Archive for October, 2017

Thank you William Tyndale!

October 31, 2017

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Recently, as I took another of my reflective walks in the fields behind our home, I viewed in the distance a beautiful scene. Against the blue horizon of the sea two tractors were ploughing a field, while behind them was a great company of seagulls following them like a white cloud. My thoughts wondered back to a time when tractors didn’t exist and that ploughed field reminded me of the words of Tyndale… “I defy the pope and all his laws; if God spare my life, I shall cause the boy that driveth the plough to know more of the scripture than thou dost.” These justifiably angry words were spoken to a priest of the Roman Catholic Church – an institution which desired that the “common people” should be kept in darkness. I say “justifiably” because the priest in question had made a statement tantamount to the opinion that we are “better to go without God’s laws than the pope’s!”

Of course, when people are kept in darkness and ignorance, evil men retain their power – and ultimately their riches and standing in society. Today, as then, it is still the desire of the hierarchy in Roman Catholic circles to keep people from studying the scriptures and thereby coming to a realisation of the truth that this system of belief is contradicted by the Word of God.

In those volatile days it was illegal in England to translate any part of the Bible into English. In Norwich a young man, having been found with a mere piece of paper with the Lord’s Prayer in his native language, was burned alive. In this dangerous climate and having faced fierce opposition to his proposed translation of the New Testament into English, William Tyndale fled to Germany where it was possible to print his translation.

William Tyndale (1494-1536) was a learned Oxford scholar who had mastered eight languages – but more than this he had clearly found the Lord as Saviour and had a passion for the scriptures. I can only imagine how it must have felt for him, after the terrible opposition, to hold that first bound edition of the New Testament in his hand. Printing was a laborious task in those days and previously he was only nearing the end of St. Matthew’s gospel when the print shop was raided by those in opposition to Martin Luther at the time. However, he and a colleague escaped with their precious manuscripts up the Rhine to Worms where he lived life as a fugitive. Copies of his New Testament were eventually smuggled down the Rhine to the English and Scottish seaports where they were hungrily received by Christians. A great number of his New Testaments, however, were apprehended at one point and destroyed in a bonfire outside St. Paul’s Cathedral.

It was in Worms (a centre of rabbinic learning) that Tyndale learned Hebrew and started his translation of the Old Testament into English. King Henry VIII at one point decided that Tyndale, it appeared, was a man of influence, who would be better to live under his jurisdiction… and therefore his control. He sent someone to look for Tyndale but he was angered by Tyndale’s response to him on personal matters and this never transpired. Eventually, having been betrayed by a “friend,” William ended up in a cold dark dungeon, in an old castle in Leuven where he suffered much persecution from Roman Catholic priests who tried to get him to confess to his “heresy.”

However, the jailer and his daughter in this place respected William Tyndale and were impressed by this scholar who could converse with them in their native Flemish language. They grew fond of him, listened to his witness and were wonderfully converted as a result, a story which is recounted in the Foxes Book of Martyrs.

In October 1536 William Tyndale was taken from the dungeon, strangled first and then set alight in a public burning. With his last breath he offered up a prayer – not for himself, but for that of his own country and that the “King’s eyes would be opened.” That prayer (unknown to William) had already been answered, for King Henry VIII had approved of a new English Bible by Miles Coverdale, Tyndale’s friend. Little did the king realise that Coverdale’s Bible was nearly 70% of Tyndale’s work. Later, in 1604 James 1 approved a new translation of the Bible into English. What a wonderful answer to Tyndale’s prayer before his martyrdom… for his work became the basis of 90% of our beloved King James Version!

By his courage and obedience to the last, William Tyndale had started a fire which would flame and spread in his native England and further afield. I thank William Tyndale for his legacy to us all: the scripture in English, written with a clarity which even common people like me (and the men who plough the fields!) can readily understand. And we can understand it with a depth (which has nothing to do with education) when we have made the Master of William Tyndale – our Master.

“Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” (Psalm 119v105) “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” (Psalm 119v11)

I am beyond grateful for this great volume that I hold in my hands – I have grown to love it more and more through the ups and downs of life, as I walk by faith each step of the way.

How marvellous, having first met our Lord and Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, when we get to heaven, to meet loved ones and then souls like William Tyndale and others who forged the way, in His strength, to put the Bible into our hands. Let us never forget that the English Bible was made with blood!

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Calm Before Hurricane Ophelia: Remembering “Oídhche na Gaoithe Móire (1839)”

October 16, 2017

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Just yesterday I took an enjoyable stroll in the lane that lies behind our home. Autumn leaves gently falling in the mild breeze carpeted the scene before me, while in the distance a pleasant sunlight glinted on the calm waves of the sea. Who would have thought that today would have brought such countrywide devastation? Yet, unfortunately I have no idea at this point what the rest of the day will hold as Hurricane “Ophelia” sweeps across Ireland. With many thousands of homes without electricity, we are most fortunate at this point to still have a supply at all – never mind internet access!

Today I recall my blog written back on January 6th 2013 entitled “A True Fireside Tale – The Night of the Big Wind – Oídhche na Gaoithe Móire (1839).” It will soon be 180 years since this ferocious storm unleashed its fury, leaving widespread destruction and death throughout the entire island of Ireland. The full extent of this hurricane and some of the truly incredible things that happened are recounted in my previous blog at: https://readywriterpublications/thenightofthebigwind- Oídhche na Gaoithe Móire (1839)

This afternoon I felt a little frightened as the wind beat around our home. Like our two cats I have no desire to venture out into the wilds! Yet I trust the Lord on this unusual day, when schools, colleges, transport and businesses are closing or coming to a standstill. Who would have thought that yesterday’s calm and beautiful morning would result in the scene before us today – and sadly there were people who were alive yesterday but today have lost their lives as a direct result of this storm.

I hope to modify my original blog about “Oídhche na Gaoithe Móire (1839)” (which translated from the Irish means “The Night of the Big Wind”) and distribute it locally as a tract, in outreach. There is so much to say about storms in the spiritual realm and sometimes, even as Christians, we can find ourselves “in the eye of the storm” in another sense. Today, with more sophisticated forecasting equipment, we may have some warning of these hurricanes which are becoming so common in our times – but even then we often have no idea as to the extent of the destruction that will take place.

The one thing that struck me this afternoon is that I am totally helpless in the face of a storm. I can take precautions and secure my property as best I can and stay in as safe a place as possible – but at the end of the day I cannot control that storm. Property (and more importantly lives) may sadly be lost but the soul of mankind lives on… and there is only one sure refuge for the soul of mankind as the storms of life (whatever their nature) unleash their fury.

Yes, naturally I feel apprehensive as I look outside right now – or as I take a good hard look at certain circumstances in my own life. But how marvellous to know the only sure Refuge and Anchor to whom I can flee on the stormy sea of life! He is the Holy One of Israel: the Lord Jesus Christ who said to His disciples: “Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm. But the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!” (Matthew 8v26&27)

The Lord Jesus Christ who gave Himself for us is indeed our Hope, our only Hope in the eye of the storm, “which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.” (Hebrews 6v19&20)

 

Signs and Wonders: “False Christs and False Prophets”

October 2, 2017

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“Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not…” (Matthew 24v23)

Amazingly it is recorded that there have been individuals claiming to be “Christ” since as early as the first century. Throughout the centuries there have been those who either made this claim for themselves, or their followers were convinced of it. Today, however, the world is full of “false Christs” and perhaps an even greater number of “false prophets.”

At least one “false Christ” has emerged from the Latter Day Saints (Mormons) cult, while Sun Myung Moon (1920-2012) who was the founder and leader of the Unification Church or “Moonies” also considered that he was “the Second Coming.” Nevertheless, like all mortal men he is gone from this scene of time now. His false system of belief unfortunately lives on, under the leadership of his second wife, Hak Ja Han. There are numerous current-day claimants, including Australian Alan J. Miller, who also claims to have met Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, Mahatma Ghandi, Moses, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob… In the summer of 2007 David Shayler, born as recently as 1965 and a former MI5 agent, also proclaimed himself to be the Messiah. These are just of a few of the well-known claimants of false “Christs,” of whom there are an increasing number throughout the world.

In Matthew Chapter 24 we learn of many of the signs of the Lord Jesus Christ’s coming, in His reply to the question that was asked of Him by His disciples in the Mount of Olives: “Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (Matthew 24v3)

Jesus told them of “wars and rumours of wars,” “nations rising against nations,” as well as famines, pestilences and earthquakes in diverse places – which are the “beginning of sorrows.” Also, that “many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many” (Verse 11) and in that well-known Verse 24 Jesus tells us: “there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.”

“If it were possible…” Some deceivers are perhaps more convincing than others, while the claims of others are so outrageous that even non-Christians don’t find them believable. However, those who walk closest with the Lord amongst His people are most discerning in these matters and will not be deceived by even the most convincing false prophet, particularly when they look at the fruits of that person.

I think it is true to say that there are more “false prophets” than “false Christs” – and many throughout the world are indeed deceived by them.

We all know of certain famous evangelists of our times – some are very clearly deceivers; others perhaps are more convincing, as has already been discussed. But look, for example, at who a famous evangelical will meet in his life. If he meets with someone in order to be a witness to that person and to show them their need of salvation, that is a different matter – but if he looks, for example, on the pope of Rome as a “fellow Christian,” then there is very clearly something wrong with this “evangelical’s” relationship with the Lord. He may seem to preach the gospel in its entirety but when we see him giving credence to other erroneous belief systems which have departed from God’s Word, we know that he is a deceiver.

As Christians we must be discerning in our walk with the Lord. Ultimately He is the Judge and “the Lord knoweth them that are His” but we must make decisions in our own minds about the standing of those in positions of spiritual authority, so that we can pray intelligently for them and for situations where we are concerned that others believe in them.

I knew of a man, once, who had a dream that the devil was there in a Christian pulpit… preaching the gospel, but he was preaching it in a way that “hardened hearts.” The preacher in the dream did not have the Spirit of the Lord. I believe that we are living in incredible days when pulpits are indeed full of deceivers and we are also living in those days of which Jesus said “because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” (Matthew 24v12&13)

We learn that “all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.” (2Timothy 3v12&13) In these evil days those who profess to know Him must not sleep, in the spiritual sense, but be awake, alert and aware that the devil comes in many guises. In order to deceive people… does it not make sense to come in the guise of even the Pastor of a supposedly “Christian” fellowship?

If we love the Lord Jesus Christ and desire to follow Him, He has promised that He will lead us into all truth. False Christs and false prophets are surely a sign of the times we are living in. God forbid that those who profess to know Him… would not “love His appearing.”

Paul’s advice to the young Timothy in 2Timothy Chapter 3, still applies to Christians today… “But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them.” (Verse 14) Praise God for His precious Word and for His Son Jesus Christ – a sure anchor in the storms of life, when we are buffeted on all sides by deceivers and false doctrines.

May Paul’s words be ours, as we face our final battles: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith; Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” (2Timothy 4v7&8)