Winter Retreat is one of the youth ministry’s highlights of the year. Jam packed with fun, fellowship, and food. The apex of the weekend is our time in God’s Word together and the discussion groups that follow. We pray that each student would not just know what is being taught but respond in faith to the truth of God’s Word. This year we were blessed to have Pastor Caleb Bunch from Gateway Church on Long Island come and teach through the first four major events of Genesis: Creation and the Fall, Cain and Abel, Noah and the Flood, and the Tower of Babel. Through these four passages Pastor Caleb highlighted how sin destroys us and how God restores us.
Our verse for the weekend is Romans 6:23 – For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
I share with you a summary of each of his lessons in hopes that as families and as a church body we can continue the conversations with the youth here at GPBC, helping them see both their sin and God’s faithfulness rightly.
Session 1 – Genesis 3: Creation and the Fall
The process of temptation that you face on a daily basis is the same process of temptation that was faced by Eve in the garden. Sin distorts our understanding of truth and reason by convincing us of lies about reality. The result of sin is separation from God. We must examine the process by which they are led by their own evil desires into sin. Contrasting Adam and Eve’s fall with the perfect success of Jesus who was tempted in all ways that we are, yet without sin calls us out of hiding from God and explains how God has searched out people and called them by name.
Session 2 – Genesis 4: Cain and Abel
Sin separates us from one another. Teens are living in a world that normalized the concept of violence. The narrative of Cain and Abel provides opportunity to examine the reasons they have a tendency to destroy relationships with those around us. The Bible lays out a pattern of God’s people experiencing unearned and unjustifiable mistreatment at the hands of those who do not follow the Lord. (All who desire to live godly in Christ will be persecuted. 2 Tim. 3:12) The primary goal of the message is to reveal to the students that the blood of Jesus speaks a better word than the blood of Abel and that mercy triumphs over judgment.
Session 3 – Genesis 6-9: Noah and the Flood
At the end of the day, all sin will be punished. We will either be spared the judgment by finding favor with the Lord and being permitted into the ark of Christ, or we will be crushed under the waters of God’s wrath. We need to understand God’s wrath as just retribution against any and all forms of sin, including our own. It is to display our absolute unworthiness to stand before the judgment seat of God. Moreover, it is to display that God has made a way for salvation: divine self-satisfaction by way of divine self-substitution.
Session 4 – Genesis 11: The Tower of Babel
Babel displays the heart of man in a simple but profound way. Societies look different throughout time and across the globe, but they all have one thing in common. Every community, whether large or small, will always naturally “rage” against the Lord and against His Anointed One. From global empires, to small friend groups at your school, there is always a collective pull away from the Lord. There is only one community that is intrinsically “for” the Lord, the church. The kingdom that Christ has established is diametrically opposed in every way to the kingdoms that man naturally seeks to erect. Students should understand their unsaved peer groups naturally slide (or in some cases rush) in the direction of collective rebellion against the Lord and a young believer’s experience is that of a ‘stranger,’ ‘alien,’ and ‘sojourner’ in this world.