In Ephesians 6:17, Apostle Paul compares the Word of God to a sword… and no wonder! Few tools are as useful to the follower of Christ as the Scriptures through which God reveals Himself to us. The words of the Bible comfort us in times of distress and govern our behavior during trials. They echo our joy and our praise and, on some occasions, even our anger and frustration. No less important is the power that they have to influence the hearts of others as we share the Gospel message.
Sadly, while many of us spent our childhood faithfully committing these words to memory, the habit lapsed long ago. Caught up in memorizing the periodic table and the parsing of French verbs, we set our Sunday School verses aside, waiting for a less hectic time in which to pick them up again. I distinctly remember the year in which I did just that. The materials for the Scripture memory club at which (ironically) I was a leader, had been rewritten and in order to familiarize myself with the new program, I decided that I would work through the new books alongside my girls. It wasn’t long before I was back in the swing of things and you can imagine my surprise when at the end of the year I discovered that I had memorized nearly 250 new Scripture verses!
What most impressed me during this time, however, was the number of commands I found that dealt not just with reading God’s Word, but with remembering it! (Psalm 1:2; 86:11; 119: 9, 11, 23, 48, 78, 105… Just to name a few!) I was particularly struck by Deuteronomy 6, verses 6-9:
“These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
Being the type of person who jumps in feet first without looking, I decided to act upon the command by attempting to memorize the entire Bible. (After all, if a little is good, a lot is better. Right?) While several of the people I told about this thought that I had lost my mind (and possibly for good reason), others provided some great encouragement. One friend even told me of a pastor he knew who had gone blind, but wanted to continue preaching. Purchasing a copy of the Bible on tape, he worked diligently until he had, indeed, memorized all of it!
I decided to start with the book of Romans since I already knew a good portion of it by heart (best to start off easy) and had previously been able to use those portions to share the Gospel message. I determined that I would work through the epistle one chapter at a time and that I wouldn’t be satisfied until I could recite each verse word-for-word.
Over the summer I was able to memorize the first three chapters and was greatly surprised by the outcome. I reported to a friend of mine that I could have dealt with nearly every question I’ve ever been asked about my faith with just that handful of verses!
The truly impressive part, however, was what was happening to me as a result of the memorization. While I regularly took time to read my Bible, I discovered that I had not actually been meditating upon what it said. The endless repetition of the same phrases over and over that was required in order to commit the verses to memory forced me to think upon each passage in much greater depth than I would have otherwise. I was surprised at how much my understanding of God’s Word grew with just the fifteen minutes a day that I spent committing it to memory.
So what is an article on Scripture memory doing on a page about evangelism? To begin with, God doesn’t limit our opportunities to share the Gospel to just those times when we have a copy of the Bible nearby. Our ability to quote Scripture (in its appropriate context) can make the difference between effective sharing and ineffective babbling.
Secondly, it is easier to obey the command in 2 Peter 3:15, to always be ready to give an answer for our faith, when we know where to find that answer. You may not be great with references, but I can guarantee that knowing enough to find that reference in a concordance will really boost your own confidence when it comes to sharing your faith. And those who are confident, share the message of God’s Saving Grace more frequently than those who are not!
Everyone has the ability to commit at least a little bit of Scripture to memory and that little bit can make a big difference! Next week, we’ll be taking a look at some great techniques to help you get started. Meanwhile, feel free to share your own experiences in the comment box below. We’d love to hear about your own experiences with Scripture memory and about the effect that it has had in your own life or in the lives of those around you!