Sermon preached by Mr. David G. Crowter on 31st December, 1989 at Gower Street Memorial Chapel, London.
“Wherefore remember” …. Ephesians2.11.
1. Remembering or Forgetting?
Today is quite a special day. It is not only the last Lord’s Day of this year, but the last day of the decade, of the 1980’s. And many changes have taken place during those ten years. Some of you have been born during those years. Some of you have been born again -and what a wonderful privilege that is to remember! Some of you have been baptized, and have had the great privilege of joining the Church of Christ on earth. Others, whom we remember with affection, have been taken home to glory in those ten years of our lives.
Now, often in the Word of God we find this exhortation:
“Remember”. And there is great reason for it. As you know, I normally speak from the Word of God as it is found in the particular context. But on this special day I feel it upon my mind to speak much more generally than I usually do, with regard to these words. We have a particular context here; but they are in the whole context of the Word of God. And if you were to look, you might well be surprised how many times this command of God to remember occurs in the Scriptures. Perhaps we should not really be surprised about that, because we all forget. We forget many things, and often those things which are most important of all to remember. The words of the hymn-writer have often been echoed:
“My memory bad, but what is sad,
Can folly still retain;
O fill it. Lord, with Thy sweet Word,
And let it there remain.”
Many times, no doubt, in the last year we have had to say, “I’m sorry; I forgot”. And while many of those things may be comparatively unimportant, the matters which are brought before us in the Word of God to remember are so very important. And, perhaps most of all, because of our sinfulness, we are apt to forget those.
Some may say, “Well, I have such a bad memory”. And there may be some truth in that. On the other hand it is often an easy excuse. When I was teaching in school, boys often used to say to me that they just couldn’t remember those things they were supposed to learn; and yet some of those very boys, I was amazed to find, could remember all the football results so easily. They could remember what they really wanted to remember. On the other hand, I can
recall a dear saint whom we knew, and so many used to remark what a wonderful memory she had for the services she loved to attend, and for the Word of God. And after a while I found out something about that dear lady. After the services every Lord’s Day (they had morning and afternoon services where she attended) she would write down in an exercise book all that she could remember of the services, while it was still fresh in her mind. Year after year she did this. And that was one of the reasons why she was able to remember so much. She took such pains to do all she could to remember those things which had been spoken to her. I wonder how much we would remember of what we were considering last Lord’s Day? In a week so much of it passes from our minds, and we so need the Lord’s help with regard to these exhortations to remember.
And so that is on my mind to bring before you this morning-just some of those things which are brought before us in the Word of God and which the Lord Himself charges us to remember.
2. Remember Thy Creator
First there is a word especially to you who are children, at the beginning of the twelfth chapter of Ecclesiastes: “Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth.” Solomon there goes on to mention days later on in life when it is so much more difficult to remember. And in other ways we are increasingly hampered as life goes on. You who are children have a very important time of life now before you. And the Word of God is addressed to you, to remember your Creator. Because it is God who has made you as you are. He has given you sight, and hearing, and speech, and so many other wonderful faculties. How long is it since you thanked God that you could see? The Psalmist says, “Thy hands have made me and fashioned me;” and that does not mean only the outward and more obvious faculties that we have, but all the wonderful inner working of our bodies. As the Psalmist says elsewhere, “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” And so are we all most wonderfully fashioned, not only in the body, but also with regard to our souls. And therefore there is great reason to heed that word – to remember our Creator.
3. Remember Thankfully
And how should we remember Him? Well, certainly thankfully. For we have so much cause to give thanks to God that we are found as we are, that so many of us enjoy a good measure of health, with little pain or discomfort, and with so much in our surroundings in this world which provides comfort for us. We are frequently reminded that people in many other lands do not possess nearly so much as we do in this natural way. And certainly many of them do
not have liberty to worship and the tremendous privilege of reading the Word of God publicly and privately. O how thankful we should be to our Creator for the way that He has made us, and the way that He does continue our lives in such a high degree of privilege and comfort.
4. Remember Prayerfully
We should also remember prayerfully that we all stand before our creator. For only by His goodness are our lives continued in the way they have been till now. We have no right to take for granted those things which we enjoy in our lives, but to remember that our Creator alone can continue these mercies to us, that all creation is under His control and command. There is much for us to pray for, that we might truly remember Him and give to Him “the glory that is due to
5. Remember Thoughtfully
And we should remember our Creator thoughtfully; because in the very context of that word we read, “Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth …… but know thou that for all these things God shall bring thee into judgment.” We read at the end of Ecclesiastes, too, that “God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil;” because our creator is also our Judge. Again and again in the Word of God we
read that we are responsible and accountable for what God has given to us, the way that we use our members, such as our eyes and our ears and our lips. Jesus said, “I say unto you that every idle word which men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.” And we should, all of us, carefully consider this. God has given us so much, and He will require of us that account for the way that we have used His wonderful gifts while we have lived. The apostle, writing to the Christians at Rome, says concerning these members of body and soul, “Yield yourselves unto God, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God”. And may we
by His grace do that today.
6. Remember Special Days
Also, we are to remember special days. Some days in our lives are more particularly favoured than others; especially, that may be, in a spiritual sense. No doubt we have often heard the desire expressed that a particular day, such as this day, might be “one of the days of the Son of Man”, one of the days that the Lord especially blesses;
that we might be able to say as the Psalmist, “This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will be glad and rejoice in it”. Now there was a day when the children of Israel were brought wonderfully out
of Egypt after they had been there in captivity four hundred and thirty years altogether. We read that the self-same day of which God had promised to Abraham so long before – that self-same day – God brought them out of Egypt; and He said, “Remember this day”. It was a night “much to be remembered” in the history of that nation. They had been brought out of Egyptian bondage by the mighty power of God; they had been sheltered under the blood of the passover Lamb from death and destruction; and God Himself had brought them out of that land of captivity. So it was a very special day to them.
And there are such special days of deliverance in the experience of the people of God. For that rescue of the Israelites from Egypt was a striking type or figure of salvation through the blood of the Lamb. And it may be – certainly with some of us it is – that we can look back many years to a particular day when the Lord revealed His great salvation, and when we were delivered from the cruel bondage of Satan and of sin, and really brought into a new kind of life altogether. And surely it is very appropriate that at times like this we should remember such days as that, such shining days, days of such joy and peace in believing. And if you have not experienced such a day as that, then the Lord help you to pray that it may be granted to you; because there are such wonderful days. In a way hey are unforgettable in the experience of the people of God; and yet we should remember them much more than we do. Because if he people of Israel had remembered God’s command better, then .surely they would not have been so soon grumbling, and repining, and rebelling against God. He said, “Remember this day” – this very special day when He had so wonderfully delivered them out of bondage. Yet so soon afterwards they were sadly complaining of heir condition. And there are those days of deliverance that the Lord grants to His people. There are days of special blessing. It is good to recall those times especially, and to remember what the Lord has done, because we do tend so quickly to forget His great mercies.
7. Remember the Way
And then also we are called upon to remember our journey – the journey through life. Some forty years after the Israelites had been brought out of Egypt, and were about to enter the promised land, God again told them to remember. He said, “Thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God hath led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments or no. And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers
know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God doth man live. Thy raiment waxed not old upon thee, neither did thy foot swell these forty years. Thou shalt also consider in thine heart, that as a man chasteneth his son, so the Lord thy God chasteneth thee. Therefore thou shalt keep the commandments of the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, and to fear him” (Deut. 8.2-6). They had been forty years in the wilderness; and some of us may have been many more years than that in life’s journey. And there is a spiritual journey which corresponds in some ways to the passage of the children of Israel through that wilderness. And the Lord says, “Thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God hath led thee” – to look back and remember those things. And He not only speaks of the blessings. He speaks of being humbled and proved, of being suffered to hunger, of being brought into trying circumstances to learn those lessons, especially that “man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live.” We have surely much cause to look back upon our lives and to consider our journey; and especially so if the Lord has so wonderfully brought us into that narrow way that leads to everlasting life; because there are many important lessons to learn in that way. Some are very pleasing, and some are very painful; but evidently they are all very necessary. The Lord chastens His people as a man will chasten his dear son. And though the treatment may often seem very difficult and very troublesome to us, very painful and very perplexing, yet where it is the Lord’s leading, we are to remember that, and to consider how necessary it is that we should be humbled before Him. “All the way my Saviour leads me” – what a wonderful thing that is to consider!
And at this time of year, we do well to look back and to consider the Lord’s leading and guiding through the days of another year. At the creation we read that the Lord said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven (the sun and the moon) and let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and for years.” They are not only for signs and for seasons – signs of God’s majesty and glory and power – but they are also for days and for years. We come to the end of this year because the earth has almost completed another circuit round the sun. And every day, still, according to God’s appointment, the earth rotates on its axis. So it is God who has divided our lives into days and years. And we are to remember – to remember all the way that He has led us. To remember all the way is a very considerable task, and it requires much diligence on our part and gracious assistance by the Spirit of God.
8. Remember God’s Word
And then also God’s Word is to be remembered. Jesus said to His disciples, “Remember the word that I said unto you, The disciple is not greater than his Lord.” And on other occasions He spoke in a similar way; “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” – hear, so as to remember. And His own earthly mother set us such an example in this. When others merely wondered at the words of the Saviour and those things that were said concerning Him, “Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.” She took great pains to remember the sayings concerning the Lord Jesus and His own words when He was but young.
And we are to remember the written Word. There is a great deal to remember in the Scriptures, and we are called upon to remember that. But it may seem very difficult to remember so much. There have been those in past ages who were able to remember all the scripture, who had committed the whole of the Bible to memory. Very few, one would imagine, have done that in these days. But even if there are many things that you do forget, the Lord has set in His Word very precious jewels of truth. There are many of these declarations where we find the Gospel set before us in a few precious words: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” What precious words they are! It is not .too much for you to learn those. And there are shorter ones than that: “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners of whom (this apostle says) I am chief.” Or in the fifth of the Romans: “When we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” Or in the sixth chapter: “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Or in this chapter: “By grace ye are saved;” “But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.” There are these short sentences which, so to speak, put the Gospel of Jesus Christ into a nutshell; they make it so easy for us to remember the essential truth of the Gospel. Whether young or old, we do have the ability to memorise these precious passages of the Word of God.
And then there is the preached word, which we are called upon to remember. As we read in the last chapter of the Hebrews, “Remember them that have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God, whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation (their conduct). Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and for ever.” Now the Lord is very good to us, and I do very gladly acknowledge, with great thankfulness, His loving-kindness and His faithfulness to me all the years that I have been here, and now during this present year. And it is not me that I
would want you to remember, but the Word that has been spoken to you. Because, as I’ve often mentioned to you, I really have nothing to say until the Lord gives it to me. And it is only because of His wonderful goodness and faithfulness that I am able to continue to speak to you in His name. It is a great privilege for me to speak in the Lord’s Name; and it is a great privilege for you to hear the Gospel of the grace of God. Although I do acknowledge that it is in much feebleness, and I’m so conscious of such great inadequacy, the Lord is mindful of us and merciful to us. And it is He who says that we are to remember these things; we are to take pains and to give diligence that we should remember more of what we hear, as spoken in the Name of God.
9. Remember Jesus Christ
And then, lastly, we are to remember Jesus Christ Himself. We have that verse in the writings of Paul to Timothy. Missing out the words that have been supplied by the translators, it reads, “Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead according to my Gospel.” And whatever else you may forget, and whoever else you may forget, O dear friends, do remember the Risen Lord. “Remember Jesus Christ raised from the dead” – ascended to the right hand of God. O do consider Him, and remember Him! Now that word was addressed to Timothy, who was a young minister evidently subject to ill-health and also to timidity, to some measure of tearfulness. And so Paul says to him, “My son, be strong in the grace which is in Christ Jesus.” ‘When you feel so weak, remember Jesus Christ who is so full of power; and when you feel to be so foolish and ignorant, remember Jesus Christ who is so full of wisdom and grace; and when you feel to be low in spirit and cast down, remember Jesus Christ, exalted to the right hand of God, who ever liveth to make intercession for all that come to God by Him’. O my dear friends, how we do need to remember Him much more than we do! It was said of Jesus Himself (and no doubt also true in measure of the Psalmist who wrote it) “I have set the Lord always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.” That was certainly most wonderfully true of the Saviour;
that He set His Lord, that is. God the Father, before Him all through His life. And how we need to follow in the same way, and to remember Jesus; to be constantly running “the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith”. So many difficulties and troubles of our life really result from the act that we do not sufficiently remember Him in faith and confidence, in love and in obedience. So there is this very beautiful word to Timothy; “Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead according to my Gospel”; that risen Lord with all His grace and
power, with all that fulness which He possesses as Mediator on behalf of all His dear people, and from which they may continually receive by coming to Him in faith.
How to Remember
But then, what does it mean to remember? The apostle here speaks of remembering the great change that had come over these Ephesians. Once they had been “without hope, without God in the world”, but now in Christ Jesus they were “brought nigh by the blood of Christ”. And that they were to ever remember – that they were a saved people, that God had changed them, and transformed their whole situation, and had brought them out of darkness into light, out of the kingdom of Satan into the kingdom of Jesus Christ. And if that is true of you, dear friend, how you need to remember it!
Now remembering often means using that faculty of our minds to store up information. It is possible for you to remember dates in history, or to remember telephone numbers, or to remember many other things by storing them in your minds. It is possible – and it is well as far as it goes – for us to remember the Scripture like that, to .see that we do have it in our minds. But clearly the apostle means something much more than that. It is not just remembering in our minds; it will affect, and must affect, our hearts, if we are to remember in the way that he means. In that passage in Deuteronomy God says, “Thou shalt consider in thine heart, that as a man chasteneth his son, so the Lord chasteneth thee.” It is not just to remember it in the mind, but to consider it in the heart. And the Psalmist says, concerning the Saviour especially; “My meditation of him shall be sweet, I will be glad in the Lord;” and, “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD my strength and my redeemer.” It is the meditation of the heart; we need the Word of God to sink down into our hearts, to be impressed there. As we read of that promise in the new covenant, where the Lord says, “They shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. I will put my laws in their minds and write them upon their hearts.” O it is heart-work that we so want!
And for this we so need the Holy Spirit’s influence. There was that very beautiful promise to the apostles of Jesus; and how they needed it, and how I need it still, and how you need it: He said that the Spirit of truth would come, and “He shall bring all things to your remembrance whatsoever I have said unto you”. The apostles could never have written the New Testament Scriptures, (the Gospels, and later the Epistles) unless the Holy Spirit had been their remembrancer, to bring to their minds and to their hearts those things which Jesus had spoken in His life. And the Holy Spirit still does this; He does bring those things to our remembrance. Now our
part is to give earnest, diligent, prayerful heed to these things; and to seek in all things that the Holy Spirit may be our Remembrancer, and write the truth concerning Jesus Christ upon our very hearts. And may the Lord so bless His Word to us all. Amen.