If you attended Redemption Church yesterday, you were blessed to hear the Greatest Story Ever Told, completely told through God’s Words, as Greg Lucas read portions of Scripture. (If you missed it, look for it to be posted on the church website soon; download it, and listen often!) Thanks, Greg! Many of us were reminded of the great news of the gospel–fallen sinners being redeemed by the hand of One against Whom they had rebelled. God took our form, lived righteously on our behalf, then absorbed God’s wrath against sin on our behalf–all for the sake of those of us who deserved it least! It was refreshing, humbling, inspiring, and joy-producing.
Another thing I heard people talk about after the service was the power of the Word. Greg’s message was powerful, but not because it was dressed up with funny stories and culturally relevant illustrations. No, the Words Greg shared were powerful by themselves, even though written 2,000+ years ago!
That got me thinking: If God’s Word is so powerful, why am I not getting more of it into my heart? David said to God, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you (Psalm 119:11 ESV). We are told by Paul to “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly” (Colossians 3:16 ESV). When Jesus was tempted by the devil in the wilderness, He quoted Scripture to assert the importance of knowing Scripture! Quoting from Deuteronomy 8:3, Jesus said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God’” (Matthew 4:4 ESV).
The Apostle Paul, when teaching about spiritual warfare, encouraged his readers to “put on the whole armor of God” (Eph 6:11). Among these, he instructs them to take up “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17 ESV).” The word used for “sword” is not a long, heavy sword, but more closely resembles a dagger. It was for precision. If you wanted a sword where you could accurately pinpoint your opponent’s weakness, say a gap in his armor, you would use the dagger. Also, “word” in the Greek refers not to the whole of Scripture, but to specific sayings. A friend of mine in college was convinced by this verse that Scripture memory is biblical: Paul is telling us to use specific sayings of Scripture to accurately combat a specific area of need.
So, what are some reasons to memorize Scripture: John Piper has a good list:
- Conformity to Christ – Bible memorization has the effect of making our gaze on Jesus steadier and clearer.
- Daily Triumph over Sin – As sin lures the body into sinful action, we call to mind a Christ-revealing word of Scripture and slay the temptation with the superior worth and beauty of Christ over what sin offers.
- Daily Triumph over Satan – When Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness he recited Scripture from memory and put Satan to flight.
- Comfort and Counsel for People You Love – When the heart full of God’s love can draw on the mind full of God’s word, timely blessings flow from the mouth.
- Communicating the Gospel to Unbelievers – Actual verses of the Bible have their own penetrating power. And when they come from our heart, as well as from the Book, the witness is given that they are precious enough to learn.
- Communion with God in the Enjoyment of His Person and Ways – The way we commune with (that is, fellowship with) God is by meditating on his attributes and expressing to him our thanks and admiration and love, and seeking his help to live a life that reflects the value of these attributes.
So how should we get started? If you’re new to Scripture memory, an excellent was to get started is the Navigators’ “Topical Memory System” (purchase it here).
It contains 60 essential Scripture verse cards, available in 8 different translations, a card holder, and a booklet with memorization tips. This is how I first got started on Scripture memorization.
There are also apps for Scripture memory. I’ve used the “Bible Verses” app for iPod Touch or iPhone.
Note: If you get the app, please ignore the strange “Jesus entering the Stadium” picture on the home page:
It really is a great app otherwise!
I’m sure there are others out there. If you’re interested in memorizing longer portions of Scripture, read Timmy Brister’s idea for memorizing the book of Philippians using a moleskine notebook. This idea would work for other books also (such as Ephesians).
Finally, the Navigators put a helpful list of tips for memorizing Scripture on their website. (For those concerned that memorizing single verses teaches a “cut-and-paste” view of Scripture, and encourages the taking of verses out of context, read the first two tips.) Here are their suggestions:
As you start to memorize a verse . . .
- Read in your Bible the context of each verse you memorize.
- Try to gain a clear understanding of what each verse actually means. You may want to read the verse in other Bible translations or paraphrases or perhaps consult a commentary-after you’ve done your personal study!
- Read the verse through several times thoughtfully, aloud or in a whisper. This will help you grasp the verse as a whole. Each time you read it, say the topic, reference, verse, and then the reference again.
- Discuss the verse with God in prayer, and continue to seek His help for success in Scripture memory.
While you are memorizing the verse . . .
- Work on saying the verse aloud as much as possible.
- Learn the topic and reference first.
- After learning the topic and reference, learn the first phrase of the verse. Once you have learned the topic, reference, and the first phrase and have repeated them several times, continue adding more phrases after you can quote correctly what you have already learned.
- Think about how the verse applies to you and your daily circumstances.
- Always include the topic and reference as part of the verse as you learn and review it.
After you can quote correctly the topic, reference, verse, and reference again . . .
- Writing the verse out can be helpful. This deepens the impression in your mind.
- Find a friend to check you on the verse. Better yet, memorize together!
- Review the verse immediately after learning it, and repeat it frequently in the next few days. This is crucial for fixing the verse firmly in your mind because of the tendency to forget something recently learned.
- Review! Review! Review! Repetition is the best way to engrave the verses on your memory.
I’d love to hear from you in the comments section: What resources have you found to help you hide God’s Word in your heart?