Friday, June 10, 2005

Approved Workers

Just home from this week's Relay conference. This was the third and final Relay conference of 2004/5. We gathered at Quinta, Shropshire for five days to reflect on the year - about 65 graduates on our discipleship training programme plus the dozen or so staff.

The key theme of Relay as a year is the sufficiency of God's grace, in life and ministry. Living by faith in the Sovereign Lord, trusting in him to provide in all situations.

Each Relay gave a 3 minute presentation reflecting on what God has done in their lives this year. Let praise resound to God for his glorious grace. This year's Relay have suffered beyond your imagination, through illness, tragedies, opposition and more. Suffering that it seems hard to believe a group of people in their early 20's could have been through. But, in God's grace, this is what they committed to do 10 months ago. To suffer like soldiers for the gospel. To run by the grace of God. To labour for the harvest. They have suffering but have also been strengthened by the grace of God in the gospel.

We also worked through 2 Timothy, led by Relay Co-ordinator Andy Shudall.
We saw the precious treasure of the gospel. Something to be guarded, but also our guardian.
We saw the need to live and work out of God's approval of us in the gospel. Not seeking approval from man or God. Rather, patiently teaching of God's grace, entrusting it to reliable workers who can teach others.
We saw the need to stand firm in the truth of the gospel. Knowing that opposition to that gospel comes from within the church, and from without. From within from those who seek to hear only what their itching ears desire instead of gospel truth. From without from persecution )(note: and Paul writes from death-row).
Finally we saw the need to proclaim the gospel - the promise of life in Jesus. And to do so in the company of trustworthy workers.
God's word never ceases to amazed, challenge, confront, corrent and exhort. Once again reminded that grace is what starts me out with Christ, and what I live by. That the gospel is the reason. The reason I live, the reason I decide anything. The gospel is the core of my marriage and my ministry. The gospel declares without doubt that I am a wretched evil sinner. So, only let Christ be praised for his glorious gospel of grace!


Reflecting my year supervising Steve on Relay. I think I'm starting to comprehend Paul's works in 1 Thessalonians 2v20 when he calls them in his joy and crown. His delight on God's presence....

Over the past 10 months I've seen Steve transformed from an arrogant legalist of a Christian, into someone living in the freedom that only God's grace can provide. For his first seven years as a Christian Steve had been trying to get God's approval by the way that he lived his Christian life - saved by grace but living by works. This year, as he testified on Wednesday, that has changed.

This is a transformation that I cannot claim credit for. A tranformation rooted in the Word of God, the word of the gospel powerfully working in his life. The word that has been taught to him, and through which God has granted him repentance. He is an approved worker, walking by the Spirit, living in God's grace. He is someone I'm delighted to have been able to entrust the gospel to this year.

Steve and his fellow Relay, don't need to seek my or even God's approval. By way of the gospel of grace, they already have God's approval.

PS: Thanks to Fellowship Group 10: Andy, Anne, Rosemary, Eleanor, Ian and Adam for buying me a kite as a thank you gift. The pleasure has been mine to travel with you this year, to walk alongside you as your group leader. Keep running the race in God's grace.