Volume. XXIV, No. 17
Sunday, 25 October 2009

The Goose that Perished in the Flame


On Oct 31, 1517 Martin Luther nailed an announcement to the chapel door in the German town of Wittenberg, listing 95 theses (ie. or points for debate) on which he challenged the Roman Church ‘salesman,’ Johan Tetzel, to a debate against the Holy Roman Church\'s selling of indulgences (ie. what I call ‘forgiveness tickets’ which can be purchased from the Roman church). Ever since, the Protestant Reformation flame has been ignited across most parts of the continent of Europe, and beyond as Isa 59:19b says, “When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him.” However, to say that the Protestant Reformation began on this date may do injustice to serious students of church history. Luther’s nailing of 95 theses was only one of many events that form a long chain leading up to this great movement worked by God. In other words, the Protestant Reformation had been brewing for decades, if not centuries, and the events and story encompass many lands and many men of faith. Most church historians called these men who paved the way for the Protestant Reformation to come as the ‘Pre-Reformers’.
The Pre-Reformers were pioneers of the 16th Century Protestant Reformation who stood for major Biblical Doctrines that prepared men like Martin Luther, John Calvin and John Knox. They later formulated and consolidated the doctrines that came out of the Reformation, later known as the five solas of Protestant Reformation, which every true church of Christ should faithfully stand for and contend with all their might, soul and spirit. The five solas are: Sola Scriptura - Scripture Alone, Solus Christus - Christ Alone, Sola Gratia - Grace Alone, Sola Fide - Faith Alone, and Soli Deo Gloria - The Glory of God Alone.
Some of the notable Pre-reformers were Peter Waldo (1140-1217), Girolamo Savonarola (1452-1498) and John Wycliffe (1329-1384) who was also called the ‘Morning Star of Protestant Reformation.’ Not to undermine the rest, yet perhaps one single most prominent Pre-Reformer, with the exception of John Wycliffe, is John Huss of Bohemia, and we shall briefly study about his life.
John Huss or Jan Jus (1374-1415) was born in the village of Husinec in southern Bohemia (today part of the Czech Republic) from which he took his name. Interestingly, the word "hus" inCzech means "goose." Huss’ parents were peasants—nameless and unknown. His mother taught John to pray and, as he grew older, influenced him toward a career as a priest.
At the age of 16, Huss started his studies at Charles University in Prague in 1390. In three years, he graduated with a bachelor of arts and a year later a master of liberal arts. Being born in a peasant family, Huss recounts his poverty while studying at the university in Prague: "When I was a hungry young student, I used to make a spoon out of bread in order to eat peas with it. Then I ate the spoon as well."
When Huss’ hot-headed friend Jerome of Prague returned from Oxford University, he brought many of John Wycliffe\'s writings. They struck a chord with Huss and he hand copied many of these writings for his personal study. After much reading and studying of Wycliffe’s writing, Huss agreed with Wycliffe that all people should be able to read the Bible in their own language. Yet, at that time the Roman church threatened to execute anyone found reading the Bible in anything but Latin, but this did not stop Huss from making his future ministerial goal.
In 1401, Huss was ordained as a priest and spent much of his teaching career at Charles University in Prague and began preaching in Czech at Bethlehem Chapel in 1402. He was a popular preacher and the congregation was often more than 3,000. Being strongly influenced by Wycliffe, he stressed the role of Scripture as an authority in the church. Although he defended the traditional authority of ordained clergy, he taught that only God was able to forgive sin. He preached godliness and openly criticized the clergy, saying, "These priests...are drunks whose bellies growl with great drinking and are gluttons whose stomachs are overfilled until their double chins hang down." He was definitely a man preaching without fear and favour of man.
The turning point of his life came on December 20, 1409 as the Pope issued a bill ordering all of Wycliffe\'s books to be burned and forbidding his teachings. The Czech people were incensed and there was an uprising. Huss continued to preach and his support grew, despite the entire city being excommunicated. In 1412, after the papal ban, Huss left Prague voluntarily and preached in the countryside and in small village churches, visiting towns such as Sezimovo Usti. Huss was not without his supporters, notably the Czech King Vaclav IV. During this time he published his most famous work De Ecclesia (concerning the church). In this work he stressed that Christ is the head of the Church, not Peter. He also challenged the power and authority of the pope and cardinals; of course his life was soon cut short as he stood openly an enemy to the Roman church. Soon he was summoned by the pope in 1414 to be tried for the ‘heresies’ he taught and to so-called ‘defend’ himself before the Council of Constance which also condemned his good friend Jerome of Prague and John Wycliffe again by exhuming and burning his bones.
On October 14, 1414 he began his journey to Constance joined by 30 riders and arrived on November 3, 1414. Huss had been promised safe passage by a powerfulfriend, Emperor Sigismund. Unfortunately being under threat of excommunication by the Roman Church, Sigismund later withdrew his promise only after Huss arrived. Three weeks after Huss’ arrival, with no political power behind him, he was arrested and taken to a dank dungeon where he remained in chains for seventy-three days. His cell was next to a sewer and he spent those weeks in hunger and poor health. It was only when the pope\'s physician visited, that he was moved to a better cell. The first trial was on June 5, 1415 at the Franciscan monastery. On July 6, 1415 he was led into the Cathedral. A total of 30 charges were levelled against him, mostly false, including the charge that he\'d referred to himself as the fourth person of the godhead. Repeatedly asked to recant for his ‘heresies’, Huss refused unless convinced by Scripture of his errors. Without given any time to defend himself nor given any Scriptural basis for trial, his priestly vestments were put on him then ripped off and destroyed, as the priests declared that they were committing his soul to the devil. He was given a paper hat with pictures of the devil to wear, with the inscription \'Haeresiarcha\' (ie. One who originates or is the chief proponent of a heresy or heretical movement). On July 6, 1414, Huss\' hands were tied behind his back with ropes and a chain was placed around his neck ready to be ‘grilled’ as stack of wood and straw were placed all around him. Wycliffe\'s writings were used as kindling for the fire. Before the fire was lit, Count Palatine gave him one last chance to recant. He responded, "God is my witness that the evidence against me is false. I have never thought nor preached except with the one intention of winning men, if possible, from their sins. Today I will gladly die." As the flames began, he sang in Latin, "Christ, thou Son of the living God, have mercy upon me," and he perished in the flame.
In short, Huss’ fiery determination to stand up for truth laid a foundation that led directly to the 16th Century Protestant Reformation. The last words of John Huss were that, “in 100 years, God will raise up a man whose calls for reform cannot be suppressed.” The ‘goose’ from Bohemia might have perished in the flame, but his spirit lives on. It was almost exactly 100 years later, in 1517, that Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses of Contention onto the church door at Wittenberg, and every generation shall remember him as the brave Bohemian ‘goose’ that perished in the flame for the cause of Christ!
Ps David Weng

More Lively Hope



Kitchen Rosters: Team Leader: Bro Yick Ho Lam
Next Lord’s Day Kitchen Roster: Team Leader: Sis Suzane Lim
Pastor Ki leaves Adelaide for London on Thurs, 29 Oct.
Next Saturday’s Joy Meeting is held in lieu of Sat 7 Nov.
Bible Witness available on literature table. Please help yourself to a copy.
Ebenezer BPC Mission Trips to Batam Island, 20-24 Jan 2010: Anyone interested in going, please see Ps Weng or Dn David Yeo.
Sis Susan Weng’s Baby Shower on Sat, 14 Nov 2009. Time & location TBA.
Looking Ahead
Baptism, Re-affirmation, Membership Transfer on 25 Oct.
Christmas Concert: Sat, 5 Dec 2009.
Bible-Presbyterian National Youth Camp 8 - 12 Dec, Perth.
Watchnight Service, Thurs, 31 Dec, 7:30 pm
Praise & Thanksgiving
Journey mercies: Bro Jason & Sis Tabitha Tan (Syd/Adl); Bro Peter & Sis Mary Ting & family (Adl); Bro Raphael Ng (Pt Aug/Adl) & Sis Lai Kheng Cheong (KL), & all others who arrived safely at their destinations.
Church activities: Reformed H&A Class; Session Meeting; Ladies’ Prayer & Share; Wed Prayer Meeting & Bible Study; AFG Meeting; Senior Citizens’ Fellowship; Choir practices; & YAF Bible Study.
Protestant Reformation on 31 Oct 1517.
Daily mercies, protection, and guidance.
Maranatha BPC - 19th Anniversary Thanksgiving today.
Prayer Items
Health & God’s healing - Rev George & Sis Nan van Buuren; Rev John & Mrs Christine McKenzie; Rev Stephen Khoo, Dr S H Tow, Preacher Zhang, Dn Yaw Chiew Tan; Bros Tommy Brooks, Colin Creaser, Makoto Kobayashi (JPN), Elton Law, Alan Marion, Len & Richard Pearson, Winston Selvanayagam, Fred Volvricht & Hans Ziegelmann; Mr Swee Liang Ng, Mr Yeom; Grandpa Ki; Auntie Oei; Sisters Mabella Booth, Nita Chong’s mother, Annie D’Mello & her mother (Mumbai), Myung Ki (& her father - S Korea), Choon Fong Lee (KL); Fiona Paauwe; Margaret, Dianne, & Sarah Pearson; Sonya Rand (UK); Aranka Rejtoe, Susan Veradi, Irena Kurek-Braden; Mrs Win Hooper; & others in affliction.
Missions - Pr Zhang & Ministry (Sihanoukville); Bible-believers in Cambodia; Hopefuls in S’pore; Teo family (Kuching).
Special Prayer: Bro Surish Dharmalingam - family & ministry in Vientiane (Laos) & Siem Pang (Cambodia).
Sketch n’ Tell Ministry - Pr H S Lim.
IBPFM (USA) - For missionaries & funds
Pastor Weng & family & ministry.
Journey mercies: Pastor Ki (S’pore/Lond); Bro Ngie Joo & Sis Sooi Chin Gong (Adl); Bros Raphael Ng (Pt Aug/Adl), Joseph Selvanayagam (Copenhagen/Adel), Frank Wong (Adl); & all others who are travelling.
Ministry in New Life BPC (London) - Ps & Sis Ki.
Uni Students Exams & Year 12 students - Bros Joshua Chung, Vabhav Sankey & Jason Teng.
Job - Bro Cong Pham; Sisters Marion Chan, Hui Wei Chua, Tabitha Tan, Judy Li & Corinne Teng.
Good health in pregnancy - Sisters Kim Tan (Melb) & Susan Weng.
God’s comfort, strength, guidance & care: Sisters Kathleen Creaser & Margaret Hooper.



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