VOX magazine editor Ruth Garvey-Williams is at the New Wine Ireland summer conference in Sligo this week. She brings you summaries of all the Evening Celebrations and the morning Bible Teaching, so you won’t miss a thing!
Friday 19 July
David McClay - Leader of New Wine Ireland - brings the final message of #Sligo19.
I have been thinking about what it means for us to go on to maturity. It might be that I recently had a big birthday recently. It might be that I’ve been 18 years as Rector (at 18 you are supposed to come of age). Or it might be because I became a grandfather, which is one of the most wonderful experiences this side of heaven.
It is possible to reach the milestone of “coming of age” but how grown up you are we at 18? Paul was concerned that the Colossians would grow up into maturity.
Colossians 1: 21 - 29 Paul is concerned to present all of these Christians as mature men and women in Christ.
Some people can be in their teens and 20s and they can be very mature followers of Jesus. And you can come across people who have been in churches for decades and yet there can be a lack of maturity.
Leading people into maturity was Paul’s challenge and Paul’s privilege. Jesus makes it clear that maturity is costly (take up your cross and follow me).
When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Christians are called by Christ to live radically and uncompromisingly. To follow Jesus. To become more like Jesus. To live our lives for Jesus and then to go and make disciples.
On a visit to South Korea, I met one little lady who was probably in her 70s. She was originally from North Korea and had grown up in a Christian home. She had watched her father go out into the back yard every night and dig up a black book and read it and then he would bury it again and come inside.
When she was older, he led her to Christ. Many years later, she ended up in a prison camp while her husband and two sons were in two other camps. She got to see her husband a week before he died. She didn’t get to see one of her other sons before he died and as I was talking to her, she had no idea where the other son was. I didn’t hear th story of how she had got out of North Korea but here was a wonderful lady who was willing to surrender everything to become mature in Christ.
We get fussed when we are called to follow Christ in our finances or our work or our leisure time. But what does becoming mature in Christ look like?
Mature Disciples Know and Follow Jesus Christ as Lord
They will know Christ. They will recognise that they were enemies of Christ. They will have given their lives to Him. They will repent of their sin. They will then go on to obey Him unconditionally and who choose to live the whole of their lives for Jesus Christ.
Mature Christians have crossed over from darkness to light. They follow Jesus as Lord all the days of their lives. Are we willing to follow and love the Lord Jesus with all that we are and have for all of our lives and for all of our days?
If you continue in your faith, established and firm...
David Watson said in the old days sailors would lash themselves to the mast in rough seas, we need true disciples who will bind themselves to Christ!
Mature Disciples Serve
v23 Paul describes himself as a servant who is faithfully proclaiming the gospel
Mature Disciples are Dependent on God
Following Jesus is about following the one who did it all for us. It will only be through Jesus Christ that a nation will be transformed. It won’t be through New Wine or an institution or through a denomination. A life or community can be changed through men and women who begin to cry out to a God who can do all things well. Reliant on God we will see lives changed... knowing that He did it all, He paid it all and we are totally reliant on what He did not the cross.
Mature Christians become less reliant on themselves. Please establish a regular prayer time in your church - an opportunity to come together and cry out to God, relying on Him and depending on Him. Are we prepared to be persistent and keep on asking? Mature Christians demonstrate their reliance on God by how they pray.
Mature Disciples are willing to embrace suffering
Christ has paid it all but we are sometimes privileged to suffer for Christ (v24). Christian maturity involves embracing the cost of following Jesus. In her last video message, Dr. Helen Roseveare said, “I heard the truth that God so loved me, as an individual that He sent His son Jesus to die for me. I was so captivated by the wonder of this story. That night when I first heard the Gospel, I fell in love with Jesus and that has been my motivation ever since. All of us have the privilege of being called His servants. We serve Him because we love Him. Whatever we are doing, we are doing for Jesus.
“I would like to leave with all of you, that first night when I came to know that Jesus loved me, the leader of the meeting wrote in my Bible - Philippians 3: 10, ‘I want to know Christ and the Power of His Resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His suffering.’… As I look back, I say thank you God that you told me that in the first night I was saved that it is a privilege to share in His suffering…” Watch the full video message!
Yes in New Wine, we believe in healing and transformation but following Christ means that we also embrace suffering.
Mature Disciples Keep Learning
The challenge is to continue growing and maturing and being transformed. We get to know Christ better as we allow the word of God to teach us.
One of my encouragements has been seeing young men and women becoming really hungry for more of God and a willingness to learn and to dig deep into his word. Some have become leaders. It has been a privilege to see that.
Are you reading God’s word? It was so good to be challenged to let the word of God shape our lives
Mature Disciples daily increase in the Holy Spirit
There is something about so positioning ourselves that we become hungry and thirsty for more of God’s Holy Spirit in our lives. It was Tozer that remarked, “The only power God recognises in His church, is His Spirit and yet the only power recognised by evangelicals today [that was in his day] is the power of man... personality has taken the place of divine filling...”
We don’t need more education we need more of God’s spirit. Gifting and education cannot replace what God’s Spirit will do in our churches. We will reflect more of His Glory. There is no excuse for impoverished believers. The treasure in Christ belongs equally to all of us. We need to go on being filled with the Spirit. We are born of the Spirit and we go on to maturity as we are filled with the Spirit.
There is a lovely prayer at Confirmatiom:
Defend, O Lord, your servant with your heavenly grace, that he may continue yours for ever, and daily increase in your Holy Spirit more and more, until he comes to your everlasting kingdom.
This is DAILY - not once a year at New Wine, not on a Sunday, but daily!
In recent times I’ve found myself crying out to God for more of His Spirit. That should be a lifestyle. David Pitches who started New Wine was once asked if he believed in the second blessing. He replied, “Yes I do. It becomes between the first and the third...” Blessings go on more and more.
Mature Disciples will face opposition
If you haven’t discovered that yet, it will come your direction if you pursue the things of God. Spiritual battle is part and parcel with Christian discipleship. “Opposition is the normal Christian life. We wrestle against principalities and spiritual forces of evil. That is how it was for Paul. Should it be any different for us? We are to resist evil and overcome temptation. We are to say “No” to sin. We are to stand firm.
The same power that raised Jesus from the dead is ours as we press on to maturity. As we keep on, keeping on and as we resist the devil’s schemes and as we love Jesus, follow Jesus, worship Jesus, serve Jesus, in good seasons and hard seasons, by His power, we will overcome. Breath through comes with His power!
Mature Disciples are people of Hope
We keep our eyes fixed on Jesus always aware that heaven awaits the believer. CS Lewis said, “Hope is one of the theological virtues. It is a continual looking forward to the eternal world… not wishful thinking… If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world, thought most of the next.”
Aim at heaven and you’ll get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you’ll get neither.
Paul said, “For me to live as Christ, to die is gain.” Can we truly say that?
He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.