Blessing of Conferences such as Resolved

Resolved was a wonderful experience, but I desire to do more than tell you about my experience. I want to encourage you to think and meditate on God and how he has revealed Himself to you and to me through the gospel. Be astonished and overwhelmed at the truth of the gospel and our God once again!

The main theme of the conference was the local church and I really appreciated that the intention of Resolved is to send each individual back to their local church equipped and desiring to see God work through the local church.  Then we are called to take action for the glory of God, God’s infinite greatness and worth, that His name be praised and proclaimed in the local church and our community.

Amazing Truths to Meditate On

A few of the points that still stick with me from the conference:

  1. Christ is the Head of the church (Col 1:18) is a truth that has sailed to you and me on a sea of blood.  It is a gift of God that for we can say this with confidence now.  Many have died for proclaiming that God has given the ruler of the universe to be the head of the church (Eph 1:20-22)
  2. Gather to worship, scatter to witness!  Our time of worship on Sunday is to remind us and encourage us to then go out and live in the world, but not of the world. (John 17:14-16).  We are called to preach the gospel, and since it’s necessary, use words.
  3. God has given us scripture to be clear and understandable.  It is not a mystery, but that which unveils the mystery of who God is.  It is not a puzzle, but a declaration! Only the Holy Spirit can open our hearts to the truth of scripture.
  4. Heb 4:12:  The messages we hear in church can only get to our ears.  The Holy Spirit uses the vehicle of preaching and teaching to bring the word to our hearts.

While I am still thinking about these things, and asking God to apply them to my heart and seeking to apply them to my life there was one message that especially challenged me and that I want to challenge you with as well.

Your Most Important Love

Jon Rourke began this message about the Affections of the Church with a warning.  When preparing his message he thought of what the group of people attending Resolved would be in greatest need of hearing.  A group of individuals who love God, know firmly what they believe, and are excited to hear sermons, sing praises, and even sprint to get seats close to the pulpit.  It’s a spectacle to watch.  This message is meant for all Christians, especially those who have been Christian for several years.

First, I ask that you read Rev 2:1-7.  In context, this is a letter written to the angel/messenger of the church of Ephesus by Christ.  The Ephesian church is well-known and is likely responsible for planting all the other churches we see chapter 2 of the book of Revelation.  This church had lots of doctrine, lots of revelation, and likely more scripture than any other church of that time.

Ephesus was a good church and Christ affirms the deeds they do and their hatred of the deeds of the Nicolaitans (ascetics who also claimed that to master sensuality and overcome it you must experience the full range of it).

From Christ’s commending of the church in these verses it sounds like Ephesus is a great church to attend, and one I would believe is devoted to Christ.  We must pause when we read v.4 “But I have this against you, that you have left your first love”.  Christ himself has something against this church, a church that is persevering and doing all the right things and not tolerating evil.  Wow! What is it that the Ephesians have done that Christ himself has something against them?

They have left their first love.  Here’s the moment when this message really hit me.  “First love” in the original language really means “Most important love” rather than chronological first.  In this case we now read v.4 as “But I have this against you, that you have left your most important love”.  What is the most important love being referred to?

The gospel is our most important love!  Have we done this as well?  What does it mean to leave the gospel?  In context we see that forgetting is a major part of leaving our most important love.

Have You Left Your Most Important Love?

Have we forgotten that overwhelming peace and joy we had when we first believed God reconciled us to himself through the blood of Christ?  In that moment we first received the forgiveness of God and were made alive in Christ and were now enabled to come to God and enjoy Him fully.  The grace of God overwhelmed us and the joy was beyond anything we’d ever known.

Has that joy and peace of first accepting the gospel faded, is it merely a memory of when you first accepted the gospel?  In other words, is the gospel as real at this moment as when you first believed?

A few quotes from Jon Rourke’s sermon to emphasize this:
“Sound teaching separated from fervent love for the Savior is dead, lifeless orthodoxy.”
“Don’t be devoted to the cause, be devoted to the King”
“If you are not motivated by the love of Jesus, then everything you do is pointless”

If you are like me, and confess that the gospel is not as real to you at this moment as when you first believed, take comfort; there is grace extended to us.  God’s grace is shown in v.5, as we are told what will happen if we do not change course, but this means it is not too late.  We are told to remember when we were first saved and repent. We have been forgiven and Christ took the wrath of God in our place once for all our sins.  God is continuing his work in us and at this moment we are reconciled to God. Praise God! Let us pray that God can awaken our hearts and rekindle our passion for his glory again.

Now you may be saying to yourself, yes, I want the gospel to be as real to me now as it was when I first believed! Lord, change my heart and show me yourself that I may find my joy in you and be always amazed at the gospel and strengthened to go out and live for the glory of God.

God Does Not Forget About the Gospel

Here are few more points from the sermons to remind us of our most important love:

Only the gospel satisfies us and meets our most serious need of reconciliation with God.

Phil 2:16, “hold fast to the word of life”, hold fast = maintain a grip/grasp.  The truth is our grip on the gospel weakens every day of every week and we need it strengthened by the local church, that we may be encouraged and exhorted once again.

Satan’s supreme ambition is to prevent Jesus from having supremacy in your heart. Supremacy is a continual thing, and we should be aware that other things are always trying to usurp the rightful supremacy of the gospel in our hearts.

We cannot think of Christ’s death too often.  Scripture is gloriously redundant about this topic. (Mark 15:33-39)

Revelation: Chapters 4 and 5 – Heaven is never indifferent to the cross, it is always remembered.

The description of the physical suffering of the crucifixion is brief in the gospels, so we don’t have merely a superficial understanding.  Physical observation doesn’t reveal the deepest mysteries of the cross.

Christ was forsaken as He became the object of the full wrath of God.  Christ was both sin bearer and wrath absorber.  Jesus fell down and staggered at the reality of the cup he was going to drink. God loved the world so much that He was silent in the garden of Gethsemane to Jesus’ prayers.

For 3 hours on the cross Jesus could not say the Father was with him, he was cut off from all fellowship, right, and privileges that he had known for all eternity.  The Father’s favor was withdrawn because his transcendent holiness demands it.

At this Moment, You are in Christ Jesus!

What does it mean to maintain a grasp on the gospel? How do we do that in our daily lives?   How is it that you make sure you don’t forget reading this right after you finish?  Forgetfulness is something I am always conscious of and is part of being human.  We do have an amazing ability to remember some things very well, so how is it that we begin to apply this to our lives and that the gospel is as real as when we first accepted the gospel?

Believer, at all times, at this moment, remember “You are in Christ Jesus”.

30 But [a]by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, [b]and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, (1 Cor 1:30)

Let that fill your mind and your heart.  The gospel is not only the moment of peace and joy when we first accept the gospel.   We are, at this moment, able to praise and delight in God, and that the peace and joy when we first accepted the gospel are just as real at this moment because we are in Christ Jesus by the grace of God.

At this Moment, You are in Christ Jesus