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
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
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.