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!
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.
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.