Gospel, Kingdom and Mission – Church Weekend Reflections

We have just returned from our church weekend in Abererch, Wales. It was a great weekend of fellowship, teaching, and fun. It was especially encouraging seeing the whole church family enjoying each other’s company, and growing in their love for God, and for one another. Even the rain didn’t dampen our spirits!

Treasure

We had three main teaching sessions, in which we looked at the themes of gospel, kingdom and mission. One thing in particular that struck me was how we are so prone to storing up treasure here on earth. We can easily become obsessed with building security for ourselves, such as in our careers, our mortgages, or saving for the future. Yet, in Matthew 6, Jesus tells us the opposite:

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

The truth is that one day, the treasure that we store up on earth will be gone. Companies could go bust. Our houses won’t last forever. Retirement savings soon disappear. Why invest in something that’s temporary when we can invest in the kingdom of God that will last forever? That’s the challenge I came away with and will be dwelling on for a while.

Remembering

We also had a campfire, where we sang some songs of praise and were encouraged to remember what God has done in our lives. For example, what sequence of events led you to church, or led to you becoming a Christian? Sometimes we can get so caught up in the present that we forget to look back and reflect on what God has done in the past. Even in hardships, we have to remember that God is good, all of the time. It’s so important to remind ourselves of that and to encourage each other with the good news of the gospel.

Below are some notes from the three teaching sessions. I also attended a seminar on engaging with people living with learning disabilities.

Gospel (Romans 3:19-26)

The word ‘gospel’ is mentioned many times throughout the New Testament. It grips Paul. It’s the good message, the good news. Evangelism is the sharing of that good news. In Romans 1:1-17 it’s mentioned six times. The gospel was promised beforehand and it concerns the Son. It’s the power to salvation and God’s rescue comes through it. In Ephesians it’s referred to as the truth that saves us. God has entrusted us with this message.

Adam and Eve rebelled. We reject his law and can’t live in his presence. It’s our sin that separates us from God. As it was in Adam and Eve, it is in us. At the beginning God is preparing his people for the sacrifice he was going to make. Isaiah speaks of a suffering servant. God promises a king and a sacrifice. Jesus is perfect humanity and perfect God. Jesus surrenders himself on the cross. The way is provided for forgiveness of sins. Before the throne of God how could we justify ourselves? But if our sin is atoned for, it’s not the same. The way to accept this good news is by faith. We should appreciate the gospel.

There is nothing more deep or more glorious than the gospel of Jesus Christ. Where do you go to see the love of God? Go to the finished work of Jesus. Is it as central to us as it is to God? People argue over so many small things but this good news is supposed to captivate us. Never lose sight of what God has done for us. The good news of Jesus is the power of God to rescue people, no matter who they are, or where they’re from, or what their background is.

Kingdom (Daniel 7:9-14)

What’s your kingdom? What’s the thing that sets your heart in motion? What are the things that excite you? Fun, career, enjoyment.

God reveals the future before Jesus is born (Daniel 2:44). Kingdoms are coming one after another but there will be an ultimate kingdom that will never be destroyed. The kingdom is the place where the King rules (Lord’s prayer). Jesus spoke of the kingdom. He said it’s near (Mark 1), it’s in your midst and it’s here. It’s like a mustard seed (Mark 4:30-32). It will grow.

Jesus brings in the rule of the King. He establishes a kingdom that will never be shaken. It will endure for eternity (Daniel 7:13-14). Jesus will reign forever (Revelation 11:15). What are you living for? Our actions probably give us away. Our thoughts definitely would. God is calling us to find an identity in an eternal kingdom. Don’t store up treasure on earth (Matthew 6:19-21), store up treasure in heaven. What we build in that kingdom will last forever. Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness (Matthew 6:31-33). His kingdom is more important than anything. It’s about knowing the blessings of God now and for eternity.

Are you part of that kingdom? What are you building for? Are you investing in the kingdom of God? Why build a kingdom for something that will last for 10 years when you can build something that will last forever?

Eternity is our retirement.

Mission (Matthew 28:16-20)

Jesus asked people to follow him in this issue of kingdom building and working under his rule. It’s about reaching out to others with the gospel. If we’re following Jesus surely we’ll do the things that he does. Seek those who are lost. Paul says the love of Christ compels him to share the gospel. We know there is this good news that transforms us and there’s a kingdom that lasts forever.

How do we make disciples? Not everybody receives the gospel with joy. Sometimes we get fearful. It might not have the response we want it to. Our labour in the Lord is never in vain.

Four Beasts – Daniel 7:15-28 – Bible Study Notes

This study features notes from Enduring Word.

V15-16:

1. Why was Daniel troubled?

He didn’t understand all that he saw.

2. What do we learn about the spirit and our bodies (1 Timothy 4:8)?

The spirit is more important than the body but the state of the body generally has an effect on the state of the spirit.

V17-18:

3. Looking at the summary of the vision, how is it similar to Nebuchadnezzar’s vision in Daniel 2?

It covers the same material (rise of four empires, which are succeeded by the kingdom of God).

4. How was Daniel’s vision different?

He saw the kingdoms from God’s perspective, not man’s. Nebuchadnezzar saw the present and future world empires in the form of a stately and noble statue of a man. Here God showed how He regarded them: as ferocious and wild animals who devour and conquer without conscience.

4a. In contrast, how is Jesus described in Revelation 5:5-10?

The Lion of the tribe of Judah. He primarily represents himself not as a ferocious animal but as a Lamb.

5. Who receives the kingdom and when?

The saints receive the kingdom. God gives them the kingdom at the return of Jesus. They do not gain dominion over all these earthly kingdoms before the return of Jesus.

V19-22:

6. Why was Daniel particularly interested in the fourth beast?

The fourth beast interested Daniel because of its great destructive power, because of the conspicuous horn, and because of its fight against God’s people.

V23-27:

7. What is the meaning of the fourth beast and its defeat?

Power is limited (three and a half years) – time and times and half a time. Phrase is used in Revelation 11:2-3, 12:6 and 13:5 to refer to half of the last seven year period of man’s rule on earth.

8. How are we to interpret the kingdom’s establishment in v26?

  • There is no fulfilment – Daniel is in error
  • The fulfilment is symbolic in church history
  • The fulfilment is literal and yet future

9. What is being described in v27?

The millennial earth, not our current earth or heaven.

10. What’s significant about the kingdom and dominion being given to the saints?

It’s something received, not achieved. The church doesn’t convert the world to Jesus’ kingdom and give the kingdom to Jesus; He gives it to them.

V28:

11. How does Daniel react to the vision?

Many things might trouble Daniel at this vision – such as the ferocity of the attack to come against his people from the conspicuous horn.

Daniel was convinced that the prophecy was true, and that it was the word of God. He was so convinced of its truth that his face changed and he considered what would happen.

12. What truths can we take from this passage to help us keep trusting in Jesus?

He will return and establish his kingdom for his people.

Lions – Daniel 6 – Bible Study Notes

This study features notes from Enduring Word.

1. Why was Daniel distinguished in v1-3?

He was one of three leaders directly under Darius and he shined above the other two leaders because he had an excellent spirit. A good attitude to work and life.

Verses 4-9:

2. Why could they find no fault? Does this imply Daniel was sinless?

Faithful. A man of integrity.

3. What’s the lie (v7)?

All the governors have consulted together. Daniel was one of the governors and wasn’t consulted.

4. What’s significant about the decree?

When a king signed a decree, it was binding that even the king himself couldn’t change it.

Verses 10-15:

5. How does Daniel respond? What do you notice about how he prays?

  • He didn’t let the decree change his actions. He continued his excellent prayer life.
  • Upper room – private prayer
  • Window open toward Jerusalem – remembering the place of sacrifice
  • Knelt down on his knees
  • Prayed three times a day
  • Gave thanks
  • Both communion and pleading for his will to be accomplished

6. Did Daniel intend to disrespect the king (v13)?

No – only a higher respect for God.

7. What is admirable about King Darius (v14)?

Instead of blaming others, he knew he was at fault.

Verses 16-18:

8. What faith does the king show?

It was born out of Daniel’s trust in the Lord.

9. How did Daniel’s night compare with Darius’?

He was better rested. He prayed as it was his habit.

Verses 19-23:

10. Daniel says he hasn’t done any wrong before the king. How does this fit?

He did break the king’s law, but didn’t go against the king or the king’s best interests.

11. Why was Daniel protected?

His faith preserved him.

12. What do you make of the fate of those who plotted against Daniel (v24)?

The king wasn’t happy – no one had to ask him to do this.

13. What does the outcome prove?

It was angelic protection – there was no natural reason why the lions didn’t eat Daniel.

Verses 25-28:

14. How do these verses fit with the pattern that we’ve seen in Daniel so far?

God makes the ungodly see and tell of the greatness of God.

15. What’s Darius’ spiritual condition?

He says ‘God of Daniel’, not ‘God of Darius’.

16. How are we pointed to Jesus?

Angelic protection. Dependence on prayer.

Disturbing Dreams – Daniel 2:1-30 – Bible Study Notes

This study features notes from Enduring Word.

Recap Daniel 1. Importance of training, standing up for what you believe in, being courageous. Nebuchadnezzar crushed Jerusalem.

Read Daniel 2:1-30.

Any initial reactions, thoughts? Anything surprising?

Hashtag challenge: summarise the passage in 140 characters and come up with a hashtag. Prize for the winning group.

[“In the second year” – some people think this happened while Daniel was in his three-year training course; others think it was soon after he finished.]

[From Daniel 2:4-7:28, the biblical text is in Aramaic, not Hebrew. This is the only section of the Bible written in Aramaic, the language of the Babylonian Empire.]

Groups: v1-9

1. Why does Nebuchadnezzar demand to know both the content of the dream and its interpretation from his wise men?

He couldn’t know for certain if the interpretation was correct, but he could test their ability to tell what he dreamed.

2. Was Nebuchadnezzar being unreasonable?

These men (magicians, astrologers, sorcerers) made their living on their supposed ability to contact the gods and gain secrets. If they’re really what they claimed to be, this shouldn’t be a problem.

3. Why does he make such a harsh threat?

The threat and method of execution are consistent with the character of ancient eastern monarchs.

Feedback.

Groups: v10-13

4. What do the wise men admit to?

True revelation comes from God down to man. They understood that revelation was not the achievement of man. They had no answer, because only God could bring an answer.

5. How does the king respond?

He erupts. He had no use for wise men that couldn’t bring him wisdom from God.

6. How are we left on a cliffhanger at the end of v13?

The four men we’ve come to respect and like are among those to be killed.

Feedback.

Groups: v14-18

7. How does Daniel react and what does this show about his character and his understanding of God?

He’s calm in a crisis. He knows it takes time to listen to God and wait upon him. He was in the type of situation where only God could meet his need. Therefore he knew how important it was for both him and his friends to pray. He had confidence that God could do an unprecedented miracle.

Feedback.

One group: v19-23

8. Verse 19 is key. Why is it significant that the mystery was revealed to him, as opposed to him finding it out?

God revealed it. Christianity begins with the principle of revelation. God has revealed himself to us. Our job isn’t to figure things out about God, but to understand what he has revealed to us.

[Night vision – could’ve been a dream, or a supernatural vision that happened at night.]

9. What does Daniel praise God for (v20-23)?

His power and might, his communication to man, he gave him the answer.

Groups: v24-30

10. How does Daniel behave in his exchange with the king? Why do we find it hard to speak the truth of what we believe to people in authority?

He is humble and willing to speak truth to power. He doesn’t bring honour to himself, but to God.

Feedback.

11. How have we seen the contrast between Nebuchadnezzar and Daniel?

The king was troubled but is introduced to a man of understanding.

Groups:

12. How can we follow Daniel’s example in order to help make God’s word known wherever we are and when we speak to people in power? [Pray through what we’ve talked about when finished.]

We are to speak up, without fear, wherever God has placed us.