“The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.” —Psalm 12:6
“Hac ut luce tuas dispergam Roma tenebras sponte extorris ero sponte sacrificium.”
Hanging in the National Portrait Gallery in London, a portrait of William Tyndale features a paper ribbon on his desk which is adorned with the Latin phrase above, the approximate translation of which is:
“To scatter Roman darkness by this light,
the loss of land and life I’ll reckon slight.”
William Tyndale (1494-1536), Protestant Reformer and Bible Translator
Thy Word Is a Lamp Unto My Feet (Psalm 119:105)
Illuminating a dark world with the light of the Gospel was the singular focus and driving life passion of the man known as “God’s outlaw”. Born in Gloucester County, England just two years after Columbus’s famous voyage, William Tyndale (1494-1536) is best known for his translation of the New Testament and much of the Old Testament into English. His translation differed from and is superior to John Wycliffe’s (1320-1384) earlier translation into English in the mid 1300s in that it was produced directly from the original Greek and Hebrew texts.
The Word of God to the Common Man
In his Book of Martyrs, reformer John Foxe (1517-1587) records the following account which occurred in 1522 when Tyndale was 28 years old:
“Not long after, Master Tyndale happened to be in the company of a certain divine, recounted for a learned man, and, in communing and disputing with him, he drove him to that issue, that the said great doctor burst out into these blasphemous words: ‘We were better to be without God’s Laws than the Pope’s.’ Master Tyndale, hearing this, full of godly zeal, and not bearing that blasphemous saying, replied, ‘I defy the Pope and all his laws. . . . If God spare my life, ere many years, I will cause a boy that driveth the plow to know more of the Scripture than thou dost.'”1
In time, Tyndale’s dream of supplying the common people with the Word of God in their own language was realized—but it was to cost him his life. During his martyrdom, Tyndale famously cried out to God, pleading that the Lord might “open the King of England’s eyes!” Within just a few years, King Henry VIII authorized the production of four English translations of the Bible in England, all of which were based on Tyndale’s work.
Tyndale’s efforts resulted in the first English translation to take advantage of the printing press, and the first of the new English Bibles of the Reformation. Later, in 1611, the translators of the King James Bible leaned heavily on Tyndale’s work. In fact, it is estimated that as much as 83% of the New Testament and 76% of the Old Testament in the King James Version is Tyndale’s work.
“With his New Testament, William Tyndale became the father of the Modern English language. He shaped the syntax, grammar, and vocabulary of the English language more than any man who ever lived… more than the author Geoffrey Chaucer, and more even than the playwright William Shakespeare.” —Steven Lawson2
During family reading time over the course of the last year and a half, our children (and we ourselves) have been inspired by accounts of various Reformers and missionaries who risked everything to translate and bring the Gospel to the darkest corners of the globe. Books such as Taking the World for Jesus and The Story of the Bible left us all energized for Kingdom work and piqued the children’s interest especially with all things linguistic, and ever since that time, our house has been littered with myriads of Bible translation segments. Unlike William Tyndale, however, the children have had the benefit of having access to Google Translate 🙂 Our prayer is that Tyndale Sterling would, like William Tyndale, grow to be a man of God, wholly devoted to Him and delighting in Him and His Word above all else.
God is both the Author and the Finisher of our faith (Heb. 12:2). He Who began the good work of salvation in us has also promised to bring our salvation to completion—purifying, sanctifying, and refining us all along the way much like silver is purified.
“…He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” —Philippians 1:6, nasb
“… [H]e is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap: And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.” —Malachi 3:2-3
“Take away the dross from the silver, and there shall come forth a vessel for the finer.” —Proverbs 25:4
It is often through trials that the Almighty chooses to draw us closer to Himself, crafting us evermore into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ.
“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” —James 1:2-4
We thank God for those trials which, in His tender Fatherly care and infinite wisdom, He sends or permits to attend us, knowing that “…the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives” (Heb. 12:6). We pray that He will allow us to view the refining process with an eternal perspective and to “consider it all joy” as He continues to “…work [all things] together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). Our prayer is that Tyndale Sterling would be a man of great purity and holiness, refined by his Maker into useful service for the Kingdom.
During at-home worship time, one song we have grown especially fond of which expresses similar sentiments is “Refiner’s Fire”. Have a listen to this lovely rendition.
Purify my heart
Let me be as gold and precious silver
Purify my heart
Let me be as gold, pure gold
Refiner’s fire, my heart’s one desire
Is to be holy, set apart for You, Lord
I choose to be holy, set apart for You, my Master
Ready to do Your will
Happy Brothers and Sisters!
1. Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, Hendrickson Christian Classics
2. The Daring Mission of William Tyndale, by Steven J. Lawson