matuR = Reminder
Fidelity, not novelty, builds strong believers. Who among us has not felt the pressure to be clever, new, and different? Who has not set in their study looking over their message on Saturday afternoon and remarked, “They have heard all of this before!” The pressures to novelty are many. Some pulpits are in danger of becoming nothing more than Athenian soapboxes where “strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing” (Acts 17:21, KJV).
George Orwell once noted, “We have now sunk to a depth at which the restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men.” We in the church have come to that day. But it is not by accident, and it is not a new arrival. The Scriptures tell us that preaching to build believers means undertaking an intensive ministry of reminder.
Before you disparage the ministry of reminder, remember that the ministry of reminder is God’s work. Jesus told us, “The Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” (John 14:26). God sent the Holy Spirit for this very ministry of reminder. Reminder is His work, and we participate in it as we become His channels for reminder in another’s life. This knowledge emboldens us in our ministry of reminder: “I have written to you quite boldly on some points, as if to remind you of them again” (Rom. 15:15). To Timothy Paul said, “Keep reminding them of these things. Warn them before God” (2 Tim. 2:14). Paul charged Titus, “These . . . are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority . . . Remind the people . . .” (Titus 2:15-3:1).
We need to make reminder a priority in our preaching. Paul told the Romans, “I have written . . . as if to remind you” (15:15). Peter said, “Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking” (2 Pet. 3:1). If these books of the New Testament were written as ministries of reminder let us never conclude that a message is “just a reminder” of the familiar truths of God’s Word. Let us never underestimate the power of God’s truth as He reapplies it to the hearts of His people.
Everyone within the body of Christ is in need of the ministry of reminder. Those who struggle in their faith need it (1 Cor. 4:17; 2 Tim. 2:14). It is also for those who are growing and advancing in their faith. The Romans were those “full of goodness, complete in knowledge and competent to instruct one another” (Rom. 15:14), but they needed a detailed reminder of the truth (Rom. 15:15). Paul reminded Timothy of important truths (2 Tim. 1:6). Reminder is for those who already has a firm grasp on the truth: “Though you already know all this, I want to remind you” (Jude 5). Peter reminded his readers, “even though you know them, and are firmly established in the truth” (2 Pet. 1:12).
Don’t assume that “just reminding” the people of truth they have already encountered is taking the easy way out. Note the words of intensity associated with the ministry of reminder. “So I will always remind you of these things . . . I think it is right to refresh your memory. . . . And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things” (2 Pet. 1:12-13, 15, emphasis mine). “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15, emphasis mine).
Bill Hull has said, “In today’s church, the obvious is revolutionary.” Again he says, “The obvious restated and applied shakes the church at its foundations.” Love keeps prayerfully, diligently, sacrificially, faithfully, and repeatedly coming back to the multifaceted jewel of scriptural truth. Love holds that truth in awe and wonder before a congregation of hurting people and invites them to once again come and discover the unfathomable beauty of a clear look at that which they will spend eternity investigating.
F.W. Boreham said, “It is the duty of the pulpit to say the same things over and over again. They must be clothed in different phraseology, and illumined by fresh illustration, and approached by a new line of thought, but the things that are really worth saying must be said repeatedly.” As we do this, God will build His people strong in Christ.