Matt Reagan Morning rally on January 1st, 2014 at the Campus Outreach Milwaukee New Years Conference
Brett Barnes Evening rally on December 31st, 2013 at the Campus Outreach Milwaukee New Years Conference
Brett Barnes begins this talk with the question, “What do we do with the Gospel?” In light of all that we have learned, what is the proper application to our lives? The reality is that someday all of us will die, and our lives here on earth will end. Each of our lives will be summed up in one single dash between the day we were born and the day we died. Brett challenges us by asking what will we do with our dash - with our brief life span of time here on earth? Is there any way to use this seemingly insignificant span of time in a significant way?
The good news is that the answer is yes. To explain how that is true, Brett directs us to John 12:24 where Jesus is speaking to the disciples: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone. But if it dies, it bears much fruit.” In order for our lives to have significance, if we want there to be spiritual fruit in our lives - we must die.
But what kind of death is Jesus talking about? To answer this we turn to Colossians 3: “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you,” and Jesus’ words in Luke 9:23-24: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” To die means to prefer Christ and living as he did - a life of service and sacrifice - over your own life.
2 Timothy 2:2 says, “and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach other also.” Paul the apostle writes this to demonstrate the method of multiplication. If we die to ourselves and choose to invest in faithful men, the process will continue, and the fruit will multiply. The cost is great, but the reward is glorious. If you die, you will bear much fruit.
Bryan Loritts Evening rally on December 29th, 2013 at the Campus Outreach Milwaukee New Years Conference
For his third and final talk, Bryan Loritts explores the question: What does it look like to live a life that passionately pursues Christ? When you become a Christian by believing the Gospel, it almost seems easy at first - because you finally understand that you did nothing to save yourself. But according to Jesus’ life and teaching, we know that the Christian life will not be problem-free. Instead, living the Christian life is one marked by grace-fueled effort and discipline with the goal to finish well. What matters most to God is not how well or poor we start, but how we finish.
The passage Bryan teaches from is 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, which says:
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
Bryan goes on to unpack a few key words in this passage to make the point that while salvation is free because of Christ, it is certainly not cheap. Jesus gave his all so that we, out of gratitude, might give our all to him. If we choose to follow Christ, God promises us that we will face trials and even suffer in this life. But we have a choice to either complain and give up when times are tough, or to stand firm in our faith and trust God in ways that we never have before. If we are convinced of these truths, God will grant us the grace to finish well.
Bryan Loritts Morning rally on December 29th, 2013 at the Campus Outreach Milwaukee New Year's Conference
Aligning with the theme of the Conference, Bryan Loritts explains that if you have an actual encounter with Jesus Christ, your life will never be the same. If we live moral and even selfless lives, but have not truly encountered Christ, we are destined for hell. If we live immorally - even if our lives are marked by evil and horrendous actions - but we have genuinely experienced a life-changing encounter with Jesus, then our destiny is eternal life with God.
Before you were born, God knew you. He created you in your mother’s womb, and says in his word that you are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:13-14). God created us for himself - to have a relationship with him. Nothing else in this life will satisfy our desires - only God can: “There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus” (Blaise Pascal).
John 10:10 says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” Jesus came to give you life - the kind of life that will turn your life upside-down. But there is something that is blocking us from that abundant life: sin. Sin is not only manifested through our actions, but it is the disposition of our hearts: “Just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned” (Romans 5:12). This shows us that there is no such thing as a “good person”: “None is righteous, no, not one,” (Romans 3:10).
Compared to your neighbor, you may consider yourself “a good person.” But compared to a holy God, you have no shot. Because God is holy, and we are sinful, we have a problem. The solution to this problem is the good news of the Gospel, through Jesus Christ: “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). We are saved by grace alone, through faith in the work of Christ on the cross, who took on our sin and gave us his righteousness before God.
When you encounter Christ and say yes to him, you are adopted into the family of God. But this is not second-class citizenship, rather our place in God’s family is completely secure in Christ, and we are sealed with his Spirit. It is only through placing all your hope and faith in Jesus that we are saved and can have abundant life with Christ.
Bryan Loritts Evening rally on December 28th, 2013 at the Campus Outreach Milwaukee New Years Conference
For Bryan Loritts’ first talk, he explores the Gospel in the Old Testament - specifically from the story of David and Goliath. Drawing from the context of 1 Samuel, chapter 16, we see that Saul (the king over Israel during David’s time) finds his identity in his reputation. The reality is that our reputation is merely what others think we are, but our character is who we actually are. Saul is consumed by what others think of him based on his performance, and by doing so he neglects what really matters - the character of his heart. Just like Saul, many of us are in bondage to our reputation and performance - what other people think about us. 1 Sam. 16:7 says, “For the LORD sees not as man sees; man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” What matters most to God is not our performance and reputation - what matters most to God is our hearts.
Bryan goes on to explain how the well-known story of David and Goliath points to the Gospel. Against such a powerful and terrifying soldier like Goliath, the meek and young David is completely helpless and hopeless. David had no hope to defeat Goliath on his own, and so God provided heavenly resources rather than earthly resources for him:
Then Saul clothed David with his armor. He put a helmet of bronze on his head and clothed him with a coat of mail, and David strapped his sword over his armor. And he tried in vain to go, for he had not tested them. Then David said to Saul, “I cannot go with these, for I have not tested them.” So David put them off. Then he took his staff in his hand and chose five smooth stones from the brook and put them in his shepherd's pouch. His sling was in his hand, and he approached the Philistine. - 1 Sam. 17:38-40
Apart from God, David had no hope to defeat Goliath. In the same way, Jesus took on a greater foe than Goliath by taking on death. God provides our salvation for us through Jesus, who conquered sin and death on the cross. Without Christ we have no shot against death and sin, but with Christ we have real hope. Nothing is impossible if God is the King of our lives.