Crisis of the Word: A Message To Pastors and Would-Be Pastors (2 Timothy 2:15) -- By: Daniel B. Wallace
CTJ 1:2 (August 1997) p. 107
Crisis of the Word: A Message To Pastors and Would-Be Pastors (2 Timothy 2:15)
Associate Professor of New Testament Studies
Dallas Theological Seminary, Dallas, TX
It is said that the last words of a dying man are often his most significant. The imminent prospect of death has a way of galvanizing a man’s thoughts and of sharpening his focus.1
Even verbose folks—those with the gift of gab—can hone in on the key issues and can state succinctly what really matters to them. In this respect, my wife has intimated that she looks forward to the day I die! For I will, finally, irrevocably, and quickly get to the bottom line. After all, someone who writes an 800-page book and calls it an intermediate anything does not have the gift of brevity!
One of my favorite stories of dying words involves one Thomas Bilney.2 Bilney was an early sixteenth-century Englishman, a graduate (like our beloved Dr. Harold Hoehner) of Cambridge University who—in spite of this—fell in love with his Lord and marveled at the face of Jesus in the Scriptures. Like Luther was doing in Germany, Bilney was speaking out against indulgences, Mariolatry, and the worship of saints. The exaltation of God and not that of saints was his Credo (Lat. “I believe,” from which we derive our English “creed”). He was instrumental in bringing Hugh Latimer, the great English Reformer, to a saving knowledge of Christ. But let Latimer tell the story:
…Bilney was the instrument whereby God called me to knowledge. For I may thank him, next to God, for that knowledge that I have in the word of God. I was as obstinate a Papist as any in England; insomuch that when I should be made bachelor of divinity, my whole oration went against Philip Melancthon, and against his opinions. Bilney heard me at that time, and perceived that I was zealous without knowledge, and came to me afterwards in my study, and desired me, for God’s sake, to hear his confession. I did so: and, to tell the truth, by his confession I learned more than I had in all my years of
CTJ 1:2 (August 1997) p. 108
study. So from that time forward I began to smell [the sweet savor of] the word of God …”3
Years later, Bilney was burned at the stake, as Latimer put it, “for God’s word’s sake.” As the flames were rising around him, licking his flesh and disfiguring his appearance, Thomas Bilney could be heard crying out but two words: “Jes...
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