04
Nov
08

How Thomas Bilney Came to Christ

thomas_bilneyThomas Bilney was born near Norwich in 1495.  He was very studious, and would go on to attend Oxford where he earned the degree of doctor of laws and was ordained as a priest.  But neither his study nor his ordination brought him any peace.  He was trying to find rest for his soul through good works, going to mass, taking communion, denying his appetites, and dead religion, but nothing worked.

Then one day he opened up a copy of the newly translated Greek New Testament, a translation that was forbidden by the Catholic church.  He locked himself in his room and the first verse that caught his eye was 1 Timothy 1:15, where the Apostle Paul writes, “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.”

Thomas Bilney realized that if Jesus Christ could save someone like Paul, an angry, violent, murderous, arrogant enemy of the gospel, there was hope for him.  He would write about that moment, “This one sentence, through God’s instruction and inward working…did so exhilarate my heart, being before wounded with the guilt of my sins, and being almost in despair, that even immediately I seemed unto myself inwardly to feel a marvelous comfort and quietness, insomuch that “my bruised bones leaped for joy!” (http://www.williamtyndale.com/0bilney1.htm)

Bilney was a quiet man, but he began to pray for others to come to Christ.  God used him to lead some of the professors at Oxford to Christ, and many others who would be the great leaders of the English Reformation – a revolution that brought much needed religious freedom.  When he shared the gospel he told his personal story and often pointed them to 1 Timothy 1:15, the verse that changed his life. 

He was later arrested for preaching the gospel of salvation through faith in Christ alone, and would be burned at the stake for his commitment to Jesus, but by this time it was too late.  Too many had been changed and inspired by his witness.  The wheels of the English Reformation were rolling.

Paul’s testimony changed Bilney’s life.  Bilney’s testimony changed the lives of many others.  What’s your testimony?  One of the greatest ways to share the gospel is by sharing your personal testimony.  It will encourage others and they’ll say, “If God can change him or her, I know he can change me too.”  So, humble yourself.  Be transparent.  Ask God to help you see yourself as a sinner, saved and forgiven by grace and grace alone.  Then open your mouth and share how your life has been changed, and watch what God will do.

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