Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Walking in the Steps of Jesus

I write today from the banks of the Sea of Galilee. We are in Israel on for an 11 day conference and tour of the Holy Land. As I write I look out on the Sea where the Lord Jesus walked, can see the hill where he preached His Sermon on the Mount, and see the area where 2/3 of the gospels took place! What an amazing privilege. I'll share more when we return from our trip!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Truth Quote of the Week

I thought I would post one of my favorite quotes by one of the Czech reformers Matěj z Janova (ca. 1355-93). He like Hus preached in the vernacular and even called for the reading of the Bible in the vernacular, which was really extreme at this point in history. His preaching was a call for moral reform, a denunciation of superstition, and a call to turn to the Scriptures, which he loved.

Matěj
denounced praying to saints rather than to Christ and criticized the priesthood by saying that “they worldly, proud, mercenary, pleasure-loving, and hypocritical; they are the synagogue of sinners, the great Whore, serpents and young adders, a snare, the apocalyptic locusts, adulterous women, worse than public prostitutes. They form spiritually the Great Babylon which is the Great Whore and the mother of adultery and abomination of the earth. They do not regard their sins as such, do not allow themselves to be reproved, and persecute the saintly preachers. There is no doubt that if Jesus lived among such people, they would be the first to put him to death.”

Monday, June 16, 2008

Better To Die Well Than Live Badly

In reading through some of Jan (John) Hus's letters I came across an interesting letter to share. It was written while he was in exile and before he was burned at the stake in Constance. Beginning in the first paragraph you get a sense of his commitment to truth, to Christ, and unwillingness to compromise. The following letter is as translated in Herbert Workman and R. Martin Pope's book, The Letters of John Hus, 1904.

XXVII. To THE SAME (To Master Christian of Prachaticz, Rector of the University of Prague)

(Without date: after April 1413)

Greetings from the Lord Jesus Christ! Christ the Lord helping me, I will not accept the judgment of the theological faculty, though I stand before a fire prepared for me. I hope that death will take either me or the two who have deserted the truth, to heaven or to hell, before I agree with their views. For I know that both in previous times loyally confessed the truth according to Christ's gospel; but, stricken with terror, they turned to flattery of the Pope and to lies. Palecz calls us Wyclifists, as if we were straying from the entire faith of Christendom, and Stanislaus calls us infidels, traitors, madmen, and an accursed clergy. But I would pay no heed to this, provided they were not confirming Antichrist in his wickedness. But I hope with God's grace, if needs be, to set myself against them even to the lighting of a fire. And if I cannot deliver the truth in spite of all I do, at least I refuse to be the enemy of the truth and will resist to the death all agreement with falsehood. Let the world run its course, as God permits. It is better to die well than to live badly. We must not sin to avoid the punishment of death. To end in grace the present life is to be banished from misery. He that adds knowledge, adds labour. He that speaks the truth, is smitten on his own head. He that fears death, loses the joys of life. Above all else, truth is conqueror. He conquers, who is slain: for no adversity hurts him if no iniquity hath dominion over him. For the apostle Peter saith: Who is he that can hurt you, if you be zealous of good? Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, saith the Truth. My brethren, count it all joy when you shall fall into divers temptations: blessed is the man that endureth temptation, for when he hath been proved he shall receive the crown of life. These are my foundations: these the dishes with which my spirit is revived so that I may be courageous against all adversaries of the truth.

As for these doctors whom you mention, they refuse to act against their consciences. You know how Palecz used to talk in the old days at your house. And I know for a fact that Stanislaus held the remanence of the bread and recorded his views in a treatise ; and he asked me before he began this disturbance if I would hold the same view along with him. Subsequently he swore to it and then abjured it; and two years afterwards, when Stiekna came with his treatise, in his terror of the Archbishop and not knowing how to escape, he asserted on oath that he had not finished the treatise. Before he was summoned to the Archbishop's court, he said, "The monk Stiekna must go on his knees before me and beg for his life, because he dared to charge my treatise with being a fresh graft of heresy." How, then, can I believe that they would not be ready to act against their consciences? Is it to save their consciences that they call us infidels, traitors, madmen, wanderers from the entire faith of Christ, and an accursed clergy? Let God be the judge of this.

As to your proposed change of benefice. It seems to me in all conscience you should on no account give it up; for I hope that you are a shield where you are, against Antichrist. It is on this account in my judgment that God hath decreed that, as there was a rector in that parish who was the greatest enemy of the truth, so you, on the other side, should be the friend of God's word. As to the parochial clergy and their unwillingness to receive gratefully all the spiritual oversight which they enjoy, you have in Ezekiel, chapter iii., a full verdict for your own justification. Read the passage. I will write to those whose names you give, and I will forward you the treatise, pending their reply to the charges of Stanislaus. Farewell in Christ Jesus. I think I sinned in giving up my preaching at the King's wish: therefore I am not willing to live any longer in this sin.

Friday, June 13, 2008

The Arch-Heretic - Todd Bentley

Last night I flipped on the "God Channel." Todd Bentley was introduced and came on stage. He walked back and forth shaking and then began to describe his experience earlier in the day about his encounter with the Shekinah Glory of God. Then he sought to give out this glory by yelling out "bam, bam" and throwing his hands out. I only had to listen for a few seconds to realize that this man is a heretic, an agent of the Devil, a wolf in sheep's clothing, and an apostate. You will get a taste in the video clip below.

You don't encounter the Shekinah glory of Holy God and live. Moses couldn't even enter the tabernacle when the glory was present (Ex. 40:34-35), and neither could the priests (1 Ki. 8:10-11). Yet Bentley claims he had a direct encounter with the glory and lives to tell us about it!

The glory encounters we see in Scripture left people prostrate before God (Lev. 9:23-24), and crying out for mercy, not standing up yelling "bam, bam" at people. The angels of God are not even able to look upon this glory (Is. 6:2). Yet Bentley speaks as though he is so close with God that God's Shekinah glory visits him and he lives to tell us about how we can "get some."

If Bentley came into contact with the Shekinah glory he wouldn't be speaking about it simply as something that happened earlier in the day. He would be speaking about how the glory of God was so holy, so bright, so overwhelming that he could do nothing other than fall on his face and cry out how sinful he is and how he begged God for mercy to even live! As a result he wouldn't be telling us how to get the glory, he would be preaching repentance! That is how Isaiah responded (Is. 6). He cried out confessing his sinfulness, and responded by going as God's mouthpiece to preach repentance. Not how you can "get some."

By watching the clip below you can get a glimpse of what I'm speaking about. May God give the Church discernment and wisdom in dealing with such heresy.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Truth Quote of the Week

“I will defend to the death the truth God has vouchsafed me, especially the truth of the Holy Scriptures.” - John Hus

As quoted
in Hus and Farel, W.J. Grier – p. 11.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

A Vow of Poverty?

While visiting the Vatican we wandered outside and found a tunnel that looked like it led to something interesting. Then we realized that it took you to the pope's parking lot of previous pope-mobiles. As you can see in the picture the popes haven't held back on making sure they have some nice wheels.

It reminds me of John Hus when he said that when he was younger he at first wanted to become a priest because they lived well, dressed well, and were held in high esteem. But through his study of the Word, the Scriptures, he came to understand the truth and then had a different view of the priesthood.

When taking my picture in front of one of the pope's carriages my wife, a previous catholic, reminded me that the priests are to take a vow of poverty. I guess it doesn't apply if you are the pope?

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

A City Without Hope

As mentioned in my first post about our trip to Rome I wanted to share a few thoughts from our visit to Vatican City. I went with no expectations of what things may be like, other than one friend told me everything is about the pope.

When entering Vatican Square, which is really a circle, I was immediately struck by all of the statues, which were just a foretaste of what it would be like inside St. Peter's Basilica (SPB). The size of SPB was far greater than I expected, but most of it was not for the worship of God. It seemed that most of SPB was devoted to displaying statutes of popes and various "saints." Thus, it was very man-centered in what it had to offer people. It offered commemorations to people who had done "great" things or who contributed in some way to the further growth and development of the Roman Church.

When entering the basilica there were people praying and probably overwhelmed by the fact that they had completed their pilgrimage. But that was truly it for them. It was really the end of their pilgrimage, because their touring of the basilica will lead them no closer to heaven than the statutes outside.

At the end of our tour I was struck by the fact that one can visit the Vatican and go through the basilica, see the tombs of the popes (where John Paul II was buried and people were praying and bowing towards his grave), see some church documents on display, and come out of all that having absolutely no clue what the gospel is! In fact, I don't even remember seeing a Bible anywhere.

All the thousands of people that tour this City of Idols leave there not having a clue as to how to get to the very place the "Church" promises to lead them. Stunning!

When in the prayer room I remember praying that God would open the people's hearts and minds to see the Truth and to rescue them from the House of Idols, the Household of Satan which they were visiting.

Some may say that it is a harsh way to say it, but Jesus was harsh when confronting the hypocrisy of the Pharisees in Matthew 23. I come away from this city which offers no hope and pray that I would be faithful to Christ, and that I would be faithful to the proclamation of the gospel. Sola fide!!!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Finished!

My teaching of Romans this past week went about as well as to be expected. We got through chapter 11, which concludes the great doctrinal section of the epistle. I can only pray that God will not allow His Word to return void.

I was encouraged by the discussions we had on various passages and look forward to a 2 hour discussion we have planned this week to provide a little more opportunity to discuss this most glorious epistle.