History

The Wisdom and Controversy of Agassiz

In the mid-1800s a man came from Europe to America by the name of Louis Agassiz. He was asked to be a professor at Harvard but, being a rather eccentric free spirit, he bucked the system. And Harvard, recognizing his genius, allowed him to do so. He smoked cigars on campus. He wore no black robes as the other professors. He allowed students in his classes without passing entrance examinations. And he prepared no syllabus.

I had never heard of this man before this past weekend, when I started reading David McCullough’s Brave Companions. McCullough writes in the introduction of this book that he is much more drawn to the people of history than to the events. I find that I, too, am the same. I was disinterested in history when it was all dates and happenings. But attach people and their stories to those dates and happenings and history absolutely comes alive!

Okay, I guess that is enough of the “History is Awesome” commercial… :)

Anyway…

This professor had a unique way of welcoming new students. He would grab a jar from his shelves of specimens. Inside the jar would be a dead fish. He would ask the student to observe anything and everything about this fish and then leave the room. A young man named Scudder describes his experience after giving his observations to the professor and then being told to look some more–

I was piqued; I was mortified. Still more of that wretched fish! But now I set myself to my task with a will, and discovered one new thing after another…The afternoon passed quickly; and when, toward its close, the professor inquired: “Do you see it yet?”

“No,” I replied, “I am certain I do not, but I see how little I saw before.”

Scudder goes on to write how the lesson lasted three whole days and of how much he learned about that fish. He says it was a lesson of inestimable value.

You see, Agassiz believed the backbone of education was to know something well. He believed that a “smattering of everything was worth little”. He believed that it was a “great and common fallacy to suppose that an encyclopedic mind is desirable. The mind was made strong not through much learning but by the “thorough possession of something.” In other words, “look at your fish.” *

As I read this story from the past I couldn’t help but think of Christians with their Bibles. How many of us have just a smattering of knowledge here and there? How many of us are reading or hearing about the Bible (devotionals, books, sermons) instead of making our own observations of the Bible? How many of us give our time and dedication to learning it well?

As believers, shouldn’t this be our main priority? Do we even recognize how important this is to our lives and how we live them?

The young man, Scudder, thought he had learned all there was to know about that dead fish. And, yet, when the professor encouraged him that there was more to learn, he turned back and found out what it was. He had a teachable spirit and he realized how very much he had missed in those first few hours.

If this is true of a dead fish, just think of how much we are missing when it comes to the Bible! We so often approach the Bible with the same spirit as Scudder in those first few hours, our eyes blind to the fact that there is literally endless treasure there within its pages. The more we study, the more we mine its spiritual depths.

If you have spent any time in the Word, you are already well aware of this. The more you study, the more you realize how much there is to know. And how much you don’t know. The more you study, the more you know your God. The more you study, the more insight you get, the deeper the comprehension and understanding of God’s plans throughout history and for the future. The more you study, the greater your discernment as deception grows in leaps and bounds all around us.

If we know anything WELL, may it be our Bibles!

And now, briefly, I want to touch on the controversy that surrounds Louis Agassiz. This morning as I typed his name in the search box to see if his museum of zoology is still in existence, the articles that popped up show that Harvard is ashamed of this professor. I have not done a thorough investigation, but apparently he was pro-slavery and also anti-Darwinism. These are two huge “no-nos” in the intellectual world today and they don’t seem to be quite sure what to do with him.

I bring this to your attention because it reminds me so much of the book “1984” which I read (for some unknown reason) in 2019. I wish I wouldn’t have read it, to be quite honest. But one of the things that sticks out in my mind from that book is the re-writing of history. It seems that this is what is going on in the academic levels. If they don’t like someone’s view on something they cancel them. As if that certain view makes everything from their lives–even their amazing contributions to mankind–null and void.

Do we realize the tragedy of this??!? And do we realize the absurdity of this? I think it is time we stop looking to the experts and the professionals and academic intelligentsia for answers. It seems they have obviously lost their collective minds.

It reminds me so much of that verse from Colossians 2:6-10–

As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding [d]in it with thanksgiving.

Beware lest anyone [e]cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead [f]bodily; 10 and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all [g]principality and power.

We Christians have been snookered into thinking that man has our answers to life. We turn to professionals, experts, and academia for everything. We look for answers to our problems and big questions in the wrong place.

If we will but study our Bibles humbly and thoroughly, we will realize that the answers we seek for life are there. We are COMPLETE IN HIM. And that is straight from the Bible.

I do want to make one thing abundantly clear, however: I am not saying that there aren’t times we need help from others. There is nothing wrong in asking for help. But this help should come from someone who is dedicated to God’s Word and the principles for life we find there. These helpers are hard to find. Recently, someone shared with me their conversation with a current student of a biblical counseling program. As he shared what he was learning with this person and how he would handle different situations, it became quickly apparent that there was no “Bible” in it at all. It was all humanistic ideas and concepts.

If you find yourself in need of help, give much prayer and some research, too, before placing your trust in them. So many experts are leading Christians into unbiblical thinking.

As we continue on in this world, the Bible is literally our lifeline. It is where we find our hope, our sustenance, our joy. It is where we are told of our wonderful Savior and where we find principles for living a life that is pleasing to God.

Dedicating ourselves to really knowing it– knowing it deeply and fully–is the first step to living a holy, discerning, peaceful, and joyful life!

 

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for [c]instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

2 Timothy 3:16-17

 

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Hebrews 4:12

 

 

*From Brave Companions by David McCullough, p. 25-26

 

 

Time to Wake Up

Last night at 12:22am, our phone rang. It jarred me out of a very deep sleep and my heart started pounding. It’s not usually a good thing when the phone rings at night and my thoughts went immediately to our parents. It ended up being an automated call about our company’s security system (at 12:22am!) and I started to breathe easily again. But it took a long time for my heart to stop pounding and my brain to slow down.

A few hours later, we woke up to a short beep. We looked around, couldn’t figure it out, and closed our eyes. We were just about back to sleep when we heard it again. It seemed to be coming from my nightstand. I decided it must be some kind of low battery signal from my alarm clock. I unplugged the clock and we settled down for a couple of more hours of sleep. But, no. There it was again! At this third beep, I flew out of bed, turned on the light, and examined my table. Finally, my husband said he thinks it’s the phone. The cordless phone (which I had answered at 12:22am) had lost its charge and was begging to be put back in its cradle. How it lost its charge in just a few short hours is a mystery. That particular phone rarely leaves its cradle and was sitting on it when I answered during the night.

Those rude awakenings made for a rough night of sleep. No wonder I feel so tired this morning.

Those sleep interruptions remind me of the life we are living now. We so badly want to go back to our normal ordinary living but we keep getting jarred awake by discouraging and often nonsensical happenings. We will live for a few days–perhaps even a week or two–and we can forget how much the world has changed. But then something vividly reminds us.

I wrote parts of what you will read below on Facebook the other day, but decided to expand here as many of you are not on Facebook and, also, because I did not include or expand on certain things due to space. I want to warn you that this first part is going to be somewhat discouraging but just keep reading. It gets better.

As we catch bits and pieces of news these past days, we see many disturbing things. In America, It seems like almost every day we hear of laws that will strip us of our rights. We hear of terrible things happening at the borders. We hear of people dying from Covid and from the vaccine. And we hear about supply shortages and higher expenses. Meanwhile the government is throwing money it doesn’t have at its citizens to pacify them. This can’t end well.

There are perhaps even more disturbing happenings from across the world, where we hear of extreme lockdown measures that continue to keep people from traveling even within their own countries. There are massive protests across Europe about these lockdowns, which we never hear about in the mainstream news. A pastor in Canada was recently released from a five week stay in jail for his church’s in-person meetings against his province’s health guidelines. And then there are the reports coming from Israel that there is “medical apartheid” going on. If you aren’t vaccinated, you are viewed as Enemy #1 and with their newly instated “green pass”, only the vaccinated are allowed to eat at restaurants indoors, go to events, and even shop in some stores. Many of their citizens have been forced to be vaccinated or lose their jobs. Now keep in mind–this is over a virus that has a death rate that is actually less than 4% (and that death rate has been falsified in so many ways and with the falsifications being proven by so many different studies and reports that it is hard for any thinking person to deny it.) There’s much more going on in this world. But that’s enough.

Not only is the world in chaos but the church at large is also in major chaos. Here in America, we read of a famous “Christian” singer who was recorded shouting obscenities at his son. We see an ugly debate over a recent Christian book and the promotion of Bethel by a much trusted Christian. The promotion of wokism and social justice in Baptist and other once-solid churches is now the norm. The church has been on a bad trajectory for quite awhile but it has taken on warp speed. Why does it matter what is happening to the American church? I believe it is because she has been a beacon of the Christian faith in this world for many years. It has been she who has sent thousands of missionaries across the world and it is she who has been one of Israel’s greatest supporters. As this American church weakens and is overtaken by apostasy, so the darkness won’t only increase in America, but across the world. (Did you know that many mission organizations aren’t even sharing the Gospel anymore? Or if they do it is as an “add-on” to the person’s current religion? There is much going on in the world of missions. Be careful whom you support.)

What is especially interesting to see is the efforts to draw all people into a one world religion (which we have been told is coming in Revelation 13), with many once-trusted figures joining with false teachers or promoting false doctrine. I recently saw a “Christian” company who is re-making their company with an emphasis on Buddhism, while still claiming to be Christian. I’ve heard of “Christian” pastors and teachers joining with Islam. In fact, it is so common that it’s been given a name: “Chrislam”. There is just so much wrong with the modern day mainstream church across the world. What I have written is just a glimpse into all that’s going on.

But let me encourage you! As the American church has weakened, the true church in other countries is growing. Oftentimes, this is happening in countries where there is much persecution and cost for being a believer. The true church is still so wonderfully alive and well and will always remain so until the Lord returns for her. Yes, she will be small but perhaps we are simply gaining a new understanding of Matthew 7:13-14? Our Lord told us the gate is narrow and few there will be that find it.

Then there are weather events. Did you know that last year in America there were 16 ‘one-billion dollar’ weather events? This means that insurance companies had to pay out at least one billion dollars in coverage. There are usually under ten per year. And this year the Texas freeze has already been a three billion dollar event. So not only is the world going crazy, so is the weather. And that’s just in America. This pattern continues across the world, with an increase in hurricanes, volcanic activity, and earthquakes. The official data shows this increase in activity. I think we can all agree that the weather has seemed to sense the mood of the earth. We hear that it’s global warming causing all this havoc. I tend to believe it is the beginning of the birth pangs as predicted in Matthew 24. Of course, I could be wrong. It’s just an observation.

Meanwhile, technology is exponentially increasing, making possible the mark of the beast as predicted in Revelation 13. One can easily see how the green pass in Israel and the mandatory chipping of employees in Sweden are stepping stones to the mark of the Beast. (Let me be clear: The vaccine is NOT the mark of the beast.) Yes, how they will make the mark of the beast possible is becoming just a little clearer with each passing day. Technology is also now available to see the two witnesses in live time from anywhere in the world through satellites. Anything that we thought was impossible forty or fifty years ago when we read Revelation is now possible. It’s mind-blowing when you really stop to think about it.

And then, finally, the last thing I want to touch on is globalism. I have thought for many years now that it would be quite impossible to have a one world government with a strong America. I believe that we are watching the intentional take-down of this country. I do not say this lightly. The evidence is clearly there. This, along with the failing economies of other countries around the world, will pave the way for a global government. They are already discussing it. Just look up the World Economic Forum and read some of their chilling plans.

I haven’t even mentioned the activity in the middle east that is lining up with scripture in a way that could only be supernatural.

It’s funny because I never really thought before 2020 of the many details and changes that would need to be put in place for the Revelation 13 scenario to come to the world. But now as we are living them, it makes so much sense. It’s not like you can just suddenly have a one world government, a one world religion, and a mark of the beast that is needed to buy and sell. These things can’t just happen instantly. There must be much happening in the years before that.

Now you may be saying to yourself right now “I don’t agree with you“. And I want you to know, first of all, that I am not trying to change your mind. I don’t think it will really matter what we believe about world happenings when the Lord returns. Second of all, I am so gladly willing to hear evidence to the contrary. I would gladly admit it if I am wrong. I simply ask you to do some research on your own before commenting with negative words to this post. Spend some time finding out about the vaccine from doctors who are losing their licenses and reputations to sound the alarm. Read a few news sources that are not carefully controlled. Dig into history to find out the background of current events.

To me–and I know to many of you, as well–it is so clear that the end is near. Everything the Bible predicted is either happening or being set up to happen.

How does one live in a world that is getting ready to end?

It can be tempting to fear and to be anxious. It is tempting to just withdraw and ignore.

And, honestly, I don’t pay much attention to the news anymore. I am not going to change what is happening by knowing about every detail. And we aren’t really getting real news anyway. At least not in America. We are getting a very scripted narrative.

Does anyone else find themselves hunkering down in the midst of all of this and just living a more simple life? One where family, work, and church are the main priorities?

That’s what I find myself doing. And, honestly, if it wasn’t for the wonderings and uncertainty of the future, I’d be happier for it. There is much to be said for the simpler life.

Actually, “hunkering down” is probably not the best term to use. I don’t mean that we shelter in our houses and don’t go out. I am referring more to a life where we invest in our families, treasure fellowship with like-minded believers, and have conversations that actually matter with both the unsaved and the saved. A life where we focus on what’s important.

Our families need us. They need us to be engaged and communicating and laughing with them. They need us to turn away from our phones and our TVs and our activities to love them and teach them about God and His Word.

Our church families need us. I have heard from several different people now how difficult it is to find people to serve in various ministries at local churches. This is so discouraging. We need to be actively serving as we wait for the Lord to come. This is not the time to back out of all of our church ministries.

Our communities need us. I spoke with a woman yesterday whose family is deeply hurting from this past year. Their extended families have been deeply affected economically by Covid and they are trying to help them. But they, themselves, had to take a 10% pay cut. It’s been a rough road to travel for them. I am sure her story could be told a million times over across the world. In fact, many are facing much worse things. Some are struggling to even eat. We need to support those who are hurting however we can. We need to boldly share the Gospel when we are given opportunity. We need to show God’s love in this harsh, harsh world.

It’s time for the alarms around us to wake us up to what’s important. It’s time to wake up to the fact that we are probably never going back to our old “normal”.

This reminds me of the verses from I Thessalonians 5:5-11—

You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be [a]sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.

11 Therefore [b]comfort each other and [c]edify one another, just as you also are doing.

We mustn’t sleep as others do but watch and be sober. We are children of the day. Children of the light. And we must keep our eyes open and our armor on.

And don’t forget that one of these days we will be raptured! The Lord has promised that we will escape the wrath to come. We are not going to be here while the earth experiences the worst seven years in its history. Oh, praise the Lord for keeping His own from this terrible time.

Meanwhile, as we traverse the land of “limbo”, waiting for whatever is next, we need to make the best of it and appreciate what we have now. We need to be actively serving our Lord and sharing the Gospel. And we need to be sure we are growing deep roots of faith so that we can stand firm and face whatever may be ahead.

This is not the time to be resting and waiting. We need to be in the Word, learning who God is, learning to trust Him. Another thing that has been tremendously helpful to me is reading stories of missionaries and other Christians who have gone on before us. These are incredibly faith-building and are a wonderful reminder of God’s care and provision in the worst of times.

So hang on tight. It looks like we may be in for quite a ride. But let’s be sure to hang on to the right thing. Stuff will decay. People will let you down. Glory will fade. Only God and His Word are a sure anchor in the turmoil around us.

And so let us cling to Him alone. He will never fail us for He cannot fail.

 

At All Costs

We have a chocolate Lab named Macy. If you’ve been a reader for awhile, you will probably remember other posts about her. She is passionately–even desperately–attached to me. She goes into a bit of a panic if I am not around. If I run over to the office or take some trash out, I can be sure she will be right behind me because she has even learned how to let herself out of the house. If I am working outside, I can be sure she will be laying somewhere nearby. If I hop on the Gator she runs along side it, trying to keep up. I usually slow down a bit so that she can.

The other morning I awoke really early. I couldn’t get back to sleep so, finally, around 5am, I stole quietly from the room leaving my husband and Macy sleeping peacefully. I glanced to make sure she wasn’t ready to get up yet and then closed the bedroom door and headed downstairs to sit outside and watch the sun rise. The sky was already brightening as I took my cup of coffee outside.

I sat there for an hour or so, when suddenly I heard a scratch at the door. My husband was not far behind and opened the door, letting me know that she had discovered I wasn’t in the room and had been crying. I felt kind of bad. He doesn’t get to sleep in very often. I had been so sure she was sound asleep. How did she even figure out I wasn’t in my bed…?

But that’s how she is. If I’m around she’s at peace. If I’m not around she’s not. Macy doesn’t like to disappoint me and so she is a very obedient dog. If I tell her to come, she comes. If I tell her to lay down, she listens to me. Well, unless there is food involved. She struggles to be obedient when there is food involved.

But, overall, she does everything in her power to please me and to be close to me. She follows me everywhere. It can actually be annoying sometimes–like when she follows me into the bathroom or she stops right in front of me and almost trips me in her efforts to make sure I am following closely behind her and am not taking some surprise detour. But it is also a bit endearing. How can you not love a dog that loves you soooo much?

As I reflected on Macy’s passion and zeal for me the other day, it gave me pause for thought.

I mean, I know she’s a dog and all, but bear with me.

As I pondered her passion and zeal for me, I had to ask myself: Where is my passion and zeal directed? Am I even passionate and zealous about anything?

Do I feel like all is wrong in my world if I am doing my own thing apart from God? Do I hate to disappoint my Master? Do I do everything in my power to remain close to my Master’s side?

I finished a book yesterday called Hunted and Harried. It is about the persecution of the Scottish Covenanters during the 1600’s. (I recommend it. It was very thought-provoking and easy to read.) As I read of these men and women who chose to be martyred rather than to turn from true faith, I wondered if I would do the same thing? Could do the same thing?

Is my passion and my zeal for the Lord more important than my reputation? Than my family? Than my possessions? Than my very life?

If it’s not, then something is dreadfully wrong. Jesus challenges us with this very thought in Matthew 10:37-39–

He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38 And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. 39 He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.

And Paul reiterates this in Colossians 3:3–

For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

And Galatians 2:20–

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

True Christianity means dying to self.

Dying to self in order to follow Christ may lead us into great suffering and persecution. It will probably lead to unpopularity in the Church and to antagonism from the world. Obeying and pleasing Him will most certainly make us appear odd to a world bent on pleasing self.

But none of that should matter to us. Like Macy, we should have one goal in mind and that is to stay close to our Master. And what is the best way to do this?

We read, study, and memorize the Word. We submit and obey what we find there. We yield our wills, desires, and dreams to the will and purposes of the Father.

It’s so incredibly opposite of what we hear these days coming from the pulpits across America, isn’t it?

And, yet, we can’t study scripture and understand it any other way.

The wonderful thing is that while we are dying to self and serving God with passion and zeal, He is faithfully caring and protecting and loving and growing us. He is a the perfect Master and yielding our lives to Him brings true peace and joy that the world can never experience.

I am human and sometimes I can get frustrated with Macy. But God never does this. He wants us close by His side. He never grows weary of us or rejects us for even a second. His love is completely and utterly unconditional. He is wholly deserving of our most fervent devotion and dedication.

We can get caught up in this world and become oh, so distracted. We can forget, as we go about our everyday lives full of busyness, that we are not are own.

So perhaps we should regularly ask ourselves this question: Just how much passion and zeal do I have for God?

Am I willing to follow Him anywhere? Am I willing to lose popularity, reputation, family, or even my life for Him?

Come what may, I hope the answer to these questions for all of us is YES. May we be willing to follow Christ at all costs.

 

I’m Not the One Who Moved

This is for my Christian critics. The ones who label me narrow-minded and arrogant because of what I believe. I hope that this post will also encourage and aid my readers who are also labeled in this way.

There is a really important thing that our critics have forgotten–

We aren’t the ones who moved.

Seriously.

While there was always a remnant of believers who lived according to the Word even during the Dark Ages, we saw that, with the Reformation, there came a return to the important five solas–key doctrines of scripture.

These five solas returned a wayward mainstream Christianity back to its core and we owe much gratitude to men like Hus, Tyndale, Luther, Zwingli, and Calvin (and so many others) who were persecuted and even died because they stood firmly on the Bible and its precepts.

I am watching the first three of these five solas slowly being eroded away by mainstream evangelical Christianity but I still believe them. Many of us have always believed them–even without a history lesson on the Reformation– because they are what the Bible teaches.

The first point, Sola Scriptura (Scripture is sufficient and authoritative) is being ripped to shreds all around us. Belief that God is still speaking flies in the face of Sola Scriptura. Scripture cannot be sufficient if we are still receiving revelation from God. So is scripture sufficient or isn’t it?

I believe it is both authoritative and sufficient. I do not make that statement lightly and I have given the issue both research and prayer. Here are four key reasons why I absolutely believe it is sufficient. I have attached a link after this section that goes into this a bit more–

1) If scripture is not sufficient then we have a veritable Pandora’s Box of chaos. Anyone can say anything and claim it’s from God. And yet there is no way to prove any message is from God. Some will say that if it agrees with scripture then we can know it’s from God. Well, if that’s the case, then why do we need to be told this same thing in a supernatural way? Why not just read the Bible? And here’s another thing we know: Satan masquerades as an angel of light. He can–and does–use these things to pretend to be our godly advisor, only to eventually draw us off the narrow path. My rule: Don’t trust the voice inside my head. There is absolutely no way to know if it is God or isn’t. None.

2) If scripture is not sufficient or the authority of our lives, then we are going to be driven by things outside of the Bible like culture, felt needs, and other dangerous doctrines. Because if scripture is not sufficient then we naturally have to concede that scripture does not tell us everything we need to know. This kind of thinking leaves a very dangerous door open. And it’s the door that brings in most, if not all, false teaching. In fact, this door is the one that Joseph Smith walked through, deceiving millions. He claimed to have further revelation and started the Mormon church. I can’t think of one false religion that did not begin with “special revelation” or a vision from “God”. There may be one, but I can’t think of one.

3) If we are hungering for supernatural experiences directed to us personally, we naturally have to admit that this takes the focus off of God and puts it squarely on us. Our religion becomes about our purpose, our dreams, our needs, our wants. This is in complete and utter contradiction to what scripture teaches, where we read that we are to deny ourselves and take up our cross. (Matthew 16:24)

4) Special revelation breeds pride and division. When we think we should be hearing from God but aren’t we grow envious and jealous of those that are or we grow discouraged that somehow we aren’t spiritual enough. When we think we are hearing from God, we grow prideful and arrogant, thinking that we have some special connection with God that others do not have. The fruits of this movement are clearly disturbing, a fact we must face.

You can find a more in-depth article that I have written on this topic here.

We also see the second and third solas disappearing: Sola Fide (by faith alone) and Sola Gratia (through grace alone) (Ephesians 2:8) If we believe that salvation is by faith alone through grace alone then we must conclude that any religion that doesn’t teach this truth is a false one. And, yet, there is this powerful effort from well-known leaders that would encourage us to unify with Catholicism (faith plus works), Mormonism (works plus faith), and even Islam (works and a little faith). We are all to be one big happy group together serving God. Any refusal or even hesitation to follow after this movement brings accusations of divisiveness and intolerance.

But let’s be honest: Their God cannot be the same as the One, True God. And the real Jesus is obviously not the same as their “Jesus”. How do I know this? Because they require other things besides faith for salvation. Because what they are teaching is not what the Bible teaches. And because their religious rules and regulations are in direct opposition to what Jesus taught in the scriptures (John 14:6).

This is what Orthodox Christianity has believed for thousands of years because this is what the Bible teaches. But sometime in the not-too-distant past, things started to subtly change. Special revelation, hearing the voice of God, dreams and visions–a claim made by only the heretical fringes of Christianity throughout history–became the norm while pastors we loved and trusted started to push us to be joined together with false religions and false teachers.

What is going on??

And then there is the whole moral shift. Two big things come to mind, although I know there are more. First, since the inception of Christianity, the main goal of a Christian was to grow in holiness and godliness (I Peter 1:15-16; Titus 2:12). We were to separate from the world and to set ourselves apart for God’s service (James 1:27; I John 2:15-17). What has happened to these principles? Where is the separation from the world? Where is the encouragement to be holy and sanctified? It has all but disappeared in a “Christianity” that takes the focus off of the Gospel and puts it on fixing the culture. That tells us to follow our dreams and that we deserve our best life now. A warped “Christianity” that ignores true doctrine and bases its false doctrines on felt needs, feelings, and human wisdom and that encourages a sensual, earthly type of worship.

And then there is the latest thing I have to confess I didn’t really think I’d ever see. But here we are. Did you ever think you’d see a day where someone who claims to be “evangelical” would say it is normal to be gay? That God created them that way? Whatever happened to Romans 1 (Romans 1:24-27)? Where does that fit into their premises? And, yet, this is what we have. Respected leaders of the evangelical movement assuring us that it is okay to be a celibate gay person–that God made them like that. (If you need proof, check here and here.)

In light of all of these things we find that–

by default, the narrow road is becoming even more narrow.

Those of us who haven’t moved are not the ones making it narrow. We are standing where we have always stood. But with so many people walking away from biblical Christianity and heading for the broad road, the narrow road has naturally become more sparsely populated.

Those of us who hold to biblical Christianity find ourselves growing lonelier and lonelier. We find ourselves mocked, marginalized, ignored, and sometimes even persecuted. This narrow road is becoming more and more difficult to traverse. It is a rocky, difficult road and it is easy to see why so many leave it.

(Please keep in mind that I am making no judgments on why those who are moving away from biblical Christianity are doing so nor am I speculating anything about their eternal destinies. I am simply, like you, watching, broken-hearted, as so many turn away from all they’ve ever taught and believed. A sad thing indeed.)

As more and more people defect to the mystical, ecumenical, and communist/left evangelicalism, it naturally makes those of us who have chosen to stay where we have always been look narrow-minded and arrogant.

But, again, I want to remind you that we are not the ones who moved. We are not the ones re-defining Christianity. We are not the ones changing how we interpret scripture. We aren’t the ones going against what scripture teaches, teaching unbiblical things such as: Christianity is here to change culture, that Christians deserve to have their dreams fulfilled, that worldliness has nothing to do with godliness, and that the local church is to be designed around the needs of the lost. We are not the ones who are speaking at conferences with those who are clearly false teachers, giving validity to their ministries by speaking alongside them.

What is wrong with this picture? Why are those of us that refuse to move the “bad guys”?

Actually, I know why.

Peer pressure is a very powerful thing. And those that don’t fit in the mainstream have never been and will never be popular. Whether you are talking about church issues or work issues or school issues. The one who won’t fit in with “group think” is inevitably marginalized, maligned, ignored, or persecuted.

And, so, here we are.

If someone out there can give me a valid explanation based on scripture on why I should change my views, I am here to listen with an open mind. If someone wants to show me how my traditional Christian beliefs, backed by thousands of years of Christian history, are no longer correct with an argument that is based on the Bible, I am willing to listen. I am not closed-minded, nor am I hard-hearted or arrogant. I know full-well I don’t have all of the answers.

But here is what I do know: The Bible does have the answers. It has the answers for the here and now and it also has great insight into the future. And its predictions about the last days are becoming a shocking reality more each day in a way I never thought I’d see in my lifetime.The Bible is true and real-life events are most definitely confirming this.

So, forgive me, if I don’t hop on the mainstream evangelical bandwagon. I don’t belong there and I firmly believe that you don’t, either.

 

 

“Wordless” Christianity

Jesus told us the way would be narrow (Matthew 7:13-14), but this is starting to take on new meaning, isn’t it? If we don’t look past the surface then the Christian road looks pretty wide. There are still so many all over the world that go to a “Christian” church every Sunday and that claim to have a relationship with God. But when we start to scratch away at that bright exterior, what we find underneath is ugly.

While claiming to have a relationship with God, these “Christians” have divorced themselves from the Word of God.

What does this mean? It means that they are biblically illiterate, they do not live their lives according to the Word, and they do not hold the Word has their authority for their “Christian” life.

Their feelings, their desires, their dreams have that place and their “Christianity” is there to help them achieve their dreams and to escape pain.

Wordless Christianity is not Christianity. Let’s be clear on that, shall we? Christianity that is not based on the Bible is not Christianity. It’s just another false religion that has hi-jacked the name.

The Bible has been the anchor of Christianity since its inception. In other words, always. And, yet, more and more increasingly, we find ourselves defending the Bible in our conversations with…

…other Christians.

What is wrong with this picture?

And we find ourselves vastly discouraged and–if we are honest–left wondering if we have missed something. Maybe we are the ones who are wrong?

Until we go back to the Bible and recognize that not only does it re-confirm what we believe but that every thing taking place fits right into God’s timeline for the last days in an incredible and awe-inspiring kind of way.

Wordless Christianity is like a cancer. It is infiltrating and consuming even the most conservative of churches. And as it does so, we find that there is really no place for those who still hold to the Word. Churches that aren’t based on the Bible do not want pesky little congregants that keep reminding them that they have left the straight and narrow. And so, eventually, this person ends up doing one of two things. They shut up or they leave.

If you are in a good church where the Bible is still upheld as the authority and your pastor preaches the hard truths from scripture along with the pleasant ones, consider yourself blessed.

But many–maybe even many of you reading this–are struggling to find a solid church. It is such a sad situation.

As this wordless Christianity takes over we find it also affecting the Christian culture. When you unhook Christianity from the Bible then anything goes. And, suddenly, it is okay to do just about anything and still call yourself a Christian. The only verse that most seem to know is Matthew 7:1 “Judge not” and this is used completely out of context on a regular basis. If you mention anything as a sin–anything at all– you are judgmental. And this is the greatest and gravest sin of all (according to the Christian culture).

So what to do?

There is nothing really to do but to hang on for dear life to God’s Word. Is is our only anchor. Our churches, our favorite celebrity preachers, our favorite singers, our families, our friends may fail us. They may lead us away from the Word. We must stay in the Word, knowing it by studying it so that we can give a proper defense of biblical Christianity (I Peter 3:15) and so that we can discern truth from error (Acts 17:11; I Thessalonians 5:21).

Historical Christianity has always viewed the Bible as sufficient, as its authority, as its very lifeblood. Since the first book of the Bible was written, it has served as an authoritative source of comfort, strength, guidance, correction, rebuke, and growth. It has always been recognized as a special book unlike any others.

Satan recognizes the power that is in this Book and so this gives us a greater understanding of his monumental effort to detach Christians and Christianity from the Holy Bible. And he’s done a spectacular job, hasn’t he? It would seem fairly clear that this battle has been won–at least in America.

So how do we respond?

I believe we must encourage others to study and know the Bible. Nothing is more important. In a culture where most people simply watch video clips or mindless TV, this is a challenge. In a culture where books that are geared to the individual’s fixing specific problems and helping them achieve their dreams are the best sellers, this is a challenge.

But let us remember–the battle is the Lord’s and, one by one, He calls those who are His (John 6:44). May we be used by God to aid and encourage the few who seek to find the Truth and join us on the narrow way.

 

It’s Not Just a Book!

This probably isn’t going to be the most popular post I’ve ever written but it may be one of the most important. It won’t be the most popular–not because it is controversial or has a message people hate–but because this is something so many just don’t really care about. It’s rarely taught anymore and that’s probably because it’s something that doesn’t meet “felt needs” or provide any specific application.

But, oh, it is so critical we understand this as believers so that we can protect ourselves from the very real danger of false doctrine and from that self-centered religion that calls itself by the name of Christianity but looks nothing like it.

What is this, you may ask?

Well, it’s about the Bible. Understanding just what it is and being dedicated to interpreting it correctly. In other words: dividing it rightly. Officially it’s called Hermeneutics.

Hermeneutics is a big word, but it simply means this (according to dictionary.com): the science of interpretation, especially of the Scriptures.

I was listening to a powerful sermon yesterday entitled “Cutting it Straighter” by Dr. Abner Chou. He is a professor at the Masters University, so it was more like a lecture and there was a lot to take in because he talks pretty fast. But I was absolutely struck with just how important it is that we approach the scriptures with the right hermeneutics. Improper hermeneutics is the path to all false teaching.

Dr. Chou encouraged his listeners to first have a hermeneutic of surrender. We must be willing to bow our knee to what the scripture says. He went on to say how important it is that we know what the author intended to say.

Not what we want it to say. Not what it seems to say at first glance. Not some lesson we like that we can squeeze out of a particular passage. But what the author intended to say.

Have you ever thought of that before? This sermon was for pastors who are weekly expositing the Word before their congregations, but it is helpful for any of us who are in the Word on a regular basis.

For, you see, reading the Bible is only half of the equation. How we approach what we read is equally important.

Have you ever heard someone say that they read their Bible every day and yet they have no fruit to show for it? This is because they do not have a hermeneutic of surrender.

So just what is the Bible? Why does it matter? I thought it might be a good idea to just give an overview of this marvelous book to increase our awe of it and its contents. To give us the bigger picture of God’s plan. This will help us to remember that the Bible isn’t just about us in this minuscule bit of time and space. It will help us to understand that there is great value to all verses of the Bible–not just the ones that comfort and encourage us. And it will remind us of the Author, Who, behind the scenes, has woven all of scripture together and then preserved it so perfectly, that it can only be described as miraculous.

There are 66 books in the Bible. They were written over a period of 15 centuries by over 40 different authors. It is broken down into the Old Testament, which has 39 books and the New Testament, which has 27 books.

 

The Old Testament focuses on the history of Israel and the promise of the coming Savior.

The New Testament focuses on the person of Christ and the establishment of the Church.

 

The Old Testament is broken down into five categories–

1. The Law (5 books: Genesis – Deuteronomy)

2. History (12 books: Joshua – Esther)

3. Wisdom (5 books: Job – Song of Solomon)

4. Major Prophets (5 books: Isaiah – Daniel)

5. Minor Prophets (12 books: Hosea – Malachi)

 

There were then 400 years of silence that was broken by the arrival of John the Baptist announcing that the promised Savior had come.

 

The New Testament is broken down in this way–

1. The four Gospels record the birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus. Of special note: Matthew looks at Christ through the perspective of His Kingdom; Mark through the perspective of His servanthood; Luke through the perspective of His humanness; and John through the perspective of His deity.

2. Acts records the impact of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, which results in the establishment of the Church.

3. The 21 epistles are written to churches and individuals to explain the significance of the person and work of Jesus Christ.

4. Revelation which starts by recording the current church age and culminates with Christ’s return to establish His earthly kingdom.

 

Every portion of scripture–whether Old or New Testament– relates to one of these dominant themes–

1. The character and attributes of God.

2. The tragedy of sin and disobedience to God’s holy standard.

3. The blessedness of faith and obedience to God’s standard.

4. The need for a Savior by whose righteousness and substitution sinners can be forgiven, declared just, and transformed.

5. The coming glorious end of redemptive history in the Lord Savior’s earthly kingdom and the subsequent eternal reign and glory of God and Christ.

(The above is from Biblical Doctrine , pages 42-47, by John MacArthur and Richard Mayhue)

 

Answers in Genesis also provides a framework through which we can understand the overall themes of scripture. As Ken Ham and Stacia McKeever put it here in this article: Most people look at the Bible as a book that contains many interesting stories and theological teaching. While this is true, the Bible is so much more—it’s a history book that reveals the major events of history that are foundational to the Bible’s important messages.

They have come up with these 7 C’s that will help us to remember the Bible’s overall theme and message–

1. Creation (In the beginning…)

2. Corruption (Adam and Eve and original sin)

3. Catastrophe (The Great Flood)

4. Confusion (Tower of Babel)

5. Christ (The Coming of Jesus Christ to earth the first time)

6. Cross (Jesus’s death on the cross and sacrifice for sin brings hope to all)

7. Consummation (The second coming and final reign of Jesus Christ!)

 

Okay, so that is a lot of information. And even this is just touching the surface, quite honestly. So what is my purpose in giving it to you? I want you to see that the Bible is not just some book that is full of unrelated verses. It is not just a book that we should let lie around gathering dust while we read the fodder of modern man and their take on the Bible. No!

It is a book that we should pick up daily with reverence and awe. It is something that should be studied with diligence and a desire to know and understand the bigger picture. And it is something that should be approached with humility and surrender and a willingness to obey. It is critical for us to interpret in context and to be dedicated to using sound, biblical resources as we seek to understand what the Word says. We must use the proper hermeneutic and take care to divide it rightly. Because…

It’s not just a book!

 

Remembering the Reformation: What’s It Have To Do With Today?

Reformation

In honor of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, I have dedicated about three posts to remembering just what happened during that time. My plan was to delve a little deeper into it and expand–until I recognized a couple of things. First, most of my readers were generally uninterested in reading about the Reformation and so I was doing a ton of research and work for only a few. Which is fine, if not for the second thing I recognized: There are many good people who already did the research and wrote about it. And so, for those of you who are interested, I am going to provide some great places to go to learn more.

But before I do, I want to clarify why I was writing on the Reformation to begin with. My main purpose in writing this series is because the church in 2017 has walked far away from what took place 500 years ago. During the time of the Reformation, Five Solas were developed that took the church back to biblical theology and principles. They were–

Sola Scriptura(Scripture Alone)
Sola Gratia (Grace Alone)
Sola Fide (Faith Alone)
Solus Christus (Christ Alone)
Soli Deo Gloria (To God Alone Be Glory)

(You can read a little more about these Five Solas here.)

In practice, the modern day church has left many of these Solas covered in dust behind them. For example, in its efforts to toss tradition and be modern, the church is uniting with religions that require works for salvation and in its efforts to gratify a congregation that is obsessed with feelings, they are encouraging the people to believe that their personal experiences are the valid and authoritative words of God. And, yet, we can see that if we understand these Five Solas, so much of the confusion in the church today is clarified. It serves us well to reflect on church history as we navigate the current church waters. I found this wonderful article entitled Ten Reasons Why The Reformation is Not Over by Josh Buice over at Delivered by Grace that expounds this thought further. Here are ten reasons why he believes the Reformation isn’t over (and I agree!)–

  1. The Roman Catholic Church has not repented of their perversion of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
  2. Preaching is not, in many evangelical circles, the central mark of the local church.
  3. The present state of the evangelical church is filled with a love for pragmatism and a distaste for robust theology.
  4. The holiness of God is barely referenced much less understood among many evangelical churches.
  5. Worship has become man-centered as opposed to God-centered.
  6. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are often trivialized and minimized.
  7. Church discipline is a missing mark in most evangelical churches in our present day.
  8. Evangelism has been replaced by gimmickry and superficial methods that seek immediate results as opposed to genuine conversion.
  9. Holy living has been replaced by a loose antinomian approach to redeeming the culture.
  10. Church membership has become a shadow of indulgences — one’s ticket to heaven in many evangelical churches.

*pragmatism is doing what works (as opposed to what’s right)
*antinomianism is the belief that Christians are released by grace from the obligation of observing the moral law

(Read the rest of this article here.)

And so we can see that the Reformation will never be over. As long as sinners are at the helm of the church, there will be deception, chicanery, and corruption. While we should never expect a perfect church, we can and should stand and fight for the truth, as it is necessary. The Five Solas can help us understand exactly what is going on and where the church is going wrong. A study of the Reformation is very worth your time and I highly recommend it!

Here are the resources I promised (it is by no means an an exhaustive list, but it will get you started)–

Resources

Luther and the Reformation Series (YouTube series by R.C. Sproul)

Church History Lectures (YouTube series by Ryan Reeves)

The Reformers (Book containing short readable biographies; edited by Chad Stewart)

The Reformation (Book by T.M. Lindsay)

The Reformation: How a Monk and a Mallet Changed the World (Book by Stephen Nichols)

Reformation Hardware: The Truth Behind Church History’s Greatest Revival (Podcast by Nathan Busenitz)

Celebrating the 500 Years of the Reformation (Video by Nathan Busenitz)

Five Reformation Questions (Video Lecture by Nathan Busenitz)

Misunderstanding the Five Solas (Blog series by Josh Buice)

A List of False Teachings in the Roman Catholic Church (Article at CARM)

The Sufficiency of Scripture (Part 1) (Article by Gary Gilley)

The Sufficiency of Scripture (Part 2) (Article by Gary Gilley)

 

*Please note that I have not read or listened to all of these. Please, as always, be a Berean and compare all you hear and read to the Bible.

 

 

Remembering the Reformation: A Timeline

Reformation

As I have been filling my head with information about the Reformation through websites, podcasts, YouTube videos, and books, I have realized something: It is like a bottomless well of information and I am just touching the surface. I feel completely inadequate to even present a timeline. The more I know about the Reformation, the more I realize how much I don’t know. But I am going to go ahead and present a basic timeline of the most important events with just a bit of information about them. (If you think I missed something important please don’t hesitate to let me know so that I can add it). I hope this is a helpful resource as we continue our study on the Reformation.

One thing that is of important note before I give the timeline is just how much the Reformation changed Western culture. As one speaker put it: The Reformation is the foundation of Western Civilization. This period of time re-established the authority of scripture, the priesthood of the believer, and the importance of a personal relationship with God—all things taught in the New Testament but lost among the common man in the false religion of Catholicism. It also brought about the birth of free enterprise and highlighted the importance of education and literacy. And, let’s not forget–it changed how the culture viewed marriage and family.

It is safe to say that it would be a very, very different world, if not for the Reformation.

We tend to think of this time as religious only, but what I have realized is that God’s ways are perfect–not just for our spiritual health, but in all ways. The Bible teaches us tools for all of life and we can see this truth when we look at the Reformation.

Here is the timeline–

1440— Somewhere around 1440, Johannes Gutenberg invents the printing press. I include this as the first item on this timeline because without a printing press there would not have been a Reformation. It was this machine that enabled Luther’s 95 Theses and other writings to be spread across the land.

1517–Luther nails the 95 Theses on to the church door at Wittenberg

Luther becomes distressed at how the pope, Leo X, has decided to use indulgences to raise funds for his dwindling coffers. A guy by the name of Tetzel is Leo’s representative in the region where Luther lives. Tetzel comes up with a little jingle (that rhymes in German as well as in English!): Every time the coffer rings another soul from purgatory springs. With his coffer and jingle, Tetzel travels the countryside, convincing people that their dead loved ones will remain in purgatory unless they pay to get them out. It is specifically in response to this unbiblical practice that Luther writes his 95 theses. He takes them and nails them to the door of the Wittenberg church. He actually receives little notice from the academic world (his intended audience), but a few students find them, copy them into common vernacular, and disseminate them all through Germany.

1519– Leipzig Debate

Luther is invited to debate Johann Eck at the Pleissenburg Castle in Leipzig, Germany. Here they discuss many different topics of the Catholic religion. There is one thing that Luther says during this debate that fans the small flame he had started two years before with his 95 theses and it is this: Scripture is the sole authority in the life of a Christian and that Christ is the true head of the Church. This statement is considered heresy, since the Pope is viewed as the sole authority for all people and also as the head of the church (and, by the way, he is still viewed that way in Catholicism today). These statements by Luther start the fires of the Reformation to start sweeping across the land.

1519– Ulrich Zwingli starts preaching expositionally through the New Testament

While Luther was causing people to re-think religion in Germany, Zwingli–completely independent of Luther–was doing the same thing in Switzerland. His sermons through the New Testament would serve as the catalyst for the changes he would bring to religion there. In a few years he would write his sixty-seven theses against many of the man-created Catholic church practices.

1520– Luther publishes the Christian Nobility of the German Nation

It is in this publication that he teaches the priesthood of the believer.

1521– Diet of Worms

In 1520, Pope Leo had issued a papal bull calling Luther a heretic and so the Holy Roman Emperor at the time, Charles V, calls for the Diet of Worms which will serve as an inquisition into the accusations against Luther. Here Luther reaffirms his commitment to scripture and confirms that he will not recant. He is quoted as saying– “Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason (for I do not trust either in the pope or in councils alone, since it is well known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. May God help me. Amen.”

1522– Luther publishes the German Bible

Luther is captured on his way home from the Diet of Worms by Frederick the Wise, in an effort to protect his life after his refusal to recant.  During his ten month captivity in Wartburg Castle, he translates the New Testament from Ancient Greek into German in just ten weeks.

1525– Luther marries Katherine Von Bora

Katherine is a former nun and wastes no time making a godly home for Luther. Together they completely change how the culture views marriage and family, particularly for the clergy. Before their marriage, women and marriage were viewed rather negatively. Luther proclaims that marriage is a God-given blessing and then lives this by his example. We cannot underestimate the importance of the Luthers’ godly marriage and loving family. I know it sounds redundant but it is worth repeating: The Luthers were critically instrumental in changing how Western culture views marriage and family.

1526– William Tyndale published the first English Bible

Tyndale, driven by a like-minded conviction as Luther to make the scriptures available to the common man, was the first to translate the scriptures into the English language. This was condemned not only by the Catholic Church but also by the King of England, Henry VIII.

1531– Zwingli is killed in battle

Preaching the Gospel in Switzerland is prohibited and a few are even being martyred as heretics for their stands against the Catholic church. This eventually leads to the Battle of Kappel and Zwingli falls while defending Zurich against Catholic forces.

1534– Ignatius of Loyala founds the Society of Jesus (Jesuits)

This Roman Catholic missionary organization was part of an effort to create a Catholic counter-reformation and parts of Poland, Hungary, and Germany are recovered from Protestantism back to Catholicism. This society is still at work today and there is much that could be written, but you will have to research the Jesuits on your own (a very interesting and fascinating study, to say the least!)

1534– Henry VIII declares himself Head of the Church of England

Disgruntled at the Pope’s unwillingness to grant his divorce from Catharine of Aragon, Henry breaks from the Catholic church and creates the similar “Church of England”. The Act of Royal Supremacy restores the power of the church back to the King of England where, according to this document, it had been before it was supposedly usurped by the Roman Catholic Church.

1536– Tyndale is martyred

Tried and convicted on a charge of heresy, he is burned at the stake. His last words were “Lord! Open the king of England’s eyes!”

1536– John Calvin publishes the Institutes of Christian Religion

This systematic theology encompasses all of Protestant beliefs into one work. Calvin–so sadly known often only for his stand on pre-destination–wrote many other wonderful and edifying books about the Christian faith. He was a truly gifted man who was used by God to change the world. (I will write more about him later.)

1545-1563– Council of Trent

This council meets to reform and clarify Catholic doctrine. Incidentally, the modern day Catholic church has never rescinded the extra-biblical and unbiblical doctrines and beliefs confirmed during the Council of Trent and therefore must be viewed as a false religion.

1560– Geneva Bible is published

This is the first English edition to use chapter and verse divisions.

1611– The King James Bible is published

King James of England orders this new translation to try to unify the various religious factions of his kingdom and to replace the controversial Geneva Bible, which had included revolutionary notations (not part of the original manuscripts) in the margins. In fact, he specified that there were to be no notes in the margins of this new translation!

1618-1619– The Synod of Dort

The Dutch Reformed Church holds this Synod to discuss the issues raised by the supports of Jacobus Arminius. At the synod, five-point Calvinism is upheld in opposition to Arminianism. (It is worth noting that it is at this time that John Calvin’s name becomes so associated with this doctrine. This leads many who could grow spiritually from his many worthwhile books to avoid them. It is quite unfortunate.)

 

Wow! That is a lot to take in. If you are still reading, I am impressed! Of course, Church History doesn’t end in 1619 and there are so many events and people worthy of blog posts. I didn’t even touch on the Puritans, who were so incredibly instrumental in upholding literal interpretation of scripture and were most surely reformers in their own right. I also didn’t get into anything regarding the Anabaptists, led by Menno Simons and also worthy of note during this time. As I have time to learn more I may come back and add more to this timeline. But, for now, I do hope that this will be a helpful resource to you and that you have learned something new today.

I will be taking a break for a few weeks from this series as I will not have time over the next few weeks to do the research necessary. But when I return, I will be covering some individuals and the part they had to play in the Reformation. In these posts, I will give more detail than I was able to give here. Hope you will stick around as I continue the series!

 

If you’d like to know more, these are most of the resources I used. I especially recommend the lecture by Nathan Busenitz (the first link) and the video by Ryan Reeves (the second link)–

https://www.gracechurch.org/sermons/13326

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pn0QlENHlrQ&t=61s

https://www.tms.edu/preachersandpreaching/the-fire-that-fueled-the-reformation/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4qrSgNbeG5E&t=1228s

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Faf6ISLbPQ8

http://www.ligonier.org/store/luther-and-the-reformation-download/

https://www.thelocal.de/20150717/this-week-in-history-martin-luther-and-the-leipzig-debate

http://www.ligonier.org/blog/zurich-revolutionary-ulrich-zwingli/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wartburg

http://discerninghistory.com/2015/08/ulrich-zwinglis-death-at-kappel/

https://www.gotquestions.org/Tyndale-Bible.html

http://protestantism.co.uk/timeline.html

http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/jesuit-order-established

http://www.britannia.com/history/articles/relpolh8.html

http://www.christianity.com/church/church-history/timeline/1601-1700/story-behind-king-james-bible-11630052.html

https://www.gotquestions.org/Diet-of-Worms.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remembering the Reformation: Before the Beginning

Reformation

On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther allegedly nailed his 95 theses to the door of the Wittenberg church. I use the word “allegedly”, because there is actually some debate about exactly how it all happened. What we do know is that Martin Luther did clearly present 95 theses as a challenge before the Catholic church, which officially began the period of time we know of as the Reformation.

But what was going on in the true Church before the Reformation began? While God used the Reformation in a mighty way, what exactly was going on in the Church during the preceding Dark Ages? I’d like to give a {very} brief overview of church history before Martin Luther. This will help set the stage for the rest of this series.

During the rule of the Roman empire, we know that Christians were viewed unfavorably. In fact, they were dreadfully persecuted and even martyred under certain emperors. They were thrown to lions for sport while the bloodthirsty Romans looked on; tied in bags with serpents and thrown into the sea; lit as torches for Nero’s parties, along with many other inconceivable tortures. But, surprisingly, during this time, the Church grew. Instead of the persecution functioning as a deterrent to keep the church from growing, it worked in the opposite way. People were attracted to a faith that kept a soul at peace during even the most horribly unthinkable circumstances.

And so it comes as no surprise that Satan came up with a Plan B: If you can’t beat them, then join them to eradicate and extinguish from within. The Roman Emperor, Constantine the Great, would be the instrument he would use to do this. It was under Constantine’s reign that, in the year of 313, Christianity was decriminalized. Eventually it would become the official state religion.

But was this true Christianity? A look at historical facts will reveal that it wasn’t. First, we will find that Constantine himself gave no proof of being a Christian. He continued on in his pagan practices and lifestyle. It would appear that he made this move to Christianity for political reasons only. And, second, you will find that Catholicism has an uncanny and unsettling resemblance to pagan religion of old. And so we can be certain that even from its inception, this state religion called “Christianity” was actually a deadly mingling of paganism and Christianity that became an accepted–but deceptively false– religion that was simply not (and still isn’t) biblical Christianity (Read this article for specific examples). This can easily be proven by comparing its dogmas and doctrines to scripture (read this article for more information). If you want to know how this all came about, you will find this short video to be a well-researched explanation—Know Your Enemy: Roman Catholicism.

It is extremely important that we come to a study of the Reformation with the knowledge that the Roman Catholic system is a false, satanic system. This gives us the background we need in order to do an accurate study of church history.

(Please keep in mind that I am judging the system of Catholicism and not any individual’s salvation. God, in His grace and mercy, may save someone who is caught up in that false system. I do believe that a true believer in the Catholic church who studies the Bible will eventually recognize the discrepancies and choose to leave).

From the point where Constantine validates this false Christianity, we find a church that becomes all-powerful in the lives of its parishioners—demanding things from them in life, as well as falsely teaching that they can control what happens to them after death. Many of Martin Luther’s 95 theses are specifically targeted towards the unbiblical teachings of purgatory and indulgences. We also find during this time the persecution of true Christians. In fact, we see the beginning of papal persecution, in earnest, around the 11th century. Foxe’s Book of Martyrs puts it like this:

Disregarding the maxims and the spirit of the gospel, the papal church, arming herself with the power of the sword, vexed the church of God and wasted it for several centuries, a period most appropriately termed in history, the “dark ages.” *

It started with the Waldensians and went on to include other pockets of true believers throughout the next several centuries, including many martyrs during that terrible time known as the Spanish Inquisition. (It would later include the persecution of the Huguenots in France and the Anabaptists in Germany.) This persecution included familiar names from this time such as John Wycliff and Jan Hus, as well as countless unknown names.

These records and other historical accounts of these groups and individuals makes it clear that, while Catholicism (which was false from its inception) dominated and controlled the lives of the general population, there were always those who sought the Truth. There were always those who fought against the false system. True Christianity did not disappear during the Dark Ages.

The common thread that drew all of these forerunners of the Reformation together was a commitment to the authority, inspiration, and inerrancy of the whole Word of God in its totality. This same thread runs through all of the Reformation, throughout all of Church history, and continues to be the same common thread that ties those of us together who desire to stay true to biblical faith in a world (and church) that has seemingly gone mad.

And so there is a brief– and hopelessly incomplete–history of the Church before the Reformation. It is my hope that this study will give you a deeper appreciation for the Word of God and the critical place it has played in all of Church history. It is also my desire that it will cause you to reflect on the pivotal place the Bible continues to play in this day and age, in the mainstream church and within our own churches.

We can see that Satan has tried all through the ages, and in many different ways, to twist, manipulate, and destroy God’s Word. We know this is because it, alone, is our revelation from God in this Church age. It is our only anchor for true faith and sound doctrine. We can also see that it is the Word that drew (and continues to draw) people back to true and pure faith. Keep this in mind as we continue our study.

Next time I will endeavor to give a general outline of the Reformation’s most important events.

 

Please note: I had a suspicion when I set out to do this series on the Reformation that my outline for posts could change. I will make the changes accordingly on the introduction page, so that each post can be clicked on from there.

 

*Foxe, John. Fox’s Book of Martyrs Or A History of the Lives, Sufferings, and Triumphant Deaths of the Primitive Protestant Martyrs (Kindle Locations 998-1000). Public Domain Books. Kindle Edition.

Resources:

Long Before Luther: Where was the Gospel Before the Reformation? By Nathan Busenitz

The Fire that Fueled the Reformation by Nathan Busenitz

Know Your Enemy: Roman Catholicism by the Fuel Project

What Is the Origin of Roman Catholicism @GotQuestions.org

How Was the Gospel Preserved Throughout the Middle Ages? @GotQuestions.org

Fox’s Book of Martyrs by John Foxe (free for Kindle!)

CARM: Attaining Salvation in Roman Catholicism by Matt Slick

Constantine the Great and Christianity @Wikipedia

Remembering the Reformation: Introduction

Reformation

How much do you know about the Protestant Reformation? In 1517,  Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the Wittenberg Church and began a movement back to biblical theology. God used him and other men (and women) to bring His church back to pure doctrine. October 31 will mark the official 500th anniversary!

500 years is a long time and we have, obviously, forgotten quite a bit of what we learned back then. I have been dismayed to see the lackadaisical attitudes of believers towards Catholicism. Don’t they understand that Catholic works-based salvation is what the Reformation fathers fought against?

This would seem to be a great month to dig a little deeper into the history of the Reformation and educate ourselves so that–at least on an individual scale–we don’t neglect and negate all that took place those many years ago.

I know most of you don’t enjoy history all that much (and your eyes have probably already glazed over!) But please stick around! I hope you will give me an opportunity to provide posts on the Reformation that will be readable, beneficial, and enjoyable even for people who don’t love history (most of you?!?)

I am not going to give an official timeline, although I am going to try to provide these posts on Thursdays, as I am able. Since this will take quite a bit of reading and research for me to prepare, it may not be every Thursday.

Here is what I am going to cover–

1.Before the Beginning

2. An overview and timeline of the Reformation

3. Brief sketches of key figures involved

4. The five solas of the Reformation

5. What does Catholic doctrine actually teach?

6. How does the Reformation affect me today?

UPDATE: 11/16/17 — In contemplating both the responses (or lack thereof) I was getting from these posts and also the plethora of really great information already available to all of us (much of it at no cost), I made the decision to discontinue this series. You can read the final post here: Remembering the Reformation: What’s It Have To Do With Today?

 

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