Scriptures in the Heart Language

Posted on: 
July 13, 2023

Why is it important for people to have access to the Scriptures in their heart language? Let us consider three reasons.

1. To have a proper understanding of God. God has chosen to reveal Himself to humanity through the written Word illuminated by the Holy Spirit. As we know, heathen people always have a distorted view of God. Many imagine there to be many gods, often represented by idols. Their concept of deities is usually similar to their own sinful lives.

So, for people to properly approach God and serve Him, it is imperative that they have a proper understanding of who God is.

The Bible gives us a progressive revelation of God. It begins with Creation, then builds on its own foundation piece by piece to show us a revelation of God's character and attributes.

Some missionaries have attempted to teach converts from a heathen background through an interpreter. This is good as far as it goes but often yields frustrating results in the long run. The Bible story grows piece by piece, and it's difficult to transmit the "big picture" when working through an interpreter. Personally, I have observed tribal people struggling to understand the book of Job when reading it in a language other than their mother tongue. (It's hard enough for me to understand in English!)

The next best option is for the missionary to learn the native language fluently and then teach the Bible orally. This, of course, is much better than working through an interpreter. But what happens when the missionary leaves? Besides, it's usually not possible for the missionary to teach the converts every day. If they have the Scriptures translated into their own heart language, they have the potential of growing every day in their understanding of God!

2. To understand God's covenant. God has always worked with his people through covenants. Starting with Adam and Eve, God clearly communicated His will for their lives, rules for their behavior, and rewards or punishments according to their obedience or disobedience. Throughout the whole Bible, the pattern is the same. This is especially clear in the story of the Israelites who were chosen to be the guardians of the written Word of God. In fact, our Bibles are divided into two parts called the Old and New Testaments. The word testament means basically the same thing as covenant.

God's covenant with the church is fixed and will never change. The better we understand His covenant relationship with us, the better we will be able to fulfill our part of the covenant. For anyone to properly understand God's covenant, it is important to understand the Biblical "big story." This is so much easier if one has the Scriptures in his own mother tongue.

3. To understand how to obey God properly. This is directly tied to the above two points. Unless one understands God's character and His covenant, it will be impossible to know how to obey Him.

Throughout the Scriptures, we see a clear pattern among believers. First, there is a clear understanding of God and His will. Next, faith takes root in the heart. Then faith expresses itself in obedience. And lastly, God rewards the obedience.

When sincere people have access to the Word of God in their native language, they experience conviction of sin and faith in the redeeming, transforming power of God!

God has blessed us with the privilege of having His written Word. Let's be faithful in doing all we can to help others enjoy the same privilege.

"The greatest missionary is the Bible in the mother tongue. It needs no furlough, and is never considered a stranger." - William Cameron Townsend

—Elisha Byler, church planter among the Tarahumara

  • “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:17
  • “Repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And you are witness of these things.” Luke 24:47, 48
  • “Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations.” Matthew 28:19
  • “In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Genesis 12:3
  • “That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the Gospel.” Ephesians 3:6
  • “That they all may be one; as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You, that they also may be one in Us; that the world may believe that You sent Me.” John 17:21
  • “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations’?” Mark 11:17
  • “Ask of me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance.” Psalm 2:8
  • “Behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes.” Revelation 7:9
  • “Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified.” 2 Thessalonians 3:1
  • “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” 2 Timothy 3:16
  • “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105
  • “As cold water to a weary soul, so is good news from a far country.” Proverbs 25:25
  • “More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.” Psalm 19:10
  • “All the ends of the world shall remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations shall worship before You.” Psalm 22:27
  • “Truly, as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD.” Numbers 14:21
  • “Declare His glory among the nations, His wonders among all peoples. For the LORD is great and greatly to be praised; He is to be feared above all gods.” Psalm 96:3, 4
  • “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.” Habakkuk 2:14
  • “That all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God; there is no other.” 1 Kings 8:60
  • “For from the rising of the sun, even to its going down, My name shall be great among the Gentiles; in every place incense shall be offered to My name, and a pure offering; for My name shall be great among the nations.” Malachi 1:11
  • “All nations whom You have made shall come and worship before You, O Lord, and shall glorify Your name.” Psalm 86:9
  • “For as the earth brings forth its bud, as the garden causes the things that are sown in it to spring forth, so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.” Isaiah 61:11
  • "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!" Psalm 46:10
  • "This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." 1 Timothy 2:3, 4
  • "You are worthy. . .; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God." Revelation 5:9, 10