Edited from Original Article by Rev. Timothy Tow
Published in Life Bible-Presbyterian Church Weekly
Dated 27th October 1985

We observe Reformation Sunday in the Bible-Presbyterian Church. On this day, we remember the momentous event of October 31, 1517, when Luther protested the tyranny of Rome by nailing his 95 theses on the door of the Castle Church at Wittenberg.

The need of commemorating the 16th Century Reformation was never greater as we see the tide of Ecumenism drawing more and more Protestant Churches back to Rome. The corrupt system of the Roman Catholic Church persists without changing an iota this day is reflected in Christ’s message to the church in Thyatira. This corrupt church harbours Jezebel, “which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols” (Rev 2:20). To commit fornication spiritually is to depart from Christ and His Word unto an idolatrous and superstitious system of Mary and martyr worship, Pope and priests, confession, purgatory and indulgences, which are completely alien to the Bible. So, true servants of God must denounce such “fornication”.

While Luther was the faith hero that made the breakthrough to the 16th Century Reformation, I propose this year to commemorate John Huss (1374-1415), a forerunner of Luther in Bohemia.

John Huss

John Huss lost his father at an early age, but under his devout mother, he grew up to be a great scholar. He became Rector of Prague University when only 34 years old. What made him great was his love for and faithfulness to the Word of God, and devout consecration before Him. He was greatly influenced by the writings of John Wycliffe of England (1329-84), the “Morning Star of the Reformation”. Wycliffe questioned many of the evil doctrines and deeds of the Roman Catholic Church, and for doing that his grave was dug up and his remains thrown into the River Swift.

Two cartoons also made a deep impression on John Huss. One showed Jesus wearing a crown of thorns but the Pope wearing a crown of gold. The other cartoon showed the woman to whom Jesus said, “Thy sins are forgiven thee” with the reverse side of a Pope selling indulgences (“forgiveness tickets”) to the people.

In Prague, there was a Bethlehem Chapel where the common people could hear the Word, not in Latin, which only the clergy understood, but happily in their own language. Here Huss spoke earnestly of the need of turning away from the many superstitions in the Church. He also exposed the sins of the clergy. He spoke fearlessly from what he had learned from the Bible, but truth which cuts straight spares no crookedness in its path. In denying the infallibility of the Pope and in challenging the crafty powers of the priests, he committed the “unpardonable sin” against the Church. This brought him into confrontation with the Archbishop of Prague who had his and Wycliffe’s books publicly burnt.

Things came to a head when the Pope excommunicated him and placed the city of Prague under an interdict (ban), which forbade the Church and people from having anything to do with Huss. Anyone helping Huss would be damned. When the General Council of Constance (Switzerland) was to be held in 1414, Huss was summoned to attend as Luther was summoned to the Diet of Worms. The Emperor Sigismund promised him safe conduct, that is, he would not be arrested, but it was of no avail under the overwhelming presence of the Church. Huss was caught like a bird in a net. The Church could bring no charge of heresy against him save his stand for a return to the Bible.

Nevertheless, he was sentenced to death, but that was the price forerunners of the Reformation had to pay. Remember also Wycliffe! Kneeling before his persecutors, Huss prayed, “Lord Jesus, forgive all my enemies for the sake of Thy great mercy. Thou knowest that they have falsely accused me, brought forward false witnesses and concocted false charges against me. Pardon them for the sake of Thine infinite mercy.”

The Archbishop of Milan and six other bishops were appointed to deprive him of his office of priest, who also committed his soul to the devil. As they burned him at the stake, they put a crown of blasphemy on his head which said, “This is an arch-heretic.” Though Huss was put to this cruel death by burning, in the Spirit of Christ he could calmly say, “Into Thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.” What a testimony of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ and His Word: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28)

The Bohemian delegates to the Council of Constance returned to their country filled with indignation. They were sorry not only for Huss but also for others of like precious faith who were cast into prison. A revolt broke out of which became a war lasting 15 years. Those who revolted in sympathy with John Huss were called Hussites. Later, they were known as Bohemian or Moravian brethren.

False Christs and False Prophets Today

Beloved, we are living in the last days. As for signs of His coming, not only are there increasing occurrences of earthquakes and wars, famines and pestilences, but more and more false christs and false prophets are appearing on the Church scene. They impress with big numbers, great prestige and power. Ecumenism is raising its ugly head. We who stand in the tradition of the 16th Century Reformation must separate from all ecumenical entanglements. We must also preach the Truth that cuts straight across all crookedness. We must stand with Luther. We must stand with Huss. May this commemoration of a hero of faith make this year’s Reformation Sunday a meaningful one.


“The human instruments, however, which God uses in great triumphs of faith are no pacifists, but great fighters like Paul himself… But who are those heroes? Are they not true fighters, one and all? … Luther was a great fighter; and we love him for it. So was Calvin; so were John Knox and all the rest. It is impossible to be a true soldier of Jesus Christ and not fight.”
– J. Gresham Machen, as preached in the sermon “The Good Fight of Faith”

“Beloved … it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” (Jude 3)