While Tyndale’s God allowed the smoke of his body to rise up and over Europe, this same God was also causing the winds of reformation fire to blow. Not long after William Tyndale’s death more editions of the Bible were printed, including the King James Version of 1611, which became the most published book in all of human history.
487 years ago today, a lion hearted man of God was brutally murdered in the streets of England. His crime? He believed the Bible alone should be the sole authority over the church and that every single Christian ought to have a copy to read for themselves.
Based on this urgent conviction, William Tyndale began immediately translating the Holy Scriptures from their original Greek language into the language of the common man, which was English. He was mightily persecuted for that work. He was threatened on a daily basis by the Catholic Church. And, ultimately, he had to spend his remaining days on foot, living as a common criminal, while he finished the task of his translation.
After finishing the New Testament in 1525, Tyndale worked tirelessly to smuggle those same New Testaments back into England, where owning a Bible was not only illegal, but could get you killed.
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By Wes Bredenhof — 1 year ago
According to Calvin, image-bearing is what leads God to love and it is also what should lead us to love. That has implications, and not only for dealing with garden-variety jerks. In our current climate where the church is facing so much hostility from the world, we need this teaching more than ever. If we would only look around us and see all other people as God’s image-bearers, we would find something to love.
It isn’t easy to love a jerk. Someone who’s quiet, meek, and kind—no problem. But the person who annoys us, whether through habit or personality? The person who pushes all our buttons, perhaps even intentionally? The selfish and insensitive clod?
Yet the Lord commands us to love our neighbor as we do ourselves (Matt. 22:39). That Christian love is “not irritable or resentful” (1 Cor. 13:5). Instead, it “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Cor. 13:7). This is the love that leads us to “do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Gal. 6:10).
But how do we do that with someone we might think to be unworthy of our love and good deeds? How do you love a jerk? You might say, “Take a look in the mirror.” Humbly realizing that we’re all unworthy jerks could indeed be a good place to start. However, in his epic Institutes of the Christian Religion, John Calvin explored this practical issue in the Christian life from a different angle. His advice, drawn on sound biblical teaching, is worth a listen. If you want to look it up and read the whole section for yourself, it’s in Institutes 3.7.6. I’ll be quoting from the Lewis-Battles edition.
Calvin begins by acknowledging that most people would be unworthy of our love if they were judged according to merit. But that isn’t how Christians are to think. Says Calvin,
But here Scripture helps in the best way when it teaches that we are not to consider that men merit of themselves but to look upon the image of God in all men, to which we owe all honor and love.
He goes on to affirm that with members of the household of faith this obligation is intensified by virtue of the fact that God’s image has been renewed and restored in them by the Holy Spirit. Nevertheless, what remains of the image of God after the fall into sin and before regeneration is itself reason enough to show love to all by doing good. Calvin concludes,
Therefore, whatever man you meet who needs your aid, you have no reason to refuse to help him.
Calvin then anticipates a series of objections. Someone might say, “But he’s a stranger!” to which Calvin would reply that this is irrelevant. With the image of God, you have something in common that instantly binds you together. Or someone might say, “But he’s loathsome and a good-for-nothing!” Calvin replies,
…but the Lord shows him to be one whom he has deigned to give the beauty of his image.
By Daniel Huilt — 1 year ago
Christendom in America has been steadily declining for decades, with the views espoused by many who claim to be Christians straying further and further from pure orthodoxy. Like the audience of Hebrews, the church in America needs the pure spiritual milk that can only come through Scripture.
For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And this we will do if God permits.—Hebrews 5:12-6:3, ESV
The Problem of Theological Illiteracy
One of the biggest problems I see in the church today is what I refer to as theological illiteracy. This means that many Christians have an overly limited or even erroneous understanding of the basic doctrines of the Christian faith. This is a serious problem, as an inadequate knowledge of God causes us to worship not the true God as revealed in Scripture but a god our minds create, which is the definition of idolatry. Erroneous views of Scripture, God’s nature, our sinful condition, and the process of salvation can cause us to trust in the wrong Gospel, which actually brings about God’s curse (Galatians 1:6-9). Such views also cause us to distort what Scripture teaches and misapply it to our lives, even leading us to approve what is evil and shun what is good, which similarly brings about God’s curse (Isaiah 5:20, Romans 10:2-3). But is it really that bad? The recent “State of Theology” study by Ligonier Ministries suggests it is. In this post I will look at the general takeaways from that study, while future posts will examine more specific lessons from that study. Ultimately, the goal is to begin to counter the epidemic of theological illiteracy found throughout the church in America.
The “State of the Theology” Study and Methodology
Ligonier Ministries regularly surveys American Christians to gauge the general state of theology in the American church. They present various statements that address Scripture, God’s nature, human nature, sin, salvation, the church, and how Scripture clearly applies to certain current issues. People could answer that they strongly or slightly agreed or disagreed with the statement or were unsure. These statements are written so that a Christian with general knowledge of the basic tenets of Christianity can easily identify whether the statement is true or false, as the validity of all of the statements can be determined either directly from Scripture or derived from Scripture. This means that the more people answer them correctly, the healthier the state of theology in America. The most recent results can be found here. The site also has a data explorer that allows you to view results broken down by region, denomination, age, gender, population density, education, income, marital status, ethnicity, and regularity of church attendance.
By Allan Harman — 7 months ago
Deuteronomy is concerned with the bond between God and His people. God acted in His gracious condescension, entered into a special relationship with them. He loved His people and redeemed them by His outstretched hand of power (see especially Deut. 7:7–9; Deut. 9:5–6; Deut. 14:2). At Sinai, He entered into this formal relationship with them. He drew near them and promised, “I will be your God, and you shall be My people.” Hence, the covenant was a bond between God and man, sovereignly imposed by God in His grace, whereby He and His people gave expression to their relationship in formal terms.
The book of Deuteronomy is significant in itself, but also because of the number of times it is quoted in the New Testament. The proclamation of Jesus and His disciples drew directly from it. Jesus quoted it in His temptations (Matt. 4:4, 7, 10) and reaffirmed its emphasis on an all-embracing love to God (Matt. 22:37–38). The Apostolic preaching in Acts draws heavily upon it, especially in pointing to the fulfilment of the word concerning the prophetic office in the person of Jesus (Deut. 18:15; Acts 3:22). At least seven New Testament epistles contain quotations from Deuteronomy, perhaps the most significant of these being in Galatians 3:10–14. Here, Paul writes that Christ has redeemed us from the curse of which Deuteronomy speaks (see Deut. 21:23) by becoming a curse for us (Gal. 3:13).
The name of this book in English, Deuteronomy, has come via Latin and Greek and means “the second law,” assuming that the reference in Deuteronomy 17:18 means exactly that. However, what that passage refers to is the king having a copy of the law for himself. The content of the book shows that it is not a second law but a renewal of the covenant made at Mount Sinai (called “Horeb” throughout Deuteronomy, except in Deuteronomy 33:2). It is linked expressly with the gracious promises God gave to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (see, for example, Deut. 6:10–11; Deut. 7:7–9). It also marks the completion of the Pentateuch, with the emphasis on the partial fulfilment of the patriarchal promises just prior to Israel’s entry to the land that God had sworn to give them.
There are three special matters that readers should know about the book of Deuteronomy and its teaching.
1. Deuteronomy is a covenantal document.
As a covenantal document, Deuteronomy is concerned with the bond between God and His people. God acted in His gracious condescension, entered into a special relationship with them. He loved His people and redeemed them by His outstretched hand of power (see especially Deut. 7:7–9; Deut. 9:5–6; Deut. 14:2). At Sinai, He entered into this formal relationship with them. He drew near them and promised, “I will be your God, and you shall be My people.”