Young people, are you ashamed that our churches are small and seemingly insignificant? You need not be! Consider for a moment the men of the Reformation in whose footsteps we follow and upon whose spiritual shoulders we build our truth.
Black was the age into which young John Wycliffe was born. The centuries preceding his birth were deemed by some “The Dark Ages,” and by others “The Devil’s Millennium.” Almighty God now called an end to the Dark One’s Millennium. On the ecclesiastical horizon appeared “The Morning Star of the Reformation.”
Wise parents early directed young Wycliffe to seek a Church career. His academic life at Oxford was stupendous; his talents for reasoning abundant; and his faith in the Scriptures was invincible. Endowed with these gifts he single-handedly proceeded to remonstrate with his Church peers and superiors. Remonstration led to conflict.
Through theological conflict God’s people are drawn closer to His Precious Word.
Wycliffe was no exception, but he wanted others to feel the same nearness. He, therefore, resolved, “I will fill England with light.” Within a short time he translated into English the New Testament, and revised the Old Testament previously translated by Dr. Nicholas de Herefore. England was truly filled with Light—Heavenly Light!
Though burdened with the great work of translating, he never neglected his pastoral calling, for Chaucer writes of him:
“Wide was his parish—houses far asunder—
But he neglected nought for rain or thunder,
In sickness and in grief to visit all
The farthest in parish, great and small.
He was a shepherd, and no mercenary.
And though he holy was and virtuous,
He was to sinful men most piteous.
A better parson there was nowhere seen.”
Wycliffe had some co-workers, but his Bohemian predecessor, and counterpart, John Huss, had none. Talk about standing alone against horrible and wicked odds, Huss did! Alone he protested vigorously against the Pope’s legate who sold indulgences in Prague. Alone he stood before the mocking and raucous Council of Constance. Alone he burned at stake! But not alone did he pass through the valley of the shadow of death!
Across the Ore Mountains to the north-west of Bohemia lies Germany, the home of the arch Reformer, Martin Luther. A frugal almost destitute childhood, stern academic career, and deep and searching heart and mind made this roust German a formidable foe against the Church of Rome.
He was never ashamed of smallness because he knew that the faith which God had freely given to him could defeat any foe, for alone he stood before the Diet of Worms, and declared: “I can neither, nor dare retract anything, for my conscience is captive to the Word of God.” With great boldness he could say with Isaiah of old:
“Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the Lord Jehovah is strength and my song: he has also become my salvation.” Isaiah 12:2
To the south of Germany in Switzerland sat an ectomorphic young cleric in his garret laboriously but lucidly penning the truths of the Reformation. Did he sit back and think “Oh, I am so small; I can’t do anything”; or “Our movement is so small; we can’t undertake such a venture.” No, indeed not! He saw his Master, Redeemer, and Lord to be so great that every moment of his time must be spent in proclaiming His truth. For was not all glory to go God: Soli Deo Gloria!
Although the men of the Reformation stood alone, rejected, mocked, and persecuted by the church world of their time, they never once hesitated to the will of God. They felt divinely compelled to proclaim the truths of God’s Word far and wide. They saw all else as trivial and for the moment. Calvin, for example, said that he would cross a thousand seas to discuss the truths of the Reformation with others. In this same spirit we, as children of the Reformation, must proclaim God’s truth to an apostatizing church today. No matter how big or small our churches are be able to say with the Apostle Paul, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ.” We have that Gospel, do not be ashamed of it!