Deliverance is a key word, which Bible quizzers would consider “pre-jump worthy.” Hearing “deliv-” would have directed my mind to a limited set of phrases in the text, depending on the season:
“He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us” (2 Corinthians 1:10).
“For I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ
what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance” (Philippians 1:19).
“Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 7:25).
“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” (Matthew 6:13).
“And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil people, for not everyone has faith” (2 Thessalonians 3:2).
Welcome to the mind of a Bible quizzer, where words and syllables count and reaction time gives one the edge in competition.
But there’s far more to quizzing than that. Words may enter the ears and eyes, lodge themselves in the brain and emerge from the mouth after the legs respond to jump, but, ultimately, they become part of one’s mind, heart and soul with a purpose: pre-emptive deliverance/prevention. God laid out a formula for that, and it starts with His Word.
Many, like me, began by hearing it this way:
“Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee” (Psalm 119:11 KJV).
David’s words (à la King James) convey this truth, and he continues:
“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105 KJV).
(Yes, this starts the Amy Grant soundtrack in my head to the music Grant composed with Michael W. Smith in that greatest of musical decades, the 1980s.)
But the truth is God has provided a way to avoid situations from which one might need to be delivered, which are usually a result of our own sinful choices. The way is Thy Word, His Word.
If you could avoid needing to be delivered, would you? How does God’s Word get into your heart? Does it?
For me and thousands before and after me, Bible quizzing has been the conduit for this to happen. While it is a game and competition on the surface, the discipling, molding work of Scripture goes on deeper below with long-lasting and often later-emerging effects.
Words like “the Lord disciplines the one he loves” (Hebrews 12:6) kept my attitude in check when faced with consequences for my actions (like my first speeding ticket). Words like “marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure” (Hebrews 13:4) guided my decisions when a married man pursued my affections. Words like “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7) remind me that God’s economy is different from the world’s. Words like “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (3 John 4) give focus and perspective about what’s most important as I parent. These words undoubtedly have pre-emptively delivered me from crises, both large and small.
Learning Scripture — whether through Bible quizzing or otherwise — is no panacea, no guarantee that hard times will not come, or that all crises will be averted. On the contrary, we are promised otherwise. “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). It helps to have that spelled out, to manage expectations accordingly.
However, it can be much easier to live into the life God intends for us (and avoid some crisis points) if His words are near, and there is no nearer place than in one’s mind. One former quizzer, now a pastor, writes:
“When I was in college, on one of the darkest nights of my spiritual life, when I was having serious doubts that I even believed in God’s existence, when I was so depressed that I didn’t know if I could go on, a single, small verse came clearly into my consciousness, a verse that I had memorized as a quote in Bible quizzing: ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you’ (Hebrews 13:5). I knew that it was the ‘voice’ of God speaking to me. At the moment when I was so unsure if God was real, God simply reassured me that He wasn’t going anywhere, nor would He ever. I got through that night of crippling doubt, delivered by God’s everlasting presence and assisted by that verse.”
Putting scriptural truths into action is another way we see God effecting deliverance.
Close to home, a quizzer — whose mother died and whose father had lost his job, home, car and possessions — ended up homeless, bouncing between relatives, with nothing more than a backpack full of worldly possessions. The coaches of this young person came alongside to encourage while another Christian family provided a stable home, all seeing this individual through high school, employment and, most importantly, a relationship with Jesus Christ, addressing (understandable) anger issues along the way — a work still in progress.
Further away, Free Methodist Bible Quizzing has sent teams and resources into Kenya, Honduras and the Philippines to introduce quizzing to Christians there and reward their efforts with scholarship funds that offer a life-altering opportunity for young people to continue their education.
“But someone will say, ‘You have faith; I have deeds.’ Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.”
These words from James (2:18) and many others become guideposts for bringing deliverance — spiritual and physical — not just to those who learn them but to others in their path of influence.
It starts with learning the words — God’s Word — and living into God’s promise that His Word “will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11)
That purpose is for us to live out those words after learning them. Pre-emptive deliverance is a thing for many and can be for you too.
Laura Christensen Colberg is the new (and first full-time) director of Free Methodist Bible Quizzing. She lives in Seattle with her husband, Jason, and sons, Brennan and Fox. Visit fmchr.ch/lccolberg to support her leadership of this ministry or contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about starting a Bible quiz ministry at your church.2