Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Reflections on the Miami Pastors' Conference

For the past couple weeks I've been meaning to offer some reflections from the Miami Pastors' conference, but for one reason or another I've not been able to get to it. Perhaps the greatest reason is the time was just so full. I left feeling a bit gorged on all the preaching and the fellowship that it was difficult to write anything coherent or short enough. The three days there was an immersion into what Jonathan Edwards regarded as the aim of preaching: "The main benefit that is obtained by preaching is by impression made upon the mind in the time of it, and not by the effect that arises afterwards by a remembrance of what was delivered." C

Summarizing Edwards' comment, George Marsden writes:
Preaching, in other words, should be designed primarily to awaken, to shake people out of their blind slumbers in the addictive comforts of their sins. Though only God can give them new eyes to see, preaching should be designed to jolt the unconverted or the converted who doze back into their sins (as all do) into recognizing their true estate (in Richard A. Bailey and Gregory A Wills (eds.), The Salvation of Souls: Nine Previously Unpublished Sermons on the Call of Minstiry and the Gospel by Jonathan Edwards, pp. 11-12).

These are good statements of the effect of the conference on me: impressions made on the mind, awakened, shaken out of my slumber, jolted. I think that's probably what every conference (especially those for pastors) should do for us.

So, leaving the conference, here are some things, mostly one-liners delivered in the power of the moment, that have impressed, jolted, shaken, and awakened me from some spiritual slumbers.

From Kevin Smith's exposition of 1 Timothy 4, "The Christ-Centered Life of the Preacher."
"Even good men fall... because we're in wrong pursuits."
"Godliness does not come naturally; you can't "let go and let God."
Godliness is the spiritual condition that allows us to start strong and finish well."

From Sinclair Ferguson's exposition of Phil. 2:5-11, "Preaching Christ in our Contemporary Situation"
I need to be repentant for obscuring the face of Jesus Christ in my preaching.

"We ive in a church culture (Evangelicalism) where people are mystified by the fact that people can be so passionate (as the church fathers were) about describing accurately the Person of Jesus."

"We have produced a culture that rides on the emotion of the preacher rather than on the truth of Scripture."

Much of our preaching is "taking the bread out of the mouths of God's people."
"We have returned to medievalism... where the preacher distributes the blessings of the Gospel rather than proclaim the Benefactor of the Gospel... where we have established 'mega-churches' rather than vital centers of preaching and prayer."

"We produce evangelical stars rather than faithful pastors. And in our worship we produce spectators rather than worshippers."

"We seek the theology of glory rather than the theology of the cross."

In view of all of this, "The church's 9-11 is just around the corner."

Quoting E.M. Bounds, The Power of Prayer: "Men are looking for better methods, but God is looking for better men, because men are God's method."

Rickey Armstrong's exposition of Psalm 2, "Preaching Christ from the Psalms"
Quoting J.C. Ryle, "It is no light matter to speak to any assembly about the things of God."
"Christ is altogether lovely." Yes He is!
1. Christ-centered preaching helps us to grasp the most hideous things about sin--we are all rebels with the same need for redemption.
2. We must help our people to see that the object of our hatred in sin is God.
3. The Gospel of the kingdom does not beg men to make Christ Lord; He is proclaimed as King.

From Sinclair Ferguson's exposition of Hebrews, "The Apostolic Exposition"
Commenting on Heb. 3:1 -- "We're told to 'fix your eyes on Jesus' as if to say, 'Have you really considered how much there really is to gaze upon? Do we really want to starve our people of the glories of Christ b y failing to call them to gaze upon Jesus?'"

"Our humanity was not something that Christ borrowed for a season... he didn't leave it behind when He ascended. He would not be qualified to be my Savior without having taken on my humanity. Only one who has really and permanently took my flesh could really and eternally be my Savior."

The incarnation is glorious! (Awaken Thabiti)

In my preaching, set forth Jesus Christ:
1. In His two natures united in His one divine Person
2. In the two states of the incarnation -- Humbled and exalted
3. In His three offices in our salvation -- Prophet, Priest and King
4. In His three-fold work bringing us to complete redemption -- Propitiation (Root, Heb. 2:17), Help for the tempted (Fruit, Heb. 2:18), and Destruction of the Devil (Brute, Heb. 2:14)

"We mask with the mortician's art... the fear of death.

From Sinclair Ferguson's exposition of Acts 8, "Preaching Christ from the Prophets"
He bore the curse of God for me!

God smites the Shepherd who cares for the sheep. He is pleased to smite me for His people and my blessing. Can I drink of the cup that Jesus drinks of?

Considering Is. 54:4, "The messenger will be silent as He bears the accusation of God against my sins." "The Lord was executed for blashpemy and treason because we are guilty of blasphemy and treason. And so, He suffered silently."

"We cannot preach a crucified and risen Savior without ourselves participating in His sufferings, death and resurrection."

Perhaps more reflections, quips and quotes when I find my other set of notes....


Anonymous said...

First things first - a big welcome to Titus and congratulations to you and the rest of the Anyabwile clan.

Also off topic, but of great import - I have not been able to get your podcast to work. Now, I'm not asking you to get all technical, but can you confirm that you or someone else has it working as currently posted on the website? Just trying to figure out if it is me . . . as I can be almost certain it is. Thanks!

FellowElder said...

Hey brother,
Thanks for the congrats. Missing you guys. I'll check the podcast issue when I get into the office this morning. This past weekend we migrated the church's info to a new server. Could be something with that.

Praying you and the mrs. are well.

Jonathan Oldacre said...

"We seek the theology of glory rather than the theology of the cross."

Was Ferguson saying that instead of seeking the theology of glory, we should seek the theology of the cross?

Thanks, JO

FellowElder said...

I think his main point was that too many seek glory without recognizing that first comes suffering, then comes glory. Much of preaching and the ministry is about "success" and is frail when it comes to carrying our cross and following Jesus daily.

Hope this helps,