PASSION FOR GOD
If you own a Bible that is in the English language, then you owe some measure of debt to a man named William Tyndale. You see, William Tyndale was the first man to fully translate the New Testament from the original Greek language into English and put it into the hands of the common people. We hold our Bible in English today mostly because of William Tyndale.
He was born in 1494 in a country that was shrouded in spiritual darkness, although many churches existed and most people went to church. The reason England was in such darkness was because the common people spoke English, but all their Bibles were in Latin. Even the church services were all conducted in Latin leaving people completely in the dark about what was going on and what God was saying. This completely baffled Tyndale. If we wanted people to get saved, and to know God more, and grow in holiness, how could we do this if we don’t know or understand what God says?
The reason no one had brought the Bible into English before was because it was a crime in England. Even teaching the Bible unauthorized was a crime, a capital crime at that. Seven Reformers were burned at the stake just for teaching their children the Lord’s Prayer in English! This shows the spiritual darkness that hovered over England at the time.
Tyndale was consumed with one singular passion: to get the Word of God into the hands of the people of England. He said he wanted a plowboy in the field to know more of the Word of God than the pope. This decision to translate the Bible into English was not easy for Tyndale because he was putting his life on the line. Tyndale spent 12 years translating, and most of it was on the run, as the church authorities conspired and attempted to catch him to kill him. He could not even do his translating work in England, for fear of safety, so he spent most of his time translating moving around through Europe. As his location was compromised, he would grab his parchments and move on to another location.
He finished the New Testament and had begun the Old Testament when he was betrayed by a friend and arrested. Tyndale was sentenced to death for the heinous crime of translating God’s Word into English so people could read it. On October 6, 1536 Tyndale was brought to the place of execution. He was strangled with an iron chain and then his body was burned at the stake. His final words were, “Lord, open the king of England’s eyes.”
What makes a person so focused and so determined to go to these great lengths? I think it really has to do with passion. Tyndale was a gifted linguist, but it was his one desire in life to get the Word of God into the hands of the common people. He had a passion for the Word of God and that passion led him to a life on the run and eventual martyrdom.
As I look around Christianity, I see anything but passion. I see apathy, indifference, an overall attitude of ‘good enough.’ This Voice article is not just a history lesson but a call to action, a call to passion. What are you passionate about? It could be all kinds of things, but is there any passion at all for God and His kingdom? Too often we spend our time seeking after the things of this world in order to ‘make it’ when Jesus said to seek His kingdom first and all those things shall be added unto you.
Some may look at the life of William Tyndale and think of him as a fool. He spent all his time on that translating work and look where it left him. I see a servant of God, with a passion for God, who God used mightily and influenced the entire world. Find something about the Lord that you are passionate about and go after it with 100% and God will honor that. As another Reformer once said, “I’d rather wear out than rust out.”
-Pastor Mark Scialabba