The Reformation Born 503 Years Ago Today

In 1517 a Dominican Friar named Johann Tetzel had been selling indulgences near Wittenberg to raise money for constructing Saint Peter’s in Rome. According to Tetzel, those who purchased an indulgence would receive remission of purgatory. Indulgences could also be purchased on behalf of dead relatives and friends. The punchline of Tetzel’s sermon was, “As soon as the coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs.”

The sale of these indulgences infuriated Martin Luther, the professor of biblical studies at the University of Wittenberg, and he decided to hold a disputation with other faculty members on the subject. A professor interested in holding a disputation would nail the theses to be discussed on the cathedral door. Luther posted his 95-Theses on the great wooden door of Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, on October 31st, 1517.

Some of Luther’s points for discussion were: (1) “Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ in saying, “Repent Ye”, intended that the whole life of believer should be penitence”. (32) “Those who believe that, through letters of pardon, they are made sure of their own salvation, will be eternally damned, together with their teachers.” (37) “Every true Christian, whether living or dead has a share and all the benefits of Christ and of the Church, given by God, even without letters of pardon”.  (62) “The true treasure of the Church is the Holy Gospel of the glory and grace of God.”

Luther knew from his own repentance and conversion that paying an indulgence could not achieve forgiveness of sins. Shortly before posting the 95- Theses, Luther had begun studying the Greek New Testament, and his studies persuaded him that the Greek word for repentance, metanoia, meant a change of heart, not mere performance of outward works, as theologians of his day defined it.

Luther wrote the 95-Theses in Latin, intending them to be discussed by scholars, not circulated among the populace. But as Luther himself acknowledged, “A fortnight they flew all over Germany.” Translated into German and sold as far away as Rome, the 95-Theses became much more than a University exercise.

For the next two decades, Luther enjoyed seeing the Reformation grow. Many regions in Germany accepted the evangelical doctrines that Luther and other reformers discovered in the Scriptures. Luther lived to see a second generation of evangelicals sing the hymns he had written, read his German translation of the Bible, and learn his catechism from their early childhood.

Throughout his life he preached and taught God’s promise of redemption to the repentant sinner. On his deathbed he prayed, “O Lord Jesus Christ, I commend my poor soul to Thee. O Heavenly Father, I know that, although I shall be taken from this life, I shall live forever with thee. God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth on him should not perish but have everlasting life. Father into Thy hands I commend my spirit.”

Luther died on February 18, 1546, at the age of sixty-two in Eisleben, the city where he was born. As word of his death spread to Wittenberg, bells tolled, and people crowded the streets, wanting to pay their last respects to their leader.

On Monday, February 22, 1546, accompanied by caravan that included his wife, Katie, his four children, and a throng of his followers, Luther’s casket was born through the door of Castle Church in Wittenberg, on which, more than twenty-eight years before, the young monk had nailed his theses.

Reflection

Little did Martin Luther realize the forces that would-be set-in motion by the posting of his 95-Thesis. He merely felt it necessary to speak out against the error of his day. He was willing to stand up and be counted for truth and God used him to change the world. Do you ever feel that you should speak out against error? There is no predicting how God will honor your faithfulness.

They should gently teach those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will believe the truth.     II Timothy 2:25

Source: The One Year Christian History – E. Michael and Sharon Rusten

Why Huguenots Came To America.

Dear Reader: After sharing about Saint Bartholomew’s Massacre and the Huguenots (French Protestants) in the pervious post, I wanted to share why they fled to various nations, including America. The following article is from The One Year Christian History by E. Michael and Sharon Rusten.

God bless you. Carl

“Why is France today considered a mission field?”

The Wars of Religion began in France in 1562 between the Roman Catholics and the French Protestants called Huguenots. The Huguenots were led by the family of Henry of Navarre, a minor kingdom including a small portion of southern France and the present Spanish province of Navarre. Henry inherited the throne of Navarre from his staunchly Calvinist mother. When his cousin King Henry III of France died in 1589, he became heir to the throne of France. His Calvinism made him an unacceptable candidate in Catholic France until he embraced Catholicism in 1593. He was then crowned King Henry IV.

Once he became king, however, he did not forget his Huguenot roots, and in 1598 he issued the Edict of Nantes. This agreement gave the Huguenots freedom of religion in certain areas of the country, civil equality, and fair administration of justice. It provided the Huguenots with a state subside for their troops and pastors and allowed them to retain control of approximately two hundred towns. The Edict of Nantes was historically unique in that it was the first time freedom was granted to two religions to coexist in a nation.

By the late 1600s Henry IV’s grandson, Louis XIV, was king of France. But Louis XIV shared none of his grandfather’s empathy for the Huguenots and on October 18, 1685, he revoked the Edict of Nantes. All Huguenot churches were either destroyed or turned in Catholic churches. Huguenot clergy were given fourteen days to leave France, but the remaining Huguenots were forbidden to emigrate. All children within France were to be baptized by a Catholic priest and raised as Catholics.

[Dear Reader: As time drew near for Louis XIV to meet his Maker, he inquired of his Roman Catholic priest as to what could he do to atone for the wicked things he had done in his life. The priest told him to exterminate the Protestants. To read about this time of persecution read “Six Centuries of Carnage” on this blog. If you scroll down under this blog, you will find it. ]

Mounted soldiers were housed in the homes of Huguenots. The troops were given license to do anything they pleased, short of murder. They forced their hosts to dance until they collapsed. They poured boiling water down their throats. They beat the soles of their feet and pulled out the hairs from their beards. The soldiers burned the arms and legs of their Huguenot hosts with candles and made them hold red-hot coals in their hands. They forced women to stand naked in the streets.

Some four hundred thousand “converts” were forced to attend Mass and receive the Eucharist. Those who spat out the wafer as they left the [Catholic] church were sentenced to be burned alive. Obstinate Huguenot men were imprisoned in dungeons and unheated cells. The women sometimes fared better as they were sent to convents, where they often receive unexpectedly sympathetic treatment from the nuns.

Of the 1.5 million Huguenots living in France in 1660, over the next decades 400,000 risked their lives by escaping across the guarded borders. Geneva, a city of 16,000, welcomed four thousand Huguenots. Although they were Catholic, English kings Charles II and James II aided the Huguenot immigrants in their country. An entire quarter of London was soon populated with French workers. The elector of Brandenburg gave such a friendly reception to the Huguenots that over a fifth of Berlin was French by 1697. Holland welcomed thousands and gave them citizenship. Dutch Catholics joined Protestants and Jews in raising money for Huguenot relief. Many Huguenots fled to South Carolina and to the other colonies as well.

At the height of the Reformation nearly half of the population of France was Huguenot. But as a result of the revocation of the Edict of Nantes and the intense persecutions that followed, today less than one percent of the French shares the faith of the Huguenots, making France a mission field for the gospel.”

The above history is from The One Year Christian History by E. Michael and Sharon Rusten. If you are looking for a daily, historical devotional, I strongly recommend this book.

Considering all of this, is it any wonder that some of the early American colonies prohibited Catholics from settling in their colony? And that the Huguenots risked it all to reach a tolerant nation where they would have freedom of religion.

Today, Christians are being persecuted in many nations. It is our responsibility as born again believers and children of Almighty God to remember out brothers and sisters who are being prosecuted, tortured, kidnapped and murdered for their faith in the Muslin countries, Nigeria, Vietnam, Communist China, Hindu India, Mexico, Central America and other countries. Hebrew 13:3 says:

“Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated , since you yourselves also are in the body. “

Pray for the comfort of the Holy Spirit to be with them and that they may persevere in the Faith, even unto death if necessary. Pray that their persecutors would be saved by the grace of God.

Thank you for your time.

Carl

Reformation Day 2019

“It was on October 31, 1517 that Martin Luther, a Roman Catholic priest and professor of theology, nailed his thesis protesting the Catholic Churches sale of indulgences. It was a single day and single act of bravery that forever changed the history of the world. The celebration of Reformation Day has been the yearly practice of Bible Christians starting as early as 1567. Today this great Christian celebration has been completely overshadowed by the overtly pagan Roman Catholic practice of All Saints Day or better known as Halloween.”

From Berean Beacon – a ministry of former Catholic priests “whose sole purpose is the promotion of biblical Christianity.”

When Martin Luther nailed his thesis to the Wittenberg church door, he had no idea what these questions would precipitate. The resultant Reformation changed the western world for the better. As Luther and the other Reformation leaders read the Bible in the original languages in which it was written and put aside the traditions of men, the Light of the true gospel enlightened their understanding of God and His ways. As they communicated what they learned from the Bible, multitudes of people were set free from the bondage of the dominant church of their day.

May the Reformation continue for another 501 years or until Christ returns.

May the Light of the Bible continue to light your path!

God bless,

Carl

Oecolampadius -“The Light of The House”

This morning I read my devotion from The One Year Christian History by E. Michael and Sharon Rusten. The devotion spoke about how being “second fiddle” is a time-honored profession in God’s work.

Johann Hausschein was Ulrich Zwingli’s “wing man” or “second fiddle” during the Reformation in German-speaking Switzerland in the 1500s. He was very intelligent and Erasmus considered him the “foremost intellect of his day”. Johann was a theologian, preacher, a reformer of church practices and a defender of biblical truths.

Johann’s surname in German means “the light of the house”. At some point in his life he changed his surname to the Greek equivalent, “Oecolampadius”.

“Light of the house”. What a beautiful word-picture of what the biblical believer in Jesus Christ is to be. He is to be like a light shining in a home, repelling the darkness so that those living there can see their way. A light removing the mystery of what is around us, in the darkness.

If you have ever been through a hurricane, ice storm or tornado and lost your electric power, you were thankful for any source of light you had as the darkness enveloped your home. There was great rejoicing when the lights came back on.

I spent a considerable amount of my life working at a wood preserving manufacturing plant where we made wooden utility poles like you see along the highway. After an ice storm or hurricane destroyed the utility grid in an area, we would send hundreds or thousands of wooden utility poles, so the local utility could restore power. Our truck drivers said people would line the streets and applaud when they rolled into town with the utility poles.

Humans were not made to dwell in darkness.

Sadly, far too many today do dwell in spiritual “darkness”, a state of ignorance. Ignorant of the life changing love of God which He manifested by sending His Son Jesus to die for our sins. Ignorant of the resurrection of Christ, the born again experience, and the many other biblical truths that deliver man from evil and the evil one.  As we will see later, we, as lost people separated from God by our sins, are described as being “darkness”.

The prophet Isaiah (9:2-4) prophesied by the Holy Spirit and said, concerning  Jesus’ birth:

The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; Those who live in a dark land, The light will shine on them.

Jesus is the Light. What a beautiful metaphor and truth.  Isaiah goes on to say there will be great joy and rejoicing because of this Light:

“… You shall increase their  gladness; They will be glad in Your presence As with the gladness of  harvest, As men rejoice when they divide the spoil.” 

Why this rejoicing and gladness?

“For You shall break the yoke of their burden and the staff on their shoulders, The rod of their oppressor…”

Because Jesus  will set people free from the oppressor of mankind, the evil one, satan.

We recently learned of the death of a young missionary who was trying to reach a government protected, unreached island tribe off the coast of India.  The tribe killed him when he reached the shore.  The world says “leave these people alone and let them live as they have for thousands of years.” But the reality is that the darkness they live in is full of fear and terror created by evil spirits that control and torment them. They are one of the “oppressors” that Jesus, The Light, came to expose and defeat in peoples lives.  On my desk I have a DVD entitled “I Will Never Go Back! The Testimony of Chief Shoefoot, A Former Shaman.”  This Amazon witchdoctor tells how he was possessed and controlled by demons and how Jesus Christ set him free from these evil spirits.  He said he would never go back to living like his people had lived for thousands of years. Why? Through someone sharing Jesus Christ with him, he now knows the truth about God, man, sin, satan and freedom in Christ. He is walking in the Light.

May we be “the light of the house” wherever God puts us.  May we reflect the light or knowledge of Jesus, in humility and wisdom, onto the people and circumstances around us.

People don’t like darkness and some people are just like outdoor moths. They will come to the Light!

Father God, Giver of all wisdom, thank you for sending the Light into the darkness and rescuing us when we were helpless.  Help us to reflect  Jesus, the true Light, into the darkness around us.  In Jesus Name.  Amen.

“For you were formerly darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth)…”  Ephesians 5:8-9

Carl

Our Priceless Treasure

“The Bible is the most priceless possession of the human race.”

Halley’s Bible Handbook (1965)

For the most part, prior to the time of the Reformation, lay people were not allowed to read the Bible and, in most cases, were not even allowed to have a Bible. The Popes of the Roman Catholic Church of that day decided who could read and have the Bible.

For example:

Pope “Hildebrand ordered Bohemians not to read the Bible. Innocent III forbade the people reading the Bible in their own language. Gregory IX forbade laymen possessing the Bible and suppressed translations. Paul IV prohibited the possession of translations without permission of the Inquisition. The Jesuits induced Clement XI to condemn the reading of the Bible by the laity. Leo XII, Pius VIII, Gregory XVI, and Pius IX all condemned Bible Societies.” Halley’s Bible Handbook

Some groups, such as the Albigenses (1208 AD) and Waldenses, who were fortunate enough to have the Bible, believed it, lived it, and preached it. For this, the Albigenses people group was murdered by the order of Pope Innocent III and the Waldenses were murdered and severely persecuted by the Catholic Inquisition, surviving only in the alpine valleys southwest of Turin, Italy. The authorities burned their Bibles and the people who had them.

With the advent of the printing press, it was impossible for the Popes and civil authorities to suppress the Bible. Men read it and their eyes were opened.

“There was study of the Scriptures in their original languages. Renewed knowledge of the sources of Christian doctrine revealed the vast difference between the native simplicity of the Gospel and the ecclesiastical fabric that professed to be founded on it. The Reformation owed its being to the direct contact of the mind with the Scriptures, and it resulted in the emancipation of the human mind from priestly and Papal authority. ” (Halley’s Bible Handbook)

Out of this revelation of Biblical Truth, men like Luther, a Catholic priest, and millions more threw off the traditions and commandments of men that had kept them enslaved and, for the first time in probably 1100 years, a multitude of people begin to walk in biblical truth as the Savior intended. As a result, the Western nations were changed forever.

Some may say “Why are you writing about something that happened 500 years ago?” It is because I find among the Protestant Church today, especially among the young, an almost total ignorance about the Reformation. If the Protestant Church is to remain free, it must understand the issues that brought about the Reformation. Issues that made millions of people endure being tortured and burned at the stake or drowned instead of expressing loyalty to the Pope and his church.

May you find your Priceless Possession today and begin to let its Light overcome any darkness in your life. May its Truth set you free from the enslaving teachings and commandments of men.

May God richly bless you,

Carl

In Honor of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation

It has been 500 years since the German priest Luther nailed his 95 theses or propositions on the Castle Church door (above) at Wittenberg, Germany. Little did he realize then the far reaching impact of what he had done. The Reformation was born and Christianity and all of Western civilization was changed. The other night we watched online as one of our daughters participated in a very large Reformation anniversary celebration in one of the European capital cities. It was a glorious event. They even sang my grandmothers favorite hymn in their mother tongue. It was quite moving.

To celebrate this august occasion, I offer this quote from Church History in Plain Language by Bruce L. Shelley:

“Luther’s greatest contribution to history, however, was not political. It was religious. He took four basic Catholic concerns and offered invigorating new answers. To the question how is a person saved, Luther replied: not by works but by faith alone. To the question where does religious authority lie, he answered: not in the visible institution called the Roman church but in the Word of God found in the Bible. To the question – what is the church? —- he responded: the whole community of Christian believers, since all are priest before God. To the question — what is the essence of Christian living? —- he replied: serving God in any useful calling, whether ordained or lay. To this day any classical description of Protestantism must echo those central truths.”

And you know what? The Bible today still says the same things. Thank you Lord Jesus for the Bibles we have. It is really a miracle. Let us remember the men, such as John Wyclif and William Tyndall, who translated the Greek NT manuscripts into our mother tongue, so we, the common man, could understand what God had said.

Thank you for your time. God Bless you.

Carl