Manners and sanctification


Republished from May of 2016




What do we pray about that really helps those we are praying for? Certainly, we pray that God will bring restoration to a hurting relationship, physical healing, or provide the much-needed job. If you are not already, consider adding to the list praying for them to “remember” what they already know.

The Apostles Reminded People of What They Already Knew

“Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved…” – 1 Cor. 15:1

“Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have.” -2 Pet. 1:12

Apostles Paul and Peter were concerned that the people they were writing to would forget the riches they already had in Christ Jesus. These riches include the simple gospel truths that describe our new identity in Christ. Does it seem odd that the apostles were so concerned about people forgetting what they already knew?

We are Sojourners, Not Squatters

Hebrews 11:13 reminds us that just like our spiritual ancestors we are sojourners; strangers; aliens who are passing through this world. The implications of this truth are astonishing and pervasive when you  stop and think about it. It affects our values. Our purpose. Even our outlook on life itself. The life of a sojourner is not by nature, “easy”.

For several decades, life in America has for the most part been prosperous, free, and comfortable. I am grateful for these blessings from God. However, in the midst of all this prosperity and peace, have we forgotten that America is not our home? When God brings hardships into our lives our response can be much more “squatter-like” (one who feels entitled) than “sojourner-like” (one who accepts and endures).

We Need Hope More Than we Need Ease

The work that God is doing in our lives is one of conforming us to the image of his Son, Jesus Christ—a process to be completed when we have finally reached Heaven. In the meantime, I personally don’t like to admit that this process occurs best when I am struggling than when things are going swimmingly. Struggle forces me to actively seek and depend on God.

Difficulty and suffering are often the lot of sojourners who are by nature just passing through. Therefore, sojourners need hope more than anything. Enduring hope that pulls us through trials comes from only one place: the gospel. Though we are suffering physically or emotionally through personal conflict, sickness, deprivation, or persecution, we endure because we realize that what we ultimately need is what we already have in Christ and that one day, the suffering will end forever.

But the message of the gospel is easily forgotten because we are quick to seek what we want and need outside of Christ in the comforts we have come to expect. Again, seeking these comforts is not wrong, but when we forget that we must first find our satisfaction in Christ, it is easy to make everything else that we desire, idols. It is the nature of the flesh; indwelling sin with which we battle each day to look everywhere but Christ for supply.

Isn’t it striking that the writer of Hebrews—in writing to people who were suffering persecution: having their property confiscated, and being thrown in prison—chooses to write about… Jesus exalted, and all that he did for them as their once for all sacrifice and perfect high priest? Apparently, the writer knew that reminding them of THIS would make the critical difference in their remaining faithful to Jesus.

Trials will either drive us to Christ or away from Christ. The reminder of these truths was what the writer of Hebrews implored the Christians to do with one another so that they would not be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness (3:13).

C.S. Lewis reminds us: “People need to be reminded more than they need to be instructed.”

As elders, we would do well to include in our prayers for our sojourning sheep that they remember Christ and how what he has done for them gives them hope so that they can navigate the trials in a way that draws them closer to the Lord.