GCNC: Day 2, or “For the Sake of the Gospel, I Stroked the Cat”

April 23, 2009

Our meals on Wednesday were a little less extravagant (as well as a little lot less delicious), but thankfully, the Holy Spirit’s nourishment is a LOT more tasty and satisfying than anything we could ever put into our mouths.  Each of us was extremely moved by the touch of God’s heart to our hearts.  Although this Conference is clearly geared toward pastors and leaders (thus, the wonderful absence of any lines for the women’s bathrooms), those of us who are not Pastor Edward and Chae also truly received wonderful graces from the Lord, valuable lessons in re-understanding and re-clinging to the supremacy of Christ and His Word, and being humbled before the wonderful and loving sovereignty of God.

Wednesday’s highlights started with a championship-worthy, shrieking mad-dash for close-to-the-front seats as soon as the hall doors opened.  It would appear that two of NHF’s women (who shall remain nameless) have absolutely no shame.  BUT, our group got to sit in the 5th and 6th rows, so HA!   It was a really full day of teaching, blessing, exhortation, encouragement and receiving new ideas about how to love God’s Gospel and bring it to our churches and to people who do not yet know the beautiful saving grace of Jesus Christ.

Details after the jump …

Session #5: K. Edward Copeland, “Shadowlands: Pitfalls & Parodies of Gospel-Centered Ministry” (II Timothy 3.1-9)

  • The question for pastors: “Who will come after us, and will that person hold the line of Truth?”
  • There’s no time for recreational preaching because the pardon has been granted, but the inmates haven’t heard!  When you’re in the last days, do you really want to be talking about who’s going to take the prize on “American Idol?”
  • The problem with the world in these last days is not earthquakes, hurricanes, fires and tsunamis.  The problem with the world in these last days is the people who inhabit the world in these last days!
  • “You can arrange the wood, but only God can send the fire.”  (Copeland)
  • “If you’re sitting on a plane and you feel the plane is not going fast enough, you flapping your arms is not going to make the plane go faster!  [God] determines where you’re going and how fast you’re going to get there, so sit back, stop your flapping, put your seatbelt on, and enjoy the ride.”  (Copeland)
  • So where is the Power?  The Power is in the Gospel; the dynamite is inherent in the message of the Cross.
  • Although lies and evil and ‘pulpiteers’ and Christ-opposers pose a very real threat, they all have a God-ordained limit.
  • “If God is God — and He is, and right is right — and it is, then evil is incapable of a perfect plan. … Evil can never anticipate God’s intervention.”  (Copeland)
  • “The Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is that God ain’t worried about it.  And neither should you be.”  (Copeland)  We do not live in a dualistic universe where good and evil are equal and we don’t know who’s going to win; we live in a universe that is controlled by God, and one day, “even death will have a funeral.”  (Copeland)
  • Stop acting like what you do doesn’t matter; start acting like you’re on the winning side.  Get the facts straight, and be faithful in your proclamation.  Preach (and teach) for results, not for response.
  • J.S. Bach’s last fugue: Bach wrote his name, “Bach” throughout the German notation of this piece.  Every time it is played — and as long as it’s played correctly — his name resounds.  And so with God, who has written His Name throughout the music of the life of Creation.  We just have to play the piece correctly.
  • Jack Bauer, in the show “24”:  you could stay up all night watching gripping episode after gripping episode, and when Bauer seems to get killed in Season 4, you could fret about it all night long, until and unless you watch the credit and realize that Kiefer Sutherland (who plays Jack Bauer) is an executive producer of the show.  Ain’t no way he’s going to let Jack Bauer die — it’s his show!  And so, we know the ending to the show that God executive-produced.  Don’t waste your time fretting about how His story is going to end

Session #6: Bryan Chapell, “Preach the Word!”  (II Timothy 3.10 – 4.5)

  • Question: do you bank your life on the Truth that the Bible attests?
  • The Word of God is His voice, His hand, His heart revealed to sinful people, in love.  In His Word, you have God Himself.
  • When God’s Word is preached, it isn’t talking about Jesus or speaking for Jesus; it is speaking as Jesus.  God’s Spirit has been breathed into His Word, for His people.
  • We want God to give us His Word in huge writing in the clouds or speak loudly in the thunder.  But “if God writes His Word in the clouds, it will blow away; if He speaks it in the thunder, it will fade away.  So He asks, ‘Would you mind if I just wrote it down?'”  (Chapell)
  • The voice of Jesus can either be clear-channel, or we can add static to it.  We actually have stewardship of God’s voice.
  • In preaching God’s Word, there is an expectation of purity, an expectation of persecution, and an expectation of power.
  • Courageous preaching goes with compassionate preaching, because to be inspired by God is to reflect His nature.
  • God shows us the greatness of His heart: knowing people will stray from His Word, He provides it anyway to reveal His perfection and our imperfection, to rescue us from idolatry of self and isolation of self, and to show us His very nature.
  • Preach the Word, and the water of life flows into the church and into people’s hearts.

Session #7: Ajith Fernando, “Gospel-Faithful Mission in the New Christendom”

  • We face three issues in spreading the Gospel: (1) proclaiming the culturally-distant message of the Cross; (2) upholding the uniqueness of Christ in a pluralistic environment & demonstrating that servanthood and uniqueness are compatible; and (3) keeping the priority of evangelism in holistic ministry.
  • We are challenged to look for creative ways to bring the concept of ‘substitutionary sacrifice’ to this world.
  • What is it that makes non-believers hear the Gospel and say things like, “If this isn’t true, it ought to be” and “Didn’t I tell you there ought to be a God like this?!”
  • Though people resist, ironically, the human need for substitutionary sacrifice is hidden in the human makeup, just as the Cross was in the heart of God before the beginning of the world.
  • Paul was willing to look foolish for the sake of the Gospel, but he proclaimed it in a way that was intellectually strong.
  • Persecution makes the church thrive; prosperity kills the church.
  • The early Christians forged the uniqueness of Christ while they were surrounded by pluralists.
  • Could it not be: “maybe we are coming into a period when new rugged pioneers will blaze new trails for the Gospel?”
  • People who live the Christian life create the ground-swell for positive reaction to the Gospel.  If we live with love, that is the greatest apologetic.
  • Jesus showed that a King could be a servant.  Those who love Jesus must be a servant of the people.
  • Rejection from society helps us to find our identity in God, which is the key to servanthood.  “Christianity is a religion where weakness becomes the door to strength.”  (Fernando)
  • Jesus didn’t say to the Samaritan woman, “Hi, I am Jesus, how can I help you?”  Rather, he said, “Hi, can you help Me?”
  • Don’t go to your opponents to win a debate; go to open doors for the Gospel.  This is “downright intrepidity, radical humility.”  (Fernando)
  • Humbly bow down to cultural practices: Fernando went to a temple to meet with Muslim leaders, and the temple cat came and sat next to him.  Fernando comes from a long line of people who do not appreciate cats, but he says, “for the sake of the Gospel, I stroked the cat.”
  • Remember: “If one generation neglects the doctrines, the next generation rejects them.”  (Fernando)
  • Samuel Rutherford: lay your greatest joys in the gap between a person and his eternal destruction.

Session #8: Panel Discussion with Tim Keller, Crawford Loritts, John Piper and Ligon Duncan, chaired by Stephen Um


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