Where are the Protestants?
Where have all the Protestants gone? Where is the Protest, the Outrage, the Loud Cry of Protest? Has the Protest been called off? I was not aware that the Protestant Reformation completed its Protest. Were you? Or are you confused with this question? Do you have a clue about what I am talking about, here? Let me see if I can help the church, today, understand her Protestant Roots. I guess that would mean, I am talking to Protestants, or today, most call them Evangelicals, or Evangelical Bible-Believers.
As the church of Laodicea rises (see Revelation 3:14-22) we see that the church of Philadelphia (Revelation 3:7-13) is waning and fading (i.e. churches of the Protestant Reformation)
This prophetic look at Christian History – was from Jesus Christ Himself in Revelation, chapters 1 through 3. The whole church-age, all of Christian History, was predicted and mapped out by Jesus Christ in Revelation, chapters 2 and 3.
Disclaimer – we do not hate people or any of the religious groups we are mentioning in this article. This article attempts to critique certain belief systems, exposing them. Our main goal is to help people toward the truth of God’s Word, alone. Then they can realize true Salvation through Jesus Christ according to the Bible, alone
Jesus predicted the rise of massive waves, 10 waves of persecution that would hit the church by the Roman Empire in Revelation 2:7-11 (e.g.: the church of Smyrna).
Jesus also predicted the rise of the Roman Catholic Church – seen in 3 stages of development – in 3 successive churches:
- Pergamum (bad marriage) (Revelation 2:12-17) [the beginning of pagan infusion, and Nicolaitans (clergy-hierarchy)]
- Thyatira (sweet smelling sacrifice) (Revelation 2:18-29) [full fledged paganism mixtures and acceptance and the fullness of clergy-hierarchy (cardinals, popes, etc.) – the Nicolaitans]
- Sardis (the dead church – a worldly reputation for herself – worldly powerful influence) (deadly consequences of stages #1 & #2 above – deadness – no Gospel influence, anymore) (Revelation 3:1-6)
Jesus also Predicted the Rise of the Protestant Reformation, typified in the church of Philadelphia – Revelation 3:7-13. The Church of Philadelphia, in that passage, perfectly fits the Protestant Reformation and her staunch stance on God and His Word.
The CRY of the Protestant Reformation can be summed up in: SOLA SCRIPTURA! => Scripture Only. The Bible Only.
The Protestants were protesting the Roman Catholic Church, and later this Protest included the Church of England, as well. For more on this, please read Foxe’s Book of Martyrs for the horrible details of how the Roman Catholic and English churches sought to destroy the Protestant Reformation with persecution, torture, imprisonment, and death.
The term “Protestant” comes from “to Protest” or “one who is Protesting”. Thus -> Protestant.
The “Reformation” part of this refers to the reforms that these individuals and groups were proposing to FIX the wrongs of the Roman Catholic (and English) church.
What were some of the common “things” that they were Protesting (this is a very small list, but most important and common):
- The Roman Catholic church was no longer following God’s Word, alone, for its basis, for what it believed and what it was doing (religious practices). Thus, they were protesting the NON-Biblical methods, teachings, practices, rituals, leadership types, etc. Anything that stemmed from NON-Biblical concepts and ideas was sought to be exposed, stopped and/or to be expelled.
- Paganism and Idolatry.The Protestants were keenly aware of the multitude of pagan-rooted beliefs, doctrines, dogmas, practices, rituals, etc. that the Roman Catholic church had “Christianized” in the past and the Protestants were seeking to expose them and seeking that the church would stop being involved in such things. Protestants, for the most part, other than the Lutherans (those that came out of Martin Luther’s reformation protest) rejected all or most of anything that was of the Roman Catholic church. They only wanted to follow what was in Holy Scripture, the Bible. Thus, most rejected the Roman Catholic Calendar of feast days, festivals, saints days, which included Christmas, Easter, Lent, Advent, Epiphany, etc. They did not follow any of the so-called “Holy Days” of the Roman Catholic church, or of the English Church.
- Praying to the saints, and to Mary … the worship of Mary and the saints, etc… The Protestant all rejected this paganistic, non-biblical practice. This was very, very important to the Protestants. This practice, which continues today, of praying to and worshiping Mary and the saints, is part and parcel of being a Roman Catholic … and for that matter any of the Eastern Orthodox traditions, as well. The rejection of this practice by the Protestants caused much persecution, as did all of these Points being listed here (#1 – #2 [above] through #4 to #5 [below])
- Leadership Corruption. Papal (the Pope and “his office”) authority and Papal infallibility. This leadership structure and its power were completely non-biblical and needed to go. The Protestants saw the powerful, authoritarian “leadership” structure of Popes, Cardinals, Priests, etc… as parallel to what Jesus said that He hates as “Nicolaitan” in Revelation 2. The Protestants believed in the Biblical version of church leadership on the local church level, of elders and deacons … and held to the Biblical concept of the Priesthood of all believers (see 1 Peter 2:9). Absolute Power, absolutely corrupts, and that it certainly did.
- Roman Catholic Church (and the English church) had armies. Biblically – Christ’s Kingdom through His Church was NOT of this earth, therefore His Church did not have earthly armies, warriors. See John 18:36-38, Ephesians 6:10-20, and 2 Corinthians 10:3-5. Although, there is a war, it is spiritual in nature, not physical. Protestants protested that the church had armies. Nothing like this was envisioned in Scripture for Christ’s church.
We could list a number of other things, that we could also include in this list, that most of us, today, would agree, should be protested, as well. The problem is, that most today, do not even know God’s Word, well enough, to evaluate if a practice, ritual, tradition, or belief is Biblical or not, or if it should be accepted or rejected. In 1 John 4:1-6, God makes it very clear, that He wants us to be able to evaluate, to TEST doctrines and teachings, beliefs, traditions, and/or religious practices and see if they are God-Pleasing or not.
The Protestants took up this challenge and suffered greatly for it.
Multitudes upon multitudes were persecuted, tortured, imprisoned, and killed because of their stance of SOLA SCRIPTURA (the Bible ONLY). Again, most nice, good, church going folk, today, do not have a clue about this history and how they have benefited from the bloody and costly Protestant Reformation.
So, what was the rationale, the reasoning behind most of the Protestant Reformation?
Please bear with me as I seek to explain this, or rather, let God, through His Holy Scriptures explain the basis for the Protestant Reformation.
Let’s look at a very commonly held belief as seen from within a church’s Statement of Faith, regarding the Holy Bible, Holy Scripture:
We believe the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament are the inspired Word of God, fully authoritative, infallible and inerrant in their original writings, and they are complete as the Revelation of God’s will for salvation, and the supreme and final authority in all matters to which they speak. (Scriptural basis: 2 Tim. 2:15, 3:16-17, 2 Peter 1:20-21, Deut. 6:4-9, 11:13-19, Psalm 19:7-11; Psalm 119:89-104, 1 Corinthians 10:8-12)
This is a very commonly held principle of belief within most churches that can trace their direct roots back to the Protestant Reformation. In fact, there some that go on to state something like this: “… and the Word is God is the ONLY Guide by which we follow regarding everything we believe and do as a church … “ Why is this so important? It is important because this ECHOES perfectly the LOUD and SINGULAR CRY of the Protestant Reformation: SOLA SCRIPTURA (i.e.: Scripture ONLY) !!!
Why would the Protestants want to rebel against the status quo of the Roman Catholic church and/or the English church, the established, culturally accepted, culturally embedded religious institutions of their time?
As the Protestants read and studied God’s Holy Word, the Bible, Holy Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments … they kept being confronted with God’s Own View regarding His Holy Word, the Bible. In fact, there are so many examples of this, time and space cannot adequately accommodate the list of them … my encouragement to you is to look them up. Below are some examples of these:
Jude 1:3 “… earnestly contend for the FAITH, once for all, delivered unto the saints … “
Jude 1:3 and other passages we will look at, were part and parcel and CENTRAL to the concept of SOLA SCRIPTURA. Instead of adding to Scripture more and more religious traditions, rituals, practices, papal edicts, and more doctrine and dogmas (as the Roman Catholic and English churches were doing), these Protestants basically said “wait a minute here…” Jude 1:3 says we cannot do that anymore. Jude 1:3 basically says (paraphrased here…) “… fight for, stand up for, contend for, and defend the Body of Beliefs we have, based ONLY upon the Bible, that was finally delivered unto us, believers in Christ …” You see, “the FAITH” as mentioned in Jude 1:3, is a NOUN, pointing to the Precepts, Principles, and Patterns that make up our Body of Beliefs, our Belief System, which is based upon Holy Scripture, from Genesis to Revelation, ALONE. What is it that we BELIEVE in? What is it that we are supposed to DO as Christians? How are we to LIVE as Jesus’ disciples, as born again followers of Jesus Christ? That, ALL, must all be based upon God’s Holy Word, the Bible, ALONE. Yes, that is the thrust and meaning of Jude 1:3. It basically means that when the last living Apostle of Jesus Christ died, that would be the end of the Revelation of God as Holy Scripture to all of us humans on planet earth. When John, the Apostle, penned his last document, the book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ (the book of Revelation, the last book of the Bible) … Holy Scripture was SEALED and NO MORE “bible books” were to be allowed in. I know this sounds restrictive, harsh, unreasonable, and “other worldly”. It is! This view is Biblical, and that is all that mattered to those Protestant Reformers.
When Jesus Christ claimed – “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.” (Matt. 24:35, Mark 13:31, Luke 21:33) the Protestants understood Jesus to mean the Whole Bible, from cover to cover, from Genesis through and including Revelation. Why? Because Jesus Christ was and is the Living Word of God (John 1:1-14) and that Jesus Christ (God, the Son), along with His Father (God, the Father), and the Holy Spirit (God, the Holy Spirit) authored the Entire Bible, from cover to cover (Genesis 1:1-2:24, 2 Timothy 3:16-17 & 2 Peter 1:19-21). The Protestants understood that God was the Author of the Bible, and they also understood that God would PRESERVE the Bible throughout the Centuries. The Protestants understood and believed that the Proper, Correct, and Pure Proclamation of God’s Word to sinful humans would be the means for God to extend His Salvation, revealed through the Gospel of Jesus Christ (see Romans 10:8-17, especially verse 17) To them, it was so very, very important to make sure that God’s Word was correctly proclaimed, taught, preserved, translated and published to all peoples, nations, tongues, and tribes (Matt. 28:18-20). Thus, fulfilling the Prophecy regarding the “church of Philadelphia” as seen in Revelation 3:7-13 – the prophecy of the rise of the Protestant Reformation. And the Protestants were TRUE to their CALLING, as History has shown. Thank God for His wonderous work in bringing about the Protestant Reformation. Without the Protestant Reformation, we would still only have the LATIN MASS and never learn God’s Word, and salvation would be by works and NOT by Faith in Christ and His Finished Work of Redemption, alone, according to the Scriptures, alone (1 Corinthians 15:1-4; Ephesians 1:13-14; 2:8-9; Romans 10:8-13)
Here are some more of the Scriptures the Protestants used as their rationale, their reasons behind their PROTEST:
(28) Be sure you obey all these instructions I’m giving you. Then things will always go well for you and your descendants because you will be doing what the LORD your God considers good and right.(29) The LORD your God will destroy the nations where you’re going and force them out of your way. You will take possession of their land and live there. (30) After they’ve been destroyed, be careful you aren’t tempted to follow their customs [traditions, rituals, religious-ways, religious practices]. Don’t even ask about their gods and say, “How did these people worship their gods? We want to do what they did.” (31) Never worship the LORD your God in the way they worship their gods, because everything they do for their gods is disgusting to the LORD. He hates it! They even burn their sons and daughters as sacrifices to their gods. (32) Be sure to do everything I command you. Never ADD anything to it or TAKE anything away from it.
Yahweh, (the LORD) God of Israel explains to the nation of Israel:
“Never worship the LORD your God in the way they worship their gods …” (Deut. 12:31)
What God is saying in the whole chapter of Deuteronomy 12 is that –>
–> WE are to Worship God, Follow God, Obey God, based upon His Instructions in His Holy Word, alone (i.e.: the Bible). Yes, this principle includes us, this command/principle applies to New Testament, born again, disciples of Jesus Christ, today. We are all to Worship, Follow, Love, and Obey God according to His Word, alone (SOLA SCRIPTURA – SCRIPTURE ONLY). We are NOT supposed to mix Pagan-Rooted traditions, religious practices, rituals, beliefs, etc… into the Worship, Following, Loving, and Obeying of the God of the Bible, PERIOD!!! We are not even to have the names of those “gods and goddesses” on our lips when we Worship God.
But many, today, who love their man-made traditions tell me, that today, their pagan-rooted, Roman Catholic traditions no longer have those ancient meanings, anymore. They have been “Christianized” and/or “sanctified” by “the church”, so, now, they are OK They are not meant, now, to worship those old pagan gods, like those traditions used to do.
My reply: “when did God say that it is OK, now, to Worship God according to pagan traditions?” Just wondering? And when did Pagan-rooted traditions, religious practices, rituals, beliefs, calendar events – finally become OK to the God of the Bible? Can you please show me in Scripture? Some will point to 1 Corinthians 10:31. The problem is, that you must read all of 1 Corinthians 8 & 10 – those two chapters – the whole chapters, to understand God was NOT saying it is OK, now, to mix in Idolatry into Christianity. Contrary to that, the Apostle Paul was stating that we need to “flee Idolatry” and anything that resembles it, for the sake of the Gospel and for the sake of the lost around us. Please re-read Deuteronomy 12:28-32 (above) and see how this relates to Worshiping God using paganistic-idolatrous practices. God is consistent, from Old through New Testament, in His views regarding Paganism and Idolatry and our relationship to those things.
One must also look at Jesus Christ’s evaluation of two churches in Revelation 2 – Pergamum and Thyatira. Both were called to repentance because of their blatant acceptance, tolerance, and mixtures of paganistic-idolatrous practices into their doctrine and practices. Of course those two churches were prophetic in depicting, perfectly, the rise of the Roman Catholic church.
God’s judgment regarding Idolatry and Paganism is consistent throughout the Old and New Testaments. Never does God allow or even hint that Christians are supposed to go out and Christianize any Idolatrous/Pagan belief, ritual, practice, and/or calendar event, never, ever. In fact, God teaches squarely against such things… from Old to New Testaments – we are to tear down, destroy, burn, avoid, expose, and to teach/preach AGAINST paganistic-idolatry.
Regarding how we are to Treat God and His Word … here are some more Instructions… :
Proverbs 30:5-6 (also see Revelation 22:18-19 – “do not add or take away from God’s Word”):
(5) Every word of God is tried and pure; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.
(6) Do NOT ADD anything to His words, or He will rebuke you, and you will be proved to be a liar.
2 Timothy 2:15:
(15) Study and be eager and do your utmost to present yourself to God approved (tested by trial), a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing [rightly handling and skillfully teaching] the Word of Truth.
2 Timothy 3:16 – 4:4:
(3:16) Every Scripture is God-breathed (given by His inspiration) and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience, [and] for training in righteousness (in holy living, in conformity to God’s will in thought, purpose, and action), (3:17) So that the man of God may be complete and proficient, well fitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work. (i.e.: the full sufficiency of Scripture)
(4:1) I (Paul) charge [you] (Timothy) in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, Who is to judge the living and the dead, and by (in the light of) His coming and His kingdom:
(4:2) Herald and preach the Word! Keep your sense of urgency [stand by, be at hand and ready], whether the opportunity seems to be favorable or unfavorable. [Whether it is convenient or inconvenient, whether it is welcome or unwelcome, you as preacher of the Word are to show people in what way their lives are wrong.] And convince them, rebuking and correcting, warning and urging and encouraging them, being unflagging and inexhaustible in patience and teaching.
(4:3) For the time is coming when [people] will NOT tolerate (endure) sound and wholesome instruction, but, having ears itching [for something pleasing and gratifying], they will gather to themselves one teacher after another to a considerable number, CHOSEN to satisfy their own liking and to foster the errors they hold,
(4:4) and they will turn aside from hearing the truth and wander off into myths and man-made fictions.
Just a bit of commentary on this … in 2 Timothy 4:3-4 – if you will notice – it is the PEOPLE who are CHOOSING this – the PEOPLE CHOOSE – this is a direct translation of the meaning of LAODICEA (see Revelation 3:14-22) … seeing that this is PROPHETICALLY foretelling the future about the RISE of the church of LAODICEA (see Revelation 3:14-22) – the worldly, compromising church, in which Jesus, Himself, is outside of the church, knocking on the door, attempting to come in. Why is Jesus Christ on the OUTSIDE, knocking on the door trying to enter the church? Because they are SELF-satisfied, SELF-Centered, and they have TURNED their hearts and ears AWAY from hearing, knowing, and following THE TRUTH and they have, INSTEAD –> believed FABLES and are following NON-BIBLICAL Traditions, rituals, beliefs, stories … etc… (please, also, see more warnings about this “turning away from the truth” or “turning away from the LOVE of the TRUTH” in 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12)
Most people will either get offended or angry at what I am saying here and those people will quickly seek to justify themselves and their tendencies (and traditions, etc…). Please, seek to fight against this right now and have open eyes, minds, hearts, and ears. Please. We, as humans, we LOVE our Traditions, our Rituals, our own “take” on things … instead of Surrendering to and Obeying God’s Holy Word, simply and ONLY. Our natural tendency as humans is to LOVE our own Human, Man-Made Traditions OVER and ABOVE God’s Word …
. . . Plain and Simple !!!
If you do not believe me –> Please reread => 2 Timothy 3:16 – 4:4 above —
You must, also, read Jesus’ condemnation of Human traditions that seek to make themselves seem as if they are really from God or are really the “commandments” of God ==> in Matt. 15:1-20 & Mark 7:1-23
We, as humans, naturally, want to be liked by others, accepted by the group, and to “get along”. This is a tendency we all have, based upon God’s Good Creation. The problem is, when sin is influencing us, that Good Natural Tendency, drifts toward corruption. Our natural, earthly (sinful nature inspired) tendencies are toward Babel / Babylon. Yes, we have what I like to call it – “The Babylonian DRIFT” – We as humans seem to always DRIFT toward Idolatry and Selfish, Self-Centered Hedonism. Only God’s Word, empowered by God’s Spirit actively engaged in the life of a redeemed, born again, human can overcome this natural drift. Jesus addressed this drift, this tendency to want to “get along with others” at the expense of God and His Word, in Matthew 10:37-39:
(37) He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.
(38) And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.
(39) He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.
– – Also Luke 14:25-27:
(25) Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them,
(26) “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters,
yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.
(27) And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.
Jesus is saying that Family, Friends, Peers, Peer Pressure, Social and Cultural Pressure all around us are NOT supposed to affect our relationship with Christ. If we desire to “save our life” – that is, give in to the social-cultural pressures and compromise our obedience and relationship with Christ … that is what is meant here by “save our life”. Jesus Christ knows how we are … and we will give in, if it means we can be accepted by the “IN Crowd”, or belong to the popular group(s), or avoid torture, suffering, embarrassment, avoid being ostracized or “cast out” or being left alone, etc… Most people will cow-tow, compromise, give in, give up, and follow the crowd to avoid suffering from these kinds pressures.
“take up your cross, daily, and follow Me” represented following Christ when all around you are ridiculing you and pressuring you to stop following Christ and His Word … but you continue onward to Follow Christ AND His Word, publicly. Therefore, Jesus is not just talking about just a Personal Relationship with Him, only, without reference to how we treat His Word … God’s Word – our following, obeying, surrendering to, submitting to, standing up for, and our defense of it – God’s Word IS central to our relationship with Christ (see Jude 1:3). Let’s READ Luke 9:23-26:
(23) Then Jesus said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.
(24) For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.
(25) For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? [e.g.: being accepted by everyone – everyone in the world loves you…]
(26) For whoever is ashamed of Me and My WORDS, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s Glory, and of the glory of holy angels.
Just in case you do not catch what Jesus is saying here look at Mark 8:34-38 :
(34) When Jesus had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also,
He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.
(35) For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the GOSPELS’s sake, will save it.
(36) For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?
(37) Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?
(38) For whoever is ashamed of Me and My WORDS in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”
Jesus sounds extremely serious in these passages. Yes, these truths are critically important, LIFE and DEATH Important to Jesus Christ and to us. He is not holding anything back, He is telling it like it is. I know it sounds harsh, restrictive with no wiggle room… and that is precisely the point here. God’s WORD, ALONE, is supposed to be the ONLY foundation and governor of our Life, as we follow Christ in the Power of His Spirit, to the Glory of God our Father. In Christ Alone, according to God’s Word Alone … SOLA SCRIPTURA !!! SCRIPTURE ONLY is the CRY of the Protestant Reformation.
And this is barely, if ever heard of by the preachers, teachers, pastors from the Pulpit today .. from the TV Preachers, on the Radio waves … anymore. No one, it seems, wants to offend anyone. Understand this, TRUTH will always offend someone. We need to get over this hangup we have and just PREACH GOD’s WORD simply and purely.
Most Christians today in Western Civilization have no clue about their heritage as Protestants, at all. My heart’s desire, is that those who are privileged and blessed to be pastors over congregations in which the folks love and trust them, that those preachers/teachers/pastors would teach their people the WORD of GOD again and teach them Christian History and the Protestants’ stand for God’s Word, accurately. Maybe, the church of Philadelphia [the Protestant Reformation churches] (Revelation 3:7-13) will again come back and have that open door for the Gospel to the ends of the earth.
Where have all the Protestants gone? I think they are here, but not very vocal anymore. Most are AFRAID, fearful of offending others and suffering the consequences of the TRUTH. I seem to remember Jesus Christ commanding us to take up our cross, daily. Folks, that is part of bearing our cross, telling the TRUTH of God’s Word and suffering the consequences for it. Most of us, want to just get along and NOT rock the boat. Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, along with Paul that apostle, must have not received that Memo – they called out names, and named religious groups and exposed their false doctrines and false religious practices. Where do you think the Protestants learned how to be Protestants? They learned it from the examples of Jesus Christ and His apostles, of course. Now that IS a real Biblical Tradition that God IS pleased with. Protest, Expose, Cry Loudly, Protest Much – against false doctrine and paganism and compromise in the church. Please keep up the PROTEST.
Our Next installment in this series, we will seek to look at some “lights” in the Protestant Reformation.
Until then… keep the faith (Jude 1:3) …
In Christ’s Love and Truth,
Pastor Andy Thomas