Thou Shalt Remember
This excerpt from the sermon on 3/31/19 comes from 2 Peter 3:1-2 where Pastor Josh explained to us why the Christian needs to remember, how they need to remember it, and what they are to remember. To listen to the entire sermon, please visit our resource page.
“This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember..." 2 Peter 3:1
Peter said that in both of his letters, "I am stirring you up." In other words, Peter is saying, "the reason I have written you, is so that I can stir you up to remember…” This is Peter’s purpose statement. His aim is not to give new truth. One commentator has said, “Peter was not endeavoring so much to open up new vistas of truth [but] to stir up the minds of the saints to the tremendous importance of keeping in in memory what they had learned already.” (1)
What is interesting here is the sheer number of times that Peter seeks to remind Christians of things they already know. He did it in his first letter, and now in his second letter. In 2 Peter 1:12 he says, “Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have.” And in verse 13, “I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder.” And again in verse 15, “And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things.” Four times in this short letter, Peter is reminding us.
The Doctrine of Remembrance
Why is Peter so concerned to remind us?
1. Because the Lord constantly commands His people to remember.
God commanded Israel to remember His deliverance in order to humble them. Deuteronomy 8:2 “And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you.”
Remembering God’s works is the ground of all worship. Psalm 105:1, 5 “Oh give thanks to the Lord…Remember the wondrous works that he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he uttered,”
Remembering is built into the ten commandments themselves. Exodus 20:8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.”
Just type look up the word remember in your concordance, and you will be surprised to see how many times God’s people are commanded to simply remember.
2. Remember so you won’t be led astray.
Peter is reminding us because he is concerned that we will be led astray by false teachers. In chapter two he told us several times (vv. 2, 14, 18) that they will lead many astray. Now in chapter three, Peter exposes their main doctrinal attack in v.4 “They will say, ‘Where is the promise of his coming?’ For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as there were from the beginning of creation.” Now God willing, we will take this argument head on next week. But for now, I want you to see that Peter’s main weapon against this attack to stir us up to remember. Not to give us new information. Christians typically don’t need new information to fight against heresy. We just need to remember the truths that we already know in the Scripture.
3. Remember that you still have remaining hypocrisy.
Peter must remind us because even in the sincerest believer there is still so much hypocrisy. The Puritan Alexander Nisbet said, “[Even] in the sincerest believer whose heart is most lively…in [his] duties, a great remnant of hypocrisy, deadness and unwillingness” remains. Consider the parable of the ten virgins in Matthew 25. It wasn’t just the 5 foolish virgins who fell asleep. It was the 5 wise virgins as well. Meaning that even believers often fill their lives with all the the distractions of this world, so that they fall asleep. That is, they forget that the Bridegroom is coming. Christians often live as if Jesus Christ is not coming again.
Again this is not a point I have to prove. I only need to point to experience.
How often do you you consciously operate under the doctrine of the imminent return of Jesus Christ? How often do you remember that a day is coming very soon, the likes of which the world has never seen, when every person you know that you have ever met will either shout with victory at His return or will be weeping and gnashing their teeth?
You see, we know these things are true. But we forget them. And as a consequence, we often live our lives as if this world is our final home. This is not your home. That is what Peter is driving at. Look at verses 11-12: “Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God.”
4. Remember so you can be stirred.
Peter reminds us because our spirits are inactive until we are stirred up. Again in verse 1 Peter says, “I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder…”
On the one hand, Peter is reminding us of the radical change that happens to us at conversion. We have a sincere mind, that is a pure mind. A mind that has been fundamentally altered by the indwelling Holy Spirit. We now possess a spiritual understanding that we did not have before. Paul calls this the mind of Christ, 1 Corinthians 2:16, “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.”
On the other hand, Peter says that this mind needs to be stirred up. “I am stirring up your sincere mind.” The verb for stirring means to awaken. It was used of Joseph in Matthew 1:24 “When Joseph woke [stirred = same Greek word] from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him.” So verse 1 could be translated, "I am waking up your mind by way of reminder."
(1) H.A. Ironside, Expository Notes on the Epistles of James and Peter, (New York, NY.,: Loizeaux Brothers, 1947), pg. 93
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