God's Word in My Life
Joshua Lowe, one of our ministry interns, reflects on what he has learnt from the books he read during the internship.
Quite a few people have asked me, "How has the internship at the church been?" I have replied along the lines of, "The internship has been edifying, it's been a great time to reflect on ministry, the church and my own walk with God. The books have been good to read but it has been quite a lot to digest at times."
An intern's week is taken up with reading a book each week, staff and elder meetings, regular meet ups with other members of the church, as well as continuing with our ordinary ministry responsibilities. If you are still wondering what an intern does, it is detailed on our website here.
The interns do a lot of reading each week and although it does take time to read a book, a good amount of time is taken up in digesting what I read and wrestling with how the gospel impacts the different areas of ministry and my life.
Joshua (second from left) with (L-R) Pastor Eugene, Andrew and Hannah, having a time of reflection and discussion on the books they read during one of their weekly meetings.
Now that the internship is coming to an end, I would like to share some personal reflections about some things I have learned through the books I have read during my time as an intern.
God’s Word in My Life
The first few books we read during the internship were about the importance of the Word and understanding the big picture of the Bible (or Biblical Theology). These books helped me see the sufficiency of Scripture—that everything we need from God is already available to us through His Word and that it is not only sufficient, but it also has the authority to speak into my life.
Growing up in the church I have often taken the Bible for granted, and have read familiar stories in the Bible and felt like they directly apply to my life. The concept of Biblical Theology has helped me to understand that the Bible is not about me, it is about God and His glorious redemptive plan fulfilled through Jesus Christ.
Growing in My Understanding of the Gospel
It has also been humbling knowing that even after being a Christian for most of my life, there is still so much more of the gospel I can learn and apply to my life. It shows that you never stop growing in your relationship with God and there is always more to learn. Throughout the internship, the readings have shown me how little I know about our wonderful God and it has given me a greater appreciation for what He has done for us through Jesus and the gospel.
One of best learning points for me was the concept of being “in Christ”. Being “in Christ” means that Christ not only takes away my sin, but additionally everything Christ has done is now accredited to me! Therefore, there is nothing I need to do to add to my salvation. My sanctification does not add to my justification because I am already righteous the moment I am in Christ!
Sinclair Ferguson puts it well in his book, The Whole Christ:
The benefits of the gospel [Justification, Reconciliation, Redemption, Adoption, Sanctification] are in Christ. They do not exist apart from him. They are ours only in him. They cannot be abstracted from him as if we ourselves could possess them independently of him.
Books about the doctrine of the Church can sometimes be tedious and a bit dry, but now I realise that they are important! Reading through the books about what makes a healthy church has given me a new appreciation for the members of the church body. It has grown my love for the members and I have tried to get into the habit of praying for individual members of the church directory.
These books have also given me a greater appreciation for our pastors and elders. It is very difficult shepherding a church full of sinful people (I know because I am one of them). I also forget that our pastors and elders are also sheep in Jesus’s flock and they also need to be cared and prayed for.
The church is also crucial for Evangelism and Missions, both cannot be done without the church. The task of evangelism and missions is also easier knowing you do not have to do it alone, but you have the whole church body behind you who are collectively working for the same mission of God.
The last set of readings were regarding gospel change in people’s lives. It was enlightening learning that external actions are not always good indications of a changed life. If a person is to change, they must first change their heart. This is something only Jesus can do through the gospel.
There are numerous examples of this in my life every day. I will often do and say the "right things" to appear good on the outside but inwardly I still desire the wrong things. It is especially evident when I have done wrong to a person. I will pretty quickly apologise and say sorry (because I do not like conflict) but it does not result in true repentance because I do not desire change, I desire peace. I will appear remorseful in order to resolve conflict but sooner or later the same things will happen again because I have not truly dealt with the problem of my heart. I am just a bad tree stapling good fruit onto the branches.
The heart as the real you, the inner person, spirit, soul, mind, emotions (Eph 3:16) and our heart dictates our outward actions. Bad trees produce bad fruit and even though we can try to staple good fruit on a bad tree to make it look healthy, it will end up rotting and dying because the core of the tree is still bad. Good fruit does not last if we do not have a good heart.
Praise God for the gospel and saving me from myself and my sinful heart. How amazing is it that Christ can change our hearts and make them new?
I would recommend the internship for anyone, no matter how old or young you are. If you want to grow in your understanding of the gospel, God and His Church, you will be blessed just as I have been. If you cannot commit to the whole six months, you could still try reading some of the books in the reading list. My personal favourite is Sinclair Ferguson’s The Christian Life.