The Protestant Reformation
If you ask professing Christians today about the great Protestant reformation, what it was about and who were the main characters, you would probably get a blank look from the majority of them. Why? Because this Divinely inspired movement has been attacked by Satan right from the start, and today the majority of people know nothing about the reformation.
The purpose of this website is to REKINDLE the very reason for the Protestant reformation. Which was to base one's faith upon the Word of God alone (Sola Scriptura). And the reason this needs to be rekindled, is because today there is an enemy movement that is trying to extinguish the ideals of the reformation and that movement is ecumenism, led by the Roman Catholic Church.
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During the dark ages the truth was supressed by the Papacy in favor "UNITY". But all throughout the dark ages God had small groups of people that kept the flicker of light burning. People like the Waldenses, who cherished faith in Christ Jesus as their only Mediator in Heaven between God and man, and held the scriptures as the only rule of life. They were among the first people in Europe to have a translation of the scriptures in their own language, and this was hundreds of years before the great Protestant reformation. The Waldenses also knew the truth about the sabbath day. For this they became objects of hatred by the Roman Catholic Church.
We owe so much to these faithful people for keeping the true light of God's Word flickering throughout the darkness of Papal supremacy. And yet these great faithful people of God have little place in the record books. Largely due to the decrees by the Papal Councils that any books or writings about these Godly people should be destroyed!
But we are here to keep the TRUE light burning!
A "star" was born in England in the year 1328 by the name of John Wycliffe. Known today as "the morning star" of the reformation, John Wycliffe was used by God Almighty to begin a GREAT AWAKENING, and bring people in contact with the Word of God that had been obscured and almost lost during the dark ages by the hands of the Papal Church of Rome. Throughout his life, God had given John Wycliffe the necessary training and skills so that he could translate the Bible into the English language. A task he had completed in 1382. And the great protest against the Roman Church which Wycliffe began was never to be silenced.
Before the Protestant reformation, there were very few copies of the Bible in existence. Wycliffe could see that the Word of God was being "locked away" by the Church of Rome, being kept in languages that the masses could not understand. Therefore making them rely upon the Roman Church to "interpret" the scriptures for them. This is not what God had intended for His Holy Word, and although small groups of faithful people like the Waldenses kept the holy scriptures alive during the dark ages, God needed someone to rise up against this Papal power and take His Word to the masses by translating it into the common language. This Wycliffe did! And this enraged the Roman Church so much, that after Wycliffe had died of a stroke, pope Martin V declared Wycliffe a heretic and had his bones dug up and burned.
After Wycliffe had died, his beliefs and teachings continued to spread through the Lollards, who traversed England and other lands, taking the knowledge of the gospel message with them.
John Huss and Jerome
John Huss (Jan Hus) was born in 1369 and was left as an orphan by the death of his father. Fortunately for Huss, his mother was a pious, God fearing woman, who sought to secure him an education and bring him up in the "fear of the Lord". After school, Huss ended up going to the University of Prague. Widowed and poor, his mother accompanied him to Prague and as they came near to the city, she kneeled down with Huss and prayed a blessing upon him from God in heaven. Not knowing that her prayer was sure to be answered!
Huss enjoyed rapid progress at University and became a well known and distinguished person. In his early days he was a sincere adherent to the Roman Catholic Church, and after he completed University, he entered the priesthood.
Before the days of Huss, there were men in Bohemia (Czech Republic) who openly opposed the corruption in the Roman Church and it's reckless extravagance. The leaders of the Roman Church then opened persecution against these men of God in Bohemia.
Jerome, an associate of John Huss, on returning from England brought with him the writings of John Wycliffe. Huss agreed with the reforms that Wycliffe preached, and not knowing it, Huss was already on a path that would lead him far from Rome. After a more closer study of the scriptures and the writings of Wycliffe, Huss saw much more clearly the true character of the Papal Church, and with great zeal he now denounced the pride and corruption of the hierarchy. From here, the light of the gospel spread to Germany.
Huss now had a great conflict raging in his own mind between his early convictions of the Roman Church, which he had grown up with and still held onto, and his conscience which was enlightened through closer Bible study. Even so, he continued in preaching the truths which God had bestowed upon him with greater and greater zeal. And now joined by Jerome this work of reform continued to spread, thus exciting the indignation of the Roman Pontiff, who proceeded to crush the reformers.
Both Huss and Jerome suffered greatly in horrid prisons and finally went to the stake where they were burned as "heretics" for the cause of Christ Jesus and His true gospel message. So perished God's faithful light bearers. But the truths they proclaimed and their heroic example for the cause of Christ Jesus, could not be extinguished!
Martin Luther, born in 1483 was to be foremost in bringing reformation to the masses and leading them out of the darkness of popery and into the light. Luther, like Huss was of humble origin. His father, a strong, honest, straightforward God fearing man toiled as a miner to earn Luther an education. Luther's parents did their best in bringing him up in the knowledge of the LORD. At eighteen, Luther entered the University of Erfurt, where he applied himself greatly to study. And having the fear of the LORD in His heart lead him to deep humility before God.
One day at the University library, Luther came across a Latin Bible, of which he had never seen before. With awe and wonder he turned the pages and exclaimed "O that God would give me such a book for myself!" (Ibid, b.2, ch.2). With earnestness to be free from sin and find peace with God, Luther entered into the monastic life. Here he devoted every spare minute he had to studying the Bible. But through the painful discipline and humiliation of monastic life, Luther found no relief.
Later, Luther was called from the cloister to a professorship in the University of Wittenberg. Here is where Luther learned the scriptures in the original language and began to lecture upon the Psalms, Gospels and Epistles. This led Luther to the pulpit to preach the Word of God, all the while remaining a "son" of the Papal Church of Rome. It was not until his first visit to Rome did Luther see the Papal Church in it's true light. Everywhere in Rome, scenes filled him with complete horror! He saw first hand that open and willfull sin existed amongst all classes of the clergy. Which led him to write "no one can imagine what sins and infamous actions are committed in Rome. They must be seen and heard to be believed." (Ibid, b.2, ch.6).
One day while climbing the steps known as "Pilate's staircase" on his knees, Luther heard what seemed to be a voice say to him, "THE JUST SHALL LIVE BY FAITH." (Romans 1:17). From that time he saw the fallacy of the Roman Catholic teaching of trusting in human works for salvation. His eyes were opened to the delusions of the Papal Church. And from then on Luther's connection with Rome became wider and wider, and his zeal for seeking and preaching the truth grew stronger and stronger.
Luther proclaimed that Christians should receive no other doctrines than those which rest upon the Sacred Scriptures. These words were to strike at the very heart of the Papal Church, and contained the vital principle of the Protestant reformation.
The LIGHT had now truly been lit.
A particular teaching that Luther dispised and fought against was the Roman Catholic teaching of "Indulgences". Through this hideous teaching of Rome (the teaching that salvation could be bought with money) Gold and Silver flowed into the Papal treasury. Thus causing Luther to write and nail a paper containing 95 points against the doctrine of indulgences to the door of the castle church of Wittenberg. The points which he raised against indulgences spread throughout Germany within days. And within weeks had spread throughout Christendom. This unleashed the fury of the leaders of the Roman Church and Luther was declared a "heretic".
Thousands were now being illuminated with the precious truth, and the reformer's writings began to extend to every nation in Christendom. Switzerland, Holland, France, Spain, Belgium, Italy and England received his writings and many thousands were being awakened to the new hope of the life of faith. This only angered the Roman Church more, and they sought to do away with this reformer. But Luther was taken and hidden away by a "protector" in Wartburg Castle, where he was to stay for nearly a year. During this time Luther translated the New Testament into the German language.
The years to follow saw the reformation gain in strength, with ever increasing numbers join the cause of this heroic man who defended the Word of God above any church tradition. The seed which God had sown through Luther sprang up everywhere. But the work that Luther undertook and the years of fierce battles with Rome took it's toll on his health and from 1531 Luther's health began to deteriorate. In 1546, he finally lost his battle with his health and died. But the LIGHT that God shone through this heroic man would never die!
While Luther was taking the Word of God to the people of Germany, Tyndale was doing the same for the people of England. Wycliffe's Bible had been translated from the Latin text, which contained many errors, and the circulation of it was very limited. Now, Tyndale was to complete the original work and idea of Wycliffe by giving the Word of God to the common man. Tyndale was fierce in his convictions and urged that all doctrines be tested by the Holy Scriptures.
To the Papist claim that the Roman Church had given the Bible and they alone could explain it, Tyndale replied ..."Do you know who taught the eagles to find their prey? That same God teaches his hungry children to find their Father in His Word. Far from having given us the Scriptures, it is you who have hidden them from us; it is you who burn those who teach them; and if you could, you would burn the Scriptures themselves." (D'Aubigne, History of the Reformation of the Sixteenth Century, b.18, ch.4)
Tyndale's preaching excited great interest and many accepted the truth. But he also kindled the interest of the Roman Catholic priests, and he soon became a target of hatred and they endeavored to destroy his work.
"Oh, if Christians possessed the Holy Scriptures in their own tongue, they could of themselves withstand these sophists.", exclaimed Tyndale. And this very purpose now took possession of his mind. In an exchange with an "educated" Catholic doctor, who proclaimed, "We were better to be without God's laws than the pope's.", Tynedale replied, "I defy the pope and all his laws, and if God spare my life, ere many years, I will cause a boy that driveth the plow to know more of the Scriptures than you do!" (Anderson, Annals of the English Bible, p.19).
The flame was lit and immediately Tyndale set to work, Translating the New Testament.
From persecution, Tyndale fled to London, where for a time he pursued his course undisturbed. But he had to flee again from the violent persecution of the Papal Church. This caused Tyndale to seek refuge in Germany, where he started printing the English New Testament. Satan still tried to stop his work and Tyndale had to go from one city to another, until he ended up at Worms, where a few years before, Luther defended the gospel before the Diet. There, Tyndale found many friends of the Protestant reformation and was able to complete his work without any further trouble. The result of this was 3,000 copies of the New Testament, with another edition following the same year.
Due to the ports of England being guarded, these Bibles had to be secretly "smuggled" to London, from where they were distributed throughout the country. The Papal Church attempted to suppress this work and on one occasion, the Bishop of Durham bought the whole stock of Bibles off one bookseller with the purpose of destroying them, thinking the work would be hindered. But God is always behind the TRUTH, and the money from this sale helped in purchasing material for a new and even better edition of the Bible.
Tyndale was later betrayed into enemy hands. Seized in Antwerp in 1535, he was taken and imprisoned many months in the castle of Vilvoorde near Brussels. Charged with being a "heretic" like the other reformers, Tyndale finally suffered the martyr's death when he was tied to the stake, strangled to death and then burned.
His final words spoken at the stake were, "LORD! Open the King of England's eyes!" To which the LORD surely answered by inspiring the great King James Bible in 1611.
A Great Cloud of Witnesses
Hebrews 12:1-2 ...'Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.'
We are surrounded by great men of faith, who for the love of Christ Jesus, endured great suffering and persecution in order to spread the truth of God's Word. The great principle maintained by the Protestant reformers was the infallible authority of the Holy Scriptures as the single rule of faith and doctrine. John Wycliffe, John Huss, Jerome, Martin Luther, William Tyndale, Hugh Latimer, Thomas Cranmer, The Ridleys, Zwingli, John Foxe, John Knox, Calvin, Wesley and many others. All rightly proclaimed that neither popes, councils, or kings could control the conscience in matters of faith. The Bible was their only authority, and faith in God and His Word sustained these holy men as they gave up their lives at the stake.
"Be of good comfort", exclaimed Latimer to his fellow martyr as the flames were about to silence them, "we shall this day light such a candle, by God's grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out." (Works of Hugh Latimer, vol.1, p.13)
The Protestant reformation restored many great Bible truths that were lost during the dark reign of the Papal church. But unfortunately, Satan then started his own "reformation", known as the Jesuit counter reformation. This counter reformation caused erroneous doctrines and teachings to flow throughout Christendom. And as a result, Protestant Christians forgot what they were "protesting" against and caused them to be carried away with new false teachings.
God then raised up a movement in the 19th century that would consolidate all these precious truths revealed during the Protestant reformation. A movement that would continue till the second coming of Christ Jesus. A movement that would finally take the FULL gospel message, the "everlasting gospel" (Rev. 14) to the whole world, and prepare the world for the second coming of Christ.
Please see LOOKING FOR GOD'S CHURCH for information on this end time movement.
(Please note: The above is only a basic outline of the Protestant reformation. If you would like to read a more complete history of the reformation, the book, The Great Controversy by E.G.White is a great place to find the truth. You can download a copy of this book here ... THE GREAT CONTROVERSY)