Minggu, 06 Januari 2008

Kristen Kupu-Kupu atau Lebah

"Itulah yang harus ada di sampingnya dan haruslah ia membacanya seumur hidupnya untuk belajar takut akan TUHAN, Allahnya, dengan berpegang pada segala isi hukum dan ketetapan ini untuk dilakukannya." (Ulangan 17:19)

Apakah Anda belajar Alkitab seperti kupu-kupu ataukah lebah?
Kupu-kupu beterbangan kesana kemari sambil hinggap di bunga-bunga. Menghisap hanya bagian atas dan puas hanya mendapatkan bagian atasnya saja. Manusia menikmati permainan lincah yang diperagakannya.

Tetapi di bagian lain ada seekor lebah yang tidak beranjak dari dalam sekuntum bunga?

Apa yang dikerjakannya? Tidur? Tidak!

Dengan tenang dan meyakinkan ia makan sampai ke dalam sari bunga itu. Dan tidak berhenti sampai ia puas mendapatkan apa yang diinginkannya.

Suatu saat musim dingin tiba, kupu-kupu itu mati dalam kelaparan, tetapi si lebah tetap bertahan hidup sebab makanan yang masih tersedia di dalam dirinya.

Anda menjadi Kristen yang bertipe kupu-kupu ataukah lebah?

Apakah Anda puas hanya sekilas membaca Alkitab?

Perhatikan kupu-kupu yang cuma sekilas menghisap makanannya. Ketika musim dingin datang, maka matilah dia. Anda tidak bisa menjadi orang Kristen yang tangguh kalau hanya sekilas saja memberikan makanan rohani kepada roh Anda. Manusia rohani Anda akan kurus dan kering. Jadi tidak heran bila nafsu Anda yang perkasa akan dengan mudah "membanting" manusia rohani Anda, sehingga setiap hari Anda taat kepada keinginan nafsu Anda.

Sebaliknya bila Anda memberikan makanan seperti lebah yang menggali sampai dalam sampai ia menemukan banyak makanan yang bergizi, maka Anda akan menjadi manusia rohani Anda tangguh. Bila godaan datang, karena manusia rohani Anda kuat, maka dengan mudah ia mengalahkannya.

Alkitab bukan sekedar buku wajib yang dibawa manakala kita ke gereja.

Alkitab adalah makanan rohani Anda.

Tuhan bahkan memberikan perintah agar kita membaca dan merenungkannya sampai seumur hidup!

Kalau saya bertanya kepada Anda, apakah Anda pernah merasa bosan makan sampai tiga kali sehari bahkan lebih?

Pernah? Tidak bukan?

Lalu mengapa kita harus bosan makan makanan rohani?

Mengapa pula kita harus bosan membaca Alkitab?

Semakin Anda makan terus, maka Anda akan mendapatkan berkat yang luar biasa dari Allah.

Kunci sukses Yosua merebut tanah Kanaan adalah melakukan firman Tuhan seperti dalam Yos, 1:8.

Yosua membaca dan merenungkan firman Tuhan itu siang dan malam. Hasilnya, dia berhasil masuk tanah Kanaan setelah menghalau musuh-musuhnya.

~ Elia Stories ~

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John Calvin (1509-1564)

Calvin was born in France; 'a man from among the common people' was his description of himself. He distinguished himself in school and the Roman church helped him to go to the University of Paris. He was destined for priesthood. His father, initially supporting Calvin to prepare for the priesthood, changed his mind and instructed him to become a lawyer.

But by this time Calvin had been strongly influenced by the German reformers and what he described as 'a sudden conversion' empowered him to continue the course of the Reformation within Europe. Calvin supported the persecuted Protestants within Paris and eventually he was forced to leave finding refuge in Basel in 1535. This was where he produced his book 'the Instruction in the Christian religion, also known as Calvin's Institutes. This is still a significantly important book on the subject of the Christian faith.

In Geneva, Calvin met up with William Farel, a French reformer. They were both powerful preachers and many people listened to them but their emphasis was on the hearers of the Word becoming doers of the Word. They introduced a strict discipline for their followers and this eventually led to them being banished from Geneva.

In 1541 Calvin returned to Geneva and started preaching again. The influence of Calvin's teachings and books quickly spread throughout western Europe. John Calvin became the dominant figure of the Protestant Reformation, especially after Luther's death in 1546. Geneva became a haven of refuge to Protestants fleeing persecution. One such person was John Knox who, with others, produced the Geneva Bible translation. Calvin had a significant influence on this translation.

Calvin organized Geneva in a very regimented manner. Attendance at worship was mandatory with punishments for people who failed to go! Education was considered to be very important for both secular subjects and Christianity. There were laws regulating most of society including their clothing and their moral behaviour. Calvin did not institute these rules directly, they were freely adopted by the majority of the society and were welcomed by most of the people. There were problems caused by some people who did not want to live their lives in a decent manner but Calvin succeeded in leaving his influence in the Christian church even of today.

But Calvin and his supporters, as some church groups do today, missed a very simple but important point. People have a free will to accept or reject the Gospel of Jesus Christ. No one can be forced to become a Christian. It is only a divine act of grace by God that changes the nature of people that makes a Christian. Thus all attempts to force a society to become Christians through laws and punishments is doomed to fail. Even within a family, children cannot be forced into Christianity. But they can be brought up with a decent lifestyle and Christian teaching and protected from the influence of the world. Then God will honour His promise in Proverbs 22:6.

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Henry VIII (died 1547)

Henry VIII was the English king at the time that the Reformation was taking place in Europe. He was strongly opposed to the Protestant doctrine; he wrote a treatise against Luther for which the Pope rewarded him with the title 'Defender of the Faith'.

His motivation for the separation of the Church of England from Rome was political and personal in that he wanted a divorce in order to marry Anne Boleyn. He persuaded Parliament to make this separation legal. Henry VIII appointed Thomas Cranmer as the Archbishop of Canterbury and an Act of Parliament was which included the dissolution of the monasteries.

In 1538 Henry ordered a copy of the Scriptures in English to be placed in every parish church and that the churches were to be open for people to have access to the Bible.

Henry VIII died in 1547 and the Reformation in England and Wales proceeded rapidly. Cranmer replaced the Roman Catholic Missal with the English Prayer Book.

When Edward VI died he was replaced by Mary, his half-sister, who attempted to re-establish Roman Catholicism in England. The persecution of Protestants commenced. Nearly 300 men and women were burnt at the stake. John Foxe in his Book of Martyrs gives us many accounts of the people who were martyred for their faith in Christ. These people did not die for their principles, they went home willingly. There was no way that they could renounce the living witness of Christ within them.

England became a Protestant nation because of these martyrs and because English translations of the Bible became available to everyone. William Tyndale was paramount in this move of God.

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Martin Luther (1483-1546) episode 1

Luther was born in Eisleben in Saxony, Germany of a peasant family. He had a strict upbringing and entered the University of Erfurt where he greatly distinguished himself in study.

He did not seem to be aware of the role that God had planned for him, a role that would reveal Christ to Europe and shake the Roman church to it's foundations.

A series of events affected Luther. A friend died in a brawl, Luther himself nearly died after accidentally injuring himself with a rapier. Then he feared for his life during a thunderstorm so much that he promised God that if he survived then he would become a monk. Which he did!

Luther entered an Augustinian monastery. He wanted peace with God and he had realized that the world could not give it to him. As a monk he did his utmost to earn this peace with God. He was perhaps the most sincere, conscientious monk who ever tried in genuine earnestness to merit salvation by human effort. He even became proud of his own humility.

Luther struggled with the phrase 'the righteousness of God' (Romans 1:17). He could not understand how he could ever achieve this level of holiness. He did not understand that the gospel is the saving power of God to everyone who believes in God because it reveals the righteousness of God, which is Christ. As the punishment due to the believing sinner is borne by Christ so the righteousness of Christ in the believer makes him acceptable to God. The scripture that the Holy Spirit used to bring life to Luther was 'The just shall live by faith' and this scripture became the fundamental truth of the Reformation.

Luther entered the Roman priesthood and took a post as professor of Theology at Wittenberg University.

In 1510 Luther went to Rome for four weeks on a mission for the Augustinian monastery. This was a turning point for Luther. As he approached the 'eternal' city he had proclaimed 'Hail holy Rome'. Four weeks later he proclaimed 'If there is a hell, Rome is built over it'.

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Martin Luther (1483-1546) episode 2

Soon Luther was involved in a conflict with the church. St. Peter's Cathedral in Rome was to be rebuilt. The expense was to be met by contributions and special indulgences were to be sold. Luther preached vehemently against the sale of indulgences. He wrote his now famous 95 Theses, an attack against indulgences, and nailed them to the door of the Castle Church at Wittenberg at noon on the 31st October 1517. Thus the Reformation had begun.

Copies of the document were distributed all over Europe and the rift between the Pope and this 'child of the devil' widened and Luther was excommunicated. A papal bull was issued to burn all of his writings. Instead, Luther burnt the papal bull!

Luther was summoned by the Emperor Charles V to the city of Worms to appear before an inquisition. He was given a safe conduct (remember what happened to John Huss). There were 206 people of rank, including the emperor, against Martin Luther. Luther held firm in his faith and was allowed to leave the city of Worms. Shortly after that he was declared an outlaw to be captured dead or alive. Anyone who assisted him at all would be charged with high treason against the emperor.

On his journey back to Wittenberg, Luther was captured by a group of horsemen and taken to castle Wartburg. However these were friends who kept him concealed for almost a year. In this time Luther started the work of translating the scriptures into German. Luther was ideally qualified for this work. He had studied Hebrew and Greek for many years and was gifted in the use of the German language. The Greek New Testament translation by Erasmus was valuable to him. By 1522 the New Testament was openly on sale. By 1534 the Old Testament was also available. His main work was done. What Luther had started could not be stopped and the rest of Europe, England and Scotland were to catch the fire that he had kindled.

Luther married in 1525 and, until his death in 1546, he wrote prodigiously. His best known books are his Large and Small Catechisms. His greatest book was, arguably, The Bondage of the Will.

He was buried in the castle church at Wittenberg. The following summer Charles V stood at the grave. When asked if the bones of the arch-heretic should be dug up and burnt, he replied 'I make war against the living, not upon the dead. Let this man rest until the day of resurrection and of judgement'.

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John Wycliffe (1320-1384)

Wycliffe was highly educated. He was the master of Balliol College Oxford in 1361 and became a Doctor of Theology.

In 1366 Wycliffe supported Edward III and his refusal to pay tribute to the Pope. In 1374 Wycliffe denounced the sale of indulgences and verbally attacked the Pope. From this point on Wycliffe had severe opposition from Rome and from the church in England. The Pope issued five decrees (Bulls) against him and condemned him on nineteen different charges concerning his writings.

Four years later Wycliffe attacked the Roman doctrine of transubstantiation and in the ensuing troubles he retired from public life.

Fortunately the greatest of all of his works was accomplished. Wycliffe translated the Bible into the first English translation thus making it available to ordinary people. Those who could read were able to tell other people what the Bible actually said.

Wycliffe had a group of followers who acted as unauthorized preachers. They went out amongst ordinary people and preached the gospel to them. These followers were known as Lollards. Wycliffe's influence thus continued after his death in 1384. And his writings spread to the European continent when they were adopted by John Huss who was at the Prague University.

Forty years after his death, John Wycliffes's bones were dug up and burnt by order of the Roman church.

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Helen Keller (1880-1968)

Helen Keller was born in Alabama, America on June 27, 1880. When she was 19 months, she suffered from meningitis and became blind and deaf as a result.

Helen Keller became the first blind-deaf person to effectively communicate with a world in which vision and sound are of such importance. Her teacher, Anne Sullivan, played a vital role in this achievement.

Helen graduated from college in 1904 (an achievement in itself!) and dedicated her life to helping people with these disabilities.

Her dedication, courage and determination which was based on her Christian faith, was recognized by many people. Winston Churchill called her "the greatest woman of our age".

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William Hunter (1535-1555)

William Hunter was publicly burned in his home town of Brentwood in Essex because he was found reading the Bible in English for himself. He was 19 years old.

William was an apprentice silk weaver in London and he was a Protestant when Mary Tudor took the English throne. England had broken away from the Catholic Church under King Henry VIII. Edward VI had then become king but he died at a young age allowing his Catholic half-sister Mary to become queen. She was determined to return England to the Catholic Church and a period of persecution of the Protestant believers began.

William was singled out by the authorities because he refused to attend mass despite an order having been made that everyone in the City of London had to attend the Catholic mass. By refusing to obey, William lost his job and he returned to Brentwood.

It wasn't long before William was found reading the Bible for himself. The local priest became involved and soon established that William had a basic protestant belief which totally contradicted the Catholic doctrine. William was soon arrested and sent to be interrogated by the Bishop of London. Again William refused to deny his faith in Jesus. By his actions he was denying the validity of the teachings of the Catholic Church.

William was imprisoned for nine months but he refused to repent his beliefs despite physical punishment, threats and bribery. Eventually he was sent back to Brentwood to be executed.

William was burnt at the stake because of his beliefs and because he refused to deny his beliefs. It would also seem that the authorities were incensed by the spiritual maturity of someone so young. There is a monument to William Hunter in Brentwood with the following inscription:-

Committed to the Flames March 26th MDLV.
Christian Reader, learn from his example to value the privilege of an open Bible.
And be careful to maintain it.

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