How can you get to know anyone unless you can understand what they're saying? How can we know God unless we can understand his word to us?
So - the New Testament of the Bible was first written in the 1st century in 'koine' Greek. That means 'common Greek', the street language of the day. So ordinary people could read the Bible (or have it read to them) and understand God's words for themselves.
Now fast forward to the 16th century. And you find the priests and scholars of the church have denied ordinary people the word of God by producing the Bible in Latin! But along come the Reformers and the hero William Tyndale in particular. He was chased half way around Europe and eventually put to death by strangling and burning at the stake - why?
Because he made it his business to translate the Bible into the common English language so that 'even a plough boy could understand the Bible for himself'.
This year and next, St George's Church, and other churches like ours are inviting people we know in our neighbourhood to read the Bible with us - starting with one of the Gospels that tells us about the life, death, and raising from the dead of Jesus Christ.
We don't need a priest or a scholar to teach us. Whilst it's great to come on Sundays to get some in-depth Bible teaching, there's plenty we can understand by reading the Bible for ourselves.
The Bible itself (1 Corinthians chapter 2) says to some of the first Christians, '..think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards.' And a bit further on it says, '.. none of the rulers of this age understood God's words .... but God has revealed it to us ... in words taught by the Spirit.'
The point is that understanding God's word does not depend on our education, social class or intellectual ability. It depends on coming humbly to God as we read his words, and asking him to tell us what he means, and asking for his Spirit to give us understanding and be our teacher.
So - let no one be denied.
If you are a Christian, please make it your business to read the Bible with someone this year (and beyond!). If you get an invitation from a Christian to read the Bible with them, don't say 'no'. Whether you're a Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, Atheist (or whatever), why not have a look and see what the Bible has to say.
If you don't know any Christians, but you want to read the Bible with someone, just get in touch and we'll try and arrange something for you.
Pastor – St George's