Discipleship

The Fullness of God: Lobbying for the Discipline of High-Volume Scripture Memorization

Today’s post is by Ben Todd, a mid-twenties married man living in Washington, D.C. Ben leads mens bible studies and serves at a 2,000 person multi-site church. He is in his groove when challenging men to pursue godliness.

In speaking of scripture memorization I must firstly confess a bias. I am an unashamed Presbyterian and lover of Puritan thought to such an extent that John Knox himself may have cause to blush. This being the case, my love for the structured, governed, orderly, purposeful and disciplined things of our Christian faith is such that I can hardly contain my joy at wrapping myself in a structured program of study and spiritual exercise.

Biases aside, my hope in memorizing scripture is that someday those who know me will speak of me as Charles Spurgeon spoke of John Bunyun:

“He had studied…till his whole being was saturated with Scripture…Prick him anywhere; and you will find that his blood is Bibline, the very essence of the Bible flows from him. He cannot speak without quoting a text, for his soul is full of the Word of God.”

In working out the discipline of scripture memorization I think there or some thoughts and fruits that can be shared with the hope that many more Christians might take up the Word as their own and come to know God as he presents Himself in his scriptures. Scripture memorization…

…Prevents Unfruitful and Likely Damaging Generalizations: Ranging anywhere from “[Insert famous theologian here] said that…” to “Doesn’t the Old Testament say that…”, this type of generalization is wholly unfruitful and is ultimately contributing to indistinct, unconvicting message that is commonly preached and believed today. Furthermore, inaccurate paraphrases of poorly remembered scriptures are not thoughts that are captive to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5), but are more likely prideful, uncontrolled assertions that are not expressed in love. The Word can, should and will speak for itself if we submit ourselves to it.

…Convicts the Memorizer and Those with Whom the Memorizer Associates: When we submit ourselves to knowing God and His Law in its fullness we will naturally be convicted of our sin and be brought to our knees in repentance. Our response to God the Father, as known in the scriptures, can be nothing less. Our unavoidable humility in response to the Word will, in turn, infect those around us. They will know us by our fruits and by our truth, which will be completely distinct from the purported faith that we see around us.

…Reveals To Us the Fullness of God the Father and Dramatic Necessity of Christ the Son: Memorizing large portions of scripture shows us what traditional “memory verses” cannot. That is, the full and deliberate nature of God’s revelation of Himself in the scriptures and his story of redemptive history that defines our inevitable judgment by and reliance upon Christ Jesus for salvation. Our unfortunate tendency outside of the deliberate preaching, teaching and studying of the fullness of scripture is to twist the Gospel into many things that it is not. This can be traced to a misunderstanding of God himself and an intellectual and emotional disconnection from our desperate condition as sinners in light of His glory, which scripture desperately and clearly displays.

The specific method of memorization that I’ve begun using embraces and is inspired by the need to have our minds renewed by the fullness of the Word of God and I strongly recommend it. (Many thanks to Jeff for pointing it out to me and convicting me of its necessity) The method is described and justified more fully in “An Approach to Extended Memorization of Scripture” by Dr. Andrew Davis. Get after it.

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It is all in the application…

The semester is quickly coming to an end and I am powering through papers and reading over the next few weeks. But today as I studied Colossians 2 I am struck by the need for applying scripture to our lives. Sure we read it and stand on the feel good truths but how steadfast are we in taking the truths revealed and actually living them out.

The text I was reflecting on essentially held that in Christ we are forever changed. Our old lives and flesh have been removed and we are new in Christ as we repent and believe in him. But life is still messy and sinful (at least mine is) so we neglect this truth and wallow most of the time. What would it look like to live this truth of change boldly today? No captivity to sin, freedom to enjoy God. Maybe we would look less at ourselves and love those around us.

The application could play out in any number of ways but I want to be about doing it not just preaching it. Here is to a life of application…