John Piper tells how he was 31 years old and a teacher at Bethel College in St. Paul when he entered the chapel service. The Old Testament professor Art Lewis began the service by reciting from memory, and with insightful enunciation, Matthew 6:25-34 : “. . . do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or drink . . . ”
Piper says that he had never before heard anyone do that — recite such an extended passage so thoughtfully from memory. It blew him away. It revolutionized his spiritual life. It was a defining moment, driving him to become a ferocious bible memorizer.
He then moves on to urge his church to commit themselves to the same:
My testimony can be summed up in eight short sentences.
- Memorizing Scripture makes meditation possible at times when I can’t be reading the Bible, and meditation is the pathway of deeper understanding. If you’re gonna meditate on the law of the Lord day and night, you need to have some of it in your head.
- Memorizing Scripture strengthens my faith because faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of Christ, and that happens when I am hearing the word in my head.
- Memorizing Scripture shapes the way I view the world by conforming my mind to God’s viewpoint. On everything!
- Memorizing Scripture makes God’s word more readily accessible for overcoming temptation to sin, because God’s warnings and promises are the way we conquer the deceitful promises of sin.
- Memorizing Scripture guards my mind by making it easier to detect error—and the world is filled with error, since the god of this world is a liar.
- Memorizing Scripture enables me to hit the devil in the face with a force he cannot resist, and so protect myself and my family from his assaults. What are YOU hitting him with? He is millions of times stronger than you. And he hates you, and your family, and your marriage, and this church, and God. How anyone walks through this Devil-ruled world without a sword in his hand is beyond me!
- 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.
- Memorizing Scripture provides the matrix for fellowship with Jesus because he talks to me through his word, and I talk to him in prayer. Here AND NOWHERE ELSE, O sweetly, powerfully, authentically, really, He speaks to me here. And I can talk back to Him in prayer. And O how sweet it is. And if His word is here (in my head), then we can speak anywhere!
That’s my testimony. I hope it will motivate you to make your own discoveries.
Here’s a striking 4 minute video clip from John Piper’s sermon:
Desiring God – “If My Words Abide in You” – John 15:1-7 – January 4, 2009