Steve Nichols:
It’s a real pleasure to be joined by Dr. John MacArthur. Dr. MacArthur, it’s good to see you.

John MacArthur:
Thank you. Good to see you, Steve.

SN:
We’re here at Ligonier’s National Conference in 2021. We’re talking about the theme Right Now Counts Forever. We hear much about many key events, such as the posting of the Ninety-Five Theses and the Great Awakening. But what about those events that don’t always get the attention they deserve? And for some folks today, maybe they even go unnoticed? So, I thought I’d take a moment with you and see if there are any of those types of events or moments in church history that have impacted you and your faithful ministry to the church. Would you like to share that with our folks here on Five Minutes?

JM:
Well, this may be a little obscure. You’ve read, no doubt, David Daniell’s book on William Tyndale.

SN:
Indeed.

JM:
It’s the Yale biography. I read it twice. It was so loaded.

SN:
It’s an intriguing story, Tyndale. It should be a movie.

JM:
I know. It should be a series of movies. But there are so many fascinating moments. I mean, obviously I love the fact that God revealed his Word, but I also love the fact that he protected it. And I don’t think we give Tyndale enough credit for basically deciding, under the Spirit’s power, that he was going to translate the New Testament into English, which was a crime. He was chased out of England and he went to Europe, and you know the story. He’s over in Europe and he’s working on it and working on it. And eventually he’s uncovered in Antwerp by a guy named Henry Phillips. They have been looking for Tyndale and can’t find him. They finally find him. They take him to Brussels and burn him at the stake for translating the Bible into the English language.

We remember Tyndale’s prayer, “God open the eyes of the king of England.” Within five years, the king authorizes the translation of the entire Bible into English. But two things about that story are interesting. Number one, the enemy of Tyndale was Thomas More, the Catholic who resented the gospel. When Tyndale finished a first translation and had it printed in Europe, he shipped them back to England. You remember the story?

SN:
Yeah, it’s great.

JM:
They were taken and burned. And you would say, “This is horrendous.” But Tyndale’s response was, “By the time I had shipped them, I realized there were some errors, and God made sure those with errors never arrived.”

SN:
And as I understand it, he had to pay for that freight. So he basically funded them.

JM:
He paid for the freight, but I think he did something to get money back to use on the next batch. But here’s the final irony. Grace Community Church has been in litigation with the state of California for a year. We haven’t paid one dime because we are fully funded by the Thomas More Society. Thomas would be rolling over in his grave.

SN:
I think that should get worked into John Piper’s book on providence somehow.

JM:
Yes, it should.

SN:
That sounds like a good conclusion to the book on providence.

Tyndale is a fascinating story, and it’s a reminder to us of how crucial it is for the people of God to have the Word of God. And it really obligates us. Here we are, with Bibles all around us.

JM:
Exactly.

SN:
It obligates us to take seriously our obligation to study. Not just read, as R.C. would say, but to be students of God’s Word.

JM:
The Word of God comes down to us on a sea of blood. Think of the sacrifices that were made, the excruciating life that Tyndale and others lived under tremendous pressure to do the work of translation. And then the sacrifices that were made by those who were martyred, like John Rogers, and the whole history of trying to obliterate the Word of God in his lifetime. We can’t take for granted when we hold a Bible in our hands.

SN:
The Bible comes down to us on a sea of blood. Thank you, Dr. MacArthur. Thank you for reminding us of William Tyndale, and thank you for this time on Five Minutes in Church History.