We need the gospels because we need the gospel. In the gospels we have the clearest picture of the incarnate Word who is himself good news for Adam’s race. And by memorizing and meditating on the gospels we can have a Christ-centered perspective on the rest of Scripture.
We are like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, foolish and slow of heart to believe all the prophets have spoken, slow to realize that all Scripture is really about Christ (Luke 22:13-35, esp. 22:27; also John 5:39-40). By starting with the gospels, we gain the perspective essential for profitably meditating on all other verses.
If we meditate on the gospels, Christ himself will put the rest of our memorization in its proper place and give us a Christian perspective on the Bible. He will warn us that eternal life is not in the Scriptures or in knowing the Scriptures (see Matthew 7, John 5:39-40) but in him alone (John 14:6, John 17:3). He will remind us that the Holy Spirit is the helper who teaches us all things and brings to our remembrance all that he has said (John 14:26).
I realized that I have a tendency to elevate the epistles over the gospels when I read a quote from J. I. Packer, which you can also read here. I need to know Christ better in the gospels, as well as the rest of Scripture. We need balance in our Bible reading, studying, and memorization; and we need a Christ-centered, Christian perspective on all of Scripture. May God open our eyes to see that the written Word centers on the grace and truth of Jesus Christ, who is the Word made flesh (John 1:14-17).
Do you have a portion of Scripture that you feel you need to spend more time memorizing and meditating on?
Well, we missed our Christmas blog post and have almost missed our New Year one too! We trust, though, that everyone had a blessed and merry Christmas and quality time to reflect on the birth of Christ. The passage of two thousand years has not dimmed the significance of God sending his own son into the world.
As you think about your goals for 2012, consider setting yourself a memorization goal. In an upcoming release we will make it easier to see how many memorization sessions you have completed this year. Since it's difficult to know exactly how many verses it's possible to commit to memory in 366 days, consider setting a goal of completed memorization session. My personal goal is 250 sessions, or five per week. Let us know in the comments what your goal for 2012 is. Make it attainable.
Finally, a sequence of events over Christmas reminded me again of the importance of coupling memorizing with understanding. We continue to feel that memorizing Bible verses is most valuable when it is a discipline combined with a deep study of the meaning behind the word. Read Proverbs 2 for details. Even if you are memorizing select verses from a passage, please make it a habit to read and understand the full context.
If you're memorizing Matthew 2:11, more than memorizing which three gifts the Magi gave Jesus, it is important to understand why Matthew includes this account in his gospel. What does this tell us about Jesus' message to first century Jews? How does it introduce a major theme of Matthew's gospel? What light does this shed on Jesus' cleansing of the temple? How does this inform our eschatology? Combining your Bible memorization with deep study will give you a much richer understanding of the King we serve.
We look forward to hearing from you on December 31st, 2012. Memorize with a friend. Find support in a group. Be encouraged by the global church.