Beyond the Church Walls
Imagine stepping into your Sunday best, feeling the excitement building as you make your way to church. Here, nestled among your church family, you cling to each Biblical word as the pastor’s voice fills the air with Scripture. Yet, as the sermon fades and the church doors close, so does our access to God’s Word. For most of Christian history, this lack of Biblical access was a reality. We would be locked out of God’s Word as the Bible was confined to Latin and reserved as a privilege for the scholarly elites — a treasure that was rare and out of reach for ordinary folks like you and me.
Yet, in the providence of His perfect timing, God’s hand turned the page. Around 1380, John Wycliffe initiated a significant project. Driven by the fact that everyone should have access to God’s Word, he led the movement to translate the Latin Bible into English. Despite facing opposition from certain factions within the church, who branded him a heretic and banned his writings, he remained steadfast in his dedication.
During the course of the translation project, Wycliffe’s health declined, yet he still stood determined and finished the New Testament translation in 1382. Two years later, he suffered a stroke, and a few days after that, he passed away, returning home from this earthly life.
While his death may seem untimely and contrary to the concept of God’s perfect timing, we can discern God’s providence in sustaining and protecting Wycliffe until the crucial moment when his ideas and work gained enough momentum to take root and endure. When you consider that through the most fatal pandemic recorded in human history, the Black Death, which killed almost half of the European population, God sustained Wycliffe in his youth and even beyond, enabling him to overcome adversity and fulfill his mission.
In God’s perfect timing, Wycliffe’s mission planted a seed of change that continued to bear fruit, bringing the story of Christ’s sacrifice closer to the common people. The Spirit continued to move, inspire, and motivate the spread of God’s Word, paving the way for an invention that changed history — Gutenberg’s printing press. In 1455, the creation of the Gutenberg Bible, still in Latin, marked the onset of a new era in Christian history. And thus, it was God’s hand, arranging the chessboard of history, establishing the steps as He set the world’s stage for two individuals destined to leave an enduring mark.
Martin Luther unveiled his Ninety-Five Theses on October 31, 1517, igniting the flames of the Reformation. Luther’s theology emphasized the priesthood of all believers, advocating that each believer had the right and responsibility to understand Scripture for themselves.
With determination, the young scholar William Tyndale followed in the wake of Luther and carried on the work that Wycliffe had begun. While Wycliffe is not credited as a source, Tyndale’s translation sometimes overlaps with Wycliffe’s translation, reflecting the influence of his predecessor. Motivated by a burning desire for God’s Word, Tyndale was led on a journey to translate the Bible into English, bringing it within reach of everyday people. Working in secret, always on the run, he pressed on. Despite being branded a heretic and pursued by the church, Tyndale, like Wycliffe, remained steadfast in the face of adversity. Finally, in 1526, with the help of underground presses, copies of his English translations found their way back to England, smuggled into the hands of the common folks.
Engaging with Scriptures
Our ancestors in Christ were finally able to read and actively engage with the Scriptures. In this milestone, we witness God’s beautiful orchestration of history. What started as a calling in the heart of Wycliffe was matured by God through the faith-driven works of Luther and Tyndale to bring His Word closer to the common people. In His perfect timing, He used frail and imperfect vessels, propelled by the Spirit, to achieve His purpose for the good of His children.
Today, as beneficiaries of the sacrifices made by people like Wycliffe, Luther, and Tyndale, we must remember the priesthood of all believers. As the Spirit guided Peter, “… you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession …” We are entrusted with the privilege and responsibility to actively engage with Scripture, to cherish the truth of God’s Word, and to faithfully study and interpret Scripture as we share the good news of salvation through Christ alone. Sealed as God’s children, Scripture is one of our birthrights, a testament to Christ’s sacrifice, one that generations of believers fought to claim, and one we must never take for granted.
Drawing from the history of those who went before us, those whose lives were committed to God’s Word, we find ourselves on a new journey as we walk through Colossians — centered on the person and work of Christ. Yes, we’ll gather together on Sunday, as we always do, but let’s extend that energy throughout the week. Let’s spend time each day with Scripture, reflecting, digesting, and letting it seep into our bones. It’s our shared journey, a spiritual pilgrimage united in Christ. Knowing that many of our ancestors were denied this privilege, we commit ourselves to a fuller immersion in His truth, as the Spirit guides us, not just on Sundays, but throughout each new day of our shared journey.
This isn’t tradition, obligation, or participation — it’s transformation. Our study of His Word stems from a genuine love for God and a longing to understand and live out His will. As we rely on Christ and seek our Father’s presence in prayer, we will individually and collectively, as a unified body, encounter the transformative work of the Spirit that He brings through Scripture.
A Daily Journey
Therefore, as we walk through the Book of Colossians, let’s not limit our engagement with God’s Word to Sunday gatherings alone. In the sermon schedule, see which passage we will be studying together as a church. Each day, cherish and cling to those moments to pray for wisdom. Read those verses, acknowledging that Christ is all. Allow them to sink deep into your heart.
As you do, reflect and meditate on their meaning. Engage with Scripture both intellectually and emotionally as His Word provokes your thoughts and stirs your heart. Pray the passage — talk to God about it, whether you’re asking the Spirit to open your eyes to Biblical truths or expressing your heartfelt response to the words within it. In unity, let’s listen attentively and recognize Christ’s voice as the Spirit’s strength within us transforms our lives and deepens our faith as we make this pilgrimage together in Christ.
Capture each thought that comes to your mind and write them down. What impressions do you have as you’re reading? Which parts stand out and insist on being seen? Circle those words and phrases that the Spirit is highlighting in you.
Journaling Scripture serves multiple purposes and benefits. It serves as a tangible reminder of God’s faithfulness, offering a record of what the Spirit revealed to you. This intentional journaling also enhances our corporate worship. By nurturing a deeper contemplation and more intimate understanding of Scripture, it cultivates our desires and affections, leading us to personal worship. This, in turn, deepens our connections and enriches our collective worship experience in our local church, reinforcing our shared commitment to Christ. As we gather together, our personal encounters with God’s Word merge, igniting conversations that matter, fostering unity, and enriching our corporate worship.
In His perfect timing, God took those seen as ordinary and made them instruments of His extraordinary grace, achieving extraordinary things for His kingdom. The baton has been passed to us. The Scripture is not just a testament; it’s a living testament of Christ’s sacrifice. Let His Word dwell richly in us and through us, not by our might, but by His grace.
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