Thursday, January 19, 2006

Bible Memorization

Karen of Sower's Corner and Marlene of Home Maker have been discussing the topic of Bible Memorization. I started to add some thoughts in the comments about what really helps me and soon saw that my comments were taking on a blog post life of their own, so I decided to post them up here.

I agree with, believe in, and have benefited spiritually from memorizing scripture. Without a doubt. But, at least for me, the way it really "stuck" in my mind was to memorize the Shorter Catechism with at least one scripture reference. That has done more for me than anything else in being able, not only to remember scripture, but to apply it as well.

My son and I memorized the Shorter catechism over about a two year period several years ago and I can still remember most of it and the scriptures that go along with it. But the really cool thing is the way it pops into my head when I am reading and studying a Christian book, listening to a sermon, or reading my Bible. I can be cruising along in Hebrews and when I get to Hebrews 2:17, my mind immediately goes to the idea of Christ being our Prophet, Priest and King, in this instance our High Priest.

Heb. 2:17 Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.

Now, to be sure, the verse is explicit in saying that He is our faithful High Priest and you don’t have to memorize Question and Answer 25 to see that in the passage, but if you DO memorize the Q and A then your mind will “flesh it out a bit”:

Q25: How doth Christ execute the office of a priest?

A25: Christ executeth the office of a priest, in his once offering up of himself a sacrifice to satisfy divine justice, and reconcile us to God; and in making continual intercession for us.

Now we’re getting somewhere! Not only do you have the benefit of seeing again that the writer of Hebrews is presenting Christ as our faithful High Priest, you also rehearse in your mind what it means that Christ is our High Priest. You can thrill again in the understanding that not only did He give Himself a sacrifice for many but He is the One who offers that sacrifice up in our place. And that offering up satisfies God and reconciles us to Him, but because he is the Eternal High Priest, He is making continual intercession on our behalf!

You may be thinking, “Hey, wait a minute! Why memorize the words of men? Isn’t that putting the Catechism before the Scripture? No. It really isn’t. Think of the Catechism as a scaffolding upon which you will construct not only your scripture memorization but also your scriptural understanding. It is an organized way of building precept upon precept. The questions and answers form the "bones" upon which you'll apply the "flesh" which is the Scripture and then the "ligaments and tendons" are the theology and doctrines that connect them all together into a functioning system or "body".

If you are interested in this method (called catechism) or if you're just curious about the Shorter Catechism, here are some links:

The Shorter Catechism (Reformed/Presbyterian)
The Shorter Catechism (Baptist)

And if you are interested in a great study guide, check out G.I. Williamson's The Shorter Catechism Volumes 1 and 2.

(In the comments, Karen also recommends another good book: Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life "His main thrust is that all discipline is for the purpose of godliness.")


Doug, of Godward Thoughts, has posted some thoughts about being systematic in our study of God’s Word on his blog. Here's an exerpt:

I do realize that some neglect the scriptures for all these other books and that is wrong, but we should utilize what the Lord has given us through men and women who have been given the gift of teaching.

And of course there is Spurgeon who said…

The man who never reads will never be read; he who never quotes will never be quoted. He who will not use the thoughts of other men's brains, proves that he has no brains of his own.’