“For the Church” Conference Reflections

Recently Pastor Adam and Julia Anderson, Toby Tiner, Kaleb Sheffield, Julie and I attended the MBTS For the Church Conference. The theme was Truth in an age of compromise, and speakers included Russell Moore, David Platt and Jason Allen. In order to provide you with some reflections of the conference, I asked MCC attendees to respond to a few questions.

What phrases/statements most impacted you?

Julie: “I appreciated B. H. Charles’ focus on the gospel; the great exchange;  and what Jesus saved us from-God’s wrath.”

Julia: “I appreciated Russell Moore’s words about not fearing and showing mercy on our enemies because they do fear. The passage he used out of 2 Kings 6 about Elisha and the chariots of fire was very vivid and a great reminder of who is on our side.”

Adam: “Having listened to all the speakers featured at this year’s conference, each one had a statement or two that was pertinent and powerful for the topic they each addressed. Listed in order, here are some statements that stood out: 1) Dr. Jason Allen (on Truth and the Church); “How is the church the pillar and support of the truth?…[We are] to protect the truth and the exclusivity of the gospel…[we are] to cultivate ‘experiential Christianity’, not ‘clinical Christianity’; 2) Dr. Russell Moore (on Truth and Culture); [in comparing the present situation of the Church with OT Israel–(2Kings 6:8-23)] “The trouble with Israel was not that they would be destroyed, but that they would become like the Syrians”; “Elisha prayed in the face of danger, not for armies to battle with the Syrians, but to open eyes to a reality already there (chariots of fire and armies)”; “The truth frees us to show mercy”

Toby: “In Darrin Patrick’s message on Truth and Leadership, he made the following statements. “Leadership will make or break your ministry,” “leadership is a pastoral obligation,” and “No bleeding, no leading.” These together just brought home for me the importance of quality Biblical leadership within the local church and if I am to lead, then I need to lead.”

Was there a particular song that ministered to you? What lyrics stood out?

Kaleb: “Oh Praise (The Only One)” – This song is such a good praise and worship song. The first line of the song is “There is no greater truth than this…” What an amazing reminder that fit right in with the conference speakers’ theme of truth.  The truth of the gospel in Christ…no greater truth, and it impacts the church, the culture, our leadership, our preaching, our shepherding, and our missions. The chorus goes like this:

Oh praise the only One

Who shines brighter than ten thousand suns

Death and hell call Him victorious

Praise Him

Oh praise the One True King

Lift it loud ’til earth and heaven sing

Every crown we lay down at your feet

Praise Him, Praise Him

What speaker or message most impacted you? Why?

Julia: “I think Russell Moore’s message about Truth and the Culture was excellent and timely for me. Getting over our fear of the culture and the way things seem to be going and trusting in the God who has given us His Spirit helps us to be effective. We have a leg up you might say, because we know how our enemy thinks and how he works, because we ourselves have been there and we also have God’s word which gives us insight. This brings fear to our enemy. And we can also have mercy on our enemies, because they are already defeated, just as he pointed out in 2 Kings 6.”

Julie: “I appreciated Russell Moore’s message regarding truth and culture. He spoke of Jesus, how he could call tax collectors to repent of their sin, but also dine with them. Balancing truth and kindness is what we are to be about when we engage the culture.”

Adam: “The message that impacted me most was from Russell Moore on ‘Truth and Culture’. The way in which he compared the Church of our day, with the cultural and legal challenges we face, to the people of Israel during the ministry of the Prophet Elisha, with impending attack from Syria, was insightful. His reminder that “the word of God brings confidence and freedom” (John 8:36) was the most deeply anchored and salient point. This is because Peter’s reflection on the transfiguration and the work of God conveyed by the Prophets makes the word “more sure” (2 Peter 1:19), pointing out the reality of what is already there (Christ in glory). We can have this confidence and freedom despite the fearful trouble or danger we see before us. This word also frees us to show mercy because we know the God behind this ‘more sure’ word.”

Toby: “There were two that kind of spoke together. The first was the church planters, replanters breakfast I went to and then Platt. Coming from what was a failed church planting experience, I was very discouraged. Missions is in my blood, but after the experience in Emporia, KS I felt my blood was poisoned, but these mission oriented sessions boiled my blood and cleansed it, in a very helpful way. Life had taken over and took me from what I feel is an important aspect of what I am here for and what my family is here for, to spread the gospel to the lost of this world, and missions, local and global are a huge, massive part of that.”

Kaleb: “Each speaker had a message filled with truth, and each was so encouraging, yet challenging. Russell Moore had a great impact, speaking on truth and culture. He preached on 2 Kings 6:8-23. His message had such a direct application to how we interact with the culture around us. In the passage, the peoples’ lives are at stake, and the situation appears hopeless. Yet (like Jesus), Elijah remains calm and confident in the TRUTH that is the word of God. This truth allows us to speak the word of God, see God’s presence, and show God’s mercy. He spoke of the importance of prayer, and how the absence of prayer leads to destruction, whether self-confident or great despair. One my favorite quotes from this message was, “Lord open our eyes, so we can see” – so we can see God, so we can see our need for a Savior, so we can see your mercy and grace, and so we can see your power and might all around us, even in times of darkness.”

Was there a message that you thought most applicable to MCC? How might we apply it?

Toby: “One that was less impactful on me, but when asked this question really stuck out was form Dr. Allen. In his message, he said that because we are so bombarded with lies and false truths in this age, and we are at every turn, we must protect the truth, proclaim the truth, and also prepare for the truth. This was a message to pastor and ministers, but I think it is very applicable to all saints. To take this is reverse order, we must prepare for the truth. We must be in the Word. Daily. Our lives and thoughts must be grounded in and transformed by God’s word. Then, we must take what God has taught us and proclaim the truth. It is the message we for a lost world. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of Christ. And finally, we know that the world has revolted against the truth and twists and hates it so much that are trying to make it the lie. They will not stand up for it. They will not teach it. They will not proclaim it. It is up to us to protect the truth. We must teach it to our neighbors, teach it to our kids, and be ready to defend it with the truth.”

Adam: “The message that I think would be most applicable to MCC would be from Jared Wilson’s message on ‘Truth and Shepherding’, preaching on Isaiah 40:6-11. He made the point that “ministry is often about teaching people ‘how to die'”. He draws out this point further by soberly stating that we will all die, and (likely) be forgotten, and that we each have a longing for vindication, significance, and fulfillment in life. He used the illustration of when Moses was called by God (Exodus 3), saying that everything in that scene points up the idea that Moses looks like a “loser”, but it says again and again that God would be with Moses (his real significance). The heart of what he preached from Isaiah was that “the true power of life and of our hearts is the glory of Christ”. Such glory being our true ‘message’ (Isa. 40:9), our true ‘strength’ (40:10), and our true ‘comfort’ (40:11). The truths of this message might be applied by MCC in meditating on and living out the fact that Christ in glory is the reality behind all that there is. Therefore, no matter how small our number as a local church, or how feeble our strength, or boldness, or attention to the things of God, we can minister to our family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers with zeal and joy because of what’s really real”

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