Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas and Blessings to You in the New Year!

Luke 1:41-42: When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!

Luke 2:27-30: Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus... Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation...”

A baby hearing the news of the Savior and leaping in the womb, women getting filled with the Spirit and prophesying, old men being led by the Spirit and proclaiming that the salvation of God has arrived—the Kingdom of God is at hand in the coming of the Savior and the Holy Spirit moves as radical events took place!

The whole Christmas story is supernatural and miraculous from beginning to end. The Kingdom of God continues to be at hand for those who believe in the Savior, and the Holy Spirit’s power is available and works in those who have the faith to continue to believe for miracles.

May Christ’s Spirit work miraculously in your life at Christmas and all through the New Year, for the One who was born in a lowly manger to meet us in our spiritual poverty, gives us living water that springs up to new life, healing, and prosperity, as He leads, guides, and directs our steps.

Christmas blessings to you – Be filled afresh today and as you begin the New Year!!!

Ministry News: Brief Update

Europe Ministry Trip

We have been experiencing the miraculous in dramatic fashion: We recently returned from a three-month mission trip in Europe.

We started off in England, a country we haven’t been in over ten years even while doing other ministry trips to Europe over the years. We originally expected to only spend perhaps just a few days in England on the way to other places where we would be ministering. However, God opened door after door, and we ended up spending a month ministering throughout the whole country. We drove 2000 miles in England alone, going through every corner of the nation and even into other nations like Wales and up to the border with Scotland.

We ministered in London and in many other places throughout England. One meeting in particular exemplifies how God supernaturally opened doors for us as we went, where we ended up ministering at a rather large church in North Yorkshire (large for that area of England with around 250-300 people) which wasn’t scheduled at all. A sister we were staying with felt led to call the pastor the very day they had a meeting to inquire about having us preach that very same night. I must say I had no expectation that a last minute call on such short notice to a pastor of a rather large church would result in anything happening at all on the same day, since most places are usually very busy and require things set up far in advance, especially in Europe and that goes double for the UK—the miraculous nature of what took place reflects how God desired to lead us continually in what was impossible with man and was made possible by Him.

The pastor replied to our friend that he had a very unusual situation: A scheduled speaker who never confirmed and whom he didn’t know personally was set up for that night, so he thought we should come over to the church that evening and be ready to do a song or share just a short testimony. However, if the scheduled speaker didn’t show up, he said we may end up doing the whole meeting. Well, whomever Daniel—the scheduled speaker—was, he never showed. The pastor even called his name a few times from the pulpit. After no response, he said, “Bryan and Mercedes if you’re up for it, I feel led to have you do the whole message and then have you minister to the congregation.” We were blown away at such openness to the Holy Spirit’s spontaneous leading in this pastor—not the norm in Europe—and went on to have an incredibly blessed message that we both shared giving, and a very, very powerful ministry time going very late into the evening. The pastor said afterwards, “I felt like God’s anointing was on you when I met you before the meeting and that was definitely confirmed when you preached and ministered together—wow what a team!” We were definitely blessed, buoyed, and blown away at how God did all that with one phone call of faith from our friends Diane and Dave who we were staying with.

We had many other powerful things happen like this in England as well as in France, Sweden, and Norway as we ministered throughout what has become the world’s least evangelized continent. We’ll share more in our upcoming newsletter shortly—yeah, I think I said that before but the holidays get pretty busy so we’ll have it out soon.

Back in the States

We just did a conference on the Reformation up in Santa Barbara a couple weeks ago as well as preaching in the church there in Isla Vista. We had a radical Holy Ghost visitation as we shared about the Revelation of the Grace of God that revived the European continent centuries back and the outpourings of the Spirit that followed in its wake.

We also shared about our recent ministry trip to Europe and how the Lord guided our steps, including to the places where the Reformation took place.

God moved powerfully in the conference to the point that even we who were leading it found ourselves on the ground getting min- istered to by the Holy Ghost—just mind blowing!!!!! The Word of God is a double-edged sword that swings back upon those wield- ing it sometimes—Glory!!!

We also had the opportunity to witness and even lead some people to the Lord while out on the streets doing some outreach in the middle of the college party mayhem in Isla Vista that same weekend—Praise God!!

The Lord continued to move in power as we ministered in the church there on Sunday; we just had such an awesome visitation of God's presence the whole time.

We recently ministered at a conference on the Jesus People in the desert and had an awesome time sharing about some of the wild times out in that area with Lonnie Frisbee. In fact we took a hike up old Tahquitz Canyon and ended leading a young lady we met to the Lord and her friend into the filling of the Spirit and had a powerful encounter with the Lord under the waterfall up there where I was reminded of a vision I had after an accident in France of God taking us higher!! All right in the same spot where Lonnie had his encounter with Jesus years back.

We also preached at the Laguna Niguel Vineyard's Hispanic service a few weeks ago, as well ministering at the youth group there before that; we had an awesome move of God at both services. In fact, a fresh wind of the Spirit blew through the congregation as we ministered at the main La Viña service as the Holy Spirit filled many with fresh fire. Our friend said he'd never seen the pastor get so enthusiastic—he jumped on the microphone and encouraged everyone there to come forward and press in to receive all that the Lord was pouring out as a fresh wave of power washed over the congregation with glory and power.

We’ve also continued to see the Lord touch quite a few unlikely folk who you wouldn’t normally associate with a move of the Spirit—those with quite varied backgrounds like Nazarene and other mainline denominations who have been getting filled with the Spirit and ministered to and even healed. In fact, a young guy named Brandon just had his shoulder healed when we prayed for him at a Prayerfest at our friend Jeff’s place, where we were having this time of God moving amongst us. Praise God!

We just had an awesome time doing the Christmas service with Peter and Colette Crawford out at Goodnews church in Riverside where we had a great time experiencing the Christmas joy of Jesus perfect love as we reveled in the righteousness he has credited to us who have believed upon him and his finished work given to us by faith alone!!!

On a Personal Note:

Patrick is in 6th grade now and continues to enjoy surfing both long and short boards and skateboarding and biking and playing army with his friends. He even spoke at his first meeting at the La Viña youth group. We are continuing to catch up on things after being gone for three months which has a way of turning life a bit upside down. We had the opportunity to visit Colorado for a family wedding after returning from our Europe ministry trip which also gave us the chance to do a little hiking and fishing (the best freshwater fishing we’ve ever experienced) as well as a 24-mile bike ride that ended with a 1,100 foot climb straight up a mountain that definitely gave those legs a good burning, not as bad as Bryan’s recent sting-ray encounter but still quite the burn!!

We truly appreciate all your prayers and support and pray you have a Merry Christmas and blessed New Year!!!!

Bryan, Mercedes, and Patrick Marleaux

English scenes and views

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Holy Ghost Prayer Invasion

While conducting a retreat in Hamar, Norway on a ministry trip, we were having a closing prayer time when the Lord began to really visit us with His power. The Lord gave me a word about dreams and visions being released on some people. (Acts 2:17- 21)

Sometimes we think of these things as something that will happen later on in the future, but a sister named Torhild shared as we walked out: “I just had a vision of someone who needs to receive Christ who is struggling with addiction and needs prayer,” adding, “and I believe the Lord said today.”

Everyone was kind of talking and grabbing their stuff, getting ready to leave, so we began to walk back to some cabins where we had stayed for the retreat. There were quite a few different groups up there using this center. As we walked by the cabins, we noticed a girl sitting on a porch when Torhild said: “That is the girl in the vision.”

She went over and began to talk with her a bit. I joined in after a few moments and we started sharing about the love of Christ. The girl became overwhelmed and started crying, but then became embarrassed that she was crying and ran off.

Torhild caught back up to her a little ways down the road and talked to her some more. I and Mercedes and some others eventually began to join in with her again. Long story short: the young lady eventually received Jesus as savior. As we began to pray for her, she powerfully encountered the love and grace of God and was gloriously filled with the Spirit and ministered to in a very significant way. Many tears were flowing, and it wasn’t just the young girls tears either, we were all touched by the power of God’s grace in that moment.

It felt like something out of the Book of Acts. I think the Book of Acts has some good prayer models for us as believers, especially in the first two chapters:

The believers met and prayed, but with expectation. Expectation that was lit up by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. Expectation is faith for God to move in the here and now. God filled and empowered and visited them. As they were filled, they took it out to others to reach them with the Gospel. Of course, some onlookers made fun of them because of the powerful manifestations of God’s presence upon them and mocked them—it was of course the religious community who mocked saying they were drunk. Explaining rather that this was actually the power of God moving amongst them and not a result of alcohol, Peter stepped out and opened his mouth and began to preach to them, and the Lord filled him with the words to reach those who were listening—he definitely had no three-point sermon prepared for this occasion. Wow, what a harvest that took place! (Read Acts chapters 1 and 2 for the whole story.)

Prayer is an important thing for us as believers, but we should approach it with the expectation and faith of a child who expects to receive, not as a drudgery or a ritual that just has to be endured with long drawn-out repetitions in order to check it off our list as some duty that just needs to be fulfilled. (Matt. 6-7) Nor should we think that we need to do this to make ourselves holy in God’s sight. Jesus, through His sacrifice on the cross has done that work for us already: “And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” (Hebrews 10:10) Thus, prayer is not meant to be a ritual that seeks to accomplish what Christ already did for us on the cross, but rather, it's to be communication with a Living Savior who we have been brought into relationship with. Through mercy and grace, He has adopted us and made us as sons and daughters, and wants to communicate with us, not have us do rituals.

I’ve had my own journey where prayer used to be a very ritualistic thing. Oh, what a relief when I got invaded by the Holy Spirit who spoke in to my heart and said: “Put down that shopping list you keep reciting like some catatonic robot and stop rambling.” The presence of God blew over me and became so thick with glory it was amazing as the Lord showed me: “I just want to spend time with you and speak to you. You don’t need to do all the talking.”

Wow! God wants to speak to us…what a concept. Oh yeah, Jesus said that His sheep shall hear His voice, and He said it repeatedly and profusely: John 10:3-4, John 10:14-16, John 10:27-30. Sometimes He just wants to tell us he Loves us!! Just gotta come with childlike faith!!

I used to do some work at the Vineyard Anaheim now and then, way back when, and I liked how John Wimber would sometimes interrupt the morning prayer time and right in the middle would say: “You know, let’s just forget about the big, long, macho prayers for a bit here and let God speak to us.”

Inevitably, there would be some visitation of God’s presence where some important word or ministry would follow when the focus changed to letting the Holy Spirit take over, something important for us to remember about prayer along with these Scriptures:

John 10:27

27 My sheep listen to my voice. I know them, and they follow me.

Matt 18:3

3 Then he said, “The truth is, you must change your thinking and become like little children…”

Luke 11:13

13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

Ephesians 3:12

12 In him [Christ] and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.

Acts 2:17-21

17 ‘God says: In the last days I will pour out my Spirit on all people. 
Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions. Your old men will have dreams. 
18 In those days I will pour out my Spirit on my servants, men and women, and they will prophesy. 
19 I will work wonders in the sky above. I will cause miraculous signs on the earth below…21 And everyone who trusts in the Lord will be saved.’

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Signs, Wonders, and Child-Like Faith

Well it seems to be birthday season, Mercedes just had one and so did I and Patrick is next, striking a few memories of some wild things the Lord has done:

One year we had just come back from a mission trip and we were in that “cleaned-out” state from travel expenses and had literally no cash on hand.

In fact, I looked in my wallet and was thinking: “Well, no cash will make for an interesting birthday—I guess.”

We decided to head out on our bikes and go and do a bit of riding which is a relatively cost-free thing to do.

I just blurted out a little prayer on the way out the door: “Lord it would sure be nice to have a bit of money here to be able to do a few things today.”

That was one of those quick little prayers you say and then forget you even said it a few minutes later.

We headed out on the bikes and were cruising down this little ocean road when I spotted an old familiar face from way back from surfing and other things. He was standing in front of an elaborate bay front house with a “For Sale” sign in front of it.

I cruised over and after a few expressions to each other of what a blast from the past this chance meeting was, we each shared a bit of what we were doing lately.

This old friend had been doing real estate and seemingly doing very well, thank you! I asked who owned this palace he was currently representing and found out it was that of a popular Christian singer. “Looks like ‘Praise Pays’, eh?” I said as I checked out the elaborate marble and tile work on the place he was selling.

We chatted a bit and then he went inside his styling little car and came back and handed me a brochure from his real estate firm and said: “Make sure and take a look through this brochure later – don’t forget!” “Well, I’m definitely not in the market for real estate but sure, I’ll take a look.”

A little further on after riding our bikes for a bit we stopped to take a break and I decided to take a look at his brochure. We were blown away to find that five crisp and brand new 100-dollar bills had been tucked inside with a little note to us.

Wow! That will buy some lunch at least – ha ha! I was completely floored. What a miracle of provision. I hadn’t mentioned a word about our finances and was just chatting about surfing and other stuff with this old friend. Furthermore, I hadn’t mentioned it was my birthday and he had no way of knowing that fact.

However, God knew and heard my quick little prayer, a prayer that was just so quick and brief that in our humanness we sometime wonder if it is enough. That’s when the Lord spoke this Scripture to me:

Matthew 6:7-8

When you pray, do not use a lot of repetitious, meaningless words, as the pagans do, who think that God will hear them because their prayers are long. Do not be like them. Your Father already knows what you need before you ask him.

So often, we think that in order to get God to hear us we have to bend down on our knees praying so hard, loud, and long, until our knees bleed and our voices go hoarse, or that we have to fast until we are so pale and anemic that we look like we need a blood transfusion. And what is it anyways with all these people who want to tell everyone how much they fast all the time, disobeying Jesus’ clear command not to tell others when you are fasting?

Jesus makes it very clear that such an approach is born out of a clearly pagan ideal, which actually portrays a lack of faith in God as a loving Father. So often, there is a failure to understand the finished work of Christ and know that Jesus, by His blood, has brought us into a “New Covenant” whereby we stand holy, righteous, accepted, and adopted as our Abba Father’s kids, all by what Jesus did for us on the cross. The understanding that Jesus did it all for us on the cross gives all the glory to Christ, rather than to us fallen depraved humans. We so often want to think that we can earn something because we fasted enough or prayed loud and long enough, and thus want to boast in ourselves rather than in Christ who did it all for us.

It is such a comfort to know that Christ did the work for us on the cross and we are accepted and beloved by the Father because of what Jesus did and that we can approach God with the confidence of a child that says, “Hey Abba Father, I need…”

He often will amaze us with signs and wonders that blow our minds when we just come with that simple-child like faith!

Monday, October 31, 2011

The Herrnhut Revival: The Reformation's Far Reaching Impact

Happy Reformation Day!

Well we got back in town recently from three months’ ministering in Europe, which is the maximum time allowed for non EU citizens without getting a special visa (we are presently working on writing up all the radical things God did—just takes a bit of time.) We then left again, right after we got home, across the country to Colorado for just about 10 days for a family wedding and a bit of hiking in the Rocky Mountains. So we've been running around all over the map and are still just getting back into the swing of things. It takes a little time to shift gears when you've gotten so used to packing it up, ready to hit the road for the next European city you’re going off to.

Well, it is October 31st and while most Christians want to bury their head in the sand today or replace the day of pagan revelry with a harvest festival or something, it goes largely unremembered in the US that one of the most significant post-biblical Christian events in history took place on October 31.

The Germans celebrate “Reformation Day” as do some other Northern European countries, as they should, since on October 31,1517, Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the castle church door in Wittenberg, Germany. Thus, without any forethought on Luther’s part, he had just hammered the nail into the beginning of a Reformation that would shake the nations. One of the most incredible things about the Reformation that is often overlooked is the incredible foundation it laid for revival and missions.

Luther, a tortured soul, had found the solace and mercy that none of the dead rituals in the institutional church system had prescribed would bring to him. All the fasting, and kneeling, and confessing, and praying all night long, and other rituals, did absolutely nothing for his soul but they did literally and permanently ruin his health. He had at last come upon the freeing, saving, life-giving, amazing grace Jesus offers, as he grappled with the Scriptures trying to understand what they meant in Paul’s letters in the New Testament. He says the Holy Spirit descended upon him as he read Paul’s epistles and he was “born again” through gates of paradise when he at last grasped that Jesus had done the work for him at the cross and paid fully for his sin and offered full grace without any merit or work on the believer’s part whatsoever.

The Reformation continued to spread as Luther taught and preached on this Biblical truth he had rediscovered, long lost in a sea of dead church rituals. However, he was surprised by the negative reaction and persecution he received from the institutional church system steeped in Romish Catholic traditions to something so plainly and squarely biblical. Nevertheless, others throughout Europe began to see the light and turned back to biblical truth as well and the Reformation began to move full force (learn more about Luther and the Reformation in this video).

One of the most incredible things about the Reformation that is often overlooked is the incredible foundation it laid for revival and missions. Many powerful revivals followed in its wake, as well as others who would be revivalists were born out of the Reformation. In fact, revivalist John Wesley was directly converted when he heard Luther’s commentary on Romans being read many years later.

One of the more significant revivals took place through a group of unlikely candidates that would give birth to the Protestant missions movement, sending missionaries throughout the world on the heels of the Reformation.

Even into the 1700’s Lutherans, as well as Moravians and other Protestants were being persecuted throughout Europe. The Moravians were spiritual descendants of Jan Huss who was a pre-Reformation reformer in Bohemia (modern day Czech Republic) who was martyred for his faith (link to audio program on Huss).

Running out of places to escape to and hide, a group of persecuted Protestants—mostly Lutherans and Moravians—ended up on the estate of a wealthy and devout Lutheran count in Germany named Nicolaus Ludwig Von Zinzendorf, who opened up his land and allowed them to take refuge there. Zinzendorf was very instrumental in forming the group into a movement and giving them a focus on missions. The estate was given the name Herrnhut (“The Lord’s Watch”) as many others arrived to take refuge.

Differences of opinion on some things led to some problems and conflicts, but an unexpected move of the Holy Spirit was about to break out that would literally go out to the nations.

During a child’s confirmation service in August 1727, a sudden, unexpected, and explosively powerful outpouring of the Holy Spirit took place, and so great was this move that the inhabitants of Herrnhut realized they had entered into a revival. Many were taken over with intense weeping and swept with other overwhelming emotions as God’s Spirit visited them. A great renewal took place, and with that outpouring there also came a powerful impetus to take the Gospel out to the nations. This outpouring was also accompanied by a spirit of unity amongst those taking refuge; notice however that the unity was a result of the Holy Spirit’s outpouring and not a pre-requisite for the Spirit of God to move, regardless of what some who have recipes for revival may say.

The Holy Spirit’s outpoured presence took the focus of missions and made it into a reality, as many began to take the Gospel out to different nations. Within a few years, there were Moravian missionaries in the West Indies, Greenland, Lapland, Labrador, South Africa, Algeria, Ceylon, Romania and other places in Europe and the world.

Though other Protestants had made some missionary attempts and activity, many of the previous attempts had ended in tragedy. For instance, John Calvin had sent missionaries to South America who unfortunately were massacred by fanatical Catholics who were pillaging the land for its silver and gold. An early Protestant colony in the area of Florida was also massacred by the same. George Fox, leader of the charismatic Quakers, sent missionaries to China who disappeared and were never heard from again.

It took a move of God to bring forth a vital mission movement that would take Christ’s Gospel of the Kingdom out to the nations and be sustaining. And continue it did. The Moravians ended up sending more missionaries out in a short time with more results than all the combined Protestants had done in previous centuries. The Gospel of grace combined with the power of the Spirit is a dynamic force that shakes the nations!

The Spirit of God gives life (John 6:63) and power and makes His people witnesses even to the ends of the earth. (Acts 1:8)

Friday, July 1, 2011

Euro Update: London

We had a very powerful move of God when we preached in London, England this week. In fact one of the elders of the church had three of his sons get powerfully baptized in the Holy Spirit for the first time as well as some other kids who got powerfully empowered by the Holy Spirit too. One of the elder's sons had been quite far from God and was brought into a new relationship through God's touch.

We had absolutely no jet lag at all even though we had just arrived--thanks for your prayers! We did have some intense spiritual warfare just trying to get into Europe. For the first time in over 10 trips to Europe we were held for some time and questioned--more like grilled--extensively and basically had some accusations that had no application to us leveled at us for no reason, until they came to their senses and realized we were Americans and not trying to emigrate to Europe.

We have a more extensive update with lots of miracles, divine appointments, and lots of other stuff that God has been doing, check it out by clicking here:

May God's richest blessings be upon your life!
Bryan, Mercedes and Patrick Marleaux

Saturday, June 18, 2011

400 Year Anniversary of the King James Bible

A woman and her children were dragged out of their house and fastened to a pole where dry brush was lit under them and they were burned alive. Their crime: reading the Bible in English, a practice strictly forbidden by the Catholic Church. It was England in the 1500’s when Catholic Bloody Mary had taken the throne and was determined to force Catholicism back upon those who’d been liberated from its idolatry and superstitions. Similar scenes were being repeated all over the country as Protestant Christians were being killed; possessing illegal Bibles in the English language could be deadly.

In January 1555 three pastors, Taylor, Bradford, and Saunders, who had all been former parish priests, were put on trial. They had come into the light of Christ’s grace and now preached the truth, for they had been able to read the truth in the available Scriptures made accessible by the work of William Tyndale, who had translated the Bible into English.

They were required to answer if they would acknowledge the Pope as the head of the Church and submit to His Authority, to which they answered that they acknowledged and submitted only to Christ. Death sentences were pronounced against them and they were taken away to be burned alive at the stake.

Taylor spoke before his death: “Good people, I have taught you nothing but God’s Holy Word and that which is from God’s blessed book the Holy Bible. I have come here today to seal it with my blood.” Taylor was able to say this because he had the Bible in his own language. Tyndale, who had translated it, was also killed for his efforts a couple of decades before. As the flames were lit and Taylor was about to be burned, he recited the 51st Psalm in English when he was struck in the face: “You Knave, pray in Latin! I will make you!” the ultra-Catholic executioner told him.

Latin was the only language allowed for the Bible, prayers, or any other religious activity according to Catholicism and the Pope’s decree, and they fought viciously to keep it that way. Very, very, few knew any Latin at all however. Horrified with the realities of an English Bible and that the truth of Christ would be known, exposing their perversions of God’s Word, they launched a campaign of killing, maiming, and torture, to suppress any and all who would dare to even read or own an English Bible.

This year we celebrate the 400-year anniversary of the King James Bible. To properly understand this story, we must look back where the story takes shape—with the onset of the Protestant Reformation—to really understand the whole scene and the intense struggle of how such a work ever came about.

The Reformation, which had begun in Germany with Martin Luther, was now beginning to spread over other parts of Europe. Luther was a simple monk that was merely trying to find peace with God when he came into the revelation that Jesus had paid for his sins and he didn’t have to try and pay for them himself with works like prayer and fasting. While reading the Bible he came into revelation and understood Christ’s finished work for him on the cross. It was now all clear: simply by faith does one believe and receive what Jesus did for him on the cross, accepting his forgiveness and coming into his grace.

Luther had been born again while reading the Scriptures in the New Testament, specifically the books of Romans and Galatians. Seeking to find peace with God, he finally understood the finished work of Christ and the payment He made for sin.

That revelation spread throughout Europe, eventually leading men like William Tyndale to lay their lives down to reach others with God’s Word. Tyndale had been directly affected by seeing the great fruit of Luther’s efforts in Germany and the effect of Luther’s translation of the Bible into the German language to turn many to true faith in Christ.

After Martin Luther was born again he began to see serious problems with the institutional Catholic Church. He began to preach on Christ’s payment for sin and the grace He offers and also to write about the errors the church had embraced in resisting this truth. Then in 1517 he posted his 95 Theses on the Castle Church door in Wittenberg, Germany. Luther posted his Theses solely for the means of debating the issues, as is commonly practiced in university settings even to this day.

Some years before this the printing press had been invented by Gutenberg and students now got a hold of his Theses, reprinted them without permission—if copyright had been an issue back then like now there would have been no Reformation—and distributed them all over Europe. Before Luther knew it he was an international figure in the middle of a conflagration. The Reformation began to spread all over Europe and eventually came to England.

Thomas Cranmer began to read Luther’s writings. As Archbishop of Canterbury—England’s head of the church—he began to bring forth reformation teachings, ideas, and practices to the English Church, breaking away from Catholic superstitions, traditions, and doctrines.

King Henry VIII of England had been unable to bear a male child to inherit the throne. Henry had been basically forced to marry his deceased brother’s widow when only a teenager by the political powers of his day—the Pope had broken Catholic canon law and granted a special dispensation for political purposes for this marriage. Henry when he came of age wanted a divorce so he could marry another woman he actually had affection for, Anne Boleyn, but, because the Pope refused to grant him the divorce, he chose to break away from the Catholic Church instead. Though human motives took place on Henry’s part God was using it for His larger purposes.

Together with the confluence of Luther’s teachings and Cranmer’s adoption of the same, King Henry’s actions in some ways helped fan the flames that eventually, together with the confluence of Luther’s teaching spreading into Oxford and Cambridge, a widespread reformation movement within England began to arise. It continued under Henry’s successor Edward.

In time groups like the Puritans began to spring up, who were not trying to become “purer” than others but rather wanted to purify the church from unbiblical Catholic idolatry, traditions, and superstitions. They desired to see a foundation of grace and the work of the Spirit take place in believers’ lives and are known today as the first Protestant mystics. They merely desired a return to New Testament ideals, both in word and deed by preaching about living for Christ and walking in His Spirit.

As the English Reformation spread however, persecution arose when Henry VIII’s daughter, Mary, or “Bloody Mary” as she later came to be known, took the throne. She was a dyed-in-the-wool Catholic who severely persecuted Protestants, seeking to turn England back to Catholicism while putting hundreds and hundreds to death, thus earning her moniker, even having the Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer killed as well.

Cranmer was persecuted and pressured by the Catholics to sign a document recanting principles of Protestantism. However, when he was brought before trial, he decided to repent of his actions. So when it came time for his execution, he chose to place the offending hand that had signed the document into the fire first before he was killed by being burned alive at the stake.

Meanwhile, an avid scholar from Oxford named William Tyndale had been converted and influenced by the reformation, and was a contemporary of Martin Luther’s. Tyndale eventually began to work on a translation of the Bible, seeing the need for it to be in the common English tongue of the people and not just in the Latin of the scholars and the learned which resulted in keeping the Bible inaccessible.

Luther had translated the Bible into the common German tongue and Luther's translation began to have a great effect in spreading the Reformation and the understanding of Christ’s finished work and God’s grace.

Tyndale began a similar venture for the English people. Tyndale began work on an English translation of the Bible from the original Hebrew and Greek.

John Wycliffe had done an earlier English translation a century before, but he and his Lollard movement were severely persecuted by the Catholic church and most of his followers, including women and children, were put to death just for having Bibles. Though the Catholic Church severely persecuted and killed many of Wycliffe’s followers they never actually caught Wycliffe himself. And yet in a perverse act of vengeance, they dug up his bones and burned them after his death.

Tyndale saw the need for another attempt at getting the Bible into the common everyday language of the English people. So Tyndale began work on a translation into the English from the Greek and Hebrew, using Luther’s German translation as well as Erasmus’ Greek text for assistance.

As an extraordinarily gifted scholar who spoke eight languages, he was able to bring forth, by God’s grace, a remarkable work. Nevertheless, no good deed goes unpunished, and for his efforts he was severely persecuted and had to flee England. He went and stayed in Wittenberg for a time with Martin Luther. A recent discovery confirms his time in Wittenberg even though he was attempting to hide there incognito. After some time there and many meeting with Luther, including time at the White Horse Inn where they would discuss theology and share a pint, he fled to Antwerp.

He finished his New Testament translation and was well on his way with the Old Testament, but spies and assassins who had been sent to eliminate him were hot on his heels.

As Tyndale smuggled New Testaments into England, they became hugely popular with the people but increased his position as a target of the Inquisition—the practice of torturing, consficating property, and killing those who strayed from the Catholic Church’s tenets. The Inquisition began in the 1100’s at the 2nd and 3rd Lateran Councils and fully inmplemented as official Catholic doctrine at the 4th Lateran Council in 1215 where torture and murder were made official doctrine by a so-called Christian Church continuing its hideous practices even until the late 1800’s. The early reform movement in France known as the Waldensians were its first mass victims.

Translating the Bible into the common tongue of the people was verboten and brought forth the Inquisition to those who attempted it:

Some reasons that the Catholic Church wanted the Bible kept in Latin and not translated in the common tongues of the people were:

  • They could prevent the common man from knowing what was really in the Bible and thus always hold power and sway over him/her, keeping them dependent upon the priests and the man-made religious system they had created of masses and rituals. This brought in enormous amounts of money through things like indulgences, i.e. forgiveness for payment rendered.

  • By keeping the Bible in Latin they made sure only certain high ranking clergy could read it—which they rarely did—but also false doctrines could be buttressed up by the inability of people to access the Word of God for themselves. The murky and largely inaccessible translation in Latin helped them keep false doctrines like penance and purgatory alive.

  • One of the early insights by Martin Luther in Germany was the discovery of a purposeful mistranslation of Christ’s words by the Catholic Church where they had changed the word “repent” to “do penance.” As Luther looked deeper into the meaning he saw vast implications: Repent meant merely “to change your mind” meaning that you agree with God that you are a sinner who needs and accepts His work of redemption on your behalf. “Do penance” on the other hand, meant to seek to work off the payment of your sin through your own works and rituals and efforts – exactly what the New Testament itself condemned as a slap in the face to Christ’s work on the cross for us at Calvary where he paid for our sins once for all.

Tyndale’s Bible spread the Reformation even more as people got hold of Bibles in English. Sadly, the assassins eventually caught up to Tyndale who was betrayed by a so-called friend. On October 6, 1536, in the town of Vilvorde, Netherlands, William Tyndale was tied to a stake, strangled, and then burned at the stake for doing God’s work of translating the Bible into the language of the English people so they could read it for themselves.

He was condemned by reason of a decree made by the Ultra-Catholic Holy Roman Emperor Charles V—the same Emperor who Luther took his stand before during the Diet of Worms, in Germany in 1521 where he cried out: “I cannot and will not recant anything. For to go against Scripture and conscience is neither safe nor right.”

Luther had escaped the death sentence by being hidden in the Wartburg Castle—specifically where he had done his Bible translation work. Tyndale however, sealed his own faith and efforts with his own blood.

As time progressed Bloody Mary’s half-sister Elizabeth eventually took back the throne, deposing Mary. Elizabeth, as Queen of England, was much more sympathetic to Protestants.

With the more open environment, Tyndale’s Bible spread even further. Over time, the popularity of the Bible grew and different groups like the Puritans even published various commentaries in the margins of Bibles.

When Elizabeth died she had no heir—populary known as “The Virgin Queen” she had no one waiting to take the throne. In an ironic twist of fate, it was actually Bloody Mary’s nephew who we know as “King James” who eventually came to power and would publish an Authorized Version of the Bible.

Known both as James VI of Scotland and James I of England he saw the need for an authorized version of the Bible for the whole of England.

Quite ironically, it was specifically because he was the son of Mary Queen of Scots that James had been raised in Scotland.

In an interesting turn of events it was in Scotland that religious freedom had actually been attained sooner than in England. After the killing by the Catholics of Patrick Hamilton and George Wishart, two popular Protestant leaders and preachers who were martyred for their faith, a popular rejection of Catholicism began to arise in Scotland. In turn John Knox later arose and helped lead the Scottish Reformation as well as the development and formation of the Scottish Presbyterian Church.

When James I of England a.k.a. James VI of Scotland took the throne, he was undoubtedly more sympathetic to Protestants than his mother but still remained quite traditional in his religious views. Those with power and means often live above the fray of common sentiment.

Thus, the Puritans, though appreciative of him for producing the Authorized Version of the Bible a.k.a. the King James Version, still found themselves on the short end of the stick with religious freedom in England. Being still persecuted specifically because they were seen as too radical a Protestant group, the Puritans eventually made their way to the New World and the American Colonies with King James Bibles in hand.

King James had assembled 54 scholars who worked on an Authorized Translation, which they completed and released in 1611.

However, they had continually referred back to the amazing and groundbreaking work that Tyndale had done as their reference point and the literal foundation of their work, directly incorporating so much of his translation in their work that, according to most scholars, including well-known Tyndale scholar David Daniell, fully 90% of the King James Bible’s New Testament is actually William Tyndale’s work. The same goes for the Old Testament from Genesis to somewhere around the Psalms—as far as he got when he was killed.

Thus, William Tyndale, the outlaw, the refugee, the man who did not and would not submit to the authority of the Pope nor the King, but instead chose to “obey God rather than man” (Acts 5:29), is the true unsung hero behind the publication of the King James Bible. It cost him his fortune and his very life but he laid it all down to do God’s will. Even today, generations are still reaping the benefits of his sacrifice to Christ’s purpose and calling.

The King James Bible not only helped spread the knowledge of God’s Gospel of grace that was regained in the Reformation, but was also carried across the sea to the American colonies by the Puritans, helping to lay a foundation of biblical faith in the new world of America.

Not insignificantly, the King James Bible gave the English-speaking world a codified, coherent, and unified language and lexicon, as well as a little thing that helped change the western world called literacy, changing in fact the course of human history.

One thing that is often overlooked in this whole scenario is that the King James Bible, this historic translation of God’s Word, is a direct product of the Protestant Reformation.

A reformation that started with a simple monk named Martin Luther who was merely trying to find peace with God when he came into the revelation that Jesus had paid for his sins and he didn’t have to try and pay for them himself with works like prayer and fasting. Rather, just by faith, believe and receive what Jesus did for him on the cross…That revelation spread throughout Europe leading men like Tyndale to lay their lives down to reach others with God’s Word…Glory!!!

Today you have the Bible in your hands, which others have paid for with their very lives and blood: READ IT !!!

*Special Note: The preceding article contains what may be for some disturbing historical facts. However, for the sake of mere political correctness or sensitive religious consciences one cannot rewrite nor water down historical realities to fit the religious and sociological political correct pressures of our day. A more mild view of history may do that and curve to those pressures, but then an important ingredient called truth would be lost. And this, Jesus said, is what “sets us free.”