Bible memorization is hard. It requires time, willpower, and concentration, and that means we need really good motivations for doing it in the first place. This is exactly what John Piper offers us in his sermon titled, “If My Words Abide in You,” which he preached on January 4, 2009. Here’s a clip of what he said:
The reason I began this message by reciting Psalm 1, Psalm 16, Psalm 103, Romans 5:1–8, Romans 8, Matthew 6:1, 25–34, and 1 Corinthians 13, is in the hope — in the desperate prayer — that God will do for you what he did for me 31 years ago.
31-Year-Old John Piper
I was 31 years old, and I walked into the gym at Bethel College (now Bethel University) for chapel. I was teaching. And I sat down, and Art Lewis, the Old Testament professor, stood up and recited Matthew 6:25–34. That’s all. He just looked at us and recited it. I was stunned.
I was 31 years old and had never seen anybody in church recite the Scriptures. It blew me away. It set me on a trajectory of Bible memory. And all I want to do in this simple message is give my testimony and mingle it with Jesus’s testimony of the value of memorizing Scripture.
Eight Gateways of Scripture Memory
I am pleading with you. So here is my testimony. I can give it to you in eight sentences without exposition:
1. Memorizing Scripture makes meditation possible at times when you can’t be reading the Bible. And meditation is the pathway to deeper understanding. So if you are going to meditate on the law of the Lord day and night (see Psalm 1:2), you need to have some of it in your head.
2. Memorizing Scripture strengthens my faith because “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). And that happens when I am hearing the word in my head.
3. Memorizing Scripture shapes the way I view the world by conforming my mind to God’s viewpoint on everything.
4. Memorizing Scripture makes God’s word more readily accessible in overcoming temptation to sin because God’s warnings and promises are the way we conquer the lies — the deceitful lies of the devil.
5. Memorizing Scripture guards my mind, making it easier for me to detect error. And the world is filled with error because the god of this world is a liar.
6. Memorizing Scripture enables me to hit the devil in the face with a force he cannot resist, to protect myself and my family from his assaults. What are you hitting him with? He is a million times stronger than you. And he hates you and your family and your marriage and this church and God. How anybody walks through this devil-ruled world without a sword in their hand is beyond me.
7. Memorizing Scripture provides the strongest and sweetest words for ministering to others in need. Ever been caught off guard with somebody in need? You don’t need to be caught off guard.
8. And, finally, memorizing Scripture provides the matrix for fellowship with Jesus because he talks to me here and nowhere else — sweetly, powerfully, authentically, really speaks to me here. And then I speak back to him in prayer. And if Scripture is here in my mind and heart, we can talk anywhere. It is sweet. It is very sweet.