6 Things to Remember as We Pursue Christian Unity

Shai Linne
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“Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel” (2 Tim. 2:8). The idea of “remembering” is a continual theme in Scripture. That’s because we all suffer from spiritual amnesia. That is, we learn things and then, because of our sin, we forget what we learned and have to be reminded over and over. As the apostle Paul sat in a Roman prison, preparing for his imminent death, what did he want his protégé Timothy to remember? Jesus Christ. When he said “remember,” it wasn’t passive. He wasn’t simply saying don’t forget. He was telling Timothy to be proactive in engaging his mind. He had just told him a verse earlier to “think over what I say.”

We naturally call things to mind on a regular basis. Whether it’s for work, school, family, business, or leisure, we’re fixing our minds on different things regularly. Paul is telling Timothy to fix his mind on Jesus Christ. As we consider how to pursue ethnic unity, it may seem counterintuitive, but we must fix our minds on Jesus as we do so in order for our pursuit to be fruitful. So exactly what is it that we should remember?

1. Remember His Glorious Person

Remember that Jesus is the eternal Son of God, God over all, blessed forever, Amen.

Remember that He is the Word who was in the beginning with God and who was God.

Remember that He is equal in essence with the Father.

Remember that all that can be said about the Father’s divine nature can properly be said about the Son as well.

As the old school catechism put it, God is

. . . infinite in being and perfection . . . immutable, immense, eternal, incomprehensible, almighty, most wise, most holy, most free, most absolute; working all things according to the counsel of His own immutable and most righteous will, for His own glory; most loving, gracious, merciful, long-suffering, abundant in goodness and truth.[1]

These things are all true of God the Father and they’re also true of God the Son.

This is why when Jesus quieted the storm in Matthew 14:33, and it tells us, “those in the boat worshiped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God,’” Jesus did not stop them. This is why Jesus said in John 5:21, “As the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will.” This is why Jesus said in John 14:9, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” This is why Jesus said in John 8:58, “Before Abraham was, I am.” Remember that this eternal Word became flesh, so that not only is Jesus the Son of God, but He’s also the Son of Man. 100% God, 100% man. Two natures united in one glorious Person. Remember that in His incarnation, as John Owen said, “He became what He was not, but He ceased not to be what He was.”[2] As the hymn puts it, “David’s Son, yet David’s Lord.”[3] Remember His glorious Person.

2. Remember His Preexistence

Remember that Jesus is eternal. His appearance in the womb of the Virgin Mary was not the beginning of His existence. As the divine Son of God, Jesus is from everlasting to everlasting. He has eternally enjoyed the fullness of joy in His Father’s presence (Ps. 16:11). As Jesus prayed in John 17:5: “And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

“Remember that Jesus didn’t stay in the tomb, but that on the third day He rose from the grave.”

3. Remember His Perfect Life

Remember that Jesus fulfilled God’s law perfectly. Internally and externally. Every thought that Jesus had was a sinless thought, every word that He spoke was a sinless word, every deed He performed was a sinless deed. “He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth” (1 Peter 2:22).

4. Remember His Sacrificial Death

Remember that on the cross, Jesus suffered the full weight of the fury and wrath of God against sin. Remember that He laid down His life as a substitute in place of all who would trust Him, including you if you would trust Him even now. As 1 Peter 2:24 says, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree.”

5. Remember His Glorious Resurrection

Remember that Jesus didn’t stay in the tomb, but that on the third day He rose from the grave. Remember that Jesus has conquered Satan, sin, and death. Remember that Jesus “abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Tim. 1:10).

6. Remember Jesus in Every Situation

When you’re tempted to sin, remember Jesus Christ, that “he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted” (Heb. 2:18). When you’ve fallen into sin, remember Jesus Christ, that He is our “advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous [and that] he is the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 2:1–2). When someone has sinned against you, remember Jesus Christ, that He “endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted” (Heb. 12:3). When you’re discouraged, remember Jesus Christ, who said “in the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

There is much work to be done in the pursuit of ethnic unity. We need the help of the Holy Spirit to sustain us and give us endurance. So brothers and sisters, let us look “to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2).

As we do so, may the church walk in unity, may our witness to the world be strengthened, and may God be glorified. Amen.

[1] The Westminster Confession of Faith: Together with the Larger Catechism and the Shorter Catechism with the Scripture Proofs, 3rd ed. (Atlanta: Committee for Christian Education and Publications, 1990), 2.1.

[2] John Owen, The Glory of Christ (Chicago: Moody, 1949), 99.

[3] “Stricken, Smitten and Afflicted,” from the Trinity Hymnal, rev. ed. (Suwanee, GA: Great Commission Publications, 1990), 257.

For Further Reading:

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by Shai Linne

In the sixteenth century, the church faced a doctrinal crisis. Today, the crisis is race. We all know that racial unity is important. But...

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