It was cool and fresh after a little rain as members and visitors arrived in Mt Gambier for the SA Field 2011 Camp Meeting held April 22-24, 2011.
Though we were meeting at the local Golf Club for the conference, the combined Presentation/Dining hall made for a beautiful scenic backdrop. Surrounded by God’s creation, the weekend provided us with valuable lessons on ‘overall spirituality’.
On Friday evening Br Csongi Matyas welcomed us very enthusiastically and warmly and we opened the Sabbath in song – “Nearer to the Heart of God”. We were invited to state why we came to the camp. Some responses were: I like to learn; I love to worship together! John 3:16 was to be the theme text of the camp. Later on we learnt how important that
verse is, along with John 3:17. Jesus came not to condemn but to save! The enthusiasm of Br Csongi was infectious and thus was started the positive and happy spirit that dominated the conference throughout.
Covering our main topics we started with Br Nathan Tyler’s experience of trying to grow some Daffodils in his own way. It didn’t work. Only God’s way is what really works, as we found out during the study entitled ‘The creation and Purpose of the Human Race’.
Sabbath Morning Worship was brought to us by Br Cameron Brown emphasizing the bad news of how this once perfect world was subtly deceived into sin and became filled with fear and guilt. What is the Hope or Good News? To Fight Sin you need to KEEP CLOSE to JESUS!
Before the Sabbath School started 2 testimonies were offered – Br Craig Cunningham related how God used an anonymous man to saved him from a rip that was pulling him out to sea; and Br Damien Blewitt offered his testimony of how God saved him, from drifting back into the world of rock music, and the life of a country rock musician, and back to the arms of Christ.
The Sabbath School lessons were presented by Br Csongi (Review) and Br Nathan Tyler (Lesson). They stressed the need for each individual to study for themselves, and not to lean completely on the ministry as the ministry can become corrupt like that of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas. To deal with sin immediately and call it by its right name; to counsel together, especially with the Lord!
For the Sabbath Worship Service Br Ben Thiel led out with an inspiring presentation based on the conference theme ‘Heaven’s Rescue Plan’. He outlined the rescue methods this world uses to save a life. Such methods show the great value placed on temporal life. Yet such a life, if only dedicated to Satan’s kingdom, offers shallow benefits in comparison to a life dedicated to God and service in His kingdom. Christ set us the example in this regard. “Remember that Christ risked all. For our redemption, heaven itself was imperilled. At the foot of the cross, remembering that for one sinner Christ would have laid down His life, you may estimate the value of a soul.” (COL 196:4) It is up to us to respond, to consent to be rescued. When we do, we will then give our lives in service to Him, helping to rescue others and thus give them HOPE!
After lunch a youth oriented Praise and Testimony Meeting was presented by Br Peter Szabo and Sr Amy Voncina in which the theme was played out in various songs and hymns. All was presented with beauty, pathos, reverence and joy! A touching rendition of ‘Have You Had A Gethsemane’ helped us realize how we need a deep and close ‘baptism’ of ‘blood’ in which our soul cries out for purity and true conversion and a deeper, truer experience with Jesus.
On Sabbath evening Br Luke Kneebone presented the Good News, the hope of the Patriarchs. Not the vain hopes of this world. But the comfort and joy that comes from a deep and abiding walk with Jesus in this life and the hope of eternal bliss as we live the Eden life in this world made new! Our religion is not to be a formal round of ceremonies, but a REAL and LIVING RELATIONSHIP!
Br Stelios Kiriakov presented the Sunday morning message. This study brought us back to the bad news of Satan, a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Br Stelios presented with dynamic relevance the REAL and powerful ANSWER to Satan’s temptations. There were several parts to the answer. In closing we were impressed with the importance of sharing our own testimony and the impact this has on those we are trying to witness to, rather than good arguments, which are at best, dry. The living experience touches people’s hearts, and brings the truth to life before their eyes like nothing else can do.
Then came what many reported to us as the highlight of the camp. The Atonement – Completion at the Cross, Then the Final Completion in Totality at the Close of Probation!—was presented by Br Alasdair Pow. The Gospel, as revealed in the Sanctuary, covers very important issues we need to know of in order to be saved; that’s why Satan hates the Sanctuary truth. The two greatest truths are 1) The Atoning Sacrifice and 2) The All-powerful Mediator. Br Alasdair clearly established from the Bible that the Act of Atonement was complete at the cross. All man’s sins from the godly to the ungodly were all paid for, completely, at the cross. That’s why Jesus sat down in heaven after this part of Salvation was completed. In the sanctuary in heaven, the final stage of the gospel message, the ‘application of the atonement’, will be finalized. This application has been in progress since sin entered our world but has had no real value until paid for at the cross. Now it continues on to the close of probation, when the seven last plagues will fall. At that time the application of the atonement is no longer applicable. “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still, he that is righteous, let him be righteous still.” The price has been paid and is sufficient to cover all our sins, whether we accept it or not—whether we are saved or not. If we accept salvation but do not put it into practice we are like a person who accepts a ticket but does not procure a boarding pass. It will do us no good. Likewise, God has paid the price, through Jesus, that we no longer need to feel guilty over our past sins, but that we may now accept the boarding pass of grace and power and no longer live in sin but go forward living a righteous life, overcoming every temptation that comes our way. We may on occasion slip up but when we do we may claim God’s forgiveness and move onward. We will always have the free choice to fall back and lose our place in the Lamb’s book of life by continuing in sin. If we do, then our names will be blotted out of the book and our sins then come back to haunt us. Then finally we will be punished for all of our past sins. The atonement will then have no value for us, as our ticket has become
invalid, our boarding pass destroyed.
All truth’s cluster around the central truth of Jesus’ atonement for us at the cross, in all it’s value—the complete and full payment for the salvation of every soul. God has accepted the sacrifice of Christ as the atonement for sin. The atonement now needs to extend to our acceptance of Jesus’ character or life principle and with it the wiping out of our past life of sin. The Priesthood extends from the cross in reality, no more in symbols. Our duty is to continue this ministry of reconciliation or atonement on Earth. We need this boarding Pass. This is in reality the administration of the atonement to mankind. Accepting it personally, we then extend this offer to others!
Following this dynamic presentation we entered into a short question/answer session.
A quick photo session was then followed by a delicious lunch which was, in turn, followed by a guided tour through the Mt Gambier Discovery Centre and the Blue Lake Water Supply Pumping Station. During this last walk the underground tunnels echoed as many sung hymns beneath the ground, impressing the tour guide favourably, and buoying all our spirits up.
During his closing remarks, Br Jaksic summed up the weekend in with the very apt words—“This has been a little piece of heaven on earth.”
— Reported by Gary Southwell