1. Do I believe that I can live the Christian life in the energy of the flesh, by natural means, through dedicated effort, or do I remember that it must be lived by faith in Christ, in the power of the Spirit, day by day?
2. Do I believe that growth in grace is inevitable, or do I remember that I must continue to take steps of faith to keep me victorious?
3. Do I believe that evangelistic work is for somebody else, or do I remember that every believer is called to be a witness for Christ?
4. Do I maintain the form of godliness without the power of God in my life?
5. Do I think that God has given me challenges that I just cannot meet successfully, or do I remember that I can do all things through the strength that Christ gives me?
6. Do I think that the day of revival has passed, or do I still believe that God’s promises in Acts 1:8 have no expiration date except for the second coming?
7. Do I forget that Christ actually lives in me, or do I need a reminder?
Our times call for Christians to be all that Jesus meant for us to be. If we have forgotten the truth about the abundant Christ-life, let us be reminded.
November 5, 2013
“Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth. Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance; knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me. Moreover I will endeavor that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance.”
(2 Peter 1:12-15)
The Bible book we call Second Peter was written as the final inspired statement of Simon Peter to Christians before his death. From the beginning of the letter, he lets the reader know that the purpose of his writing it is to remind us of important things so that we will remember them after he is gone. It is not hard to forget important things, but such forgetfulness is harmful. Many of the truths about real New Testament Christianity are easily and soon forgotten by Christians who once knew them, both by study and by experience. And the first step in reviving the abundant life is to remember what it is, and the truths upon which it is based.
In the first chapter of Second Peter, the apostle lists faith, grace, peace, as well as “all things that pertain unto life and godliness,” as precious things that men can get “through the knowledge of God.” He also warns us that we lose ground as we forget such knowledge. That’s why he is reminding us.
What truths in particular are we in danger of forgetting? He says that divinely-revealed knowledge gave us “exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (1:4). The right response to this knowledge will “make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ,” but lack of it will cause a believer to become “blind,” and bring him to the place where he has “forgotten that he was purged from his old sins” (1:8-9). Have you forgotten that Christ has freed you from bondage to sin (John 8:35), that He enables you to partake of God’s very nature (including His holiness—Hebrews 12:10), that abiding in Him will make you fruitful (John 15:1-14), and that you have been purged from your old sins (Romans 6)? This high and happy level of living is the experience of life “more abundantly” that Jesus told us about (John 4:13-14, 6:35, 7:37-39, 8:12, 10:9-10, and 15:7) and came to bring to us, and we associate it with revival. Revived people can live this way (see First Thessalonians 5:15-24) but it is easy for those who were once revived to go back to fleshly living, fruitless service, regular defeat, and domination by sin, because we forget. This is why we need to be reminded of revival.
The young preacher that the apostle Paul adopted as his spiritual “son” was almost overcome with anxiety and sorrow in the days when his mentor was approaching violent death. Timothy received the final inspired message of Paul (we call it Second Timothy), personally addressed to him, and found that it was filled with messages of “remembrance” (such as Second Timothy 1:6-7). As in Second Peter, in Second Timothy the Lord calls on us all to remember the truths that kept us on higher ground in the past. The “beloved son” in the faith is reminded of his spiritual gift, of the Holy Spirit, of the afflictions that come with preaching the gospel, of the faithfulness of Christ, of the form of sound words he has been taught, of the faithfulness of good Onesiphorus, of the things he should be as a minister of God (a son who passes truth on to the next generation, a soldier who endures “hardness,” an athlete who keeps the rules, a farmer who is first partaker of the fruits of his labor, a workman who must cut straight like a tentmaker as he teaches God’s Word, a vessel of honor fit for the master’s use, and a gentle servant who doesn’t strive), and of the example of selfless dedication he has seen in his mentor. Virtually the whole book is a reminder. Timothy, and each of us, must remember the truths of the revived life to be prepared for an uncertain future.
Much of what preachers and their hearers need in our time amounts to reminders of our high calling. Almost imperceptibly good people can slip back into walking by sight instead of faith. People who have partnered with the Spirit tend to go back to living according to their flesh. Love of the world so easily replaces love for God in the hearts of once-useful servants of the Lord. We do need to be reminded.
Although we are “established in the present truth,” let us remind ourselves of what we know by asking ourselves important questions:
“Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance…”
(2 Peter 1:13)
“Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God…”
(2 Timothy 1:6)
May we be stirred to revival by remember the truths that bring it. May we remember that the One Who saves men from the penalty of sin also saves them from the power of their sins. May we return to the God of revival and experience anew the fire that once burned inside us.
Dr. Rick Flanders