October 24, 2010 – October 30, 2010
“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.” Hosea 4:6.
Study Help: The Great Controversy, 60–62; The Desire of Ages, 413, 414.
“For centuries, truth and error struggled for the mastery.” The Great Controversy, 265.
1 What condition existed in the Dark Ages and why was there little progress in the arts and sciences during this time? Isaiah 60:2; 59:12, 13; Hosea 4:1, 2; Ezekiel 33:32.
Note: “For centuries Europe had made no progress in learning, arts, or civilization. A moral and intellectual paralysis had fallen upon Christendom.” The Great Controversy, 60.
2 What only could be expected from the people when even priests were quite ignorant of the Word of God? Hosea 4:6, 9; Malachi 2:7.
Note: “ ‘The noon of the papacy was the midnight of the world.’—J. A. Wylie, The History of Protestantism, b. 1, ch. 4. The Holy Scriptures were almost unknown, not only to the people, but to the priests. … Fraud, avarice, and profligacy prevailed. Men shrank from no crime by which they could gain wealth or position. The palaces of popes and prelates were scenes of the vilest debauchery. Some of the reigning pontiffs were guilty of crimes so revolting that secular rulers endeavored to depose these dignitaries of the church as monsters too vile to be tolerated. … The condition of the world under the Romish power presented a fearful and striking fulfillment of the words of the prophet Hosea: [Hosea 4:6, 1, 2 quoted]. Such were the results of banishing the word of God.” The Great Controversy, 60.
3 Why did the priests and papal leaders hate the light of God’s Word? John 3:19, 20. What was the eventual result?
Note: “Like the Pharisees of old, the papal leaders hated the light which would reveal their sins. God’s law, the standard of righteousness, having been removed, they exercised power without limit, and practiced vice without restraint.” The Great Controversy, 60.
“For centuries, truth and error struggled for the mastery. At last the evil triumphed, and the truth of Heaven was thrust out. ‘This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light.’ John 3:19. The nation was left to reap the results of the course which she had chosen. The restraint of God’s Spirit was removed from a people that had despised the gift of His grace. Evil was permitted to come to maturity. And all the world saw the fruit of willful rejection of the light.
“The war against the Bible, carried forward for so many centuries in France, culminated in the scenes of the Revolution. That terrible outbreaking was but the legitimate result of Rome’s suppression of the Scriptures. It presented the most striking illustration which the world has ever witnessed of the working out of the papal policy—an illustration of the results to which for more than a thousand years the teaching of the Roman Church had been tending.” Ibid., 265, 266.
4 What prophecy foresaw that the Lord would have His faithful witnesses even through this time of spiritual darkness? Isaiah 43:5, 6, 10.
Note: “Amid the gloom that settled upon the earth during the long period of papal supremacy, the light of truth could not be wholly extinguished. In every age there were witnesses for God—men who cherished faith in Christ as the only mediator between God and man, who held the Bible as the only rule of life, and who hallowed the true Sabbath. How much the world owes to these men, posterity will never know. They were branded as heretics, their motives impugned, their characters maligned, their writings suppressed, misrepresented, or mutilated. Yet they stood firm, and from age to age maintained their faith in its purity, as a sacred heritage for the generations to come.” The Great Controversy, 61.
5 What example did Rome follow to conceal the writings which would be a testimony against her? Jeremiah 36:22, 23.
Note: “The history of God’s people during the ages of darkness that followed upon Rome’s supremacy is written in heaven, but they have little place in human records. Few traces of their existence can be found, except in the accusations of their persecutors. It was the policy of Rome to obliterate every trace of dissent from her doctrines or decrees. Everything heretical, whether persons or writings, she sought to destroy. Expressions of doubt, or questions as to the authority of papal dogmas, were enough to forfeit the life of rich or poor, high or low. Rome endeavored also to destroy every record of her cruelty toward dissenters. Papal councils decreed that books and writings containing such records should be committed to the flames. Before the invention of printing, books were few in number, and in a form not favorable for preservation; therefore there was little to prevent the Romanists from carrying out their purpose.” The Great Controversy, 61, 62.
6 What kind of persecution did the British Christians receive—and for many years, from what kind of corruption did they manage to escape? Matthew 23:15.
Note: “No church within the limits of Romish jurisdiction was long left undisturbed in the enjoyment of freedom of conscience. No sooner had the papacy obtained power than she stretched out her arms to crush all that refused to acknowledge her sway, and one after another the churches submitted to her dominion.
“In Great Britain primitive Christianity had very early taken root. The gospel received by the Britons in the first centuries was then uncorrupted by Romish apostasy. Persecution from pagan emperors, which extended even to these far-off shores, was the only gift that the first churches of Britain received from Rome. …
“When the Saxons invaded Britain, heathenism gained control. The conquerors disdained to be instructed by their slaves, and the Christians were forced to retreat to the mountains and the wild moors. Yet the light, hidden for a time, continued to burn.” The Great Controversy, 62.
7 As the faithful Christians in England were persecuted by the pagans, what instruction did they follow, and with what result? Matthew 10:22–24.
Note: “Many of the Christians, fleeing from persecution in England, found refuge in Scotland; thence the truth was carried to Ireland, and in all these countries it was received with gladness.” The Great Controversy, 62.
8 Name some of the activities of the courageous missionaries from Ireland.
Note: “From Ireland came the pious Columba and his colaborers, who, gathering about them the scattered believers on the lonely island of Iona, made this the center of their missionary labors. Among these evangelists was an observer of the Bible Sabbath, and thus this truth was introduced among the people. A school was established at Iona, from which missionaries went out, not only to Scotland and England, but to Germany, Switzerland, and even Italy.” The Great Controversy, 62.
9 Describe the contrast seen between the missionaries of Columba and the papal leaders who began their own conquest of Britain. Matthew 10:7–10; 11:8; 23:1–7.
Note: “Rome had fixed her eyes on Britain, and resolved to bring it under her supremacy. In the sixth century her missionaries undertook the conversion of the heathen Saxons. They were received with favor by the proud barbarians, and they induced many thousands to profess the Romish faith. As the work progressed, the papal leaders and their converts encountered the primitive Christians. A striking contrast was presented. The latter were simple, humble, and Scriptural in character, doctrine, and manners, while the former manifested the superstition, pomp, and arrogance of popery. The emissary of Rome demanded that these Christian churches acknowledge the supremacy of the sovereign pontiff. The Britons meekly replied that they desired to love all men, but that the pope was not entitled to supremacy in the church, and they could render to him only that submission which was due to every follower of Christ.” The Great Controversy, 62, 63.
10 To what principle did the believers in Britain cling? Matthew 23:8–10. What reaction did they then have to face?
Note: “Repeated attempts were made to secure their allegiance to Rome; but these humble Christians [in Britain], amazed at the pride displayed by her emissaries, steadfastly replied that they knew no other master than Christ. Now the true spirit of the papacy was revealed. Said the Romish leader: ‘If you will not receive brethren who bring you peace, you shall receive enemies who will bring you war. If you will not unite with us in showing the Saxons the way of life, you shall receive from them the stroke of death.’—J. H. Merle D’Aubigné, History of the Reformation of the Sixteenth Century, b. 17, ch. 2. These were no idle threats. War, intrigue, and deception were employed against these witnesses for a Bible faith, until the churches of Britain were destroyed, or forced to submit to the authority of the pope.” The Great Controversy, 63.
11 While Christian believers in Europe were struggling against papal tyranny throughout these centuries, what could be found in other parts of the world? Zephaniah 3:12, 13.
Note: “In lands beyond the jurisdiction of Rome there existed for many centuries bodies of Christians who remained almost wholly free from papal corruption. They were surrounded by heathenism and in the lapse of ages were affected by its errors; but they continued to regard the Bible as the only rule of faith and adhered to many of its truths. These Christians believed in the perpetuity of the law of God and observed the Sabbath of the fourth commandment. Churches that held to this faith and practice existed in Central Africa and among the Armenians of Asia.” The Great Controversy, 63.
“ ‘Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.’ I Corinthians 3:11. ‘Upon this rock,’ said Jesus, ‘I will build My church’ [Matthew 16:18]. In the presence of God, and all the heavenly intelligences, in the presence of the unseen army of hell, Christ founded His church upon the living Rock. That Rock is Himself—His own body, for us broken and bruised. Against the church built upon this foundation, the gates of hell shall not prevail.
“How feeble the church appeared when Christ spoke these words! There was only a handful of believers, against whom all the power of demons and evil men would be directed; yet the followers of Christ were not to fear. Built upon the Rock of their strength, they could not be overthrown.
“For six thousand years, faith has builded upon Christ. For six thousand years the floods and tempests of satanic wrath have beaten upon the Rock of our salvation; but it stands unmoved.
“Peter had expressed the truth which is the foundation of the church’s faith, and Jesus now honored him as the representative of the whole body of believers. He said, ‘I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven’ [Matthew 16:19].
“ ‘The keys of the kingdom of heaven’ are the words of Christ. All the words of Holy Scripture are His, and are here included. These words have power to open and to shut heaven. They declare the conditions upon which men are received or rejected. Thus the work of those who preach God’s word is a savor of life unto life or of death unto death. Theirs is a mission weighted with eternal results.” The Desire of Ages, 413, 414.
©2005 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted by permission.