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A Man of Action
Guillaume Farel (1489-1565) was a dynamic man of action who gave his whole life to spreading the Gospel of Christ. Farel was one of the most important leaders of the French Reformation from its beginnings.
By Grace Alone
While studying under Professor Jacques Lefevre at Sorbonne University in Paris, Farel came to faith in Christ. Professor Lefevre had published a Latin translation of, and commentary on, The Epistles of St. Paul. As he taught that it is God who saves by grace alone, Farel said his eyes were opened and his heart believed.
Leader of the French Reformation
When Luther’s Reformation writings came to France, Farel was one of the most prominent leaders in the French Reformed movement. When persecution forced him to flee from France in 1523, he became the leader of a group of evangelists who preached in French speaking Switzerland.
Winning Switzerland to Christ
Farel’s energetic efforts were central in opposing Catholicism and promoting the Protestant Reformation in Basel, Bern, Lausanne and Geneva. Everywhere he proclaimed the supremacy of the Scriptures and the need to return to a purified faith, which was based on the Bible alone. With great skill in debating and evangelistic zeal, Farel succeeded in winning most of French speaking Switzerland to the Protestant Faith.
14 July is celebrated in France as Bastille Day. It commemorates the storming of the Bastille and the launch of The French Revolution.
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A Time of Turmoil
The French Revolution was one of the most influential events of modern history. The ten-year period from 1789 to 1799 when France went from a Monarchy to a Republic, to a Reign of Terror, to Dictatorship was one of the most tumultuous times in European history.
Myth and Reality
Much myth and romantic legend has been written on what some politicians would like the French Revolution to have been, but the reality was that the French Revolution was a monstrous horror. In the name of "liberty, equality, fraternity or death!" over 40,000 people lost their heads to the guillotine, 300,000 people were publically executed by firing squads, drownings and other methods of mass murder and ultimately many millions died in the 25 years of war and upheavals that resulted.
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The Huguenots have left us a tremendous legacy of heroic faith, Christian endurance and sacrifice. Their contributions to our culture, spiritual life and prosperity have been out of all proportion to their small numbers.
There are many Huguenot surnames amongst us to this day: Blignaut, De Klerk, De Villiers, Du Preez, Du Toit, Fourie, Hugo, Joubert, Le Roux, Malan, Nel, Pienaar, Retief, Rossouw, Theron, Viljoen, Visagie, and many others. The first Huguenot to arrive at the Cape, on 6 April 1652, was Maria de la Quellerie, the wife of the first governor of the Cape, Jan Van Riebeeck. Maria's grandfather had been a French Huguenot pastor.
Dynamic Christian Movement
The Huguenots were Protestants, members of the Reformed Church of France. Their forerunners were the Waldensians, a dynamic Bible study movement which arose in the 12th century, led by Peter Waldo, a merchant of Lyons. The Waldensians desired to study the Scriptures and be faithful to Biblical principles in all areas of life. These poor men of Lyons went out in twos and boldly proclaimed the Word of God throughout Southern France, Northern Italy and Switzerland.