Standing ankle-deep in snow, I copied the following inscription from the main wall near the old, iron gate that leads to the campus of Harvard University:
After God had carried us safe to New England,
and we had builded [sic] our houses, provided necessaries for
our livelihood, reared convenient places for God’s
worship and settled the civil government, one of the
next things we longed for and looked after was to
advance learning and to perpetuate it to posterity,
dreading to leave an illiterate ministry to the churches
when our present ministers lie in the dust.
No, you didn’t make a mistake in your reading. That’s etched near Harvard’s main gate. The oldest institution of higher learning in America, founded just sixteen years after the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth, was established for the stated purpose of perpetuating an educated, well-trained body of godly men who would proclaim God’s Word with intelligence, conviction, and authority. They began with strong convictions that stemmed from seeing the world through God’s eyes.
So what happened? Over time, the subtle narcotics of liberalism, humanism, and socialism paralysed the nerve centres of theological thought. Putting it bluntly, when the storm troopers of those aggressive heresies captured the flag of biblical Christianity, all the forces of hell broke loose! In a strange twist of irony, they drifted from seeing the world through God’s eyes . . . and began seeing God through the world’s eyes.
Even today, only 14 percent of born-again adults believe in absolute truth and base their ethics on Scripture.1 That’s one in seven Christians! When I ponder those disappointing statistics, I think of the apostle Paul’s epochal words: “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is” (Romans 12:2).
By the way, that kind of transformation doesn’t happen easily or automatically. This verse is a command directed to us. God requires a radical separation from any secular worldview to a godly purpose and mind-set. It is a deliberate determination to think biblically and act accordingly. It begins with a renewal of the mind.
While there is no quick and easy cure-all, I do believe that one particular discipline (more than any other) will break the world’s attempts to mould our minds: memorising Scripture.
I can still recall more than one occasion when the memorised Word of God rescued me from sexual temptation. It was as if God drew an imaginary shade (something on the order of a venetian blind) between the other person and me, having inscribed on the surface: “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap” (Galatians 6:7)—a verse I committed to memory as a young teenager. During times of great loneliness, memorised Scripture has also rescued me from the pit of depression. Verses such as Isaiah 41:10 and 49:15–16, along with Psalm 27:1 and 30:5, have provided great companionship.
Let me offer three practical suggestions that have helped me in my own Scripture-memory program. First, it is better to learn a few verses perfectly than many poorly. Learn the Scripture reference as well as the words of the verse exactly as they appear in your Bible. Do not go on to another verse until you can say everything perfectly, without a glance at the Bible.
Second, review often. There is only one major secret to memory—review. In fact, it is a greater discipline to stay current in review than to take on new verses regularly.
Third, use the verse you memorise. The purpose of Scripture memory is a practical one, not an academic one. Who cares if you can spout off a dozen verses on temptation if you easily fall victim to it? Use your verses in prayer, in conversations and counsel with others, in correspondence, and certainly in your teaching. Use your memorised verses with your children or spouse. God will bless your life and theirs as you appropriately share His Word.
Scripture memory transforms the mind into a reservoir of biblical truth. It helps us come to terms with life, because things make better sense when certain Scriptures are in place in our heads. Through times of quiet meditation, we allow the Word to seep into our cells . . . to speak to us, reprove us, warn us, and comfort us.
As you pore over the passages of Scripture, ask yourself: Have I permitted this age to dull or shape my thinking? Remember, the renewal of the mind is a command directed to us.
Trust me; you will never regret the time you invest in hiding God’s Word in your heart. It helps you see the world as you were meant to see it . . . through God’s eyes.
- George Barna, Think Like Jesus (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2003), 21.
Copyright © 2014 by Charles R. Swindoll. All rights reserved worldwide.