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John Wycliffe was the ‘Morning Star’ of the Reformation.  A Morning Star is a planet (Venus) or star (Sirius) that appears first in the sky when a new day begins to dawn.  It appears in the glow of the Sun and announces the Sun’s coming, which will come after it and give light to the entire world.  Jesus calls Himself, “the Bright Morning Star” (Revelation 22:16), since He will shatter the world’s darkness at its darkest point and usher in the light of God’s glorious Day.  The Church calls John Wycliffe the ‘The Morning Star” because he proceeded Martin Luther by some 200 years.  Yet, in his life, ministry and writings, he initiated actions and ideas that would inspire others and come to fruition during the Great Reformation.

John Wycliffe was like Martin Luther.  Wycliffe was English, Luther was German.  Wycliffe was a Latin scholar, and did not know Greek and Hebrew, while Luther knew all three.  Wycliffe was a Catholic Rector and likely never married - Luther married once he split from the Catholic Church and fathered six children.  Despite these differences, Wycliffe and Luther were alike in important ways. Both were distinguished professors and had University careers (Oxford and Wittenberg), which allowed each to develop in an atmosphere of academic freedom where they could study, teach and proclaim things that the church would not tolerate.  Each also possessed a practical bent with their academic gifts, which allowed them to minister effectively in the church and be sensitive to the spiritual needs and concerns of the common people.  Both also used their academic gifts and pastoral insights to write books and treatises that had great impact outside of their country.

Wycliffe and Luther both loved the Bible.  The greatest thing Wycliffe and Luther shared was a passion and all-out commitment to biblical truth.  Both were willing to proclaim, apply and defend the Bible against all spiritual attacks to the point of death.  Neither ended as a martyr, but both lived under the constant threat of execution.   This passion and commitment produced three similar results.  First, both men opposed and exposed the monetary greed and practices of the Roman Catholic Church.  Wycliffe opposed the greedy mendicants of his time, just like Luther opposed Catholic indulgences.  Second, both defied the authority of the Roman Catholic Church and lived.  Both were ‘court martialed’ and told to recant or die.  After his death, the Roman Catholic Church declared Wycliffe a heretic, dug up and burned his bones and cast the ashes into the Swift River.  Finally, both translated the Bible into his native language (English and German) so that spiritual light would come to the common people.  Even today, Wycliffe Bible Translators carry on this translation work to people all over the world in John Wycliffe’s name.

Be a Wycliffe, be a Luther – love, proclaim and practice the Bible at all costs!