Church History Lesson 4

 

 

The seeds of change had already been sown by others. Politically, the power of the papacy was being challenged. In Portugal, Spain, France, and England, national states were seeking to rise. Emperors felt the restrictions of religion on their decisions, and they wanted more freedom from the Church. Elsewhere, the followers of Mohammed continued to move against the borders of the Holy Roman Empire. After conquering Constantinople and the Eastern Empire in 1453, Islamic armies marched across Eastern Europe until they arrived at the gates of Vienna in 1529. The world was rapidly changing. Religion was not exempted. When Constantinople was conquered by the Mohammedan Turks, the central power of the Eastern Orthodox Church was lost, and national churches soon emerged. Other important things were happening. Christopher (literal meaning: Christ-like) Columbus made his valiant voyage which led to the discovery of the New World.

Also during this period, advances were being made in knowledge. The scientific legacy of the Middle Ages includes the Hindu numerals, the decimal system, the discovery of gunpowder, and the inventions of the eyeglass, the mariner’s compass, and the pendulum clock. The invention of moveable type at Mayence on the Rhine, in 1456 by Johann

Gutenberg, ensured that learning would be widely encouraged and new ideas would be spread. It is significant that the first book printed by Gutenberg was 200 copies of Jerome’s Vulgate Bible. Later, the printing press would be used to bring the Scriptures to the common person in a clear translation that all could read. Once people were able to read the Bible for themselves, many would realize that the Catholic Church had become far removed from the ideals of the New Testament.

According to the Church in medieval times, entrance into heaven was based upon merit. In order to merit eternal life in the presence of God, there first had to be a cleansing by fire after death in a place called purgatory. In addition, there had to be evidence of having lived a worthy life. In order to help professing Christians live a worthy life of merit, which would reduce time spent in purgatory, the Church developed a system of sacraments.  Continue reading “Church History Lesson 4”

1 John P2R, Week 12

Last week’s passage for our memorization covered some hard ground. John contrasted the love which comes from God and is shared among believers—proving that we have passed out of death into life— against the murderous hatred of the world for believers, which shows that they abide in death.

In this week’s passage we find an appeal to live out our love for one another in tangible, life-sustaining ways, loving in deed and in truth. We also encounter the deeply reassuring truth that this kind of love is another proof that we are in Christ, or, as John writes, “of the truth.” And this proof reassures our hearts whenever our hearts condemn us. When doubt creeps in and the enemy whispers in our heart that we don’t really belong to Christ, “God is greater than our heart.” When we reassure our hearts by the truth to which our one-another love testifies, we have confidence before God and may approach him in prayer, in full assurance that we are his children because the love that we have for one another and our obedience to his commandments. Continue reading “1 John P2R, Week 12”

Church History Lesson 3

 

The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire and Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinces after the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD and continued to exist for an additional thousand years until it fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453.

 

A MAN NAMED MOHAMMED

With the passing of time, many of the Arabs had forsaken the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to embrace many gods. In this idolatrous country of Arabia, there was born in the city of Mecca a boy named Mahomet, who came to be known as Mohammed.

At the age of 25, Mohammed was employed by Kajijah, a rich widow. He carried on her husband’s business and prospered. He also married Kajijah, who was fourteen years older than himself. Continue reading “Church History Lesson 3”

Fellowship With God; Confidence in Christ, Lesson 15

13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life. 14 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.

16 If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life—to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that. 17 All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that does not lead to death.

18 We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him.

19 We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.

20 And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. 21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols. (1 John 5:13-21)

 


We now come to our final lesson with John’s closing thoughts for his beloved children in the faith. Closing thoughts in a letter are often used to highlight the most important message the author wants his readers to take away from the reading, and perhaps a reminder of the point of why the letter was written in the first place. John closed this epistle with exactly these: his purpose for writing, and the important messages which he wanted his children to hold in their hearts and minds. John knew the people to whom he wrote, and that they were very dear to him is evident throughout. Our Father knows each of his beloved children even better than John knew his, and his love for us is also evident throughout John’s epistle. So read these final words of John as the Holy Spirit intended: written to you, dear one, to remind you of important truths which you are to hold in your heart and mind. Continue reading “Fellowship With God; Confidence in Christ, Lesson 15”