Remember, Repent, Return

Jesus commanded his followers to celebrate communion in remembrance of him – what he did for us on the cross.

“And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19).

“and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me” (1 Corinthians 11:24).

It is a celebration of grace. As we remember God’s grace – we will naturally respond to that grace by loving him for what he has done.

That love will naturally produce works of love. Just as we have been learning from Paul in Galatians – grace does not produce laziness. It produces the Fruit of the Spirit in our lives.

The churches in Ephesus had experienced that reality. Paul talked about their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and their love for all the saints (Eph. 1:15).

But just a few years later, something had happened in Ephesus. Jesus sent them this message:

“But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first” (Revelation 2:4-5).

How could the Ephesians get back the zeal they had when they first came to Christ?

First, Jesus commanded them to remember from where they had fallen. There had been a time when God’s grace was so real to them that it made the world new – like when you get your first pair of glasses.

Secondly, Jesus commanded them to repent. Any life-change begins with a mind change. Most people who finally overcome an addiction or achieve significant weight loss remember a turning point – a time when their mind gets redirected toward health and wholeness. That’s what it means to repent. There may be battles ahead, but repentance is when you finally decide to enlist in the war.

Thirdly, Jesus commanded the Ephesians to return to the works they did at first. I think the order is very significant here.

If you don’t start by remembrance – by celebrating God’s grace – the works you try will be dead works. They won’t accomplish anything.

If you don’t personally repent, those sins you are hanging on to will keep dragging you down and you will not see victory.

Those of us who remember God’s grace and have repented of our sins are “God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).

As we walk in those works we will find that old feeling creeping back into our hearts – that feeling of newness, joy, and love.

If you are here today, and you have not yet responded to God’s grace by giving your heart in repentance, make that decision as you partake of these symbols of that grace.

For those of us already in Christ, as we remember God’s grace, let us respond by determining to do the works we did at first.