A Way to Make Scripture Memory Manageable and Meaningful

Ashfor Headshot.jpgToday’s guest blogger is Bruce Ashford, Provost and Professor of Theology and Culture at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, NC. I asked him to write this post because I think his scripture memory plan is worth knowing. Read more of Dr. Ashford’s writings at his website, “Bruce Ashford: Christianity for the Common Good.”

It happens to most of us church leaders. Gradually, and without notice, we slip into the habit of viewing the Scriptures more as an object to be dissected than a spiritual feast to nourish our souls. As an antidote to this temptation, I recently wrote about a four-fold pattern of Scripture intake that helps us to receive the Scriptures as the nourishing word of for our souls. The four-fold pattern—read, reflect, pray, obey—is an adaptation and modification of an early church practice.

But this four-fold pattern can be enhanced—significantly, in my opinion—by modifying the first step in the pattern. As part of reading Scripture slowly, we need to memorize Scripture. When we memorize a passage of Scripture, we can nourish ourselves with that passage any time we wish, even if there is not a Bible close.

Most believers probably agree with me that Scripture memory is profitable, but many of us lack a plan for making it a reality. For most of my Christian life, I struggled to memorize Scripture. I knew that I should commit Scripture to memory, and I even wanted to do so, but I needed a structured plan and approach.

So, I took nine of the Bible’s major topics and selected a number of passages I wanted to memorize for each topic. The logic of the plan is this: if I memorize several core passages for each of the major categories, I will benefit personally from their nourishment. Then, I will be prepared to pass along that nourishment to others, even when I do not have a Bible in hand.

Those nine topics are: God, God’s revelation, Humanity, Christ, Salvation, Spirit, Church, Covenant/Kingdom, and End Times. Below are significant passages for each topic. These are not the only passages that could be memorized under the given topics. But they are significant passages, ones I selected because of the spiritual nourishment they provide. I offer them to help you experience the words of the Lord as “sweeter than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb” (Ps. 19:10).

Doctrine of Revelation

General Revelation

Psalm 19

Scripture

Deuteronomy 6.4-9

Psalm 1

Psalm 12.6

Matthew 4.4

2 Timothy 3.12-17

2 Peter 1.16-21

Doctrine of God

Attributes

Exodus 3.13-15

Exodus 34.6-7

Creation and Providence

Nehemiah 9.6

Trinity

Matthew 3.16-17

Doctrine of Humanity

Imago Dei, Social and Cultural Mandate

Genesis 1.26-28

Moral Responsibility and Cultural Mandate

Genesis 2.15-17

The Fall

Genesis 3.16-24

Suppression of Truth and Idolatry

Romans 1.18-20

Moral Law and Conscience

Romans 2.14-16

Hebrews 8.10

Sin

Psalm 51.1-4

Adam and Jesus

Romans 5.12-19

Doctrine of Christ

John 1.1-5

John 1.14

Philippians 2.5-11

Colossians 1.13-18

Colossians 1.19-22

Hebrews 1.1-4

Doctrine of Salvation

John 3.14-17

John 3.18-21

Romans 3.21-26

Romans 4.1-5

Romans 5.6-11

Romans 8.28-30

Romans 8.31-39

1 Corinthians 15:1-11

2 Corinthians 5.17-21

Ephesians 1.1-14

 Doctrine of the Spirit

Genesis 1:2

John 14:15-18

1 Corinthians 12

 Galatians 5:22-23

    Doctrine of the Church

Temple of God, People of God

1 Peter 2.1-5

1 Peter 2.6-10

Body of Christ

Ephesians 4.1-6

Diversity

Ephesians 4.7, 11-16

Household of God

Ephesians 2.19-22

Church Ministries

Matthew 6.9-13

Acts 2.40-47

Doctrine of Covenant/Kingdom

Abrahamic Covenant

Genesis 12.1-3

Mosaic Covenant

Exodus 19.3-8

Davidic Covenant

2 Samuel 7.12-16

New Covenant

Jeremiah 31.31-34

Kingdom: Jesus the King

Mark 11.9-11

Kingdom: Prayer and Desire

Matthew 6.9-13

Doctrine of the End Times

Second Coming: Caught Up in the Air

1 Thessalonians 4.13-18

All Nations Worship the Lamb

Revelation 5.8-10

Revelation 5.11-14

Millennium

Revelation 20.4-6

There is nothing magical about this Scripture memory plan. It does not offer a sure-fire technique that guarantees a close walk with the Lord. But it does offer a plan for “putting the Lord’s word into our mouths,” so that we can chew on it slowly (reflect on the Scriptures), discern and gratefully acknowledge its flavors (pray the Scriptures back to God), and digest it for nourishment (obey the Scriptures daily). I hope it helps you.

What do you think? Let us know your thoughts.  

6 Comments

  • Kevin Baker says:

    For me the “the Will” to do it is my biggest problem. I need a plan and a way to remember to do. I journal everyday as I read. I use my computer to write the journals, I have added a feature where I list a weekly memory verse on the journal form i use. Recently I have started posting that verse into a Evernote account so I have it on both on my computer and cell phone. When ever i have a few extra minutes i can work on it and review my older verses. This is a replacement of the card system I learned from the Navigators years ago. Now instead of being consumed with social media I can use my phone for spiritual development

  • TJ Goodine says:

    In my opinion, the use of ‘ol skool” flash cards will remain the ‘BEST’ way to help with Scripture memory for at least two reasons. First, by categorizing the verses, it may (quickly) bring to mind where that particular verse falls within the larger narrative of Scripture. Second, your more apt to remember something when writing it down. I agree, there is no magic or secret to it. It always comes down to putting a little work into it. But the good news is, you’ll reap what you’ll sow :-)! Personally, I plan on using this technique with my children during our family times! Thank you for the tips Dr. Ashford!

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