Amnesia is a terrible disease usually brought on by some sort of blunt force trauma to the brain. I recently heard the story of a woman who got amnesia when she happily lifted her baby in her arms only to accidentally hit the ceiling fan. While the baby was okay, the motion knocked the fan blade off balance and hit her on the top of her head, leaving her with amnesia. She had to relearn who she was, who her husband was and how she met him, and even who her baby was.
Physical amnesia is terrible, but spiritual amnesia is far worse.
Those who suffer from spiritual amnesia have forgotten who they are and whose they are, and as a result are incapable of carrying out the mission God has for them. Truth be told, every believer struggles on a regular basis with spiritual amnesia. It happens when we begin to listen to ourselves more than we preach the Gospel to ourselves. It happens when we gradually begin believing the lies of the world, the flesh, and the devil over the truth of God’s Word. And before we know it, we’ve forgotten who we are and what God has done in Christ to redeem us. There is a reason the Apostle Peter said, “I intend always to remind you…though you know…I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder…I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things” (2 Peter 1:12-15).
So if you struggle with spiritual amnesia, what can you do to overcome it? Just as those who struggle with physical amnesia must relearn their identity and calling, so we must relearn our spiritual identity and calling through regular exposure of our hearts to sound Gospel truth.
In his excellent book How the Gospel Brings Us All the Way Home, Derek Thomas explains, “If we forget who we are, we will fail to be what we should be. And that is our biggest error—a failure to remember who we are in Christ.” In an attempt to help those of us with spiritual memory loss, the Apostle Paul pulls out a few pictures to jog our memory. In Titus 1:1-4, Paul helps us understand our true identity, salvation, and task. He writes, “Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began and at the proper time manifested in His word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior; to Titus, my true child in a common faith: grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.”
Our True Identity: We Are Servants Sent Out to Save Some
Before being an apostle, Paul sees himself as God’s servant or slave. Being a servant means putting your life on the altar every day and letting God decide what His plan is for it. Paul says in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” If the Apostle Paul considered this his primary identity, we must see it as ours too.
But Paul served God as an apostle, or “sent out one.” While there were only thirteen apostles, every believer has been sent out by Christ to be on mission. Like Paul, we must see our identity as missionaries. We are on mission everywhere we go. It’s not about where we go on a map, but who we are when we get there. In his book, MARCS of a Disciple, Pastor Robby Gallaty explains it like this: “The most overlooked mission fields are the ones we spend the most time in: our workplaces, our neighborhoods, and in the presence of our family members…there is no reason a believer should have to carry a passport, pack luggage, and hop on a plane in order to be missional. The trick is thinking like a missionary in our everyday lives.”
Paul was sent out to save some. His mission entailed bringing God’s elect to faith in Christ and a saving knowledge of the truth of the Gospel. God has a people He will redeem and it is our task to bring the Gospel to all peoples so that He might save some. We do not get to choose to whom we should preach Christ. We proclaim Him to all peoples and let God have mercy on whom He will have mercy.
Our Salvation: We Enjoy Grace, Godliness, and Future Glory
If those who believe and know the truth of the Gospel are called God’s elect, then our salvation is all of grace. Christian rapper Shai Linne says it this way: “The Father chooses us, the Son gets bruised for us, and the Spirit renews and produces fruit in us.” While we must personally receive Christ by faith and repent of sins, this also is a gift of grace.
But those God has redeemed to Himself always produce lives of godliness. The faith that claims Christ and yet cannot produce a real and recognizable love for Him and submission to His Word is, as James says, a dead faith.
We must also remind ourselves when we forget that our salvation is eternally secure. The God who never lies promised before times eternal that we would reign with Him in glory and nothing can break the faithfulness of God. His Word is unbreakable..
Our Task: We Are Entrusted, Commanded, and Given Grace to Preach the Gospel
Paul tells us in Titus’ introduction that he was given a sacred trust when God commissioned him to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles. As with Paul, so also with us, we are entrusted with the only message that saves. We entrust things to people all the time: keys to our home when we go on vacation, our vehicles, our clothing, our books. God has entrusted us with the preaching of His Gospel. But we cannot decide not to evangelize. We are commanded by a higher authority to do so. If we do not feel qualified for the task of evangelism, God promises us grace and peace as we do so.
As we regularly remind ourselves of our identity, our salvation, and our task, we will then be able to effectively minister the glorious Gospel of God’s grace in the face of spiritual amnesia.