US Northeast Summer Retreat Concludes, Affirming Joy of Salvation in Christ
(Photo : Olivet Assembly USA)
The 2017 Northeast Summer Retreat concluded on August 20 in Dover, New York, as lectures throughout the three-day event affirmed the joy of salvation in Christ and hope for the glory of God as members gathered from Northeast churches located in New York City, Dover Plains, Boston, New Haven, Burlington and Montreal, and as far away as Atlanta. More than 200 members attended including adult and children's programs.
The retreat program had the theme from Romans 5:8 which states "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. A total of seven messages and sermons were preached from Romans 5-8, describing the justification, sanctification and glorification that believers have in Jesus Christ.
The lecturers guided hearers to understand the the joy, and hope for glory that believers can experience after being justified by God through faith in Jesus Christ. The lecturers took readers on a journey through the life of the believer, and ultimately the restoration God wants to bring to this fallen world.
Starting from the personal salvation which allows believers to rejoice in the glory of God and also rejoice in the sufferings they experience, participants heard how we have peace with God after being reconciled by Jesus who paid the price for our sins.
They learned how death was overcome for all mankind through Jesus, overturning the fallen history of Adam who sinned, allowing death to reign. God set up the law to allow the sin to be clearly seen, but now through Christ he has brought eternal life for all.
The lectures also showed how believers are no longer slaves to sin, but made alive in Jesus. Lecturers covered passages where Apostle Paul exhorts believers to no longer offer any of themselves to sin. Ultimately the Apostles says we are now slaves to righteousness, obeying the Lord with gratitude.
The process of becoming more holy in Christ, or sanctification, was explored as believers experience being set free from sin and now becoming slaves to God for eternity. The lecturers explained how believers are no longer bound by the law but have been released to serve by the Spirit. While we desire to do good, we cannot at times and there is a constant struggle. In the end we are delivered from our struggles by Jesus Christ.
Finally, reaching the conclusion, listeners could see how, in Christ we are not condemned, but know that Jesus has condemned sin through himself so the law could be fulfilled and we could live by the Spirit.
With hearts now focused on the Spirit, although we may still experience sin in our bodies, through the Spirit we will be raised as Christ was raised. We now have the Spirit that cries out to God and no longer lives in fear.
Despite the current suffering we now even look forward to the restoration of all of God's creation that will be brought to freedom in Christ. Knowing the meaning of the current time is like the pains of childbirth that allow us yearn, beyond what words can express. We groan, along with the Holy Spirit, with expectation about God's redemption.
God overcomes our weaknesses by his plan and foreknowledge, with our glory in Christ being assured. In the end, nothing can separate us from our salvation in Christ and we are more than conquerors through Jesus.
After the lectures the retreat participants could take part in a breaking bread period that allowed all of the message to be discussed and more deeply understood from different perspectives. The first day ended with a prayer meeting led by the Elim International representative. The second night included a Jubilee praise and prayer night. On the final day, in addition to the closing service, participants could hear testimonies from attendants from New York City, Atlanta, Montreal, Kirkwood, NY and Dover Plains, NY, sharing about the grace received. One testifier shared how he felt a great "storm" of grace poured down and the joy he received, explaining how for him, the retreat had just gotten started, even though it was about to end. One testifier shared how she now understood that she was not alone but that God was with her. Another shared how she wanted to testify the grace of God to others and share the joy she had received.
The retreat also featured great contributions from volunteers for the children's programs which had a highly coordinated event which involved programs for toddlers, and older children. More than 80 children took part with help from voluteers.
A group photo was taken at the end of the retreat for all those who attended the last day followed by a delicious fellowship lunch prepared with great grace and diligence by the kitchen staff. The Northeast region affirmed the message of salvation and the hope believers have in Christ. Ministers are departing or will depart shortly to continue with their work in bringing the word of God to expand God's Kingdom.