“The Role of the Bible in Your Life”
Many of you gathered here know of my close association with the Bible Society of the West Indies. I served as Vice Chairman of the Society and enjoyed working on the projects as well as the fellowship and interaction with the executive body and members of the Society. I developed many friendships, which I value, and which continue to this day. So this morning, Lady Allen and I are pleased to be here with you for the launch of the 2010 National Bible Quiz Programme.
New Year Resolutions
At this time of the year, many persons are making New Year Resolutions. I am sure for some of us here; one resolution is to read through the Bible this year. Sadly, some of us will ‘fall by the wayside’ during the course of the year. Have you ever wondered how your Bible feels about those un-kept resolutions? Listen to this Diary of a Bible:
January: A busy time for me. Most of the family decided to read me through this year. They kept me busy for the first two weeks, but they have forgotten me now.
February: Clean-up time. I was dusted yesterday and put back in my place. My owner uses me for a few minutes last week. He had been in an argument and was looking up some references to prove he was right.
March: Had a busy day on the first of the month. My owner was elected president of the PTA and used me to prepare for a speech.
April: Grandpa visited us this month. He kept me on his lap for an hour reading 1 Cor. 13. He seems to think more of me than do some people in my own household.
May: I have a few green stains on my pages. Some spring flowers were pressed in my pages.
June: I look like a scrapbook. They have stuffed me full of newspaper clippings- one of the girls got married.
July: They put me in a suitcase today. I guess we are off on vacation. I wish I could stay home; I know I’ll be closed up in this thing for at least two weeks.
August: Still in the suitcase.
September: Back home at last, and in my old familiar place. I have a lot of company. Two women’s magazines and four comic books are stacked on top of me. I wish I could be read as much as they are.
October: They read me a little bit today. One of them is sick. Right now I am sitting in the centre of the coffee table. I think that the Pastor is coming by for a visit.
November: Back in my old place. Somebody asked today if I were a scrapbook.
December: The family is busy getting ready for the holidays. I guess I’ll be covered up under wrapping paper and packages again…. just as I am every Christmas.
I hope your Bible fares much better this year than this one.
The National Bible Quiz
Ten years ago, the Bible Society of the West Indies introduced the National Bible Quiz. The main objectives include, to:
- Assist participants to develop a habit of systematic Bible reading and study.
- Provide an enjoyable way to study the Bible.
- Promote the work of the Bible Society.
The Bible Quiz Programme is intended to encourage regular Bible study and Scripture memorization in our schools, and it also encourages students to live a practical Christian life. The Bible Quiz is therefore a ministry created to teach students to study, memorize and apply the Word of God to their lives. Through this discipleship ministry, students can develop a personal relationship with Christ and be equipped to fulfill His cause.
The National Bible Quiz has created an awareness of the Word of God and stimulated a desire among young people to learn more about it. Over the past 10 years, the growth and participation in the Bible Quiz Competition has been outstanding. To date, 170 schools are registered at both the Junior (9-11) and Senior (12-16) age groups. The success of this Quiz Competition suggests that the challenge to Bible reading and Bible study is striking a responsive chord with some of our young people. We hope they will be ambassadors and spread the word about the benefits they have received.
I am sure that each year, during the Competitions, the Quiz Masters at these Bible Quiz Competitions have come across some ‘choice’ responses. Mr. Chairman, maybe you should consider compiling some of them.
Profitability of Bible Reading
The Bible is one of the most exciting books ever written; no wonder it has remained the world’s number one bestseller. Written by some 40 persons over a period of approximately 1,500 years, the Bible contains every subject conceivable: romance, humour, horror, war, intrigue, space travel, sex education, human resource management, poetry, genealogy, and building construction – you name it, it’s in the Bible. It is said that William Shakespeare got the plot for all his plays from the Bible. Be that as it may, all the stories, instructions, etc contained in the Bible are designed to teach lessons for better living and teach us more about our Creator.
Paul told his ‘son’ Timothy,
“All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching the truth, rebuking error, correcting faults, and giving instruction for right living, so that the person who serves God may be fully qualified and equipped to do every kind of good deed. (2 Timothy1:16, Good News Translation).”
Bible study and scripture memorization are hard work and must become lifestyle habits. They require discipline but pay dividends, such as helping you to overcome sin and temptation, and making you more effective in witnessing. Participants of the Bible Quiz will probably tell you that memorizing bible verses has helped them to develop moral characters and live more Godly, disciplined lives. The Psalmist David once asked,
‘How can a young man keep his way pure?’ On reflection he answered his own question, ‘By keeping it according to Your Word. Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I might not sin against you. (Psalm 119:9-11)
Bible reading and scripture memorization are commanded. On instructions from God:
- Moses told the Israelites, ‘Never forget these commands that I am giving you today. Teach them to your children. Repeat them when you are at home and when you are away, when you are resting and when you are working. Tie them on your arms and wear them on your foreheads as a reminder. Write them on the doorposts of your houses and on your gates. (Deut. 6:9-11, GNT)).
- Joshua told the Israelites: ‘Be sure that the book of the Law is always read in your worship. Study it day and night, and make sure that you obey everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful’ (Joshua 1:8 GNT).
Informal studies have been done which indicate that Scripture memorization improves one’s mental capacity, and students who read the Bible and go to church do better in school than their peers who do not. The importance of the Bible in molding the fibre of citizens cannot be ignored. I believe that if more persons made Bible reading a part of their daily lives, we would have less crime, violence, corruption and wrong-doing and indiscipline in our country. We would be more seized of the necessity to incorporate more effectively, basic values and standards of behaviour in our daily lives.
Relevance of Bible Reading
However, reading and studying the Bible are not enough. After that is done comes the challenging and difficult part — to retain what is studied, make it relevant and applicable to one’s life. How can Bible reading and studying prepare one for a life of productive Christian labour and growth? Bible reading helps us in our everyday life; it teaches us right from wrong.
One youngster in a Bible Knowledge test was asked:
Q. What is the best way to get to heaven?
A. Turn right and go straight
We may smile at that answer, but it does contain a profound truth. Bible reading also greatly helps our prayer life. Our lives are enriched when we can claim God’s promises and remind Him of them when we pray.
Young people, the Bible texts that you memorized and the stories that you read in order to answer the questions in the Quiz, must not just be done in order that your school can carry home the trophy. As important as that may be, the critical thing is that what you learn now stays with you for the rest of your life. The time-honoured values that you learn from your study of the Bible will make the difference in the path of life that you choose.
The networking and relationship-building which has occurred through healthy competition and participation in the quizzes are also useful building blocks.
Conclusion and Commendation
I wish to commend the Bible Society of Jamaica on this initiative. I am sure it has been 10 challenging but interesting and fruitful years. You have seen a concept take shape and grow. And it continues to grow as more schools participate, and more students realise the value of making Bible reading a part of their daily routine. It is an exciting way to get young people ‘turned on’ to reading and memorizing the Word. This ‘gift’ is something that no one can take from you.
Young people, as you cherish these treasures of the Word in your life, let the wisdom and instructions therein permeate your entire being and lives, as you are educated not only for this world, but for the world to come.
Best wishes for another successful year of the National Bible Quiz Programme.