Growing in the Gospel
Hannah Yeo, one of our ministry interns, shares how the ongoing internship has encouraged her to persevere in the gospel.
“The church pays your sister to read books?” This was one of the funny comments I heard that highlighted how the church’s Ministry Internship cares deeply about gospel growth. We have been spending the past four months studying what God calls us to believe about Himself, the gospel, the church, evangelism and missions. Every week, we read a book, write a reflection essay, discuss it as a group and gather with fellow church members to encourage one another over a meal.
Our weekly interns’ meeting begins with a devotional from the book of Galatians. Galatians has revealed my hypocrisy in thinking of sanctification as a prerequisite for salvation, when in fact Christ comes to us in “our most broken state” (to quote one of our youths). God justifies us in Christ by faith alone. Once the kindness of God has turned us around (Rom 2:4) and given us a safe space to repent, the Holy Spirit is in us and we are saved, however slow our sanctification may seem. Sanctification can only appear to add or detract from our justification if we think we can derive our justification from ourselves. In reality, we can never be more or less justified than we were when we were first in Christ. What a blessed hope to rest in as we press on to fight sin in our lives.
As part of our internship, we had the joy of being hosted by our church elders and deacons, to understand how they shepherd GBC and some of the challenges of ministry. It has been a real blessing to meet in small groups over lunch, to be invited into homes (and lives) and share about how God is at work. In some way, church has felt more real during this pandemic because of the culture of intentional hospitality, showing that gospel growth can flourish even when programmes are impossible!
Before the internship, I shared that I was praying to grow in Christlike love, the kind we read of in 1 Corinthians 13. Recently, God showed me that I had divorced the passage from its context. Paul’s “grand treatise on love” is surrounded by a discussion of using spiritual gifts to edify the church. Love then, he points out, should be the attitude that packages each of these gifts—all ministry should be done out of love. As I think about building up the body of Christ, I need to ask myself, am I doing this out of love, or because I feel I have to do it? Am I doing this out of love or because I just want to get something done? God has called us to speak the truth in love (Eph 4:15). I do not want to do ministry to fill my own desire for busyness or ambition. I know that God sees my heart, and cares about who I am before what I do.
There are many other things I have learnt from the internship and I would love to discuss them. If you would like to read our essays and chat about any of the books, just reach out. You can find the list of books we read here. To pique your interest, here are three learning points:
On church membership and discipline
Discipline draws a circle around the membership of the church. Careful practices of membership and discipline are meant to mark off the church from the world and thereby define and display the gospel.
On repentance and change
How to put sin to death: (i) recognise sin for what it is, (ii) bring your sin into the light of God’s presence (iii) recall the shame of past sin (iv) remember you are united to Christ (v) prayerfully seek the fruit of the Spirit. We usually stop at (ii) or (iii), but we must preach the gospel in order to get to (iv) and (v).
Evangelism stems from a love for Jesus and a love for other people and their souls. Doing it is good for us and an act of grace—God doesn’t judge us on our delivery but actually designed it for our development (Phm 1:6)!
There are five weeks left to the internship. It has been a beautiful time of reading, learning and encouraging one another to persevere in the gospel. I pray that God would use all that we have learnt in this time to grow His kingdom and magnify His glory! He alone is worthy.