Dr. Marc Drake, Senior Pastor, Sun Lakes Baptist Church
A man with a neatly trimmed beard, stately forehead and piercing eyes stood at a wood post, having been tied to it. At his feet, men piled logs and kindling, after which they poured gunpowder over the dry wood. A city official stood by with a lighted torch, ready to act when the signal was given. Beneath the chain which bound the accused man’s neck to the post was a rope noose so that he could be strangled and then his body burned.
The man at the stake was William Tyndale, a man with a remarkable intellect who could speak seven languages and work in both biblical Hebrew and Greek. He was given the opportunity to recant, but he boldly refused. He then was given an opportunity to pray, which he did: “Lord, open the king of England’s eyes.” That day Tyndale, a British subject, was executed in the presence of the gathered crowd – a man who had been living in exile, expelled from the church and now dying as a criminal. His crime? He had made an English translation of the Bible so any common person could read and study God’s Word! The task had cost him time, effort, his homeland, and now his life. However, the one thing the execution of William Tyndale could not stop was the continued spread of the living Word of God. As writer Steven Lawson puts it, “By translating the Bible into English, this brilliant linguist ignited the flame that would banish the spiritual darkness in England. Tyndale’s translation of the Scriptures unveiled the divine light of biblical truth that would shine across the English-speaking world, ushering in the dawning of a new day.”
Thus, God gave William Tyndale remarkable success in fulfilling his life’s mission. And because of his work you and I have the indescribable treasure of an English Bible! We can open God’s Word anytime we want and read and meditate upon it. Furthermore, when we share its truths with others, spiritual light is being sent forth into an extremely dark world. The famous French atheist, Voltaire, dared to make the statement in 1788, “In 100 years, there won’t be a Bible.” However, 100 years later, Voltaire’s house was owned and used by the Geneva Bible Society to spread Bibles all across Europe! Don’t you love the divine sense of humor in that? The Apostle Peter wrote, “The grass withers, and the flower falls off, but the Word of the Lord endures forever” (1 Peter 1:25).
So, the next time you pick up your English Bible to read, give thanks to God for men like William Tyndale who gave his life to make such a translation possible. And give thanks that God has preserved His Word down through the ages, to the point where the Bible has now been translated into over two thousand languages!