Thursday, August 2, 2012

August 02, 2012


One of the things I admire most about the Protestants of the Reformation era and beyond is their ability to memorize large portions of Scripture. Even their enemies were often awed by their knowledge of the Bible and their skill in debating Scriptural subjects. Unfortunately, I have not inherited my ancestors’ spiritual acumen in this regard :-). I have memorized verses, but not in any great quantity; and so today I thought I would open my Bible randomly and simply blog whatever verses my eyes fell upon, trying, if possible, to relate them to the people and events of the Reformation.

“For we walk by faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 1:7). I kid you not! This is the first verse I opened my Bible to :-) The early Protestants knew firsthand that “walking by faith” in the midst of persecution brought confidence and protection even in the “valley of the shadow of death.”

“‘Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of My pasture!’ says the Lord.” (Jeremiah 23:1). In the 1500s, there were many measures that could have been taken to promote equality, peace, and the then-unheard-of concept of “agreeing to disagree.” However, persecution developed rapidly, and the rifts were torn, never to be healed. Various Christian denominations took up stances against each other. Had they united --- Calvinist, Lutheran, Anabaptist, etc. --- there might have been fewer deaths and less persecution at the hands of those who could not accept the “new thought.”

“. . . for I have seen violence and strife in the city. Day and night they go around it on its walls; iniquity and trouble are also in the midst of it. Destruction is in its midst; oppression and deceit do not depart from its streets.” (Psalm 55:9-11) This, for some reason, reminded me of the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre of 1572. “Violence and strife in the city” and “destruction is in its midst,” however, could apply to many of the engagements during the French Wars of Religion and other such religious conflicts.

“And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’ So I answered, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And he said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.’” (Acts 22:7). Those who persecuted the French Huguenots did not realize that, like the Catholics, Protestants too represented Christ. Doctrinal differences aside, harming and imprisoning Protestant believers meant torturing those who lived for Jesus --- and the torturing was done by those who also claimed Christ.

"No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.” (1 John 12:15). Sounds simple, right? However, during the days of the Protestant Reformation and for centuries afterward, men on both sides of the fence adamantly declared that they were Christians and their enemies weren’t. The Huguenots of the St. Bartholomew’s were killed because the Parisian mob thought of them as soulless dissenters. If men of the 16th and 17th centuries would have read the words of Scripture and really internalized them, they would have understood that all men who confess Christ are Christians. Again, many deaths might have been prevented . . .

The last verse to which I opened my Bible was quite meaningful to me, considering the fate many early Protestant believers were forced to undergo. “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you.” (Isaiah 43:2) Some might point out that having faith did not prevent believers from being burned at the stake. Though their testimony did not preserve the body, it preserved the soul. The fact that they were redeemed and that their soul could not be destroyed could very well be an allegory for “when you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned . . .”

Food for thought.

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

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