1 Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), 2 that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior (2 Peter 3:1–2, NKJV).
We need reminders. Calendars help us remember the day and its events. From a string around the finger, post-it notes, or an alarm clock, we need help remembering important events. God knows this, too. He inspired Peter and others to write letters that stimulate our understanding and remind us of the will of God. We “gird up the loins of (our) minds” as we remember the truth we know and in which we are established (1 Pet. 1:13; 2 Pet. 1:12-13). We must not forget the words spoken by the holy prophets. Their words were from God (1 Pet. 1:10-12; 2 Pet. 1:20-21). We must remember the commands of the apostles of Christ because they constitute the Savior’s will (1 Cor. 14:37). The pure (sincere) mind knows and remembers the inspired words from God. By learning and being grounded in the Scriptures of the prophets and apostles of Christ, we are equipped to (1) Identify and avoid false doctrine (2 Pet. 3:3-9), (2) Look forward to the day of the Lord in holiness and hope (2 Pet. 3:10-14), (3) Consider God’s longsuffering as securing our salvation, not abandoning us to the world (2 Pet. 3:15, 9, 3-4), (4) Handle God’s word properly to avoid falling into destruction (2 Pet. 3:16-17), and (5) Grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 3:18). The Scriptures stir up fervent faith as we remember them. Let us not forget God’s word nor scoff at its truth (2 Pet. 3:3-5).
Then God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the animals that were with him in the ark. And God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters subsided (Genesis 8:1, NKJV).
Noah “found grace in the eyes of the Lord” in a world of growing wickedness ripe for destruction (Gen. 6:5-8). The description of Noah is impressive: “Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God” (Gen. 6:9). This man of faith obeyed “all that God commanded him” concerning the ark, saving his family while declaring the world’s guilt (Gen. 6:13-22; Heb. 11:7). The worldwide flood teaches us God punishes sin (2 Pet. 3:5-10). Noah received God’s mercy because of his obedient faith. Remarkably, God saw Noah amid a wicked and corrupt world. God also sees Christians who are “blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world” (Phil. 2:15). God remembered Noah after the evil world perished. His compassion extended beyond the moment of crisis, sending wind to dry the earth, restraining the rain, and sealing the fountains of the deep (Gen. 8:1-2). To this day, God remembers His promises not to leave or forsake His people (Heb. 13:5-6). God sees the evil and the good and provides all we need for life and godliness (Prov. 15:3; 2 Pet. 1:3-4). He will not abandon people of faith (those who trust and obey His word). Scripture says, “Noah became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith” (Heb. 11:7). Like Noah, our faith must obey God to be saved by grace. Obedient faith is “accounted for righteousness” and remembered by God (Rom. 4:5-6).
6 that this may be a sign among you when your children ask in time to come, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ 7 Then you shall answer them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it crossed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. And these stones shall be for a memorial to the children of Israel forever (Joshua 4:6–7, NKJV).
The Lord instructed Joshua to set up twelve stones from the Jordan River as a memorial to God’s mighty deliverance and guidance of Israel across the Jordan into the promised land of Canaan (Josh. 4:1-11). Today is Memorial Day in America, a time to remember those who gave their lives in service of this country. We pause to reflect on the great moments of heroism, sacrifice, and deliverance. God wants Christians to remember even more significant moments of sacrifice and redemption. We remember the death of Jesus Christ as we eat the Lord’s Supper weekly (1 Cor. 11:23-26; Acts 20:7). We must never forget Jesus Christ, the raised Messiah, the world’s Savior (2 Tim. 2:8). Early saints remembered those who were imprisoned for the faith (Heb. 13:3). We ought always to remember the words spoken by Christ’s apostles (Jude 17). Memory is powerful. It helps us strengthen our resolve to be faithful in the present. Memories also warn us of the terrifying results of not obeying the Lord’s word; “Remember Lot’s wife” (Luke 17:32). It is appropriate to remember those who made great sacrifices for our country. Let us especially remember the Son of God who sacrificed Himself for us (Rom. 5:6-11). May we ever walk in His steps, thankful for His unselfish service on our behalf (Heb. 2:9-18).
12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12–14, NKJV)
If remembering helps us fortify our resolve in the present, forgetting helps us forge our path to the future. Forgetting is often about not letting past achievements and failures to get in the way of our aspirations and objectives as we move toward our heavenly goal. Paul chose to “forget” his previous advancements in Judaism and the confidence in the flesh they could prompt (Phil. 3:3-8). (These advancements led him to persecute Christians.) By counting them as “rubbish,” he was determined to “gain Christ” (v. 8). Paul also chose to “forget” his progress as a Christian (Phil. 3:9-11). He refused to become apathetic and neglectful in his faith; He had not yet attained “to the resurrection from the dead” (v. 11). His service to Christ was not complete (perfected, v. 12). He would keep moving forward toward the eternal prize while blessed with the “righteousness which is from God by faith” (Phil. 3:9, 12; Gal. 2:20). Like Paul, let us not put our confidence in the flesh and be deterred from “reaching forward to those things which are ahead” (v. 14). May we live for heaven while we live on earth.
Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent. (Revelation 2:5, NKJV)
Looking back on our lives is a good thing when it moves us to improve ourselves. God’s blessing of memory helps us recall and reform and be better than we were before. To be more cautious and careful, kinder, and more compassionate, more concerned for the things of God and the things of others (Eph. 5:15; Col. 3:12-15; Matt. 22:37-39; 1 Cor. 13:1-7). As you look back over your life in 2020, where was your spiritual life a year ago, and where are you now? Are you farther from or closer to the Lord? If you have fallen, repent and do the first works. Looking back can be harmful if we do so longing for the sinful deeds of the past. Jesus said to “remember Lot’s wife.” Instead of escaping for her life from God’s impending judgment against Sodom, she looked back in disobedience and became a pillar of salt (Lk. 17:32; Gen. 19:17, 26). Each of us has spent enough time in the past in the sinful ways of the world (1 Pet. 4:3). Now we must live for the will of God (1 Pet. 4:2). As you look back at 2020, are you yearning for the things you used to do before you were a Christian? If so, repent of such thinking and “cease from sin” (1 Pet. 4:1).
1 Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, 2 to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men. 3 For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another.” (Titus 3:1–3, NKJV)
Reminders. We all need them. They reinforce what we already know, encouraging us to persevere, to be on guard, and to grow spiritually. Paul had just exhorted Titus to “speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine” (Titus 2:1). Now he teaches him to remind Christians of sound attitudes and actions of faith. 1) We must remember to be submissive (v. 1-2). Obeying civil authority reflects the submissive lifestyle of the saint, equipping us for good works that cannot be successfully condemned (cf. Titus 2:8; 1 Pet. 2:11-12). Being submissive requires “showing humility to all men.” It takes moral strength to be humble, to be peaceable and gentle instead of speaking evil of others. 2) We must remember we once lived in sin (v. 3). Our salvation in Christ is not a license to be dismissive or condescending toward those who are still captives of sin. Recalling our previous sins (and forgiveness in Christ) is an incentive to remain vigilant in faith and responsive to help others escape evil. Do not be drawn back into foolish disobedience and selfish desires. The love of God in Christ compels us to be kind and careful to maintain good works that honor God and serve others (Titus 3:4, 8).
12 For this reason I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know and are established in the present truth. 13 Yes, I think it is right, as long as I am in this tent, to stir you up by reminding you, 14 knowing that shortly I must put off my tent, just as our Lord Jesus Christ showed me. 15 Moreover I will be careful to ensure that you always have a reminder of these things after my decease. (2 Peter 1:12–15, NKJV)
One of Peter’s goals in 2 Peter was to remind his fellow Christians they partook of the divine nature through “exceedingly great and precious promises” as they diligently made their “call and election sure” through spiritual growth and fruitfulness (2 Pet. 1:2-10). By doing so, they would enter the everlasting kingdom (2 Pet. 1:11). Note that Peter was not telling them a new message. They knew the “present truth” and were firm in it. He reminded them of these great truths so that after his death, they would continue to remember them and remain faithful. Teaching the gospel is not about hearing and telling some new thing like the Athenian philosophers (Acts 17:21). It is about telling “the old, old story” to each generation with repetition, clarity, and resolve. Like Peter, this present generation will die. May we continue to secure and arouse faith in our generation and the next by preaching the gospel truth that abides forever (1 Pet. 1:22-25).
13 And a voice came to him, “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” 14 But Peter said, “Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.” 15 And a voice spoke to him again the second time, “What God has cleansed you must not call common.” 16 This was done three times. And the object was taken up into heaven again. (Acts 10:13–16, NKJV)
Wouldn’t it be grand if parents could tell their child to do some chore only once, and the child would forever do the parents’ will? Of course, that rarely happens. Repetition is important to the learning process. We should not expect it to be different with teaching and learning the will of our Heavenly Father. God sent Peter a vision telling him to do the same thing three times, thereby emphasizing God’s determination in the matter, as well as His expectation that Peter accept the lesson and obey Him (which he did, Acts 10:28-29). God’s word patiently teaches, but we must be willing to learn. Let us learn quickly and obey fully. God’s patient teaching of His word is not our license to disobey Him or otherwise neglect His commands. Repetitious teaching also helps breakdown objections in the good and honest heart (as it did with Peter here). Repetitious teaching also gives us protection from falling back into sin (Philippians 3:1). Furthermore, repetitious teaching helps us remember what we have previously learned (2 Peter 1:12-15). Let us not get bored with hearing God’s word repeated time and again. Such instruction is for our learning, our exhortation, and our spiritual safety.
23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” (1 Corinthians 11:23–25, NKJV)
Does the church of which you are a member eat the Lord’s Supper every first day of the week? In the days of the early church, every first day of the week was “as often as” the disciples ate and drank the supper (Acts 20:7). We should follow the example of the apostles, including Paul, who ate the Lord’s Supper with the Troas church on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 4:16). Why do you eat the Lord’s Supper? Jesus said it is for the express purpose of remembering Him. When Christians eat the bread, we remember His body that was put to death for us. When Christians drink the cup (the fruit of the vine, Lk. 22:18), we remember His blood that dedicated the new covenant. The Lord’s Supper is a solemn memorial of Jesus’ death. We just observed Memorial Day by remembering those who gave their lives for our freedom. How much more then, ought we to honor Jesus by following His teaching with a weekly remembrance of His death, which gives us freedom from sin.