This is the 2nd Post in a series about Memorizing Scripture. The first is here.
Many greats of the past and present were/are strong proponents of memorizing scripture including Martin Luther, Fanny Crosby, Bill Gothard and Chuck Swindoll.
A book called Martin Luther’s Love for the Bible talks about Luther’s early life in Augustinian monastery. One of the reasons Martin Luther came to his great discovery in the Bible of justification by faith alone was that in his early years in the he was influenced to love Scripture by Johann Staupitz. Luther devoured the Bible in a day when people earned doctorates in theology without even reading the Bible. (Richard Bucher,Martin Luther’s Love for the Bible“).
Luther knew so much of the Bible from memory that when the Lord opened his eyes to see the truth of justification in Romans 1:17, he said, “Thereupon I ran through the Scriptures from memory,” in order to confirm what he had found.
Romans 1:17 For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last,[c] just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
One man’s love for the Bible was the key to freedom and an incredible turning point in history for the church.
– From Desiring God article Why Memorize Scripture?
Fanny Crosby was born in 1820 about 60 miles north of New York City. She was blinded by a careless doctor treating her eyes when she was just an infant. But as a result of her blindness, Fanny developed a phenomenal memory. She memorized vast segments of the Scripture—whole books of the Bible, including all four Gospels.
She later said that whenever she wanted to read a portion of the Scripture, she turned a little button in her mind and the appropriate passage would flow through her brain like a recorded tape.
That vast reservoir of memorized Scripture became the nurturing fountain for her hymns.
It says in this book, E.L. Blumhofer, Her Heart Can See: The Life and Hymns of Fanny J. Crosby (Eardmans, 2005). She would compose hymn after hymn in her brain and retain them with perfect memory, then go to her publishers and dictate them one after another.
During her 94 years of life, she wrote about 9,000 hymns, more than anyone else in known church history. Whenever she wrote a hymn, she prayed that God would use it to bring men and women to Christ. She had a goal of winning a million men to Christ through the agency of her hymns, and she kept careful track of every story she heard of people being saved through her hymns. To this day, someone somewhere on earth is singing, playing, or listening to her hymns practically every moment day and night—hymns such as “Blessed Assurance,” “All the Way My Savior Leads Me,” “To God be the Glory,” and “Near the Cross.”
If any of you have ever attended a Bill Gothard seminar, you will know that he is a strong proponent of memorizing scripture.
It started at the age of 15, when Bill was challenged by an older friend to begin memorizing large sections of Scripture. Until high school, he was a poor student, flunking first grade and passing the next eight grades on probation. However, as he memorized and meditated on Scripture, Bill’s grades improved significantly—so much so that he graduated from high school a member of the National Honor Society. This direct correlation between his grades and consistency in memorizing and meditating on Scripture continued through college and graduate school.
The Development of Daily Disciplines
Greater achievement in school was only one of many benefits that Bill experienced as a result of applying Scripture. When working with young people, he explained these benefits and urged them to practice Scriptural disciplines such as tithing, rising early, and memorizing Scripture.
Gothard said that meditation is the practice of memorizing, visualizing, and personalizing Scripture.
As we faithfully memorize and meditate on Scripture, the Holy Spirit will gradually remold our minds until we see things and evaluate life increasingly from God’s point of view—and that’s the very essence of wisdom.
In the book Growing Strong in the Seasons of Life [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994], p. 61).Chuck Swindoll wrote, “I know of no other single practice in the Christian life more rewarding, practically speaking, than memorizing Scripture. . . . No other single exercise pays greater spiritual dividends!
Your prayer life will be strengthened. Jesus says – If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you” (John 15:7).
Your witnessing will be sharper and much more effective. Peter tells us – …Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 1Peter 3:15 When you have memorized a whole passage, you know it completely and in context and speak confidently about what you know.
Your attitudes and outlook will begin to change. Your mind will become alert and observant. Your confidence and assurance will be enhanced. Paul tells us in Colossians – Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. Col 3:16
Your faith will be solidified” Paul tells us in Romans – Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” Romans 10:17)
“All Scripture is God-breathed, and is useful for teaching rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness…” (2 Timothy 3:16)
In Summary – More Reasons to Memorize
– so the Lord can open our eyes to the Truth in His Word
– to express in various art forms – music, poetry, worship
– to be able to bring people to Christ, effective witnessing
– to establish daily habits of discipline, including studying for school
– to remold our minds so that our view becomes God’s view, to change our attitudes, to gain wisdom,
– strengthen prayer life
– increase our faith
– to teach, correct and train