“How can a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed according to Your word. With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You. Blessed are You, O Lord! Teach me Your statutes. With my lips I have declared all the judgments of Your mouth. I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, as much as in all riches. I will meditate on Your precepts, and contemplate Your ways. I will delight myself in Your statutes; I will not forget Your word.” Psalm 119:9–16 NKJV
It is very important to study God’s word to memorize and to saturate our minds with the eternal truths God has given us in His word. In Gospel Workers, 250, we are told the following:
“The life of God, which gives life to the world, is in His word. It was by His word that Jesus healed disease and cast out demons. By His word He stilled the sea and raised the dead; and the people bore witness that His word was with power. He spoke the word of God as He had spoken it to all the Old Testament writers. The whole Bible is a manifestation of Christ. It is our only source of power.”
This is a packed paragraph. What is it that gives life to the world? It is the life of God. Does not the entire Bible bear out this concept, that God is the Creator, the life-giver? Beginning with Genesis 1:1 through to Revelation, God is revealed as the Creator, the Life-giver. Sin has caused a rift in our connection, our communion with God and it is actually only because of His mercy that we live. God, in His mercy, His grace, His long-suffering, and His love, has ordained (shall we say, created?) a means by which we may regain that connection with Him. “The life of God, which gives life to the world, is in His word.”
God has ordained that through the study of His word He restores His life to each one of us and through us to others. There is no mystery, no mystical way to a connection with God. It is achieved only through a practical, earnest, consistent, deep, long-term study of His word.
Do you want life? We all say we want life. But let’s think about the reality of our desire. If there is a banquet of food on my dining room table and I say I want to eat because I am hungry, what is the real truth if I find myself doing innumerable other things and simply not going over to the table and eating the food? Do I really want the food? Am I really hungry? No. So, in the same way is the statement about wanting life. Think about this. Where do we find life? “The life of God, which gives life to the world, is in His word.”
Are you as intent upon “life,” eternal life, as you are upon your daily temporal bread? This is a question to answer before your God and in the honesty of your inmost soul. God already knows the answer, but it is important for you to know for yourself the answer to that question.
Since sin is the basic problem in this world, the issue that separates us from God and causes death, what is necessary and what is the means God has provided in order to recover us from this situation?
What does His word (which contains the life of God) say about this? “How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word. With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You.” Psalm 119:9–11. We must study this Word; we must hide this Word in our hearts.
Jesus, the example for our lives, lived out the principle of sin having no more dominion over us. The Desire of Ages, 123, tells us how He was able to do this: “And how this is accomplished, Christ has shown us. By what means did He overcome in the conflict with Satan? By the word of God. Only by the word could He resist temptation. ‘It is written,’ He said. And unto us are given ‘exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust’ (II Peter 1:4). Every promise in God’s word is ours. ‘By every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God’ (Matthew 4:4) are we to live. When assailed by temptation, look not to circumstances or to the weakness of self, but to the power of the word. All its strength is yours. ‘Thy word,’ says the psalmist, ‘have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee.’ ‘By the word of Thy lips I have kept me from the paths of the destroyer’ (Psalms 119:11; 17:4).” [Emphasis supplied.]
Jesus, Divinity in human flesh, lived by and through the word of God. It was His means of resisting temptation, His power for victory. Who are we to believe that we have less need of this word, this feast of salvation, other than our Saviour? Today, if in reality, the “tree of life” from the Garden of Eden was within your physical grasp, would you not drop anything you were doing to eat of the fruit of that tree? I say to you that this tree is within your physical grasp. Today we call it the Bible or the Spirit of Prophecy. In Western countries, Bibles and even most books of the Spirit of Prophecy are available to the majority of people. “The life of God, which gives life to the world, is in His word.” The “tree of life” gave life; God’s word gives life. But do we grasp as readily after “His word” as we would were the tree of life from the Garden of Eden within our grasp? Sobering thought.
My Life Today, 28 gives us this insight: “It is of the greatest importance that you continually search the Scriptures, storing the mind with the truths of God. … You need the treasures of God’s word hidden in your heart.” When are we to search the Scriptures? God says continually.
“The heart that is stored with the precious truths of God’s word is fortified against the temptation of Satan, against impure thoughts and unholy actions.
“Keep close to the Scriptures. The more you search and explain the Word, the more your mind and heart will be fortified with the blessed words of encouragement and promise.
“Let us commit its precious promises to memory.” My Life Today, 28.
“The great and essential knowledge is the knowledge of God and His word. … There should be a daily increasing of spiritual understanding; and the Christian will grow in grace, just in proportion as he depends upon and appreciates the teaching of the word of God, and habituates himself to meditate upon divine things.
“In giving us the privilege of studying His word, the Lord has set before us a rich banquet. Many are the benefits derived from feasting on His word, which is represented by Him as His flesh and blood, His spirit and life.” God’s Amazing Grace, 303. [Emphasis supplied.]
“The word of God is the standard of character. In giving us this word, God has put us in possession of every truth essential to salvation.” Gospel Workers, 250.
What is the central theme of the Bible? The book Education, 125, says, “The central theme of the Bible, the theme about which every other in the whole book clusters, is the redemption plan.” This redemption plan is not left undefined. The definition follows immediately. The redemption plan is “the restoration in the human soul of the image of God.” In other words, it is the getting rid of sin from our lives so that we can be reunited with God! Then it goes on to say, “He who grasps this thought has before him an infinite field for study. He has the key that will unlock to him the whole treasure house of God’s word.” Ibid., 126.
The central theme of God’s word, and remember that God’s word is “the life of God, which gives life to the world,” is the plan of salvation. And if we understand this thought we have the key which unlocks the “whole treasure house of God’s word.”
“The life of God, which gives life to the world, is in His word. It was by His word that Jesus healed disease and cast out demons. By His word He stilled the sea and raised the dead; and the people bore witness that His word was with power. He spoke the word of God as He had spoken it to all the Old Testament writers.” What tremendous food for thought is contained in those sentences. But I want to focus on what follows in the next sentence. It says, “The whole Bible is a manifestation of Christ. It is our only source of power.” Gospel Workers, 250.
Our only source of power is the whole Bible, the central theme of which is the plan of salvation. It is important to rightly know and understand what is in this book. In fact, as we read earlier, it is “the great and essential knowledge.” If something is essential, it is not possible to do without that something.
Let’s read some instruction about the study and meditation of God’s word directly from Scripture. Deuteronomy 6:6–9 NIV: “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” This pretty much encompasses all of life and makes perfect sense when we understand that it is sin that causes separation from God and ultimately eternal death and that it is by His word that God “gives life to the world.” Should not the study of His word be at the center of our lives? That is the instruction that God has given to His people, and that instruction been never changed.
“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.” Psalm 1:1, 2 NKJV. Again, God’s word is the meditation day and night. Why? The psalmist gives us the answer.
He says, “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them Your servant is warned, and in keeping them there is great reward.” Psalm 19:7–11 NKJV. Do you want to be converted, wise, rejoicing, enlightened, clean? Do you desire God’s word, His means of restoring life, more than you desire gold? Is that borne out by your actions? Is His word truly sweeter to you than honey?
We have learned that it is God’s word that gives life. If we are going to partake of this life, we need to study His word, which itself tells us that it is to be our “meditation day and night”; we are to talk of it “when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” So God’s word is to be our life. I am not saying that we should not have jobs, take care of gardens, and take care of the daily necessities of life. But whatever we are doing “our thoughts and desires can always be upward.” Our High Calling, 161.
What will this do for us practically in our Christian walk? Christ’s Object Lessons, 355, answers this question. It says, “Looking unto Jesus we obtain brighter and more distinct views of God, and by beholding we become changed.” Do you want to become like Jesus? Do you want to be changed? That is what we have to do if we want eternal life with Him. So that means that we must behold Him. How do we behold Jesus? The Scriptures tell us in John 5:39 KJV, “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of Me.” It is through this earnest, diligent study that we gain a knowledge of God and become changed into His likeness.
Are there guidelines as to how we are to study God’s word? We have already mentioned the need to store God’s word in our hearts, and we might first think of memorization, and that is good and necessary. But before we look at memorization, there is another aspect of studying the word of God that I would like to address.
Steps to Christ, 90, has some wonderful instruction on how to study the Word so that we receive the necessary benefit. “There is but little benefit derived from a hasty reading of the Scriptures. One may read the whole Bible through and yet fail to see its beauty or comprehend its deep and hidden meaning. One passage studied until its significance is clear to the mind and its relation to the plan of salvation is evident, is of more value than the perusal of many chapters with no definite purpose in view and no positive instruction gained.”
We read earlier in the book Education, 125, “The central theme of the Bible, the theme about which every other in the whole book clusters, is the redemption plan, the restoration in the human soul of the image of God.” We can read the whole Bible through without thought or care in a hasty manner and gain no benefit. God longs for your salvation, so He instructs us to study one passage of the Bible until we understand how it relates to this plan.
“Keep your Bible with you. As you have opportunity, read it; fix the texts in your memory. Even while you are walking the streets you may read a passage and meditate upon it, thus fixing it in the mind.” Steps to Christ, 90. In this way, through the guidance and teaching of the Holy Spirit (remember that we are always to pray before studying the Word), we come to understand how each passage relates to the plan of salvation, or the new covenant, and we fix it in the mind, or in other words, memorize.
Here are some practical suggestions how to memorize.
Practical Memorization Techniques
“The life of God, which gives life to the world, is in His word. It was by His word that Jesus healed disease and cast out demons. By His word He stilled the sea and raised the dead; and the people bore witness that His word was with power. He spoke the word of God as He had spoken it to all the Old Testament writers. The whole Bible is a manifestation of Christ. It is our only source of power.” Gospel Workers, 250.
My Life Today, 28: “It is of the greatest importance that you continually search the Scriptures, storing the mind with the truths of God. … You need the treasures of God’s word hidden in your heart.”
“The great and essential knowledge is the knowledge of God and His word. … There should be a daily increasing of spiritual understanding; and the Christian will grow in grace, just in proportion as he … habituates himself to meditate upon divine things.” God’s Amazing Grace, 303. [Emphasis supplied.]
These references are a small sampling of those we could cite as evidence that searching and studying God’s words and committing them to memory with a soul hunger for God and His truth is of the utmost importance to our lives, not only our temporal lives, but even more importantly, our eternal lives.
I suspect that to some of us, the very word memorize creates an immediate mental block. But I don’t believe it needs to. From the study that we have just done, it is very clear that we need to store God’s word in our hearts, and that God commands us to do so. So a logical question would then be, would God require something of me that is not possible? No, God is a God of tender mercy, love and patience. He would not command us to do something that is impossible. Therefore, if God will not ask us to do something it is impossible for us to do, then the only other option is that it is something we can do. So we can feel positive toward this memory work. There are many studies that prove the fact that if we have a positive attitude towards something, we are more successful in doing it. So I am going to ask that you discard your doubts, your dread, your reservations and fears, and even your ideas of can’t and replace them with “God asks me to do this, so I know that through His strength I can do this.”
Just do it. If you don’t feel like doing it, do it anyway, because you love your Saviour and Lord and because you want to become like Him. If you don’t have the desire, ask the Lord for the desire. After all, God says that if we ask anything of Him that is His will, He will do it. We have already studied out the fact that memorizing Scripture is His will for us. Therefore, if you don’t have the desire to memorize Scripture, here is some encouragement.
- Do it anyway because God asks you to.
- Do it because you love your Lord and Saviour.
- Ask Him for the desire to do it. Remember, He may not answer right away. He may want to see how serious you are about doing what He asks because He asks. Don’t give up! Trust Him.
- Keep in mind that your eternal life depends on obedience.
Before you begin pray for God to help you understand with spiritual understanding what you want to memorize, that He will be your teacher and for the Lord to help your memory. Again, realize that He may not answer right away to test your commitment.
Do what you can to help your own memory. Here are some suggestions.
- Analyze what the passage or text is saying so that it makes sense and so that you understand it and it is logical to you.
- Is there a sequence of events? If so, outline the passage at least in your mind.
- Does one line expand on or explain the previous one?
- Memorize one line or section at a time and add to it as you master each section or line.
- Repeat the passage out loud. There is value in speaking the words out loud as well as in contemplation of the thought of what they are saying.
- Write out what you want to memorize. You can take it with you to pull out anytime you have an opportunity to practice.
- Review frequently. Studies show that three 5-minute sessions of memory work throughout the day are more effective than one 15-minute session.
- Take the time to write and rewrite the chosen passage, thinking about it and what it says while you write.
- Work on memorizing with a friend by repeating the passage or quote to each other.
These are just a few memorizing techniques that you might try to commit God’s word to memory, to hide it in your heart. I am sure you will come up with some on your own as you work toward this goal. As you do this in obedience to God’s command, God will bless you. That is a promise.
Remember, the main goal, the key objective in studying and storing the word of God is to learn of Christ, our only means of salvation. “The life of God, which gives life to the world, is in His word. … The whole Bible is a manifestation of Christ. It is our only source of power.”
But there are other wonderful benefits as well. Do you want to be wise? Would you like a strong intellect? Do you want a breadth of mind, and a nobility of character? Where can you get these characteristics? Here is the answer: “There is nothing more calculated to strengthen the intellect than the study of the Scriptures. No other book is so potent to elevate the thoughts, to give vigor to the faculties, as the broad, ennobling truths of the Bible. If God’s word were studied as it should be, men would have a breadth of mind, a nobility of character, and a stability of purpose rarely seen in these times.” Steps to Christ, 90. This is just a hint of the wonderful effects that the study of God’s word has on the life and mind.
Today, make a commitment for your life’s sake and for the sake of the Saviour Who left all of heaven for you. Make a deliberate decision to choose life. How do you do that? By partaking of the feast that God has set before you in His word, by which He brings life to the world. Choose to study His word. Choose to hide His word in your heart, for in His word “God has put us in possession of every truth essential to salvation.” Gospel Workers, 250.
Brenda Douay is a staff member at Steps to Life. She may be contacted by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.