With the invention of the printing press in 1455 a.d. there must have been a bunch of unemployed monks who no longer needed to painstakingly copy every jot and tittle of Scripture by candlelight in a dark monastery. Suddenly, the common man had access to God’s Word. Okay, it took a while for copies to no longer be smuggled into England in barrels of flour, but there was no quenching the thirst to know God’s will for mankind after fifteen centuries of spiritual starvation.
I. Once Erasmus translated the Latin Vulgate that had reigned supreme for 1100 years in 1516 back into Greek, Martin Luther the very next year read God’s Word and nailed his 95 challenges to the establishment to a church door in Germany. The Reformation had begun, and Tyndale published his English translation eight years later in 1525. This and Erasmus’ work became the backbone of the King James Version in 1611 that reigned supreme for 300 years.
II. John 4:24. With greater access to God’s Word came a way to satisfy the spiritual hunger to know and live by the truth. Contrast that to today with so much availability of God’s Word in stores, our homes, even our phones, and our excused for spiritual laziness fall so short. Instead of squandering the leisure time that western culture has given us, we must once again recapture a hunger and thirst for God’s Word.
III. Philippians 2:12-16. Before this time when only some of the clergy had access to God’s Word, the people had no choice but to accept fallible human mediators for their salvation. Greater availability to God’s Word meant that people could work out their own eternity with Jesus alone as their go-between. Spiritual laziness again makes people today desire a return to such a system as they think the preacher is in charge of their salvation.
What a gift to have access to the Creator’s Word to us that tells us what we must do to find salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus! How we squander that gift by not studying His Word to work out our salvation with fear and trembling.