November 18, 2021

What Can We Learn from the Life of John Wycliffe?

Nathan W. Bingham & Steven Lawson
What Can We Learn from the Life of John Wycliffe?

As he studied the Bible, John Wycliffe reached many of the convictions that the Protestant Reformers would later share. Today, Steven Lawson considers how Wycliffe encourages us to deepen our own biblical convictions.


NATHAN W. BINGHAM: We're recording live from Ligonier's 2021 Pittsburgh conference and I'm joined by one of Ligonier's teaching fellows, Dr. Steven Lawson. Dr. Lawson, what can we learn from the life of John Wycliffe?

DR. STEVEN LAWSON: John Wycliffe was, just to put him in perspective, he'd proceeded the Reformation by a century and a half. We call him "the Morning Star of the Reformation," meaning that first bright light that would appear before the rising of the sun in the sixteenth century. And he was the most profound intellect of his day. He was the leading professor at Oxford when Oxford was the leading university in all of England; some would argue in all of Europe. And he was a man who came to the strong convictions of the authority of Scripture. And he became a Bible preacher, a Bible teacher, a Bible translator, a Bible theologian, and a man who sent out preachers of the Word of God, the Lollards.

And what we learned from John Wycliffe was his singular appeal to the authority of Scripture, that it rises above what the church says. It rises above what the world says. That one ounce of what God has to say is worth more than a hundred million tons of what man has to say. And John Wycliffe was willing to take that stand at a time when it was far less than popular. And he even represented the crown of England, the king of England, in negotiations in Europe. That's how highly he was thought of. And because of his stance on the authority of Scripture and all that would come with it, therefore salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. It cost him with the king of England. It cost him his professorship at Oxford. He was willing to pay the price for what he believed and knew to be true concerning the Scripture.

And so what we learned from him is we must be willing to stand alone. Maybe it's in our family. Maybe it's stand alone in the office. Maybe it's stand alone in our circle of relationships and friends. But John Wycliffe was willing to stand strong for the Bible, for the Word of God. And he considered it so precious that he translated, was a part of the translation process of it being put into the English language for the first time. And so I think what we should emulate from that is that we need to do everything within our ability and power to get the Word of God out. Whether it is to speak it to others, whether it is to give them Christian literature that has the Word of God, whether it is to point them to broadcasts where they can hear the Word of God. Whatever that means is, or to teach, or to counsel, or to preach. We're all about getting the Word of God out to people. God put the power in the Word. So, that's what I think we should learn from John Wycliffe.

And as you know, I've written a book, The Bible Convictions of John Wycliffe, that summarizes John Wycliffe. Therefore, I need to have Bible convictions. Therefore, you need to have Bible convictions. That's our takeaway from John Wycliffe.