Dealing with stormy seas

Dealing with stormy seas

I have recently returned from the General Assembly of the World Reformed Fellowship. As I mentioned in my previous post, this was a wonderful opportunity to meet with like-minded people from around the world, to encourage one another, and to consider carefully the challenges we face in the modern world.

The theme of the GA was ‘Stormy Seas’. We face cultural troubles, internal church challenges, and of course we are always dealing with our own sin. We were privileged to sit under the teaching of great Bible teachers like Ligon Duncan, Richard Pratt, Davi Gomes, and Peter Jensen. Throughout the GA we were encouraged to do the basics well. One major issue was what was labelled as ‘Biblical anemia’; many of our people in our churches don’t know the Bible well. Theological college representatives worldwide expressed their disappointment at the level of Bible knowledge among those enrolling, which is a sign the sending churches are not training and equipping well with the Bible. We also need to make sure we are using the means of grace God has given us well, worship, preaching and discipleship in all its forms to help people to resist their culture and become more like Jesus.

Sunday worship at the Indonesian Reformed Evangelical Church, Jakarta

There was also a great message that we need to be far more active in evangelism. Some of our friends from Asia are very frustrated that Western Christians often are so passive and don’t spread the gospel well. The Indonesian church was reprimanded for often only seeking to evangelise Chinese people and not the Muslim majority, many of whom have not heard the gospel. We need good theology to be strong, and good evangelism to grow.

The delegates were also encouraged to be as united as possible. Denominations in the Reformed tradition are worse than most in dividing over secondary issues. Other churches are not our enemy; we need to get on with fighting the flesh, the devil and the world.

Churches and denominations around the world also need to look for ways to help one another. For example, the rapid growth of the gospel in southern Africa has meant wonderful things but there is a real lack of teaching and training. Many pastors need resources and help, and the richer Western churches with their strong theological colleges and strong teaching can help here. Likewise, the passion of our South American brothers is infectious. We need to learn to be active and creative evangelism and church planting. Church can never be too comfortable; we need to be less like the world and get on with being obedient to the great commission.

Davi Gomes addressing the Assembly

Davi Gomes from Brazil encouraged the delegates to see the stormy seas that we find ourselves in differently. According to Hebrews 12, this is discipline for us. Not in the sense of being rebuked, but in the sense of an athlete training. Stormy seas, as we have seen historically, are the perfect conditions for making people more like Jesus.

We live in difficult times, but our king remains in control. King Jesus will one day be seen by all to be the true king, and even now we can trust in his power over all nations. We need to have less fear of what the world can do to us and more confidence that we serve the one to whom all authority in heaven and earth has been given.