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A Dark Night And Two Morning Stars Part 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
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June 2, 2023 1:00 am

A Dark Night And Two Morning Stars Part 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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June 2, 2023 1:00 am

The Reformation had many heroes. The early Reformers opposed church corruption, provided a new edition of the Greek, and opposed rampant sensuality. In this message, we meet Jan Hus, Erasmus, and Savonarola. For defying the church of their day, they would pay for it dearly. 

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Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. The Reformation had many heroes.

Last time we met John Wycliffe. Today we'll meet Jan Hus, a man in Prague who defied the church of his day and paid for it by being burned at the stake. Stay with us for more of The Reformation, then and now. From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, we don't see many champions of the faith these days like those who gave their lives for the Gospel centuries ago.

You know, Dave, we're living at a time when many Christians believe that it is unthinkable that they should suffer for the Gospel. But there was a time in church history where you had many heroes. John Hus is one that we'll be talking about, but of course also Martin Luther, Wycliffe, and others. And these men are oftentimes thought today to be judgmental, which they were, but it was an era in which judgments needed to be made. How we look back and we admire them, and their decisions impacted us. I've written a book entitled Rescuing the Gospel, the Story and the Significance of the Reformation. It's been an interest of mine for many years. Here's what you can do.

Go to or call us at 1-888-218-9337. But as for right now, I want you to hear a remarkable story about a remarkable man. Wycliffe himself was slated to be killed, but he collapsed while speaking and died in 1384. But 33 years after his death, his bones were dug up because of the superstitious belief that if his bones were dug up and thrown away, he would not be resurrected and the bones were destroyed and thrown into the Swift River. But one historian said this, the Swift River flows into the Avon and the Avon eventually flows into the Severn, which flows into the Bristol Channel and then to the oceans of the world. Thus the rivers symbolize the fact that the teaching of Wycliffe and the Bible he popularized impacted the entire world. Well that's one morning star of the Reformation.

Now let me introduce you to another, and I enjoy talking about both of these men. And this man's name is also John, John Hus, H-U-S, 1372 to 1415. He was born of poor parents in Bohemia. Bohemia is what we used to call Czechoslovakia and today we call it the Czech Republic. How many of you have ever been to Prague? Anybody here Prague? One of the most beautiful cities in the world. It's a city of cathedrals.

What a gorgeous place to be. Well that's the place where John Hus served. In accordance with the wishes of his mother, he trained for the priesthood and then attended the University of Prague and later on he taught there. Now here is the impact of John Hus. First of all, let me say here's the impact of Wycliffe. Wycliffe's ideas became popular in England. Wycliffe wrote a lot, popularized the Bible, but also his writings became popular.

And what happened is this. Charles IV, who was the Holy Roman Emperor, who established the university in Prague in 1348, had a daughter, Anne, who married King Richard of England. And after her marriage, a number of Czechs, a number of people from Bohemia, went to England to study. So this meant that there was a good relationship between the two countries and therefore the writings of Wycliffe were being read in Prague and that's where Hus learned of Wycliffe and that's where Hus picked up the ideas of the Reformation. Now unfortunately the writings of Wycliffe were burned there in Prague and therefore Hus became identified with a very unpopular movement.

But Hus attacked these ideas. First of all, the notion that the priest had special powers that were not available to the common person. He held to transubstantiation. In other words, he did not agree with Wycliffe on that point, but he also believed that the cup should be given to the laity. In those days, the cup was drunk only by the priest because of the fear of spilling the blood of Jesus Christ on the floor and the fear of knowing how to relate to the actual blood of Jesus Christ.

Various theories developed that one should fast and so forth before one has the body and the blood of Jesus Christ ingested into their system. So he attacked the notion that the cup should be withheld from the laity. And he also agreed that clerical corruption was rampant and needed to be reformed. Simony, he preached against it. Like Wycliffe, he argued that the Bible alone was the basis for spiritual authority and not the church or councils or traditions.

And if the Bible is sufficient for spiritual guidance, it should be available to everyone. Ruling at that time in Prague was King Wenceslas. I always have a difficulty pronouncing his name, but you know the king who went on the Feast of Stephen. In fact, actually it was one of his predecessors, King Wenceslas. And the King, the Feast of Stephen, by the way, is the 26th of December.

And you all know the story of how he went out and he was very, very helpful to people. Well, this king became a friend of Hus and Hus was allowed to preach in Bethlehem Chapel. Now he was excommunicated by the present archbishop who burned 200 volumes of Wycliffe's work. You know, my heart almost stops at that point because remember every one of these volumes was hand copied. After Gutenberg, that wouldn't have been too big a deal. Can you imagine the amount of work that went into it and yet these works of Wycliffe were burned. Hus and his followers defended Wycliffe on many points.

And here you have a lot of intrigue. And I'm going to skip all of the political aspects of this and what really happened except to say that eventually Hus was condemned by the church and the city of Prague was put under an interdict. Now if you don't know the meaning of that word, it is absolutely critical that you do. An interdict meant that no religious ceremonies at all could take place in the city. No mass, no baptisms, no weddings, and no funerals. And if you believe that the priests held in their hands your eternal salvation and you needed the last rites for example to get to heaven, you can understand that in effect an interdict meant that all the people of Prague were being condemned to hell. The church wasn't functioning. Well as a result of that there was a tremendous backlash against Hus and he left. He left the city and he wrote two of his most important books. One is entitled The Church and the other is entitled Simonie as he spoke about that abuse. Now I am hurrying very very quickly.

Let me tell you the story. Hus eventually is invited to the Council of Constance in 1415. Now remember this the Council of Constance was called to end the Great Schism. It was called to put an end to the scandal of having three popes reigning simultaneously. And Sigismund who was a brother to King Wenceslas, Sigismund the emperor said to Hus I will guarantee you safe conduct to the council and back. No matter how they rule against you, you can come.

Hus went. It is said that when he went through Germany and Constance is in Germany, he was hailed a hero in all the towns as he went along because you can understand that there was a great deal of interest in reform. He gets there, he is imprisoned, he is not allowed to defend himself. He is accused of silly things like saying that he was the fourth member of the Trinity. But more than that he was asked to recant all kinds of stuff he never did believe and so his point was why should I recant that which I never believed. And there were so many things that were taken out of context and twisted.

But I am going to read you now a page and I want you to listen. Finally on July 6th, 1415, the day of his burning came. He was brought into the cathedral where King Sigismund was dressed in full regalia sitting on the throne. The charges against Hus were summarized. He asked if he could defend himself and to clarify he was told to be quiet. He was asked to stand on a table. He was mocked and cursed. They placed on his head a tall paper crown on which were painted three devils fighting for the possession of his soul. The bishops committed his soul to the devil. He replied and I committed to the most merciful Jesus Christ. Thereupon Sigismund asked that he be turned over to the executioners.

On the way to the place of execution he saw a bonfire of his books. He laughed and told the bystanders not to believe the lies that were being told about him. When he arrived at the place he knelt and prayed. He for the last time was asked whether he would recant and he replied, God is my witness that the evidence against me is false.

I have never thought or preached except with one intention of winning men if possible from their sins. In the truth of the gospel I have written taught and preached and today I will gladly die. They disrobed him, tied his hands behind his back, they bound his neck to the stake with a rusty chain. He commented with a smile that his savior had been bound by a heavier chain. When the fire was lit, Huss began to sing Christ thou son of the living God have mercy on us.

Then Christ thou son of the living God have mercy on me. He began a prayer he did not finish for the wind blew the flame into his face and Huss was burned. As many of you know I have more than simply a passing interest in the reformation and one day my wife and I were actually able to drive to Constance. We went to Europe before the tour group came and we saw the stone upon which Huss is burned. It is there as a memorial on this stone Huss was burned.

I assume that it is a legitimate identification of the place. Now that's the end of Huss. In the Czech language Huss means goose. So before he died he said you can cook this goose or you can kill this goose and in a hundred years a swan shall arise. Did you know that a swan is actually a symbol of the reformation? I have been in the room in which Martin Luther died and on the table there is a swan.

In a hundred years a swan shall arise. Now just think 1415 Huss dies at the stake. A hundred and two years later 1517 Martin Luther nails his 95 theses at the door of the castle church in Wittenberg. Luther goes to a debate in Leipzig and they accuse him of being a Hussite. He said no but during the lunch hour he was able to go to the library there in Leipzig and check out what Huss wrote. They had some of his books and after checking them out over a period of hours he said I am an Hussite indeed.

Huss spoke against indulgences. He spoke about justification by faith. Luther admitted that he was a Hussite. He also said regarding Huss they cooked that goose and today we still have the expression don't we we say you know they really cooked his goose. You have Martin Luther to thank for that and John Huss the goose that was cooked. Oh the impact of his death. The impact of his death was great and what happened is people began to follow him and then you think about the fact that the reform movements especially in Bohemia especially began to gather steam because after all they had a martyr and people were angry with the church putting John Huss to death and burning him at the stake. Well those are the two morning stars of the Reformation but I'm not done yet.

I have two more to tell you about. One was Erasmus. Erasmus was the product of a relationship between a nun and a priest. His parents were not married. Brilliant.

Brilliant. He was a humanist but in a good sense. He remained in the Catholic Church but he made a great deal of fun about the abuses.

By fun I mean that was his means of ridiculing the church to point out abuses. He also gave the world a new edition of the Greek New Testament and that Greek New Testament showed that the Latin translations that had been used were wrong. You know the Latin said do penance for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Do penance for the kingdom of heaven is at hand?

Ah they looked at the Greek. Repent. Have a penitent heart for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

What a difference that is. So he gave the New Testament a new addition to the world. In fact you know what historians say Erasmus laid the egg and Luther hatched it. Now Luther and Erasmus did not get along.

They never did meet each other. Erasmus wrote a book on the freedom of the will and Luther thundered back by what he believed to be his best book the bondage of the will. I've had the privilege of reading both of those books and writing about that issue. Very interesting indeed. In fact if you want to know what Erasmus believed it's a little difficult to find out because he said some weird things along with all of his brilliance.

In fact Luther said regarding Erasmus he is an eel only God can catch him he said and a lot of very uncomplimentary things. One more reformer Savanarola. We were in Florence a few years ago and we were in the great cathedrals there but what I wanted to do is to stand where Savanarola was hung. So there in the town square right beside the fountain step back about 20 to 30 feet and there's a plaque right in the where you walk the town square it says here Savanarola died. Nobody in Italy wants to remember Savanarola.

Nobody they say could we please forget him. Savanarola was an interesting guy as were all the reformers. He attacked the abuses of corruption and what he did is they would have carnivals there with all kinds of lewd things. Don't ask me what those things were I have no idea but he began to send boys he trained boys to run and to find lewd books and all kinds of things that were improper and then he had a big bonfire which he called the burning the bonfire of the vanities. Now years ago I understand that there was a movie by that title I never did see the movie but the bonfire the vanities that's Savanarola and he would make piles of this stuff and burn it and he would preach with such power that 10,000 people would come to hear him at a time and he preached against the papacy and the corruption and so forth got in trouble and then claimed to be a prophet made some predictions that didn't come true and had a really really bad ending.

You want to hear about it? You have enough time tonight just for me to tell you how Savanarola ended okay here's the deal. The idea arose that in order to prove that he's a true prophet and that he's of God he should be able to walk through fire and not get burned. Sort of a crazy idea but we're living in a day of superstition okay. So he decides that he's going to take the challenge. He's going to walk through fire. Well the problem was that people said oh you're too important you're a famous reformer you shouldn't walk through fire. Here's here's somebody here's a Franciscan over here he's volunteering to walk through the fire for you. So Savanarola agreed that he'd have somebody else walk through the fire for him.

Seemed to be a nice arrangement for him. Then they piled all of this wood together and and the crowd was just growing by the moment the the burning was supposed to take place at about noon and people were just crowding. I mean it was theater at its best and here a big argument arose as to whether or not the man who was going to represent Savanarola in walking through the fire whether or not he could wear the vestments of the clergy whether or not he could have a cross and so forth to help him and a huge argument erupted and it wasn't resolved and wouldn't you know it rain started and the whole thing got rained out. People were so angry after all they had come to see Savanarola burn or become the asbestos kid one or the other and and they became so angry and they were angry with him because the pope wanted to have an interdict on their city because of him that he was later taken and he along with two or three of his friends was beheaded in the town square right where you can see today a monument to him on the pavement Savanarola was hung here. So many lessons that Savanarola teaches us for example he was against the renaissance he preached against it he preached against Michelangelo he and Michelangelo knew each other and Savanarola believed that the renaissance was essentially sensual because of its nude paintings and the art and so forth so he took all of that on he was a great social reformer unfortunately though he understood the gospel with clarity he did not preach the gospel it was more of a social reform. There's maybe a lesson to be learned there we can clean up America but if we don't have a gospel that transforms people's hearts maybe our efforts are going to be wrong-headed because the impact of Savanarola simply did not last was not at all like the reformation under Luther. Couple of observations first of all what these four reformers show us is this that the church the medieval church really could not be reformed and the reason is that whenever you have a reform movement the church stepped in and squelched it gave an interdict put people under pressure it was so corrupt and so entrenched with power it was beyond repair. I know that that's a very strong indictment but I do believe that it is true and that's why we needed a reformation we needed to break from official Christendom which had become corrupt and the gospel was lost in the midst of traditions. Now in my opinion the reformation didn't do all that it should have done but it certainly set the course for the next several hundred years as we think about the bible being restored to its rightful place and as we begin to think about the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. Now you as a believer would profit from knowing who the players were what they believed their mistakes their strengths and at the same time to understand the connection between the 16th century and our own. I've written a book entitled Rescuing the Gospel the Story and the Significance of the Reformation. In it I discuss not only the various players but also the doctrines the controversies to try to help us to understand how precious the gospel of Jesus Christ really is. For a gift of any amount this book can be yours here's what you do go to that's or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Your children need stories of heroism we need to be able to teach our children about those who have gone before us and the tremendous price they paid for the truth and then we have to ask ourselves are we willing to pay the same price. Here's what you do go to or call us right now at 1-888-218-9337 the title of the book Rescuing the Gospel. You can write to us at Running to Win 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard Chicago Illinois 60614. Next time we'll trace further the story of Jan Hus and other pre-reformers Erasmus and Savanarola and focus on the lessons we can learn from John Wycliffe and all the early reformers of the medieval church. Thanks for listening for Pastor Erwin Lutzer this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-02 03:34:18 / 2023-06-02 03:42:33 / 8

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