I recently read about man who lost the function of his memory due to a horrendous mix up in the operating theatre during which the wrong part of his brain was removed. In all other areas he functioned well, but he was unable to recall and remember. Therefore, every time he picked up a book, it was as if he had never seen one before. Every friend became a stranger. Whenever he listened to music it was as if he was hearing the song for the first time. Therefore, every day was not just a learning experience it was a relearning experience. Every new day was new in a very real sense.
This man’s story, while out of the ordinary, does speak indirectly to a common problem, and one every Christian needs to address. It is the problem of theological amnesia. It is the clear and present danger of becoming spiritually shortsighted, and forgetting important truths that God wants us to keep in the forefront of our thinking. God wants those of us who have the full use of our minds to salt our thinking with biblical truth on a daily basis. After all, it is stinking thinking that ruins lives. Therefore, it is imperative that we not just learn, but relearn certain truths on a continual basis.
Peter was not slow to remind Christians of the Dispersion that Christ’s power was the source of the believer’s sufficiency, that the gospel was bejeweled with great and exceeding promises, and that they needed to diligently add to their faith that they might have an abundant entrance into God’s kingdom (2 Peter 1:12-13). In a similar vein, Paul told Titus to remind the Christians at Crete of particular moral imperatives, and the grace of God that enables and motivates, that behavior (Titus 3:1-8). The present imperative verb “remind” in Titus 3:1 conveys the idea of repeated action over time – similar to practice reps performed by athletes such as footballers. They needed to be reminded of these things continually. The advice given by Paul to Titus of reminding God’s people of certain gospel indicatives and imperatives was also given to Timothy his protégé in the ministry (2 Tim. 2:14). As Samuel Johnson, the renowned eighteenth-century writer and lexicographer noted, “. . . men more frequently require to be reminded than informed.”
On the one hand, this call to be repeaters of certain truths warns gospel preachers not to be theological innovators, or given to novelty. They are to be men who show God’s people the old paths, and who remind them repeatedly of the faith once delivered to the saints (Jer. 6:16; Jude 3). It is the pastor’s job to preach an historic faith, not a contemporary message. That is not to say the old message cannot be preached in a fresh manner, but it is to say there is no new message, only the old one repeated with renewed joy and conviction. On the other hand, this call for certain truths to be repeated is a reminder to Christians at large that we can so easily forget lifesaving truth. We can be victimized by doubt, brain-washed by culture, lied to by Satan, or just plain forgetful. That is why when it comes to certain foundational truths we need, like Naaman the leper in the Jordon River, to go bathe ourselves many times in the washing of the water by the word (2 Kings 5:10; Eph. 5:26).
Reps are also required of Christians, not just footballers.