Friday, October 23, 2015

Do you read your Bible?

Fellow Christian, do you read your Bible?
We, here in the United States, take for granted how readily available copies of the Scriptures are. We take for granted that many faithful translations exist in our language. We take for granted the opportunity to open that sacred book for ourselves.
I think we don't understand the great privilege we have in having such access to God's word! There were times in our history that men were killed for translating the Bible into more commonly used tongues, such as Greek, and, especially into tongues of the common people --the vernacular-- such as English or German.
There was a time when certain people thought only clergy and the educated elite should read the Bible. What phooey!
In the first edition preface of Erasmus's Greek New Testament, he said, "I vehemently dissent from those who would not have private persons read the Holy Scriptures nor have them translated into the vulgar tongues, as though either Christ taught such difficult doctrines that they can only be understood by a few theologians, or the safety of the Christian religion lay in ignorance of it. I should like all women to read the Gospel and the Epistles of Paul. Would that they were translated into all languages so that not only Scotch and Irish, but Turks and Saracens might be able to read and know them."
In the preface of Erasmus's third edition, he said, "Some think it offensive to have the sacred books turned into English or French, but the evangelists turned into Greek what Christ spoke in Syriac, nor did the Latins fear to turn the words of Christ into the Roman tongue - that is, to offer them to the promiscuous multitude...Like St. Jerome I think it a great triumph and glory to the cross if it is celebrated by the tongues of all men; if the farmer at the plow sings some of the mystic Psalms, and the weaver sitting at the shuttle often refreshes himself with something from the Gospel. Let the pilot at the rudder hum over a sacred tune, and the matron sitting with gossip or friend at the colander recite something from it."
You can argue all day as to whether you think Erasmus's Greek NT was expertly translated from Latin or not, but I think his intent was noble, right and helpful. Secondly, you'd have to take the time to become a scholar in Latin and Greek, and even some Aramaic and Hebrew, to even put up a decent argument.
My point is this: Erasmus wanted the word of God in regular folks' hands!
In a homily, Erasmus said, "Do we desire to learn, is there then any authority better than Christ? We read and reread the works of a friend, but there are thousands of Christians who have never read the gospels and the epistles in all their lives. The Mohammadans study the Koran, and Jews peruse Moses. Why do we not the same for Christ? He is our only doctor. On him the Spirit descended and a voice said, “Hear ye him!” What will you find in Thomas, what in Scotus to compare with his teaching? But as there are school masters who by their severity make boys hate learning, so there are Christians so morose as to instill distaste for the philosophy of Christ, which could not be more agreeable. Happy is he whom death overtakes meditating thereon. Let us then thirst for it, embrace it, steep ourselves in it, die in it, be transformed thereby. If any one shows us the footprints of Christ we Christians fall down and adore. If his robe is placed on exhibition do we not traverse the earth to kiss it? A wooden or a stone image of Christ is bedecked with jewels and should we not place gold gems and whatever may be more precious on the gospels which bring Christ closer to us than any paltry image? In them we have Christ speaking, healing, dying, and rising and more genuinely present than were we to view him with the eyes of the flesh."
O that we'd look upon God's word for ourselves! O that we'd meditate! O that we'd soak in His thoughts until they become ours! 
O that we'd see the grand privilege of having the our own language...without interference from governments! My Lord and my God, give us a burning zeal to know You through Your word!
Be encouraged by this reading today: “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. … All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. … Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. … For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. … For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. … But [Jesus] answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” … Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law. … With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. … Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.” (Joshua 1:8, 2 Timothy 3:16-17, Psalm 119:105, Romans 15:4, Hebrews 4:12, Matthew 4:4, Psalm 119:18, Psalm 119:10-11, Psalm 1:2, 1 Timothy 4:13 – English Standard Version)