Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Gospel Growth Conference: Day I, Session I

Session I: Tony Payne "The Beginnings of Gospel Growth"
[10/30/2007 7:30pm]

I. Roots
Tony started by describing how he grew up on the northern shore of New South Wales…chasing Emu’s over lunch, rode a Kangaroo to school, stampedes of Koalas, etc. He described aussies as "sport mad"...a bunch of convicts and jailors that some how over the last 200 years have turned Australia into one of the most beautiful countries in the world.

Then he contrasted Australia with the United States...we are a country founded on noble speeches and acts. National unity, freedom, and bravery. He described our pledge of allegiance and national anthem and pointed out it's noble nationalistic qualities...then he picked up a guitar and played “A Waltzing Matilda” which is Australia's anthem. Here are the lyrics:

Once a jolly swagman camped by a billabong,
Under the shade of a coolibah tree,
And he sang as he watched and waited 'til his billy boiled
"Who'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me?"

Down came a jumbuck to drink at the billabong,
Up got the swaggy and grabbed him with glee,
And he sang as he stowed that jumbuck in his tucker bag,
"You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me".

Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda
"You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me"
And he sang as he stowed that jumbuck in his tucker bag,
"You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me".

Down came the squatter, mounted on his thoroughbred,
up came the troopers, one, two, three,
"Who's that jolly jumbuck you've got in your tucker bag?"
"You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me".

Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda
"You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me"
"Who's that jolly jumbuck you've got in your tucker bag?",
"You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me".

Up got the swaggy and jumped into the billabong,
"You'll never catch me alive," said he,
And his ghost may be heard as you passed by that billabong,
"Who'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me?"

Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda
Who'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me
And his ghost may be heard as you passed by that billabong,
"Who'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me?"

Not the noblest of anthems...

After describing the absurdity of what the song means and the nations roots in an unwillingness to submit to authority and how different it is from the United States he said that they look at things a little different than we do. Therefore, their Christian culture also looks a things much differently than ours.

One of the reasons they have come is because their culture has different gifting than our Christian culture. He then proceeded to "explicate" Colossians 1:1-8.

II. Explication of Colossians 1:1-8 Matthias Media's Theme
He described how it is the founding passage of Matthias media, and how it speaks to us about gospel growth. The central theme is the gospel itself. The gospel is "the word of truth" as Paul put it. It deals to a surprising degree of the gospel itself. He then outlined the passage in three points:
I. How the gospel spreads...
II. The gospel's effects...
III. The character of the gospel that is growing in this way...

I. Spread
The gospel spreads through people, apostles (Paul), slaves (Epaphras in verse 7). He described how in this passage it spreads because it is powerful. In verses 5-6…the gospel is bearing fruit and growing. He speaks as if it has a life of its own. Like a stubborn weed that whereever it is planted it keeps growing. It’s not like a mystical magic…but it is the word of truth. This word of truth is about God and His will for the future. Gospel gives freedom and liberty, and it spreads because it is powerful (in its very nature) in this way.

Tony then described how there is a great loss of confidence in the power of the gospel. He pointed that this is a wonderful theme of David Wells’ books. He then described how secularism and relativism came many decades in Australia before it came here in the United States. They are more accustomed to dealing with this than we are. He said that this is one of the only ways that Australia is ahead of us…rugby, cricket, secularism, and relativism.

Then he described how love in verse 8 is love in the Spirit, and it is God's work.

II. Effects
In this second point Tony described how the gospel then bears fruits and these are the effects of the gospel. It, "bears fruit, it proliferates numerically and bears fruit and grows in individual lives (verse 4-5). More specifically the effects are faith, hope, and love (1 Corinthians 13:13).

He then discussed hope more specifically. It is not described as a fruit or an effect of the gospel. Hope is the very content of the gospel in vese 4-5.

III. Character of the gospel that is spreading and growing in this way.
Hope is what the content/character of the gospel itself is about in this passage. The gospel is a message with specific content, truth vs. 5, vs. 6 " the hope laid up for you in heaven".

What is the hope that is the content of the gospel that came to the Colossians? Chapter one is the answer to that…in verse 12 namely redemption and the forgiveness of sins. Further, we have been qualified for something that we weren’t qualified before. They have the share of the inheritance of the saints.

This is not a special group of people with plaques behind their heads as Roman Catholics would have us believe. Saints are all Christians; however, Paul is not speaking that issue here. These people ARE a special group, a unique group, and a closed group. They are a special, holy, chosen people of God. Saints is an ordinary word for holy ones...describing Christians.

Tony then quickly described what hope is in the Old Testament, namely, holy ones of God who come into the kingdom of everlasting rule of their God. The sons of Israel (as Ephesians 2 puts it). Paul says “so then you are no longer aliens but fellows citizens of the saints [paraphrase].” We are able then to join the saints and become a saint. Gentiles and the entire world. Further, in this line of thinking verses 21-23 show that saints (or Christians) are "reconciled by His death to present you holy and blameless." Also, he pointed out in verse 25 gentiles are the riches of the, "mystery which is Christ in you, the hope of glory." Jesus came to save all of us…to reconcile all of us to be part of the glorious kingdom of God. Paul’s gospel is the mystery that it is Christ, Christ in you.

The Israelite inheritance has been thrown open to all. Verses 13-14 "they are purchased by redemption, the forgiveness of sins."

III. Conclusion
He then came back to his discussion of foundations, roots, and openings and how they are important…particularlyfor a conference. If it was good for Paul to start with the roots of the gospel in his letter…it is good to start with the gospel at this conference as well.

He said that the churches of Galtia, Colosse, etc. were in danger of moving away from the gospel. In his greetings Paul is pointing at the objective truth at the beginning of his letters of who they are. Paul reminds the churches of their founding narrative.

"The founding narrative," he said, "of Australia is of of jokes and irreverence. That is not what is important, however. The found in narrative of a nation is not as important as our founding narrative in Christ!" The majority of the 300 or so people that came resounded in Amen's all over to this.

The purpose of the next few days are here to serve this purpose, namely the gospel.

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