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A Time of Remembrance

by Ron Bartanen

bartenen3There is a time to forget, and there is a time to remember.  The apostle Paul, remarking concerning the earlier time in his life in which he was in rebellion against the gospel and dependent upon his adherence to the Law for salvation, wrote, “Forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto the things that are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13b-14).  Having come in faith to a knowledge of Christ, he would no longer adhere to a way that would offer him no hope.  For the believer, there is also a time for remembrance.  God, speaking through His prophet, Isaiah, declared to a people who had been called into a covenant relationship with Him, but had departed from Him, “Remember this, and show yourselves men: bring it again to mind, O ye transgressors.  Remember the former things of old, for I am God, and there is none else.  I am God, and there is none like me” (Isaiah 46:8-9).  Slowly the nation of Israel had departed from faithfulness to God’s covenant, embracing the gods and goddesses of their neighbors.  Similarly, in the New Testament, the Lord, through John, admonished the church at Ephesus, “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works: or else I will come and remove thy candlestick from his place, except thou repent” (Revelation 2:5).

 

For the past 150 years our nation has set aside a day of remembrance each year—a day to primarily remember those who have given their lives in defense of our country. As again this weekend we celebrate Memorial Day, let us remind ourselves that it is more than a three-day mini-vacation.  It is a time to remind ourselves of the principles and values for which so many have willingly given their lives.  May it not be said that these have died in vain.  Because of these, we have been blessed of God with liberty.  As Christians, our faith has, in the past, been seen as a spiritual foundation for our nation.  We have freedom of worship, and we’ve have the right, as guaranteed by our Constitution, to share our faith without government interference.  Thank God that through His providence we have been so privileged.  We are, however, in the midst of a significant cultural change—away from God and His word.  Liberty is now being redefined.  We now legally honor and support the killing of innocent, unborn children, calling it “women’s rights.”  In the process, however, businesses are required to pay insurance of employees to have abortions, regardless of religious convictions.  Christians who have businesses such as bakeries and photography are being required to help in the celebration of same-sex weddings with their services regardless of their convictions.  Now women and little girls are expected to share the bathrooms and lockers with men and boys who say they consider themselves female.  To respect the rights of unbelievers, military chaplains are being forbidden to pray any longer in Jesus’ name,, or to be critical in any way of Islam.  I do not believe such “rights” and “liberties” are those for which so many have given their lives.  Is God saying to us,, as was said to the Ephesians, “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent…or else I will come and remove thy candlestick from his place, except thou repent”?

 

The first day of the week is, for the Christian, a time of remembrance.  Jesus’ instruction to His disciples in instituting the Lord’s Supper, the partaking of bread and the fruit of the vine, typifying the body and blood of Christ, was “this do in remembrance of me” (1 Cor. 11:24-25), which became the practice of early Christians “upon the first day of the week” (Acts 20:7).  Remembering His death, we remember our status as sinners, our sins atoned for only by the merit of His broken body and shed blood.  Each Lord’s Day we are vividly reminded that when we were baptized, accepting Christ as Savior and Lord, we were cleansed of sin by God’s grace, being “baptized into Jesus Christ…baptized into His death” (Rom. 6:3)  Unless I think He died in vain, I will continue to live by faith in Him who died for me.  Continuing to walk in His light, “the blood of Jesus Christ, his Son,  cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).  Jesus’ death and resurrection has given us true and lasting spiritual liberation—freedom from the guilt, power and penalty of sin.  What memory could be more precious than that?

-Ron Bartanen lives in Sullivan, IL and preaches for the  Arthur Church of Christ




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If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.

Romans 14:8