I do not think there is a better expression for the ultimate purpose of life than that found in the Westminster Larger Catechism: “Man’s chief and highest end is to glorify God, and fully to enjoy Him forever.” And I do not think there is anything penned by human hands that more magnifies or greater glorifies Christ than the divinely ordained, God-breathed holy Bible.
To love the Bible ought to be a no-brainer for every Christian and by extension, the placement of a usable version into the languages of every tribe and nation ought also to be a no-brainer. This was the desire of men like Henry Martyn (1781-1812) and William Carey (1716-1834) who devoted their lives to missionary endeavour and for whom Bible translation was an obvious and necessary task.
Martyn, for instance, said, “If I live to complete the Persian New Testament, my life after that will be of less importance. But whether life or death be mine, may Christ be magnified in me. If He has work for me to do I cannot die.” Or consider the words of Carey in a letter written in 1808, “Last year may be reckoned among the most important which this mission has seen – not for the numbers converted among the natives, for they have been fewer than in some preceding years, but for the gracious care which God has exercised towards us. We have been enabled to carry on the translation and printing of the Word of God in several languages.”
But it is not just missions and evangelism where Bible translation is necessary and important. Every aspect of church life ought to be dominated by a sense and gladness for the divinely inspired Scripture. Biblical thinking and word-centred ministry should be at the heart of every church activity, whether children’s work or pulpit preaching. Therefore, accurate, usable translations that service the needs of all parts of the Church ought to be received and used with God-glorifying satisfaction. Henry Martyn once said, “what I have learnt from the Word of God is satisfying… which nothing else in the whole world is”. Who would want this experience denied for others?
So I love Bible translation, and I love the work of organisations such as Wycliffe, the most visible of the various groups involved in the task of translating the Bible. I noticed recently that Wycliffe International launched a new website called The Word is Life and you can visit their website at www.thewordislife.net I love the Scripture quotation they have on the front page because it ties in so well with what I’ve been trying to say in this post: “Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples.” Psalm 96:3