Recently I heard a song that took me back to my childhood and beyond—the Statler Brother’s, “Do You Remember These?” Maybe you remember the song, or some of the allusions in the song:
Saturday morning serials
Chapters one through fifteen
Fly paper, penny loafers, and lucky strike green
Flat tops, sock hops, Studebaker, “Pepsi, please”
Ah, do you remember these?
Cigar bands on your hands
Your daddy’s socks rolled down
Sticks, no plugs and aviator caps, with flaps that button down
Movie stars on Dixie cup tops and knickers to your knees
Ah, do you remember these?
The boogie man, lemonade stand and taking your tonsils out
Indian burn and wait your turn and four foul balls
Ah, do you remember these?
I remember the song when it came out and I remember more than one of the references in the song. And when I heard the song recently, I couldn’t help but smile at the memory of listening to it on the radio in the mid-70s and some of the visions the song evoked.
But memories aren’t just for our pleasure. They are for our benefit.
Memories benefit us when we give attention to lessons learned in the past; but even more, memories benefit us when we remember God and His actions in the past, and that memory fortifies us to trust Him in the present and future. John Piper noted the connection between the memories of past grace and the confidence in future grace when he wrote,
…when gratitude for God’s past grace is strong, the message is sent that God is supremely trustworthy in the future because of what he has done in the past. In this way faith is strengthened by a lively gratitude for God’s past trustworthiness.…Gratitude for bygone grace is constantly saying to faith, “Be strong, and do not doubt that God will be as gracious in the future as I know he’s been in the past.”1
So we look to the past and we remember God’s provision, kindness, faithfulness, and steadfastness. Are there specific things we should remember? Yes, Scripture points to several themes and specific truths we should store in our memory banks:
- Remember the words spoken by the prophets and biblical writers (2 Peter 3:1-2). We are prone to forget, overlook, and ignore what God has already revealed in the past to guide our lives. We should remember what our Father has already revealed about life.
- Remember the commandments of Christ (2 Peter 3:2). Every time our Savior spoke He was revealing truth about Himself and the Godhead and He was revealing truth to be obeyed. In fact, it is the basic responsibility of all disciples to train other disciples “to observe all that I commanded you…” (Matthew 28:19). We will benefit from remembering the specific words of our Savior and His instructions.
- Remember the works of Christ. The followers of Christ and even the Twelve were prone to forgetting what Christ had done (Matthew 16:9; Mark 8:18; Luke 24:6; John 15:20; 16:4). Sometimes they forgot because they didn’t realize the significance of what they saw and heard in Christ. Sometimes the pressure of a moment clouded their minds distracting them from the memory of what they saw with Christ. But we have four gospel writers who have provided an ongoing testimony of Christ’s works to remind us of His care and provision for us.
- Remember the failures of sinners (Luke 17:32). Jesus reminds His hearers to remember Lot’s wife—and the intent is that His hearers remember the end of sin and ungodly rebellion. God is patient, but He is not eternally patient with rebels and He will pour out His infinite wrath against sinners and they will not be able to stand under that judgment (e.g., Psalm 1:4-6). We do well to remember that, particularly in moments of temptation.
- Remember your position before you were in Christ—and your position now that you are in Christ (Ephesians 2:11-12). Our lack of identity with the covenant people of God and our unbelief and rebellion left us estranged from God and hopeless—and then Christ interceded to give us forgiveness and life that we did not deserve as individuals or as Gentiles. We do well to remember that lostness and that grace we have received.
- Remember that God no longer remembers your sins when you have been forgiven (Hebrews 8:12; 10:17). We too often continue to experience guilt when we have been freed from guilt because we remember too vividly our sin(s). But God, who knows all things, chooses not to remember and hold our sins against us. Does He still know of them? Certainly—as omniscient God, He is incapable of not knowing them. But He chooses not to count them against us; we are free. And if He “does not remember” our sins, then we also must remember that He doesn’t remember and dwell on them.
- Remember Christ (2 Timothy 2:8; 1 Corinthians 11:24-25; Acts 20:35). We are to remember His death, burial, and resurrection. We are to remember His provision for sin (past, present, and future). We are to remember His Messianic position as the descendant of David who infinitely surpasses David and eternally reigns on David’s throne as King of all people and all things.
There are other things also to remember. (You might work on your own list of what Scripture says to remember.) Let those memories bring you joy. Even more, let those memories stimulate you to trust God today and tomorrow as you need additional grace. He who provided for you in the past will provide for you in the future.