Friday, October 3, 2014

SPIRITUAL MNEMONICS (2 Timothy Chapter 2)

2 Timothy 2:8, “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead.”

Soon after the bombing in Pearl Harbor our country awoke to a new cause.  The call to fight against the enemy captivated our society.  A new phrase, “Remember Pearl Harbor,” entered into its vocabulary.  Sometimes it was written out in full, sometimes it was simply abbreviated “RPH.”  It was inscribed on posters, pins, medals, patches, matchbooks, and even jewelry.  There was nowhere you could go without coming across something that would remind you to “Remember Pearl Harbor.”  That slogan helped our country to endure through four long years of war and ultimately win the victory over its foes.

Some things are of such a degree of importance that we can’t afford to forget about them.  With respect to these things memory loss is more than an annoyance, our safety or well-being might be at stake.  There is such a thing as memory loss in the spiritual realm.  Amnesia is defined as the “loss of memory.”  It is possible for the believer in Christ to suffer a kind of spiritual amnesia such that he forgets about Christ, the gospel, and how he or she was saved.  That condition is more than a mere annoyance…much more.

In his final epistle, to his beloved son in the faith, Timothy, Paul wrote these inspired words, “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel, for which I suffer hardship even to imprisonment as a criminal (2 Tim. 2:8-9a).  At first glance these words surprise us.  “Remember Jesus Christ,” how could we forget Him?  Paul surely did not.  Was it possible, somehow, for Timothy to forget?  What about us?  Could we be so lapse in our memory—so forgetful as it were—to forget that which is of utmost importance?

The command, “remember,” comes from a particular Greek word, mnemoneuo.  It means to be mindful of, to remember, to call to mind, to think of and feel for a person or thing.  It is related to our English word “mnemonic” which means “assisting or intended to assist memory.”  A “mnemonic device” is something that is useful in helping us to remember.  A person who would tie a string around his finger to help him remember something is using that string as a mnemonic device.

The term “remember” is a present, active, imperative verb.  It is an all the time command regarding something we ourselves are supposed to do.  What are we to remember?  Remember Jesus Christ.  Remember Him in who He is—the divine Son of God who came in human flesh to save us.  Remember Him in what He has done.  He died on the cross, “the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18).  Remember Him in who He is to you.  Remember how He has intervened in your life.  How He revealed Himself to you.  How He loved you and gave Himself up for you (Cf. Galatians 2:20).  Remember how He worked to cleanse you from sin (Cf. 2 Peter 1:9).  How He brought you into a personal relationship with Him.  How you’ve been subsequently blessed as a result of knowing Him.

We are sometimes forgetful, so God has ways of reminding us—The Holy Spirit, the Word of God, the fellowship of believers, the observance of the Lord’s Supper—these all serve as spiritual mnemonics.  In devotion to these we are less prone to forget that which should matter most.

In a devotion on this theme Charles Spurgeon once wrote, ““It seems then, that Christians may forget Christ!  There could be no need for this loving exhortation, if there were not a fearful supposition that our memories might prove treacherous.  Nor is this a bare supposition: it is alas too well confirmed in our experience, not as a possibility, but a lamentable fact.  It appears almost impossible that those who have been redeemed by the blood of the dying Lamb, and loved with an everlasting love by the eternal Son of God, should forget that gracious Savior; but, if startling to the ear, it is alas too apparent to the eye to allow us to deny the crime.  Forget Him who never forgot us!  Forget Him who poured His blood forth for our sins!  Forget Him who loved us even to the death!...Let us charge ourselves to bind a heavenly forget me not about our hearts for Jesus our beloved, and, whatever else we may let slip, let us hold fast to Him.” 

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