A spiritual discipline that has helped me immensely in my Christian life is Scripture memorization. I started memorizing Scripture intentionally when I was fourteen. One of the first changes that I noticed was that I started thinking biblically. Please don’t misunderstand and think that I stopped sinning and achieved perfection. That is far from the truth. My wife could attest to that! What I do know is that my way of thinking changed. I don’t know exactly when it started, but I noticed that little by little verses started popping up in my mind that altered the way I thought and acted. I noticed that I was able to explain the gospel more clearly. I noticed that I was able to answer the objections of skeptics more effectively. But the greatest benefit of all is that I began to desire the things of God. Again, it did not fix all my problems. I still struggle with sin. I still fail in my Christian life. However, Scripture memorization has been a tremendous blessing.
Also, Scripture memorization does not replace other spiritual disciplines. Every believer ought to read his bible and meditate on it day and night. Every believer ought to learn to pray and to diligently seek after God. But I find that very few Christians memorize Scripture. I don’t understand the reason! My challenge to those that find memorization tedious and boring is for them to memorize one of Paul’s epistles. It doesn’t take long to memorize an epistle and the spiritual benefits are eternal. I’ve never met a born again believer that has memorized a book of the Bible and hasn’t been spiritually enriched by it.
So what does Scripture memorization have to do with training men? I believe that the discipline of Scripture memorization enables the men that we are training to think biblically. What skill could be more important for a future pastor or missionary! I’ll give you one example. Flavius Tabardau is a young man that I am training for ministry. One of the first things he did after he was saved was memorize 1 John. I noticed immediately that he had a very clear understanding of true biblical conversion. He would talk about the importance of loving his brethren in Christ and why it’s foolish to love the world. How did he learn those things? Did he learn them by reading a book on spiritual growth and maturity? No. He learned those things by meditating on 1 John as he reviewed his verses every day. When he started preaching five-minute messages, guess from which book he preached?
Next, he started memorizing Romans. We are actually memorizing it together. We are almost done with chapter five. Whenever we meet together to study, we begin by reviewing our memory verses and discussing the meaning of what we’ve memorized. It has helped both of us tremendously. What a book to study! What I have noticed is that his understanding of the gospel is solid. What’s great is that he isn’t learning the gospel from me; he’s learning it from Paul! The other day he said to me, “David, I think I know how to summarize the gospel in two words.” I said, “How”. He replied, “The gospel is: ‘for sinners’.” His answer thrilled my heart because he had understood Paul’s point in the first three chapters of Romans: we are all sinners and in desperate need of Christ! Then he shared with me how he had taught the gospel to one of his friends. He said, “All I did was explain the first five chapters of Romans to him.” Praise the Lord!
Again, I don’t believe memorization is the only important spiritual discipline. Also, I’m not against formal theological training and reading books. As a matter of fact, Flavius and I are studying Systematic Theology right now and he is devouring books like crazy. What I am saying is that memorization has greatly helped me and it has helped the men I am training here in Spain. Do you think it could help you? What would happen if you memorized a book of the bible? What would happen if you memorized four? Would if affect the way you think? Would you love God more? Would you be better prepared? If you accept my challenge, please let me know if there is any way I can help you in the area of Scripture memorization.
Dear Pastor, Congregation and Friends,
The two-year anniversary of the Biblical Baptist Church of Colmenar was a great success. Thirty-eight people came out to celebrate this special day. Fourteen of them were first-time visitors. What’s great is that several of the visitors were family and friends of the church members, which means it will be easier to follow-up with them. We are looking forward to school starting back up because that will mean that people will be getting back from their summer vacations and we can launch several evangelistic ministries. We plan to teach english to teens again and continue with the Friday night “Come and See” youth bible study. What’s new is that we are going to start teaching adults as well. This will be a great way to meet people and share the gospel with them. We are also going to finish updating our church website and completely redo our evangelistic website (estudialabiblia.com). Once it is finished we will be able to distribute postcards and use Facebook ads to promote the website. In addition, we will continue passing out gospel literature and evangelizing in the streets.
Summer is a great time for training men! Flavius has been spending over twenty hours a week with me studying Systematic Theology among other things. His love for the Word of God amazes me. A few months after his conversion he memorized the entire book of 1 John and he can still quote it perfectly. During these past two months Flavius and I have been memorizing Romans. The wonderful thing is that it was his idea! He has also been preaching five-minute messages every week and is doing a great job. He has been helping me in every way possible. I thank God for giving me the privilege to train this young man for ministry. Paco is currently on vacation with his family but when he returns I will be teaching him and Flavius a wonderful course about the gospel written by a missionary friend to Morocco. Please pray for men! As a team my father and I are working hard to prepare both churches for the day that we go off to start more churches. We want to leave these churches with men trained and prepared for the ministry. We also want the churches to be ready to support these pastors financially.
As part of the process of training men we had the opportunity to take Flavius and Paco to Morocco last month. We joined a group organized by Alberto Puente, missionary to Sevilla. It was a great encouragement to all of us. We were able to visit two missionary families and hear the testimonies of Moroccan believers. It is thrilling to see what God is doing in North Africa. It was a reminder that the gospel works! We cannot buy into the lie of the devil that some places are gospel-proof. Wherever the gospel is proclaimed and taught, it brings forth fruit! Continue praying for fruit in our ministry here in Spain. We want to see more people saved, leaders trained and churches started to the glory of God!
One subject that I always bring up with the men I am trying to train in Spain is Scripture memorization. I believe it’s a very important part of our Spiritual growth and training. I know that if I can impress on their hearts the importance of this spiritual discipline they will grow in every area of their lives. It’s impossible to commit Scripture to memory without it affecting your actions!
I learned this first from my mom. We were homeschooled as kids and believe me when I tell you that we had to work. It wasn’t a walk in the park. Every morning we would get up early and have chapel before starting school. During that time my mom would have us memorize Scripture. Day after day we would repeat our memory verses until we had learned whole books. I don’t remember most of the verses I learned at that age but what I retained is the knowledge that the Word of God is so precious that it’s worth memorizing.
The next great influence in my life was my uncle, Carlos Arce. I remember when I first moved to Venezuela with my family in 1997. I had the privilege of seeing the ministry that God had given my uncle and the men that he was training for the ministry. One of the unique characteristics of the men that he trained is that they knew the Scriptures. They knew what they believed and why and they could show you from the Scriptures. Often during Wednesday night services my uncle would shoot out a question and the seminary students would have to stand up and answer it from the Scriptures, most of the time quoting the verses from memory. From the children all the way to the adults they had committed hundreds if not thousands of Scripture verses to memory. I’ll never forget one of the greatest hermeneutical tips that my uncle taught me. He told me that the best way to interpret Scripture is to memorize it because it forces you to repeat the passage in your head hundreds of times. This is especially true when you memorize full chapters and books.
For me it wasn’t until I was fourteen that I starting taking Scripture memorization seriously. I was talking with a Jehovah’s witness outside my house and she was asking me all sorts of questions that I didn’t know how to answer from the Bible. I knew the doctrine but I didn’t know where to find it. Unlike me she knew what she believed and quoted numerous passages to prove it. That day I went home and committed in my heart to memorize Scripture.
I want to take a few posts and share some of the things that I’ve learned about memorizing Scripture. I wish I could tell you that I’ve been faithful in memorizing all the time. I have spent months and sometimes years without learning a single verse. But I have been able to retain most of what I’ve learned. I don’t believe you have to have an exceptional memory to practice this spiritual discipline. All you need is the determination to memorize daily and the vision of what God could do through you if you would simply hide his Word in your heart.