Stand and Declare

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Daily Reformation, Psalm 118:5-17

About the Reformer

There had always been a great unwillingness to pay the tribute which King John had promised to the Roman see. If the king was weak, he paid it; if he was strong, he was more likely to refuse it. And thus it was that the money had been refused by Edward I, paid by Edward II, and again refused by Edward III, whom Pope Urban V, in 1366, asked to pay up for thirty-three years at once. In this case, Wyclif took the side of his king, and maintained that the tribute was not rightly due to the pope. And from this he went on to attack the corruptions of the Church in general. He set himself against the begging friars, who had come to great power, worming themselves in everywhere, so that they had brought most of the poorer people to look only to them as spiritual guides, and to think nothing of the parish clergy. In order to oppose the friars, Wyclif sent about the country a set of men whom he called “poor priests.” These were very like the friars in their rough dress and simple manner of living, but taught more according to a plain understanding of the Scriptures than to the doctrines of the Roman Church. It is said that once, when Wyclif was very ill, and was supposed to be dying, some friars went to him in the hope of getting him to confess that he repented of what he had spoken and written and done against them. But Wyclif, gathering all his strength, rose up in his bed, and said, in words which were partly taken from the 118th Psalm, “I shall not die but live, and declare the evil deeds of the friars.” He was several times brought before assemblies of bishops and clergy, to answer for his opinions; but he found powerful friends to protect him, and always came off without hurt.

—J.C. Robertson, Sketches of Church History

Pulling It Together

The old man stumbled on the busy roadside. The sun was getting hot and he was noticeably tired, though it was not yet Noon. His business demanded his attentions however, so he stood for a moment, collected his strength, then walked again, back and forth over a stretch of 50 feet or so. Behind him was a folding card table with Bibles on it and a crudely lettered sign hanging on it that read, “Free Bibles.” The hoary man held an umbrella in one hand and higher, in the other hand, the Word of God. He extended it to each car that passed by. Sometimes the traffic would roll to a stop and like newspaper peddlers, he went door to door, offering Good News. Far fewer than those who purchase the day’s news for 50 cents rolled down their windows to receive eternal news for free.

Sometimes the difficulty in standing on the Word of God is not the abuse of the occasional passerby but that no one seems to care. Though not everyone attracts enough attention for martyrdom, each Christian is called to offer his life in some manner. This is “your reasonable service” to God. (Rom 12:1)

© Mark E. Ryman, Daily Reformation: Devotions with the Reformers

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