John Wycliffe

thJohn Wycliffe was the first to promote the Reformation. He is known as “The Morning Star of the Reformation”. He was born in about 1320 near Yorkshire, England. In 1374 he went to Lutterworth and lived there for the rest of his life.

John was against indulgences and believed the scriptures should govern the church not the Pope. The Pope greatly disliked him for his preaching. He was widely popular in England so the Pope was wasn’t as harsh as he could have been. Pope Gregory issued five bulls (official documents) against John. He did not however excommunicate him.

At the time it was believed that God’s Word should not be for everyday use to the people. John believed otherwise and wanted everyone to have access to one. He began to translate the Bible for people to read. He died before it was completed but his friend was credited for finishing it.

In the year 1384, John Wycliffe, suffered from a stoke and died. His followers were known as the Lollards and continued his teachings.

He was so hated by the Pope that his works were all burned and his bones dug up and also burned. All of this was an attempt to rid of what John had started. John’s teachings instead lived on and despite the struggles of the Pope they continued to flourish.

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Saint Francis of Assisi

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The Franciscan order of monks was founded by Saint Francis. Saint Francis was born in the year 1182 to a wealthy family. This was right after the first two crusades.  He had a very carefree manner throughout his lifetime.

He eventually joined the military and during his time there he was taken as a prisoner. Many people believe this is where he was converted to Christ. He managed to go back home but still had a very carefree character. This is one reason we cannot be sure he was converted during his imprisonment.

A year later Francis became very ill. And, when he rejoined the army in 1204 he had a vision that led him to return to Assisi and learn more about Christianity. He spent a lot of time alone asking God for wisdom and direction. His family was unhappy with his decision but Francis renounced his father and continued on. He preached repentance to many people. His followers were called the Franciscan monks.

Francis was known for his love of nature. It is said that he even would preach to the birds. Today we have veterinarians that work in places called Saint Francis of Assisi. They would have named their storefronts this for their similar love to animals that Saint Francis had.

Saint Francis a few years before his death claimed that he had wounds like Christ did on his hands. He also became blind in the year 1224. In the year 1226 he died singing Psalms 142.

Three Apostolic Fathers

Before we can talk about specific Apostolic Fathers we must understand what an Apostolic Father is. The Apostolic Fathers were men who had studied under the Apostles and spread God’s Word. Often these men were martyred in horrible ways. The Three Apostolic Fathers that will be noted are Polycarp, Ignatius, and Clement.

Polycarp is famous for his reply when asked to renounce God. ” Eighty and six years have I served Him, and he never did me any injury; how then can I blaspheme my King and my Savior.” he said. Before he was found he had hidden in an old farm house. The guards who arrested him gave him time to pray and actually began to wonder why they were doing it. Polycarp taught in the Asia Minor city of Smyrna before he was burned at the stake. Polycarp had studied under the Apostle John.

Ignatius also studied under the Apostle John. He was the Bishop of Antioch. He was known for promoting the Lord’s Day on a Sunday instead of the Jewish Sabbath which was on Saturday. He was martyred in the Coliseum.

Clement was taught by Apostle Peter. He was the Bishop of Rome and was martyred under the rein of Trajan. He is known for writing to the Corinthians about hierarchical church government.

These men were used by God to help his people. They proved there love for him when they all refused to renounce him to save their lives.

Lesson 111 Summary

In the Bible there was a very important group of men called the Disciples. Disciple means “learner” and they were probably given this name because Jesus had called them to follow him and during this time they learned many things from him. There were twelve men in the group and their names were Simon Peter, Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, Simon, Judas Iscariot, James, and Judas. There were also men called Apostles which means “one who is sent out”. They were given this name because after Jesus left they were to continue the work of spreading the gospel of Christ.

Looking at a few of the Apostles we see that Simon Peter was known for the time during Pentecost when he was preaching to the people with many languages and they could all understand what he was saying. This symbolized the unity of the different peoples because at the time the Jews believed they were the only chosen. Peter wrote two books of the Bible before his death sometime around 64-67 AD.

James and John were brothers. They were known as “the sons of thunder” because of their fiery tempers. James was martyred and John died of old age sometime after 98 AD.

Philip spread the Word of God to Ethiopia by teaching an Ethiopian Eunuch. After he taught this man, he sent him back to Ethiopia to preach God’s Word in his country.

Paul (whose name had been changed from Saul) started out as an man who persecuted Christians. God changed his heart and he wrote many books of the Bible and spread God’s Word greatly. Paul was a prisoner in Rome and was probably martyred by Nero.

Even though all of the persecution hurt God’s church he used these men to spread the Word. People found it much more preferable to the Roman religion and it flourished. God used these men to show his grace and spread his Word and this still applies today when we read about them.