For the third consecutive year, believers gathered at the Salt Beach resort in Kingscliff, northern NSW, Australia for CWM’s annual conference, under the theme, Living Life in Conformity with the New Covenant.
Several sub-themes emerged over the course of the conference, prominent amongst which were Salt and Light, Jewels of the Kingdom, The Work of the Holy Spirit, The Blood of Jesus and The Simplicity that is in Christ. How appropriate then to be gathered together to Him at an area called Salt, where the sun of northern NSW brings a strong clear light, and ever present Mt Warning stands sentinel against the sky.
If the old maxim is true that the last was the best camp, it certainly holds true for 2008. Several factors can be identified—earnest and heartfelt prayer each day at 7am, the quality of leadership, loveliness of the music, the “living letters” who came to lead, teach and preach and the eagerness of all who assembled to be fed and filled.
The growing disillusionment with much of the church today, brought people with a holy desperation to hear the pure and undefiled word of the Lord in all its variety, simplicity and beauty, and to worship the Lord together. We were not turned away hungry.120+ believers came from everywhere—from all over Australia and New Zealand, and from USA, Canada, Singapore and UK. Attendance was up by almost 50 percent on 2007, as more had travelled great distances. Evangelicals, Pentecostals and Charismatics were represented, with a deep sense of unity gathering around the Lord Jesus and biblical truth.
I personally sensed a smooth running that was both disciplined and free as many people brought their gifts and expertise. The programme was so beautifully organized, one was rarely aware of the wheels, just the soft presence of the Holy Spirit. How precious it is to be gathered together to Him, where the heart’s desire is not personal aggrandizement, but to bring glory to His name.
The “sweet hour of prayer” each morning before breakfast was a precious part of the day—a time when hearts and voices were lifted in worship to the Lord, petition for all saints, and a deep crying out for the mercy of God on our nation. There was godly order in these times of prayer, and a freedom of the Spirit. A noticeable feature of the prayer times was the preponderance of men outnumbering women. Is this how it is in your church?
The words of the song many of us sang as children came to mind, as several speakers made mention of believers becoming jewels in the crown of the Lord.
When He cometh, when He cometh to make up His jewels
All His jewels, precious jewels, His loved and His own.
Like the stars of the morning, His bright crown adorning,
They shall shine in their beauty, Bright gems for His crown.He will gather,
He will gather, the gems for His kingdom,All the pure ones, all the bright ones,
His loved and His own.Little children, little children, who love their Redeemer
Are the jewels, precious jewels, His loved and His own.
—Jewels Words: William O. Cushing, 1856; Music: George F. Root, 1866.
Philip Powell set the tone on the first evening with his message The Glories of the NewCovenant Vitality, in which he outlined and defined the role and necessity of the Holy Spirit in every aspect of our lives, and especially within the church. Under the New Covenant, many miss the key—the glory of Jesus Christ. We need to repent and seek a renewed vitality of the Holy Spirit in order to live in conformity to the New Covenant. He followed this with a message later in the week, based on John 12:24-27, “Unless a seed falls into the ground and dies …” Much of the problem with the church today lies in its emphasis on success as measured by numbers and assets; whereas the Lord’s message is that “he that exalts himself shall be abased …” (Luke 14:11). Dale Carnegie may be effective in the workplace, but very different results follow in the church. There is a false message which is self-serving, and has no understanding of the theology of suffering. Philip went on to call for a new generation of young men to arise for the powerful preaching of the Word and the Gospel. Preaching, like the cross, is out of fashion today, yet a nation can be changed by the preaching of the gospel cf. the Pharisees, Sadducees, even the Essenes, had little effect on the people of their time. John the Baptist came, and preached powerfully, and turned the hearts of the people around. He also lost his life. Selah. God has so deemed it that the preaching of the gospel brings salvation. The wisdom of God is many-faceted, but the glory of a diamond can only be seen in the light. So it is with the church. When God makes up His jewels, He had in mind His church. “Purify us as the Great Refiner of silver. May we reflect the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Peter and Jenny Stokes, husband and wife founders of Salt Shakers with great thoroughness and insight brought home the need of the hour in which Christians find themselves: to be Salt and Light. Humanism, Relativism, and Deconstructionism coupled with a fast disappearing biblical world view is steadily eroding our Christian heritage. Christians are like the proverbial frogs in pots of gradually heated water, ultimately reaching boiling point and dying without attempting to jump out. This dedicated couple brought a timely warning of what is happening within parliament and society, with a call to be watchman on the walls, to pray, and to keep unspotted by the world.
See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according the to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ (Colossians 2:8 NASB).
With the intriguing title of The Covenant – Valueless or Vicarious? Aeron Morgan contrasted the New with the Old Covenant, and why Hebrews declares Jesus to be ‘the mediator of a better covenant” (Heb 8:6). We have full assurance of salvation because Jesus Christ is the mediator of the New Covenant, where He dealt with not only the guilt of sin, but also the stain of sin. We are truly washed in the blood, through the sufficiency and completeness of Christ’s redeeming work, where He became our substitute bearing the judgment we deserve. There is little mention of the blood of Christ in the church today, and consequently not many see that its value is beyond price. In his inimitable style Aeron declared of The New Covenant—“Jesus Christ wrought it, God approves it, the Holy Spirit confirms it.” Is there anything left to add? I recommend this message to anyone struggling with the question, “Am I really saved?”
The two Englishmen, Roger Winter-Smith and Mark Mullins again made the long journey from UK to speak at the conference. Mark took the theme, Being in the Light, and in 3 sessions, reminded us that we are children of the light, living in the light of eternity. Jesus is the Light of the World, and we are called to walk in that light. We are to bear fruit while representing the Kingdom of Heaven, and must not fall into the temptation of looking back at the world left behind. The result in our lives will be full joy, and knowing full forgiveness. He also reminded us that we must have confidence in the Bible to be prepared to present it. Mark gave us a snapshot of the work of CCFON (Christian Concern For Our Nation) a UK- based organization seeking to hold back the forces of darkness of rationalism, deconstructionism, and relativism. For further information on this important work, go to www.ccfon.org.
Roger based his first message A Prophet who gave life on Genesis 20: 1-18 and in his next two messages took us on a journey through Scripture to explore the topic, Aspects, Episodes and Incidents of Truth in the New Covenant. Jonah became the centre-piece, with the question “Why did God choose Jonah?” The loss of sweetness amongst God’s children is a sad fact cf. Paul, “I have no one, except Timothy” (Philippians 2: 19-20). Servants who should be sweet, become bitter, as a consequence of pressure from outside. God’s intention is that trouble and the difficulties of life should cause us to turn to God. Trouble should be used by us to make us like our Lord. Eventually we come to the point where the pain matters no more, and this means change. I am no longer concerned with simply relief from pain, I want to be conformed to the Lord.
In Jonah’s case, though the people of Nineveh lay imprisoned in darkness, remorse, isolation, and deprivation, Jonah’s humiliation overcame any joy at seeing the people of Nineveh saved. If you lose the argument, does it matter? The souls of men should be our focus. Note the mercy and love of the Father to the Prodigal Son. The older son is angry that this ne’er-do-well “prodigal” has gained grace and forgiveness from the Father, and Jonah is the same. His excuse was that there was no need for him to go to Nineveh if God’s grace was to be made manifest. The answer is consistent throughout the Bible—let heartbreak and bitterness die, for we must not lose tenderness of heart. Love God’s righteousness and hate iniquity.
Werner Schultz of Melbourne spoke on The Lord of the New Covenant. If the fire of God is absent, the congregation is freezing, and no one is warmed! There is a prevailing misconception that there are no more “dont’s” in the New Testament. The Jesus People of the 70’s wanted a smiling Jesus, “Smile, God loves you”. Where is the Man of Sorrows? The un-crucified Christ only appeals to those needing no Saviour. The world loves the un-crucified Christ. The New Covenant is not a lawless covenant. “I will put My law in their hearts …” (Jeremiah 31: 33). God transfers outward observance to an obedience of the heart. Jesus never abolished the Law. He deepened it, saying the Law must be written on tablets of the heart, not tablets of stone. Jesus could see into the hearts of men. An oath does not make a false statement right. “Now … there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). The Law was powerless to change the heart. God’s standards never change so the standards of the Law still apply. Woe to those who do not have a Mediator! The Woman at the Well with her six husbands had tried all the ways of the flesh—the seventh Man gave her life. Giving all you have to the poor is not the path to life. Jesus calls us to abide in Him—and the Law of the New Covenant still applies—still the Fear of God and the Righteousness of God. Jesus is our last chance. Abide in Him, and you are in a safe place.
Bill Randles flew in from Cedar Rapids, Ohio via Adelaide, Australia. He has the remarkable gift of opening a well-known scripture, making it live, and coming up with unique one-liners. (“True power is in the truth of Christ crucified.”) He took three well known biblical statements and unwrapped them with freshness and authority: Putting off the old man, putting on the new, When I am weak I am strong, and Grace and why it is scorned. Using the account of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead, Bill explained that both Jesus and His disciples had a part to play. It was Jesus who called Lazarus from the grave, but the disciples had to unwrap his grave clothes. Our old man is passion driven, our new man is truth driven. In his second message of contrasting strength and weakness, Bill reminded us that it is not weakness that is our problem, but our strength. Whereas man tends to think he wants to be good looking, strong and wealthy, Paul urges us to regard our affliction as but for a moment, and to look not at the seen, but at the unseen. In his final message, Bill contrasted the enormity of sin and why sin is so evil, with the fact that you cannot receive grace until God reveals to you the enormity of sin. Sin is a malignant and powerful spirit of independence against God. It is treason, and is always a form of unbelief. God does not owe us grace, but chooses to bestow it. God didn’t hire the labourers because He needed them, but because they needed God (Matthew 20). No one gets less than he deserves, and many get far more. These are three timeless and powerful messages that will change your life.
In all, it was a remarkable conference, a banquet of good things. Everyone who came was filled, reassured, restored, and inspired to continue the good fight. For those of you who would have liked to have attended, and could not, all the messages were recorded in both CD and DVD format, and are available from Maureen at CWM Office. Don’t miss next year’s conference, planned for late August or early September, 2009. Nothing actually beats being there in person.
Thank you! You are now Subscribed.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.