trump nor Hillary. Didn’t we understand that the Supreme Court was at stake? That Hillary would appoint judges that supported abortion rights, therefore eliminating all possibility of overturning Roe v. Wade? The blood of dead babies would be on my hands because I allowed Hillary to win by my failure to vote for a sexually immoral egomaniac that was actually (from what I could see) a closet liberal.

And anyway, I live in Massachusetts. There was absolutely no way my puny little vote would influence the Electoral College! But my friends insisted that I’d betray the unborn by failing to put a mark after Trump’s name.

I’ll leave you to speculate on how I marked my ballot.

To my surprise, our new President has made conservative decisions since taking office less than two weeks ago. Who would have thought Donald J. Trump (of all people) would keep his  campaign promises? Amazing!

Strangely, the Republican voices on Facebook and Twitter that so firmly reprimanded my reticence about voting for Trump have,  by and large, fallen silent on political matters. I don’t really blame them. Expressing any positive sentiment about Trump, Melania or his children on social media pretty much invites verbal bullying from the Left. (Apparently, free speech belongs exclusively to liberals.)

I’ll admit it: I’m scared! The mere thought of stating my opinion of President Trump’s Executive Orders on Facebook terrifies me! And isn’t that sad? It tells me that the progressives, for all their talk about tolerance and diversity, refuse to let anyone who disagrees with their agenda speak. So I cower, venturing onto Facebook with fear and trembling, lest I draw accusations of homophobic racism.

But, while the thought of being outspoken in regard to my political views fills me with terror, I have no fear of proclaiming Jesus Christ online. I will, I realize, suffer persecution for daring to declare that Jesus is the only Savior from God’s wrath. As Christians lose rights to free speech and free exercise of religion (think Christian bakers and florists being forced to participate in same sex weddings against their consciences), I feel an urgency to write about the Lord Jesus Christ as boldly as I can across as many social media platforms as possible for as long as I can.

When you think about it, declaring the Gospel is much more important than expressing political opinions.

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Burnt Bones Of A Morning Star

wyliffe

16th Century portrait of Wycliffe from historytoday.com

I don’t really want to present a dry history lesson today, knowing that most 21st Century readers consider history  (even church history) to be boring and irrelevant. One of my dearest friends recently told me that she cares more about fixing the mess in the present-day church than about going back over the past.

Although I wholeheartedly agree with her that, indeed, the church in our own time desperately needs repair, I have been learning that studying the great Reformers can teach us much about restoring our own church to Biblical faith. So please,  read this article  (and all my articles on church history) with an expectation of rekindling the passion for Biblical truth that ignited the Reformation.

Almost 200 years before Martin Luther turned the Christian word upside-down by triggering the Protestant Reformation, a scholar and rector serving at Oxford University planted seeds of reformation that would later influence Luther’s thinking. John Wycliffe (1330 – 1384) never broke from the Roman Catholic Church, but he certainly called some of its practices into question.

Stephen Nichols has written The Morning Star of the Reformation to briefly highlight Wycliffe’s life and contributions to the Christian Church, and I encourage you to read his easily digested article on the Ligonier website. Nichols outlines Wycliffe’s life much more clearly than I could. I want to use this article as a springboard for commenting on Wycliffe instead of repeating what’s already been written, but I’d like you to have at least a rough idea of Wycliffe’s biography.

Like Luther, John Wycliffe found the wealth and power of the Roman Catholic Church troubling, though Wycliffe specifically believed that Rome claimed revenue that properly belonged to England. Over time, he came to believe that Scripture calls its leaders to simplicity and service, not opulence. As a result, he questioned the legitimacy of the papacy. Good way to get in trouble, right?

From that point, as Stephen Nichols tells us in his article, Wycliffe’s study of Scripture led him to question other Catholic practices, most notably Indulgences and Transubstantiation. I’ll write in detail about the Transubstantiation controversy next week, but today I want to make the point that Wycliffe’s study of God’s Word led him to stand against Roman Catholic practices and teachings that sprang from traditions of men.

Eventually, Pope Gregory XI condemned Wycliffe.He put Wycliffe under house arrest, which the Lord sovereignly used to enable Wycliffe to write the first English translation of the Bible. Week after next, we’ll talk a bit about that effort and its importance.

Even though Wycliffe died from a stroke instead of being executed for heretical activity, in 1428 (44 years after his  death) the papacy ordered his bones to be dug up and burned. Ironically, they failed to destroy his legacy, which inspired church historians to refer to him as “the morning star of the Reformation.”

Like the Reformers who came after him, John Wycliffe examined the Church and found her wandering away from Biblical truth. Like my dear friend whom I mentioned at the beginning of being this article, he observed a Church that had corrupted itself. He responded to this corruption by going back to Scripture, and attempting to make Scripture available to people outside the clergy. He set an example that Christians in our own time definitely need to follow.

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Saturday Sampler: December 25– December 31

Five Easter BabiesTim Challies reminds us that Christ’s birth ultimately points forward to His death. His powerful essay, For They Know Not What They Do, showcases the Lord’s compassion towards those who really deserve His vengeance.

Expanding on the theme that Christmas shouldn’t stop at the manger, Erin Benziger Do Not Be Surprised writes a worshipful piece, punctuated by Scripture, tracing the Lord’s entire ministry. I love the way that she exalts the Lord in all her writing, but From First to Second Advent is particularly beautiful.

This, traditionally, is the time of year when people think about Bible reading plans. I’ve lost count of the blog posts I’ve read on the topic over the past couple months, but Josh Buice of Delivered By Grace provides a different perspective in his article, Three Reasons Why You Should Read the Whole Bible in 2017. Those of you who follow my Tuesday series on the Reformation will especially enjoy his article.

And while we’re on the topic of Bible Study, Leslie A. of Growing 4 Life shares Conditions for Profitable Bible Study to help us approach God’s Word with proper attitudes. Leslie derives her conditions from How to Study the Bible by R.A. Torrey.

As we pull out of 2016, what attitude do we convey (particularly on Facebook and Twitter)? John Ellis, writing in A Day In His Court, challenges us with his article, In Praise of 2016. His points might make you uncomfortable momentarily, but he quickly reminds us how to find comfort and encouragement from the Lord.

In her review of Jen Wilkin’s book, Women of the Word, Rebekah Womble’s article, also titled Women of the Word, thoroughly examines both the pros and cons of the book. I haven’t yet read Jen Wilkin’s book, but Rebekah’s examination of it has convinced me to put it on my Amazon Wish List. But even without reading the book, this review gives me plenty to think about. Rebekah blogs at Wise in His Eyes.

In Tired of Controversy? An Encouragement for 2017, Mike Leake of Borrowed Light questions the wisdom of basing blogs on controversial issues instead of unleashing Scripture to do its own work.

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Saturday Sampler: December 11–December 17

christmas-sampler

Certainly we should welcome millennials into our churches, appreciating their fresh perspectives and encouraging them to develop their gifts. But in A Response to 12 Reasons Millennials Are Over Church, Leslie A. of Growing 4 Life reminds us that we must never accommodate the next generation at the expense of church integrity. I’ve watched a church make that mistake. It’s terribly sad.

With humor and Biblical accuracy, Peggy Overstreet of GladnessInYourPresence gives us a discernment lesson with her post, FAKE NEWS, MR. ROGERS AND ITCHING EARS. Enjoy!

Gulp! Michelle Lesley is right in her article, Sharing Christ with the Muslim Immigrant Next Door, and my flesh really doesn’t like the truth she conveys. But, as I said, she’s telling the truth, and many of us (including me) need to hear her message.

Okay, after being thoroughly convicted by Michelle’s post, ONE MOVE LEFT! by Jian Ming Zhong of Christian Reformed Ink Archives should encourage us that God always has something more to do.

In  his blog post entitled Sorrow, Depression, & the Holidays, Eric Davis of The Cripplegate offers a compassionate and Scriptural examination of depression. At this time of year, many people feel their emotional struggles with heightened intensity, making Davis’ message particularly important and encouraging.

In a guest post for Satisfaction Through Christ, Rachel shows us that Normalizing Sin results as we surrender our minds to certain genres in popular media. She also suggests ways to keep ourselves sensitive to sin.

Writing for ParkingSpace23, Jason Vaughn challenges Christians who oppose any mention of Santa Claus with his Reprise: Will Santa Make you a Bad Parent? Taking a very different position from the  blog post by Kari Dent that I included in last Saturday’s Sampler, Vaughn joins her in remembering the importance of Christian liberty. I think he presents an interesting and valuable perspective.

Here’s a healthy New Year’s challenge: In Knowable Word, Peter Krol writes Dear Church: I Dare You to Trust Your Bible This Year.

In observation of Christmas Eve, I’ll skip next week’s edition of Saturday Sampler. John and I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year full of Christ’s richest blessings. Thank you for reading and supporting The Outspoken TULIP.

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