Monthly Archives: October 2017

A Reformation Prophecy

By | News, Sermon Resources, Teaching Resources | No Comments

Related image

“You are going to burn a goose, but in one hundred years you will have a swan which you can neither roast nor boil.”

These were some of the last words of John Huss, spoken in 1415 AD before he was swallowed by flames. Huss, whose name means “goose,” was a forerunner to the Reformation. Huss gained popularity as a preacher at Bethlehem Chapel in Prague, drawing thousands of people at a time to listen to his sermons. The community of believers who gathered to him was marked by the presence of the Holy Spirit. And the words of Huss provoked the imagination of the masses because they often confronted the status quo of unbiblical practices within the Roman Catholic Church. In particular, his opposition to the selling of indulgences crossed a line which led to his execution as a heretic.

In 1515, exactly one hundred years later, the prophecy of the Goose came true. This was the year in which a spiritually tormented monk, frightened by a vengeful God who sought to damn him, was assigned to teach the book of Romans at the new university in Wittenberg, Germany. Illuminated by God’s Spirit, Martin Luther realized that sinners could never be good enough to earn God’s approval, and instead God imputes his own righteousness to us through faith in his Son. Luther, now a priest and professor, was the Swan foretold by the Goose. Intriguingly, John Foxe, a historian from that era, tells us that Luther’s family coat of arms providentially displayed the image of a swan.

Naturally, Luther’s revelation led him, like Huss, to oppose the practice of selling indulgences, which had become a means of so-called penance by which believers could pay the Church in order to escape from purgatory. No! Christians did not need to suffer more for their sin after death. And you could not do anything to pay off God, since salvation comes as a free gift of grace and is received by faith alone. So on October 31, 1517, Luther nailed his 95 arguments against the selling of indulgences to the church door at Wittenberg. That was the eve of All Saints Day (i.e., Halloween), on which hordes of people would pay to gaze in adoration at the relics associated with dead saints, whose excess of good deeds supposedly made indulgences effective. Yet Luther’s act wasn’t intended to be particularly provocative. Posting to the church door was an accepted method of proposing points of debate among scholars. In fact, Luther wrote the points in Latin, not in German, because he simply sought an academic disputation. But the theses were soon taken, translated into German, and distributed with the help of the newly invented printing press. Nonetheless, increasingly, Luther came to welcome the controversy if it meant the glorification of the gospel.

Yet unlike the Goose, the Roman Catholic Church was never able to cook the Swan—though it certainly tried! As Luther later came to realize and proclaim, “We were all Hussites without knowing it.”

<<<    >>>

A note about the authenticity of Huss’ prophecy: I often read scholars deny the veracity of Huss’ statement at his execution. Yet the more I investigate it, the more the evidence stacks up in its favor. And the more I suspect that some scholars are simply unwilling to believe that such an accurate prophecy could occur. Their bias is often rooted in their cessationist theology. At the risk of boring you, here is a brief list of reasons to believe its authenticity. Enough is provided for you to investigate it further if you wish.

  1. Luther himself believed the prophecy pertained to him. And he was much closer to the matter than we. Do not forget, Luther was a brilliant scholar and researcher who, for example, was well enough acquainted with historical records and the official documents of the Church to correct its own cardinals when they misquoted it ever so slightly. (Just look up the account of Luther’s argument with Cardinal Cajetan in 1518.) So I quote a statement made by Luther: “St. John Huss prophesied of me when he wrote from his prison in Bohemia, ‘They will roast a goose now (for “Huss” means “a goose”), but after a hundred years they will hear a swan sing, and him they will have to endure’” (Commentary on the Alleged Imperial Edict, 1531).
  2. Luther must have had access to some record of the prophecy that differed from the one used by John Foxe in the mid 1500’s, whose quotation is slightly different and who portrays these as words spoken during Huss’ execution rather than his imprisonment. This is the sort of minor inconsistency you would expect to find in separate witnesses of the same event. And they are easily reconciled by supposing that Luther is quoting one of the various letters we know that Huss wrote from prison, while Foxe is quoting Huss’ proclamation of the same prophecy at his execution.
  3. Foxe’s statement that Luther’s coat of arms displayed a swan is questionable. The only thing I have been able to uncover in this regard is the fact that Luther’s birthplace was Eisleban, whose coat of arms featured a set of white wings at various times in history.
  4. We have several letters written by Huss during his imprisonment. He often refers to himself as “the Goose,” just as his friends and students affectionately called him. Moreover, he extends this analogy by saying that even if the Goose is trapped by nets, he fully believed that one day “other birds, which by God’s word and by their lives soar to high places, will break their traps in pieces” (letter, October 1412). Huss envisions future reformers as other species of birds which Rome will not be able to entrap, precisely as the prophecy in question states regarding a swan.
  5. And there is a fascinating letter written by a companion of Huss informing the faithful about the situation of their leader, which concludes as follows: “Written at Constance the Saturday before Martinmas. The Goose is not yet cooked, and is not afraid of being cooked, because this year the noted eve of St. Martin’s falls on Saturday, when geese are not eaten!” (John Cardinalis, November 10, 1414). This is intriguing for two reasons. First, and most importantly, Huss and his company were already thinking in terms of “the Goose being cooked,” just as he later stated in the prophecy. This is a great testament to its authenticity. Second (and prepare enter the Twilight Zone), Huss was not to be executed at the time of the letter because it was Saturday and the Eve of St. Martin’s Day. The statement is cryptic, but perhaps we can guess at its meaning. Goose is the traditional cuisine for St. Martins Day and would be slaughtered the day before; but I wonder if “Saturday” (sabbato, lit. Sabbath) is an allusion to the Sabbatical Passover before which Christ had to be removed from the cross in order to keep the Sabbath holy. That is, it could be a nuanced way of saying, “Don’t worry, by the same logic the Council of Constance won’t execute Huss on the holiday or its eve.” Indeed, it would be half a year before Huss was burned at the stake. Whatever we make of the difficult phrase, in time Martin Luther would be born on St. Martin’s Eve (which is why he was named Martin). The irony, of which the writer could not possibly be aware, is baffling: even though Huss was a “goose,” he would not be slaughtered on St. Martin’s Eve when geese were normally slaughtered; yet the more famous St. Martin, born decades later on that very day, would in fact be the man prophesied by Huss to evade slaughter, being a swan and not a goose.

The Heritage and Legacy of Portland Bible College

By | Alumni, Campus Life, News | No Comments

884A438E-488C-40E3-AA17-C13C5431B44B

By Lanny Hubbard

Portland Bible College was founded 50 years ago to train the young people of City Bible Church (then Bible Temple). It was the vision of the founders to create a school that would train the young people of this church in God’s Word for generations to come. They believed in the vision that God had given them, so much so that they not only financed it but they entrusted their own children to it. Dick Iverson, Bob Stricker, Kevin Conner, Frank Damazio and Ken Malmin all had children that were trained in this school.

PBC has now trained three generations of students: Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials. The current student body has 13 second generation students, 6 of which are a part of the freshman class.

Heritage: Our Gift From The Past

We talk about having a rich heritage here at Portland Bible College, but what is heritage? It is defined as a tradition, culture, background or roots. It is an inherited or established way of thinking, feeling and doing things. At PBC, we embrace and cherish our heritage that has developed over 50 years of raising up godly leaders.

We believe that things that come from the past are still important. We have qualities, values and objects that we value so highly that we have preserved them in order to pass them on to future generations. This is our heritage, the foundation on which we build. As the psalmist said, “The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me.” (16:6)

Legacy: Our Gift To The Future

A legacy is a result of the past handed down by our predecessors. It is the footprint of one generation left behind for the next one. In the natural, we want to leave the smallest carbon footprint possible for the benefit of the future. In the Spirit, we want to leave the largest spiritual footprint that we can for the future.

A legacy is what one generation does not consume themselves, but passes on to those coming after them to enjoy. Heaven knows that at Portland Bible College our legacy is not our buildings. It is not some great endowment of money left for others. Our legacy is in our students.

We have PBC alumni all over the world; pastors planting churches, doctors birthing the next generations, Christians planting schools in Muslim countries, lawyers fighting for justice and human rights, business leaders, mothers, Episcopalian priests, engineers, counselors, and missionaries.

As Billy Graham said, the greatest legacy one can pass on to their children is not material things, but rather character and faith. The most important thing in this life is not the honor we take with us, but the legacy we leave behind.

Success without a successor is a failure. Jesus raised up disciples. He commanded his followers to raise up disciples. It is our great job to make sure that his plan does not stop with our generation.

Connecting Our Heritage & Legacy

Our goal is to connect the past (our heritage) with the future (our legacy). The connector is the present. The past is connected to the future through the present. Our past is our heritage. Our future is our legacy, and how we live each day determines if one will connect with the other.

The Future Of Portland Bible College

Does Portland Bible College have a future? Yes! We are raising up a new generation of teachers; men and women of character. They have done things right and have not sacrificed hard work and humility on the altar of instant gratification and entitlement. And they know what it takes to make a college fun.

What will our school look like in the future? Only God knows. Look at where we have come in the last 50 years. Now, our young ladies wear jeans, already torn up even though they are new. Our young men have facial hair, wear skinny jeans, and wear their mother’s jewelry.

All this was considered Satanic in the 1970’s. Yet, they are on the streets talking to people about Jesus. They are staying up all night praying for direction in the school and in their lives. They are leading worship in chapel that melts the hearts of visitors.

What will they look like in the future? They will look like what they are now:

  • They will work hard to spread God’s truth to more people. We started with only live classes and then started offering correspondence courses. Now we have an online program that has expanded from English to Portuguese and Spanish.
  • They will be drilling wells for clean water in Africa.
  • They will be setting up water purification systems in Asia.
  • They will be military chaplains.
  • They will be hospital chaplains.
  • They will be starting Christian schools in Muslim countries.

That is what they will look like. They will do some things the same, and at the same time, they will find new ways to reach a lost world. They will be new seeds planted in old soil.

Keys To A Successful Future

In order for what we have had for 50 years at Portland Bible College to continue successfully into the future, it will require several things:

  • We must build well. As Luke 6:48 says, “it withstood the storms because of how well it was built,” and 1 Corinthians 3:13 says, “every person’s work must pass the test of fire.”
  • We must appreciate what has been given us. It is up to us to live up to the legacy that was left for us. We cannot squander the inheritance that was given us.
  • We must reach back to our ancestors for our fundamental values so that as guardians of that legacy we can reach ahead to our children.

The hope of our legacy is in the strength of our heritage. We need our present and future students to share our heart and catch our vision.

In the end, the words “well done” will not be spoken to the witty, the trendy, the stylish, or the popular. They will be spoken to the “good” and the “faithful.” This is the legacy that we hope to pass on.