“I have served Him for eighty-six years and He has never done me any wrong. Why then should I blaspheme against my King and Saviour?…I bless thee for deigning me worthy of this day and this hour that I may be among Thy martyrs and drink of the cup of my Lord Jesus Christ…”
Polycarp’s answer when he was put on trial by the Romans and an excerpt of his final prayer on the burning stake
Source: Portraits of Faithful Saints by Prof. Herman Hanko
“My lady, the good cause for which I suffer and the good conscience God has given me make my bread sweeter and my sleep sounder than those of my persecutors. It is guilt that makes a chain heavy. Innocence makes my chains light. I glory in them as my badges of honor.”
Source: Hanko, H. (1999). Portaits of Faithful Saints. Jenison: Reformed Free Publish- ing Association. Retrieved from Reformed Free Publishing Association: http://www.prca.org/books/portraits/debres.htm
“Unless I am refuted and convicted by testimonies of the Scriptures or by clear arguments (since I believe neither the Pope nor the councils alone; it being evident that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am conquered by the Holy Scriptures quoted by me, and my conscience is bound in the word of God: I can not and will not recant any thing, since it is unsafe and dangerous to do anything against the conscience. Here I stand. I can not do otherwise. God help me! Amen.”
This is an extremely important topic as it is the key idea of the Protestant Reformation during the 16th century. Martin Luther established many important and fundamental truths for church life and church government, as well as directions and guidance for the Christian home. Luther stood firmly on the authority of Scripture (being the gift of God) as the absolute rule in church confession and daily Christian living. However, this is being systematically denied and rejected, both by Reformed and Presbyterian churches today. Scripture brought tears to believers and theologians at the time of the Reformation but people now make Scripture a toy, less than what God intended it to be for the church.
One of the powerful enemies that held Europe in its grip was the Renaissance. It came and swept through Europe, causing many to be led away from the truth. Renaissance ideas denied that man needed the Scripture and taught that man stood as king in the centre of the universe and that he was in full control of his own life. The Renaissance focussed on human reasoning while the Reformed faith rested on Faith alone (Sola Fide). Another threat was the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church itself. It taught that Mary was sinless and that she ascended to heaven without dying. Renaissance gradually became the mother of modern philosophy; Scripture is no longer needed as we are capable of studying all things ourselves and reason with it. Theism, a system of thoughts which believe that God is the creator but denies sin, atonement, and providence has become part and parcel of conservative Christianity.
Many churches today are gradually plagued by the belief that scripture has both a divine and human element and so is tainted and influenced by human writers. Higher critics who try to tear God’s Word apart and try to interpret God’s Word through man’s view ultimately deny the authority of scripture. What is your view on the Scriptures? We can do nothing apart from the Scriptures!
In Part 2 of the lecture, Professor Hanko talks about the Comforter. Christ promised to send the comforter to the distressed disciples at the last supper, and assured them that He would be with them to the end of the world. The comforter came through the Holy Spirit, that is, the spirit of truth. We have greater blessings today than the disciples had at that time because His spirit dwells in the church forever. The Spirit of Truth is also known as ‘the subject of truth’. There is no other way to know the truth other than through the Holy Spirit. He will teach us all truth and comfort us in all sorrow and trouble. He knows all the minute details of the elect, and will search out his elect in the remotest parts of the world. He brings to them the scripture through the power of the exalted Christ to salvation and faith in Jesus Christ. In this way, His elect are given the knowledge of truth. The wicked has no knowledge of truth because they hate and despise the truth. Only through the Holy Spirit is the hardened heart changed and renewed, and willing to follow the Saviour and surrender his life to Him. Only through the scriptures is the truth revealed. The devil cunningly robs the church of its truth through subtle heresies, coupled with materialism and worldliness, causing the church to fall. However, there is always the remnant that God preserves through history. There is no room for tolerance of and compromise with heresies. It is therefore the calling of the church of Jesus Christ to develop the truth. Many churches today are not strong enough to do it because they are not willing to read theological books and thus lose their way through confusion. What our church teaches is nothing new and, more than ever, we need to maintain what our forefathers have taught as the Comforter guides us along.
Written by: Yeong Kah Pik | Issue 6