9 – Reformations in the Christian Era

////9 – Reformations in the Christian Era
9 – Reformations in the Christian Era2016-11-27T17:36:36+00:00

Please read the Missionary Report
from The Gambia and Senegal at the end of this Lesson

Sabbath, August 30, 2014 

“Under the fiercest persecution these witnesses for Jesus kept their faith unsullied. Though deprived of every comfort, shut away from the light of the sun, making their home in the dark but friendly bosom of the earth, they uttered no complaint. With words of faith, patience, and hope they encouraged one another to endure privation and distress. The loss of every earthly blessing could not force them to renounce their belief in Christ. Trials and persecution were but steps bringing them nearer their rest and their reward.” –The Great Controversy, p. 41.

Preview of apostasy

1. What did the apostle Paul predict would happen in the first Christian church?

Acts 20:29, 30 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.

2 Thessalonians 2:3, 7 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;… 7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.

“Many had already become partakers of Christ’s sufferings, and soon the church was to undergo a period of terrible persecution. Within a few brief years many of those who had stood as teachers and leaders in the church were to lay down their lives for the gospel. Soon grievous wolves were to enter in, not sparing the flock. But none of these things were to bring discouragement to those whose hopes were centered in Christ.” –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 528.

“When the early church became corrupted by departing from the simplicity of the gospel and accepting heathen rites and customs, she lost the Spirit and power of God; and in order to control the consciences of the people, she sought the support of the secular power. The result was the papacy, a church that controlled the power of the state and employed it to further her own ends, especially for the punishment of ‘heresy.’…

“It was apostasy that led the early church to seek the aid of the civil government, and this prepared the way for the development of the papacy–the beast.” –The Great Controversy, p. 443.

2. What led to this apostasy? How does this apply to the current spirit of ecumenism that is rampant in the world? How does present truth relate to this?

Revelation 2:2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars.

“Idolaters were led to receive a part of the Christian faith, while they rejected other essential truths. They professed to accept Jesus as the Son of God and to believe in His death and resurrection, but they had no conviction of sin and felt no need of repentance or of a change of heart. With some concessions on their part they proposed that Christians should make concessions, that all might unite on the platform of belief in Christ.

“Now the church was in fearful peril. Prison, torture, fire, and sword were blessings in comparison with this. Some of the Christians stood firm, declaring that they could make no compromise….

“Most of the Christians at last consented to lower their standard, and a union was formed between Christianity and paganism….

“There have ever been two classes among those who profess to be followers of Christ.” –The Great Controversy, pp. 42, 43.

Need for separation

3. In the early Christian church and in the Middle Ages, what decision did a small number of faithful people make?

Romans 16:17 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. 

2 Corinthians 6:17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.

“After a long and severe conflict, the faithful few decided to dissolve all union with the apostate church if she still refused to free herself from falsehood and idolatry. They saw that separation was an absolute necessity if they would obey the word of God…. lf unity could be secured only by the compromise of truth and righteousness, then let there be difference, and even war.” –The Great Controversy, p. 45.

“There is at the present time great need of caution…. Let us heed the warning: ‘I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ,… and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.’…” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, p. 167.

4. What did the prophecy of the church in the wilderness reveal? What is known about the reformers of that time?

Revelation 12:6 And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.

“But of those who resisted the encroachments of the papal power, the Waldenses stood foremost…. For centuries the churches of Piedmont maintained their independence; but the time came at last when Rome insisted upon their submission…. There were some, however, who refused to yield to the authority of pope or prelate. They were determined to maintain their allegiance to God, and to preserve the purity and simplicity of their faith. A separation took place. Those who adhered to the ancient faith now withdrew;…” –The Great Controversy, p. 64.

Men of power and the Spirit

5. According to prophecy, who would rise as the instructor of many? What great reformer sprang up in fourteenth-century England? What can be said of this ray of light?

Daniel 11:33, 34 And they that understand among the people shall instruct many: yet they shall fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity, and by spoil, many days. 34 Now when they shall fall, they shall be holpen with a little help: but many shall cleave to them with flatteries.

“In the fourteenth century arose in England the ‘morning star of the Reformation.’ John Wycliffe was the herald of reform, not for England alone, but for all Christendom. The great protest against Rome which it was permitted him to utter was never to be silenced. That protest opened the struggle which was to result in the emancipation of individuals, of churches, and of nations.” –The Great Controversy, p. 80.

6. What other heroic reformers in the time of the Middle Ages does history mention? List some of the things they did.

Daniel 12:3 And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.

“Workers were raised up who ably defended the faith once delivered unto the saints. History bears record to the fortitude and heroism of these men…. The Waldenses, John Wycliffe, Huss and Jerome, Martin Luther and Zwingle, Cranmer, Latimer, and Knox, the Huguenots, John and Charles Wesley, and a host of others brought to the foundation material that will endure throughout eternity.” –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 598.

7. What promise applied to Huss and Jerome as reformers in a very difficult time?

Revelation 2:10 Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.

“Hitherto Huss had stood alone in his labors; but now Jerome, who while in England had accepted the teachings of Wycliffe, joined in the work of reform…. 

“God permitted great light to shine upon the minds of these chosen men,…

“With daily increasing boldness Huss thundered against the abominations which were tolerated in the name of religion; and the people openly accused the Romish leaders as the cause of the miseries that overwhelmed Christendom.” –The Great Controversy, pp. 102, 103.

The light of reformation expands 

8. What great truth caused Martin Luther to enter more boldly upon his work of reformation? What did he do?

Ephesians 1:7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.

Colossians 1:14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.

“The infamous traffic was set up in the church, and Tetzel, ascending the pulpit, extolled the indulgences as the most precious gift of God. He declared that by virtue of his certificates of pardon all the sins which the purchaser should afterward desire to commit would be forgiven him, and that ‘not even repentance is necessary.’ –Merle D’Aubigné, History of the Reformation, b. 3, ch. 1. 

“As Tetzel continued his traffic and his impious pretentions, Luther determined upon a more effectual protest against these crying abuses. An occasion soon offered…. Luther, joining the crowds that were already making their way to the church, posted on its doors a paper containing ninety-five propositions against the doctrine of indulgences.” –The Great Controversy, pp. 127-129. 

9. What was Luther’s unflinching testimony when he stood before the Imperial Diet?

Psalm 40:9 I have preached righteousness in the great congregation: lo, I have not refrained my lips, O Lord, thou knowest.

Matthew 10:18 And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles.

‘Unless therefore I am convinced by the testimony of Scripture or by the clearest reasoning, unless I am persuaded by means of the passages I have quoted, and unless they thus render my conscience bound by the word of God, I cannot and I will not retract, for it is unsafe for a Christian to speak against his conscience. Here I stand, I can do no other; may God help me. Amen.’ –D’Aubigné, History of the Reformation, b. 7, ch. 8.” –The Great Controversy, p. 160.

10. What has almost always been the lot of true reformers and God’s children?

Hebrews 11:36-40 And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: 37 They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; 38 (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. 39 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: 40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.

“The heirs of God have come from garrets, from hovels, from dungeons, from scaffolds, from mountains, from deserts, from the caves of the earth, from the caverns of the sea. On earth they were ‘destitute, afflicted, tormented.’ Millions went down to the grave loaded with infamy because they steadfastly refused to yield to the deceptive claims of Satan. By human tribunals they were adjudged the vilest of criminals. But now ‘God is judge Himself.’ Psalm 50:6. Now the decisions of earth are reversed.” –The Great Controversy, p. 650.

“In every age God’s chosen messengers have been reviled and persecuted, yet through their affliction the knowledge of God has been spread abroad. Every disciple of Christ is to step into the ranks and carry forward the same work, knowing that its foes can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth. God means that truth shall be brought to the front and become the subject of examination and discussion, even through the contempt placed upon it. The minds of the people must be agitated; every controversy, every reproach, every effort to restrict liberty of conscience, is God’s means of awakening minds that otherwise might slumber.” –Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p. 33.

* * *

 

Missionary Report
from The Gambia and Senegal

To be read on Sabbath, August 30, 2014

The Special Sabbath School Offering
will be gathered on Sabbath, September 6, 2014

“Sell that ye have and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that fadeth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Luke 12:33, 34.

In the name of our blessed Redeemer and Lord Jesus Christ, we greet all our brothers and sisters around the world. By the providence of God, the message of Reformation is progressing well in Africa and has entered the Republics of The Gambia and Senegal.

These two countries are located on the Atlantic coast of westernmost Africa. Senegal surrounds The Gambia on three sides and is bordered on the north by Mauritania, on the east by Mali, and on the south by Guinea and Guinea-Bissau. The Gambia is the smallest country on the continent, averaging only 20 miles (32 kilometers) in width. This finger of land borders the banks of the Gambia River for about 200 miles (320 kilometers) above its mouth. Several native dialects are spoken in these two countries, but Malinke (Mandinka) and Wolof are spoken the most. However, the official language of Senegal is French, while the official language of The Gambia is English.

The Gambia

The Gambia gained independence from the United Kingdom on February 18, 1965, and joined the Commonwealth of Nations (from which it withdrew in October 2013). Since its independence, the country has enjoyed relative political stability, with the exception of a brief period of military rule in 1994.

In 2011 while serving in Sierra Leone, I made email contact with a friend in The Gambia and asked him if he had ever heard about the International Missionary Society, Seventh-day Adventist Church, Reform Movement. He was shocked to hear that there were other Adventist organizations. We exchanged emails, and I sent him the website address of the IMS to study. While waiting for him to respond, I wrote to another person in Senegal–a lady who is a former classmate of mine. She wrote back and said that she had heard that I had left the Seventh-day Adventist Church and wanted to know the reason. I also sent her the website address, and she also became interested. Unfortunately, her fiancé was an Adventist; and when he heard about our communication, he threatened to break off their relationship if she continued communicating with me. 

In March 2012, the General Conference was informed about my contact in The Gambia, and I was sent there, arriving on April 1, 2012. The first Sabbath, I visited a church in the capital, Banjul. I made many friends there; and during the week, I visited some of them and asked what their views were regarding the prophesied Reform Movement within the Advent Movement. Some of them had never even heard about the Reform Movement. On the next Sabbath, I went back to the same church. As God would have it, during the Sabbath school, the study was about health and I was able to take an active part in the discussion.

The next day, which was Sunday, to my great surprise, one of the elders from the church came with a policeman, and I was taken to the station to answer some questions that implied that I had come to teach false doctrines in their church. At the station, the Muslim officer asked the elder: “If they

[the Adventists] were teaching the right thing, what do they have to fear?” That question set me free. Through these and other providences of God, fifteen interested souls soon afterward accepted the Reform message.

In The Gambia, by far the predominant religion is Islam, practiced by about 90 percent of the country’s 1.7 million inhabitants. Only about 8 percent are Christian, predominantly Roman Catholic; there are also congregations of Anglicans, Methodists, Baptists, Seventh-day Adventists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and other small evangelical denominations. Article 25 of the state Constitution protects the rights of citizens to practice any religion that they choose, and intermarriage between Muslims and Christians is common.

Internal pressures from other Christians in the government have prevented us from registering the church. Therefore, we registered as the International Health Organization and now work under it. Five souls have been baptized. 

Due to the fertility of the land, the economy is dominated by farming along with fishing and tourism. About a third of the population lives below the international poverty line of US $1.25 per day. Because of the stability and openness of the country, it is also a fertile land for the gospel. 

Senegal

Senegal gained its independence from France in 1963 and today has an estimated 13 million inhabitants, 96 percent of whom profess to follow a Sunni Islam faith. Only 3 percent are Christian, even though some yet unnamed sources claim that Senegal “is highly reputed for its religious tolerance.”

Of the fifteen interested souls in The Gambia, three had contacts in Senegal. Through those contacts, I continued my missionary work and visited Dakar, the capital, beginning April 19, 2012. As a result, we now have three baptized members in Senegal. Even though the church is not yet registered, the few members in Senegal are working to win souls. 

The work in The Gambia and Senegal has two primary challenges. First, there is no permanent place of worship. This is why the believers in The Gambia have had to change the place where they worship four times. Second, we have to be very careful how we conduct our evangelism efforts. We thank God that people are responding to the truth through the health message. In addition to a head office and places of worship, your offerings will be used to conduct seminars, supplement local offerings for missionary activities while the work is becoming self-sustaining, secure evangelistic materials, and help provide means for developing the church’s infrastructure.

We praise God for the opportunities we have been granted to share the precious message of the gospel in these two countries. Our appeal to the believers around the world is to give joyfully and generously for the work in The Gambia and Senegal, as the Holy Spirit impresses you. Our prayers are with you and your mission as well.

–Vangarral T. Chengbe
President, The Gambia and Senegal Mission Fields

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