In expounding Daniel 9, Martin Luther noted that among others, the prophet Daniel was talking about the Muslim Turks, who at that time were invading Europe: "In the latter part of their reign, when rebels have become completely wicked, a stern-faced king, a master of intrigue will arise. He will become very strong, but not by his own power. He will cause astounding devastation… He will cause deceit to prosper and he will consider himself superior. When they feel secure, he will destroy many and take his stand against the Prince of princes. Yet he will be destroyed, but not by human power." Daniel 9:23-25
Luther wrote that the "two regimes, that of the Pope and that of the Turk, are… antichrist."
John Calvin in a sermon on Deuteronomy 18:15 maintained that Muhammad was one of "the two horns of antichrist."
The Creation Museum near Cincinnati in the United States is absolutely magnificent. I spent two days exploring, examining and experiencing the Creation Museum. It was not nearly enough time. I look forward to returning again and again.
As one who has visited museums all over the world, I must rate the Creation Museum as one of the very best in the world. The Creation Museum is God-honouring, Bible-based, and Christ-centred. It is an experience no visitor can ever forget.
The Creation Museum is effective both in education and evangelism. Not only is the museum extremely well thought out and laid out, but it is inspired and inspiring. The Creation Museum is a modern equivalent of nailing of the ’95 Theses on the church door in Wittenberg. Future generations may look back at the opening of the Creation Museum as significant an event for Reformation in our day as Luther’s bold protest was in the 16th Century.
“If I had a place to stand, I could move the world.” The Greek engineer Archimedes was referring to the wonders of the lever. In principle, the capacity of a lever was unlimited. An ordinary weakling could move a rock the size of a house. All that he would need would be a fulcrum, a pole strong enough so that it would not break, and long enough to multiply the force. That, and a place to stand.
The force multiplying physics of the lever are a function of distance. The heavier the object, or the weaker the person trying to move it, the longer the pole would need to be, and the further away from it you would have to stand. However, with the right fulcrum, the right bar and the right distance, all you would need to do would be to push the lever down, and the boulder, no matter how heavy it was, would move. Theoretically, Archimedes famously declared, with the right fulcrum, bar and distance, you could put a lever to planet Earth and move the world itself. As long as you had a place to stand!
On 18 April 1521, a 37-year old Professor from the University of Wittenberg found himself hauled in front of the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. Standing before the assembled political and spiritual authorities of his day, Luther was presented with a simple choice: Will you recant, and reject everything you have been teaching about the Gospel? Or will you be cast out of the church and state as a heretic and traitor, to be burned at the stake?
Martin Luther’s reply moved the world. He changed history. Because he had a place to stand. Dr. Martin Luther declared: “My conscience is captive to the Word of God. Here I stand!” Our Lord Jesus declared that our Faith would be able to move mountains (Matthew 17:20). Martin Luther’s Faith moved the world because he had a place to stand. He stood on the Word of God. The fulcrum he used was the Gospel. This was balanced on the bar of the Law of God.
Luther’s biographer Martin Brecht pointed out that in fact Martin Luther had fulfilled what the Greek engineer Archimedes had hypothesized about. Standing on the Word of God, using the bar of the Law of God and the fulcrum of the Gospel, Martin Luther’s Faith had not only moved mountains, it changed the world. It brought to an end the Middle Ages, and ushered in the modern world. The Protestant Reformation, and the resultant Scientific Revolution and Industrial Revolution, produced the most productive, prosperous and free nations in the history of the world. All this because Luther had a place to stand and he made his stand on the unchangeable Word of Almighty God.
"Every school you see - public or private, religious or secular - is a visible reminder of the religion of Jesus Christ. So is every college and university." Dr. James Kennedy and Jerry Newcombe document in their "What If Jesus Had Never Been Born?" book that the phenomenon of education for the masses has its roots in Christianity.
The pursuit of the knowledge of God in a systematic, philosophical and in-depth way gave rise to the phenomenon of universities all around the world. It was the Christian faith that gave rise to the idea of higher learning.
THE GIFT OF LITERACY
Christianity is a tremendous force for education. Most of the world's languages were first set to writing by Christian missionaries. The first book in most languages of the world has been the Bible. Christianity has been the greatest force for promoting literacy worldwide throughout history.
The Christian missionary movement in the 19th Century pioneered tens of thousands of schools throughout Africa, Asia and the Pacific Islands - providing education for countless millions, even in the remotest jungles, giving the gift of literacy to tribes which had not even had a written language.
Peter Waldo was a wealthy merchant, well respected and a man of influence, in the community of Lyons. One evening, while entertaining friends at his home, one of them suffered a sudden seizure and died. This incident so shook Waldo that he began to seriously think of his soul and eternity beyond the grave. He began to regularly attend church services, but was not satisfied with the superficial rituals in Latin. He employed two priests to come to his house to translate the Gospels of Christ into French. Waldo was most excited as he read, meditated on and carefully studied the Words of Christ.
Yet, instead of comfort and peace, he found conviction and challenge. He saw himself as the foolish rich man who was laying up treasures on earth, but was spiritually poor towards God. Again and again he read the Words of Christ: “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for the abundance of a man’s life consisteth not in those things which he possesseth” Luke 12:15.
"All the ends of the world shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall worship before You. For the Kingdom is the Lord's and He rules over the nations." Psalm 22:27-28
The Greatest Century of Missionary Advance
The greatest era of missionary advance was the 19th century. The considered judgement of church historian Kenneth Scott Latourette is that: "Never had any other set of ideas, religious or secular, been propagated over so wide an area by so many professional agents maintained by the unconstrained donations of so many millions of individuals."
A World to Win
At the beginning of the 19th century, Protestant Christianity was concentrated in Europe and North America. Except for some small Christian enclaves, Asia was almost untouched by the Gospel. Africa was still the "dark continent" - except for the ancient Copts in Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan and a small number of Dutch settlers at the Southernmost tip of Africa, at the Cape.
The Puritans bequeathed to us a heritage of pastoral theology unsurpassed in the history of the English-speaking church. The Puritans modelled a pattern of ministry that was both plainly Biblical and intensely devotional. The Puritans managed to balance head and heart, doctrine and devotion.
Puritan theology (defined as Biblical, Evangelical and Reformed theology) served for more than three centuries as the basic doctrinal framework for Evangelicalism, throughout the Protestant world, including Baptist, Congregational, Independent, Anglican and Presbyterian traditions.
The Puritans were convinced that Biblical theology and doctrinal truth were essential for healthy Christian experience and service. They insisted that the saving knowledge of God is essential for Christian living. This means that we need to know God personally and learn more about Him through His Word. What we believe affects how we live. Bad theology leads to bad practice. “It is impossible to honour God as we ought, unless we know Him as He is.”
The fundamental idea of Puritanism was the supreme authority of Scripture and it expressed itself in a fervent dedication to the cause of civil freedom.
Did you know that the first English translations of the Bible were banned? That the first printed copies of the New Testament in English had to be printed in Germany and smuggled into England in bales of cotton? Did you know that the Bible translator responsible for this was burned at the stake for the crime of translating the Scriptures into English?
Bishop Stephen Bradley observed: “We are in danger of forgetting truths for which previous generations gave their lives.”
That our churches are in danger of forgetting the great Reformation truths, for which previous generations of martyrs willingly laid down their lives, was forcefully impressed upon me during a ministry trip to Europe. I had the opportunity to visit Oxford and see the Martyrs Memorial. It drew my attention to an event that occurred 450 years before.
The Reformation in Europe during the 16th century was one of the most important epochs in the history of the world. The Reformation gave us the Bible now freely available in our own languages. The now almost universally acknowledged principles of religious freedom, liberty of conscience, the rule of law, separation of powers and constitutionally limited Republics were unthinkable before the Reformation. The Reformers fought for the principles that Scripture alone is our final authority, Christ alone is the head of the Church and justification is by God's grace alone, on the basis of the finished work of Christ, received by faith alone.
Few people today realise that the first Bibles printed into English had to be smuggled into England, and that the Bible translator, William Tyndale, was burnt at the stake for the crime of translating the Bible into English.