If you have been a following my content for some time, you will know that I identify as Black British . There are many things that are equated with British culture such as; discussing the temperament of the weather, having a cheeky Nando’s (this is still possible with a vegan diet), a love for crumpets, queuing and complaining. I have been blessed to have visited a few countries and I can honestly say the British are amongst the ‘naggest’ nation (there must be a statistic to confirm the latter). From tardy buses to displeasure with council tax rates the Brits love a good old complaint (me included).
However, though Great Britannia may grumble she has been part of several poignant and pivotal events that have changed the world. John Knox, Charles and John Wesley were men that changed the Christian frame work.
Knox was amongst those who pioneered the protestant reformation in the UK. The Protestant reformation was a period where some spoke out against the oppression, blasphemy and apostasy within the Catholic church. Many of the reformers had strong links with the catholic faith and some were previously devout Catholics.
However, the change came for many when they had studied the Bible for themselves (this is not encouraged in the Catholic faith) and compared what was said in the Word of God with the teachings of the Catholic faith.
Catholic theology teaches the act of penance. This is an outward act of repentance for sin, the church believes it is the only way wrongdoing can be forgiven. The act of penance can involve confession to a priest, so sin can be forgiven. This act is against the teachings of the Bible, only the Lord God can forgive sin.
"5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee. 6 But there was certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts, 7 Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only? 8 And immediately when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, he said unto them, Why reason ye these things in your hearts? 9 Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk? 10 But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,)” - Mark 2:5-10 King James Version (KJV)
It is blasphemy against God for a human to claim they have the authority to forgive sins. Sin can only be forgiven by the Lord God. The scribes referred to in the verse, did not understand that Jesus (who is God in the flesh) had the capability to forgive sins. “the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins” why? Because Jesus is God.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. John 1:1,14.
3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.
The act of penance to a priest cannot cause for sins to be forgiven. Only confession to God himself can do that.
The act of penance often involves what is known as indulgence this involves doing some form of good work (typically monetary) " to reduce the amount of punishment one has to undergo for sins."- Peters, 2008. In short, indulgence involves paying or partaking in a certain act for your sins to be forgiven.This is another doctrine that is not supported by the Bible and was one Knox highly critiqued and one the Wesleys referenced.
“17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. 22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?”- James 2:17, 22. The Catholic church puts great emphasis that salvation may be received through works only. Paying indulgence, saying specific prayers or visiting a certain location does not justify someone’s right to salvation. We are justified by faith! It is the combination of faith and works that allows us access to salvation. “Wesley's life was devoted to the preaching of the great truths which he had received,—justification through faith in the atoning blood of Christ, and the renewing power of the Holy Spirit upon the heart, bringing forth fruit in a life conformed to the example of Christ.”- GC P. 256
The reformers steadfastness and diligence in preaching the truth meant many where able to come out from the oppression of the Catholic church. They enlightened the masses through the Word of God and went on to change the world.
Surely, the modern Christian world could do the same? We could BUT…
Why is it that anytime someone suggests change there are often met with a response that mentions the word BUT? We could do this but… When I look at the early church that did not allow the doubters of their time to hinder the work that God had instructed them to do. Many like Knox and the Wesley brothers saw issues and addressed them. Knox saw the issues within the Catholic faith and pointed out ways to resolve these problems. He did not sit idly and wait for another to address the problem. He was a problem solver. Diligence when it came to the things of God meant he changed the nation of Scotland. Prior to the reformation the nation of Scotland was equated with ‘backwardness’. However, the influence of the protestant reformation reversed this.
What are some of the issues in your church? What are you going to do to solve them? Christianity must involve both faith and works. There are many in church sitting on ideas that could influence the masses and lead to a modern reformation. But the problem is many are sitting and not taking the stand to make a difference!
So let us assume you want to stake a stand and find ways to improve of the church, where do you start?
I would suggest prayer make sure that it is from God. There are some who think God is leading when this is not the case.
God’s name should be glorified. Ask yourself will God’s name be glorified or is this just an opportunity to ‘big self up’?
Set out a plan. This could be a simple as writing the idea down and adding a date when you want to execute it.
The men referenced in this post took a stand and provided solutions to problems. Will you choose to do the same?
“The greatest want of the world is the want of men - men who will not be bought or sold; men who in their inmost souls are true and honest; men who do not fear to call sin by its right name; men whose conscience is as true to duty as the needle to the pole; men who will stand for the right though the heavens fall.” - Ellen WhiteChallenge: go and read the chapter 'Late English Reformers (Chapter 14)' in The Great Controversy Here , Listen or Buy
A Modern Guide to Indulgences: Rediscovering this Often Misinterpreted Teaching Edward Peters Hillenbrand Books, 30 Jun 2008 - Religion - 115 pages
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