Forgetting to Remember
1 Corinthians 15 : 3-4
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received:
that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried,
that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures...
The other day, I heard some old Britney Spears song that I never liked, yet somehow I knew every. single. lyric.
On the other hand, I can go to the store and completely forget to buy the thing I was shopping for.
What is up with my brain? Why do I sometimes remember completely useless knowledge and then forget things that are important?
Paul shows us in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 that the most important thing is the Gospel. The Gospel is vital information; it is a life-changing reality. Without the Gospel, we are left in our sin, without hope and without a right relationship to God.
And yet, we so easily forget the Good News of the Gospel. When we fail to remember it, we either become religious or licentious. We believe that we have to be good in order to win favor with God, or we believe we can just do whatever we want and “presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead [us] to repentance” (Romans 2 : 4).
Basically, when we forget the gospel, we become idolaters. We depend on something other than Jesus to put us into right relationship with God. We think maybe our own good works will impress Him, or perhaps God will just give us a free pass on all our bad behavior because it wouldn’t be very nice if He didn’t. No wonder Paul tells us the Gospel is of first importance! We are so lost without it.
So how do we keep our focus on the Gospel? How do we remember it when we have so many other things vying for our attention? I wish I were an expert at this, but honestly, I forget it all the time and look to anything BUT Jesus for hope, security, love, worth, and the list goes on. The line in “Come Thou Fount” so resonates with me on this topic:
Prone to wander, Lord I feel it
Prone to leave the God I love
Thankfully, God has been growing me in my focus on His Gospel. I have been learning how to apply the Gospel to every circumstance. God has been doing this both individually and especially in community with other believers. Basically, the more I hear it, read it, think about it, and speak it, the easier it is to remember and the more natural it is to apply it to my life and to others’ lives.
Jeff Vanderstelt calls this “Gospel Fluency,” and that makes a lot of sense. It’s like learning a new language – at first we have trouble learning and remembering how it all works, and we don’t really even know how to apply what we do know. Then, slowly, awkwardly, we start to use our knowledge more regularly, until it becomes so natural to us that we can even think in that new language.
To become fluent in the Gospel takes practice and repetition, just like any new language.
Jeff Vanderstelt, who I mentioned above, has some of the best resources on this of anyone I have encountered. Check out some resources below:
- (VIDEO) Jeff Vanderstelt teaching on Gospel Fluency at the Gospel Coalition
- (DOC) Gospel Fluency - helpful practices, questions, and discussion guides
As we focus more and more on the Gospel, may it become even bigger and more impressive to us and cause us to worship our Great Savior Jesus.