Sir John Oldcastle — from Foxe’s Book of Martyrs

After John Wickliffe, the battle against the evil Pope of Rome, which they regarded as the great Antichrist of Europe, came to Sir John Oldcastle, knight, Lord Cobham, leader of the Lollards. The king at first supported him in his beliefs, but soon he gave into the church and insisted that Lord Cobham go to the Pope and be corrected.

So he submitted himself and was fully examined in what he and his brethren, the Lollards believed. And, as it was also with John Wickliffe, he spoke straight out boldly, even to call the Pope the Antichrist! So, he explained both how he believed and also how he did not believe in many of the doctrines of the Pope (the church at that time).

They required him to speak concerning four points: 1) On the sacraments; 2) on the need to join the Catholic church; 3) that the power of the Papacy was given to the church by St. Peter; and 4) on the requirement to go on a pilgrimage to view holy places, relics, and images, etc. To all these four points Lord Cobham gave them the wrong answer, but instead said that he saw no commandment of God in the Scriptures concerning any of those points. He also said, “I will no otherwise believe in these points than what I have told you here before. Do with me what you will.”

And with that answer the archbishop stood and read a bill of his condemnation. They charged that he was a heretic in his own person as well as a heretic of the church of Rome. They also denounced as many as were in favour of him and defended him.

To that condemnation Lord Cobham responded “with a most cheerful countenance:”

Though ye judge my body, which is but a wretched thing, yet am I certain and sure, that ye can do no harm to my soul, no more than could Satan unto the soul of Job.

Then, because of Lord Cobham’s good response, they feared that maybe they were too cruel in the eyes of the people and the king, so they gathered together to make him look bad. Well, after one false accusation did not work, they tried another. They set out to bring a pack of lies about him to the king and so to set the king against him. And it worked.

And so, the true Christians were betrayed both by the church of Rome and also by the king. And as it happened, the king ordered that all who read the Scriptures according to Wickliffe’s translation, would forfeit land, cattle, body, life and goods forever. And so, they were condemned as heretics and as enemies to the crown. And if they would not repent and recant, they would suffer death by hanging for treason against the king, and then be burned for heresy against God.

So, as it was, many of the Lollards did suffer cruel death. But many fled out of the land and to other countries. Lord Cobham also escaped and fled into Wales. But after four years they found him and brought him back to London. There he had his Arms bound behind him; and after he fell down upon his knees, he in prayer forgave his enemies; and then he stood and exhorted them in a godly manner to follow the laws of God. He was then hanged by the middle and also was consumed alive in fire. And all the while he was praising the name of God as long as his life lasted.

My Comments

As I thought about how the Papacy set out to make themselves look good and to make Lord Cobham look bad with lies, I thought about how this also happened at our Lord’s trial. It was the same. And it was by the same Pharisees. But it is also being done today. There are many evil doers like the Clinton’s and like the Obama’s and like the Biden’s. They are constantly telling lies in order to make themselves look good and others look bad. Yes, it is interesting how evil is repeated over and over again through the centuries. And it is so interesting how those in high positions take such great pains to plot their evil schemes. It was done many centuries ago, and it is still being done today. I think how President Trump was plotted against, saying that he was aided by Russia. And then, the latest and most damaging evil scheme is the voting fraud. And it seems that there is nothing stopping it—because there are so many ways that this evil is being done: by rigging the voting machines, by not counting votes, by duplicating votes, by counting the votes of the dead, by discarding ballots, etc.

And soon we will see true Christians being tormented and martyred just as was done in Rome and then by the church. Well, it is being done in some countries now by Muslims. But soon it will be done world-wide by the state and the church, by the Antichrist and also by the false church. Yes, as soon as the true church is taken up to God, these things will begin. I think this evil action is closer to us than we think.

John Wickliffe — from Foxe’s Book of Martyrs

As mentioned in my last post on this subject, Constantine the Great stopped the persecutions for 1,000 years until John Wickliffe. However, it was through the doings of Constantine that the church became corrupted by the Romans as they successfully mixed the church with the evil Roman government (as they were corrupted by Babylonian influence by which much idolatry was introduced).

So it was, with this background, John Wickliffe came on the scene. This biblical scholar from England, the Lord raised up to detect and combat all the Pope’s false doctrine. Indeed, he had a challenge since the Pope managed to keep the true gospel and all of the bible out of the hands of the people. They did know the name of Christ, but they knew nothing of the apostle’s doctrine, such as justification by faith, the liberty of the Christian, the strength of sin, etc. Instead, the Pope’s main teaching was of ceremonies and traditions.

So it was, seemingly, that John Wickliffe alone took great pains to protest this false teaching of the Pope openly in the schools. And he was somewhat supported by the King—at least at first.

Oh, Wickliffe was a bold fellow, not afraid of the Papacy in the least. Here are a few points of Wickliffe’s sermons:

  • The holy eucharist is not the very body of Christ.
  • The church of Rome is not the head of all churches.
  • The Gospel is a rule sufficient of itself, without any other rule.
  • The Pope ought not to have prisons to punish transgressors.

Wickliffe, for his sermons, was commanded by the bishops to keep silence, but it was written that “he burst out afterward much more fiercely.” And he for his boldness got “the goodwill and favour of certain noblemen… [and] the common people.”

Then, in 1377, Pope Gregory, sent a letter (a bull) to the university of Oxford (where Wickliffe arrived from and taught at) and rebuked them for putting up with the teachings of Wickliffe. His words were quite fierce against Wickliffe: that he made “erroneous and false propositions…savoring even of heretical pravity, tending to weaken and overthrow the status of the whole church…” So, they were told, “By our authority you seize or cause to be seized the said John.” And then another letter was sent that he should be warned by public citation to appear before the Pope to be admonished.

Well, as it happened, by the miraculous grace of God, John Wickliffe managed to escape out of the bishops’ hands, by the aid one time of a great earthquake, and a second time by a lightning strike.

But yet, the Archbishop of Canterbury ordered a mandate against John Wickliffe that he was forbidden to preach “his heresies” against the church. But at the same time the chancellor in Oxford favoured Wickliffe and said that he was a good and innocent man. And so, it went like that back and forth.

Well, as it happened Wickliffe was secretly kept safe from the Pope and he died an old man. Yet he was declared a heretic and was cursed by the holy catholic church. And they set out to find his body and to burn his bones, but they could not find him; so they burned the bones of another man instead and said it was John Wickliffe.

Wickliffe became the father and leader of all those true Christians who would follow him. And though he was not martyred, all that followed him were martyred, as the Popes became more and more evil and not willing that any would escape from their grasp.

Foxe’s Book of Martyrs: Ignatius and Blandina

Foxe’s Book of Martyrs: About Ignatius and Blandina

Ignatius, the bishop of Antioch after Peter, was sent to Rome to be devoured by wild beasts. But before he arrived “he wrote to the church of Rome not to try to deliver him lest they should deprive him of that which he longed and hoped for.” He said,

‘I care for nothing, of visible or invisible things, so that I may but win Christ. Let fire and the cross, let the companies of wild beasts, let breaking of bones and tearing of limbs, let the grinding of the whole body, and all the malice of the devil, come upon me; be it so, only may I win Christ Jesus!’ And even when he was sentenced to be thrown to the beasts, such was the burning desire that he had to suffer, that he spake, what time he heard the lions roaring, saying, ‘I am the wheat of Christ: I am going to be ground with teeth of wild beasts, that I may be found pure bread.’

A noble woman, Blandina, it was said,

Was endued with so much fortitude that those who successively tortured her from morning to night were quite worn out with fatigue, owned themselves conquered and exhausted of their whole apparatus of tortures, and were amazed to see her still breathing whilst her body was torn and laid open. The blessed woman recovered fresh vigor in the act of confession…

Blandina, suspended from a stake, was exposed as food to the wild beasts; she was seen suspended in the form of a cross and employed in vehement supplication. The sight inspired her fellow-combatants with much alacrity, while they beheld with their bodily eyes, in the person of their sister, the figure of Him who was crucified for them. None of the beasts at that time touched her: [so]she was taken down from the stake and thrown again into prison. Weak and contemptible as she might be deemed, yet when clothed with Christ, the mighty and invincible champion, she became victorious over the enemy…

After she had endured stripes, the tearing of the beasts, and the iron chair, she was enclosed in a net, and thrown to a bull; and having been tossed some time by the animal…

It was written that she was “rejoicing and triumphing in her exit, as if invited to a marriage supper.”

There were many more martyrs with wonderful stories of great strength in their faith, who rejoiced greatly in their suffering for Christ. A few names are these: Lawrence, Alban of England and Romanus who sang songs as he was whipped.

When Constantine came to power (A.D. 306-337), he stopped the persecutions and for the next one-thousand years there were no more martyrs until the time of John Wickliffe. This you may think was wonderful news, however, it was terribly detrimental to the church, as I will point out next time.

Foxe’s Book of Martyrs: The First Christian Martyrs

The most brutal emperor was Domitius Nero. It was he that slew most of the Roman senators and it was he that commanded Rome to be set on fire; and then he laid the blame on Christian men and caused them to be persecuted.

At that time of Nero, he was so enraged with Christians that a person might see cities full of dead, naked bodies lying in the streets with no regard to sex; there were men, women and even children cast out naked in the streets. Many in those days thought that he was the antichrist (Many even today think that he was the antichrist—but we know that he is yet to come and with even more rage.)

After that, about 40 years after the death of Christ, Titus slew many thousands of Jews. Also, 17,000 were sold as slaves and about 2,000 were brought to Rome to be devoured by wild beasts in the coliseum.

I will give the names of a few prominent martyrs. Stephen was the first, then James and Thomas, then Simon the brother of Jude, then Mark and Andrew.

Andrew it was said was very steadfast as he went to die on a cross. His body fainted not, nor did his understanding fail him. And with a very clear and kind voice he said,

“O cross, most welcome and long looked for! With a willing mind, joyfully and desirously, I come to thee, being the scholar of Him which did hang on thee: because I have always been the lover, and have coveted to embrace thee.”

Philip was a great preacher. He was crucified and also stoned to death. His daughters died with him.

James, the brother of our Lord took it upon himself to govern the church at that time. He was known to have the knees of a camel because he prayed so much on his knees to safeguard the people. The Scribes and Pharisees hated him. So, they went and threw him down from the top of the temple. Yet he was not killed by the fall, and turning, he fell upon his knees, saying, “O Lord God, Father, I beseech thee to forgive them, for they know not what they do.” He was then about to be stones, but someone stopped it because he was praying for them. Then someone present hit him on the head with an instrument and he died.

Update: New Book, New Church, New Tires

I’ll start telling you about my writing. My life these days is mostly about my writing. It seems like as soon as I finish one book, I am raring to go start another one. I’m writing now a book about the Tribulation. I’m liking it so far. It is blessing me to see how everything is fitting together. And it is true that those who read and study the book of Revelation will be blessed! I think that when I get about half way through I will start blogging the book—a little at a time, to let everyone see it. I’m getting to the point in my writing that not much editing, or rewriting is needed. So, I just keep moving on. I like it better that way. No need to keep trying to perfect it.

I’ve changed churches. It’s a bigger church and it is much more according to the way I believe. But I haven’t gotten too plugged in yet. I need to do that. I may want to get into a small group if I can find one. Fellowship is so important, but for some reason I find it hard connecting with people. I’m sort of an introvert. But when I make friends, I like being with them. I find that I am energized by good friends.

Well, I should go. I’m getting new tires for my truck today! And an oil change. The Lord is good.

It turns out that I’ll be waiting two hours for my truck tires. So, I’ll write a little more as I wait. It’s so beautiful to see the leaves changing color. I think God has designed it that way—that we will have some variety in what we see and experience from season to season. This time of year is especially nice in Minnesota. It will stay in the 50’s for a while—jacket weather. I actually like it better than warm weather. It’s more refreshing.

I’m running out of books to read. I usually have a few on my shelf waiting for me—so this is uncommon. I’m thinking that I will concentrate on more bible reading while I wait for Bill O’Reilly’s next book to come out. And that—bible reading—I’m sure is a good thing and will bring new blessings and rewards.

Update: Life Changes

Church change. I have been praying about this and churning it over in my mind for a few months. And I finely now have made the change. I feel a little sad about it—not to see certain folks regularly. But I feel I must move on to what I think is the right move. I’m not going to talk about the reasons, but there are doctrinal reasons. So, I feel that I am following the Lord, but yet I am sad. I feel a peace about it. Yet I know there will be struggles, and I must endure them and push on.

Working less. This last summer I worked much more that I figured I would. And I was suffering in the heat—90-degree heat for many days. I think I have to push myself to slow down. I have resolved to take more days off between jobs—I’m a house painter; semi-retired. And I will take only easy jobs. I will not quit working completely, because I really like what I do. But I also like days off and having time to write and read more, etc.

Health issues. I’m finding that I’m having more and more health issues—because of my age I suppose. But it is also a challenge to concentrate more on good eating habits and regular exercise, etc. Nobody wants to be sick—unless you have a death wish. I know that much sickness in people is because of heredity. But we can’t use that as an excuse. We all, especially us older folks, must work extra hard to keep ourselves healthy—watch our diet, exercise, and deal with any illnesses. And I find that daily prayer is very helpful. I follow the Jabez prayer. Why not? He prayed that God would bless him and keep him from harm (1 Chron. 4:10).

Hypocritical or Too Content

I’m writing this at McDonalds—the one near me. They are finally open for service after months and months. It has been one of my favorite hang-outs, where I can do my reading and blogging.

Today is Sunday. I love to come and worship with friends at my church. And the pastor always has a good message. But I hate it that he is missing so much in his doctrine in that he doesn’t ever preach on bible prophecy or the coming of Christ. As you know, I write on that subject frequently. For some reason I think God has called me to stay in this church. I am strong enough in my faith and beliefs that I will not be affected, and maybe someday I will speak up (to him and others) more on what I believe. But for now, I feel content in just writing about it. That almost sounds hypocritical, but I’m not sure that bible prophecy is something to be used as a witnessing tool or to be preached just for the sake of sounding my futuristic beliefs. It seems that when Paul wrote about it, it was always in response to a problem (1 Thess. 4) or as a matter of the course of his doctrinal message (1 Cor. 15). Anyway, I pray that someday soon I will be more vocal and excited about His soon coming. It is just really hard to do now since so many have different views and many reject the Rapture of the church. I know that that is not a good excuse for me. I kind of wish that I was more like Hal Lindsey. When he was younger, he used to preach outside in the open on college campuses about the rapture and future things. That was when he wrote his famous book, The Late Great Planet Earth. As far as I know he is still alive (about 90 years old) and he has a weekly program on line. God bless him.

Beware Of the False Prophets; Be Fruit Inspectors

Matthew 7:15-16a

“Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits…”

The most dangerous person is not the one who is a persecutor of Christians, but those who pretend to be Christians but are not. Even more, it is the pagan who seeks to make money as a preacher and to seek out those gullible young Christians to profit off of them. Jesus knows this kind, that will steer people away from the narrow way into the broad way—the way of the world. Hence, he says, Beware of them! Beware of these false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing. You will know them by their fruit.

What is meant here is that the true nature within a person is bound to express itself. It is bound to show up in his teaching and life. That is, what is in the center of the heart (what a man really is) is certain to proclaim itself. So, as a man thinks, so he is and does.

It is D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ opinion that we should discipline ourselves to look carefully for the fruit—in ourselves and in others. Otherwise, why would Jesus insist that we can know them (the false prophets) by their fruit. I think we too often, when we come into a church, just accept the pastor for whatever he says, and believe that he is a good man. I think we should observe carefully to see if he is a true prophet of God or not. And we can do this for everyone—even ourselves. In my reading of Lloyd-Jones sermon on this passage, I collected the following ways to check the fruit in people, especially preachers, to see if they are true Christians or false.

  • Try to identify a person’s motives. If he tries to live a good life for any reason other than for Christ than he is false.
  • The false prophet does not have the character of a true Christian. Their outlook on life is secular, their entire attitude is worldly, and they lack the joy of the Lord.
  • The false prophet does not exemplify the beatitudes: being poor in spirit, mourning over sin, being meek, hungering and thirsting for righteousness, etc.
  • The false prophet does not have the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, etc.
  • The false prophet does not have the same joyful appearance of a Christian. For what is in the nature of a Christian will show in his whole personality. He has the joy of the Lord that is easily shown on his face. (Of course, if a Christians is not walking in the Spirit, that inner Christian nature will be hard to see.)
  • The true Christian is humble, but the false prophet is full of the pride of life and is full of worldliness.
  • The false prophet, and generally the non-Christian has idle words. When he is off guard (when he is joking with his friends) he may show who he really is; his real ungodly nature comes out.
  • The way in which a preacher preaches is more significant than what he says. If he laughs and jokes about serious things as God’s holiness and the judgment, this will reveal his nature. We give ourselves away by our unguarded actions and words.

Ten Descriptions of a False Prophet

Matthew 7:15

“Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.

This verse (and the following few verses) follows directly after where Jesus spoke on entering by the narrow gate and walking along the narrow way (v. 13-14). Hence, what Jesus is suggesting here is that we beware of those who will try to persuade us not to enter at the narrow gate and walk in the narrow way. These are false prophets.

We will now take a closer look at these false prophets, according to what D. Martyn Lloyd Jones has preached on in his Studies in the Sermon on the Mount. In my reading and note taking, I have come up with ten descriptions of the false prophet.

1. They will appear as Christians. They will come to us in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they will be ravenous wolves. Therefore, they will look like good people and no one will suspect anything false from them. They will be nice and pleasant and appear to be Christians. They will use Christian terms and talk about God, and Jesus, and about the cross, and about the love of God, etc.

2. We will know them by their fruit. When we really get to know them, we will discover that their teaching is wrong and also their life (their conduct).

3. We may recognize them by what they do not teach. As far as recognizing the falseness, it is not so much recognized by what they say, but rather by what they do not say. They will tend to leave out or pass over certain important biblical teachings. And they do this in order to not offend you or to be more popular.

4. His teaching is absent from doctrine. His preaching is almost entirely absent from doctrine. He does not like doctrinal preaching, and when he does preach doctrine, it is vague and in error.

5. He does not speak on holiness. The false prophet rarely speaks about holiness and righteousness and justice and the wrath of God. He will not say that he does not believe these things, yet he says next to nothing about them.

6. He leaves out bible prophecy. The false prophet fails to talk about bible prophecy and future things. This is true of most preachers these days. But I have a remedy for them. If they would just preach through the bible one verse at a time, they would be forced to preach on bible prophecy, since almost one-third of the bible is prophetical.

7. He fails to preach on sin. He will not emphasis the doctrine of sin and the sinfulness of sin.

8. He will not preach on what Jesus did for us on the cross. He will talk about the cross and about the death of Christ, but he will fail to preach on what Jesus’ death did for us—that God made Him to be sin for us (2 Cor. 5:21) and that He paid the penalty for our sins.

9. He dislikes self-examination. He will not emphasize the necessity of entering the narrow gate or walking in the narrow way. He is not interested in true holiness; thus, he dislikes the process of self-examination and the mortification of sin as taught by the Puritans.

10. They reject the idea of being a Christian warrior. They reject talk about fighting the good fight of faith, and they do not see the need for putting on the armor of God. They would rather practice easy salvation and living an easy and prosperous Christian life.