In my final year at Moore College, one of the lecturers invited a few students to supper so that we could meet Jack Griffin. Jack was an army man, and it was said of him that he enjoyed a fight as much as a feed in the pub. His life changed when he met Christ. He used to carry a New Testament in his pocket with the letters KISS scrawled on the inside cover. It was to remind him when explaining Christ, he should “Keep It Simple Stupid!” It had taken him 45 years to understand the gospel and he did not want others take that long.
Jack had been contacted in the army by the Navigators. They had Bible study materials that they used with people one on one. With the Bible lessons they also encouraged memorising scripture texts. Dorothy and I were introduced to their Topical Memory System of, I think, 108 texts. We both have found scripture memory extraordinarily helpful as we “hid God’s word in our heart”.
Recently while preparing a Lenten Studies booklet on Romans. I came across William Tynedale’s prologue. Tyndale was a Bible scholar who produced the first English translation from the original Hebrew Old Testament and Greek New Testament. He wrote of Romans, “I think it meet that every Christian man not only know it by rote and without the book, but also exercise himself therein evermore continually”. Since I was in hospital at the time, I thought it would be a good idea to see if I could take some of Mr Tynedale’s advice and learn a passage from Romans.
I decided to try Romans 3: 21-26 because Leon Morris, an Australian theologian suggested that this paragraph may be ‘possibly the most important single paragraph ever written’. It took me a while to learn but I can understand why Doctor Morris made the statement. It runs like this:
“But now the righteousness of God has been made manifest apart from law although the law and the prophets bear witness to it, the righteousness of God by faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction since all fall short of the glory of God. They are justified by his grace as a gift through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies him who has faith in Jesus” (RSV).
I wonder if you would consider learning passages by heart, perhaps beginning with Doctor Morris’ suggestion and William Tyndale’s advice of making Romans one of those letters you read very regularly. If you do put your mind seriously to Romans you may like Augustine, John Wesley, Martin Luther, and a host of other Christians find God changing your life in a most remarkable way.
Bishop Reg Piper | 8am congregation