October 3, 2017

Vernacular Scriptura

One of the great blessings of the Protestant Reformation was the rediscovery of the doctrine of Sola Scriptura – the truth that what we believe, in matters of Christian faith and practice, must come from Scripture alone. But perhaps of equal value, both during the Reformation, and even before it, was what we might call Vernacular Scriptura – that is, the translating of the Bible into the vernacular; into the language of the masses!

Praise God for this development! For, how far would many of the needed reforms have gotten if Reformation leaders had obeyed the unjust laws of their day, which forbade translating the Bible into the common tongues of the people; if the written word of God had remained locked away in a language (Latin) which most people could neither read nor understand? So praise God for men like Wycliffe, Luther, Tyndale, and others who brought the word of God to the people, in their own languages! We are still benefitting, today, from this great Reformation advance!

And how ought we respond, given the precious blessing of having what so many people, for so many years, did not have – the Bible in our own tongue? Let me make three suggestions:

1. Read it! It’s quite simple, isn’t it? Men and women of old were willing to risk their lives in order to make the Bible available in the English language. Most of us have multiple copies – resources that they would have given almost anything to possess. Let us not let them go to waste! Let us, very simply, take advantage of what the Reformation has bequeathed to us. Let us actually read these English Bibles that are at our fingertips!

2. Give it away! Preaching is indispensable … and it was so during the Protestant Reformation. But so, also, was the newly acquired opportunity for the literate population to actually read the Bible for themselves. The providential dovetailing of Bible-translation into the common tongue, coupled with the recent invention of the printing press, put the Bible in front of many, many eyes that had never read it before! And it was spiritual dynamite across Europe! And maybe, just maybe, something like that could happen in our own day, if we began to put the Bible before eyes that have scarcely read it. Our neighbors’ reasons for not reading the Scriptures are different from many of the people of the Reformation era, but maybe some of our contemporaries would read if we gave them a neat little copy, say, of the gospel or Mark, or Luke, or John. And who knows what God might do!

Note also that The Voice of the Martyrs is working to provide many Christians, “living in hostile and restricted nations,” with their own copies of the Bible!  You can give toward this worthy cause at vombibles.com.

3. Support translation! There are still languages in the world, today, into which the Scriptures have not yet been translated! Not for the same reasons as in Europe of old, but there are still people who have never read the Bible in their own language – and some who will never read it at all, unless it is provided in their own language! And yet, praise God, there are people and organizations committed to remedying this lack! Pray for them! Consider supporting them financially! And, if you have a gift for languages, consider studying Bible, Greek, and Hebrew so that you might, perhaps, join them someday in the mission of Vernacular Scriptura!

“The unfolding of Your words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple” (Psalm 119:130). May we continue to unfold those words, brothers and sisters, both for ourselves and others!

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