The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom; his tongue speaks what is just. The instruction of his God is in his heart; his steps do not falter. (Psalms 37:30-31 HCSB)
We need to have translations of the Bible that are conducive to Scripture memorization. I am not saying that the KJV isn’t conducive to Scripture memorization, but the majority of people in our culture have a hard time understanding what it says and therefore it is hard for them to memorize it. I believe that a lack of accurate, readable translations of the Bible is one of the leading causes why people don’t memorize Bible verses.
I’ve tried memorizing Scripture in the NIV, and, honestly, it is so hard to do. The NIV is so dynamic equivalent that it just reads like a book and you find yourself remembering the basic idea of a verse and a general area (aka page number) for where it is found. And for modern Bible readers, they pick up a KJV to memorize a verse and they have such a hard time reading the verse that they put their Bible down and walk away. Neither of these is the way that it should be.
This feeds into why we don’t evangelize as we ought. We don’t have the words of God hidden in our hearts and so we don’t really know what we are talking about. We have our experiences. We have what we have been taught in Sunday School and Sunday morning sermon and the books we have read, but we really don’t know what the text of the Bible actually says. In fact, we even think things are Scripture that really aren’t Scripture.
Did you know that many people think “God helps those who help themselves” is in the Bible? Did you know that, when asked who Noah’s wife was, people actually responded, “Joan of Arc”? I think some of these people asked even professed to be Christians (or at least evanjellycals). This comes from the lack of a true understanding of the Bible which comes from a lack of reading of the Bible. Back to evangelism.
If we knew the Scriptures, we would have the words within us to evangelize our communities. As is, most Christians aren’t memorizing Scripture, and the reason is, other than laziness, that they can’t understand the version of the Bible they are using or they aren’t using a version of the Bible that is conducive to memorization.
Here is the same verse of Scripture in a few different versions of the Bible. I am starting with a pre-KJV english translation (and I have not fixed the spelling) and moving into modern translations. Which one is easier to remember the exact words of the verse and not just the general idea of it? Also, which version gets the idea across most clearly? Respond with comments and we will see what kind of results we get.
Then the Priest shall looke on him againe the seuenth day, and if the plague be darke, and the sore grow not in the skinne, then the Priest shal pronounce him cleane, for it is a skab: therefore he shall washe his clothes and be cleane. (Leviticus 13:6 Geneva)
And the priest shall look on him again the seventh day: and, behold, if the plague be somewhat dark, and the plague spread not in the skin, the priest shall pronounce him clean: it is but a scab: and he shall wash his clothes, and be clean. (Leviticus 13:6 KJV)
and the priest shall examine him again on the seventh day, and if the diseased spot is dim and the disease has not spread in the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him clean; it is only an eruption; and he shall wash his clothes, and be clean. (Leviticus 13:6 RSV)
“The priest shall look at him again on the seventh day, and if the infection has faded and the mark has not spread on the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him clean; it is only a scab. And he shall wash his clothes and be clean. (Leviticus 13:6 NASB)
And the priest shall examine him again on the seventh day, and if the diseased area has faded and the disease has not spread in the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him clean; it is only an eruption. And he shall wash his clothes and be clean. (Leviticus 13:6 ESV)
The priest will examine him again on the seventh day. If the infection has faded and has not spread on the skin, the priest is to pronounce him clean; it is a scab. The person is to wash his clothes and will become clean. (Leviticus 13:6 HCSB)