This is post #5 of 6 in a brief series on the doctrine of Scripture called “Scripture Alone.” I’m convinced that Christians today need to constantly reaffirm our convictions about God’s Word in order to avoid drifting into error, and in order to effectively serve and honor Christ. This was a core conviction at the heart of the Protestant Reformation. So, in each of these brief articles, with the help of the reformers, we’ll be unpacking the question, “What do we believe about the Bible?”
2 Peter 1:19 says, We have the prophetic word more fully confirmed to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place. Clearly, Peter’s desire was that the people of God have access to the Word of God. The world is a dark place. We need the light of the truth of God’s Word if we’re going to walk forward in strength.
At the dawn of the reformation, the everyday person had little to no access to a personal Bible. It was hard if not impossible to get your hands one, and even if you did it would likely be in Latin and unintelligible to you. But the Reformers saw the necessity of getting God’s Word to the people, and so they translated. Luther translated the entire New Testament into common German. Others did the same in their own languages, including William Tyndale.
As a priest in his twenties, Tyndale got ahold of the a copy of the Greek New Testament. He began to pour over it in his studies and as a result became increasingly convinced of the truth coming from Luther and other reformers regarding the nature of salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.
Angered by the misuse of Scripture he saw in the church of his day, Tyndale once famously said to a visiting scholar over dinner, “If God spare my life, ere many years I will cause a boy that driveth the plough shall know more of the Scripture than thou dost.”1 And that became Tyndale’s life mission: to get the Bible translated into English so the people could read it for themselves. He did this against direct orders from the King of England, and his defiance eventually resulted in his arrest and execution.
Tyndale laid down his life because he believed it was absolutely necessary that God’s people have God’s Word. He believed with all his heart that salvation comes by faith alone, and he believed with all his heart that faith comes by hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
We need the Scriptures. Without it we have no sure word from God. And by God’s grace, through the sacrifice of men like Tyndale, we have the Scriptures. We should never take our access to this book for granted. How can you let your Bible collect dust on a shelf when blood has been shed to put it there?
- David Daniel, William Tyndale: A Biography.New Haven: Yale University, 1994. 1. ↩