As I think over my life, I am constantly amazed at the amazing rate of change that God works in my life. 2010 was a year once again proving that point. I would never have thought that I would be where I am at the start of 2011. The rate at which God shapes my thinking and living through his Truth is both humbling and exciting.
As I look over all that has happened this year, one of the main themes that emerges in my mind is the glory of the Gospel. God has shaped the circumstances and people in my life in such a was as to prompt me to see more and more of the glorious nature of his Gospel. I have understood its significance and application to life more than ever, and am more than ever motivated to continue to view every single aspect of life through the interpretive grid which it presents.
A few events of 2010 were especially significant in shaping my mind in this respect:
Studying Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians
2010 is the year that my small group and I have had the privilege to really dive into a careful dissection of this small, yet monumental piece of the New Testament writings. The essence of all that Paul says in this letter is the fact that the acceptance of the Gospel of Jesus Christ entails with it a deep relationship with God in which his blessings are poured out into our lives. More specifically, this means a life of joy and unity among the church – the people of God. Growth in christian maturity means growth in deep, biblical relationships which means growth in experiencing all the great blessings of a life built on and to the glory of God.
“All in One” Youth Camp
Camp this year simply built on these truths. We studied the fact that christian life and growth is not a burden or difficulty that one must dreadfully bear. Quite the opposite, as we grow in maturity in Christ we learn to understand and experience the depth of blessings that God has given us in Christ. Such include true joy, love, building relationships with other Christians, and understanding the significance of the Word of God in our lives.
Old Testament Seminar With Bill Barrick
Sometime, early fall of last year a few of us made our way down south for a seminar on the significance of the Old Testament for christians today. Dr. Barrick did a wonderful job of unpacking, step by step, the significance of the Old Testament to us today. The main idea which he sought to communicate was the simple fact that the entire OT preaches the message of the coming New Testament Gospel and the need for a Savior. This 9 hour seminar did much to deepen my understanding of the OT and the overall unity of the whole Bible under one central Gospel message.
Once again the staff down at Word of Grace Bible church served us well by putting together last years Reality Conference on a much needed topic – The Transforming Gospel. In their preaching they sought to tear down the common misconception that only the lost are in need of the Gospel. In this conference, I was once again reminded of the foundational centrality of the Gospel in the everyday life of a christian. Indeed, by the word of the cross we are saved. But what we often miss is the fact that by the word of the cross we are to walk and talk and think and live. We need the Gospel in every single day and every single step.
Christmas and the Incarnation
Just when I thought I was just about done learning for the year, another important step came into view – Christmas. Up until this past month, I had missed the significance of Christmas because I had failed to see it through the prism of the Gospel message and the point of the whole Bible. I learned that this happens not only with Christmas, but with every single other aspect of life – we cannot separate any aspect of our lives from the gospel message without robbing it of its significance and joy.
Trials and Temptations
Fighting sin is an inseparable aspect of the christian life. As I grow in my understanding of the gospel I learn to understand the areas of my life in which I need to improve more and more. As I learn to fight sin I see that its roots into the human heart run very deep. They permeate every aspect of our being. There are times in the fight when your hand get tired and they just want to drop. Every time this happens I have learned to ask myself the question, “What is more important – the supremacy of Christ and all that he has done for me, or this sin?”. This rhetorical question always reminds me of the amazing meta-narrative on which my life is built and gets my right back on track.
The cross stands in the center of the eternal plan of God. It stands central in the flow of human history. And it also stands central in the life of every person who call themselves a christian. By this message we live and die. This is something that I have learned more than ever in the past year, and something that I hope to continue to learn in the coming years.