A simple yet profound command found throughout the Bible is the call to remember.
Consider these verses of scripture:
Deuteronomy 6:10-12 says it like this:
When the Lord your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give you — a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant — then when you eat and are satisfied, be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
Psalm 77:11 says, “I will the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will your miracles of long ago.”
Psalm 103:2 says, “Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits.”
Ecclesiastes 12:1a says, “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth.”
In 1 Corinthians 11, Paul writes,
For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
Remembering is such a big deal and a key part of why Paul wrote his letter to the church in Corinth. This church had problems! Paul was dealing with problems like the abuse of gifts, sexual immorality, division in the church, envy, selfishness, impatience with one another in public meetings, and behavior that was disgracing the Lord. And so, because he loves the church, Paul calls them out. It is that context into which Paul writes the following words.
Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them — yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. Whether, then, it is I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.1 Corinthians 15:1-11
Notice how Paul begins this section, with the words “I want to remind you …”
Why? Because three things are crucial for us to remember today.
First, we must remember:
“I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you.”
Consider the words “centrality” and “clarity.”
Let’s start with centrality. Paul says that the gospel is of “first importance” (v. 3).
Some of you need to be reminded of this because our hearts are prone to wander. Idolatry is the natural practice of the human heart and without even realizing it we can begin to prize and treasure any number of things in our hearts, over Jesus.
When he was confronted with sin, king David in the Old Testament fell on his knees and repented. You can read his response in Psalm 51, but I want you to notice one verse in particular:
In verse 12 he says, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.”
What David is saying here is that he needs God to restore to him, that is — remind him and renew within him — the joy of salvation.
Christian! May we never forget how central the gospel is for our lives. The gospel is the means of our salvation, our only hope! Today, maybe your prayer needs to be the same as king David’s, “Restore to me the joy of salvation! Help me God to remember how great you are!”
Please don’t act like this isn’t a temptation for you. If you’re still breathing, then you are still capable of practicing idolatry. Because of Christ, you have a new identity, one that is based on Christ and his righteousness; therefore, you are no longer a slave to sin. But we must be ever mindful that we do not forget that the gospel is the most important thing in life.
The next word is clarity. Gospel clarity is one of my core values for ministry. I believe there is so much confusion out there about what exactly is the gospel and as a church, we need to work hard to ensure every person we have influence over has a strong grasp of the gospel. Because the gospel is central, it must also be clear!
So, look at what Paul writes: “that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.”
Notice the key character here is Christ! The gospel is the good news of what God has done for us through the finished work of Jesus! Not, what we do for God. The gospel is not about our résumé, our accomplishments, or our good deeds. It’s about God providing for us, what we could have never done for ourselves.
Pastor Ray Ortlund says, “What matters most to God is not which sins we’ve committed or not committed, or how we stack up in comparison with other sinners. What matters most to God is whether we’ve bonded by faith with his Son.”
In other words, when God looks at you, what matters most is, does he see a person who by faith has accepted Jesus as Lord, and has applied the finished work of Jesus to their life? Or does he see a person who has rejected Jesus, and is living life for themselves?
How then does one become a Christian? The answer is the gospel. By faith, we accept the good news of Jesus as both true and as necessary for our lives, then we trust Jesus to bring us home! In our lives, we must remember to make the gospel central and keep it clear!
The second thing to remember is the beauty of Scripture!
Woven into his description of the particulars of the gospel, is this phrase that Paul uses, “according to the Scriptures.” We can’t miss this! The Word of God is a beautiful and necessary thing! How exactly do we forget this? When we neglect the Word, we demonstrate that we have forgotten the beauty of Scripture.
For some reason, I’ve got this scene from seventh grade that has been seared into my memory. It was the first week of school and I had forgotten my gym clothes. We had PE in the middle of the day, and it was a requirement for being on the football team.
What you don’t know is that as a seventh grader, I dreamed of being on the football team. It was what mattered most to me. And I don’t mean the seventh-grade team, I mean the varsity team. Every workout, every practice, every exercise was for me, even in the seventh grade, part of my pursuit to one day be a starter on the varsity team.
And that’s why what happened next hurt me so deeply. Instead of yelling at me for forgetting my clothes, the coach simply told me to go sit in the bleachers and then turned and said to everyone, “This team is not important to Brock. If it was important, he wouldn’t have forgotten his clothes.” And then just to make his point stronger he turned and said to me, “Did you forget to eat breakfast this morning?” “No,” I replied. “Yeah, because what’s important is what you make time for.” Make no mistake, I never forgot my clothes again.
But apply the same principle. You may say, “God’s Word is important.” Well then are you making time for it?
And hear me, I’m not throwing guilt, I’m trying to help you be committed. Remember, we’re a low guilt, high commitment church! And so, if today, you know you have been neglecting the Word of God, my encouragement to you isn’t: “Well you better start reading your Bible!” My encouragement is this: “Remember how beautiful the Word of God is!”
Within those pages are the words of life! Meant to reveal to you the heart of the Father. These words will produce within your life, and hope, peace, and trust! But you’ve got to remember its beauty!
One of the things we must remember is the consistency of the Word of God. Paul writes to this particular church with principles and truths that we still apply today, and the foundation of his message is that the gospel is in accordance with the Scriptures. That means, from the beginning, Genesis 1:1, we’ve got one unified and redemptive message of God’s love. The 66 books within the Bible all work together to advance one grand story about how God created, God promised. God delivered, God demonstrated, and God conquered.
And you know what else? That’s a story that we get to be a part of! It’s not our story. It’s the Story of God, but praise God, he has made a way for us to be included and to be used by him and for his glory!
We must also remember:
Notice what Paul writes in verse 10: “But by the grace of God I am what I am.” In the middle of this high and holy exposition of the theological depth and beauty of the gospel, Paul begins to share his own story. Why would he talk about himself in the middle of this text?
It’s because the gospel is not some theological premise to simply be studied and then put on the shelf. The gospel is how grace invades our lives! This means there is a need for us to personally respond to this gospel. And it means: No one has a “boring testimony.” If you’ve been saved and rescued by the blood of Christ, then what the Bible has to say about you, regardless of the details, is amazing!
The word that will be most helpful here is the conversion.
You see, my story of conversion could be classified as a “boring” story. But I’m not going to make the mistake of calling it boring.
Praise God, that through the witness of loving parents and a faithful pastor who preached the gospel, Carlton Burris, I heard the truth of how much Jesus loves me and what all he did to rescue me. And at age 9 I responded in faith. Yes, at age 9 my life did not outwardly appear to be as tattered and broken as some who come to faith at a later age might, but that was just the outside. On the inside, I was just as broken, just as trapped in sin, and just as much on a path that was headed for hell as every person who has ever been born! And so, at age 9, God rescued me. And he began to work out a change in me that has led to this very moment and I’m telling you: HE SAVED ME! And if you’ve placed your faith in him, then that’s your story as well!
My story is God rescued me and continued to rescue me. Part of that rescue involved a seven-day stint in a hospital, followed by an unnerving move from my hometown to college, a knee injury with 70+ stitches followed by crutches, and a complete overhaul of my identity. Why don’t we tell our stories? Because instead of focusing on the immense measure of grace God gives, we fear admitting the truth that our biggest issues are ourselves! We fear conviction. The convicting work of the Holy Spirit is God rescuing you, from you!
What has the power to transform a life? There is only one thing powerful enough to take a man filled with lust and make him pure. There is only one thing powerful enough to take an angry man and fill him with peace. Only one thing has the power to take a greedy man and make him generous, to make a proud man, humble. To make a selfish man a servant. To take a broken man and make him whole! It’s the grace of God!
We are guilty of reducing the grace of God to a future glory, and praise God for the future hope we have in Christ! But some of you desperately need to remember that God’s grace can intersect your life today, in a way that totally transforms you!
This article is adapted from a sermon entitled, Remember.
Adam serves as Teaching Pastor in the North Venue. His prayer for Trinity is that we would always be a place that God uses to rescue people and transform lives.
Most people’s idea of judgment is since God is love, God will let me get by with my sin. God will let me slide. But that’s absolutely wrong and it’s the Holy Spirit that shows you it’s wrong.
All other religions in the world are based on you making and keeping promises to the “gods” in hopes of earning love and acceptance. The one true God, however, because of his great love, has promised to save us based on his faithfulness.