God's Bible Our Blessing

Too often we ignore our Christian heritage and this is often a cause for our going astray or becoming discouraged. This article is not about beating everybody who reads it over the head and tell them to go and read lots of history, but is hopefully about something slightly more profitable!

As Christians, we enjoy privileges that we have received only because of the Reformation. One of these privileges is having the Bible in our own language, available for all to buy and read at the price that most office workers would pay for lunch for one day!! One man in particular suffered to enable us to have this privilege and that man, though he is somebody that we have probably all heard about, is well worth our remembering. His name is William Tyndale.

William Tyndale spent much of his life on the run from the authorities who were trying to stop him translating the Bible into English. He had basically finished his work when he was apprehended, put in prison and then taken to the stake in 1536 where he was strangled and burnt. According to Foxe, Tyndale's final words, spoken 'at the stake with a fervent zeal, and a loud voice', were reported as 'Lord! Open the King of England's eyes.' Within four years, at the same king's behest, four English
translations of the Bible were published in England. All were based on Tyndale's work.

Because of God’s kindness to us we now have the Bible available for us to read. I would like to encourage all of us to remember our history and thank the Lord for William Tyndale and the work that God enabled him to do. If only we had such courage. When was the last time that you prayed
'Lord open the eyes of government'? Pick up your Bible and thank the Lord, with me, that you can read it and understand it!!

Thomas van den Broek

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  2. What an interesting article, Thomas, thank you!
    Your last paragraph in particular made me think.

    “If only we had such courage”... yes, that would be incredible – and we *can* have that courage! People in times gone by did amazing things because of the call on their lives by God and when they needed it, HE gave them strength and courage. When praising the Lord for the things that they have done, we should remember that they were instruments in a larger plan and that we too can be used.

    It may not be being burnt at the sake for translating the Bible or fighting in Westminster for the abolition of slavery – it may 'only' be leading a normal life and raising God-fearing children – but we are *all* called to be light and salt to the world, to take God's stand against the cultural norms in our society, to 'walk humbly with our God' and live the life that He calls us to.

    I liked the bit where you said, “When was the last time that you prayed 'Lord open the eyes of government'?” That is certainly a challenging question and I think that as Christians, we have a responsibility to pray for our government – and not just from our personal political view, either! :-) Prayer works and if we are seriously concerned that our country should be right before God, surely we should be praying for those who are making laws and praying for God to guide them?

  3. Amen! Thanks for this Thomas. How often we take our many blessings for granted, such as our freedom to worship God and homeschool etc.

    Regarding praying for the government, this is something that I have been trying to get into the habit of doing in my daily prayer times. After all, we are told in 1 Timothy 2:1-2, "I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty." It goes on to say in verses 3 and 4 that this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, 'who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.'

    It's good as well as interesting to study Church history. There is so much we can learn from it, and there is so much to be thanful to the Lord for, as He used so many of these godly men in different ways, and they were greatly influential throughout Church History, too. There are many things we are blessed by now because of these men who were used by God, such as the English translation of the Bible thanks to William Tyndale! Praise and glory be to God!

  4. Thomas,

    Thank you for this and I agree that we should see the saints of old who fought the good fight as inspirational examples for us to live godly, disciplined and God-honouring lives in all we do (cf. Hebrews 12:2).

    I have a question/suggestion for you and your readers building on this theme of how we can use Godly Christians of old to challenge us in our discipleship, prayer and worship.

    Next year it is 400 years since the King James Bible was published - have you any ideas how we as Christians can use this anniversary to promote Biblical literacy and to discuss issues around the authority of Scripture etc? I think this could be a good way to show our family, friends etc how instrumental the Bible has been to our great heritage e.g. do you know Handel's Messiah was based on the King James version? Discussions such as this will also be helpful in getting more people discussing the Scriptures and God willing through that many can come and meet the One true saviour of mankind, Jesus Christ.

    What do you think?

    Any helpful ideas on how to celebrate the 400 years of the KJB most welcome...

  5. It has been helpfully pointed out to me that I was mistaken in one of my facts. I said that; "Within four years, at the same king's behest, four English translations of the Bible were published in England. All were based on Tyndale's work." but I was wrong!

    "There were actually FIVE vernacular Bibles that followed Tyndale's before the KJV in 1611.

    Coverdale's Bible (1535) and Matthew's Bible (1537) share not only a large
    proportion of Tyndale's earlier translation (which was printed in 1525), but
    the misaprehension that they were authorised BEFORE translation by the King of
    England. In fact, neither was indorsed by Henry VIII until a printed copy was
    put before him; he is recorded to have said "Do you find any heresy in it?" On
    his councellors saying no heresy, but many mistakes, the king answered, "If
    there be no heresy in it, then in God's name send it out among our people!"
    This was because the Established Church was desperate to control the influence
    of Tyndale's anti-Catholic version. It is highly debatable whether these two
    versions of the Bible really did much good; they were appallingly inaccurate in
    places. Both contained what were called "glosses", either pro-Catholic or
    anti-Catholic. These are like modern commentaries, only then they were cut
    straight into the text as though they were the word of God! These two versions
    were then edited together, un-glossed (but not well corrected) and published
    between 1538 and 1540 as The Great Bible.

    The Geneva Bible (1560) was a revision of The Great Bible, with more reference
    to Tyndale's work. It was a more scholarly rendering of the Greek. But it was more than partisan - this was basically a cover for teaching the Calvinist
    doctrines that later in the century became the forbidden "Seperatists" and then
    Puritans. Because of this, the Established Church liked it not. They battled
    with the publisher, by forbidding its printing in England, but knew the only
    way to counteract the effects of this new and "dangerous", but scholarly, Bible
    was one of their own.

    The Bishops Bible (1568) was that one. Basically the Great Bible brought up to
    date and corrected, with much reworking from the originals.

    Finally there was the Douai-Rheims Bible (1582), which was the Catholic answer
    to the "reformation" craze that was sweeping England as a result of the
    "forbidden" Bibles - a Catholic Bible in English! It was a good translation
    from a scholarly point of view, but biased in favour of Catholicism. It's
    shocking how they actually lifted changed words straight out of the Vulgate for
    these purposes, such as "do penance" instead of "repent"!

    Anyway, then in 1604 the Authorised Version of the Bible was put in train and
    published in 1611. This was the first time that a Bible was actually
    authorised by the Established Church BEFORE it was printed and distributed,
    hence it's name. Even this version wasn't perfect, and what we know as the KJV
    today actually dates from c1769, which contains almost 300 corrections of the
    1611 translation!"

    Isn't it amazing how we see God working through history in all this complexity? Sorry folks, for the mistake.


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