Rev. Kuiper is pastor of Southeast Protestant Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
What a wonderful gift is memory! The ability to recall words, ideas, and experiences belongs to man’s creation in the image of God. More particularly, the ability to remember belongs to that aspect of the image of God called true knowledge. Memory allows the child of God to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ, and to enjoy friendship with God on the basis of that knowledge. Truly we have been fearfulIy and wonderfully made. Those who study the mind and memory inform us that the ability to recall increases until the age of maturity (18-20 years); that repetition and review are great aids in fixing information in the mind; and that the accumulation of data seems to be a hindrance in remembering more information. Clearly, our children should be kept from storing up frivolous, useless facts lest their “memory banks” become too full to retain those things which are of eternal and spiritual importance. God’s comforting promise, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6) implies a remembrance of spiritual instruction and direction.
Both the Hebrew and the Greek have a word, really a family of related words, that have a rich variety of meanings: to make, to mention, to call to mind, to recount, to remember. Monuments or memorials also belong to these families of words. Since the Christian religion is based on God’s progressive revelation, we will see that the gift of memory is vital to God’s covenant of friendship with us and our children.
The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is the God who remembers! He has perfect understanding of all things; ever before Him are all His works. God remembers His covenant (Gen. 9:15-16); His servants (Deut. 9:27); His people for good (Neh. 13:31); our frame that we are dust (Ps. 103:14); His mercy and His truth (Ps. 105:80); and His promise (Ps. 105:42). The Lord writes a book of remembrance for them that fear Him and think upon His name (Mal. 3:16). God’s remembrance is not limited to His faithfulness to His people, but He also has in memory the wicked, especially for what they have done, and do, to His people. God remembers in wrath Amalek for what they did to Israel when they came forth from Egypt (Deut. 25:17); Edom for destroying Jerusalem and dashing her little ones against the stones (Ps. 137:7); Balak and Balaam for their attempt to curse those whom God blessed (Micah 6:5); and the entire anti-christian world power, Babylon the great, for her iniquities (Rev. 18:1-5). God remembers and punishes all unbelief and sin with plagues, death, mourning, famine, and fire. The result is that everlastingly the wicked remember with useless remorse the sins they have committed against God and His church (Luke 16:25).
Although the remembrance of God is perfect, there is one thing God forgets, and loves to forget. He does not remember our sins but is the One who blots them out (Isaiah 43:25); He does not remember the sins of our youth (Ps. 25:7); in mercy He remembers no more our unrighteousness, sins, and iniquities (Heb. 8:12). The gospel truth that God sets our sins behind Him, that He casts them into the sea of everlasting forgetfulness, is not a fault or imperfection in the Godhead, but is a matter of righteousness and truth! Our sins are no more because they have been blotted out, paid for, taken out of the way, through satisfaction and atonement at the cross of Jesus Christ. The cross God remembers and never forgets!
In thankfulness for so great a salvation, we are called to remember God (Deut. 8:18); His commandments (Num. 15:39); His marvelous works (I Chron. 16:12); the Sabbath Day (Ex. 20:8); our Creator in the days of our youth (Ecclesiastes 12:1); our guilt before God (Deut. 9:7); the poor (Gal. 2:10); all the saints (II Tim. 1:13); the Lord’s death until He comes (I Cor. 11:24-25); those that have the rule over us in the church (Heb. 13:7); the welfare of Zion (Ps. 137:5, 6); the words of the Lord Jesus (Luke 24:6); and in the negative, warning sense, Lot’s wife (Luke 17:32).
All these things are to be remembered, not merely by the mind with its chemical/electrical impulses, but by the mind under the influence of a believing heart. They are to be remembered in faith, which is composed of the knowledge of all that God has revealed in his Word and of confidence that God’s wonderful Word is not only for others but also for me! Remembering these things works conversion of life every day, in sorrow for the fact that we have provoked this good God by our sins, and in rejoicing in God through Jesus Christ by delighting to do the will of God in all good works.
Do we know the Word of God as we should, calling to mind His mighty works, His faithfulness, His promises? Do we pray to God, calling upon Him to remember us for good, and beseeching Him to remember our sins no more? As people of the Book, remember!