God’s Word in Us
Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, the eternal Word of God, told us to let His words live in us: “‘If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you’” (John 15:7).
James said God’s Word planted in us saves our souls: “Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls” (1:21). Only James uses this word “implanted.” It includes germinating and taking root. Seeds planted in soil, germinate, take root, grow and become fruitful. The seed of God’s Word planted in us takes root, grows, produces fruit and ultimately saves our souls.
Paul admonished us to, “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (Colossians 3:16).
These and many other Scriptures command us to allow God’s Word to enter, grow and work in our hearts, at the very core of our beings. God desires to accomplish much within and through us. His Word is His primary instrument for this spiritual transformation. God has infused His Word with the living power to equip us to know and serve Him (2 Timothy 3:14–17).
In addition to the benefits of meditating on God’s Word in part 1 of this article (September 2020), memorizing God’s word brings great rewards. In fact, God has specifically designed His Word to be memorable through its arrangement (as in the alphabetical acrostic of Psalm 119) and through the power of its visual images and sounds in narrative, dialogue and poetic form.
7 Benefits of Memorizing God’s Word
1. Knowing God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit
That God graciously shares His thoughts with us is humbling and awe inspiring: “we have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16). To say that knowing God through hearing, reading, meditating upon and doing His Word brings great rewards is an understatement. Memorizing Scripture is an additional blessing that enhances our appreciation of God and His Word. The slow thoughtful process of memorizing and then reflecting on God’s Word further opens our minds to the wonder of His mind!
2. Perfecting Holiness
Paul affirms God’s literal presence with us, “‘I will dwell among them and walk among them; And I will be their God, and they shall be My people….’ Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 6:16b; 7:1). God’s Word within us has power to keep us from and to cleanse us from sin and to make us holy, a fundamental attribute of God:
Your word have I treasured in my heart,
That I may not sin against you (Psalm 119:11);
“Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word” (Ephesians 5:25b–26).
God guides us by His Word in ways that please Him in all spheres of our lives, particularly respecting our salvation and sanctification, in “everything pertaining to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3b):
Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path. (Psalm 119:105)
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5–6)
Familiarity with God’s Word through our prayerful study and memorization of it is very beneficial in guiding us when we must make major decisions in life. Study and memorization also condition our minds to make daily godly choices with confidence and peace.
4. Preaching and Teaching the Gospel
To a congregation living in a culture much like ours Paul explained the gospel, the good message of our salvation through Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection for the forgiveness of our sins. He stressed the eternal significance of holding fast to the word of the gospel preached: “Now I make known to you, brothers and sisters, the gospel which I preached to you, which you also received, in which you also stand, by which you also are saved, if you hold firmly to the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain” (1 Corinthians 1:1–2). Memorizing verses we preach and teach enhances eye contact and rapport.
5. Answering Questions and Contending Earnestly for the Faith
People have important questions about God. He wants us to be prepared with answers for them: “sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defence to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence” (1 Peter 3:15). Hiding His Word in our hearts and knowing where to look are especially beneficial in spontaneous conversations.
6. Abundant Life
Jesus said, “‘I came so that they would have life, and have it abundantly’” (John 10:10b). This life Jesus came to give us which John writes so much about is the limitless spiritual life that God imparts to our souls through His Word and Spirit. While God does not guarantee us long physical life, He speaks many times of the practical benefits of abiding in His teaching (Proverbs 3:1–2, 7–8; Exodus 20:12; Ephesians 6:1–3). Research shows people believing and worshiping God generally live longer. God’s way of living is healthy.
7. Peace of Mind
Prayer and dwelling on God’s Word reduce anxiety and worry bringing us peace of mind directly from Him: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. 9 The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you (Philippians 4:6–9).
7 Steps to Memorizing God’s Word
1. Start Where You Are
Recall, focus on and treasure what you already have in your memory from years of reading and hearing God’s Word. Memorize as a congregation. This is especially helpful for children and teens. It works well with class and sermon series from Bible books.
2. One Step at a Time
Memorize one phrase, one line, one verse at a time. Repeat them and build up your memory bit by bit.
Practice anytime: day, evening, bedtime, quiet time, walking along, when you need a break.
4. Read Scripture Daily and Intentionally All Year Long
Read the Bible through every year. Over time memorizing verses in their contexts comes naturally as they become increasingly familiar.
5. Draw Mental Maps
As we become increasingly familiar with all of God’s Word we can form mental maps that help us navigate our way in God’s Word. This in turn makes memorizing easier.
Enjoying God’s Word increases our love and enjoyment of Him. Joy is a fruit of His Spirit which increases as we expand our knowledge and appreciation of Him and do His will (Galatians 5:22–23; John 7:17).
7. Ministry of the Word to Others in Need
Recall and speak Scripture’s words of truth, conviction, comfort and salvation to others in their times of need.
So, you may ask, what have I done recently to show I follow my own advice? Over several months I memorized the 15 beautiful Psalms of Ascent (Psalms 120–134). I enjoy repeating them and meditating upon them once a week. As part of a sermon series I am preaching from Revelation, I memorized John’s awesome vision of Jesus in Revelation 1:12–16 in addition to other verses. These and others I have memorized over the years are tremendous blessings in knowing and enjoying God.
Finally, some suggestions for you moving forward: choose one verse or short passage you would like to commit to memory. Work on memorizing it gradually, bit by bit, until you have mastered it. Enjoy how it blesses you and others. Repeat…! Enjoy God’s living Word in you! Enjoy Him!