Dear Saints of Grace congregation,
Continuing to follow in the vein of God bringing His Church (His Body of Believers) to remain steadfast and fight for His truth, the following words come from Hans J. Iwand, a German theologian from the early 20th century. His words still apply to this day - and beyond. He writes:
"An Evangelical Church that views the teaching of the righteousness of faith as self-evident -- but about which no one should trouble himself further because other issues are more important -- has in principle robbed itself of the central solution by which all other questions are illuminated. Such a church will become increasingly more splintered and worn down.
If we take the article of justification out of the center very soon we will not know why we are evangelical Christians or should remain so. As a result, we will strive for the unity of the church and will sacrifice the purity of the Gospel; we will have more confidence in church organization and church government and promise more on the basis of the reform of Christian authority and church training than either can deliver.
If we lose our center, we will court pietism and listen to other teachings and we will be in danger of being tolerant where we should be radical and radical where we should be tolerant. In short, the standards will be lowered and along with them everything that is necessary and correct in reforms that we sing about now will be incomprehensible."
Wow! And these words were written about the Church in the early 20th century. By the grace of God our response is:
Lord, Keep us steadfast in thy Word!
With you IN Christ Jesus,
"The Inspired and Inerrant Word of God in
the English Language"
Martin Luther is quoted as writing that translating is hard work. "Translating is certainly not everybody's business, as the mad saints imagine. It requires a genuinely pious, faithful, diligent, God-fearing, experienced, practiced heart. Therefore I hold that a false Christian or a sectarian spirit is unable to give a faithful translation." W30 II, 640-E65, 115-SL19, 978)
William Tyndale continued his studies in the Greek language and sharpened his skills as he prepared his New Testament. True to the text, Tyndale scrutinized each word and sifted out Catholic terms that had been improperly translated into Latin. Steven Lawson writes in his biography of Tyndale, that William believed such mistranslations carried centuries or theological baggage that twisted the meaning of the text. So he replaced 'church' with 'congregation'. He substitued 'senior'(1526) then 'elder'(1534) for 'priest'. He chose 'repent' for 'do penance'.
A genuine reformer, Tyndale chose to be true to the biblical text despite the inevitable judgment of Rome. Some of the expressions that Tyndale introduced into the English language are familiar to us all. Among those are "lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil", "knock and it shall be opened unto you", "twinkling of an eye", "seek and you shall find", "let there be light", "my brother's keeper", "it came to pass", "judge not and you shall not be judged", and "fight the good fight".
To avoid the pursuit of the King's men to arrest him for translating the Bible into English, Tyndale stayed on the move, heading to Antwerp, which is the modern day Belgium. Here Tyndale completed his translation of the first five books of Moses. However, sensing the danger too great to remain there, he sailed to the mouth of the river Elbe as his plan was to head to Hamburg. On the way, a severe storm caused a shipwreck and all of his books, writings and translations were lost. This did not discourage him. Tyndale finally arrived in Hamburg to begin his task all over again.
In Hamburg, Tyndale was reunited with is friend Miles Coverdale, who assisted him from March to December 1529. It was at this time that King Henry VIII commissioned his personal assistant and secretary, Sir Thomas More, to launch character assassinations agains Tyndale. The Lord Chancellor More was firmly in the Roman Catholic camp and would not give up the teaching of papal supremacy over the king, nor would he approve of the annulment of the King's marriage to Catherine. He vehemently despised Luther and his writings and set out to attack Tyndale, calling him "an idolater and devil worshipper" among other names.
After Tyndale published the first five books of Moses in 1530, he continued to write against the corrupt relationship between the Crown and the Papacy. Writing this in his book, "The Practice of Prelates", Tyndale opposed the King's planned divorce from Catherine of Aragon on the grounds it was unscriptural. King Henry was transformed into an avowed enemy of Tyndale. The King's advisor, Thomas Cromwell, tried to trick Tyndale into returning to England unharmed by promising to have someone else publish his Bible. Similar promises had been made John Hus and Luther, and Tyndale knew that the King's promises would not be kept, so he defiantly continued his work. His Second Edition was released in 1534 and by December 1534-early 1535, his Third Edition was released but with fewer corrections than the Second.
Having mastered Hebrew, Tyndale translated Joshua through 2nd Chronicles which made him a larger target. Soon one of the King's informants, a gambler named Henry Phillips, offered to find Tyndale if his debts were forgiven. He found Tyndale in the early summer of 1535 and thru a fake friendship, lured him into an alleyway where soldiers were waiting to arrest him. He was imprisoned in cold, damp dungeons for over a year and finally tried in August of 1536. He was convicted of being a heretic when he confessed that justification is by faith alone, and made statements that opposed Roman Catholic teachings. On October, 1536, he was led to the noose, hung and died.
Historians write that as he was hung, gunpowder was added to the wood around him and in the explosion, he was consumed by fire. Historians claim that just before that moment, Tyndale had looked up to heaven and cried up in prayer, "Lord, open the King of England's eyes." Miraculously his prayer was answered in just four more years when English translations of the Bible were published in England at the King's behest, including Henry's Great Bible. All of these Bibles were based on Tyndale's work.
This change in the King came about for many reasons. The driving force was that neither the Pope nor his Bishops would grant his annulment to Catherine, so the King borrowed Tyndale's position that the Pope did not have biblical authority over him. King Henry VIII separated the Church of England from the Roman Catholic Church, and appointed himself to be the Supreme Head of the Church of England.
Submitted by George Melke, Lay member, Grace Lutheran Church, San Mateo, CA