Eventually, you’ll move through both books of Samuel; the action saga of Acts; the systematic theologies of Job, Romans, and Hebrews; Lamentations; the minor prophets; and the synoptic gospels (Mark, Matthew, and Luke). From there, you’re on your own.

Tyndale and the crafting of English

When we approach the Bible, we are confronted with an attempt to span time, place, and languages simultaneously. Not only was the original in Hebrew, ancient Greek, and Aramaic, but the core of what we know in English is based on the extraordinary work of William Tyndale, the first to translate directly from the Hebrew and Greek into English; for this effort he was accused of willfully perverting the meaning of the Scriptures, his New Testaments were ordered burned, and he was publicly executed and burned at the stake in 1536 (this, from the Preface to the Revised Standard Version; it should also be noted that John Wycliffe, 1324?-84, had made the first English translation, but not from the original languages). In single handedly translating the Bible, Tyndale did more to shape English as we know it than any other person – including Shakespeare; his work became the foundation of subsequent English translations, and the 1611 Authorized – or King James – Version varies little from Tyndale’s.

Yet beneath it all rests the hosts of many voices and their experiences and actions.

Not so easy grace

Lutheran theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer saw an insurmountable gap between superficial “cheap grace” and the discipleship of “costly grace.” He was not alone in pleading for full yielding to the demands of Christ.

In that regard, when it comes to doing battle with darkness, just listen to Elizabeth Bathurst (1655?-1685):

  • But Friends, my Hearts Desire and Prayer to God for you is, that you might be saved: And therefore have I, in the tender Bowels of his Love, which he hath shed abroad in my Heart by Jesus Christ, sent this Invitation unto you, that ye all may make ready, and come to the Supper of the great God, who hath spread his Table, and prepared a Banquet for you; whereof whosever will, may eat abundantly, as long as the Time of Visitation is extended unto you.
  • Therefore bow down to God’s Power in you, that he may come in and set up his Judgment-seat in every Heart.
  • But if we turn from this Grace into Wantonness, and so receive it in vain, then indeed it will not save us: However, this Grace of God, in itself, is able and sufficient to save all to whom it appears, and all that believe in it, and are led by it, are preserved; because it was by this Grace of God that his Son Christ Jesus should taste Death for every Man.
  • Thus these profit their Hearers, and so do not only pray, but also prevail with Sinners to turn unto the Lord, that he may be a Father to them, and they his Sons and Daughters.
  • See Reader, here is a whole Cloud of Witnesses, bearing Testimony, that ’tis possible, if there be not a diligent watching, for People to fail of (or rather fall from) that Measure of the true Grace of God, which was once given to them.
  • Therefore, what the Quakers hold in this Point is no new Doctrine: For if this could not possibly be, how could any do Despite unto the Spirit of Grace, or resist the Holy Ghost? Yet do this People believe, A Christian may come to such a Growth and Standing in the Grace that is in Christ Jesus, from which he cannot fall away, according to that Promise in Rev. iii. 12.
  • Him that overcometh will I make a Pillar in the Temple of my God, and he shall go no more out, and I will write upon him the Name of my God, and the Name of the City of my God, which is New Jerusalem, which cometh down from Heaven, from my God, and I will write upon him my new Name.
  • And they also believe, that such a one may come to be assured, that he is in such a State, even as the Apostle was who said, For I am persuaded, that neither Death, nor Life, nor Angels, nor Principalities, nor Powers, nor Things present, nor Things to come, nor Height, nor Depth, nor any other Creature, shall be able to separate us from the Love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.