All throughout scripture, Christians are told to remember where God brought them from. Paul, when he was tried for his life, told the judges about his conversion. He thought about that day in which he first met his Savior, when he first experienced grace. David said, “My soul is cast down within me, therefore I will remember You from the land of Jordan and from the heights of Hermon, from the Hill Mizar.” (Psalm 42:6) He also remembered the lion and the bear, when he went to fight with the giant of Gath. (David said moreover, The Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. And Saul said unto David, Go, and the Lord be with thee. – 1 Samuel 17:37) When God brought the children of Israel through the red sea, into the wilderness, they had to turn back to remember the drowning of their enemies. They had sang His praise before, but they quickly forgot His works. (And the waters covered their enemies: there was not one of them left. Then believed they his words; they sang his praise. They soon forgot his works; they waited not for his counsel. – Psalm 106:11-13)
John Bunyan, in his book Grace Abounding, wrote “I thank God, for His grace was greater than my sins and Satan’s temptations, too. I can remember my fears and doubts and sad months with comfort; they are as the head of Goliath in my hand.” You see, to David, there was nothing like the giant’s sword. The very memory of it reminded him of God’s deliverance. We should be able to look at our past, our sins, our troubles, our trials, we should be able to remember how wretched and blind and lost we are with great comfort knowing that we had “a great help, a great support from Heaven, and great graced from God extended to a such a wretch as I.” Remember, like Paul, the day that we were saved. Remember that day that grace entered our hearts and the day that we repented of our sins and came to Jesus. The day that we were healed. Look at your past with fondness because our terrible past is just a testament to how strong and mighty our God is. Remember the place where God visited our soul for the very first time. Remember the day that our fear of death vanished because Jesus conquered it for us. Remember the day we were saved from Hell and Satan’s temptations.
The best way to explain grace and His love for us sinners to a lost soul isn’t by quoting John 3:16 and other scripture and leaving it at that. It isn’t by changing the Gospel and making them comfortable…it is by remembering where He brought us from so we can use our own testimony. Our testimony has great power. We should be using it to relate to other people – say, you meet someone who is struggling with the same sin that you once struggled with, this person feels trapped and like they will never experience freedom from this sin, you can tell them your story and show them how powerful God is, how He freed you and destroyed Satan’s temptations and rescued you out of your pit of sin. How He rescued you and gave you salvation.
I hear so many people telling us to forget our past and let go of our issues, let go of our old sins. And yes, we should let go of our past and not let it hold us back. We should be constantly moving forward. Remember Lot’s wife. It is extremely dangerous for a Christian to keep on looking back! Keep your eyes on the finish line, on Heaven. But at that same time, we need to remember our past, not so it can make us feel guilty or make us desire to have our old lifestyle back, but so we can remember how amazing God is. God is able to transform drug addicts, to heal alcoholics, to save thieves and murderers and every single sinner on this earth. No matter what you’ve done, or who you have been, you are not too far gone for God’s grace to rescue you. All He requires is belief, trust and repentance. There is nothing that God can not heal, and with His help, there is nothing that we can not turn away from.
We were once held captive by Satan and sin. We were all once filled with unrighteousness. Even John Bunyan himself, a man who Charles Spurgeon, another amazing preacher, said would bleed scripture if he were cut, was once filled with this unrighteousness. In his book Grace Abounding, he reflects on his past. He says that he was once held captive by the devil and had committed himself to doing his will. He had a penchant for cursing, lying, swearing and blaspheming – especially towards the holy name of God! He says that his sin was just a second nature, and he hated the Lord because He had afflicted him with many things in hopes to turn him around. I think of Samuel, who, if you remember, was also called by God in a dream, similar to how Bunyan claims God spoke to him. Remember, God spoke to Samuel time after time until he finally listened. How alike Samuel we are, except most of us ignore God for much, much longer. Think of how long we ignored Christ, of how long we stayed in our sin, yet He is still willing to forgive us. Whether you have cursed His name for years and you are finally saved at an old age, or if you are saved as a young child, He is always willing to forgive.
Our past is nothing to be ashamed of, in fact, I dare say it is something to be proud of, because our God is strong enough to wipe it away. Our God is mighty enough to save us from our wretchedness. Our God is loving enough to love us even though we are so sinful. God is full of grace and forgiveness so that “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Our past is like the head of Goliath in our hands, a trophy of what God delivered us from. And don’t think our past and our old sins are any less destructive or evil or strong than Goliath was. The devil himself held us in his arms, but we broke free from him thanks to God. God defeated death for us, He defeated Satan, He defeated our sins!
“Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him.
I want us to look back on scripture and see what Jesus always asked of those who He healed. Think first of the woman at the well,
In John 4, verses 28 and 29, we see her go to tell others about her conversation with Jesus,
28 The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men,
29 Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?
She immediately recognized that this man was not simply a prophet, nor just a disciple. He was Christ. And what did she do? She got up and told people – He told her about all the things she had done, He Himself made her remember her past! We read on,
39 And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did.
40 So when the Samaritans were come unto him, they besought him that he would tarry with them: and he abode there two days.
41 And many more believed because of his own word.
Our testimony will bring others to Christ, and if we are saved, we should be using it! We should be telling others about what Christ has done for us! Because, while using scripture is extremely effective and it is Biblical to do so when witnessing (remember my post about our Ten Cannons.) we should also be telling these people what Christ did for us. Think about the other people that He saved – the blind man, the lame man, the man who was possessed by demons. They didn’t just go to people and say, “Jesus is the Son of God!’ they told the people about what He had done! Anyone can tell scripture and scripture can and will impact people very strongly, but it is so important that we share our own past with others and that we remember it for ourselves so we never forget how strong God is! These lost souls that we meet will know that if God could save us, if He could change us, He can save them, too.
Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what He has done for my soul.
I will close this post with another quote from John Bunyan – I hope that you all take his words to heart and remember the day that God saved you so that we never grow weary, so that we never forget what we were saved from! Don’t let yourself grow bored of this life or grow weary from whatever trials you face, remember that our God saved us from damnation. He is strong enough to save us, and He has delivered us from our own Goliath’s. Your past is just that – your past. It is nothing to be ashamed of because it only proves how amazing Jesus is.
“It is profitable for Christians to be often calling to mind the very beginnings of grace with their souls.”
― John Bunyan