ARE YOU A PROTESTANT?I can imagine that many people reading the tract from which this message is taken, might have found its title objectionable. If they were Roman Catholic then their first reaction would probably have been to throw it away or tear it up. Even if a member of another Church, or even without any Church connection, they could have felt that the question at the top was quite out of place at a time when Churches were getting together. The name 'Protestant' may have suggested something very negative and provocative, a word which stirred up hatred and antagonism. It is sadly true that some have misused the description 'Protestant' but this does not make it a bad word. Throughout the world today there are people who misuse the name 'Christian', making it an excuse for violence. We do not abandon the name 'Christian' for this reason.
Perhaps it might surprise you to know that in its origin 'Protestant' is a very positive word. It comes from three Latin words which mean 'standing for a witness.' A true Protestant, therefore, is not someone who is always stirring up opposition to other people, but one who stands for a very positive belief. It is in this sense that the word was first used at the time of the Reformation. In 1529 a group of German princes made a declaration at a meeting at Spires. A decree had been framed by the rulers of Germany which threatened their liberties, and in reply they declared; 'We are resolved by the grace of God to maintain the pure and exclusive teaching of (God's) Holy Word ... We protest that we, for us and our people, neither consent or adhere in any manner to the proposed decree in anything that is contrary to God, to His Holy Word, to our right conscience, to the salvation of our souls.' These princes were then called 'Protestants,' and as the Reformation spread to other European countries, including England, the title came into common use when speaking of those who, like the German princes, resolved to maintain the pure and exclusive teaching of God's Holy Word, the Bible.
Perhaps you feel that all this has no meaning in the last quarter of the Twentieth Century. I must point out that it does, for when our Queen opened her first Parliament in November 1952 she made the following Declaration;
'I do solemnly, and in the presence of God profess, testify, and declare, that l am a faithful protestant, and that 1 will, according to the true intent of the enactments which ensure the Protestant succession to the Throne of my Realm, uphold and maintain the said enactments to the best of my power according to law.'
On June 2nd, 1953, at our Queen's Coronation Service in Westminster Abbey, the Archbishop of Canterbury asked her the following questions;
'Will you to the utmost of your power maintain the Laws of God and the true profession of the Gospel? Will you to the utmost of your power maintain in the United Kingdom the Protestant Reformed Religion established by law?'
Her Majesty answered these and other questions by laying her hand upon the open Bible and saying;
'All this 1 promise to do.'
A word which is given such prominence on important state occasions must have some meaning for today. You will see that its use is closely related to the Bible. In fact, at the Coronation the Queen was presented with a copy of God's Word, and at the presentation the following words were used;
'Our Gracious Queen, we present you with this Book, the most valuable thing that this world affords. Here is wisdom, this is the royal Law, these are the lively Oracles of God.'
Protestants believe that the Bible is the most valuable possession we can have in this world. Just 450 years ago, in 1536, the man who translated the first printed English New Testament, William Tyndale, died a martyr's death because the Bible was so precious to him. Protestants still suffer in some parts of the world today because they refuse to give up reading and believing the Bible.
Perhaps you think the Bible is so old that it is now out of date. I suggest that you try reading it, and if you read it prayerfully you will find that it will teach you something about yourself. You will find that 'all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.' (Romans 3:23). But that is not all, for it will show you more about Jesus Christ. It will show you that 'there is no salvation in any other,' than Him, 'for there is none other Name under Heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.' (Acts 4:12).
If you confess to God that you are a sinner, and believe with all your heart that Jesus Christ died on the Cross to save you from your sins, then you will be a true Protestant, for Jesus said to those First disciples who confessed and believed;
'Ye shall be witnesses unto Me' (Acts 1:8) - and 'Protestant' means 'witness.' I therefore close by repeating the question:
ARE YOU A PROTESTANT?
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