We Need Stirring Up!
Francis Bourdillon, 1864
2 PETER 1:12-15.
"Therefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though you know them, and are established in the present truth. Yes, I think it right, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance; knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ has shown me. Moreover I will endeavor that you may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance."
In spiritual things we need putting in mind — even of that which we know well. For spiritual things are not like common things. Though we may know them well — yet we are apt to lose the impression of them on our hearts, to leave off feeling them, to grow cold and careless about them. We need putting in mind and stirring up. We need to hear the same things again and again, "line upon line — line upon line."
There is something very solemn in the way in which Peter writes here. He was now an old man and expected soon to die. "Knowing," he says, "that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ has shown me." He was at present in a tabernacle or tent only, meaning his mortal body; but he was soon going to put off the tabernacle and to leave the world. As long as he stayed, he would remind them of the truth and press it home to their hearts and consciences. Moreover, he would do his best that even when he was gone, they should still remember what he had taught them; and, with that view, as well as for their instruction at the time, he wrote these letters to them. God has preserved these writings for us to this very day.
For eighteen hundred years they have helped to bring men to the knowledge of the truth, and to put them in mind of it. Perhaps the apostle himself little thought how long his words would last, and how many millions would read them and hear them and receive good from them.
We shall all put off our tabernacle in a short time. How important is it that we should not let the things we have heard slip — that we should be giving diligence to make our calling and election sure — that we should not be negligent, careless, forgetful, or slothful!
The words of the aged apostle, so near his end, must have come to the early Christians with a solemn force. Let us also take them, not only as a portion of the inspired Word — but also as the parting charge of the dying servant of God. When eternity is near — solemn things seem yet more solemn. It was in this frame of mind that Peter wrote. In the same spirit let us receive his words.
We need stirring up — not so much to be taught something new, as to be stirred up as to what we have learned already.
Most of us have long ago been taught the facts and doctrines of the gospel. Probably we know them well. Perhaps we are even firmly "established in the present truth." We have learned of Heaven and Hell and eternity. We have been taught our lost estate as sinners, and that Jesus died for sinners — that His precious blood has atoned for sin, that He has opened the way for us to the throne of grace and to acceptance with God. We have heard of death and of judgment — and of the uncertainty of life and the shortness of time. We have been told . . .
of Satan's devices,
of the value of prayer,
of the mercy and love of God in Christ,
and of the work of the Spirit.
What is our spiritual state, after so much teaching? Alas, how cold are our hearts, how trifling are our thoughts, how small is our zeal and love! How little we have of deep sorrow for sin — and how little sincere faith in Jesus! Where are the fruits of the Spirit in us? Where is . . .
that deep concern,
that earnest desire,
that warmth of feeling,
that pressing toward the mark —
which might be expected in those who have learned such things?
We need stirring up!
The prophet Isaiah speaks of stirring up oneself: "There is none who calls upon Your Name — none who stirs up himself to take hold of You." We should stir ourselves up thus. We should think of the great concerns of our souls. We should wake up from sleep. We should rouse ourselves to lay hold by faith afresh and more earnestly, on Christ our Savior.
We should stir ourselves up also by the Word of God.
Let us apply it to ourselves and take it as if addressed to us.
Let us not listen to it or read it carelessly.
Let us not be hearers only — but doers of the Word . . .
receiving it as God's message,
pondering it in our minds,
applying it to ourselves,
believing it, and
striving to live by it!
Peter wrote as an aged servant of God, soon about to depart, but he wrote also as an inspired apostle — his words therefore are to be taken as the message of God to us.
Once more, let us pray for the quickening influence of God's Holy Spirit. This alone can really stir the depths of our hearts and rouse us from spiritual sloth and give us new earnestness and zeal.
Will He not hear our prayer for the quickening influence of His Spirit? Let us not doubt that He will. In all the coldness and deadness of our hearts, let us pray to Him for this; not waiting until we feel a glow of warmth and earnestness, but asking for that very thing. The Lord Jesus Christ Himself said of the promised Comforter, "He shall teach you all things and bring all things to your remembrance whatever I have said unto you."
O God, our Father, for Jesus Christ's sake, send the quickening influence of Your Holy Spirit into our hearts. Leave us not in coldness and carelessness. Leave us not in the mere profession of faith. Preserve us from being barren or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Teach us to feel more deeply our need of Him; teach us to believe in Him more simply and fully; stir us up to lay hold on Him by faith, and help us to find peace in Him. Renew in us past impressions and convictions of Your Word — renew and strengthen and deepen. Help us to have these things always in remembrance. Revive Your work within us. Thus, even while in this tabernacle, may grace and peace be multiplied unto us; and hereafter may an entrance be ministered unto us abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Lord, hear us for His sake. Amen.