Some time ago, a conference speaker told of a Roman Catholic boy who regularly attended an evangelical Sunday School and took a great interest in the Bible lessons.
Eventually someone told the priest about the young lad and the church official stormed into the boy’s home, angrily demanding that he no longer be permitted to attend the Protestant Sunday School. Though nominal Catholics, the parents were so cowed by fear that they agreed to carry out this harsh order.
When asked if he had been given any Protestant literature, the boy stated that he had received a copy of the Bible. Thereupon the priest commanded that the book be destroyed. The lad objected strongly at first, but finally yielded up his precious volume, under the combined pressure of the priest and his parents.
“You may take my Bible,” he exclaimed, “But you can never take from me the seventeen chapters that I have committed to memory!”
The Christian teacher should never minimize the value of Scripture memorization. Every effort should be used to encourage the pupils to learn special passages from the Bible, in addition to the weekly Golden Text.
This practice should commence with the very youngest group. Of Timothy it is written, “From a child (a young child) thou hast known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 3:15).
Children will surprise you by their faculty for remembering, even at an early age, when given the proper inducement and assistance. The writer is acquainted with a boy who, shortly after his sixth birthday, stood before the whole Sunday School and repeated all 42 verses of John 19, and did so without making even one slight mistake.
If your scholars are reluctant to study their lesson texts at home, it is imperative to teach them in the class. Print the verse on a large card and display it so that it may be readily seen by all. Let the children read it aloud in unison several times; then call on them one by one to repeat it from memory, while the others watch the card for mistakes. The words will become indelibly impressed upon the mind when learned through both eye gate and ear gate.
Like the muscles of the body, the memory will develop with use. It is good exercise for the children to learn to recite passages of Scripture. Their minds will more readily remember lessons that are taught them, even at day school or other branches of learning.
Accuracy should be demanded when the children are repeating the passages of Scripture. One reason for this is that it will teach the child the value of thoroughness and attention to detail, which are excellent character traits.
The chief reason for memorizing portions of the Bible is spiritual, not natural. The Holy Scriptures within the heart of a child are able to make him “wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”
“The Word of God is quick (living) and powerful” (Heb. 4:12). It possesses, in itself, a dynamic power, surpassing anything that we, using our own phraseology, may say or teach concerning Bible Truths. The life-giving character of God is in His Word.
To the Thessalonians, Paul could write, “Ye received the Word of God ….the Word of God which effectually worketh also in you that believe” (1 Thess. 2:13). Therefore never minimize the potential effect of the Bible verses which are planted, like precious seed, in the hearts of the boys and girls.
All Scripture is profitable, we are told, but some passages, above others, will tend to make wise unto salvation. The ones which present in clarity the truths relative to the Gospel should be first emphasized.
How thrilling and encouraging it is to meet those who, having been taught the Word of God while young, committed it to memory, and to hear them tell how the Scriptures were brought back to mind in after life to lead them to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Some time ago a young man gave such a testimony. Brought up in a Christian home and in a Sunday School where the accurate memorizing of Scripture was featured, he somehow drifted away and was in the world, many miles from home.
One night while camping, he lay alone on his cot unable to sleep, as the Spirit of God worked upon his heart, bringing him to a sense of his sinfulness before God and filling his heart with a fear of the judgment to come.
He had no Bible at hand, but there in the darkness verses he had learned when a boy in Sunday School came to mind. Seeking divine light and spiritual life, he repeated such glorious texts as John 3:16, and Romans 5:8. He thought also of John 5:24, through which many have been given the assurance of eternal life.
Memory then took him to Isaiah 53, where he slowly recited verse 5, that told him again of the suffering Saviour. Though he knew the story of the Cross so well, he could not bring himself to say, “With His stripes I am healed.”
But memory took him on to the next verse. He knew that the first clause was true, because he had gone astray. He mentally agreed, also, that the second clause was true of him, for he had turned to his own way.
Then the Holy Spirit, through the Word, gave him one more look at the Saviour and it was settled. “If the first two clauses of the text are true, then so is the last clause,” he said. “Since the Lord laid upon His Son the iniquity of us all, then my sins were in the bundle.”
He was brought into the blessedness of salvation through the effectual working of the Word of God which he had learned years before when a boy in the Sunday School.
God has promised that seedtime and harvest shall not fail. If we sow the seed of the Word, God has assured us that He will give the increase. Never underestimate, therefore, the power of God’s Word nor the value of Scripture memorization.