July 3, 2019

Biography of William Tyndale: He Who Welcomed Light Affliction

Passage: 2 Timothy 2:8-9

Bible Text: 2 Timothy 2:8-9 | Preacher: Pastor Robert Altman | Series: Biographies of Affliction | William Tyndale “He Who Welcomed Light Affliction”
2nd Timothy 2:8-9
Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead and descended from David, according to my gospel, Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, even unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound.
There is the depression of Spurgeon, the Sickness of David Brainerd, and the mental illness of William Cowper (pronounced Cooper). These men accomplished lifetimes of work and their names live on and their lives influence millions still today. Our God reigns and His grace is deep. His self-sufficiency overflows into the life of His people daily. We drink from the well of God’s eternal goodness given to us through His Son Jesus Christ. These great men, who were greatly afflicted, are evidence that God loves to use the weak, broken, and struggling vessel to manifest His glory to a lost world. The world prides itself on strength and ability. Thank God talent is to a requirement to be used of God. While the world was writing laws, building cities, pushing cultural agendas (which would all perish) with all their strength and talent these broken, depressed, afflicted men did works, spoke words, and wrote songs that outshined and will prove to outlast the efforts of a fading world. We have looked at their lives and have beheld the glory of God as His Spirit and might work mightily in their lives. We owe a great debt to them and we thank God for them.
Tonight, we will look at another man God used greatly. He was motivated by the Spirit of God to look a country, king, the catholic church, and death face to face so God’s word could be heard by billions, let that sink in billions, of people. Tyndale’s affliction was different than that of Spurgeon, Brainerd, or Copwer. His Afflictions were, self-inflicted. His love for God’s word brought him to pain, suffering, lack, and death. Listen to His words.
. . . my pains . . . my poverty . . . my exile out of mine natural country, and bitter absence from my friends . . . my hunger, my thirst, my cold, the great danger wherewith I am everywhere encompassed, and finally . . . innumerable other hard and sharp fightings which I endure
This affliction was on his own accord because he loved God’s word and believed all people out to know who God is. He like John could said in Revelation 1:9 “I John…was on the Isle that is called Patmos for the Word of God, and Testimony of Jesus Christ”

He was born in the year 1494 in Gloucestershire England. By 1506 He began to Study at Magdalen Hall where he earned a Bachelors and then a Masters and went on to study Theology. Tyndale was 28 working as a tutor for John Walsh and studying Erasmus’ Greek New Testament which was printed in 1516. At the age of 32 Tyndale completed his copy of the Greek New Testament into English, began to smuggle it in to England, and by October 1526 (the same year it was published) was banned Bishop Tunstall in London. Prior to its publication the bible was available in English in written form only thanks to the work of John Wycliffe who completed his work 130 years earlier. The Word of God was only available in the Latin Vulgate which very few could read and fewer understand. This translation dominated for 1000 years. During those thousand years God was merciful to His people, but the lack of knowledge among people concerning the person and work of Jesus Christ led the church into many sins and much heresy. The people were perishing for lack of knowledge from God’s word. Tyndale’s Translation makes up 90% of the Authorized Version’s Content. While the translators of the early 1600’s are given much credit for their achievement, they are in great debt to the work and suffering of Tyndale.
William Tyndale never married and had no children. He loved God’s word beyond my imagination. Tyndale was in exile from his home land and felt the pain of being in hiding. He was betrayed in the year 1535, imprisoned where he suffered cold, hunger, and lack of comfort. He asks for warm clothes and a hat to keep warm, but nothing echoes in my heart like his “most important request” that “a Hebrew bible, Hebrew grammar, and Hebrew dictionary” be brought to him so he may study. 18 Months passed before he was strangled and burnt at the stake because he loved the word of God more than his own life. William Tyndale was 42 years old when he suffered for his final time. He is now awaiting the resurrection of his glorified body in heavenly places.
William Tyndale suffered exile, loneliness, pain, and hardships by his own choice. In the midst of such stress and difficulty he changed the world completely. We can not imagine a world without William Tyndale. Why did Tyndale dedicate himself wholly to the word of God? What made him decide that getting God’s word to people was worth losing worldly pleasure, normalcy, and eventually his life? How did he magnify God in his affliction?

He Believed in the Total Depravity of Humanity (Ephesians 2:3)

Because . . . [by] nature we are evil, therefore we both think and do evil, and are under vengeance under the law, convict to eternal damnation by the law, and are contrary to the will of God in all our will and in all things consent to the will of the fiend.
The bible speaks many times over about the sinful nature we are all born with. This sinful nature makes man slaves to sin, enemies with God, and under His wrath. This truth was closed up by humanist and the teachings of the Catholic Church. Salvation was seen as a thing accomplished by human merit or goodness. If people did enough, God could be pleased with them. Such teaching has caused many a man to stumble into hell dressed as a saint.
This great truth that is very evident in scripture was not available to common people. The priest of the day was ignorant concerning scripture most didn’t know more than a handful of verses, if that. William Tyndale knew that religion could abuse people without the guidance of scripture and he witness great spiritual abuse in leading people away from God in the name of tradition, religion, and power. The knowledge that all men were lost moved Tyndale to make the truth available to them in their own language. He once famously said“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, shall know more of the Scripture than thou dost.”
The complete natural lost state of man was a driving force for him, but more was needed to cause a man to “buy the truth and sell it not” (Proverbs 23:23).

He Believed the Person and Work of Jesus is Sufficient to Save Man and reconcile them to God and there was no other way (Romans 5:15)

“The Law and the Gospel are two keys. The Law is the key that shutteth up all men under condemnation, and the Gospel is the key which opens the door and lets them out.”
“Neither can any creature loose the bonds, save the blood of Christ only.”
By grace . . . we are plucked out of Adam the ground of all evil and graffed [sic] in Christ, the root of all goodness. In Christ God loved us, his elect and chosen, before the world began and reserved us unto the knowledge of his Son and of his holy gospel: and when the gospel is preached to us openeth our hearts and giveth us grace to believe, and putteth the spirit of Christ in us: and we know him as our Father most merciful, and consent to the law and love it inwardly in our heart and desire to fulfill it and sorrow because we do not.
The doctrine of total human depravity was not on its own force enough to move Tyndale to give his whole life to the work of biblical translation. In fact, the truth of the human condition is completely depressing. It is a heavy weight unable to be budged by all the might of the human race multiplied a million times over. Standing over against total depravity in the bible is the sinless Son of God who through His blood forgives all the sins of His people. This message was not preached in the days of Tyndale. People did not know how lost they were and at the same time did not know how sufficient Christ is for the forgiveness of their sins. The people of the day were given avenues to make penance to God. They were taught Jesus plus something or Jesus minus something is sufficient to God. Any addition of subtraction from the Person and work of Jesus was a subtraction and insufficient. People did not know the deep love of God because they lacked knowledge of who they were and who God is in spite of them (Romans 5:8). Tyndale saw the great and glorious light of Jesus Christ in the written word. He was captured by the beauty of Christ sufficiency. All men needed to know the love of God and how powerful it is through the Jesus our Lord who loved us and gave Himself for us so that we might be reconciled to God and made priest and kings through His blood! Tyndale was captured by God’s word and was totally obsessed with the work of translation. Stephen Vaughn was a ship merchant sent by the King Henry VIII to convince Tyndale to return to his home country. In a letter written by Vaughn June 19, 1531, he said of Tyndale “I find him always singing one note.”Tyndale would give up everything and return to England only if the King would allow him to translate the scriptures into English for all people of the nation to hear and understand.

He believed God’s Word was meant for All People (Mark 13:10)

The knowledge Tyndale had from the scripture showed him the darkness of man’s soul, the greater light of eternal salvation through Jesus Christ, and the mission of God to have all nations hear the message of the gospel. The burning desire to accomplish the mission of God came directly from the word of God. Without the word of God being known to people there could be no spark to repent from sin, turn to God, and spread His name among all nations through the preaching of the gospel. The Catholic Church was in opposition to the word of God being known to common people. If God’s word was clearly preached and known then the people would operate outside the catholic church’s teaching and the grip of power the church had on the community and state would vanish. The hierarchy of the church would lose, those who used the church for gain would lose, and life as they knew it would be destroyed. Such is the power of the gospel when it is preached., read, and believed. The word of God is powerful to tearing down strongholds of all kinds (2ndCorinthians 10:4).
He verbalized his conviction to stay true to correct translation like this
 “I call God to record against the day we shall appear before our Lord Jesus, that I never altered one syllable of God’s Word against my conscience, nor would do this day, if all that is in earth, whether it be honour, pleasure, or riches, might be given me.”
He Spoke of his desire to equip lay people with the scriptures
“I perceived how that it was impossible to establish the lay people in any truth except the Scripture were plainly laid before their eyes in their mother tongue.”

The greatest testament to his love for God’s word is seen in his willingness to stay in prison 18 months without recanting. His last words, according to Foxe’s Book of Martyrs was “Lord open the King of England’s eyes”. Three years later the Thomas Cromwell, the kings Chancellor, encouraged the king to provide every church member of the England church to have a bible in English. The bible was by Miles Coverdale, but most of the translation was that of William Tyndale. If you have King James Version of the Bible the vast majority (Near 90% of the New Testament and 75% of the Old Testament) of its content is owed to William Tyndale.

Can we stand for Christ, welcome, and endure afflictions? We can if our hearts and minds are radically shaped by God’s Word.  Let’s pray that God’s Word stirs us to a spirit like William Tyndale who welcomed light affliction and now experiences the eternal weight of glory.

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