Holiday Bible Program: Gripped by the Love of Christ
Dear BPCWA worshipper, One of the first programs of every year is our Holiday Bible Program. Worshippers should read this pastoral because it is a theme that must concern us all. While this was conducted for our Holiday Bible Program, it is a message for all. This year, the theme was “Gripped by the Love of Christ” from “For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead” (2 Cor 5:14) and was conducted from 3-5 January this year. This program is planned and run separately from our Sunday School program which many of us are familiar with. The theme for the program every year is prayerfully chosen to be on a subject relevant to the students in our midst. In a sense, it is tactical training from the Word of God for the young ones to prepare for the spiritual warfare that lies just ahead of them in their lives. Unlike Sunday School, this is like a mini-retreat for the younger ones where we can, over the three days, build on the prior day’s lesson to instil deeper understanding and practical learning on the selected topic. With this in mind, I hope that all parents will plan to ensure that their children will attend next year’s program, which (as is already indicated on our church calendar) will run from 2-4 January 2024.
Program outline. This program is open to students from Pre-Primary until Year 10. I am thankful that most of our worshippers realise the importance of this program and set aside the time to ensure that their children are enrolled in the program. Though we had no choice but to have some guidelines for enrolments from outsiders, I am thankful that we had some repeat as well as first-time visitors who joined us for this program. Each day starts off with 1.5 hours of teaching, followed by a 30-45 minute craft session designed to accompany and reinforce the lesson plan for that day.
A Love that Draws. Every person who is born into this world is totally depraved and can never “make the first move” to choose or love God in their natural state. So, God, in His love, drew us to respond to His salvation. With our sinful inborn nature, we are “all dead” – spiritually. All – whether born into a Christian or unbelieving family – lie in this state with the relationship with God broken by sin. Amidst this hopelessness, Christ came to offer Himself as man’s Saviour, living a perfectly obedient life, bearing our sin, taking our punishment on the cross as our substitute, and triumphing victorious over life and death – thereby reconciling man to God. When we realise that Christ is our Creator who made man of dust, the Holy One who hates sin, and the Almighty God who reigns Supreme over everything in heaven and on earth, we begin to have a glimpse of that great love that Christ offers to fallen, dead, unworthy and sinful man. Outside of Christ, all lie dead. In Christ, we have life. Do you see the genuine signs of spiritual death or spiritual life in yourself or your family? There are only 2 states – dead or alive. Which state are you in? Dear parent, be very concerned about which condition your child is in! Humble yourself to Christ by faith, accepting Him as your Saviour, Lord and Master today.
A Love Reciprocated. If you have truly been saved, you are a child of God. A sign of a regenerate child of God is that instead of the aversion you once had, you will have a love for God and for spiritual things. The Holy Spirit who drew you to Christ will also cause you to love your Saviour who died for you. This is the sign of a new life in Christ. This is the purpose of Christ saving us. Hence, a child of God will have, however faint, a desire to return his purchased life to his Saviour to love him more. It is a despicable child who begrudges returning himself to his Saviour. In fact, and hard while it may sound, he who thinks he owes nothing to Christ is not a child of His. No true child with the indwelling Holy Spirit will only desire to take salvation from Christ and not have even a tinge of a grateful heart to want to love Him in return. We see a reflection of this in our normal daily lives too. We expect children to be grateful to their parents for what their parents have done for them. Should it be any different when it comes to the Almighty God Who did even more for man (and continues to do) than our parents ever did for us? Should it be a shock that Paul would state, “If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha” (1 Cor 16:22)? In fact, we must realise that while salvation is freely offered, reciprocation or giving back of ourselves to God, is not an option for God says “and that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again” (2Cor 5:15). Moreover, even if we gave our all to our Lord and Master, it could never compare to what He gave up to save us. Instead, let us set the direction of our lives to focus on developing with a closeness our relationship with God. Make up your heart and mind today to grow in your love to know Him, serve Him, commune with Him, obey Him, worship Him, and be with His people in His house. This is making God your delight.
A Love of Pleasing Christ. This must ultimately be what it all boils down to. The amazingly wondrous love of Christ must stir us to love Him. Teach your child and yourself to love pleasing God, not because someone else expects it. When we love someone, we need not to be told to please the person. This is the kind of love we aim for because it will last. We should not need someone to cajole or push us to obey God in anything. We must aim to please Christ because we cannot help but want to please Him above self and the world. This is what it means to be constrained by His love! Will we be willing to choose what may seem demeaning or foolish in the eyes of the world if that choice pleases God better? Do we seek to please our flesh or pride more than please God? If your child does not see the natural love to please Christ in you, they will not learn to be so in their own lives too. When God’s pleasure is our supreme purpose, we can await with great anticipation that one day when we see our beloved Saviour face to face. Let us also be conscious that we will be greatly ashamed when we see Christ after having treated Him like a nobody while we lived on earth. Let us seek to see His smile because we lived a life constrained naturally by His love alone, as He greets us at the end of our earthly sojourn. Is pleasing Christ worth above everything else to you? Amid all our busy schedules and fleshly lusts, sadly we may have wasted much of our lives on vanity. As you read this, realise that there is yet time for you to change. Make this your decision today. Also, if we sincerely love Christ, we will seek to please Him naturally and genuinely. You won’t please God if you desire to please or impress men because your actions are tainted with carnal motivations. Let’s examine every motivation to see whose esteem we seek.
We are all dead in sin unless we have been born again to salvation through Jesus Christ. Are you sure of your salvation? If you are, how can you not be constrained by such wondrous love and hence live to please only Him? There is no other reasonable answer to this question but “Yes I want very much to!”. How will our children grow up and live their lives? What are our examples as believers to them in our homes and the church? Will they be constrained in their choices by the love of the world, love of themselves, and even love of us as their parents . . . but not by the love of Christ? If they are constrained by the love of Christ, they will not depart from Him who loved them and gave Himself for them.
And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. (2 Cor 5:15)
Yours in our Lord’s service,