Dear Saints of Grace congregation,
The truth of God's Word is sent out into the world through preaching and teaching. Just like the parable of the Seed proclaims -- God's Word is spread abroad without prejudice with the hope of being rightly received.
It is ever important that the truth of God's Word be recognized as being the source of one's true life and existence. As the Lord makes clear, "Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord." And, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you."
The following article was written by Pastor Kistler(of Our Savior's Lutheran Church, Pacifica). He does a fantastic job revealing this important understanding:
"We need rain to survive. Our crops need it. Our animals need it. We need it. Without water, we would die. But there's another kind of drought going on-not just in California, but also in other parts of the world-where the scarcity has to do with the Word of God. Even in many churches the Word is often not preached anymore. Pop psychology, social gospel and counseling have taken its place. And even where it is still being preached, the Word about Christ crucified is rarely being proclaimed anymore, law and gospel are being distorted and mixed, the people aren't listening to it, giving thanks for it, reading it, praying it or meditating upon it. Though the Word is called living water and gives abundant life to those who drink of it, we often take it for granted and don't draw from its wells as we should. Without natural water, we die physically. But without the living water of the Word, we die spiritually, a death that means we will be cut off from the source of this living water-Christ-forever.
Luther recognized this problem in his own day, and was concerned that his Germans were also taking the Word for granted, not drinking from it, keeping it and doing it like they should. The following is what he wrote concerning this, and it has great application to us today:"Let us remember our former misery, and the darkness in which we dwelt. Germany, I am sure, has never before heard so much of God's word as it is hearing today; certainly we read nothing of it in history. If we let it just slip by without thanks and honor, I fear we shall suffer a still more dreadful darkness and plague. O my beloved Germans, buy while the market is at your door; gather in the harvest while there is sunshine and fair weather; make use of God's grace and work while it is there! For you should know that God's word and grace is like a passing shower of rain which does not return where it has once been. It has been with the Jews, but when it's gone it's gone, and now they have nothing. Paul brought it to the Greeks; but again when it's gone it's gone, and now they have the Turk. Rome and the Latins also had it; but when it's gone it's gone, and now they have the pope. And you Germans need not think that you will have it forever, for ingratitude and contempt will not make it stay. Therefore, seize it and hold it fast, whoever can; for lazy hands are bound to have a lean year. LW 45:352.
The Scriptures themeselves warn of what will happen, if we neglect the Word. Through the prophet Amos, God says, "'Behold, the days are coming,' declares the Lord God, 'when I will send a famine on the land-not a famine of bread, nore a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of Lord'"(Amos 8:11). And the author of the book of Hebrews writes, "For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned." (Hebrews 6:7-8). But Jeremiah gives us hope when he writes that the one who trust in the Lord is blessed:"He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green and it is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit." (Jeremiah 17:8)
Continue, then, to drink from the stream of the living water of the Word, which flows from Christ, crucified and risen from the dead for your salvation, and you will never have to fear that the rain of God's Word and grace will pass away from you, leaving you in spiritual drought, but you will be like a "tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither" (Psalm 1)."
May Pastor Kistler's article be a blessing to you.
With you IN Christ Jesus,
"The Inspired and Inerrant Word of God in
the English Language"
According to Gordon Campbell, author of "Ths Story of the King James Version", William Tyndale's most important successor was Miles Coverdale, a former Augustinian friar who later became the Protestant bishop of Exeter.
In 1535, Coverdale, in exile in Antwerp, published the first edition of the complete Bible in English. He dedicated this work to King Henry VIII. He drew much from Tyndale's work, but, not being as proficient in the Hebrew and Greek, he relied on Luther's Bible, the Zwinglian Zurich Bible, the Vulgate and a Latin translation of the Hebrew and Greek, written by the Dominican friar, Sante Pagnini. Coverdale's Old Testament (which Tyndale had not lived to complete) is his own translation, using these German and Latin sources. It was in Pagnini's Bible that Old Testament chapters where transmitted into numbered verses, which takes its origins from a Hebrew Bible of 1440.
Coverdale's most enduring translation was his Psalter. His magnificient rendering of Psalm 25:6, for example ('call to rememberance, O Lord, thy tender mercies and thy loving kindnesses, which have been ever of old') brought the word 'lovingkindness' and the phrase 'tender mercies' into English and the mainstream of biblical translation .To this day the Introit for Reminiscere Sunday mirrors these words. It was Coverdale's translation of the Psalms (as revised in the Great Bible) that became the psalter of the Book of Common Prayer, and so served as the liturgical text for the Church of England for centuries to come.
In 1537, John Rogers published the Matthew Bible, producing the first authorized English Bible. The Pentateuch and the New Testament were Tyndale's, and Rogers used Tyndale's unpublished translation of the Old Testament books from Joshua to 2 Chronicles. The rest of the Old Testament and the Apocrypha were taken from Coverdale's versions. Rogers would eventually be burned alive for his Protestant faith. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer, tried to force the bishops to work on a translation of the New Testament which was either ignored or undertaken grudgingly. Finally he wrote his opinion, namely, that the Matthew Bible was wholly positive, and embarked on a plan to place the Bibles in every parish church. However the Matthew Bible was too small in size for a church Bible, so it was decided that a new version, suitable for churches, would be commissioned.
The task was entrusted to Miles Coverdale and the Great Bible was produced first in Paris, France in May of 1538. However there was opposition by the English Ambassador to France and the Sorbonne, and by December, most of the bound copies where seized by the Inquisition. The English publishers rescued their staff, the type, unused paper, and parts of the Old and New Testament, and returned to London, where 3000 copies where ready by April of 1539. The Geneva Bible is also referred to as Whichurch's Bible, after the publisher Edward Whichurch. His partner was Rechard Grafton and often only one of their names appears on the title page.
With the ascension of Queen Mary to the throne in 1553, an end was put to the printing of English Bibles and to their use in the churches. Gordon Cmpbell writes that the Protestants fled from the fiery persecutions that Queen Mary inaugurated with the judicial murder of John Rogers, the publisher of the Matthew Bible.
Submitted by George Melke, Lay member, Grace Lutheran Church, San Mateo, CA