18 August 2007

The Lesser Known

It All Began with Men Who Fought for the Truth!

When we think of the Reformation today, we think of the separation between born again evangelicals and the Roman Catholic church. We think of saved by grace through faith and the Catholic's view of saved by works and the church of Rome. But there was so much more to it. We had Martin Luther nailing his 95 Theses of Contention to the church of Rome which began a major turn for the church of Jesus Christ. People started reading the Bible for themselves. The people began to turn to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ instead of the Pope. Luther, Zwingli, and Calvin were great men who took a stand for the truth, even if it meant losing their lives for that truth. However, if we look back, even before Luther, we get a glimpse of a man who we would call a 'lesser known' proponent of the Reformation because he wasn't there to see the separation of the Catholics and the beginning of the Protestant church; his name is John Huss.John died for doing what he thought was best for the church - standing for the Word of God (Matt 10:22) "and you will be hated by all for My name's sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved". He was a man who knew the truth and was willing to die for it. I think what stands out the most to me about John and his faith in Christ, is that he studied the scriptures and became aware of the unbiblical rules and traditions of the Catholic church. (Act 17:11) "Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so". He started to question the authority of the papal rule and the church of Rome which, at this time, was causing commotion among the bishops of Rome. He continued to preach in the Bethlehem chapel with boldness, and became bolder and bolder in his accusations against the Church. He was a man who knew the importance of conveying the truth to all people. After all books and valuable manuscripts of Wycliffe were burned, and Huss and his followers were put under the ban, the church of Rome was still very upset with John's voice claiming salvation by faith alone. The church of Rome called him a heretic and he was to face persecution for his interpretation of the Scriptures. On June 5, 1415, John Huss was tried for the first time, and for that purpose was transferred to the Franciscan monastery, where he spent the last weeks of his life. After his time there, he was sentenced to die by burning. Huss was led into the church where he was called a heretic. He protested loudly several times, and when his appeal to Christ was rejected as heresy, John said, "O God and Lord, now the council condemns even thine own act and thine own law as heresy, since thou thyself didst lay thy cause before thy Father as the just judge, as an example for us, whenever we are sorely oppressed." After his cry to God, he was sent into the courtyard to face his death. It was a death for standing firm for the Word of God (2Tim 4:5-7) "As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." John was asked to recant, but he would not for he had done nothing wrong, and went on to say to his executioner "God is my witness that I have never taught that of which I have been accused by false witnesses. In the truth of the Gospel which I have written, taught, and preached I will die to-day with gladness." John Huss died for his faith a slow and painful death by fire. This is something I hope I will never go through, but also something for which I should be prepared. As George Whitefield says "We must all have the spirit of martyrdom, though we may not all die martyrs". We need to stop and thank men like John Huss and Wycliffe for their determination to expound the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. As a result of their perseverance, one hundred years later, a man named Martin Luther would be born to continue the legacy that John Huss had begun - the Reformation.By Mike Andrews

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