|Volume 21 Number 6 June 2019||
We should remember Christ both on Sunday morning and all week. When I hear, “Remember Christ,” the first word to come to mind is gratitude. For what are we grateful? We are grateful for what we have and for the promises of God. Mostly, I think I’m grateful that God does not change, because that consistency is why I don’t live in fear. Note three things God has always done.
#1 God has always taken care of His people. Deuteronomy 2:7 says, “For the LORD your God has blessed you in all the work of your hand. He knows your going through this great wilderness. These forty years the LORD your God has been with you. You have lacked nothing.” Forty years, and yet, they lacked nothing. What about in the first century? Matthew 6:31 says, “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.” What about the twenty-first century? When I was little, we didn’t have a lot of money, and we wore hand-me-downs. We didn’t have birthday “parties;” we simply had birthdays. Yet, I can’t remember ever going hungry. God has always taken care of His people.
#2 God has always had promises and conditions. In Numbers 13-14, Israel camped outside Canaan. Moses sent in 12 spies, and when they returned, ten said, ’There’s no way we can take this land. They have strong men and great armies; we don’t have a chance.’ However, in Numbers 14:8, the other two said, “If the LORD delights in us, He will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land that flows with milk and honey. Only do not rebel against the LORD. And do not fear the people of this land, for they are bread for us. Their protection is removed from them, and the LORD is with us; do not fear them.” They knew then what we know now. It doesn’t matter how strong they look, how many there are or how powerful they seem. The inhabitants of Canaan couldn’t win because God already said Israel would win.
God was going to keep His promise to deliver Canaan to the Israelites, but Israel had to meet God’s conditions. What about in the first century? In the first century and even today, we as Christians can’t earn Heaven, though it is promised to us. There are conditions that God has placed on our reception of Heaven. The best way I know to explain is this: I’m walking through the mall with a friend, and someone asks if I would like to enter a drawing for a car. Well, I don’t have a car, and I can’t buy one. So, I say, “Yes, what do I need to do?” He says, “Just write your name on a piece of paper and throw it in the bucket. We will draw a name and announce it over the radio at 6:00 tonight. However, there is a condition. If you are not there within one hour of your name being called, we will draw another name and give it to someone else.” So, I write down my name and throw in the bucket, which is already half full. So, I don’t give it much thought. Sure enough, my friend calls a little after 6 and says, “Hey, do you need a ride to go get your new car?” I say, “What new car?” He says, “Your name was announced over the radio; were you not listening?” “Yes, I do need a ride.” So, he comes, and we go. Sure enough, we get there in time, and they hand me the key as promised. Question One: Did I earn it? No, it was freely given to me. Question Two: Would I have received it if I had not met the condition? No.
Likewise, in the first century, what was the promise? What was the condition? John 14:2 reads, “In My Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?” There is the promise. Let’s go down to verse 6, which reads, “Jesus said to them, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’” There is the condition. Where were they trying to go? To the Father. How could they get to the Father? By coming to the Son. Acts 2:38 explains how to come to the Father through Jesus in the first century. “And Peter said to them, ‘Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’” Notice verse 39, where it says, “For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to Himself.” We have the same promises and conditions today. God has always had promises and conditions.
#3 God has always called His people to remember. In Deuteronomy 6, Moses, preparing Israel to enter the Promised Land, said in verse 12, “then take care lest you forget the LORD who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” Moses could see even then that once they got comfortable, they would forget. Christ also knew how easily we can forget. God freed Israel from slavery in Egypt, just as Christ frees us from slavery of sin. If we forget that, we fall back into sin. How did God help Israel? Deuteronomy 6:20-21 records, “When your son asks you in time to come, ‘What is the meaning of the testimonies and the statutes and the rules that the LORD our God has commanded you?’ then you shall say to your son, ‘We were Pharaoh’s slaves in Egypt. And the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand.’” Skip down to verse 24, where the narrative continues, “And the Lord commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that He might preserve us alive, as we are this day.” He told them to remember.
How does God help us now? Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 11:24-26,
For I have received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the same night when 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 also He took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.
Now, skip down to verse 28. “Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup.” It is examination of ourselves that keeps us free. That weekly renewing of our hearts keeps our minds focused on Christ. It should be all about Him. He lives for us, and He died for us. Jesus told us to remember Him, and yet, He designed the Lord’s Supper to be for our good, to help us to keep our focus on Him. We should thank God for that memorial, and we should honor Christ with remembrance.
[Editor’s Note: General principles applicable to the children of God in Moses’ day are equally applicable to everyone now living. That is, God makes conditional promises that require obedient responses for mankind to receive those promises. ~ Louis Rushmore, Editor]
The Grand Revival
Raising the dead to life, both spiritually and physically, proves to be God’s favorite hobby. He must have relished showing the prophet Ezekiel the fantastic vision of dry, human bones coming to life in Ezekiel 36. God created a masterly production of a supernaturally weird experience, just like our ultra-modern science fiction movies.
Human skeletons plugged up this valley. He plopped Ezekiel, the Israelite priest, down in the middle of a monstrous scene of horror. Then, the Lord told him to stand, face the bones and preach—preach to millions of bones that couldn’t hear anything. Well, Ezekiel obeyed, and while he preached, the skeletons gradually reformed themselves into bodies, sinew by sinew, organ by organ. Then, God ordered him to preach the breath into them. Ezekiel kept preaching, and suddenly, the bodies moved and stood up. They lived! He now stood among thousands of people who had been dead a few minutes before!
Ezekiel discovered God’s passion, making something out of nothing, transforming horror into joy, bringing the dead to life, with just His words! God’s words alone, preached from man’s tongue, can bring life into the calcified dead. “But God being rich in mercy because of his great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)” (Ephesians 2:4-7).
Most humans choose to live a lifeless, dry-bone-life instead of living, moving and having our being in the God who has such a rich imagination for turning nothing into something (Acts 17:28). Placing ourselves in the hands of the supernatural God is always exciting. He never allows us to get bored. If we ever get tired of being Christians, then we cannot blame God. If we find ourselves indifferent or turned off to doing things that please God, then we have jumped out of His protective hand, and we have allowed ourselves to lie around in a bone-choked valley.
Please, don’t allow yourself to get into this situation! Live the Christian life as Paul admonished by renewing your soul daily, and daily making sure of your calling with which God called you. Place your soul daily in God’s very capable hands, and live (Romans 12:1-2; Ephesians 4:11; John 10:10)!