Casiodoro de Reina

Brother Ernest Strubhar challenges the listener with the life and experiences of Casiodoro de Reina, a Bible translator sometimes called the “William Tyndale of Spain”. Casiodoro de Reina spent twelve years translating the Bible into Spanish facing many adversities and strong persecution. What have you done in the last twelve years of your life? What are you willing to sacrifice to fulfill the calling of God on your life?


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Transcription:

Prayer by Dale Heisey:

Dear Father, You have an instrument here, an instrument of peace, an instrument of truth, an instrument of inspiration, maybe an instrument of conviction. An instrument, Father, that You want to use today to deepen the commitments in our own lives. And give us, each one of us, a deep appreciation for what we have a chance to hear, so we can at least do something to give somebody else an opportunity. Would you bless this message this afternoon, and the efforts that have been put into preparing it, and the work that was done many years ago to provide for us in our language, a Bible that is ancient and holy and beautiful and healing words. And now, dear Father, take the words of our brother, to use them to bless our hearts, and glorify Your name. We pray in the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Ernest Strubhar:

God bless every one of you. It’s a joy to be here. It’s my first time at this weekend event.

I guess all of you brought a Bible, didn’t you? Do you all have a Bible? How many of you have at least two translations or versions of the English Bible? (Most every hand goes up.) How many of you can read a Bible in more than one language? (Not so many, but there’s a few.) And it’s a blessing to be able to do that, isn’t it, Brother Dale? It is a blessing.

We are so blessed, friends! So blessed! We cannot comprehend the world of Christians for many generations who did not have the Scriptures available to them like we do. We have in our church right now a visiting lady who is illiterate. She can’t read. Can you imagine that? We can read!

I’m talking to you today about Casiodoro de Reina  (c. 1520 – 1594).

Now that’s the Spanish way to say his name, and some brothers, at least, you can say that. I’m just going to call him “Reina,” so you can say it in English. He was an amazing man, a Roman Catholic monk of St. Jerome’s order, back in the 16th century, about the same time as Menno Simons. He became a student and teacher of Scripture. He loved the Scriptures! He was a man unusuallygifted in languages. Of course, he spoke his native Spanish in Spain, and as a Roman Catholic monk he learned to read Latin and use the Latin Scriptures, the Vulgate, which was an ancient Bible. But he also knew Greek and Hebrew and other languages as well.

Now, a short way to describe Casiodoro de Reina is just to call him the “William Tyndale” of Spain. Wikipedia just says about Tyndale: “Tyndale’s Bible is credited with being the first English translation to work directly from Hebrew and Greek texts. Furthermore, it was the first English biblical translation that was mass-produced as a result of new advances in the art of printing.” If you have a King James Bible, about 90% of the wording in the KJV Bible is derived from Tyndale’s translation of Scripture. We still read what he gave us.

Now, I could say exactly the same thing about Reina. He was also the first Spanish translator who worked directly from Hebrew and Greek texts to produce Scriptures, and his Bible was printed. What Brother Dale reads in Costa Rica is probably 90% Reina’s words. Amazing! Amazing!

[Picture] Here is a picture of the cover page of the first printed edition of Reina’s Bible. The title reads:

La Biblia. QVE ES, LOS SACROS LIBROS DEL VIEIO Y NVEVO TESTAMENTO,

translada en Español, La Palabra de Dios.

These Spanish words say, The Bible. That is, the sacred books of the Old and New Testament, translated into Spanish, the Word of God.

It’s not very professional looking, really, but what Reina did was an amazing feat! He published his Bible in 1569 (about 34 years after Tyndale’s Bible was published in English, and 42 years before the King James Version was published in 1611.

Reina-Valera Bible 

Cipriano Valera revised Reina’s Bible, and published his revision in 1602. And that Bible which is called The Reina-Valera Bible is still what we use today. It was revised numerous times down through the years, (Major revisions: 1862, 1909, 1960, 1995 and 2011.) The 1960 revision has become pretty much the standard Bible for use in the Protestant Evangelical Non-Catholic world, in all Spanish-speaking countries. Again, quoting,

The Reina-Valera Bible is as central to the perception of the Bible in Spanish as the King James Version is in English. … The 1960 revision became the common Bible of many millions of Spanish-speaking Protestants around the world. … Almost all Hispanic churches use it, despite further attempts to revise it.

Wikipedia

And you know, I love that Bible. And Brother Dale, and all our Latin American Spanish-speaking brothers love that Bible. The Word of God in Spanish.

Historical Background

Now, I’m going to take a little time to give you a little historical background. I wish I had more time to do this than I have. We’ll start with a familiar date, 1492.

King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella married to unite Spain in 1469. And in 1492 they chased the last Moors (Muslim invaders from North Africa) out of Spain. This was after about 800 years of Moor occupation of Spain. Now imagine that! 800 years of Muslim rule. And that was the last. They had been chasing them out for years before that. But I don’t think we can imagine 800 years ago. Can you think of anything that happened 800 years ago? Do you have any comprehension how long ago that is? We don’t really.

“Unity at the altar” to achieve political unity.

The Spanish people hated the Muslim Moors that ruled over them for those years. And King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella were determined to unite all Spain to resist the Moors. They actually were from two different kingdoms in Spain, and their marriage was sort of the political event that brought all the kingdoms of Spain under more of a united rule. And they believed, as did everyone in that time (as have people ever since the Tower of Babel when Satan first introduced this idea through Nimrod) that the way to have political unity and strength in a country, is through everyone serving the same God in the same religion. They believed that with all their heart.

Leave or convert.

Now, I’m going to give you a little more picture of this Spain.

Spain at that time had the largest Jewish population of any country. A very large Jewish population. They were educated and prosperous people as Jews usually are. But this king and this queen basically said to those Jews in their country, you either leave our country or you convert to Roman Catholicism. And if you don’t, it’s a death sentence on you. Many of them did die at the hands of the Spanish Inquisition. In fact, more Jews were martyred by the Spanish Inquisition than Protestants or Reformers.

But you know what? Some of those Jews, to save their lives, at least made a show of converting to Catholicism. And they started attending mass. They were educated people, and they could understand the Latin mass that those priests spoke. They could understand the readings of the Scriptures that those Roman Catholic priests gave. And through that, some of those Jews met Jesus! Some of them became born again Christians. And some of them started Bible studies in their homes and invited Spanish- speaking people. And so there were secret Bible Studies going on, especially in Seville, Spain, in southern Spain. And out of those Bible Studies, many of them in Jewish homes, there was a revival born!  It’s an amazing story what God does through instruments that He chooses to use.

This is the Spain that Reina was born into around 1520. It was Spain that was “Out with the Moors, and out with the Jews, and get rid of them all. Out with the “heretics”! There’s no room in Spain for you!” it was also the Spain into which flowed the immense wealth of a huge Spanish empire that stretched all the way from southwestern United States and California to the very southern tip of South America. And the gold that you studied about in your history books from the Incas and the Aztecs, all of that was pouring into this Spain in the lifetime of Reina.

Revival in Spain: The Spanish reformation movement

So, God stirred up a mighty revival in Spainthat I knew very little about before being introduced to it in recent times: the Spanish reformation movement.

In addition to converted Spanish Jews who hosted and led home Bible studies, there was another factor (that seems quite unlikely) that God used to feed this revival, and to bless Reina in his translation work.

There was a Roman Catholic scholar, usually called Cardinal Cisneros, who started a university, and he produced what’s called the Complutensian Polyglot Bible, the first ever printed polyglot (multi-language Bible). He put it in parallel columns of his printed Bible.

In the Old Testament, he had the Hebrew that the Jewish people had preserved, and the Latin Vulgate that was translated by Jerome 1000 years earlier, and the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Scriptures, made before even the time of Christ.

In the New Testament he had the Greek and the Vulgate, and actually, he had some secondary translations, also, in part of that. It was an amazing work. And it was a Catholic cardinal who did it. He said he did it “to revive the languishing study of the Sacred Scriptures.”  [OT: Hebrew, Vulgate, LXX.  NT: Greek, Vulgate. More in Anabaptist Voice. PDF]

Well, Cardinal Cisneros never became a Reformer or a Protestant or an Anabaptist for sure, but God used that. And indeed, the study of the Scriptures did flourish, and several Catholic priests started preaching directly from the Bible in their Sunday morning masses, and so forth, and in even leading secret Bible studies in homes, probably attending some of the Bible Studies hosted by Jewish men who had been reading their Scriptures for years. And when they started reading the New Testament, they suddenly realized that this Jesus Who had come was indeed the Messiah they had been waiting for.

It’s very likely that Casiodoro de Reina heard these messages and participated in the Bible Studies, but the truth is, the records are pretty sparse. We don’t know a lot of details.

[Picture] This is a picture of the great Cathedral of Seville, Spain, where Mark Yoder and I visited. (Mark Yoder wrote a book that TGS published, called, Stronger Than Fire. Brother Andrew St. Marie has it on his book table out there, over there toward the cafeteria. It tells the story of Casiodoro de Reina.)

This cathedral in Spain was at one time a Muslim mosque, and was converted into a cathedral, and enlarged and rebuilt, and by the time of Reina’s life, I think it was nearly finished. It is the largest Catholic cathedral in the world, even larger than St Peter’s in the Vatican (by a tad).

“Evangelical” preachers like Juan Gil and Constantino, and others, preached from the Scriptures in this cathedral. Catholics – devout Catholics, hungry for the Word of God, for the Scriptures, hungry to hear about God, gathered at 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning, and made long lines along the streets of this cathedral, (you can’t begin to comprehend how big it is; there’s no way to take a good picture of it), and they waited until the 8:00 mass and flooded in, and filled the cathedral to hear the preaching. Amazing! 

[Picture] This is a picture of the altar of the Seville Cathedral, displaying some of the riches that flowed into Spain in that time period. This is all gilded, gold-plated, (I don’t know, maybe it’s 100 feet high, I can’t remember how high it is), ornate, beautiful, beyond comprehension, just full of wealth!  To walk into that cathedral and look around is just – I don’t know how to describe it, but it’s overwhelming.

I’m just going to stop and comment about something. I walked through that cathedral with Mark Yoder. We spent a half a day or so, looking around, and we couldn’t see nearly everything in it. In that cathedral there’s painting after painting on the walls of scenes from the life of Christ. I guess there must be hundreds of them. I’m sure many dozens. And we studied that art, looked at those paintings from the masters of Europe. It sort of showed the life of Christ in chronological order, and many many scenes of Christ’s crucifixion.

I was a little dense that day, I guess, just overwhelmed, wasn’t thinking. I didn’t really think about it until it was called to my attention afterward by a dear Spanish brother. He said, “Did you see in that cathedral? There is not one painting (did you see one?!) of the Resurrection of our Lord? Not one! Dozens of the scenes from his death. Not one of His Resurrection. He said there actually is one, but you probably didn’t see it. It’s in some obscure corner, painted in the 19th century, I think he said. So, much later they added one.

Now, I’m just going to remark about that. This is a passing comment, not related, but you know, the view of Christianity that focuses on Christ’s death and what He accomplished in His death has so infiltrated our understanding of Christianity in the western world, that it has affected us a lot more than we believe. The apostles bore witness of the Resurrection of Jesus. And if there’s anything I want to do in my ministry and preaching and life, is to be a living testimony of the Living Christ, the Resurrected Christ. Now, I could talk about that for a long time, but I’m not going to. I just want you to think about that, and you may see things that you’ve never thought about before.

Now, this picture of this great cathedral and all the wealth on display – is that really Christianity? Is that like the Christ that we read about in Scriptures, who walked with the poor, was born in poverty and walked with the poor. He had nothing to do with that kind of wealth. You know, let’s not point fingers at the Catholics. Let’s point fingers at ourselves. Does our church and the way we live, the way we practice our Christianity, does it look like Christ? Is it a faithful representation of Who He was when He was here on this earth?

Let’s move on.

[Picture] This is a courtyard of the Monastery of San Isidro, a small town just north of Seville, Spain. This is the monastery where Casiodoro de Reina served as a monk. Mark and I toured this old monastery. It’s there as a tourist attraction now. It’s not that large; not beautiful and ornate, but beautiful enough. Let’s just talk a little bit more about that.

Casiodoro de Reina:  lover of Sacred Scriptures 

Reina was a monk in St. Jerome’s order. He was not, like many people think, in the Jesuits, or even in the Augustinian order. The St. Jerome’s order was non-political, and I think it tells us something about Reina that he joined this order as a young man and became a monk. This order (like St. Jerome, as he’s called, from a thousand years earlier than that) dedicated themselves to the study of the Scriptures, about a half a day in simple labors in their fields or little shops, and about a half a day studying the Scriptures. That was their life in voluntary poverty.

In this particular monastery, there were about 130+ monks. And something happened here. We don’t know the details of the story, but it must have been a powerful, moving story. Mark and I and many people with us, believe that Reina was a mover behind what happened there. He was a lover of the Scriptures, and he began teaching the Holy Scriptures to these monks. They were reading some of Luther’s writings, and some of John Calvin’s writings. I doubt that they read Anabaptist writings; I don’t know. They were being introduced to another way of thinking. They were studying the Scriptures, and they met Jesus! And Jesus changed their lives, my friends! Jesus changed their lives! And a little secret church was born in that monastery. Converted monks. Nearly all of them converted.

And there they were in a very Roman Catholic Spain. They knew that they could not stay hidden long. They called a – I guess we’ll call it a “brother’s meeting.” They talked about their life and what awaited them, and what they should do. I’m sure they prayed together, though we don’t have any details of that meeting. They made a decision. They decided that all the monks in that monastery could individually decide what they would do. Those who wanted to could flee. They said, “Go one at a time or at the most two,” to increase your chances of getting out, of escaping Spain. Those who chose to stay could stay. A few fled very quickly, about a dozen of them, including Reina. All but one that fled made their way safely up into France. Those who remained were soon discovered. I won’t tell that story. They were imprisoned along with multitudes of other prisoners, in a big crack-down on the Spanish reform movement in Seville, Spain. So many were taken prisoners that the prisons couldn’t hold them. They were imprisoned in houses. They were tried, and many of them were burned at the stake. About forty of those monks lost their lives in the plains just south of Seville, Spain, burned alive, within a few months or years of Reina’s flight.

(I stood out there south of Seville. It’s actually included in the city of Seville, sort of a park area; we assumed we were close. And I just tried to think about the scenes that are described in history. You know, I could not comprehend. I couldn’t comprehend what happened there, and in so many places.)

But we’ll move on.

Reina made it up to Geneva. All the monks that fled sort of headed for Geneva up in France, where John Calvin was the reformer leader. I don’t know what Reina thought before he got there, but it didn’t take him long to discover that his heart did not fit with John Calvin’s rigorous system of Christianizing society through the rule of the state imposing Christian order and enforcing that system of Christian doctrine, and all.

He left there not long later, and he said, “This is just a new Rome. It’s not the Church of Jesus.” And he was right. He was right. He wrote about it. He said, “I could not walk by the field where the Spanish reformer Servetus was burned alive. . .” (and that story is told in vivid detail in history). He said, “I could not walk by there without weeping at the wickedness of what happened.”

We’ll move on.

Reina’s life after Geneva

I’m just going to quickly trace Reina’s life after Geneva. He went to Frankfurt, Germany first. Then when Queen Elizabeth took the English throne after Bloody Mary’s death, Reina went to London, England. (Bloody Mary was a Catholic who persecuted the Protestants in England. Queen Elizabeth was favorable to Protestants.) He went to London in 1559. There Reina married.

But everywhere he went the Spanish Inquisitors were following. They were trying to find him to get him, to kill him or at least capture him, to do whatever they could. I don’t know exactly how he was able to translate the Bible through about a dozen years of working, as he fled from one city to another, carrying his precious manuscripts with him. He apparently worked pretty much alone, though he must have had at least some assistants who maybe served as secretaries, and maybe there were even some scholars that helped him to some extent; we don’t really know.

He moved on. In 1563, he fled to Antwerp, Belgium. He went to Frankfurt, Germany. He ended up in Strasbourg, France, always seeking a safe place to continue his translation work. By the time that man turned 50, he had completed that translation. And then he had the big problem: How could he get his Bible safely printed? How could he ever get the Spanish Bible back into Spain? But I can’t tell that story. I’ll just read to you what Reina wrote.

Reina’s Introduction

In the introduction to his translation, he wrote some beautiful things. He had a humble heart. He said,

I’ve done the very best I could with this, but I know that it’s imperfect, and others coming after will make it better.

But I like this so much. He said,

The importance of this work for the advancement of the Kingdom and the glory of the Lord, … gave us a courage that we would have never had if we considered our own strength, …. We have no doubt that our work has been pleasing to God, because of the constant assistance of His favor that we have been able to carry such a heavy load, so hindered by Satan, with so little help from brethren, and for so many days.  The work has been in our hands for 12 complete years. Taking out time for sickness, or travels, [etc.] we can affirm that we have spent 9 years when we did not put down the pen, nor slackened in study.

Now, I’d like you to just stop and ponder that kind of commitment, that kind of dedication to a task. I do not understand apart from God’s enabling grace, how Reina survived, and how he ever accomplished what he set out to do. I thank God for that man.

What happened to Reina’s Bible?

We’ll just take a few more facts here. His first printing was 2,600 copies.  There’s no translator given, no printer mentioned, no city named on the title page where it came from. And we really don’t know what happened to most of those copies of that first printed edition of Reina’s Bible. A few of them were shipped in wine casks with false bottoms to a friend, but we don’t know what happened to them when they got there. We do know that there was a record of 1,400 of them (that was a large quantity) shipped to Antwerp where they took off the covers and took the title page out, and they put a dictionary cover and title page to disguise them. I’m sure it was with the intention of shipping them down to Spain, probably on ships. Did they get there? We don’t have much record.

Only a handful survive today. We saw one copy of that first edition of Reina’s Bible in the Seville Cathedral (owned by the Colombian Library, which is associated with the cathedral.) It was there in a glass case, opened up for us to look at. And we stood over-awed! It was more beautiful, dear friends, than all the gold plate and all the beautiful paintings in that cathedral!

No Spanish Bibles printed in Spain until 1790!

There were no Spanish Bibles printed in Spain until 1790! Over 200 years after Reina’s Bible was printed. The Bible was outlawed. We can’t imagine.

This is what the Supreme Council of the Inquisition wrote to the Inquisition Courts in Spain, (and there were many of them.)

Revered Lords:

We understand that a Bible has been printed in Basel in Spanish,

(That wasn’t the right city, but that’s what they thought.)

by the intent and at the expenses of some Spanish heretics, with the intention of bringing them secretly into these kingdoms.

(Spain was a union of many small kingdoms.)

And since it would be very harmful for this Bible to come here, it would be advisable that as soon as you receive this, sirs, that you order that special care be taken to prevent this Bible from entering. And if any would have entered and be found, you command that they all be gathered, proceeding against the persons that brought them in. And of all you do, keep this Council informed.

Madrid, 30 of January, 1571.  [16 months after first printing]

So you get the picture.

More about Reina’s Biblia

First, a little picture of Reina’s Bible, just to review. It was the first Spanish Bible printed that was translated directly from the Hebrew Old Testament and the Greek New Testament, (as preserved by the Jewish Masoretes) and the traditional text over in the Greek Orthodox country where they preserved the Greek Scriptures. And this Bible is universally recognized as excellent. Some people think it’s the best translation into modern language that was ever made. It is excellent. Even what we have today is excellent. But my friend, Bonifacio in Spain said what we have today is not as good as Reina’s. It compares to Tyndale’s English, maybe Luther’s German Bible.

But Reina had one unique advantage that no translator has had since his time. At least, we believe this is true, and his translation reflects it. Reina read the Hebrew Scriptures with the Jews in those Bible Studies in Spain who maintained Hebrew as a living language. And no one since his time has had that privilege. He studied the Scriptures out of the Hebrew with people who spoke Hebrew.

Now as I understand it, Hebrew was virtually lost as a spoken language by the time of Christ.  Jewish rabbis, of course, read it and taught Jewish boys to read it in the synagogue schools.  They used it in their study of the Scriptures (sort of like Roman Catholics used the Latin Bible, I guess, or maybe like some Amish and Mennonites use the German Bible).  But Hebrew was revived as a spoken language in the second century A.D., And the Jews of Spain had a large enough community to actually maintain Hebrew as a living language through many years up until Reina’s time.  But when they were disbursed, they didn’t have a large enough community, and it was too dangerous to keep it, and it became a dead language again. So it was lost in his generation – until it was revived in the last century in modern Israel.

Well, I’d better move on. I see the time is really going.

This Spanish Bible has actually been translated into English by those who love it so much and say it’s the best Bible. It’s called The Jubilee Bible. You can look and find it for yourself if you want.

More about Casiodoro de Reina

Here’s a little more. The “Confession of Faith” that Reina wrote in London about 1560 tells us a lot about his faith. He was sort of forced to write it to prove his Orthodoxy to the Protestants of England at that time, who were suspicious of him. He believed (and he stated it there very clearly) that there should be freedom of religion, as we call it. No religious persecution. He advocated liberty of conscience. He was in advance of his times, like the Anabaptists. He stated there that he found no Biblical basis for infant baptism, but he admitted it’s hard to change long-standing customs.

[Picture]  Here’s a portrait of Reina. I doubt if he was dressed that way most of the time, but you know the old-fashioned way of making portraits.

[Picture] Here’s a picture of King Carlos I of Spain, who was the king of Spain when Reina was born. He survived for a number of years. He was a very hard man.

I’m going to read to you what this king wrote, an edict against the Anabaptists. This would have been during Reina’s lifetime, but it shows you what kind of world Reina lived in, and the opposition that he faced, the kind of intense hatred for true Christianity and the Holy Scriptures that made the Inquisition pursue him wherever he was, and kept him moving from city to city as he translated the Scriptures.

Now, this you can find in Martyr’s Mirror, but I’m just going to read it. I want you to think about these words, and take them to heart, and imagine what kind of world this was.

This was directed against the low countries where Menno Simons at that time lived, because King Carlos I, of Spain was also King Charles V, of the Holy Roman Empire, and the Holy Roman Empire ruled Holland and the low countries at that time. This edict was directed against the Anabaptists of the low countries.

THE EDICT ISSUED BY EMPEROR CHARLES V AGAINST THE ANABAPTISTS, A.D. 1535

In order to guard against and remedy the errors which many sectarians and authors of contempt, with their adherents, have dared for some time to sow and spread in our territories, against our holy Christian faith, sacraments, and the commandments of our mother the holy church, we have at different times ordained, and caused to be executed and proclaimed many decrees containing statutes, edicts and ordinances, as also penalties to be incurred by transgressors, . . .

And since it has come to our knowledge, that notwithstanding our aforesaid decrees, many and various sectarians, even some who call themselves Anabaptists, have proceeded, and still daily proceed, to spread, sow, and secretly preach their aforesaid abuses and errors, in order to allure a great number of men and women to their false doctrine and reprobate sect, . . .

He’s talking about Menno Simons and his companions, and all those people in that generation, in the low countries.

Therefore we, intending to guard against and remedy this, summon and command you, that, immediately upon receipt of this, you cause it to be proclaimed in every place and border of your dominions, that all those, or such as shall be found polluted by the accursed sect of the Anabaptists, of whatever rank or condition they may be, . . .  shall incur the loss of life and property, and be brought to the most extreme punishment, without delay.

Namely, those who remain obstinate and continue in their evil belief and purpose, or who have seduced to their sect and rebaptized any; also those who have been called prophets, apostles or bishops — these shall be punished with fire.

(burned at the stake, burned alive.)

All other persons who have been rebaptized, or who secretly and with premeditation have harbored any of the aforesaid Anabaptists, and who renounce their evil purpose and belief, and are truly sorry and penitent for it, shall be

(shall be spared and sent home? No.)

 shall be executed with the sword, and the women be buried in a pit.

Are you comprehending those words? It’s hard for us to comprehend!

And in order to better detect these Anabaptists, their adherents and accomplices, we expressly command all subjects, to make known and report them to the officer of the place where they reside or shall be found; and if any one shall know of persons of this sect, and do not report them to the officer of the place, he shall be punished as a favorer, adherent, or abettor of the sect of the Anabaptists; but he who shall report or make them known, shall have, if the accused is convicted, one third of their confiscated property.

(Talk about motivation! Get rich quick schemes.)

[Picture] This is King of Spain, Felipe II, who was also emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, son of Charles V. This is the king who sent his inquisitors after Casiodoro de Reina. And his men, I think, would have pursued Menno Simons up until Menno Simons’ death. God spared Menno Simons, too, miraculously.

Some questions to ponder:

Now, we’d just like to move on a little bit here, and just come to an end with a few questions to ponder.

I can’t tell you the story of Casiodoro de Reina. Some of you may want to buy this book. It’s large; it has a lot in it. The rest of you who don’t do that, at least a few of you can go back to the table in the back there near the lost and found box. In the Anabaptist Voice that just came out about a month or so ago, Mark Yoder wrote a little summary of Reina’s life, and it’s included in this issue of the Anabaptist Voice. There are some back there, and I think there are some also over there at Andrew St. Marie’s book table that you can pick up, and take it, and learn a little more.

I had so much more I would have liked to share. But let’s just stop and reflect a little bit, and we’ll bring this to a close.

Reina loved the Scriptures. That man loved the Scriptures! He studied the Scriptures, and he risked his life, and he poured his energies twelve long years to translate the Scriptures out of their original languages into the Spanish of his people. He wanted, he had a burning vision in his heart to bring the Scriptures into the language of his people. And I would say that history would confirm that all of his work in his generation didn’t reach very many people in Spain. Very few people got to see the Scriptures in their own language in Spain in his generation. Praise God, it’s not that way today.

But you know, we who have the Scriptures so freely in our hands, (we have multiple copies of the Bible.) I don’t know how many copies of the Bible I have. I don’t know how many English translations I have, and maybe a half dozen Spanish ones besides. I just ask myself,

“Do I love the Scriptures? Do I have any of that passion in my heart?

“Do I study the Scriptures with half the dedication and intensity that Reina did?” (Or maybe William Tyndale, to use that example.)

“What have I invested?”

I’m going to stop and tell you a little of my story, just a little bit. You know, I grew up in a Mennonite home, way out west in Oregon. And I was taught the Scriptures. My dad read us the Bible. Every morning before breakfast we read a chapter out of the Bible. He didn’t comment much, but we read the Scriptures. I was taught to love the Scriptures by example. I still have in my possession (I didn’t bring it along) but I have the Bible that was given by my parents when I was about 12 years old. It was a Cambridge Bible, just a handy small size, with center reference, and concordance in the back. Just a King James Bible; that’s all we had. I read that Bible. I can open that Bible today and I can see in that Bible evidences of my love for the Scriptures. I did love the Scriptures. I used that Bible for about eight years, incidentally, and then I laid it aside, and I picked up the Spanish Bible when I was 20 years old and I moved to Guatemala. And for the next number of years, I laid my English Bible clear aside; I hardly ever read it. I was determined to immerse myself, Brother Dale, in the Spanish Bible. I wanted to read that Bible. And I came to love it so much that I can’t give it up. When I got back from Central America, (I didn’t think I was going to come back, but I did, after about six years), I said, “I can understand this Spanish Bible better than I can understand my King James Bible,” so I just kept reading it. I don’t very much anymore. But I still love it. So that’s my story.

But I go back, and I look in that Cambridge Bible that I used during my teenaged years. I see many many underlinings in that Bible. I read that Bible through from cover to cover many times during my teenaged years. I memorized Scriptures out of that Bible. Chapters and psalms and a few whole books. I marked that Bible up. And I can see if I hold that Bible close, and I look on the edges of the pages of that Bible, I can see where the New Testament begins. Those pages are starting to come loose, and I can see over here near the back of the Bible where the back pages of the Bible weren’t used much, and of course, there’s the concordance, and incidentally, the book of Revelation, which I didn’t read so much. I can see that. Do you know something else I can see in that Bible? I can see where the pages are actually coming out, sticking out, and it marks Romans 1. And at the other end of where they’re sticking out is about 1 John. I focused in my young years on reading the epistles. It’s evident. That Bible tells the story.

The Scriptures show the Living Christ.

I said I had a Christian home. I had a godly heritage. I had so much given to me. But there are some things I did not get as a young man that I’d like to share with you young people here today. I did not understand in the way that I should have that Christianity is knowing Christ. I loved the Scriptures. I read the Scriptures. I memorized the Scriptures. I studied the Scriptures, I think above most of my peers. But I didn’t understand – I don’t know if it was taught and I didn’t get it (I just didn’t have “ears to hear”) or maybe it wasn’t clearly taught. But I didn’t understand that Christianity is much more than the Scriptures – the text on the page, and the principles, and the doctrines that derive and the commandments given. It’s more than that. (It’s not separate from that. I don’t mean that at all. It never can be.) But it’s more than that.

Jesus said, “You search the Scriptures . . .” (He said this to people who loved the Old Testament, we call it. The old Scriptures that the Jews were given.) He said,

You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.

John 5:39-40

I didn’t understand that. And it took me many years of living, and I don’t fully understand it now, but I do understand it better than I did. Young people, every one of you, read the Scriptures, search the Scriptures, mark your Bibles if you will. Do whatever you have to do to put those Scriptures into your minds and into your hearts, but every time you open the Bible, ask God to show to you the living Christ, the resurrected Christ out of those Scriptures, so that you come to know HIM, of Whom the Scriptures tell us.

I’ll say a few more words. I think of Reina. I think of a man who for twelve years, fleeing from place to place with the Inquisition at his heels hating him, pursuing him. I think of that man taking Greek (which I can’t read) and Hebrew and Latin (languages that I don’t know) and the labor of love that he poured into that translation project, and how that project has blessed generations of people, millions of people. It has spread through the world. Spanish today is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world. I’m not sure if it’s number 2 or number 3, somewhere up there in rank. It’s very widely spoken. People still use that. The Roman Catholics who persecuted Reina and tried to keep his Bible from getting into Spain, today laud Reina’s translation as a remarkable excellent work for its literary value and for the Scriptures that he presented. But that means very little for them, and it means little for us, unless we come to know the Resurrected Christ!

Ponder the last 12 years, the next 12 years of your life.

I’d like to ask us, “What have I done, what have you done in the last twelve years?”

“What do you purpose to do in the next twelve years?”

Just block out twelve years of your life and say, “What vision drives me? What is my calling in life?”

I’m not a Bible translator. I will never learn another language; I’m probably too old for that, and I’m not gifted linguistically. I don’t have that work. I don’t have your work. But I have a work that God has given me. “Am I as dedicated to that calling and to that work – just my little niche, my little place in life, ever so small? Am I as dedicated to that?”

Am I as willing to sacrifice for that as Reina was for the work that God put on his heart?

Am I investing my time in searching the Scriptures, and finding in them the living Christ?

Jesus said in John 17 in his “High Priestly Prayer” we call it,

And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.

John 17:3

Christlike Christians

Jesus the Messiah, Jesus the Lamb of God, Jesus the eternal Son of God, mystery of mysteries, incarnate, Who came into this world and lived the life before us that reveals to us the character of God His Father, the express image of the eternal God, lived here – He calls us. He calls you, He calls me, to take up our cross, deny ourselves, and follow Him! Live a life as He lived.

As I said, it does us little good to point fingers at the Catholics, or little good to point fingers at this particular Protestant sect or that one, or little good to even point fingers at different groups of Anabaptists, or Mennonites, or Brethren, or whatever you are. It does us little good to point fingers at anyone and stand in condemnation of their failures. Let us lift our eyes to the Christ in glory, and behold Him! And see our weakness and undone-ness as we stand before Him, and repent of our sins, and renew our covenant to be Christian Christians. Christlike Christians. Followers of Jesus. To live in the world of our 21st century, as well as we know how, as much as we can, in the place that we are, guided by His Spirit, taught by the Scriptures, as Jesus lived in His world 2000 years ago. Christian Christians.

Dear brothers, dear sisters, it’s a tragedy – it’s a tragedy when Christians compromise their Christianity to prove their point, to protect their church, to maintain their traditions (and I’m not speaking against the traditions; I’m not speaking against the Church). All I’m saying is, if we compromise our Christlikeness in order to accomplish some goal, we have compromised the heart of Christianity. 

We heard our brother this morning who said, “Live out your faith where God has put you.” If you’re in maybe a rigid traditional-minded branch of Christianity, and God calls you there, be a real Christian there! I mean, a real Christian there! If you’re in India – I talked to three ladies here today from India, who live in New York City. I don’t remember their names; I don’t know where their walk is. There are all kinds of people here. Follow Jesus, my friend! Live your life before Him.

Purpose in your heart in every relationship, in every transaction of life, in every part of your life, business, home, church life, to be a Christian Christian.

Let us pray:

Lord God, we just humble our hearts here, and confess that we have fallen far short of Christlikeness, so often in our lives, over and over. Sometimes we see it; sometimes we don’t. But we confess it to You and ask for cleansing, because You have said if we confess our sins, You are faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Even the secret sins that we do not see, if we walk in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and you do cleanse us from all unrighteousness. It’s a precious promise. We looked at a hero of faith today; we can learn from his example. But we don’t want this example or any example to detract from Jesus, the Captain of our salvation, the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls, the Good Shepherd Who leads us and guides us, and has sent His Holy Spirit into the world to convict us of sin and of righteousness and of judgment. O God, O God, we cry! Make us Christians, true Christians like Jesus in our world.  We pray in His name, Amen.