Sermon by the Very Revd Andy Bowerman, Dean of Bradford
For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope.
Bibles used to adorn many families book shelves but were they ever read William Tyndale’s Bible was the first English language Bible to appear in print 1526. During the 1500s, the very idea of an English language Bible was shocking and subversive. This is because, for centuries, church services were by law conducted in Latin. Most people in Europe were unable to speak Latin, and so could not understand the Bible directly. By Tyndale’s day, vernacular Bibles (those written in local languages) were available in many parts of Europe, But in England it was still strictly forbidden to translate the Bible into English. Tyndale believed that ordinary people should be able to read (or listen to) the Bible in a language they could understand, but his Bible was highly illegal. The book was banned and Tyndale was eventually executed. And yet an astonishing number of Tyndale’s translated phrases are still in use today, including: ‘flowing with milk and honey”the apple of his eye”signs of the times’broken-hearted”eat, drink and be merry”the salt of the earth’
Bible translation is currently happening in 2,846 languages in 157 countries. This work impacts 1.11 billion people, or about 15 percent of all language users, who have (or will soon have) new access to at least some portions of Scripture in their first language. This number does not include people who already have a full Bible but are updating their existing translations.
1.45 billion people, using 5,509 languages, do not have a full Bible in their first language. This includes people who have some Scripture as well as people who have none. It represents about 20 percent of the global population.
Have you read the bible?
Do you read the bible?
The first book of the bible I read was Job. Although back in those days I didn’t know that was how you pronounced it. It was dramatic, horrific, difficult but somehow engaging. I’d become a Christian the night before and all I remembered they said you should do was, pray and read the bible. So that’s what I did Over the next few weeks. And the person of Jesus emerged from the pages of the NT, prior to that the bible was an old book that lived on the shelf, largely unopened and unread.
This is of course the most popular book in the world! It’s the best seller every week, every year. It has the power to change lives. It has mine. The words of God the psalmist says are more precious than Gold.
I went to Yemen last year and got a small glimpse of this. A mission group asked me to smuggle in bibles and teaching for them. Sim Card wireless router. But the Meeting with Ahmedullah. The Joy of receiving it was overwhelming. The potential of reading it and engaging with it enormous.
Why is it so precious – Jesus said people do not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God (Matt 4.4)
For Human beings bread (or food) is important but you can’t live on it alone – it will never satisfy. God has created us with a yearning for him. How do we hear what God is saying – certainly in creation but he has spoken, he has revealed himself through the person of Jesus and the bible is all about him. The OT points towards him and the gospels tell his story and the Rest of the NT what happens when you put attempt to put Gods words into practice.
The Apostle Paul tells us that all scripture is inspired by God. This is the word of God. When you read it – it seems to be true that it is the word of God. When you put it into practice it seems to prove itself by the way lives are transformed.
And yet it was written over 1600 yrs, with more than 40 authors, different genres, poetry, history, narrative, allegory, letters and it’s all written by humans. Yet it’s the word of God. How is that possible?
Sir Christopher Wren built St Paul’s cathedral but he didn’t lay a single stone! But he was Behind it, there was one architect. One designer. It is the same I believe with the bible.
So how are we allowing these words to shape us? It needs wrestling with, it needs to be interpreted through the life of Jesus.
Crosswords and the bible. Gradually it becomes clearer as you get more letters etc
What you realise is that It’s not so much a rule book as a love story. Gods desire to restore all people and all things to himself.
And the key thing to remember is that God still speaks to us through it. In a word, in a story, through an interaction. So how are we allowing God to speak to us? When and how are you reading it?
Bible in a year. Daily notes. 5 mins. 10 mins. It will require some time. It requires a place. I like to do it first thing in the morning. Keep going.
What is God saying?
What am I going to do about it?
If you’ve never really read the scriptures then why not try Johns gospel. It ends with this ‘these words are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and by believing you may have life’ (John 20.31)