Sunday, 29 November -0001 18:42

Youth Page

Written by Peter Langbroek
On April 4, 1519, near Coventry, England a woman and six men walked to their death like criminals. Soldiers made each one walk onto a pile of wood with a post in the middle. They were then tied to the post and burned. Gruesome, isnÕt it? But if you were a boy or girl then and there, you may have witnessed their execution.

What was their crime? They did no other crime than teaching their children the LordÕs Prayer, the Ten Commandments, and the ApostleÕs Creed in English. In England in the year 1519 it was a time when the Scriptures and Confessions of Faith could only be read in another language ÐLatin. The problem was that no one understood that language, not even many of the priests who led the church services!

The Church had become evil and superstitious. The ChurchÕs teachings were given more authority than the Scriptures. Anyone who challenged this was charged with being a heretic. Also, no one but the clergy were allowed to read the Scriptures, since the Word was thought too difficult and complicated for a common person to understand. Common people were only to serve time in church, be obedient, pay their dues to the Church, and live a good life. Salvation was not found by trusting in the finished work of Christ alone, but by faith and good works it was possible to reach a place between heaven and hell when people died: purgatory. Only their living relatives or friends could bail them out of purgatory into heaven by paying the Church and attending masses for them. Such thinking only brought bondage and rebellion against the law. Very few clergymen in those days practised the good deeds they taught others to do.

During this time, God raised up a man by the name of William Tyndale to help undo this evil. Tyndale was a former priest, a learned man, who knew the Bible well in its original languages ÐHebrew and Greek. His heart burned for God and His Word. He wanted the common people to read the Bible, not in Latin, but in English. One spring day, Tyndale walked in the countryside. He saw a common sight, a plough-boy ploughing a field. God impressed a dream upon him, a dream that such a ploughboy would have a Bible and be able to read it. Tyndale once said to a priest: ÒI defy the pope and all his laws; if God spare my life, ere many years I will cause a boy that driveth a plough shall know more of the Scripture than thou doest.Ó

The Lord granted William Tyndale his wish. He translated the Bible into English, but with great sacrifice. He had to hide eleven years from those who hated him for what he did. He lived like a beggar, moving from one place to another with translations to be printed. Odds were that Tyndale should have been caught many times, but the Lord protected him. Then, a man he befriended, Henry Phillips, betrayed him to the soldiers. Tyndale was captured and spent months in a dripping wet, cold, rat-filled dungeon. Death came when he was sent to a pile of wood.. He climbed the stake. Before a noose would strangle him, Tyndale, viewing the spectators around him, prayed a prayer before the hushed onlookers: ÓLord, open the King of EnglandÕs eyes.Ó He died disgraced by man but rewarded by God, a good and faithful servant of His Master.

Boys and girls, be glad you donÕt live in those days, but I think itÕs good for you to imagine yourself then and there. At what cost will you remain a disciple of Jesus Christ? Many people believed the Bible when they heard it in TyndaleÕs days, but when they were faced with death at the stake, they backed down. Tyndale didnÕt. He knew what it cost him and he paid the price. He knew the plough-boys never ploughed backwards always forwards. He knew what Jesus meant when He said: ÒNo man, having put his hand to the plough and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of GodÓ (Luke 9:62).

William Tyndale ploughed hard ground for the kingdom of God, but not in vain. A year after his death, Henry VIII, King of England, allowed the Bible to be read in the English language by the common people. The Bible Tyndale had translated was read by plough-boys. You see, Tyndale knew the secret of the Reformation. He knew that not men, but GodÕs Word and the preaching of GodÕs Word are the main tools God uses to reform manÕs heart from rebellion to faith. William Tyndale was willing to pay the cost of comfort and life and be attacked by evil forces to achieve what God wanted him to do.

Children, your parents can help you memorize the LordÕs Prayer, the Ten Commandments and even the ApostleÕs Creed in English without being burned at a stake. In TyndaleÕs days the people lived ignorant of GodÕs Word. But we live in another day of ignorance. People are ignorant today too, not because they donÕt know how to read or because they donÕt own a Bible. They have, instead, shelved the Word of God in exchange for comfort and entertainment. Even in our churches such ignorance exists. Because we have the fruits of TyndaleÕs labours in our own homes, this a greater crime. The comforts of our day should not take our attention away from being the disciples Jesus calls us to be. We do well to learn from William Tyndale.

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