An Epistle Written Unto The Christians
A question for the modern Christian: what is the foundation of your faith? Is it not Christ? Paul wrote, “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:11). The reason for the importance of this foundation is that if a man build his life upon nothing, when he falls he will fall on nothing. The lost world builds their foundations upon men, ideas, philosophies, and sciences, but when they fall they find that these foundations cannot hold the weight that they first claimed that they could. The Lord knows this about the wisdom of the world, and so God calls it foolishness.
The lost world has foundations that need to be subverted, but the Christian must not be subverted in their faith. The faith that Christians have in Christ is not only saving faith, but it is God-pleasing faith, for without faith it is impossible to please God.
So why do Christians allow their faith to be subverted? Not only by the cares of this world, but in large part by the hereticks of this world, is a Christian’s faith subverted. The heretick denies that Jesus Christ is of the seed of David, that he was raised from the dead, that for the preaching of the cross of Christ that Christians will suffer persecution and bondage, that brothers and sisters in Christ will endure hardships for each other, that if we are dead with Christ we shall also live with Christ, that if we suffer with Christ we will reign with Christ, that if we deny him he also will deny us, that the Word of God is not bound, and that he cannot deny himself (in whom we are). The heretick denies all these, yet the Lord has told his children to keep these things in remembrance so that the foundations of the world may be subverted. This subversion is accomplished through the preaching of the Word of God, as Paul said that by these things that the Christian must be charged (2 Timothy 2:14).
The preaching of the Word of God is, in the minds of most Christians, a task left for the preacher, on the pulpit, on a Sunday. If one ponders the point of the preaching of God’s word, perhaps they will find it is more than just on a Sunday. God’s word is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness. It is used for exhortation, admonition, encouragement, studying, learning, and growing. When you open up God’s word and desire to be preached to, his word will do just that. And after understanding that it is a spiritual Christian’s job to restore fallen brothers, an understanding for how God’s word is used daily may begin to form. What was the point of the Apostle Paul’s letters to the Churches? He was not at each Church every Sunday, so he preached to them through his letters. The word of God is profitable for the communications that each brother and sister in Christ has with each other, as it is profitable for God to use to preach to each person’s heart.
John Wycliffe was a man of England who lived in the late 1300’s. He preached from the word of God when the rest of the friars, monks, and priests of his day would preach from Catholic fables. God put a burden on his heart to make it possible for English speaking people everywhere to read the Bible, which was a dauntless task to undertake, as the Catholics kept the word of God in Latin, away from the Christian and the lost souls, and they worked to subvert the foundation of Christ instead. Paul wrote about these, “unruly and vain talkers and deceivers…who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake” (Titus 1:10-11). They preached lies for earthly riches, whereas Wycliffe preached truth for the glory of God. Yet they sought to kill him, but could not because of a lack of authority in England, which would change in a matter of a few years. But Wycliffe did lose his prestigious position as a teacher at Oxford, and spent his final years preparing the first complete English translation of God’s word.
Wycliffe also had much to say on the subject of preaching. Wycliffe believed that the preaching of God’s word, “Breaks our heart through fear [Jeremiah 23:29 Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?]…it crushes through sorrow [Psalm 51:17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.]…it melts through love [Song of Solomon 5:6 I opened to my beloved; but my beloved had withdrawn himself, and was gone: my soul failed when he spake: I sought him, but I could not find him; I called him, but he gave me no answer.]…it draws upward through desire beyond the hardness of heart [Song of Solomon 1:4 Draw me, we will run after thee: the king hath brought me into his chambers: we will be glad and rejoice in thee, we will remember thy love more than wine: the upright love thee.]… it drinks in through delight [Psalm 77:3 I remembered God, and was troubled: I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed. Selah].. .it gives life through inspiration [John 5:25 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.]…it heals the sick [Psalm 107:20 He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.]…it cuts off diseased limbs and inflicts wounds in order to save [Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.]… [and] it illuminates so that the splinters of sin might be seen [Psalm 119:105 Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path]” (Cangelosi, 199)
The word of God does all this, yet we desire to reserve the preaching of it for just one day a week? Paul had said, “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Timothy 4:2). Will you reject the preaching of God’s word that may come from a brother or sister in Christ? Many may complain about “harsh” or “judgmental” preaching, but knowing the judgements of God is better than walking in the ignorance of satan.
Finally brethren, do not entangle yourselves in the affairs of the hereticks, for they themselves are subverted and condemned of themselves. Hold fast to that which is true, and do not reject the preaching of God’s word, whether it be from your Pastor on Sunday, from your Christian friends or family, or from a donkey (as you run to ally yourself with the princes of this world). Hearing God’s word, and by God’s strength, you will let go of the foundations of the doctrines of men, and fall instead on Christ, who is the firm foundation indeed.
The Lord Jesus Christ be with thy spirit. Grace be with you. Amen.
Citation: Cangelosi, Caleb. “The Mouth of the Morningstar: John Wycliffe’s Preaching and the ProtestantReformation.” Puritan Reformed Journal, vol. 6, no. 2, pp. 187-215.http://web.a.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.regent.edu:2048/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=12&sid=0bdc2e12-462d-428e-bad5-186e1987c0fe%40sdc-v-sessmgr01. Accessed 21 Jun 2020.
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