William Tyndale discusses faith in his Prologue to the Book of Romans
Faith is not man’s opinion and dream, as some imagine, and form their own ideas when they hear the story of the gospel. The cause is that when they hear the gospel or glad tidings, they fashion by their own strength certain imaginations and thoughts in their hearts, saying, I have heard the gospel; I remember the story; lo, I believe! And this they count true faith – which nevertheless, since it is but man’s imagination and assumption, does not profit. Neither do good works or a lasting amendment of life follow.
But true faith is a thing wrought by the Holy Spirit in us, which changes us, transforms our nature, begets us anew in God, and makes us the children of God, as you read in the first of John. A faith that is genuine kills the old Adam, and makes us altogether new in the heart, mind, will, desire, and in all our affections and powers of the soul, and brings the Holy Spirit with her.
Faith is a living thing, mighty in working, courageous and strong, ever doing, ever fruitful, so that it is impossible that the person endued with faith should not work good works. A person of faith does not ask whether good works are to be done or not, but has done them already, before mention be made of them. And he is always doing, for such is his nature now: a living faith in his heart, and the active moving of the Spirit, constrain him and stir him to this. Whoever does not do good works is an unbelieving person, and faithless, and looks around groping after faith and good works, but does not know what faith or good works are, even when he talks ever so much about faith and good works.
Faith is then a living and steadfast trust in the favour of God, whereby we commit ourselves altogether to God. And that trust is so surely grounded and sticks so fast in our hearts that a man would not once doubt of it, though he should die a thousand times for it. And such trust wrought by the Holy Spirit through faith makes a person glad, joyful, cheerful, and true-hearted, toward God and toward all creatures. And thus he or she is willingly and without compulsion glad and ready to do good to all, to render service to all, to suffer all things, so that God who has given him such grace may be loved and praised. So it is impossible to separate good works from faith, even as it is impossible to separate heat and burning from fire.
Therefore take heed to yourself. Beware of your own suppositions and imaginations, which to judge of faith and good works will seem wise, but indeed are blind, and of all things most unwise. Pray God that he will assent to work faith in your heart, or you will remain evermore faithless, however much you surmise, imagine, strengthen your resolve, wrestle with yourself, or do what you will or can.
From William Tyndale’s Prologue to Romans, Matthew’s Version Abridged (1537). The language has been gently updated into modern English by Ruth Magnusson Davis.
Unlike most of our Sunday posts, today’s post is not a sermon. But if you want to listen to a sermon, there are a vast number of Ps Sam Powell’s sermons on Sermon Audio.
Lastly, here is a hymn that one of our readers sent me.
The Matthew Bible is the first complete English Bible, and Ruth M Davis is gently updating it for modern readers – in this post you will find out more about William Tyndale. He translated the Greek New Testament and about half of Hebrew Old Testament, but was taken captive and martyred before he could complete his translation of the OT. His translations were incorporated in the Matthew Bible.