Christolized Bible Memory
By Dr. Dan Hayden
Bible memory is not an end in itself. The purpose of Scripture is to lead us into an intimate communion with Jesus Christ as our blessed Savior and wonderful Lord (John 5:29, 40). Therefore, the highest motivation for committing verses to memory is to enhance that purpose. When we can meditate upon the Word of the Lord at anytime, day or night, because we have stored it away in the recesses of our minds, then our talk with him is strengthened and our lives become more fruitful (Ps. 1:1-3). What matters is not how many verses we can memorize, but whether those verses have become an integral part of our personal communion with Christ
Memorization systems have often focused on the techniques of memorization without giving priority attention to the process of spiritual communication. Hence, they can become sterile and can fall away due to lack of personal motivation. Memorization is usually not dependent on ability – it is dependent on interest. Any interest is intricately tied to the dynamics of personally knowing the One whose Word we are seeking to remember. Technique is helpful—but it is only the skeleton upon which the living flesh of communication must be fitted.
They key to crystallizing a meaningful Bible memory system, therefore, is to “Christolize” it – to see Christ as the living reality behind the words of Scripture we are memorizing. In this way we will discover a spiritual incentive to motivate us to the task of reviewing the verses we have committed to memory on a daily basis. The spiritual PROCESS is the key; the technical PROGRAM is only a means to that end.
(Why Memorize Scripture)
- The first and foremost benefit to memorizing God’s Word is that it will enhance your devotion and prayer times with Christ. In fact, you will be able to communicate with Him according to his Word at any time of the day or night, even if you don’t have a bible with you.
- Bible study will become more meaningful to you with the ability to recall passages of God’s Word by memory. Your mind will be like a computer scanning its program to correlate areas of information that are related in gaining a more complete knowledge of Bible truth Your overall familiarity with the Bible will increase.
- A third important benefit of Scripture Memory is that it will arm you for occasions of temptation and spiritual struggle. The ability to immediately recall the Word of God at a time in which you are in need of His instruction and encouragement is extremely helpful. This is how Jesus was able to defeat Satan during a period of intense temptation (Matt. 4:1-11).
- Knowing Scripture by memory will increase your effectiveness and confidence in sharing the Gospel with other people. The ability to bring the right verse to bear upon a situation of spiritual need in evangelism or counseling can make you a better soul-winner or counselor.
- Your mind will be occupied with good things from God (Philippians 4:8) which will, in turn have a purifying effect upon your life (Eph. 4:26).
(Communion with God Through The Scriptures)
1) As you read the Word of God and meditate upon what you have read, certain verses will be highlighted by the Holy Spirit as you commune with Christ that are particularly meaningful to your spirit. These are the best verses to memorize (Prov. 20:27; Ps 1:1‐3; Rom 8:16).
2) Renewing your mind is the first phase in allowing God’s Word to encourage your soul. However, exercising the mind in the memorizing of Scripture is work – a spiritual workout, if you will. Therefore, expect that it will require effort on your part as you commit the meaningful verses to memory (Rom 12:2; 1 Tim 4:7‐8).
3) The Bible was given to us as a personal communication from God in order to lead us into a personal relationship with Christ. Let the verses you have memorized get into your heart by inserting first person pronouns (I, me, etc.) into the verses as you pray them back to the Lord (John 5:39‐40) with a thankful response.
4) Verses of Scripture truly become internalized when we exercise our wills to agree with Christ concerning what He is saying to our hearts. A response of faith is the key to success in Scripture memory and in the Christian life (Josh 1:8; Ps 119:9).
5) Obedience to God’s Word should be the natural by‐product of exercising our wills as a control over our bodies in response to His truth. This is the goal of Scripture memory and is the essence of walking in the Spirit as a means of glorifying Christ (Ps 119:9; Rom 6:12‐14; James 1:22‐25; 1 John 2:3‐6).
- Begin by making 7 face cards as pictured in the diagram
- Write the verse (or verses) to be memorized on a single 3×5 card. Put the verse on one side and the reference on the other side. This will make it possible for you to check one against the other.
- Place the verse card you are memorizing behind the “New Verses” face card for one week as you seek to get it firmly entrenched in your mind.
- At the beginning of the next week (Monday), move the card to the next slot behind the “Everyday – Week 1” face card. Review this verse once everyday for the whole week (Mon. through Fri.)
- The next week (Monday), move the card again to the next slot behind the “Everyday – Week 2” face card. Review this verse once every day for another week.
- The next week (Monday), move the card again to the next slot behind the “3x’s Week (M,W,F) – Week 1” face card. Now, review the verse only on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Repeat the process again by moving the card behind the “Week 2” face card the next week.
- Follow the same process as you move the card to the next slot behind the “2x’s Week (T,Th) – Week 1” face card. This time review the verse only on Tuesday and Thursday. Repeat the process again with the “Week 2” Face card the next week.
- Each week begin a new verse (or verses) card and repeat the process by letting it move through the system behind the previous card. Shift all of the cards in the system to the next slot at the same time at the beginning of the new week (Monday).
Packet #2 – “the Saturday Packet”
- As the verse card moves from the “2x’s Week – Week 2” slot, it is placed in the new “Saturday Packet” behind the “once a Week – Week 1” face card. Review this verse only on Saturday.
- Each week for four week, the verse card is moved to the next slot (“Once a week – week 2, Week 3, Week 4″) and is reviews once on Saturday. This Shift of verse cards should take place at the same time the shift is done on the previous packet (Monday) so that the verse card coming off the first packet has a place to go in the first slot of the second packet.
Packet #3,4,5,6 – “the Sunday Packets”
You are now going to review the verse cards in these packets only once a month (on Sunday) – and, sin
ce there are normally four Sundays in a month, there will be four packets (“once a month – 1st Sunday, 2nd Sunday, 3rd Sunday, 4th Sunday”). When there is a 5th Sunday in the month (which happens four times a year), then you have a week off. The system does not shift that week (although you review the verse cards in packets 1&2 by repeating what you did the previous week) and you do NOT memorize any new verses that week.
As the verse card comes off the back of packet #2 (after “once a Week – Week 4”), it goes into a Sunday packet, depending on which Sunday of the month it is (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th) on that weekend. (Since the sifting of the verse card is done on Monday, the Sunday in question is the day before – in this way it will be a whole month before that verse card comes up again for review.
- the following month, as that Sunday packet comes around again, review the verse card that had been placed there last month behind “Once a Month – Month 1”.
- As the verse cards are shifted on Monday, move the verse card you reviewed on Sunday, into the next slot behind “Once a Month – Month 2.” This will make room for the next card coming off Packet #2 (“Once a Week – Week 4”) to be placed in the slot “Once a Month – Month 1.”
- Repeat this process once a month for each of the four Sunday Packets for ten months. That means that there will be ten face cards (Month 1, Month 2, Month 3, etc) in each of the four Sunday Packets.
- After reviewing the verse card once a month for 10 months, it is now ready to be placed in a 3×5 card file for future reference and occasional periodic review. File the card systematically according to Bible book, chapter, and verse. You have stretched the retention time from one day to one month, and you should be ready to use the verse any time with but minor need for further review.
Congratulations!! And keep up the Good work! For Christ’s Sake – And yours!!
(A few helpful suggestions)
- The goal of Bible memory is retention – and they key to retention is systematic review – and the success of systematic review is in developing a habitual pattern of consistency. In other words, determine before the Lord that you will be faithful to the task of memorizing His Word on a daily basis. (this system only requires about 5-10 minutes a day, depending on the number of verses you are attempting to learn each week.
- Start Slow! The accumulation of verses over a period of time will become burdensome if you attempt too much too soon. Just a few verses a week will multiply into a reservoir of Scripture memory over the period of a year (2/week = 96/yr; 3/wk = 144/year; 5/wk = 240/year (I suggest to start here); 10/wk = 480/year – whole book of Philippians is only 104 verses; Ephesians 155).
- Use “dead times.” Dead times are those occasions in a day when you are doing things that don’t require concentrated thinking (gardening, doing dishes, driving to work, jogging, walking, sitting in a waiting room, etc.) These can be excellent times to review your verses. Carry your “Week day” packet with you and go over the verses during these “dead times” in your day.
- If you miss a day (it happens) – simply take a few extra minutes that next day to catch up. However, don’t miss too many days or catching up will become burdensome. A few minutes a day are better than an hour once a week (sort of like vitamins).
- If you are not able to memorize any new verses during a particular week (this can happen too) – simply enter a blank card for that week. Let the blank card follow the other cards through the system as a means of keeping the system full. It will also be a gentle reminder to you of your need to be more diligent.