Do I Really Cherish My Bible?
I have been considering a question lately and that question is ‘Do I really cherish my Bible?’
2011 is a special year in the history of the English Bible as it marks the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible or the Authorised Version as we sometimes know it. Whilst reading a fascinating book documenting the amazing hardship and sacrifices made by so many people in last six hundred years I was challenged. The struggles that the reformers went through to allow us to have a bible to read in English forced me to consider two questions, to myself above all.
1. Do I really cherish my bible?
2. Do I really study God’s word rather than reading the odd chapter or a short daily text?
Martin Luther the great reformer was 21 years old before he ever laid eyes on a bible himself. When he visited the library within a local monastery that had purchased a Latin bible at great cost he declared ‘My God, I would seek no other wealth than a copy of this book’. He realised that the bible was the Word of God and something to be cherished. He later went on to be one of the most instrumental figures in the Reformation of England.
William Tyndale was another influential figure in the early stages of the Reformation. He had fled from England to escape bounty hunters and inquisitors, eventually he arrived in Germany where he translated the New Testament into English for the first time in 1526. The Coverdale Bible soon followed being the first full bible in the English Language. The availability of the scriptures in English became the biggest threat imaginable to the Roman Catholic Church and they would not give up without a fight. Tyndale was hunted for eleven years and eventually betrayed by a friend and captured. He was strangled and burned at the stake in 1536. Before his execution his last words were ‘‘Oh Lord, open the King of England’s eyes’’ This prayer was answered a three years later when the first complete English Bible authorised for public use was printed. This was known as the Great Bible.
With the death of Queen Elizabeth I, Prince James VI of Scotland became King James I of England and in 1604 the Protestant clergy approached the new King with their desire for a new authorised translation of the bible. The King James Version of the Bible was the result of the combined effort of over fifty scholars and became known as ‘the translation to end all translations’. The first edition was produced in 1611. Soon after this people were able to own their own copies of the bible in English.
In the last 400 years the King James Bible has gone on to become the biggest selling book in history and to date still the only book to ever sell more than 1 billion copies. Many tried to prevent its printing & its distribution but today they are in the grave and forgotten. God’s word declares in Isaiah ‘The grass withereth, the flower fadeth, but the word of our God shall stand for ever’
Of course this is only a minute portion of the monumental struggle involved by so many people during the early part of The Reformation. During this time countless Christians were tortured and executed for standing up for the Gospel of Jesus Christ in this country, entire families were burned at the stake for their refusal to recant their acceptance of the true gospel. You only have to read Foxe’s Book of Martyrs to realise the sufferings of God’s people during this period of history.
In view of this I have to ask myself again ‘Do I cherish my Bible?’
I was challenged recently after speaking to a new Christian of only 6 months who had just finished reading the Bible from cover to cover. There was a hunger to inwardly digest God’s holy word that was both humbling and inspiring.
My challenge to myself over the remainder of 2011 is to ensure that I read the whole of God’s word, not to be legalistic in the achievement in any way but to make sure that my faith is strengthened daily by consuming God’s word and allowing his Holy Spirit to reveal His truths to me as I take in each chapter. Who knows, we may even be called one day to make the ultimate sacrifice that so many before us have already made in order to stand up for the precious word of God.
The question is, are we ready to do that?