My mother asked me, “How would you like fifty cents?” I quickly responded, “I would like it very much.” What a silly question to ask an seven year old. Of course I would like fifty cents. Fifty cents was a lot of money when I was a little boy. My mother continued, “Here is a Bible verse I want you to memorize, and when you can recite it perfectly, I will give you the money.”
And that is how I first learned and memorized some of the most well-known passages of the Bible. I memorized all of Psalm 23, “The Lord is My Shepherd . . . “ I learned Psalm 119:105, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path,” which was a constant reminder of the Bible’s place of preeminence in my life, the sole rule of faith and practice.
Of course the most important verse to be memorized by any Evangelical Protestant child is John 3:16. It is a verse that encapsulates the Gospel of Christ in one elegant and pregnant sentence, a sentence that reaches to the heart of God and explains the essence of history and salvation in twenty-five short words.
The key action words stand out with stark clarity: loved, gave, believe, perish, and have. We can possess (have) something because of God’s act of love, and a response by man. The loving act of God in history, opened an otherwise locked and bolted door, providing man with an escape from damnation and an offer of eternal life.
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