Guest Post by Graham Weale
Summary of Evangelium21 held in Hamburg 24-26th May 2020
Dear Friends in Christchurch,
I am writing this letter in a personal capacity to share with you some of the great messages and encouragements which came out of this meeting. Our chaplain and two other church members were also present amongst the 1200 or so participants. Evangelium21, founded in 2011 by Matthias Lohmann, pastor of the Freie Evangelische Gemeinde in Munich, is a network of Christians (pastors, leaders and others) who have the common desire to put the whole bible in the centre of their churches. As in previous years some of the most influential speakers in the western world were gathered from Europe (mainly Germany) and the USA. Rev. Martin Reakes-Williams from the Anglican Church Leipzig was one of the speakers.
The title of the event was “Christ in the centre”, which already is a strong message and a challenge to us. It requires us to ask the questions:
To what extent is Christ in the centre of our lives, or even in our lives at all?
Are we allowing Christ to occupy and increasingly influence our lives through personal bible-reading, prayer, our daily lives and active participation in our church?
The following paragraphs summarise the talks which I found most helpful.
- How Christ is in the centre of the bible
The whole bible, starting from Genesis is pointing to the coming of salvation from our sins through Christ,
- telling us what Christ did and taught us whilst on earth (the Gospels),
- telling us about the work of the Holy Spirit (Acts of the Apostles),
- explaining the implications of His teaching (the Epistles)
- and gloriously giving an insight into the future life with Him in heaven (Revelation).
In I Cor. 15:3-5 Paul wrote: For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve.
Therefore, every time we read the bible we should be looking for ways in which it points to Christ!
- Proclaiming the Grace of Christ from all Scripture
Contrary to other religions and even some branches of Christianity we must understand that our works will absolutely not secure salvation for us. Nor is it sufficient to be like scriptural characters, all of whom apart from Jesus, had their faults. Instead for our salvation from sin we have to rely wholeheartedly upon God’s grace – what he has done for us in the person of Christ. This understanding lies at the heart of the reformation – one of the five “sola’s”.
Eph. 2:8-9 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.
- Applying the Grace of God from all scripture
After proclaiming the grace of God, we need to understand how to apply it!
The fact that we are Christians (saved sinners) must determine how we think and live. We start with knowledge – the bible teaches us about God, who he is and what he requires. It also teaches us about ourselves: that we are made in God’s image, but we are sinners.
We are redeemed, loved by the father, united with the son and indwelt by the hold spirit. We are new creations in Christ, no longer slaves to sin. But still we sin, because we love it. (Do we recognise this problem within ourselves?)
A growing love for Jesus should replace the love for sinning. Preaching must help us to love Christ more – then we will think about the right things for the right reasons.
Rom. 12 1-2a Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
The last sentence alone reminds us how we must prevent current social trends from determining our life-styles rather than the bible.
- Christ-centred of Trinitarian
We must understand properly the different roles of the three persons in the Trinity:
God the Father, who plans and ordains
Jesus the Son, who carries out his will
The Holy Spirit, who convicts unbelievers and supports believers.
The Gospel is the Good News about how God planned and carried out salvation.
God wants to meet his people. The first meeting place was the Garden of Eden. Then afterwards the Temple. But upon the crucifixion the curtain of the temple was torn, and Christians now have direct access to God through Christ.
- Christ-centred prayer
The starting point is to recognise the great privilege which Christians have, being able to come to the father through Christ, his son. But there are conditions for prayer to be answered, which we must understood. Jesus calls us His friends, if we do what He commands (John 15:16). This latter condition is often given too little weight – it requires us to recognise what Jesus requires from us and to be willing to make changes, some of which may be very costly and require considerable time.
We should pray for results which are in accordance with Christ’s will and which would bring Him glory. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. (John 14: 13a). But it does not mean that our best obedience will lead to miracles. For God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. I John 3:20b.
Prayer should interact with God’s speech. This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. (I John 5:14). Great men of prayer have always looked into the bible to discern God’s will and pray in particular circumstances accordingly.
Ending a prayer with the words “in the name of Christ” is not a magic formula which puts pressure on God to answer it. Also, it does not mean that we pray directly to Jesus but recognises that we only have access to God as a result of Christ’s death for us.
Lastly a Christ-centred prayer-life should also bring us great joy: Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete (John 16: 24b).
I hope that you find this summary helpful and an encouragement. Please have a look at the Evangelium21 youtube channel, where you can see the talks from this and previous conferences, (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC__40_CUByoHGfjGOs_8-eg) and please come to a conference yourself- there will be one in Bonn next year.
Do let me know if you would like help with further explanation or access to video-recordings of the original talks.
Yours in Christ,