In the historic shipyards in Chatham England is the largest collection of Royal National lifeboats in the UK. On many lifeboats, printed numbers indicate how many times the boat has been launched and how many lives it has saved. It’s a haunting presentation of how life can sometimes hang on a precipice and what it takes to save souls lost at sea.
The shipyard is also an interesting analogy for the Church in this cultural moment. Sometimes churches are more like a museum of saints, a place where salvation is remembered. Here, redemption is often described in the past tense, centering on what God has saved us from. Or, like the Chatham shipyard, we mark our success with souls saved, with little reference to what happens next for those whose lives are in Christ, let alone their families, communities or societies.
This presentation of the Church is not inaccurate, but it is insufficient. Our salvation is not only to be saved from sin and hell, but also to be saved for eternal and abundant life and for a redemptive purpose. Once Christians experience the life-changing impact of the gospel, God’s restorative work changes every aspect of their lives. It’s more than being saved from Hell, and it’s even more than being saved for eternal life.
The famous pastor John Newton embodied it. When he famously wrote, “Once I was lost but now I’m found, I was blind but now I see“, he revealed that he had not only been redeemed from the incredible evil he had perpetuated as a slave trader, but now had a new vision, a new direction and a new life. Newton inspired William Wilberforcethe great abolitionist, in the same way.
For more than four decades, Wilberforce fought against the horrific and inhumane practice of slavery, and also for what he called “moral reform”. He didn’t see success immediately, especially on slavery. In fact, he was three days away from dying when he learned that the Abolition of Slavery Act had been passed. But, by embracing the scope of God’s redemptive work in Christ for the world, his personal redemption did not remain private, he became a public force for good..
Each year, the Colson Center brings together Christians from across the country for an event named in Wilberforce’s honor. Wilberforce Weekend will take place in Orlando, Florida from May 13-15. This year’s conference will explore, from various angles, the scale and scope of God’s redemptive work in Jesus Christ. Our goal will be to see all of life as redeemed by Christ.
Together we will explore how Christ is best understood not only as our personal Savior (although He is), but also as the center of reality. It means recognizing the essential links between who Christ is and creation, redemption, the kingdom of God and all of history.
We will also dive deep into the fullness of the redemptive vision that Christ gives to his people, as individuals, families, churches and nations. We will watch closely what we are saved fromnot just hell but death and the fear of death, bitterness and anger, and confusion about who we are, all of which are incredibly relevant to the challenges of this cultural moment.
We will also watch what we are saved for…truth, identity and meaning, and life, and also the vital needs of this cultural moment. And, let’s watch closely what we’re saved for: wisdom, mission, reconciliation and purpose. Along the way, we’ll talk about what happens when redemption shapes a specifically Christian approach to life, society, education, sport, hardship and conflict, film and other aspects of Culture.
We’ll hear from Jim Daly, Os Guinness, Ryan Bomberger, Nancy Guthrie, Max McLean, Rachel Gilson, Larry Taylor, Monique Duson, Morris Michalski and many more!
Wilberforce Weekend features exciting talks, panel discussions and live podcast recordings, plus a special screening of The most reluctant converta remarkable film about the redemption of CS Lewis.
For more information visit www.wilberforceweekend.org
Release date: February 22, 2022
Photo courtesy: Unsplash
Breakpoint is a program of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. BreakPoint comments offer incisive content that people can’t find anywhere else; content that cuts through the fog of relativism and the news cycle with truth and compassion. Founded by Chuck Colson (1931 – 2012) in 1991 as a daily radio show, BreakPoint offers a Christian perspective on today’s news and trends. Today, you can get it in written form and in a variety of audio formats: on the web, on the radio, or in your favorite podcast app on the go.
John Stonestreet is president of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview and radio host of Breakpoint, a daily national radio program offering thought-provoking commentary on current events and life issues from a biblical worldview. John is a graduate of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (IL) and Bryan College (TN), and is the co-author of Making Sense of Your World: A Biblical Worldview.