The Great Controversy: John Wycliff

October 25, 2023

The Great Controversy
John Wycliff

~ Reformation in Europe begins ~

…a 6 minute read

“Before the Reformation there were at times but very few copies of the Bible in existence, but God had not suffered His word to be wholly destroyed. Its truths were not to be forever hidden. He could as easily unchain the words of life as He could open prison doors and unbolt iron gates to set His servants free. In the different countries of Europe men were moved by the Spirit of God to search for the truth as for hid treasures. Providentially guided to the Holy Scriptures, they studied the sacred pages with intense interest. They were willing to accept the light at any cost to themselves. Though they did not see all things clearly, they were enabled to perceive many long-buried truths. As Heaven-sent messengers they went forth, rending asunder the chains of error and superstition, and calling upon those who had been so long enslaved, to arise and assert their liberty.”

Except among the Waldenses, the word of God had for ages been locked up in languages known only to the learned; but the time had come for the Scriptures to be translated and given to the people of different lands in their native tongue. The world had passed its midnight. The hours of darkness were wearing away, and in many lands appeared tokens of the coming dawn.”

In the fourteenth century arose in England the “morning star of the Reformation.”

(internet image)

John Wycliff

~  the herald of reform, not for England alone, but for all Christendom
~ the great protest against Rome which it was permitted him to utter was never to be silenced
~ that protest opened the struggle which was to result in the emancipation of individuals, of churches, and of nations
~ in his thirst for knowledge he sought to become acquainted with every branch of learning
~ he was educated in the scholastic philosophy, in the canons of the church, and in the civil law, especially that of his own country
~ he did not set himself deliberately in opposition to Rome, but his devotion to truth could not but bring him in conflict with falsehood
~ the more clearly he discerned the errors of the papacy, the more earnestly he presented the teaching of the Bible

~ Wycliffe began to write and publish tracts against the (Catholic) friars
~ not seeking so much to enter into dispute with them as to call the minds of the people to the teachings of the Bible
~ Wycliff preached to the poor
~ so faithfully did he present the truth to the students under his instruction, that he received the title of “the gospel doctor.”
~ the greatest work of his life was to be the translation of the Scriptures into the English language

~ Wycliff grew ill, which made the friars happy and eager to hear his confession

“I shall not die, but live; and again declare the evil deeds of the friars.”

~ Wycliff lived to place in the hands of his countrymen the most powerful of all weapons against Rome – to give them the Bible, the Heaven-appointed agent to liberate, enlighten, and evangelize the people
~ the art of printing (printing press) being still unknown, it was only by slow and wearisome labor that copies of the Bible could be multiplied
~ many diligently worked at transcribing it
~ Wycliffe now taught the distinctive doctrines of Protestantism—salvation through faith in Christ, and the sole infallibility of the Scriptures
~ the Roman church did not approve, but at this time there were no laws in England forbidding the written Word

“Again the papal leaders plotted to silence the Reformer’s voice. Before three tribunals he was successively summoned for trial, but without avail. First a synod of bishops declared his writings heretical, and, winning the young king, Richard II, to their side, they obtained a royal decree consigning to prison all who should hold the condemned doctrines.”

~ God had appointed to Wycliffe His work, He had put the word of truth in his mouth, and He set a guard about him that this word might come to the people
~ his life was protected, and his labors were prolonged, until a foundation was laid for the great work of the Reformation
~ the doctrines which had been taught by Wycliffe continued for a time to spread; his followers, known as Wycliffites and Lollards, not only traversed England, but scattered to other lands, carrying the knowledge of the gospel
~ idolatrous symbols of Romanism were removed from the churches
~ the pitiless storm of persecution burst upon those who had dared to accept the Bible as their guide
~ the English monarchs, eager to strengthen their power by securing the support of Rome, did not hesitate to sacrifice the Reformers
~ for the first time in the history of England the stake was decreed against the disciples of the gospel
~ Martyrdom succeeded martyrdom
~ his advocates for truth, proscribed and tortured, could only pour their cries into the ear of the Lord of Sabaoth (bible study tools)
~ hunted as foes of the church and traitors to the realm, they continued to preach in secret places, finding shelter as best they could in the humble homes of the poor, and often hiding away even in dens and caves
~ the Christians of that early time had only a partial knowledge of the truth, but they had learned to love and obey God’s word, and they patiently suffered for its sake

“The papists had failed to work their will with Wycliffe during his life, and their hatred could not be satisfied while his body rested quietly in the grave. By the decree of the Council of Constance, more than forty years after Wycliffe’s death his bones were exhumed and publicly burned, and the ashes were thrown into a neighboring brook. “This brook,” says an old writer, “hath conveyed his ashes into Avon, Avon into Severn, Severn into the narrow seas, they into the main ocean. And thus the ashes of Wycliffe are the emblem of his doctrine, which now is dispersed all the world over.”
~ T. Fuller, Church History of Britain

~ Little did his enemies realize the significance of their malicious act

source: The Great Controversy: John Wycliff

Events covered in this timeline:

  • The Cross (timeline)
  • The Apostles (timeline)
  • Jerusalem destroyed
  • Persecution (first centuries)
  • An era of spiritual darkness begins
  • Reformation in Europe begins
  • The Mayflower

Bible Timelines: The Great Controversy:…

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