In fall 1983 several Christian leaders were asked to “Write a short paragraph telling of some verse or verses of the Bible that have special meaning to you.” Today we share responses from Ard Hoven of Grayson, Ky.; Barton McElroy of Duncanville, Tex.; Robert A. Scott of Waterloo, Iowa; and Jerzy Sacewicz of Warsaw, Poland.
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‘Scriptures that Have Helped Me’
Oct. 30, 1983; pp. 6-8
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A Scripture text that has given me purpose in life comes from Paul’s word to the Philippians concerning the business of “holding forth the word of life” (Philippians 2:16). This text declares my moral responsibility to give the redemptive knowledge of Christ to others in the midst of a crisis situation. (See Ephesians 2:12.) Man fell because of Satan’s words, but man can be restored by the Word of God. The transmission of that Word is a life-calling of character.
Holding forth the “word of life” implies that such a word reveals life. Christ is that life and He is presented in language that is perfectly intelligible (1 John 5:11, 12). Life lost can be regained only by life given, and Christ gave that life (John 6:53). The most thrilling news break in the world is that Christ guarantees life to mortal man in the resurrection from the dead.
God’s “word of life” directs to life (Matthew 7:13, 14). This is for people who have lost the way. To be able to lead such to see that Christ is the door and the way (John 10:9; 3:5; Mark 16:16), provides a sense of worthwhile commitment and fulfillment.
Furthermore, God’s Word conveys life (Romans 1:16). In conversion, the Word of God approaches the mind of man. The Spirit’s Word begets life. This means that in transmitting God’s Word, I may have the joy of helping to reclaim the life which God first committed to man.
God’s Word sustains life (Matthew 4:4). For those who trust in God’s message, death is not the stopping place (2 Corinthians 5:1). This is the hope of the gospel, and I am persuaded that Christ has given us to which we may hold under all conditions (2 Timothy 1:12). Thus, for me the purpose and joy of living is centered in “upholding the Word of Life.”
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. . . So many [verses] flashed through my mind it seemed impossible to select a very special one or few. I finally decided to point out the one section of Scripture that had a great effect on my ministry as a missionary to pre-literate groups in a remote area of the Philippines. I had some unsettled views of the creation account. Was it just an ancient story with theological content, acceptable as a theological starting point for a great continuing narrative of God’s dealing with mankind? Or was it a true account of man’s origin and purpose and really foundational for all that followed?
Those questions were once and for all settled when I discovered origin stories, creation stories, which were believed to be absolutely true, being told in a special way by those pre-literate people in their own religious setting. Many had already accepted Christ as Lord and Savior and were asking for additional information and instruction. They had been taught the Bible was an accurate account of God’s dealing with man. And therein was an origin story, a creation story. Was it a true, factual account? Or was it just another story, perhaps no more accurate than those told in their own religions? The answer was easy to see. If it were only a legend, then the integrity and authenticity of the whole Bible was suspect. Who could really trust its message?
The whole section of Genesis 1–3 came alive and real for me as I saw the necessity of declaring to those people the truthfulness and accuracy of that account, as over against what they had learned in the old religious system. This was essential if they were expected to believe the truth and accuracy of the account of Jesus’ life and the Bible’s salvation message. That Old Testament story had to be history just as stories of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection are history.
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Robert A. Scott
As I look back over the more than forty years since I committed my life to Jesus Christ, I can well recall the impact Paul’s great appeal in Romans 12:1, 2 had on me: “I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (New American Standard Bible).
Even as a teenager, I could see a significant difference between the “world” and the “church.” Moreover, it impressed me that the basis of righteousness was not “what you could get by with” but rather the inward change Paul described—“the renewing of your mind.” Then our youth group often sang the little chorus, “What the world needs is Jesus, just a glimpse of Him. . . .” I vowed to let the world see Jesus—through me.
As I grew in Christ I discovered Jesus’ beautiful prayer in John 17, especially verse 21. “That they may all be one; even as Thou, Father, are in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be in Us; that the world may believe that Thou didst send me.” That challenged me to the ministry. I saw that God wanted a whole company of “transformed minds” so “that the world may believe.” How great is that need! How beautiful and adequate is that Savior!
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I came to know the Lord in the days of my youth in 1919. I was sixteen then and I lived south of Moscow in a big city, Kaluga. I got there as a refugee escaping from Polish territory during the first World War in 1914. I returned to Poland in 1921. One passage from the Word of God influenced my life in a special way—the prodigal son (Luke 15:18-20). “I will get up and go to my father and say, Father, I have sinned against God and against you. I am no longer fit to be called your son; treat me as one of your hired workers. So he got up and started back to his father” (author’s translation).
This passage was preached in the power of the Holy Spirit and pierced my heart. These words were so strong that I got up from my place, squeezed through the crowd, and fell on my knees in front of the pulpit. The Russian preacher interrupted his sermon, knelt down beside me, and put his arms around my shoulders. As the preacher prayed earnestly, I prayed from the depths of my heart and came to the throne of grace. Later I was baptized in the Oka River, a tributary of the Voiga River, along with many other new converts. God saved me from my sins through the cross of my Savior.
Now I am eighty and every day I feed upon splendid spiritual food—the Word of God.
Lately two psalms have been very dear to my heart:
(1) Psalm 71:17, 18—“O God, thou hast taught me from my youth; and hitherto have I declared thy wondrous works. Now also when I am old and gray-headed, O God, forsake me not; until I have showed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come.”
(2) Psalm 92:12-15—“The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree; he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing; to show that the Lord is upright; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.”