My Update: Work, Writing on Martyrs, Retirement

I think it’s time for another update. I’ll try to be positive, though I am having a few problems.

My Present Job

I’m a retired house painter, but I still do a little work. The job I am working on now is not going well. Actually, I thought I was finished, but when the owner got home (from a vacation) and looked it over, she was not pleased. I very rarely get complaints, but she had plenty. What went wrong?

Well, I’m not going to tell you everything, except to say that she let me know that I am not a perfect painter—as I sometimes think I am. I am feeling quite humbled. I have a lot to do over (second coats). I had Thanksgiving and today off, and Saturday I will try to finish up. My prayers this morning were three-fold: that I would do the work well; that my mind would be at peace and I will not worry about it; and that she (the owner) would settle down and not be so upset with me—to also be at peace.

Thanksgiving Day

My sister’s first husband invited me over to his house. He is a good friend, so I was excited to see him and his two kids, also to see some of his family I have never met. It was such a good time being together and making some new friends.

Reading and Writing about Christian Martyrs

I’ve been reading and blogging on Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. It’s been a struggle for two reasons: The reading is so difficult; the translation from that time period (about 1500) is not good. I will try to find a more modern translation. Also, though it is very inspiring to hear how the Martyrs believed and endured suffering, it is troubling to hear how evil things were in the Catholic church and how they were, and still are, so blinded by the devil.

I am also at the same time reading and writing about the coming Tribulation. I am now wondering if the Tribulation martyrdom will be a return of the same Catholic inquisition. I think it may be, but worse! I am so happy though, to know that when they die they will immediately be with the Lord and will be forever rejoicing with Him (as a few Revelation passaged tell us).

Old Age and Retirement

I don’t want to bore you or complain about things, but I do sense that my emotional make-up is breaking down. Maybe I should read a good book on retirement. I know that I need to learn how to relax more, etc. I don’t want to just sit and vegetate. But maybe there are some changes I need to make.

Well, that’s all for now in this update. I wish you all well—you who regularly follow my blog. And I will keep you all in my prayers.

Foxe’s Book of Martyrs: On William Tyndale

William Tyndale came around one hundred years after Wickliffe and Huss. But though there is no writing in this book on any martyrs in-between that time, we know that there were very many martyrs—thousands of them. The Roman church was relentless in killing true Christians. It was part of their Babylonian roots.

Well, Tyndale was brought up from a child in the University of Oxford, where Wickliffe taught. But he moved on to Cambridge and other schools to pursue more degrees. He became a master at translating the Scriptures, as Wickliffe was. And, it was not uncommon, wherever he abided, that priests of the church came against him, saying that his words were heresy. So, Tyndale, rather than fight, moved around from place to place seeking for places to do his translation work. He went to London and also to Germany—where he had good words and learning from Martin Luther.

Tyndale was constantly grieved that people everywhere did not have the Scriptures available to them in their mother tongue. So, it was his goal to translate the Scriptures for them, even though the evil church did the opposite. They wanted to hide the Scriptures from their eyes in order that they could delude and control the people. Some said that Tyndale’s translations were wrong, that there were thousands of heresies in it. Some said that it was not possible to translate the Scriptures correctly and that it was not lawful for the people to have them in their mother tongue, and that it would make them rebel against the church and the king.

There was one (and others also) that plotted against Tyndale. He would buy his translations, then would burn them. Another time the devil came against him so that he suffered shipwreck, in which he lost all his books, writings, copies, and money so that he had to begin his work all over again. Yet, there were some copies that survived, and Tyndale’s work became a key link in the translation of the Scriptures, even from the original manuscripts—so important.

At the end, he, being plotted against, was brought to prison in England. And by the emperor’s decree was tied to a stake and consumed with fire. As he began to be burned, he cried with a loud voice, “Lord! Open the king of England’s eyes.”

Foxe’s Book of Martyrs: On John Huss

On about the same time period as Sir John Oldcastle and his brave martyrdom, was John Huss—about 1415. They were both faithful disciples of John Wickliffe, a brilliant professor at the University of Oxford in London. His bible commentaries are still popular to this day—and very reliable.

There is much more writing on John Huss than Oldcastle or even Wickliffe. I think it is because he seemed to argue more with the Pope and cardinals in presenting his innocence and the truth of his writing about the errors of the Catholic church. And the church, evil as it was in that day, was persistent against Huss and called him an “obstinate heretic.”

And Huss had procurators who fought for him and ended up being cast into prison and punished. Likewise, the Bohemians (where Huss was from) also fought for him and daily complained against the Pope in stopping the word of God from being preached.

But, as it happened, Pope John began to give “full remission of sins to all those who would war on his side to defend the church”—and in response, John Huss raged back and called the Pope Antichrist! So, there was a holy war, some on the side of the church and some on the side of Huss and his followers. Also, during this time Huss continued to write articles against the false doctrine of the Pope. These arguments were the same as were proclaimed by John Wickliffe and John Oldcastle.

Well, as it happened, two jolly fellows (“mad men”) who knew they would be rewarded by the Pope, gathered certain article against Huss and brought them to the Pope. Huss was therefore asked to come and defend himself; and surprisingly, he decided to come willingly to answer their charges. Well, from that time on he was shut up in the prison of the abbey. And the conditions were so bad that he became sick. It was written that during the day he had “fetters on his legs,”  and at night, “he was fastened up to a rack against the wall hard by his bed.”

And still, being sick he presented his arguments about the popish church, and also wrote a few books. And, as it was written, when he tried to present his case many mad men “spitefully mocked him,” and they overwhelmed his speech with “rude and barbarous noises” until Huss finally decided to be silent. Then they said, “Now he is dumb, now he is dumb: this is a sign that he doth agree with his errors.”

So, his judgment was delayed until the next day. And he, “accompanied with a great number of armed men,” was brought before a council to be judged (this reminds me of when Jesus was judged). Well, there were so many things that were done before they burned him; I won’t list everything, but just try to hit some of them.

  • It was ordered that all of Wickliffe’s books were to be taken and burned.
  • At one point Huss appealed unto the high judge Christ (he fought to the end!).
  • Huss all the while was derided and mocked by the council.
  • Huss said, “he wished his soul to be in the same place where John Wickliffe’s soul was.”
  • The council presented eleven articles from the books of John Huss and he was directed to give answers to them. And in every case, he gave them his answers, and he did not back down in the least. My comment: unlike Jesus who was silent, Huss was very vocal and wanted them to hear his case. In this respect he was much like Paul.
  • It was determined that with the answers Huss gave, he was branded a heretic and worthy to be punished. But they said that if he would recant and submit to them, they would lighten his punishment. But if he was determined to defend his articles, he would suffer “great hurt, detriment and peril.” Well, as expected, Huss did not give into them.
  • After the trial, in which they gave Huss every chance to answer what he had written and a chance to recant, they wrote out a lengthy condemnation. My comment: It is interesting that just as they were condemning John Huss by their lengthy trial, they  were condemning themselves before God. They were putting into history how they condemned a good man and how they were evil before God. They gave themselves no excuse for their own evil.
  • His trial was very similar to the trial of Jesus Christ. They made him put on priestly garments and then mocked him. They gave him a crown, not of thorns but of paper, which was written on it, “Now we commit thy soul unto the devil.”
  • Before his death he kneeled down, and lifted up his eyes to heaven and prayed, and also quoted certain Psalms.

The way of his death was like this:

  • They stripped him of his garments
  • They put his hands behind his back and tied them with wet ropes to a stake.
  • With a chain they tied his neck to the stake.
  • Under his feet they put straw, and from his feet to his neck he was enclosed with wood.
  • Before the fire was lit, he was given a chance to speak and renounce his errors. But it was written that he said, “with a cheerful mind and courage, I am ready to suffer death.”
  • When the fire was kindled, John Huss began singing loudly.
  • When his body was partly burned and all the wood was burned up, they made a new fire. They were determined to burn him up completely.
  • At the end, it was written that “with great diligence they gathered the ashes together and they cast them into the river Rhine.” They did not want any part of him to be left upon the earth.

But they were not able to abolish the story of John Huss out of the minds of the godly.

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: Peter, Paul and John

I have been writing notes and excepts from the book, and this time I will write about the apostle Peter, Paul and John. Beginning with Peter, as he was waiting to be crucified, some were telling him to run out of the city (Rome). And as he was trying to avoid what they were saying, yet running, it was reported that he saw the Lord Christ coming to meet him. I will quote exactly what was written:

Coming to the gate, he saw the Lord Christ come to meet him, to Whom he, worshipping, said, ‘Lord, whither dost Thou go?’ To whom He answered and said, ‘I am come to be crucified.’ By this, Peter, perceiving his suffering to be understood, returned back into the city. Jerome saith that he was crucified, his head being down and his feet upward, himself so requiring, because he was (he said) unworthy to be crucified after the same form and manner as the Lord was.

As for Paul, there is not much written about him, except that before he was beheaded, it was written that he suffered some under Nero. Then the two men, Ferega and Parthemius, who came to execute him, first desired him to pray for them that they might believe. He did pray for them, and after he prayed, the executioners gave his neck to the sword. So, he died in the same way John the Baptist died. And Paul also died much like Jesus in that he was praying for others right up until his death.

John the apostle was exiled into Patmos. Then, after the death of Domitian Nero, John was released and came to Ephesus and there governed the churches of Asia and also where he wrote his gospel. He lived there until he dies at the age of about one hundred. (So, it appears that he weas the only apostle who weas not martyred, except for being sent to Patmos.)

The persecutions continued according to “whatsoever the cruelness of man’s invention could devise…”  But in spite of it, “the church daily increased, deeply rooted in the doctrine of the apostles…”

Taken from pages 12-18 of the book.

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.

Foxe’s Book of Martyrs: Events following Christ’s Crucifixion

I have read the book before—a while ago. Now I’m reading it again, this time more carefully. I may give a series of blog posts on it, hoping to inspire some of you. Parts of it are gory, but I would focus more on the strength and boldness of the precious martyrs who loved the Lord. They were all so willing and even joyous in their suffering and death, as cruel as it was.

I will start with what happened after the crucifixion of Christ. According to the research of John Fox in 1516, Pontius Pilate was so moved by Christ that he may have become a Christian and tried to convert the whole Roman senate. But Tiberius Caesar would have none of it, and, as Foxe points out, almost all the senators were destroyed and the whole city of Rome was “most horribly afflicted” for almost three hundred years. As for Pilate, he was “sent to Rome, deposed, then banished to the town of Vienne in Dauphiny, and at length did slay himself.”

So, as it appears, Christ was the first of the martyrs. It was his death that so stirred up all of Rome either to believe and not to believe. But it was the evil emperors that were so full of the devil that started the flames of persecution and martyrdom. After Tiberius it was Caligula, Claudius Nero and Domitius Nero who began the reign of terror on the Christians.