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March 08, 2007

The Shepherd’s Conference is infamous for being the conference that gives away the most and the best stuff. Every year each attendee walks away with a good pile of books and one big-ticket item. Last year I got in trouble for not posting an exhaustive list of the books and I thought I had best remedy that this year. So here is the list of books we got.

  • What Jesus Demands from the World by John Piper
  • The MacArthur New Testament Commentary by John MacArthur (a compact, one-volume N.T. commentary)
  • Because the Time is Near by John MacArthur (a concise and reader-friendly version of his commentary on Revelation)
  • The Second Coming by John MacArthur
  • Acts by James Boice
  • A Method for Prayer by Matthew Henry
  • Life in the Body of Christ by Curtis C. Thomas
  • For the Sake of His Name by David M. Doran
  • Foundations of Grace by Steve Lawson
  • Assured by God edited by Burk Parsons
  • Meet the Puritans by Joel R. Beeke and Randall J. Pederson

Also included was a DVD entitled “Why We Believe the Bible is True” by John MacArthur

This year’s big-ticket item was a very snazzy fountain pen which you can see here.

In previous years, the books have been piled on tables and the attendees have gone from table to table grabbing the books. Since this can become problematic (you do not want to stand between pastors and free books) the conference folk had the books pre-packaged and ready to go this year.

It is probably worth mentioning that two books have been released specifically on time for this conference. The first of these is Steve Lawson’s The Expository Genius of John Calvin. This is the first in a series of books that will be associated with Lawson’s Long Line of Godly Men series. This subset of books will be known as “Long Line of Godly Men Profile” titles. The other book is John MacArthur’s The Truth War. This is a book that deals specifically with the emerging church and its fundamental denial of the truth. Amazon is not yet showing that it is available, but I suspect it will be there in the next few days.

And finally, here is a picture I nabbed from the conference photographer. I bumped into Steve Lawson (not literally) after I served at the Scholar’s Desk and he needed to go for a stroll before he preached that afternoon, so he and I and Nathan Busenitz (and Lawson’s daughter) walked around the campus for a few minutes. I just thought it was a neat photograph. It looks like I am keeping Lawson at rapt attention. I think, though, that I was merely correcting assisting his pronunciation of the word “Huguenot” (and was pleased to hear that he got it right two of the three times I heard him use it during a seminar this afternoon).

wednesday068.jpg

March 08, 2007

This evening’s session began with a selection of songs being sung by the Master’s College choir. They are clearly an exceptionally talented group and sing absolutely beautifully. It was a real blessing to hear them. When they had finished up, MacArthur introduced Al Mohler, tonight’s speaker.

After regaling us with some hilarious stories of his own ineptitude (with the final story culminating in him buying a hilariously inappropriate Mother’s Day card for his wife), Dr. Mohler said that many preachers today really have nothing better to say than what is in a greeting card. All around us are preachers preaching greeting card theology that says the gospel comes down to this: you’re affirmed, you’re encouraged, you’re loved, be happy, God loves you, seize the day. After declaring “God save us from preachers with greeting card theology!” he turned to 1 Corinthians 2:1-5, his text for the evening. This passage does not portray a greeting card theology, but a gospel-focused, Christ-centered theology. It is a theology that is nailed to a cross. And, in fact, Paul’s whole purpose in this letter is to point to the centrality of the cross. He then posed this question to the audience: To what extent are we really preaching the cross?

The cross makes no sense if you are looking for therapy or self-help. It only makes sense within the context of the full gospel. The cross is an always has been counter-intuitive and counter-cultural.

In this passage Paul sees two great enemies in gospel preaching:

The first issue he takes up is superiority of speech or wisdom. This is difficult to understand without stepping into the original context. Paul speaks effectively but does so without refusing to play the game and making the expectation. There was an expectation in Corinth of particular kinds of sophisticated rhetoric. There was intellectual association that amounts to absolutely nothing. There were three parts to the kind of sophistry that people of that day and that culture expected. Ethos - credibility because of who a person is, pathos - emotional connection, logos - reason. But Paul would not play this game or play the role of an orator. It is not that he couldn’t but simply that he wouldn’t. He refused to meet the expectation. The Corinthian church was being seduced by the flashy and skilled speakers. They were people who had itchy ears and just wanted those ears to be scratched. From this we see that it is easy to believe you can base your ministry on eloquence but Paul’s argument is simply that someone more eloquent will eventually come along and destroy your ministry. The greatest problem in all of this is not that they’ll be drawn to the eloquent but that they won’t be drawn to the cross.

We don’t worry too much today about orators coming to town or sophisticated eloquence being the problem in our churches. Our problem is that everything distilled to a sound bite, to commercials. If you can’t say it in 30 seconds it’s not worth saying. In our harmonic age, when people mostly want to feel better about themselves there are those who will package whatever you want to sell to meet the expectation. You can package things to meet any need, either real or created. Politicians play this game and spend millions to help them reframe and repackage their platforms in order to alienate the fewest and attract the most. This is all pathos, no logos, no need for ethos. Much the same is true in the church. Paul was concerned that any reliance on the game that was expected would reduce the gospel’s power.

Mohler then had the people in attendance imagine a scenario. What if there could be a great winepress for our ministry into which all the words we could ever preach and teach? And what if that winepress could distill these words to their very essence? What would this be? Would they be words about the cross and would they constitute the gospel? The Apostle Paul always distills this down to the essence. Mohler surveyed a wide variety of passages and proved just how consistently Paul returns to the cross. It is the very essence of his ministry.

Tragically, there are some who love theology more than the cross. However, theology without the cross is dead and sterile and lifeless. There can be learning and erudition but no saving power. When you preach the theology of the cross it does not make the preacher look wise, but it makes Christ look glorious. The theology of the cross is simple, clear and uncluttered theology. There are to be no tricks, no false and manipulative emotionalism - just the gospel and never selling the gospel short.

Paul’s second issue is weakness and he makes it known that he did not come to the Corinthian church in strength. Most pulpit committees today are not looking for weakness, but Paul makes very clear that when he came, he came in weakness rather than strength. He wanted to be sure that the church saw the strength of a crucified Christ. He wanted them to be sure they knew that the power they felt was the power of a gracious God through His gospel rather than his own skill in oration. There was no confusion about his strength because he is weakness personified. Who wants to sign up for weakness? Paul says, “Christians do.” We are the fellowship of the weak and the preacher should be the weakest in this respect. Paul wanted to be sure that the gospel was not reduced by any misunderstanding about who he was and how capable he was. And so he was unashamed to arrive in Corinth weak and fearful and trembling.

Paul was afraid of failing in his mission. He was afraid that he would appear falsely self-sufficient and would rob the power of the cross. From here Mohler described the power of the cross in words that just jumped out at me: “The whole counsel of God is summarized in the cross. The cross is a symbol of the gospel in its totality.” These days we know that the cross is robbed of its power by liberal revisionists who deny the blood atonement, who argue against the crosses necessity and so on. We know that these imperil our people as they are packaged by the slick. But the bigger problem is that in many pulpits the cross is not denied, but simply not preached.

Because Paul came in weakness, the people would know that it was not Paul who persuaded them but that it was the Holy Spirit. Most preachers want the wrong kind of power to be demonstrated in their ministries. But it ultimately comes down to whether they really believe in the power of the cross and that it is the Holy Spirit’s task to take that simple declarative message and save. It is tempting to try to look good and healthy and slick. But Paul was clear about his weakness. God uses our weakness in ways He never chooses to use our strength. At this point Mohler read the final letter of James Boice to his congregation (and if you have not read it before, you really ought to do so. You can find it here.). This letter serves as a beautiful illustration of strength in weakness.

And then Mohler closed by returning to the analogy of the winepress. He asked When you come to minister what are you going to come with? Power, purpose, charisma? We should learn from the example of Paul who brought only the testimony of God. What do you want your people to know? Again we learn from Paul who wanted to know nothing but Christ and Him crucified. Paul wanted nothing more than that his preaching demonstrate the Holy Spirit and His power. And then he finished with some rhetorical questions. In the great winepress of words, what will be left of your ministry? If we could reduce it to its essence, what would it sound like? What would it look like? Would it look anything like this? Would it look anything like the ministry of the Apostle?

We’ll be back tomorrow for the final day of the conference. We will have the privilege of hearing from Mark Dever and John MacArthur and to witness a panel discussion. See you then!

March 08, 2007

Yesterday I had the honor of serving at the Shepherd’s Conference Scholar’s Desk. This is a stand-up desk where experts on various fields are available to answer questions on a given topic. Together with Nathan Busenitz we fielded questions for an hour on the subject of blogging. And it was a lot of fun. Some theological questions arose and I pretty well just deferred to Nathan on these since he is, after all, a PhD candidate who works as John MacArthur’s personal assistant.

Scholars Desk

We had a good range of questions ranging from the best blogging software for particular blogging applications all the way to the usefulness of blogging for ministry. The questions gave me a lot to think about and at some point I hope to write a whole series about blogging. I’ve also been asked to lead a seminar about blogging and ministry at an upcoming conference and this has given me an idea of the questions and concerns I may want to answer at that time.

Me at the Scholar's Desk

View more photos here.

March 08, 2007

We’ve come to the mid-point of the conference (or at least the mid-point for those of us who do not stick around until Sunday afternoon). A round of seminars is beginning right now and a second round will happen immediately after these ones. I’ve decided to forego he seminars and am sitting between two buildings, in the shade, and am just enjoying the beautiful weather. It is warm, sunny and dry as a bone (as evidenced by the massive amounts of chapstick required to keep my lips from “hurting real bad!”).

This morning we had the privilege of hearing Ligon Duncan speak on the book of Numbers. His address at Together for the Gospel last year, which I really enjoyed, dealt with preaching from the Old Testament. This one was somewhat similar, but dealt with a more specific example of mining seemingly-strange and irrelevant passages of the Old Testament and using it to point to Christ. “I want you to see how exciting, practical and applicable the book of Numbers is.” Not words we are accustomed to hearing in the church!

After laying out several of the challenges of preaching from Numbers, Duncan read from 1 Corinthians 10:1-13. He showed that Paul valued the book of Numbers as everything that happened to the Israelites in this passage happened in the wilderness and much of it was recorded in Numbers. Paul is telling us here how Numbers is edifying and important for us today. He says that the events recorded in Numbers actually happened for us and that God wants us to learn from them as Christians how we are to live today.

Here are nine things Paul says about the book of Numbers:

1 - The events that occurred in the wilderness were examples to us. The New Testament often uses examples from the Old Testament to draw application for the reader. The inspired writers use the Old Testament to encourage and exhort Christians to live the Christian life. Here Paul says the examples in the Old Testament happened to teach us.

2 - The events that happened in the wilderness happened as a moral warning to us. Those events are designed to warn us off from evil cravings.

3 - The Apostle does not merely say these things are recorded as examples for us but that they happened as examples for us. In God’s design, all the pain and suffering in the wilderness happened so that we can learn from it and from this we learn just how much He loves us.

4 - The events of Numbers provide exhortation to New Testament believers. God in His providence has in view New Covenant believers even in the events that happen in Numbers.

5 - Paul specifically applies this to New Testament believers in four areas. 1) Do not be idolaters. 2) Do not be immoral. 3) Do not presumptuously test the Lord. 4) Do not grumble against providence.

6 - Not only did these events happen for Christians, but they were written down for Christians. They were written for our instruction.

7 - The Apostle warns us against thinking that we will not fall like they did. Don’t think that just because you have seen the glories of the cross that you are impervious to the temptation to fall like the people in the wilderness.

8 - We are to learn from their temptations and failures in order to escape ours. Duncan quoted the old phrase “He who does not learn from history is doomed to repeat it” and suggested that this is the spiritual corollary.

9 - Christ is at the very center of this story and the whole wilderness experience. He is the rock and it is all about Him.

He then said that if we weren’t convinced of the value of Numbers from reading Paul, we should turn to “Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah.” You’ve already been singing about God guiding the believer through Numbers!

Duncan then turned to Numbers 5 which falls into three sections.

Verses 1-4 - These verses discuss physical impurities that defile and cause you to be removed from the camp.

Verses 5-10 - These verses discuss certain moral offenses that defile and cause you to be removed from the camp.

Verses 11-31 - These verses discuss domestic tensions caused by marital infidelity or the fear of it.

The purpose of this chapter is to tell us what the requirements are for a people to live close to God. Each of these impurities were a danger to the camp. From physical illnesses and diseases the people would come into contact with bacteria and other contaminants. There were no medications for this and disease could spread like wildfire. So there are obvious physical reasons to keep these people out of the camp but there were also theological reasons.

This passage also teaches us what God is like: He is holy and He is present. Because of this, there are requirements if we are to dwell near Him. The laws are God-centered, pointing us to Him and teaching us who He is and what He has done. There is also much of sin and grace in Christ.

He read verses 11-31 and pointed out five things in the passage (which he shared with us he first preached on Valentine’s Day!).

1 - The larger theological significance of this ritual. This ritual is something not wholly different from the trials of ordeal that are found in other cultures. In the ancient world when crimes were committed that could not be proven, trials of ordeal were used to prove guilt or innocence. But this is where the similarity ends. God’s ways are just and wise even when they seem strange. In the ancient world you were assumed guilty until proven innocent and cruel tests were often used. This biblical test, though, is dependent on the effectual Word of God (in this case, literally drunk in to the woman). The Word of God is effective. The test is also both controlled and public. This test is here because adultery defiles and pollutes the camp and God does not want His people to be sexually unfaithful in His camp. Belief and behavior go together; truth and practice; faith and life. God is saying through this passage that you cannot love Him and live like a pagan. You must love Him and live like a disciple. This whole passage presses home God’s concern for discipleship.

2 - What this ritual teaches us about the importance of sexual purity to the whole of the people of God. Individual sexual purity matters to the whole people. We see that this aggrieved or suspicious man may not take matters into his own hand for he must go to the priest. There is an echo of this in Jesus’ teaching where he says that issues must be told to the church. Sexual immorality is a spiritual issue and not only this, but also a people of God issue. Sexual purity is a test of faithfulness to God. Why is there only a law for a jealous husband rather than a jealous wife? Three answers: 1) Ultimately, we don’t know. 2) This does not mean that God’s law was chauvinistically tilted towards husbands. The laws of adultery extended to both husbands and wife and both were ultimately under the penalty of death. 3) There may be a logic here that is precisely designed to protect a wife who is unjustly suspected of infidelity.A husband cannot just get rid of his wife, as men could in many ancient cultures, but he must bring her before the priest. The whole ordeal involved should convince a husband of his wife’s innocence. If this can’t convince him, nothing would. This may show that men have a temptation to ungodly jealousy that women do not and so he graciously provided this as a way of dealing with this ungodly temptation.

3 - What this ritual teaches us about the appointed ordinances of God in the Scripture. We have a pictured oath here. A self-maledictory oath is pictured through this ritual. Dust from the tabernacle floor has been near the mercy seat. This is dust from holy ground. But it also reminds of a serpent who once had to lick the dust. They remember their forebearers, the Israelites who had to drink the dust of the golden calf. So God constructs a ritual that aggressively pursues the sin and encourages the person to come to repentance. The woman is acting out in a picture the word-curses of God. The ordinances of baptism picture word promises. The Lord’s table shows us that we are to pull up to the table of God and fellowship with Him. These are pictured oaths and promises.

4 - What this ritual teaches us about the importance of the marriage bond and how it relates to us as the people of God. These public measures highlight the importance of marriage and the sacredness of the marriage bond. Moses’ point is that marital infidelity is incompatible with membership in the people of God and being part of the camp. The New Testament presses this home, explicitly telling us that marriage is a picture of the gospel. It is a picture of union with Christ. For the gospel’s sake we must live out the gospel in marriage. Marriage matters to the gospel.

5 - What this ritual teaches about the work of Christ on the cross. The drinking of these curses reminds us of another who drank curses. This passage point us to the atoning work of Christ—the one who drank the cup of the Father’s wrath, who died, but who lives again.

As one who loves history and who loves the Old Testament, I really enjoyed this message and appreciate Duncan’s fervor for preaching the full counsel of God.

Tonight’s session will feature Dr. Albert Mohler. Check in later to see what he is going to share with us…

March 07, 2007

MacArthur’s early-morning speech is the talk of the conference to this point. It has taken the blogosphere by storm and is generating a lot of discussion around the church campus as well. The most common comment is along the lines of “This is what happens when R.C. Sproul is not at the conference!” Please do heed the advice I posted and wait for the audio before drawing too many conclusions. I actually spoke to MacArthur shortly after the speech and he said to me that he was really hoping that this speech would just spur people on to think about the issues surrounding eschatology. Well, he certainly accomplished his goal!

And now, we’ll move on to this summary of the day’s final session. Because of the death of John Piper’s father, he was unable to be with us tonight. Thankfully C.J. Mahaney, who was at the conference anyways, was willing and able to step in and take Piper’s place. As C.J. said, “Regardless of your eschatology I don’t think anyone saw this coming!” As is typical of him, C.J. began with a funny, self-deprecating monologue that had us all laughing for a few minutes. But he grew serious and said that he considers the opportunity to speak at the Shepherd’s Conference a life and ministry highlight that is only exceeded by MacArthur’s invitation to preach at Grace Community Church during a worship service. C.J. opened with prayer for John Piper as he mourns the loss of his father.

For his text he chose Isaiah 66:1-2 and showed that the background to this passage proves that the Israelites lacked humility. God draws their attention away from their preoccupation with privilege and ritual and describes for them the one to whom He will look. And like all Scripture this passage was written for both that audience and for us as well.

“Tonight,” he declared, “I believe the Savior would draw us away from the necessary pursuit of excellence in ministry skills and direct our attention to that which is fundamental in all of ministry - our hearts.” And specifically to the subtle and deadly presence of pride in our hearts. He framed the session around three points.

The Perils of Pride

Pride is the first sin that was ever commited, appears to be the essence of all sin and it is also the most serious sin. There is no sin God hates more than this one. He asked us, “What do you hate?” So much of what we hate are things of little consequence but Scripture never trivializes God’s holy hatred of sin. At times we appropriately share God’s hatred of certain sins. We hate abortion, we hate child abuse, we hate racism. But regardless of what we hate, we hate nothing like God hates pride. Why does God hate pride so intensely? Because pride is when sinful creatures aspire to the status and position of God, refusing to acknowledge their dependence upon Him. He quoted Charles Bridges from his commentary on Proverbs: “Pride lifts up the heart against God. It contends for supremacy with Him,” In differing degrees and in different forms we are all proud and are all vulnerable to pride. Not surprisingly in light of our human nature, we are normally more perceptible of pride in others than in ourselves. It is not “if pride exists in your heart” but where it is and how it exists.

Because pride is so serious and so pervasive, he closed this section with this reflection: “We gather here in need of illumination and discernment as it relates to the power and presence of pride in our hearts.”

The Promise of Humility

Humility is a rare quality that captures God’s attention. Nothing escapes His notice but one thing captures His gaze. He is aware of all things, but is searching for one thing. Note that in verse two there is no command. This is not a command to humble ourselves. Instead, humility is simply held out as something that is divinely attractive. God is not only passionately against pride but specifically attentive to humility. The same hand that crushes the proud upholds, supports and exalts the humble.

Of course momentary inspiration is not sufficient. Mere education is not sufficient. There must be specific application of truth to our lives for there to be transformation. It is not enough to admire and desire humility, so this can be done while remaining proud. There must be purposeful application if there is to be any true change.

Purposeful Application

These are ways to tremble at His Word and so C.J. provided many ways, many lifelong pursuits, that will help us to apply His Word to our lives and experience the sweet, transforming effect of His Word.

Study the Attributes of God - In particular, we should study the incommunicable attributes of God (the ones that He does not share with others). In verse one of this text God is revealing incommunicable attributes. The foremost effect of contemplating the character of God is humility. The more we are aware of the distance between us and God, the more humility we will experience and express.

Each Day Survey the Wondrous Cross - He quoted Carl Henry who said: “How can anyone be arrogant when he stands beside the cross?” and then told us that each day he desires to stand as close beside the cross as he can because it is difficult to be arrogant standing there.

Study the Doctrines of Grace - Study them first and foremost for the good of your soul. To be theologically Reformed and personally arrogant is a profound contradiction. We who love these doctrines should be different because of them. There should be a discernible humility.

Study the Doctrine of Sin - Two things are needed to humble us: consider God and then consider ourselves in our mean, abject and sinful condition. No one will help more in this than reading John Owen.

Apply the Doctrine of Sin - It is difficult to specifically confess a particular area of depravity. Depravity in general is fairly simple to admit, but specifics are more difficult.

Invite and Pursue Correction - A humble individual realizes that others are hesitant to correct, so you must invite and pursue correction. And here he shared a challenge for the men at the conference. If you get home and your wife asks “How was the conference?” don’t just say “It was good.” Arrange for someone to care for the children and take her to some context where you can talk for a long time unhurried and undistracted and give her specifics and details and thank her for supporting you and allowing you to come here. Give her two gifts (ask her two questions). Where do I need to grow in serving and leading you? Where do I need to grow in serving and leading the children? If you are serious about mortifying pride and cultivating humility, you will seek the wisdom of the one who knows you best and loves you most.

He then provided a few pursuits specific to pastors:

Seize the Humbling Potential of the Preaching Task - Examine your heart after you preach and realize the difference between being dissatisfied by a sermon and discouraged by a sermon. We can always be somewhat dissatisfied by a sermon, knowing it could improve, but discouragement is often pride. Discouragement about a sermon often means you’re more desiring to impress than serve with the sermon. The process of preparation for a sermon is a process of sanctification where often pride is revealed.

Use Unflattering Illustrations of Yourself in Your Sermons - The people served through preaching assume the preacher is different from them unless he proves that he is not. People find hope when they find that the preacher struggles with what they struggle with.

Recognize Your Theological Limitations - We all have severe limitations in our theology and ability. It has a humbling effect to be reminded of that and we should never leave a different impression of this.

Prepare to be Replaced - At this point C.J. recounted a brief history of how the Sovereign Grace Pastor’s College came about and how he began to prepare for Josh Harris, his eventual replacement.

Recognize Your Relative Unimportance - You are a vital, not optional, means of grace. But no one here is indispensible. Each of us can and some day will be replaced, and probably (and hopefully!) by people who are more gifted and more capable.

Play Golf as Much as Possible - There is no more humiliating sport than golf and it will accelerate the process of developing humility.

He wrapped up by moving at warp speed through a short lists of daily tasks that helps him in his battle against pride.

Pride is present and active and is seeking to make itself active as soon as we wake up, so acknowledge dependence upon God immediately and out loud.

Try to incorporate devotions specific thankfulness to God because thankfulness is a soil in which pride does not easily grow. An ungrateful person is a proud person which means a grateful person is a humble one.

Begin by practicing the spiritual disciplines at the outset of the day as this will serve as a daily declaration of our need for God. Not practicing spiritual disciplines is not so much a sign of a lack of discipline but a statement of self-sufficiency.

Seize your commute as an opportunity for meditation and memorization of Scripture.

Throughout the day cast your cares upon Him. We humble ourselves throughout the day by casting our cares upon Him. Where there is worry or anxiety we also know there is pride for the root of worry is self-sufficiency.

At the end of the day transfer all glory to God. Try to end each day walking back through the day and transferring the glory for all that has happened to God. If we do not do this we are vulnerable to keeping the glory for ourselves.

Before falling asleep, receive the gift of sleep and acknowlege that sleep is a reminder of our dependence upon God. Thank Him for this gift but humble yourself and be reminded that you are creature and not creator (who needs no sleep).

And speaking of this, my eyes are very heavy and I must get to sleep before I just collapse. I’ll be back tomorrow. I’ll be sure to bring summaries of the day’s sessions, but will also tell you about the Scholar’s Desk I served at and some other interesting little tidbits. Stay tuned!

March 07, 2007

The day’s second session was led by Steve Lawson. He began by sharing how much the conference has meant to him. It was a moving tribute to the conference and upon the impact it can have upon a pastor.

For his text he chose Acts 2:14-21 and titled the sermon “The Passion and the Power of Apostolic Preaching.” We need men of God to stand up to preach and herald with much love the full counsel of God. We need the passion and power of apostolic preaching to be upon our lives.

Two deadly dangers face the church as it advances into the 21st century. The first threat is the wholesale devaluing of preaching itself. In this paradigm shift biblical preaching is being displaced by other things. Exposition is being replaced by entertainment; Theology for theatrics; Unfolding drama of redemption is being replaced by just plain drama. Preaching is out, dialogue is in. Straightforward exposition is being demoted to secondary status. As bad as this is, of even greater concern is another error. It is an error that befalls even those who are able preachers. The error is that their preaching is little more than a data dump. Preaching has become clinical, cold, sterile and stagnant. It is precision without power or light without heat.

Dispassionate preaching is a lie. If the preacher is not consumed with passage for the message, how can those who hear it believe it? This is what must be recaptured by the men at this conference who are not in danger of giving up the pulpit to entertainment, but who can become listless and lifeless in expositing the Scriptures. The kind of preaching that burst onto the scene in the first century. It was powerful and passionate. Acts is full of sermons and when they are all added up, twenty five percent of the text of the book is dedicated to recording the words of these sermons. This underscores how important apostolic preaching is. It suggests to us the kind of preaching we are to emulate. It is not just expository preaching we need, but expository preaching of a certain tone and thrust. We need apostolic expository preaching. We need to preach not just what they preached, but as they preached

The bulk of the sermon was an exposition of four marks of apostolic preaching that should mark every expositor who steps into the text of the Word of God:

Bold, Authoritative Preaching (14,15) - Peter did not step forward to dialogue or lay out options. He was assertive, emphatic, confident, commanding, directional, outspoken, compelling and arresting. He stood at the fork of the road and everyone had to decide which way they would go after encountering this proclamation. Peter “took his stand.” This word means more than “arising from a sitting position” but rather describes arising in order to take a firm stand and to establish himself. He had something serious to say and wanted to be heard. He assumes an authoritative posture and stance. The other Apostles stand with him, adding to his authority. He passionately raises his voice. He is firm and sure and as he speaks he is emphatic and assertive. Peter had to be heard. You do not always need to be loud to be passionate but it is better to err on the said of being too passionate and needing to be reeled back than to have to light a fire under you to get you going. Peter spoke seriously, with gravity. He preached as if lives depending upon it and as if souls are hanging in the balance. He speaks as a man who has been given as a mandate by the Lord almighty. He does not say “it seems to me.” Instead he says “Let this be known to you and give heed to these words.” Peter is demanding that he be heard. He is not allowing people to ignore him. “He is not dogmatic, he’s bulldogmatic,” said Lawson. Every preacher must speak with the same boldness, speaking the truth in love but always speaking the truth. Where are men today who are marked and known by the authority with which they speak from the Word of God? “There are too many men in the pulpit today who are tripping over their pantyhose.” He finished this section by quoting Adrian Rogers: The problem in the pulpit today is that no one wants to kill them anymore.

Text-driven Preaching (various verses throughout) - This is the real authority of the preacher, since he has no authority apart from the Word of God. He is simply the messenger, the conduit. All authority is found in the Book. Peter weaves the message together using five different Scripture texts. There are five things Peter does as he stands to preach.

1 - Read the text. Beginning in verse sixteen he reads the text. This is where expository preaching begins for it makes God the real preacher.
2 - Explain the text. This is what the word “expository” means - simply explain the text. There is an inseparable connection between verse twenty one and verse twenty two. In this verse he now begins to explain the text of the former verse.
3 - Support the text. What Peter will now do, having explained the text, now undergirds it with other cross references. He supports the central theme and traces it through the course of Scripture. He will now give four strategic cross references that bolster his explanation. He will show that the full counsel of God speaks with unity and clarity on this truth. These serve as pillars to undergird the message.
4 - Synthesize the text. In verse thirty six he summarizes the text, bringing it down to the bottom line. He gives the bottom line conclusion that the whole sermon has been leading to.
5 - Apply the text. This cannot be an expository sermon without this step. Now comes the crescendo of the sermon. Here is the action point, the imperative voice. This sermon is so powerful that the listeners give the invitation. “What must we do?” The authority of the Word of God has been pressed to their heart, their conscience has been awakened an the Spirit has stirred their hearts. Now Peter gives the application. Here is what you must do. Expository sermons must get to the “you.” In this case: “Repent and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

It starts with the text, stays with the text, and drives home the text.

Now by this time Lawson was running out of time and had to begin to hurry.

Christ-centered Preaching (22) - Peter’s preaching was centered in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Peter discusses Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. This is the preacher’s greatest glory and joy—to lift up the name of Jesus Christ.

Heart-piercing Preaching (37ff) - “When they heard this, they were pierced to the heart.” It is only this kind of preaching that brings out this kind of result. No skit or drama or video clip or sermon series on how to have a happy vacation will bring this about. Only preaching that is bold and authoritative, that is text-driven and Christ-centered will bring this about in the hearts of sinners that they would receive a gospel would that they might be saved. This preaching brought about an amazing result, showing that God is pleased to honor the right preaching of His Word.

He finished up with the words “May you preach as if it is the last sermon you will ever preach every time you step into the pulpit. Preach as a dying man to dying men. This is the passion and power of apostolic preaching. May God raise up from this number expositors who will herald the Word far and wide.”

And that was Dr. Lawson’s speech. It was an encouraging sermon for pastors, but also a challenging one, I’m sure.

March 07, 2007

Well we weren’t expecting John MacArthur to begin the conference this way. He decided to forego his usual opening sermon and speak instead on a touchy topic. His lecture was titled (and I’m not sure how much this is tongue-in-cheek) “Why Every Self-Respecting Calvinist is a Pre-Millennialist.” A couple of weeks ago, at the Resolved Conference, he mentioned this topic so it was interesting to hear him fill it out.

Now I am going to be both cautious and forthright with this one. I am not as familiar as perhaps I should be with the end times. Rather than stick my neck out, I will give my best understanding of the most important points of Dr. MacArthur’s speech and recommend that if you want a fuller understanding, you should wait for the CD or MP3. I did not feel adequate to the task of really giving a full and definite summary.

The session concerned itself with sovereign election, Israel, and eschatology. Dr. MacArthur sought to answer questions such as does the end matter? Does it matter to God? Should it matter to us? The answer is that of course it matters to God and thus should matter to us. History is heading to a divinely designed and revealed end, and if it matters enough to God to reveal it, it should matter enough for us to study it. And yet we often seem to think that God somehow muddled the biblical discussion of the end times so badly that it is best to just concede the muddle and move on. Yet MacArthur believes that the hard work involved in understanding the prophetic passages is neither needless nor impossible. The tried and true rules of interpretation should not be set aside every time a person encounters a passage on prophecy.

MacArthur made the point that those who most celebrate the sovereign grace of election regarding the church and its place in God’s purpose and those who defend the truth of promise and fulfillment and believe in election being divine, unashamedly deny the same for elect Israel. This is a strange division. “It’s too late for Calvin,” he said,” but it’s not too late for the rest of you. If Calvin were here he would join our movement.”

The thrust of the message was simple: Of all people to be pre-millennialist it should be the Calvinist—those who believe in sovereign election. A-millennialism is ideal for Arminians because according to their theology God elects nobody and preserves nobody. A-millennialism is consistent with Arminianism. Yet it is inconsistent with Reformed theology and its emphasis on God’s electing grace.

For those who “get it” that God is sovereign and the only one who can determine who will be saved and when they will be saved and is the only one who can save them, A-millennialism makes no sense because it says that Israel, on their own, forfeited the promises. The central argument went like this: If you get Israel right, you will get eschatology right. If you don’t get Israel right, you will never get eschatology right and you’ll drift forever from view-to-view. You get Israel right when you get the Old Testament promises and covenants right and you get these when you get the interpretation right which you get right when you use a proper hermeneutic (Did you get all that?). Essentially, you move from a proper hermeneutic to a proper interpretation to a proper view of the covenant and Old Testament promises and then you get Israel right. And then, of course, your eschatology is right. If you go wrong at the base, and set aside proper methods of hermeneutics, you have no chance to get anything else right.

MacArthur shared that over the course of his ministry his views on eschatology have not changed despite constant exposure to the Word of God. Eschatology has had to stand the test of every New Testament verse and his conviction has been strengthened. The fair test of a cohesive eschatology is to drag it through every text. He has done this and feels that premillennialism has stood the test.

He then asked and answered four questions. Is the Old Testament A-Millennial? Were the Jews in Jesus’ day amil? Was Jesus a-mil? Were the Apostles a-mil? In all he cases he believes the clear answer is no. And this is especially the point where I am going to recommend you purchase the audio and listen in yourself. He offered plenty of Scriptural proof, but moved quickly enough that I was unable to capture it adequately enough that I would be comfortable posting it here.

He then suggested two effects of this improper eschatology. The first is that it leads to the trappings of Judaism infiltrating the church. This includes many of the battles the Reformers had to fight: a priesthood, infant baptism replacing circumcision, altars, and so on. The second is that evangelism to Jews is damaged because it is we cannot properly explain to Jews why their interpretation of the Old Testament Scriptures is wrong. We end up having to say “you’re not God’s people anymore…” Unless you can tell a Jew that God will keep every promise and Jesus will fulfill every promise, your witness to them is damaged.

The long and short is this: Now that the Spirit of God is moving the church to recover the high ground in sovereign grace in election it is time to recover the high ground of God’s sovereignty in eschatology. If you get eschatology right, you can just open the Bible and preach what it says without having to go hunting for other interpretations. Get it right and Christ is exalted and God is glorified.

As I said, if this topic interests you, hold out for the audio. Whether or not you agree with the premise, you will be glad that MacArthur has planted a flag, so to speak. If he is right about the damaging effects of poor eschatology, this is an issue that should concern all Reformed believers.

March 06, 2007

This marks the second year I’ve been given the privilege of liveblogging the Shepherd’s Conference. Just a few minutes from now I’ll go out into the -35 degree cold (that includes windchill, mind you) to set out for Los Angeles where rumor has it I can expect 75 degree temperatures. That is an adjustment of 110 degrees!

The conference, which is geared primarily towards pastors and is sponsored by Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, is composed of both General Sessions and Conference Seminars.

The General Sessions “are times when we gather as one great congregation to worship the Lord in music and sit under the teaching of godly men—men who have proven themselves to be passionate teachers of God’s Word and faithful shepherds of God’s people.” The keynote speakers at these General Sessions are: John MacArthur, Al Mohler, Ligon Duncan, Mark Dever, and Steve Lawson. John Piper was scheduled to speak but was understandably forced to cancel as he awaits the imminent death of his father.

The Conference Seminars allow “access to a variety of teaching from pastors and elders of Grace Community Church and professors from The Master’s College and Seminary. Seminar topics range from expository preaching and shepherdology to key theological issues vital for shepherds today.” Among the seminar leaders are Phil Johnson, Irv Busenitz, Nathan Busenitz, Rick Holland, Steve Lawson and Richard Mayhue.

This year there is also a scholar’s desk, a feature that allows experts in a field to be available to answer questions from anyone who cares to ask. I’ll be serving on Wednesday afternoon with Nathan Busenitz at the scholar’s desk dealing with blogging. Should be a good time!

There will be eleven General Seminars and each person will attend five of the more than forty Conference Seminars. While last year I made sure to go to lots of the seminars, this year I am planning on spending that time writing or wandering around looking for things to write about.

I have been given free rein as to how I blog the conference. My intent is to allow those who are not able to attend the conference to be able to understand what is happening and perhaps to gain some idea of the atmosphere at such a gathering. I will provide commentary on each of the General Sessions as they unfold and will comment on anything else I find notable. I am hoping to have opportunity to speak with some attendees and ask how they are enjoying their time. I hope that my endeavors will prove valuable to those who choose to read the updates.

Shepherd’s is one of my favorite conferences. I love being in the presence of so many godly men, so many pastors, and enjoy seeing the way the conference organizers seek to serve and honor them. This really is an escape and a haven for many pastors. If your pastor is going to be at the conference this year, be sure to pray for him that God would grant him a time of relaxation, of edification and of joy as he sits under the constant preaching of the Word. And if he is not, consider sending him next year so he can benefit from this opportunity.

I’ll be traveling with Paul, my pastor. And to be honest, there really isn’t anyone I’d rather experience this conference with. As always, I’d be honored if you would think to pray for me this week. This liveblogging stuff isn’t nearly as easy as it may seem and it really does take a lot out of me. Not to complain, of course, as I really do enjoy it. But I do often find it a tough gig. And, of course, I’d appreciate prayer for my family as I’ll be far away from them for the next few days.

See you in L.A.!

February 20, 2007

Well, I made it home. Our flight was delayed for a few hours while the ground crew changed one of the plane’s tires but we eventually climbed aboard and made our way home. In retrospect, taking the red-eye home was probably a bad idea. But at least I got home and am back with my family, even if I am dog tired!

I really enjoyed the Resolved Conference. It was far different from the other conferences I’ve had the privilege of attending. Though the speakers were the usual suspects, the audience was a far cry from most events I’ve been to. I thought I would jot down a few random observations (since random observations will be about all I can manage based on the three hours of sleep I’ve had in the past 24 or so).

This was a young crowd with the average age probably being only 20 or 21 (I’m not so good at guessing ages, but the average age couldn’t be too much higher than that). I have said this already, but I find it both amazing and inspiring that 3,000 young people showed up (with hundreds more being turned away when the conference filled up) to hear nine expository sermons and to witness a panel composed of a bunch of guys much older than them. These young people seemed like they just could not get enough of the preaching and were both willing and ready to be challenged by God’s Word. And they were.

The crowd was loud and enthusiastic! Gone was the muted restraint of the Shepherd’s Conference and other similar events. These people liked to worship and liked to worship loudly. I am uncertain whether the loud music necessitated loud singing or whether loud singing necessitated loud music, but either way, the singing was boisterous and, well, loud! Despite the volume, the crowd was respectful and dignified.

The atmosphere was different from what I am accustomed to. There was a lot of attention dedicated to lights and audio/visual details. The conference looked great and, as a person who deals with web sites and other marketing materials, I was really impressed with what a good job the organizers did with extended the “branding” of the conference to all aspects of the event. They used the technology available to them to enhance the conference rather than to overshadow it or take away from it.

I was surprised, though perhaps I shouldn’t have been, by the enthusiasm of the audience for the speakers. The speakers were liable to get swarmed if and when they ventured beyond the first two rows (which were typically off-limits for most people). I know that younger people tend to be a enthusiastic about autographs and photo opportunities and so on. But it still surprised me, perhaps, again, because typically young people wouldn’t care so much for men like John Piper or C.J. Mahaney or John MacArthur or Steve Lawson. And yet they are. And I can’t help but think that this is a good thing. These kids have certainly chosen well if they are looking for leaders to admire and to emulate. They could not do much better in choosing heroes. I’d be glad to see my children lining up to have their picture taken with men like this.

One of my favorite aspects of a conference is seeing various ministries in motion. I love to see the men and women of the ministries doing what they do and doing it for God’s glory. I love to see them serve. I can’t count the number of times I was asked if I needed anything, the number of times I was thanked for my contribution, and the number of people who were genuinely interested in me and those around me. Both humility and a clear desire to serve were evident throughout the event.

I was glad to see the conference begin and end with Bob Kauflin’s wonderful song “Let Your Kingdom Come.” I think this is a perfect song to end a conference as it takes the focus beyond the walls of the conference venue and to the world beyond. Rick Holland opened and closed the event with words about the local church, ensuring people knew that all that was said and done over the course of the weekend was designed to promote and assist the local church. Conferences come and go, but the local church is forever; the local church is the primary opportunity for ministry and service. I was glad to hear such an emphasis. It is easy to see conferences as isolated events involving just the people who were able to attend, but surely it is far more valuable to see them as opportunities to train and encourage people so they can go back to their natural contexts for ministry and service and teach others what they have learned.

Steve Lawson is one of the most talent expositors (and truthfully, perhaps the most talented expositor) of Scripture I’ve ever had the privilege of hearing. When I take notes for his sermons, I often end up with 2,500 words or more. His teaching just resonates within my heart and mind. C.J. Mahaney has an amazing ability to draw deeply personal application. He never finishes a sermon without prodding the listener to examine his heart and to live a more godly life. John MacArthur is an exceptional teacher and potentially the most skilled Bible teacher I’ve heard. His knowledge and understanding of Scripture is almost unmatched. John Piper has the amazing ability to pursue theology to the ultimate. He pursues doctrine and theology for beyond the surface and does not quit until he has traced it to its deepest purpose, deepest meaning, and deepest application. As for Rick Holland…well, unfortunately I have only heard him speak one time so have little knowledge of his teaching ministry. However, from what was evident at the conference, he is a talented leader and one who garners the love and respect of those who serve with him. His desire to communicate deeply and personally with young Christians is obvious and his ability in doing this is shown in the lives of the young people who have been impacted by his ministry.

There is clearly a resurgence of Christianity among the Asian-American population. As John Piper said yesterday, God is clearly doing a work and is preparing to do a great work in and through these people. And I pray He does. I very much enjoyed meeting many of these people and rejoice in new friendships. (Here is what is no doubt a politically-incorrect aside, but I hope someone, and hopefully one of my Asian-American friends, can help me out. Why do Asians move in groups? We Caucasian folk tend to move and to hang out in twos; maybe threes. Asians seem to roam around in packs of six or eight or ten. What gives?)

The Resolved band is absolutely excellent. They are very talented and can do justice to a wide variety of styles of song. Rarely have I more enjoyed watching worship leaders worship. And in particular, I absolutely loved watching David Zimmer, the band’s drummer, worship God. This is my favorite photograph from the conference as it just seems to say it all. The band had fun worshiping and had fun leading us in worship. They did a great job.

Lukas VanDyke is an extraordinarily talented photographer (and just a good all-around guy). He was running around the venue the entire weekend and was kind enough to post some of his best photos from each of the days at his site.

Jonathan Rourke is a superstar. He is a fellow Canadian who somehow ended up in Los Angeles and seems to do most of the behind-the-scenes work for the conference. He was everywhere and did everything. The dedication of people like this—the ones who sit behind sound boards, who record the audio, who run the bookstore and who coordinate speakers, schedules, and the million and one other aspects of a conference—these are people who get little thanks and are surely deserving of some.

And that is about all I can dredge out of my mind at this point. It was an absolute honor to be the conference this weekend, to meet so many like-minded brothers and sisters in Christ, and to receive such encouragement from them. Resolved 2008 will be held in June of next year and will be in Palm Springs (which, when mentioned, seems to produce gasps of “Ooo…it’s going to be hot there” from people who know the area). It promises to be a great event and will focus on heaven and hell. MacArthur, Mahaney, Lawson and Randy Alcorn have already committed to the conference and there are several other invitations (i.e. John Piper) still outstanding.

The next conference on my schedule is the Shepherd’s Conference. I will be heading back to Los Angeles two weeks from today. Thankfully I have what looks like a better flight schedule for this one!

February 19, 2007

Rick Holland kicked off the final session by introducing John Piper as a man who has emphasized church history and a teacher who stands between two worlds, the historical world and our contemporary world. The Resolved organizers asked him to provide a historical address based on a figure from church history. And, of course, Jonathan Edwards was the obvious choice.

Piper began by completing his address from the night before since he had forgotten the fifth point. Point five should have been that there is no gospel unless everything else gets you to God to enjoy Him forever. The other four won’t be the gospel if there is no God to enjoy. This is why a lot of people think they are Christians when they are not. We need to get through the benefits of the gospel to the main benefit of the gospel. The main verse for last night’s talk (1 Peter 3:18) had somehow never been referenced.

And then, he moved on to today’s topic. Continuing from the theme he began yesterday he asked how does all of that (God being the gospel) relate to world missions and world evangelism? He relied on the teaching of Jonathan Edwards’ to provide an answer. On the one hand we know from the Bible that the supreme motive for missions is the glory of God. God is not loved, honored, believed, glorified among the nations as He ought to be and therefore, for His sake, we should move on the nations and pursue His glory. But we also know from the Bible that Jesus looked upon unbelievers and felt compassion for them. He doesn’t want them to perish and therefore thousands of missionaries have been motivated by a love for people. A passion for the glory of God and/or a passion to rescue people drives us to the nations. How do these relate to each other? Are they somehow one? And if so, how? Piper wants to figure out how his heart longing for people not to perish and longing for God to be glorified fit together. Many people are one or the other, but less have both.

He paused here and noted his amazement at the number of Asian-Americans at the conference. I can’t say what percentage they represented, but I would think it was at least 33 percent and possibly more. Reflecting on this, Piper said he believes there may be a calling on these lives that is unique. This may be an Asian-American moment in world missions. His longing is that hundreds of people here will go to the nations. There are only three kinds of Christians in regard to world missions: goers, passionate senders, disobedient. He longs that the effect of Resolved will be that out of this conference will come missionaries like out of Edwards came David Brainerd. “Perhaps,” he said, “this is the moment in world history when the decisive breakthroughs will be granted to the goers with a face different than mine.” After all, the Asian face is hated less around the world. God in His unusual providence in the Muslim world, for example, has arranged that the Western face is satanic while the Asian face is not yet as satanic. Maybe this represents an opportunities for Asian Christians.

Continuing on, he showed that missions is not the ultimate goal of the mission; worship is. Missions only exists because worship doesn’t and this understanding comes straight from Jonathan Edwards. Like Edwards, Piper always pushes to the ultimate. He wants to be shaped by the last thing. If you discover the ultimate reason why you exist and why the church or anything else exists, it shapes your life. And the ultimate purpose of the church is worship. Edwards doesn’t say it quite like that. In “The End for Which God Created the World” he piles text upon text arguing for God’s God-centeredness. This is all over the Bible—God doing everything for the glory of God.

The heavens are telling the glory of God…but who set it up this way? God did! The same is true in redemption. The glory of God is the chief end of missions because it is the chief end of God. But this isn’t what Piper said in his book on the topic—he said that mission is the ultimate goal. Why? Because of man’s failure to see and savor His glory. Missions doesn’t take the glory of God to people who have never seen it. People already know of the glory of God for the world shows this and people are without excuse. The problem is that they are not worshiping Him for His glory because though they knew Him they did not glorify Him as God. This is why missions is necessary - they are seeing the glory of God but are in stark rebellion against Him. Missions exists, then, because worship doesn’t.

In all the nations without Christ, the greatness of God is not admired, the power of God is not praised, the truth of God is not sought, the goodness of God is not savored, and so on. God is not worshiped but despised. He is disbelieved, disobeyed, dishonored. The opposite of that disrespect is worship and this is what ought to be happening among the nations.

He paused for a moment to discuss a definition of worship. Worship is not a service. What we do when we sing may or may not be worship. Worship is not singing per se, (or preaching, etc) because we can worship with our lips but not with our hearts (Matthew 15:8-9). Worship in its essence must be something in the heart and where there is no heart there is no worship.. Biblically, we have heart, head and body. John 14:23 talks about head worship. The affections of the heart must be stirred and moved from truth and knowledge in the head. Music is glorious but can do an end-run around the head and stir the heart without truth. Matthew 5:16 talks about the body where we live in such a way, serving people, that we give worship to God. People can actually see good works and glorify God. There is a way to display the worth of God through our bodies. Worship is all of this.

How does compassion relate to this? How does love for lost people relate to this? We are all guilty of treason and have all dishonored the King. We are all under a death sentence of everlasting punishment. With mutiny comes eternal misery. Jonathan Edwards is famous for preaching about hell, but he knew his heaven as well as his hell. He knew heaven because he knew hell and knew hell because he knew heaven. Edwards quoted Revelation 14:15 which speaks of torment Edwards would have been appalled at the people in our day who minimize and deny the existence of hell. And sadly, this is rampant. God does not allow people to be annihilated, to escape from His wrath. Pulpits are powerless because they don’t know what is at stake. Hell is real and knowing this should be a motive. Jesus looked out on the crowds and felt compassion on this basis. Love pursues perishing people.

So here is the final question: How do these two motives for evangelism go together?

Here are five statements to guide us:

1) Compassion pursues the rescue of perishing sinners. The way they escape perishing is to be pursued by those who have the gospel.

2) Fear of hell by itself saves no one. You can scare people away from hell but cannot scare them into heaven. It is natural to hate pain and natural to want to avoid hell. But this does not mean that people want to go to heaven (the true heaven - people do want to go to a heaven of their own making). The reason preaching hell by itself doesn’t save anyone is that saving faith is more than fearing hell. It is not just embracing Jesus as a deliverer.

3) Therefore compassion must not merely warn people about the pains of going to hell but lure people to the pleasures of knowing Christ. If people are only responding out of fear they haven’t necessarily seen anything in Christ that they find delightful. Preaching must not only warn but woo. We must display Christ to the nations in order to get them out of hell.

4) The key from Jonathan Edwards is this: satisfaction in Christ is what glorifies God. We want them out of hell and we want God magnified. They get out of hell by saving faith and this is the wanting to be with this glorious Christ and trusting all we’ve done to get us there. It is being satisfied with all that He is for us in Christ and thus being satisfied in Him, He is magnified. These come together in a right understanding of worship and of saving faith.God’s is glorified not only by his glory being seen, but by his being rejoiced in. God is glorified when we are satisfied in Him.

5) The aim of compassion and the aim of a passion for God’s glory are not different in the way they come about. Treasuring Christ honors God and saves from hell.

What magnifies God is being satisfied in God. When we love Him, delight in Him, cherish Him, and so on, He is honored. That is right at the heart of what saving faith is and it is saving faith that rescues people from destruction. And so the conclusion is this: whether we preach from the one perspective or the other, it is the same message. These two motives for evangelism are really the same.

Of course you don’t have to take my world for all of this. You can listen to it yourself right here.

And that is it for me. I am writing this from the lobby of a hotel somewhere near the airport. We’ve been loitering here for an hour or two now. In just a couple more hours I’ll be heading to the terminal for a long, boring, all-night flight home. If all goes well, I should be back in Toronto for 6 AM and back home for 7 or 8. It will be good to be back with the family!

I’ll follow up with some reflections on the conference tomorrow.

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