A friend asked me the other day what would be the first ten verses he should memorize. I cheated and gave him more than ten, but I think this is an important starter list.
1. Start with John 3:16. It is an oldie, but a goodie. It is one of the most beautiful and succinct summaries of the gospel found anywhere in Scripture.
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
2. This may seem odd, but next I recommend learning 1 Thessalonians 4:3-4 on Sexual Purity. I don’t know a single young man (or woman) who doesn’t struggle with lust and impurity, whether in body or mind. It would be wise to commit these verses to memory as soon as possible as we fight the good fight for a pure conscience.
1 Thessalonians 4:3–4 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor.
3. John 14:6 on the Exclusivity of Christ. I can’t think of a more important verse to explain that Jesus is the only way to salvation, and what makes him different from every other religion and worldview. In a day of so-called “tolerance” and postmodern confusion, we desperately need to fix our eyes on Christ alone.
John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
4. Ephesians 4:29 on Speech. If we could learn to live out this one verse, it will radically change our homes and our churches.
Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
5. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 on the Authority of Scripture. The Bible alone is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. Many people seek existential experiences and supernatural revelation, yet overlook the fact God has already spoken, and he has spoken clearly.
2 Timothy 3:16–17 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
6. The Romans Road. With the above verses under your belt, you are now ready to learn the Romans Road. I still remember memorizing this set of verses in junior high at my Christian school, and it changed my life to have a basic plan of salvation to meditate on and to share with others.
Romans 3:10 as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one.
Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
Romans 5:8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:9–10 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
Romans 8:13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
After mastering the above verses, I recommend buying John Barnett’s book Word-Filled Families. It has some great chapters on parenting with scripture, plus an entire Appendix dedicated to more than 100 “Verses Every Believer Should Know.”
Question: What verses would you add to a short list of essential verses to be memorized?