The end of the year is typically the time when people assess their status, and an essential part of that process involves remembering what has transpired during the year just past. Of course, such assessments should not be confined to the end of the year. And, in fact, “remembering” is a significant theme throughout the Word of God. In that regard, it is important to note that when the Bible speaks of remembrance, it requires of us something much more significant than merely calling to mind the past. We understand this to be true, among other reasons, for its usage respecting God. Repeatedly (e.g., Gen. 9:15, 165; Lev. 26:42, 45; Psa. 111:15; Ezek. 16:60) we read in the Old Testament that God “remembered” His covenant. We are not expected to understand from such a declaration that God had somehow forgotten the pacts He had made with His people. Instead, we are to recognize that the idea of remembering entails acting on the basis of something that is known. Of course, we should “remember,” or act upon every command or exhortation given us by God. But there are some commands that the Word of God gives us in terms of remembering. Among them are the following.
1. Remember that you were once separate from Christ. Paul gave this exhortation to the church at Ephesus, possibly the strongest and most faithful group of believers living at the time Paul addressed them, and, consequently, a proof that we must never think we have outgrown the need to remember how completely sinful and utterly hopeless our case was. “Remember,” Paul insists, that you had “no hope and [were] without God in the world” (Eph. 2:12).
2. Remember your sin and repent. In a somewhat similar vein, John exhorts the churches in Ephesus and Sardis to acknowledge their sin and repent of it. “Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first” (Rev. 2:5a). “So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent” (Rev. 3:3a). Our lives as believers require that we recognize our sin in light of the truth we have been given in the Word of God and repent of it. The Lord underlines both exhortations with promises of chastening (“I . . . will remove your lampstand [testimony] [2:5b]”; “I will come like a thief” [3:3b]) for those who fail to remember and repent. The life of a believer should be one of continual self-examination and repentance from sin.
3. Remember the Word of God. Jude writes: “But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles” (Jude 17a). And Peter doubles down: “This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminderembrance, that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles” (II Pet. 3:1, 2). In other words, believers are compelled to know and obey God’s Word.
4. “Remember those who led you.” “Who spoke the Word of God to you,” the writer of Hebrews continues, “and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith” (13:7). The under- shepherds that God appoints for each flock are given, among other reasons, to be examples to the flock. Imitating their pattern of faith is not optional but essential if we wish to please God and be blessed.
5. “Remember Jesus Christ.” Paul added that the Christ to be remembered was the One who was “risen from the dead . . . according to my gospel” (II Tim. 2:8). Elsewhere he declared: “For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified” (I Cor. 2:23). A believer is at his best when meditating on the person and work of Christ. He has no higher occupation. In fact, a believer is not fit for any additional occupation until He has a proper understanding of who the crucified, risen, and ascended Christ is and a continuing consciousness of His presence and fellowship. The meditation here enjoined does not end with mental cogitations. Paul suggests that to remember Christ is to “press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:12b).
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