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The Power of Multiplication and Christian Discipleship.

The Scripture Memory Challenge - Step 3

Step 1

Determine that you will assign yourself the task of committing a small portion of God's word to memory each and every day.

Step 2

Make it a goal to teach and encourage at least one other person each year to make scripture memorization a part of their lives too.

Step 3

As you teach others to memorize scripture, prepare them for the day when they too can encourage others to memorize, and so create an ever-increasing network of those who memorize God's word.

 

If I had a message to tell to the whole world, how would I do it? 

Consider the table shown below.  I have always found this illustration fascinating.  It shows in theoretical terms the effectiveness of communicating a message through the process of multiplication. 

Year Number of People Memorizing Scripture

Comment

1 1 Just you
2 2 You and your friend
3 4 One family
4 8 Two families
5 16 Small group
6 32  
7 64  
8 128 Small Church Membership
9 256  
10 512  
11 1,024 Large Church Membership
12 2,048  
13 4,096 Small Town
14 8,196  
15 16,384  
16 32,768  
17 65,536  
18 131,072  
19 262,144 Population of average City
20 524,288  
21 1,048,576  
22 2,097,152 Population of Toronto
23 4,194,304  
24 8,388,608  
25 16,777,216  
26 33,554,432 Population of Canada
27 67,108,864  
28 134,217,728  
29 268,435,456  
30 536,870,912 Population of North America
31 1,073,741,824 Population of China
32 2,147,483,648  
33 4,294,967,296 Just about everybody
34  8,589,934,592 Much more than the population of the world
35 17,179,869,184 More than I can count

If a single person with a message wanted to reach as many people as possible, what would he do? All he would need to do would be to make sure that he communicated the message clearly to one new person each year and do so in such a way that he will be able to communicate the message to  others himself.  So the first year there is only 1 person and his friend.  The second year there are two people who can teach the message.  If these two persons communicate the message to two others, then there will be four after three years.  At first glance, this plan sounds unimpressive and seems like it would not have much of an impact, but if you look at how the numbers grow as time goes on you can see that the whole world can be reached in less than 34 years!  Now truly, these numbers are only theoretical, because in reality it would not work so efficiently.  This is obvious. 

Another way to communicate your message would be to focus on mass communication tools.  This does not use the idea of multiplication, but addition. You could take out ads in newspapers, radio and TV. You could rent sports stadiums and have huge information rallies.  So with six billion people in the world, you would have to communicate your message to 6,000,000,000/34=176470588 people each year for 34 years to communicate to everybody.  This makes 483481 people per day. If the average sports stadium holds 20000 people, then you would need to have 24 meetings each day of the year for 34 years.  This method has more problems than one could count.  For instance most people do not have access to a large meeting place.  Consider the cost of transportation, rentals, interpreters (there are thousands of languages in the world), advertising, etc.  The logistics of this project would overwhelm any planning team. 

Using mass communication, I  do not have much time with each individual (none actually), to make sure that he even understands what I am trying to say. I have no way to ensure that after he has left the stadium or puts down the paper, that the message will have any lasting impact on him at all. If the message I am communicating is supposed to impact the person's lifestyle, then the chances of a one time, impersonal,  message having any impact is small, because people, by God's design are creatures of habit and are slow to change.

But if my focus is on communicating to a few people,  I can spend a lot of quality time with them in a year.  The impact of my life on the life of another can be significant.  The Christian message is not one of information only, such as 'drink Coke' (or Pepsi).  It is not even a message which says 'choose Jesus'.  It is more than saying 'believe in Jesus and your sins will be forgiven'.  While this is perfectly true, the Christian message is much more.  It is a message which demands a change in the attitude, disposition and behavior.  It is about following and becoming like Jesus.   It is about re-evaluating and changing your priorities.  

Jesus said to those who were 'following' him:

Luke 14:25-35 Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said:  "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters-- yes, even his own life-- he cannot be my disciple.  And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. "Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him,  saying, 'This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.'  "Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand?  If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple. "Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?   It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out. "He who has ears to hear, let him hear."

Further, 

Matthew 28:18-20 Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in  the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

There are many more verses about what it means to follow Jesus.  Much more can be said about the lifestyle of one who truly follows Jesus. 

Consider the following verse:

To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.    1 Peter 2:20    

To put it as plainly as possible, we must be prepared to follow our Lord's commands in everything we do. The popular saying 'What Would Jesus Do' (WWJD) says it all. In any and every circumstance we must do our best to act as Jesus would, if he were in the same situation, regardless of the consequences.  

Life is a series of hundreds of choices and interactions with other people and things. It is important to learn to respond to situations properly.  Many choices are small and do not matter to much:  what to eat, what to wear, etc.  Other decisions we make are more long lasting. These are decisions which involve school, marriage, jobs, place of residence, having a family, etc.  These things do require wisdom to make the best choice.  However, the most important choices are the ones you make several times a day, perhaps without too much thought.  How to I react to someone insulting me at work? How do I treat my wife and children when  I am tired or they do something which bothers me?  What do I do when I hear gossip?  How do I respond to dirty jokes?  Do I lie when pushed into a corner by a supervisor?   It goes deeper too.  What do I spend my time thinking about?  Do I grumble about the fortunes of those less worthy than me?  Do I choose bitterness over more constructive thinking? What do I watch on TV when by myself?  

You see, it is the things we do day to day which make the most difference in determining who we are and what we are like.  The true test of spiritually is not the noble things you do or the sacrifices you make or what you know or what you give.  These are important and valid, but really, the true test of spiritually is shown (for example) in your behaviour to your family in the evening when everyone is tired and the children are not cooperating.  When something bumps your cup, what spills out?  Is it cleansing or corrosive?

Christianity is not so much a  matter of doing, but a matter of being.  You are and are becoming the kind of person who does the kind of things you do on a regular basis today.  

For many Christians, however, choosing to do what Jesus would do in their everyday lives is not a concept with which they are familiar. For others, it is a difficult task because they do not know enough to actually know what Jesus would do.  Many do not know the difference between right and wrong. Others, even seem to fall away from following Jesus altogether.

Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives' tales; rather, train yourself to be godly.            1 Timothy 4:7

The prosperous Christian life is attained through training yourself to be godly.  Godliness of character is given by God, by his grace, and attained through obedience and practice. 

You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.  Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs-- he wants to please his commanding officer.  Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor's crown unless he competes according to the rules.  The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops.  Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this.

                                                                                                2 Timothy 2:1-7 

But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.             Hebrews 5:14

 

He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.  Micah 6:8 

This is what the LORD says: "Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches,  but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight," declares the LORD.            Jeremiah 9:23:24

 

All athletes  have a trainer. All athletes have mentors and roll-models. An athlete must train hard and exercise discipline and determination, but he cannot achieve success all by him/herself.  He needs the help of someone who has walked the path before him. This is true in all areas where men and women achieve greatness and excellence.  You need a goal, you need desire, you need a trainer/guide and you need your team. No exceptions.

The same is true of training yourself to be  godly. Yes, our one and only model and guide is none other than our Lord Jesus Christ.  But to become like Jesus, we need to see it in action in the lives of others. Then we can learn and understand and follow.  

We have to learn how to pray. We have to have someone who will pray for us.  We have to learn the importance of a daily intake of the word of God.  We have to learn the discipline of bible study.  We have to learn how to apply what we have learned to the ordinary situations we encounter every day.  Friendship with other Christians can help a lot.

Becoming a mature Christian takes time. It may even take as much time to unlearn our bad habits and it took to learn them in the first place.  This brings us back to our original discussion of how to effectively communicate a message.  You can see that mass communication cannot accomplish the task of raising up disciples for Christ.   The pulpit ministry of your Church is a wonderful thing, but really is just another form of mass communication.  Your Pastor's Sunday morning message probably will not help you much with relationship issues with your wife, children, colleagues, and friends.  You need one-on-one 'help' with these types of things.

Do not be deceived, most of the people in your congregation are not as happy and trouble free as they present themselves on Sunday.  There are a lot of hurts and other things binding them and preventing them from being as fruitful a Christian as they could be.

Consider Jesus himself, he spent most of his time teaching a small group of twelve, preparing them for the task of teaching others, who in turn would be qualified to teach others. 

And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.        2 Timothy 2:2 

This the only way to communicate the Christian message effectively.  A more 'mature'  Christian can spend time with a 'newer' Christian to teach him how to live a godly life through example, prayer, and teaching.

Now what does this have to do with Scripture Memorization?  After all this is the point of this article.  I must first present a balanced view of things.  Much of helping another person growing in godliness is to pray privately for him, to listen and to encourage.  The life of a Christian is a life of service to others so the 'teacher' must lead by example, by being a servant himself.   This is the paradox of the Christian life, the true 'master' is the actually wisest servant in the group.  The process of teaching a younger Christian involves many things which create a positive influence.  Among the things which are taught and demonstrated to a new Christian is how to pray, the importance of fellowship, how to share the gospel with others and the importance of a regular intake of the word of God.

The Navigators, an organization dedicated to teaching the principles of discipleship, have two interesting illustrations showing the different aspects of the Christian life. Both illustrations are copyrighted by the Navigators.

Illustration #1: The wheel - "The Obedient Christian In Action"

A detailed description of this illustration can be found here on the Navigator web site. 

 

The illustration above shows the importance keeping balance in the Christian life.  A wheel can only spin evenly if all the spokes are in place and are firmly attached to the hub.  The hub is the strength of the wheel, and that is Christ. The spokes old the rim firmly in place. The rim represents the work the wheel can do and is only as useful as the strength of the spokes holding it in place.  The spokes are the different aspects of the Christian life:  The Word, Fellowship, Witnessing and Prayer.   If one or more spokes are missing the wheel is not complete and will not function as well as it should..

Illustration #2: The Hand Illustration

A detailed description of this illustration can be found here on the Navigator web site.

The "Word Hand" shows the five methods of learning from the Bible. Each of these methods is important.

Hearing - Romans 10:17 
Hearing the Word from godly pastors and teachers provides insight into others' study of the Scriptures as well as stimulating your own appetite for the Word.

Reading - Revelation 1:3
Reading the Bible gives an overall picture of God's Word. Many people find it helpful to use a daily reading program which takes them systematically through the Bible.

Studying - Acts 17:11 
Studying the Scriptures leads to personal discoveries of God's truths. Writing down these discoveries helps you organize and remember them.

Memorizing - Psalm 119:9, 11 
Memorizing God's Word enables use of the Sword of the Spirit to overcome Satan and temptations...to have it readily available for witnessing or helping others with a "word in season."

Meditating - Psalm 1:2, 3 
Meditation is the thumb of the Word Hand, for it is used in conjunction with each of the other methods. Only as you meditate on God's Word--thinking of its meaning and application in your life--will you discover its transforming power at work within you.

Hearing the word of God, Reading it, Studying it and memorizing it are the four things you can do to prepare your mind for the times you can meditate on the word. Meditation of the word of God is the step which you can take to make sure that the word is in your heart and ready for use when you need it. 

My particular focus is on the importance of memorizing God's word.  It is in memorizing the word of God that you prepare yourself to meditate on that word during the quite times when you do not have a bible handy.  It also keeps the word at your fingertips so you it can be recalled at the times of the day when you need it.  The holy spirit will call to mind the verses that you have memorized when you need them.  It is a difficult discipline to attain  and difficult to sustain of over any amount of time. It requires serious desire, learning how and a certain amount of accountability to others with the same interest.

This is why I have proposed the Scripture Memory Challenge:

Step 1

Determine that you will assign yourself the task of committing a small portion of God's word to memory each and every day.

Step 2

Make it a goal to teach and encourage at least one other person each year to make scripture memorization a part of their lives too.

Step 3

As you teach others to memorize scripture, prepare them for the day when they too can encourage others to memorize, and so create an ever-increasing network of those who memorize God's word.

Memorizing scripture has a profound impact on the Christian life.  It is something everyone should desire.  If you start memorizing the word of God and meditate on it, with an attitude of submission to it, you will experience a transformed life - yours.  If you make it a point to teach others to memorize scripture, as part of a balanced Christian walk, even though it takes a lot of time and effort, you will see the lives of others transformed.  You will see the lives of others be set free from that which binds them and keeps them from being fruitful in their knowledge of Jesus.  Really, this is what the Christian life is all about.  AND FINALLY, IF THOSE WHOM YOU TEACH can some day teach others to do the same, then you have truly communicated the message of Christ.  

We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, 
so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ.  To this end I labor, 
struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me. 
            
Colossians 1:28-29

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Copyright (c) 2000 Stephen Simpson. 
All rights reserved. You may use the material on these pages freely, but it may not be sold under any circumstances whatsoever.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION,
Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by
permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers