These are the facts:
In the early 1500’s, no one in Europe was allowed to own or read a Bible other than Catholic priests or scholars.
Church services were done exclusively in Latin.
Common people didn’t speak a word of Latin.
Disobeying the rules of the church could mean imprisonment, death, or being excommunicated, which meant being condemned to hell.
Along came young William Tyndale who decided to study theology in Oxford. Drinking and carousing with the other future priests was normal in his day, and a relationship with God was not even a consideration. But something happened to William Tyndale as he began to study the Bible in the original Greek and Hebrew. He began discovering amazing truths about God, that He wanted us to know Him, to be forgiven by the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross and transformed into new creatures by faith. He had never heard these things before, and the more he read, the more he realized that the church had been lying to and abusing its people. He decided that ordinary people needed to have a Bible of their own to read and understand the truth directly from God’s mouth, and not from a bunch of corrupt church leaders.
Tyndale soon became an enemy of the church. He illegally translated the Bible into English with painstaking attention to detail. Martin Luther, another Catholic scholar and monk who rebelled against the Catholic Church, was doing the same thing in German. Tyndale met him in Germany not realizing how God was inspiring them both to create a revolution that would shake the world. Tyndale’s New Testament was one of the first to make use of the Guttenberg printing press and the Bible was mass produced by the thousands in English and smuggled back into England in barrels of flour. Once those Bibles got into the hands of ordinary Englishmen and women, the movement of God’s Spirit was unstoppable.
The angrier and harsher the church’s punishments for anyone caught with a Bible, the more the English people wanted it. For the first time, farmers, merchants, the elderly and children were reading and being transformed. Souls were being saved, and Tyndale was a wanted criminal. In 1536 he was caught and sentenced to death. He was strangled and then burned at the stake for his crime. His last words were, “Lord, open the King of England’s eyes.” God did, and three years later, the king ordered official Bibles to be printed for the entire country.
Tyndale was one small man against a massively rich and powerful institution. But his faith won. His sacrificial obedience blesses us now, 500 years later. His burning desire was to do what was right – what God had called him to do. He based all he did on the truth of the word of God, which guaranteed that his life’s work would never be shaken and that he would spend eternity in the joy of his Master.
Does the world need heroes today? Do you have a burning desire to do what’s right? Do you hear what God is calling you to do? Rise up and be God’s hero for yourself, your family, your community, for His Kingdom. Remember that your fight is not against flesh and blood but against principalities and rulers of this dark world, but the victory is already promised as long as you fight in faith and obedience. Today’s fight could impact lives and save souls for generations to come.
Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion. It cannot be shaken; it remains forever. Jerusalem – the mountains surround her. And the Lord surrounds His people, both now and forever. (Psalm 125:1-2 HCSB)