Posted by: rcottrill | October 7, 2009

How’s Your Memory?

If you have ever struggled to recall a familiar phone number, or a street address, you may be slightly envious of Gon Yang-ling, in China. At the age of 26, he was able to recite accurately 15,000 telephone numbers! Most of us would have trouble with those 15 or so numbers we call regularly.  Other amazing feats of memory have been recorded over the years. I know of several people, including my own mother, who have been able to memorize whole books of the Bible, or hundreds of individual verses of Scripture. But such folks are unusual.

Having said that, though, it is important for us to make a consistent effort to commit as much of God’s Word to memory as we can. Then the Spirit of God can use it readily for our guidance and growth. The psalmist says, “Your word have I hidden in my heart that I might not sin against You” (Ps. 119:11). And the Lord Jesus prayed, “Sanctify them [guide them in holy living] by Your truth. Your word is truth” (Jn. 17:17). He desires to “sanctify and cleanse [us] with the washing of water by the word” (Eph. 5:26). The more of the Bible we know by heart, the more spiritual good it will do us.

Yet the Lord understands our limitations. He knows how forgetful we can be. That is one reason He has provided a memory aid for believers with regard to the cross of Christ. The cross is the foundation of God’s forgiveness, of the gift of eternal life, and also of our power for life and service now. But, as the saying goes, “Out of sight, out of mind.” Yes, we have God’s inspired Word recounting what happened, but it is so easy for this pivotal event to slip from our minds. And God knew it would. So He ordained the Lord’s Supper (the Communion Service) to bring it regularly to our awareness.

The Lord’s Supper was instituted when Jesus ate the Passover with His disciples, just before He went to Calvary (Matt. 26:26-29). Later we read of the early church “They continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42). In this context the breaking of bread is another term for the Lord’s Supper. (It would not be necessary to say they continued eating their meals.) And in teaching about this service, the Bible says it should be continued until Christ comes again (I Cor. 11:26).

James Montgomery (1771-1854) wrote a beautiful hymn in 1825 based upon this truth. As originally published, it was headed by the words, “This Do in Remembrance of Me.”

According to Thy gracious word,
In meek humility,
This will I do, my dying Lord,
I will remember Thee.

When to the cross I turn mine eyes,
And rest on Calvary,
O Lamb of God, my sacrifice,
I must remember Thee;


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