Can you imagine how overwhelmed the disciples must have been when Jesus gave them the great commission? Jesus’ parting words were, “Go into all the world and make disciples of all nations (people groups)…teaching them to observe all that I have commanded” (Matthew 28:19).
For the most part, they were uneducated tradesmen. They were now being sent out to teach all the known world the things which Jesus had taught them. They weren’t trained or schooled teachers, but ordinary blue collar laborers. The sheer volume of what Jesus said and did during the 3 years they spent with him were overwhelming. John even wrote a few chapters later:
“And there are many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written
in detail I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books
which were written.” (John 21:25 NAS)
I’m sure they must have been thinking, ‘I wish I had taken better notes or asked more clarifying questions. How are we ever going to remember those things we have heard and seen?’
Jesus knew this question would come up so He told them earlier, “When the Spirit of truth comes He will bring to your remembrance everything I have told you.” (John 16) We know this happened because we can read about the ministry of Jesus and his disciples in the Gospels. Jesus’ words and deeds are accurately recorded by his disciples through divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit.(2 Timothy 3:16 )
The same Holy Spirit who brought the teachings and events of Jesus to the disciples memory, is the same Holy Spirit who brings to our mind the things we need to know and remember. That’s the reason it’s important to read and memorize the Word, as well as, read good books written by Spiritual men and women.
I have often thought, why has remembering the things I have learned been so difficult for me to retain? I have anxiously prayed for the Lord to help me remember what to say before a speaking engagement. Matter of fact, my wife has often said to me, “How do you remember your sermon and all those scriptures when you can’t even remember what I asked you to pickup at the grocery store?” I have to admit she has a point.
However, I am acutely aware of Jesus’ promise that the Holy Spirit “will bring to remembrance” those things that have been stored in my mind. The Holy Spirit’s role in our life is one of the most amazing aspects of the Christian life. Over my lifetime I have taught, preached or counseled hundreds of times. Often I entered the event sensing a deep degree of inadequacy. Some of those events, I had no idea what I was going to say or how I was going to respond to a hurting person. But as I yielded myself to the Spirit’s control, the words and scriptures began to flow. Sometimes I would leave the speaking event or counseling session stunned and surprised at the words that came out of my mouth.
I could never take credit for the Spirit’s work. It was Him that brought those things to my memory. There is no explanation other than the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise that the Holy Spirit would bring to our remembrance the Scripture and the teachings of Jesus. It’s an example of the life of Jesus being manifest through us. It’s the Holy Spirit manifesting Jesus to those around us.
God is faithful to honor His word. He has promised to bring to our mind the things to say, just when we need it. However, there is an “if” at play here. The “if” is we must first put the truths in our mind. That’s why I like to have an annual Bible reading plan. Sometimes it’s to read the whole Bible through in a year, sometime it’s to read just the New Testament. Often I will select a devotional plan to come alongside my Bible reading. The point is to be intentional.
Do I remember every word I read, absolutely not. But I rely on God’s promise to bring to my mind those truths when I need them. But He can’t bring it to your present memory if the Word hasn’t been put there in the first place.
Don’t forget, what we have read in Scripture and been taught through teaching, preaching and reading good books is in our mind. We might not be able to locate it at will, but if we will be “Holy Spirit sensitive”, and be careful not to quench or grieve the Holy Spirit by our unconfessed sin, then He will be sure to bring to your mind all those truths that will become salt and light to a needy soul.