In 2018, my father was diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia—a rare form of dementia now made famous due to Bruce Willis’s tragic diagnosis. In my father’s case, it began with the increasing inability to recall words and has now led to him being left with only a few short phrases and even fewer concepts.
This has been a painful disease for him and for all who love him. It has also sharpened my gratitude for the God-given gift of remembrance.
Church planters are called to remember many things as we toil in ministry for the sake of the gospel. One passage that’s helpful is 2 Timothy 2:8–13:
“Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself.”
I’d like to point out three truths this passage exhorts us to remember as we plant churches worldwide together.
Remember Jesus Christ Crucified and Risen
This first point may seem so obvious that it doesn’t require saying, but we know in our hearts this is not the case. If it was, why would the Scriptures call us to “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead” and the “salvation that is in Christ Jesus?” Church planter, remember that every Sunday churches gather around the world to remember this very thing: Jesus died in our place and was raised for our salvation. This is the message we preach as we plant churches worldwide for the glory of God.
Jesus calls us to commemorate the true and final Passover and himself as the true Passover Lamb when he said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” We must remember Jesus Christ risen from the dead and proclaim that gospel message to those in our churches as a matter of first importance. Church planter, remember that every Sunday churches gather around the world to remember this very thing: Jesus died in our place and was raised for our salvation. Click To Tweet
One of the most joyful moments Jesus gave me with my father in recent years happened in the summer of 2022 at our church’s baptism service. My mom was explaining to him that we were celebrating baptisms, a concept he no longer understood. So she patiently explained that people would be brought under the water to display their union with Christ in his death, and brought out of the water to display being raised with Christ. To which my dad exclaimed, “Yes, Jesus has been raised!” I tear up even now thinking about that, and I rejoice that God gave him the ability in that moment to remember Jesus Christ rose from the dead.
Remember God’s Word Is Not Bound
Paul writes that though he is bound in chains awaiting his inevitable execution, God’s Word is not bound! This is a vital truth for planters to remember. No matter the circumstances God has us—whether our churches are thriving or languishing, whether our families are joyful or hurting, whether we are healthy or sick, whether we are seeing unity or division—God’s Word isn’t bound. It’s moving forward. Let us cling to this, Christ is building his church and doing so through the preaching of a powerful gospel through weak people.
Remember God Is Faithful
Paul’s closing words in this passage are, “If we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself.” What a life-changing truth worthy of remembering! Our faithfulness is not and has never been the point. It’s the faithfulness of God that carries us and keeps us in himself. Christ is building his church and doing so through the preaching of a powerful gospel through weak people. Click To Tweet
As church planters, we should be devoted to faithfulness, which is far more important than fruitfulness, but let’s also remember that we, apart from Christ, can do nothing. It is only by his grace and mercy working in our lives that we can plant churches and finish our race.
Let us put these truths in the forefront of our minds, while we are able to do so. One of the hard realities that my father’s diagnosis has shown me is that none of us are guaranteed a nice, comfortable retirement with all our faculties intact. Yet the Scriptures are clear that God has a purpose in all he does. So I know he has chosen to sanctify my father (and each of us who are caring for him) through this terrible disease.
May we all, by grace, continue to remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, and all the other beautiful truths of the gospel as we boldly preach them to our congregations, because the Word of God is not bound and God is faithful.