As citizens of the 21st century, we may have lost perspective on just how momentous the Protestant Reformation was. It influenced the balance of political power, changed the map of Europe, and inspired and shaped the formation of the New World.
First and foremost, of course, the Reformation changed the way we think about God and our relationship with Him. Salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ was the insight that compelled Martin Luther to challenge the authority of the Church. No intercession, no works, no indulgences—nothing wrought by man can win us eternal life.
Luther was one of the first Bible translators. He recognized that people needed to understand God’s Word if they were to have the opportunity to come to faith. And how could they understand Scripture if the words in which it was written were not familiar to them? Further, he provided worship materials—catechisms, hymns, commentaries, sermons—so people could study Scripture and interact with it. Today, we refer to this as Scripture engagement.
Luther’s vision was that “…this one book alone, in all languages, would live in the hands, eyes, ears, and hearts of all people.” Today, of the over 7,000 languages spoken in the world, over 50% have no Scripture at all or an unfinished translation. Less than 700 languages have a complete Bible Translation.
Lutheran Bible Translators continues Luther’s legacy by translating Scripture and providing worship materials in mother tongue languages. Luther, a master of the German language, collaborated with experts in Greek and Hebrew to ensure that his translation was accurate. LBT missionaries provide the expertise in translation technics and Biblical languages in collaboration with mother tongue speakers, who provide cultural insights and an intimate knowledge of their own languages. Together they produce a translation that clearly and accurately communicates God’s Word to people in their own languages.
This one book continues to change lives as people are able to read and hear Scripture in their mother tongues, the language they understand best. Over 20 million people have been impacted by translations completed with the assistance of Lutheran Bible Translators, but there is much more work to be done.
Rev. Carl Grulke, LBT translation consultant serving in Botswana, remarked, “We do not stand alone in our faith; rather, we stand on the shoulders of those who have come before us, the ones who passed down their knowledge of God to us, received from those who came before them. We are a link in the chain that leads back to Christ and our link will be forged to the generation that comes after us.”
We give thanks for those who have come before us, sharing the Gospel even in the face of adversity. And we pray that the ministry of Lutheran Bible Translators will help create new links that unite us as children of God.