The ancient city of Athens was famous for its schools and emphasis on philosophy. When the Apostle Paul arrived there he simply preached the same gospel message that he preached every where. This was very unusual because we are told that “all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing” (Acts 17:21). America has become the new Athens. Everyone is looking for something new.
Truth is never new. Truth is timeless – it is eternal. Men do not need a new thing. They need to hear the same things again. Paul’s entire ministry was built upon a few simple truths. When writing to the church in Philippi he said, “To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe” (Phil. 3:1). The same things are the safe things.
When Charles Spurgeon was just a boy preacher he preached in his grandfathers pulpit. As he preached, his grandfather would sit behind him and offer words of encouragement. When young Spurgeon said something that his grandfather liked, the elder Spurgeon would say, “Tell them that again!” Charles Spurgeon would pause and repeat word for word his last statement. Perhaps it is time to “tell them that again.” People are searching for truth and we must never tire of sharing it.
It has been often stated that repetition is the mother of all learning. Most people are afraid to repeat themselves. For many years I have observed Pastor Clarence Sexton as he instructs students at Crown College. While many leaders are searching for some novel approach, he has consistently repeated the same things again and again. So much so that hundreds of graduates around the globe can be heard articulating great truths in the same way. Many days I have found myself speaking truths that I have heard repeated through the years. This is the power of “the same things.”
As a teacher I early discovered three things. First, every student will not get it the first time. Second, every student will not remember it forever because I said it once. Third, every student will not act on it once they do receive it. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat it until they understand. Repeat it until they act on it. Repeat it until they can teach it to others. “Tell them that again!”
John Milton Gregory became a district teacher at the age of seventeen. He went on to lead the education department in the state of Michigan and finally served as the first President at the University of Illinois. In 1884 he published his classic work, The Seven Laws of Teaching. The 7th law is the Law of Repetition and Application. It simply states: “No time in teaching is spent more profitably that that spent in reviewing.”
It is beautiful to watch the Lord Jesus, the Master Teacher, at work. For example, when He spoke to Peter after His resurrection He asked the same question three times. He was not searching for information. He was instructing. Christ was forcing Peter to search his own heart. Each time He repeated the same command – “Feed my sheep” (John 21). Great teachers are never ashamed to repeat themselves. If it is worth saying once it should be given again and again.
Peter learned this lesson well. In 2 Peter 1:12-15, he writes to people who already knew the truth. He writes for one purpose: to remind them of the same things. Remind. Repeat. Reinforce. “Tell them that again!”
Ecclesiastes 12:11 likens truth to “a nail fastened by the masters of assemblies”. My grandpa taught me as a young boy how to drive a nail. I remember helping him build a barn. (Actually, he built a barn and I tried not to get in the way.) He taught me how to hold a hammer for maximum impact. Most importantly he taught me how not to smash my fingers! First, the nail must be started. Then it must be driven with steady, consistent strokes. Then once you think the nail is in – hit it again! Set it.
And so it is with the giving of truth. Gently get it started. Give it consistently. Once you think it is in, “tell them that again.” Set it deeply in the heart of the hearer.
This principle is not only true for others; it is true for us. I have found that my own failures are in “the same things”…Bible reading, prayer, witnessing, faith. The enemy does not try new attacks. It is the same things. Guard the simple things. Remember the basics. Strike the nail again. Continue in “the same things.”