Our trip to the NACT began with saints arriving at O’Hare airport to catch a shuttle to the campus – it was filled with tired saints and their luggage (we had been staying in Chicago, but those from the U.S. had flown in that morning from their various states). Thankfully, those coordinating the transportation had arrived hours earlier and arranged a wonderful system to prevent chaos!
Then, we were driven to the campus – time for the 3 hour coach journey! Many of us found ourselves sleeping most of the way to have a well rested start to the NACT.
Once we arrived on campus, we dispersed to our respective buildings to register (again, with a well-arranged system). We were given our lanyards and outlines, and even more excitingly, our water bottles, pins, stickers, and other goodies!
After some time settling into our dorm rooms and exploring the campus, at dinner time we had our first taste of the very abundant supply the cafeteria provided. Every meal of every day was a full buffet selection, including unlimited ice cream and drinks – we certainly weren’t going to be hungry this week! There was even an app especially made for the dining halls in order for us to see the food schedule and plan exactly where we were going to line up first – with so many people, there’s no time to waste!
Now, the training officially began. The NACT – the North American College Training – occurs every four years (regional college trainings take place in the other years), with the previous one (the first) happening in 2015. This year, 2,784 total saints checked in, including 1891 students (1375 from the US and 516 from other countries), 890 serving ones, and 44 current FTT trainees. The total number of saints has nearly doubled since four years ago! Praise the Lord!
On the first evening, we all piled into the State Farm Centre – a large sports stadium – to have our very first message. It was amazing to see the stadium filled with so many students who love the Lord Jesus! Each day, our evening meetings were held here in the stadium – together with everyone (the schedule during the day was in smaller ‘cohorts’).
Before the messages began, we had a joyous time singing all together, and with the screens displaying the words at the front, nobody needed to be looking downwards at their outlines – we could just stand freely and sing with our faces uplifted and enjoying. Down at the front were the saints serving on the music service, complete with a conductor. The atmosphere during the singing was really wonderful. New songs were ‘introduced’ throughout the week, and we would end up singing these new songs every message after learning them!
After a short minute or two to pray with our neighbour, the spoken messages commenced. Our topic this year – summarised on our bottles by bright exclamation marks – was on the Jubilee!
Over the week, there were seven messages in this main line, summarised below:
An Introduction – the Sabbath Year and the Year of Jubilee
The Jubilee can be summarised in a phrase with three key words – the Jubilee is a time of rest, enjoyment and shouting! Christ is the realm of full rest – in the world we see so many struggling and labouring to find this satisfaction and peace, yet man obtains rest not as a result of his own labour, but as a result of God’s labour.
In terms of the numbers and the year of jubilee, we see in Leviticus 25:8-10 that after seven Sabbath years – 49 years (the Sabbath year marked the end of seven years) – was the 50th year, and this 50th year is the year of jubilee. But of course the jubilee shouldn’t be experienced for a merely one year; the jubilee shouldn’t be a momentary experience, but is meant to signify a full period of time – our entire Christian life!
Oh, Lord, make us those who enjoy the jubilee our entire lives! Thank You that You are the reality of the jubilee! We can find rest and enjoyment in You!
The Age of Jubilee
In the second message, we explored Leviticus 25 further, seeing the jubilee as the proclamation of God’s redemption. Here we looked at the typology of silver – supported by passages from Exodus 26 and 30 – and therefore the indication of God’s redemption through the blasting of a silver trumpet in Leviticus 25. What an amazing proclamation of freedom and release!
We also saw the year of jubilee in Leviticus 25 as referring to the age of the jubilee – the New Testament age of grace where all the slaves are liberated into God’s salvation and every man’s inheritance is restored to him. Everyone here on earth is a slave, a slave to sin, and grace is God coming down to man to be their everything and their enjoyment.
Lord, we don’t want to be slaves anymore.
The third point of the message delved into how the year of jubilee is the age of Christ as grace dispensed into us for our enjoyment; the New Testament jubilee is an age of ecstasy! It was so refreshing to hear that the jubilee means having no worry or anxiety, and all things are satisfying to our heart, and simply exultant. But, we can experience such peace and satisfaction only after we have gained the all-inclusive Christ as our enjoyment; it is Christ within us who enables us to be calm and free. We need to spend time with the Lord to gain Him, and we don’t have any excuses not to – when you really love something, you will always have time for it. Spending time with the Lord makes us those who love the Lord!
The Blessings of the Jubilee (1) – Being Recovered to God as Our Portion
Again, the importance of this statement was stressed to us – the jubilee is not just a happy few days and is not simply a word, it is a living. Perhaps despite being a Christian, we find ourselves unhappy and we think we are so far from the jubilee. However, this is when the jubilee is truly for us. We can see this in Paul’s experience in Acts; he was suffering in a very dark place when he was in prison, and this was when he could touch and live the jubilee.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.Philippians 4:4
We were also reminded that contrary to the belief of the world, we don’t need to do anything and we need to realise this – all we need to do is just enjoy! Our eyes are always on ourselves, focusing on our failures…
Lord, open our eyes, so we just look away unto Jesus!
The speaking brother walked through the verses in Leviticus that show how the allotted portions of the good land being returned to everyone who had previously sold their possession, just as the believers will return to God as our lost divine possession. In the New Testament, the believers’ inheritance is not a physical land, it is the all-inclusive Christ. Note the use of the word inheritance – we were created in order to contain God! If man does not contain God, he does not have his possession, and he remains a poor, empty vessel. Satan tries to produce many subtle substitutes – these things may not be inherently sinful or ‘bad’, but they will take up space in our beings, and that is a problem. We need to learn to empty ourselves from all these other things, so we can contain our true possession (Christ) and receive what has been prepared for us.
The central thought of God is that God wants to be our enjoyment, and we enjoy Him as our portion through the Word and by the Spirit!
The Blessings of the Jubilee (2) – Freedom
When is the age of jubilee? We are actually in the age of jubilee now – we have our portion!
But we need to beware, as Satan wants desperately to take us out from the land. We need to know the Word, as the Bible exposes Satan’s tactics, and will prevent us from being deceived so easily.
- We need to see the bondage, Satan’s scheme.
- We need to see God’s saving way – this way is simply our coordinating with God!
- Lord give us vision, that we wouldn’t be blinded. Lord, let us see these things!
The outline showed us that those who had sold himself into slavery regained his freedom, showing that in the jubilee, the believers have been released from all bondage. A key warning, though, is that it is possible to be in the land, but still bound. We may find ourselves still looking down, and not freely standing to see the riches of the land we stand on. Has the Son set you free?
The natural human condition after the fall is one of being poor, captured, and oppressed. Fallen human beings are in bondage under sin, in the self, under the hand of Satan. Everything in the world is designed to encourage this fallen nature, but it has become so normalised that we may even be numb to it. But praise the Lord, in the jubilee we obtain freedom, and are released from the bondage of slavery!
Scriptures from Matthew 1, Colossians 2 and 3, Romans 7 and 6, and Luke, Galatians, 1 Peter, and Hebrews, remind us that as believers we obtain freedom in Christ from sin, self, the flesh, the old man, law, Satan, the world, anxiety, and all kinds of troubles! Though sin is a law, God has given us another law – the law of the Spirit of life, which frees us from the law of sin and of death (Romans 8:2)!
This law will work automatically, spontaneously, and effortlessly when we remain in contact with Him.
The Blessings of the Jubilee (3) – Being Returned to the Church as Our Divine Family
Those who sold themselves into slavery were also returned to their family – signifying how we will return to the church as our divine family. The prodigal son in Luke 15 illustrates this jubilee; he returned to his father and to his father’s house having previously left this home and having sold his possessions and himself. He was fully repentant and expected to work as a hired servant, yet when he returned, this was the year of jubilee to the son – the father rejoiced and welcomed him with a feast – his son had returned! The father’s house represents the church where we enjoy God the Father in His love. May we all come home to our rightful dwelling place, and not be wandering in a homeless state!
In the same parable, we can see that although the son certainly has a need to come back, the father himself has a need too, the need for the son to return. This need is greater than the son’s need. We need to turn our eyes from the earth and from ourselves to see that there is a need immensely greater than our need – God’s need. He needs to church as a house to rest and to do His will, to accomplish His eternal purpose.
‘I was lost, now I’m found again!
I was dead, but now I live!
Come rejoice with us, and be merry then.
Back in my Father’s house again!’
The Propagation of the Jubilee (1) – The Contents of Our Divine Commission according to the Vision of the Jubilee
This message was a very special message. The main focus was on the Lord’s appearing. In Acts 26, eyes had to be opened… But in order for our eyes to be opened, we need to be blinded first. And the only light that can blind to open is the heavenly light. God is a God of purpose. Acts 26:16 says He “appeared to you for this purpose“.
God works by appearing; He accomplishes His economy through His appearing in different ways. We need God’s appearing again and again – just as Paul kept seeing Jesus again and again and again. Every appearing from the Lord is a call from Him. The world now hates the appearing of God, but we need to be those who seek, who love and treasure His appearing. Paul had a complete turn – He was turned “from the authority of Satan to God” – after seeing the Lord’s appearing; this is what can happen to us when we see the Lord.
‘ To open their eyes, to turn them from darkness to light, and from the authority of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.’Acts 26:18
All these blessings – forgiveness of sins, our inheritance – can be gained once our eyes are opened. We need to pray over these contents and ask the Lord to make them our experience and reality. Only then can then begin to bring others into the same experience and enjoyment.
This was the last evening meeting, and during it the college and university-age students were invited to stand and go down to the front of the stage if they had a calling within to ask the Lord, to pray, and to desperately call on the Lord, to see His appearing. Hundreds of students began to file down to the front, even to the point where not everybody could make it down. Then, we stood and prayed both personally and with those around us, and finally the brothers prayed for all us, whether sitting or standing. That night, we all consecrated ourselves to the Lord’s appearing, and the Spirit truly touched us all.
The Propagation of the Jubilee (2) – Proclaiming the Gospel—Christ as the Jubilee of Grace
The final message was on Saturday morning and focused on our commission. These points will be summarised in our last post of the NACT – look forward to it!