13 February 2008

What does History tell Us

It May Cost You Your Life
By Mike Andrews

How powerful is the word of God? Is it worth dying over? John Wycliffe and William Tyndale thought it was. Both these men died for what they knew to be true - that every person deserves to read the Scriptures for themselves. The Bible says it's powerful enough to pierce the strongest of bones and the most hardened of hearts (Heb 4:12). Paul believed they were powerful and told Timothy that "the Holy Scriptures, ... are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus" (2 Tim 3:15). The Bible is a life changing book; it has the power to change a person's life (Rom16:26). It is the most important book that anyone needs to read for themselves because Paul says, "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Rom 10:17). So why don't we hear about people giving their lives for the precious Word of God in our generation? The answer is simple: reformers like Luther, Wycliffe, Calvin, Tyndale and Knox paved the way for us to have the freedoms that they never had. They died to give us the privilege of holding and cherishing the Bible whenever we want, wherever we want. These men fought for the freedom of Christianity because they knew the word was for everyone, not only a select few as the Roman Catholics thought.
The early church believers walked by faith, the same faith that we hold dear to our hearts. They put all their trust in the Scriptures and not in man because they were growing in the "milk of the word" for themselves. But this wasn't an easy task for them to achieve. It wasn't because they didn't know how to read or understand the truths on the pages. The problem was the Roman Catholics! Though they themselves claimed that the Scriptures were authoritative, the Catholics believed they had exclusive rights to its claims. This gave them power which they would lord over the people. They believe that only the priests have the authority to proclaim and read the Scriptures and the divine power to understand the scriptures. The early believers knew that this was a false claim, which presented a problem for the Catholic church. Now it was putting their superiority claims into question by the common people. For the reformers, and Christians of any era, speaking out against a dominate world power like the Catholics was a dangerous game to be playing. Not only did they exercise religious control over the people, but they also had a strong political influence at that time. Anyone who spoke out against the Church at Rome and their traditions and doctrines were stamped as a heretic. In the Catholic's eyes this meant death to those who dared to speak out against them. Many good Christians have died at the hands of the Catholic Church and their influence. People such as John Huss, Jerome, Tyndale, John Rogers, and many thousands more died so that we can worship in the way we were created to worship. May we never forget these people for what they have done by holding the Scriptures above everything, loving the LORD of the Bible, and standing firm in the Scriptures - something that is supposed to be read and loved by the whole world, not just the elite. Martin Luther said "For some years now I have read through the Bible twice every year. If you picture the Bible to be a mighty tree and every word a little branch, I have shaken every one of these branches because I wanted to know what it was and what it meant". This Book is worth dying for because the message it contains is far more important than one person's mortal life. Paul couldn't have said this any clearer when he said these final words to Timothy "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing" (2 Tim 4:7-8).

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