Written by Peter Blanch
Many of you will already know that our church is part of the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches (FIEC). It is great for us to be a part of this fellowship – influencing it and being influenced by it. This last week Stephen, Sarah and I attended the Annual Conference of FIEC held at Stanwell Tops near Wollongong.
The aim of the conference is to stir each of the member churches of FIEC to remain faithful to the Biblical gospel, and to pursue the spiritual and numerical growth that is the fruit of the gospel. We share the same desire to see our nation won for Christ.
During the conference this year we were reminded of the nature of the times that we live in. It is always important to remember the time, for when you know the time you will understand with clarity what do to with your days in the life that God gives to you.
For example – when a student knows that there is a maths exam the next morning, they know that the time is right to be studying maths. They will have the clarity to put their english books aside, shut down their computer game and get out their maths books to revise what they have learnt. If you know the nature of the time you live in, you will have clarity to know how to live.
This leads us to ask a critical question: What about us? What is the nature of the times that we live in, in our day and age?
The good news is that God has been very clear with us about time. He says:
“But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfil his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” 2 Peter 3:8-9
God has promised that Jesus is coming back to judge the living and the dead. But already, it has been 2000 years since Jesus first came. This significant passing of time can lead people to scoff at the idea of Jesus’ return. They mock Christianity. They were already mocking and scoffing back in Peter’s day when he wrote this letter – and it had only been a small number of years since Jesus died and rose again.
However, there is a reason for this delay and it is found in the nature of the time we live in. God is delaying Jesus’ return because of His timing. At the moment God is holding back Jesus’ return to give people time to repent before it is too late. This is the time for repentance. God does not wish that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance, so He delays the return of Jesus to give people more time to repent.
Given the nature of the times that we live in today, we have clarity in how to live. We can see clearly that time is not going on for you to live out your plans for this life. This brief life is not all about me or you. Time is not going on for me to me to follow my dreams, or to fulfil my career ambitions or for me to achieve my fitness goals, or to have the time to see the sights of the world. God states very clearly that time is not going on for you, rather it is going on to give time for the lost to be saved.
Since the time now is all about seeing the lost saved, then the wisest way to live our lives now is to use the time we have to bring people to know and follow Jesus.
I am very thankful for the like-minded brothers and sisters we shared with at the Annual Conference – who spurred us on to remember the times and our part in God’s plan. As part of the program, we heard of new church plants, and the growth in existing churches. We talked about how to make the most of teaching Scripture in schools, before we lose this great opportunity to proclaim God’s word. We were informed about the changing nature of gender in society and the loss of religious freedom we are starting to experience in this country. Stephen and I, with Sarah, ran a seminar aimed at helping smaller churches to grow. I attended the AGM and played a role in assessing new churches applying to join the FIEC. In all of this, the aim of the FIEC is to further the gospel cause as we wait for Jesus to return.
It is great to be a part of this fellowship that keeps reminding us of the nature of the times. It is my prayer that together as a church family we will remind each other of the same, living for the priority of the gospel above any other plans we might have.