Recently, I came across a trio of stories each one with a common theme—they all reminded me how a single verse of Scripture can literally change a life for eternity.
Referring to Proverbs 1:10, which reads, “My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent,” Barry Black, Chaplain of the United States Senate, wrote: “This simple Bible verse saved my life during my early teenage years when I refused to follow two friends who went out for a night of hard drinking and eventually murdered someone. The same morning I memorized this verse and later that evening I refused to go with them. The refusal kept me from going to jail for life—the penalty they received for the crime. I learned at a young age that God's warnings are designed to protect us, not to destroy our joy.”1
Then there is Ravi Zacharias, the Indian-born Christian apologist and evangelist, who was attempted suicide at the age of seventeen. After ingesting poison, Ravi was rushed to the hospital where an emergency procedure saved his life. A few days after he regained consciousness Ravi was visited by a man named Fred David, who directed Youth for Christ meetings in Madras.
Ravi recollected the scene, “I’ve brought this for you,” Fred said, opening the book. He flipped through the pages until he came to a certain spot. It was a Bible opened to the fourteenth chapter of John’s Gospel: It told of Jesus conversation with the apostle Thomas. ‘Because I live, you will live also.’ The words hit me like a ton of bricks. “This may be my only hope,” I thought. “A new way of living. Life as defined by the Author of Life.” “Jesus,” I prayed inwardly, “If you are the one who gives life as it was meant to be, I want it.” Ravi emerged from his death bed on fire for God and he never looked back.2
Finally there is the example of Augustine, who early in his life fell into the sins of drunkenness and sexual immorality. When he was only 17 years old, the same year his father died, he took a mistress, and a year later fathered a son. By the year 386 Augustine obtained a prestigious teaching position in Milan, however he was inwardly destitute. One day he sat weeping in a garden, distraught over his miserable lifestyle. He was almost persuaded to begin a new life, but lacked the final resolution to break with his pet sins. As he sat, he heard a child singing in Latin from a neighboring house, “Tolle, lege! Tolle, lege!” (“Take up and read! Take up and read!”) Augustine thought to himself that these were strange words indeed for a child to be singing at play, and so he took them as from the Lord.
Picking up a scroll of the New Testament which belonged to his friend, he let his eyes rest on the words: “. . . not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill it’s lusts.” (Rom 13:13-14). “No further would I read,” Augustine wrote later, “nor had I any need; instantly at the end of this sentence, a clear light flooded my heart and all the darkness of doubt vanished away.”
Down through the centuries God’s Word, even as little as a single verse, has arrested and transformed the lives of men and women who went on to be great gospel soldiers. Romans 10:17 says “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” No one has ever been saved apart from understanding the Gospel as revealed in the Scriptures. Do you remember the text that brought YOU to trust in Christ? Or do you have a “life verse” — a Scripture that has become a special guiding motto to you? Are you currently memorizing a particular verse or passage from the Bible? If not, find a verse and begin today. You never know when the right verse at the right time will save your life or be the catalyst to lead someone else to faith in Christ.
1. Barry Black, The Blessing of Adversity (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale, 2011), 100.
2. Ravi Zacharias, Walking from East to West (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2006), 104-105.