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Michael Grant, an adjunct stewardship representative for BI, edited three excerpts from the past, added his own introductory and concluding thoughts, and published A Bible for Every Hand and Heart (Xlibris, 2014) to encourage believers as to how we can get more involved in Bible translation. They are as follows:

  1. “The first encompasses all the spoken material of the service held in 1812 commissioning America’s first foreign missionaries, of which Adoniram Judson is the most well-known of the group.”
  2. “The second is a sermon preached in Salem, Massachusetts, by Benjamin Wadsworth in 1815.”
  3. “The third is a sermon delivered by Baron Stow in 1846 to the American and Foreign Bible Society on the occasion of its ninth anniversary.”

Grant did a good job of updating the 19th-century content so that it gives a “modern voice to the material so that it may speak again and be understood by our generation.” He chose these three excerpts for the following reasons:

  1. “Each conveys a deep-seated belief about all men.”
  2. “Each, very thankfully, proclaims the one and only cure for mankind’s guilt and condemnation before God.”
  3. “Each displays a bold, confident faith in the Bible–a faith believing God has authored a Book as eternal and powerful as He is.”
  4. “Each stresses the importance of declaring the Bible’s message to mankind worldwide.”
  5. “Each pinpoints language as an obstacle to this mission of spreading God’s Word worldwide.”
  6. “Each agrees that overcoming the language barrier is a non-negotiable and must be pursued at all costs, whether in personnel or personal resources.”
  7. “Each presents an urgent call to action–to make the Bible available to men in the language they understand best.”

The first excerpt, made up of various speeches given on the occasion, is an excellent reminder of all the reasons why we should be engaged in missions work. I particularly enjoyed Leonard Woods’ sermon to the new missionaries. He lays out the motivations that should move us to action. He writes,

He takes into  account their temporal comfort, and endeavours to promote it… But, when their spiritual interest is before him, when he contemplates the value of their souls and the prospect that the Gospel opens of immortal happiness in the world to come, his deepest inner compassions are moved; his most tender affections kindled, pure and heavenly love pervades and warms his soul. (p. 30)

He gives 7 motives that should move us to reach out to lost souls: “the worth of immortal souls, the plenteousness of the provision which Christ has made for their salvation, the express command of our Lord to preach the Gospel, the peculiar design of Christianity and its adaptability as a universal religion, the spirit of prophecy, and the operations of divine Providence at the present day.” (p. 48)

Samuel Spring’s charge is also moving, especially when he warns them:

Never, never preach the theory of the Gospel until you have presented the practice of the Gospel in your own godly example.

In the second historical excerpt of Grant’s book, Benjamin Wadsworth recommends the Bible as “a volume for the world.” After exalting the many excellencies of the Word, he concludes,

We therefore very justly consider the Holy Scriptures as the Word of God, an invaluable treasure–one of Heaven’s best gifts to men. (p. 76)

He then exhorts us to consider how blessed the world would be if they had the Bible in their hands. He writes,

We have therefore reason to conclude that the streams of widespread goodness will not cease to flow till all nations are blessed with the Word of His grace. (p. 80)

He appeals to us to try to help those without the Word by reminding us that the second greatest commandment should compel us, who “know the excellency of God’s Word and enjoy its consolations and hopes,” to help those who don’t enjoy these benefits. He points us to the fact that the Bible alone gives us knowledge of God and Jesus Christ, which leads us to eternal life, and this knowledge we possess lays upon us an obligation to impart it to the world.

The third excerpt is Baron Stow’s sermon “The Bible for the World,” and this portion of Grant’s book is probably my favorite. He begins by emphasizing how badly the world needs the Bible. He substantiates this point by asking us to consider how awful a condition our country would be in if we didn’t have the Bible. What a sobering thought to imagine!

Stow recommends the Bible as an authoritative standard of doctrine and practice, which is what mankind needs (p. 122). The Bible satisfies our desire to see into the future, and it speaks to our heart (pp. 122-124). Then he explains how the Bible is adapted to the world and designed for the world and concludes,

If, then, the Bible is needed by the world, if it is adapted to the world, if it is designed for the world, why, inquires the thoughtful hearer, has so large a portion of the world never seen it or even heard of its existence? (p. 127)

What a soul-searching question! Stow urges us to realize we are debtors to the world to take the Word to them.

The measure of our obligation is, of course, determined by our ability and by the resources that we have for the effective use of that ability. (p. 129)

Surely, the American church has sufficient ability and abundant resources!

No time is to be lost. The world needs the Bible! The world must have the Bible! Its populations are sinking annually in compacted millions by a starless way to a dreary eternity. Shall we whose souls are lighted by the Revelations of Heaven continue to deny to those wanderers the Lamp of Salvation? We are engaged in a great work and by nothing should we allow ourselves to be diverted from our straight onward path of duty. (p. 131)

Stow ends his sermon by highlighting the immense responsibilities of a translator but also the crucial importance of a preacher to go alongside the published translation, as well as the absolutely necessary work of the Spirit of God.

Grant ends his book with some final thoughts to encourage us to get involved in Bible translation:

  1. “Begin by personally acquainting yourself with the work of a Bible Society.” (He recommends BI as the one to seek out.)
  2. “Establish a friendship with some Bible translators.”
  3. “Consistently follow the progress of at least one Bible translation project while not losing sight of the broader existing work.”
  4. “Financially support the work and workers making the Bible available worldwide.”
  5. “Finally, but most importantly, support prayerfully the work and workers making the Bible available worldwide.”

Grant’s desire and prayer is that “all readers of this book will involve themselves in this endeavor at some level.” I say a hearty Amen to that! May it be so!

You can find out more about Mike Grant at www.treasuringtheword.org. On his webpage he describes his ministry in this way: “We maintain a rare Bible and book museum in Sevierville, Tennessee displaying in an interactive, chronological format the history of our English Bible. We are committed, in cooperation with Bibles International, to providing a conservative, “heart language” translation of the Scriptures for those people groups in need. We also provide Bible study tools to institutions and individuals who are training for the preaching/teaching ministry in underprivileged or mission-restricted countries. We revise and publish rare, out-of-print works relevant to the spiritual well-being of mankind.”

 

 

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