7th Annual CWM-Conference @ Salt, NSW.
For the past 6 years, CWM has held its annual conference at Salt, on the far North Coast of NSW. The value of these meetings cannot be measured by any scale other than that of eternity.
This year's theme was Keeping and Sharing the Faith. There was certainly something for everyone. The folly of trying to know God and living the Christian life without either the Bible or the Holy Spirit emerged as a sub-theme, as did the difference between making converts and making disciples. It is hollow to proclaim a God we do not know.
The teaching of the Word, the quiet authority of the leadership, the early morning hour of prayer, and the simplicity of worship, gave the Camp its special quality. One can never quite describe the beauty of gathering together each morning for prayer with its beautiful stillness and the presence of the Holy Spirit. Unforgettable!
Old friendships were renewed and new friendships formed. It quickly became apparent that mostly everyone present had passed through deep waters during the past year. “My help comes from the Lord” being no longer a cliché but a reality. While this is always the case to some extent, there seemed a greater reliance on God amongst those present.
The stunning beauty of the place, with the ever present Mt Warning dominating the area, the surrounding beaches and fertile hinterland providing a lovely foreground extended the invitation to come apart and rest awhile. Comfortable accommodation saw everyone well rested.
The “camp sausage sizzle” has now become a tradition. A friend of CWM, a Christian butcher, once again supplied his award-winning sausages for the BBQ at his own cost.
Some of the speakers from previous years were unable to come, and in their place, new speakers from both UK and USA brought their own individuality and style. The genuineness of all the speakers had much to do with the quality of the conference.
Maureen O'Brien in spite of recent ill health was able to make the long trip from Victoria, and it was good to see her presiding over the book table once again. Mike and Mercy Roberts were all packed up and ready to come, but unfortunately at the last minute, had to cancel. Mercy contracted a particularly painful form of shingles of the face, becoming too ill to travel. Sadly, too, three men associated with the conference from previous years have died during the year, suddenly and without any warning; all fine Christian family men in the prime of life—a timely reminder that the Lord has not promised any one of us a tomorrow. We can only echo Job's words, “the Lord has given and the Lord has taken away”; and give thanks for the lives and witness of these three men, whose photos and details appear on page 1 in Philip's editorial.
A summary of the major points of each message is given below. It is only possible to give a brief outline, and we recommend that readers purchase the recordings which are of interest to them from the CWM Office. Each message is available in both CD and DVD format – see centre pages for details of other resource materials.
PHILIP POWELL - Keeping the Faith.
Philip opened the conference, taking the first part of the theme from the book of Jude. There is a difference between contending and being contentious. We must proclaim the Gospel, everything else is subsidiary. However, what we proclaim must be that which was once and for all delivered. It is not a developing faith, it is a delivered faith. If we add to it, we take away from it.
Jude wanted to write on the grand theme of salvation, but “something presses me” he writes, “for certain men have crept in, and are causing great havoc….” He needed to alert the early church, for the gospel was under attack. We must not drift away from the mooring lines. What Jesus had predicted 50 years earlier, and what Peter and Paul had reiterated, Jude took up and reinforced.
What was happening in Jude's time is also happening today. Prophecy is frequently fulfilled more than once. We are living in incredible days, and the church of today is beginning to resemble the Athenian culture. An incredible paradigm shift has taken place, and movements once so strong have become carnal. Great churches are denying Israel's very existence. This is the Final Battle. In the UK, in city after city, there are the signs of a departed glory. But the true church of Jesus Christ stands throughout the ages. We are called to serve the Lord.We are but bits of carbon, but the purpose of the Cross is to turn us into a diamond. How can we keep ourselves? We can't; however “keep yourselves in the love of God” and He will keep you. God's Word is ultimately the only thing that will stand.
PHILIP POWELL - Sharing the Faith.
With these words, Philip brought the conference to a close, this time taking the second part of the theme, sharing the faith. The contrast between the work of Satan who comes to kill, to destroy and to steal, and the work of Jesus Christ who came to give abundant life that is genuine and real, could not be more apparent. False apostles fleece the sheep; Jesus feeds the sheep.
True theology is Christocentric. Before Jesus sends us, He invites us first to come to Him. Some go out to evangelise ill- equipped, but Jesus said, “Come and learn of Me.” We are not our own people, and when we truly surrender, He will direct us.
When Jesus left this earth, He left only three things: trained men, His own precious blood and the Holy Spirit. He did not leave a system of government or a set of rules, but a promise to build His church. God created out of nothing – ex nihilo. He doesn't need to start with anything. He speaks and it happens. What God does in creation, he does with you and me in the re-creation.
We stand at the most significant time in all human history. Great confusion and information overload is everywhere. But it is also a time of great clarity. Some precepts to keep in mind:
“Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men”.
You cannot give your ministry to anyone else. Evangelism is very simple – it's a beggar offering another beggar a loaf of bread. And remember, whatever God does, He does forever. Men and women need a clear message today.
Not unto us O lord, not unto us, but unto You O Lord. - Psalm 115:1
Tony Brown (UK) - Psalm 37.
(Tony Brown is an international Bible teacher and preacher. Currently he is on the leadership team of Southam Community Church in Warwickshire, UK.)
Psalm 37 is a teaching Psalm of David written in the acrostic style. It is a Psalm of comparisons, from a man who knew the highs and lows of life. David is now an old man, and it is as if David were saying to us: “This is my condensed view of life handed on to you.” In western society, old is cast off, but God sees differently.
It is interesting to note that David Livingstone committed himself to read Psalm 37 five times daily, and Abraham Lincoln's Bible was found after his death marked at Psalm 37:5.
This is a psalm for everybody, the more particularly so if you are in difficulty of any kind. If you commit, you will be ready to follow the Lord. Then trust. Commitment and trust are the lynch pins of our Christian experience. God is working for you and He is on our side.
In this psalm, several verses begin with action words. These are all signs of maturity and grace. The success of a man's life is to be in the centre of God's Will. Sometimes the road of life is upwards and steep; sometimes the road is down. In both cases, He knows the road of life before we take it.
The psalmist also warns about trusting in the wrong things.
Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.
The worth and excellence of the soul ultimately determines what you delight in.
God orders all our circumstances so we can learn and move on. A storm may remove dead bits and leaves which may be taking our life. Nobody emerges from life unscathed, but God delivers us when we stumble. There is also nothing we can do to make Him love us more or less.
Encourage one another and enjoy what you do. People are your greatest asset. More and more people are discovering that riches are unsatisfying. Belief is of the mind, but trust is the heart of faith, the language of the heart.
PRAYER: “If you have compromised with truth, repent of it, that in all things He might have the pre-eminence. We give ourselves back to you”
Norman Meeten – Studies in John.
Born in the UK, Norman brought with him a refreshing simplicity, armed only with a well-thumbed Bible, and the light of God burning brightly within. Originally ordained as an Anglican priest, Norman Meeten knew the truth at that time in his head and could even preach it, but couldn't believe it. He has spent much of his life as a Bible teacher in the remote areas of northern India,
“If you want God, get down on your knees, and thrash it out with Him”, he advises.
The activity of the Holy Spirit is a sovereign supernatural move of God. No one can live the Christian life without the Holy Spirit, without which we are dry bones. His Word is nourishment to my soul. Norman spoke chiefly from the Gospel of John.
He told us the story of Bita, a northern tribeswoman from India who was forced to trawl the garbage tips just to survive. One day, she found a piece of paper amongst the rubbish, a torn fragment from the Bible, but it was enough to lead her to salvation. God is the Author; He finds a piece of paper; the world is the reader.
- God's path of engineering is to get us where He wants us.
- Faith is man's unconditional response to the sovereign grace of God.
- We communicate the spirit we are of.
- The genuineness of the new birth is that we have the habit of righteousness instead of the habit of sin.
We are free NOT to sin.Many men and women fail to mature in Christ. The sinless Son of God became the son of man so that the sons of men could become the sons of God. The cause of so much spiritual poverty is the underestimation of who I am in Christ.Jesus has come to make His dwelling place in me. I am complete in Him.
- When you don't want to be someone, there is freedom.
- When you are nothing, you have nothing to prove or maintain.
- The cross is all about dying – you can't be less than NOTHING.
Prayer: Set us free to become the men and women You want us to be.
Mike Gendron - Witnessing to Roman Catholics
Mike speaks with clarity, conviction and experience, having exchanged his Roman Catholic religion for an eternal relationship with Jesus Christ when he was 37. He is precise, informed and a very able exponent of biblical truth.
Much confusion exists in the church today about Roman Catholicism. Mike Gendron speaks clearly and un- equivocally on the subject, bringing great light to a clouded subject.
Roman Catholicism is a counterfeit brand of Christianity with traditions, which stand outside the gospel, many of them nullifying the gospel. How then, can our loved ones be rescued from the Lake of Fire?
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is unique, eternal, exclusive and by grace alone. Today's church has abandoned 1st century evangelism, and if we don't return to the biblical model, we will continue to fill our churches with tares. The Lord did it all, and the Bible points to no other source. There are two ways to witness—man's and God's.
Remember, the natural man cannot understand the things of God, and many Roman Catholics will have an unwavering loyalty to their religion. Approach them with love, compassion, patience and humility. The Spirit of God will take the message from the ear to the heart. The Jesus of the Bible is necessary and sufficient to save sinners completely and forever. But a false “Jesus” won't save them and is the one the disciples never preached.
If you find yourself stumped when challenged by liberals and non-believers on the reliability of Scripture, Mike's message on “Why should anyone believe in the Bible?” will anchor you once again in the knowledge that it is absolute truth for all eternity.
The Bible is indestructible and has withstood intense scrutiny. All have failed to silence its message. Interestingly, Josh McDowell spent six years trying to disprove the Bible, only to become a great apologist for our time. The Word of God shares some common features with the Son of God.
Consider the following: both the Word of God and the Son of God are eternal, truth, authoritative, living, and accurate; both reveal God, set people free and expose what is false; both bring forth eternal life, and must be received for the second birth. Only the Word of God and no other book reveals the mind of God and the nature of man.
How different are Roman Catholics and Evangelicals? Actually, very different!
Roman Catholics submit to a different authority, a different order of salvation, take a different path to eternity, use a different bible, worship a different Jesus, and have a different gospel. A Roman Catholic will argue for the authority of their tradition. Our strategy is to get them into the Bible, starting with Acts, a book of history. Engage conversation with questions, such as, “Show me where …..” Remember Roman Catholics are never assured of salvation and the Roman Catholic Jesus is a different Jesus.
Pray for divine appointments; keep a list of unsaved to pray for; and ask questions. A good one to start with, is “How are you going to heaven?”Mike can be contacted at www.pro-gospel.org
Lionel Letcher - The Only True Gospel
Lionel and his wife worked for six years as overseas missionaries, and returned to find a church which had lost its way—frenetic activity amongst the clergy with much fatigue and loss of focus as a consequence. Burgeoning false doctrines, the booming positive thinking movement and the hysteria of the mega church had all taken its toll. The common denominator is a watering down of the gospel, distortion of scripture, and abandoning of principles of truth.
Once a person abandons truth, it affects his or her behaviour. When principle dies, practice dies or changes. The church growth movement has embraced certain unbiblical ideas, and beneath the exterior of much church life lies a much deeper malaise today, for it is dealing at an intellectual level.
Grace plus works is no salvation at all, and equals another gospel. Salvation is all about humbling of the human heart. If the church faithfully preaches the gospel, we can leave church growth up to God. The only thing that can change our nation is the witness to the gospel.Lionel pastors Cornerstone Gospel Church, Frankston, Victoria (website - www.cgc.org.au) The emphasis of the church is to save the lost both within and outside the church through the faithful preaching of the Gospel.
Prayer: May God do a deep work in our hearts to win the lost during the closing days of this age.
Larry DeBruyn - Mysticism
Larry has pastored the Franklin Road Baptist Church, Indiana, for the past 24 years, and comes with a deep knowledge of church history, practices and trends.
He came to realize as a young man that if evolution is true, the Bible is false. “Thus says the Lord”, leapt off the pages of his Bible. The Lord Jesus had come into the world but there had to be an independent witness. He realized that it was Scripture. The Word of God is the truth of God.
The rampant mysticism in today's church was addressed in Larry's first message, Was Paul a mystic?
If you want to “come to God” on mystical terms, you don't need Scripture or the Lord Jesus Christ.
Christianity is a mediated faith, but mysticism bypasses Christ.
All other religions are personalized-- customized. Make up your own. I've got mine, you've got yours.
We are living in a two-storey universe. Babel is man's attempt to get from below to above.
“As above, so below” is a mystical saying of the ancients now used in the occult “to reach God”. It has recently surfaced in unexpected places. It is this very saying that Eugene Peterson has deliberately used in his edited paraphrase of the Lord's Prayer in The Message.
We have the Holy Spirit, He gives us all we need, and fills us with joy as well.
In his second topic, Romancing the Soul and with characteristic thoroughness Larry revealed his depth of research. This message will be of special interest to all those who find themselves at odds with today's music in the church. Music is a good servant but a poor master. Music can become an enemy of doctrine, and can trump truth. There is a strong connection between music and mysticism.
Drumming is the most original of sounds. Prof Alan Bloom in his The Closing of the American Mind, defines drumming as:
The soul's primitive and primary speech without articulate speech or reason. It is hostile to reason. Even when articulate speech is added, it is utterly subordinated and determined by the music and the passions it expresses.
Drumming is said to help put our consciousness into a meditative state.
Rick Warren writes:
There is no such thing as Christian music, only Christian lyrics.
We are worshipping on our terms to create a party for people. In the majority of churches today, you will encounter 50 minutes of music and 15 minutes of message.AW Tozer saw the danger 50 years ago:
We are so determined to be happy that if we can't be happy by the Holy Ghost, we'll drum up our happiness. Religious Rock and Rollers! We're going to get happy somehow, even if we've got to beat it up with a tom-tom.The finite nature of man is attempting to get to God, but God has already reached down in “agape” love to man. In The Revelation, the Lamb is the centre of the singing.
Relationship on the Rocks
In our time, God Almighty has become God “All-matey ”, and we want to be comfortable with Him. A spurious spirituality has been set loose to compensate for our lack of relationship with God. When you embrace everything, you end up with nothing. Ancient pagan religion was utterly sensual. We are returning to it today.
The Shack is said to be imagined conversations with God. But how come we have to read a book the Holy Spirit never wrote, to understand God? The Shack is Eastern Mysticism in which the prominent idea is shameless conduct, where darkness plays a big part. 20 million copies have been sold, most to professing Christians.
Prayer: Keep yourself from idols and may the Lord rule over what we listen to.
Fayek Iskander- Witnessing to Muslims
Fayek, Egyptian-born pastor and an Australian citizen, is a recognized authority on Islam. Fayek spoke on two topics which often confound Christians in their attempt to win Muslims for Christ.
Violence in the Bible
Muslims are attempting to confuse Christians by interpreting the Word of God for us.
Seeming inconsistencies are cited, but it is always taken out of context. One area of apparent contradiction is violence in the scriptures, contrasted with Jesus, Prince of Peace.
One such example is Jesus' words, “…do not think I came to bring peace on the earth…” (Matthew 10:34). The context here refers to the preaching of the gospel. “A man's enemies will be members of his own household.” The sword is against Christians, with many of the first century including some of the apostles being martyred. Violence was perpetrated against them.
Several other examples of apparent contradictions are given in this message, and how to refute them.When sharing the Bible with Muslims, we need to explain the real meaning of what appears to be violent texts. He is both Saviour and Judge. John 5:22 “…all judgment is given to the Son.” Point them to this verse.
Islamic Beliefs and Witnessing to Muslims
The claim that Allah is just a term for God is correct in degree as it is used in the Arabic Bible. However, the god of Islam, is quite different. No Christian in Egypt thinks that believers and Muslims worship the same god.
Many Muslims will say: “We believe in Jesus!” No, you don't! The Koranic “jesus” is different from the Jesus of the Bible.
Islam claims that it has abrogated Judaism and Christianity; that Abraham was a Muslim, that Abraham and Ishmael lived in Mecca, and that Jesus and His followers were Muslims.Look at the history:
- In Islam there are many historical errors concerning both Mary and Jesus.
- Abraham never lived in Mecca.
- Mary is said to be the sister of Aaron; and
- Jesus is said to be son of Mary, never the Son of God.
- Note that according to Middle East tradition, to be called son of Mary is an insult.
Always take Muslims to the Word of God, and do not talk about Jesus from the Koran
Ask the question, “Why does the Koran contain historical errors?
”Ask Muslims to read Surah 9 (war and looting) and compare that to the Sermon on the Mount.
We must conquer Islam by repentance and prayer.
Extra Session – Evangelism. This was NOT recorded.
An extra session was introduced to give Mike Gendron and Lionel Letcher the opportunity to teach on evangelism. This was invaluable for those who want to reach out with the Gospel, but don't know how to start.
There are only two reasons to evangelise:
1. To love God; and
2. To love your neighbour.
Evangelism is likened to the work of the sower. Seeds are bite-sized portions of the truth, and will fall on one of four sorts of soil.
The aim of evangelism is to make the proud humble, and to bring the knowledge of sin. Heaven is populated by those who are humble and contrite. Our job is to make disciples, not decisions.
Jesus asked questions, and we do well to follow His example. Start with a question, e.g.
- Do you ever think about what happens after death? Or,
- Do you believe in heaven? Or
- What do you think might happen to you after you die?
Waking the conscience is another strategy, and again, use questions:
- Do you consider yourself a good person?
- Do you think you have kept the Ten Commandments?
Beware of getting into a discussion about the truth of the Bible.Beware of deflections. Say “Let's leave that issue for a while and talk about you.”If you are not sure about a point, simply say, “Let me look that up and get back to you.”Be mindful of the urgency of the hour.Fear of failure keeps many Christians from evangelizing. Remember, the job of the Sower is to plant and/or to water. The Holy Spirit is responsible for the “increase” – cf. 1st Corinthians 3:7.May God help us all to watch and pray!