My love for Godís Word and the Reformers who brought it to me




A love for Godís Word is a grace given by our Lord. The apostle Paul emphasized this fact pertaining to the dichotomy between a natural man and a spiritual man, ďBut a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.Ē (1 Cor 2:14)
For almost thirty years I avoided the Bible. My family attended churches that sparsely fed us the Scriptures. There was no allure for me, and I was ignorant of the history of the book itself. When I married my wife, Stephanie, she suggested we go to church in earnest. She chose a Bible preaching and teaching fellowship. I suffered immensely, at first, under the Gospel preaching. I had never heard such things before. The preaching of Godís Word was having a powerful effect upon my life. The renewing of my mind was having a transformational impact that eventually led me away from a career with a Wall Street investment firm to seminary and on to pastoral ministry.
Godís Word tells us that it is powerful and cuts through to oneís soul. The result, at first, is the conviction of sins by the Holy Spirit. The Bible is also the instrument, used by the Holy Spirit to give us faith. When this happens, the Scriptures become our daily bread. Our souls take in the spiritual feast, day and night, and the Spirit teaching us the Word of Christ causes the believer to delight in God and the things of the Spirit.
Reflecting on the five-hundred-year anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, I was reminded of the sacrifices certain Reformers endured to bring the Bible into the common language of the people. I realized I was the beneficiary of fully devoted lives dedicated to Bible translation. This was spurred on by the invention of Gutenbergís printing press (c. 1450). The means to mass produce copies of the Bible inspired men of God to fulfill their passions to see the manifestation of a biblically literate church.
Many know of Martin Luther and his time of translating the Bible into German (New Testament c. 1522; Old Testament c. 1534). Following the Diet of Worms in 1521, Luther was in disguise, holed up in Wartburg Castle, avoiding the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V. Far fewer know those who brought the Bible into the English vernacular.
Long before the 16th century Protestant Reformation, John Wycliffe of Oxford (b. 1320s Ė 1384), had been translating the Bible into English. His translation came from St. Jeromeís Latin Vulgate (c. 382-405). Through his work of translation, Wycliffe became increasingly convinced of the Bibleís authority over matters in the church. This was the seed of the Reformation to come. Today, Wycliffe Bible Translators, based in Orlando, Florida, honors the name of John Wycliffe, as they continue the work of bringing Godís Word into languages of people groups around the world.
If Wycliffeís story is inspiring, then William Tyndaleís is even more intriguing. The reason is his martyrís death for the sake of the English Bible. Inspired by the work of Erasmus and Luther, William Tyndale (b. 1494-1536), famously told a Roman Catholic priest that one day, ploughboys would know more of the Bible than priests like him. The personal cost to make his sentiment become reality was very high. By 1525, Tyndale was out of England, translating the New Testament from Greek to English. The exilic sojourns took him to Wittenberg, Strasbourg, Flanders, Marburg, Antwerp, Hamburg, and back to Antwerp where he was captured, tried, executed by strangulation, with his body burned at the stake.
The Roman Catholic Church understood the power of the Scriptures, but if the common people were to possess and understand the Scriptures, then the power of the church would be transferred to the people. The Five Solas of the Reformation neatly summarize Reformation theology, in opposition to the Roman Catholic Church. Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, for the glory of God alone, according to the Scriptures alone. This is the reason the Roman Catholic Church issued judgments of heresy against Wycliffe and Tyndale. Despite this attempted suppression of the truth, Wycliffe and Tyndaleís lives of sacrifice prevailed in accomplishing their design.
Today, thanks to men like Luther, Wycliffe, Tyndale and many others, common people like me have Bibles in our hands. We have the truth of God that sets us free in a world of lies and deception. If you are anything like me, you take the Bible in your hand far too much for granted.
God supernaturally guided men to write the words of Scripture, which are the very Word of God. He supernaturally purposed other men to recognize and canonize the sixty-six books of the Bible. Still others, like Jerome, Erasmus, Luther, Wycliffe, and Tyndale, were inspired by Godís Spirit to translate the words of Scripture into languages accessible to billions of people. As noted, there is still today, men and women working diligently to translate the Scriptures.
As you read your Bible throughout this day that God has made, rejoice in what God has done to ensure you have what you have, for this is truly an act of mercy on Godís part and for your benefit. As for me and my house, we will delight in the Law of the Lord and give thanks for all the great things God has done to bless us, by speaking through the apostles and the prophets, and of course, His beloved Son. Finally, my prayer is for others to value the Word of God that they might walk in humble adoration, of the gracious God who commands us to take up His Book and read.