Shepherd’s Conference Roundup

As many of you know, the Inerrancy Summit was held last week at the Shepherds’ Conference located at Grace Community Church in Los Angeles. More than 5,000 men gathered to hear world-class preaching and teaching over 4 days. With the doctrine of inerrancy under scrutiny from both outside and inside the church, this was a historical event in church history. Below are links to the plenary sessions. I’ll update the post with breakout sessions when those audio files get uploaded.

General Session 1: 4 Reasons for the Inerrancy Summit (Selected Scriptures) – John MacArthur [video, blog]

 

General Session 2: Let the Lion Out (2 Timothy 4:1-5) – Alistair Begg [video, blog]

 

General Session 3: Defending the Doctrine of Inerrancy (Selected Scriptures) – R.C. Sproul [video, blog]

 

General Session 4: How Did We Get Here? (1 Thessalonians 2:13) – Stephen Nichols [video, blog]

 

General Session 5: What the Bible Is, Is For, and Does (2 Timothy 3:14-17) – Ligon Duncan [video, blog]

 

General Session 6: Inerrancy and Evangelism (Matthew 28:16-20) – Miguel Nuñez [video, blog]

 

General Session 7: Inerrancy from the Reformers (Selected Scriptures) – Carl Trueman [video, blog]

 

General Session 8: Scripture Cannot Be Broken (John 10:22-39) – Ian Hamilton [video, blog]

 

General Session 9: God’s Word (Psalm 119) – Mark Dever [video, blog]

 

General Session 10: The Invincible Power of the Inerrant Word (Selected Scriptures) – Steve Lawson [video, blog]

 

General Session 11: Matthew’s Use of Hosea 11:1 in Matthew 2:15 (Selected Scriptures) – Gregory Beale [video, blog]

 

General Session 12: Q&A – Mark Dever, Kevin DeYoung, Ligon Duncan, John MacArthur, Albert Mohler [video]

 

General Session 13: The Inspired Word (2 Peter 1:16-21) – Derek Thomas [video, blog]

 

General Session 14: 12 Principles of Hermeneutics for Inerrantists (Selected Scriptures) – Albert Mohler [video, blog]

 

General Session 15: Pneumatology and Inerrancy (John 13-17) – Sinclair Ferguson [video, blog]

 

General Session 16: The Bible Under Attack (Selected Scriptures) – Iain Murray [video, blog]

 

General Session 17: Christ and the Bible (Matthew 5:17-19) – Kevin DeYoung [video, blog]

 

General Session 18: Jesus, the Great Expositor (Matthew 22:23-33) – John MacArthur [video, blog]

 

Some miscellaneous blog posts on inerrancy:

 

Ligonier Ministries

What Difference Does an Inerrant Bible Make?

 

Grace to You

Inerrancy Summit, Day One

Inerrancy Summit, Day Two

Inerrancy Summit, Day Three

 

Challies

John MacArthur’s Inerrancy Summit Begins Today

Why Should You Care about the Inerrancy Summit?

3 Final Reflections on the Inerrancy Summit

 

Contentment in God’s Provision

 

I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.  I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

(Philippians 4: 12-13 ESV)

We can learn to be content with our present circumstances even when times are less than ideal. We can adjust to a harsh season and learn to dig in for the winter.  I wouldn’t say that’s what Paul intended for us to learn when he penned the verses above, and I don’t believe God wants us to simply adjust to circumstances as they come. Rather, God wants us to rely on him for strength, to trust him to provide for our needs.

Of course, Paul is talking about more than being content with God’s provision of food and clothing. The contentment Paul is talking about is being content with God being our sole provider through the changing seasons that God chooses to place us in. Paul says he can do “all things through him who strengthens [him]”. He is referring to his ministry, the living out of the Great Commission that each of us is also charged to uphold. Regardless of his circumstances, Paul knew he could rely on God to supply him with physical strength as well as spiritual strength.

We can take a look at 2 Corinthians 12: 7-10 to better understand how Paul understood contentment:

So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.  Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

(2 Corinthians 12:7-10 ESV)

Paul was granted a glimpse into heaven, something none of us or the people of Paul’s time could say. God allowed an agent of Satan to enter the church to cause discord to keep Paul from growing proud. Just reading through the Pauline epistles will clearly convey Paul’s abounding love for the church. Imagine how it must have affected him knowing he had a wolf lurking amongst his flock in order to steal them away from the apostle. For Paul to plead to have the wolf removed but to have his request denied was for God to demonstrate his power through Paul. God would empower his apostle with his grace so that Paul could endure the thorn placed in his side.

When God chooses to place us in a trying season it’s for his purposes. When Christ bought us with his blood we became his, and God has chosen to use us for his glory. He has freed us from the bondage of sin and has given us freedom to serve him. As our creator he has the right to place us where he wants. He chooses to use us to demonstrate his power. In the passage above, we can see God used Paul’s circumstances to simultaneously humble Paul but also to show that God gives us what we need to remain steadfast in times of trouble.

No matter what season we find ourselves in God will provide us with the strength we need to glorify him. Perhaps it’ll be a time of plenty and God wants you to use your resources to bless those he’s placed in your life to demonstrate a love for the saints. Perhaps you will be in a season of betrayal where former friends have turned their backs on you, where you grieve the loss of former friends—seeking the Lord’s comfort as you wait on him to change their hearts. Perhaps you’re in a dry season and your growth is being stunted by a deeply rooted sin the Lord wants you to root out before he rains blessings upon you once again.

Contentment with circumstances is good, but to be content with knowing God provides us with strength for the seasons he places us in is a present and future oriented attitude that conveys trust in God. More than just taking what life throws at us and rendering it for God’s glory, we should strive to have a faith in a faithful God to provide for our every need and every good work he’s prepared for us to do.

O Christian, Persevere!

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

(2 Peter 1:3-11 ESV)

The Christian’s Virtues

Here, we see a list of the qualities that a Christian should be pursuing. The individual qualities don’t stand alone, however—each quality is listed in order to build it onto the previous one: add virtue to your faith, be knowledgeable in your virtue, and be self-controlled in addition to your knowledge. The first time I read this, though, it was the next one that jumped out at me: that we need to supplement “self-control with steadfastness.”

Not only are we supposed to be self-controlled—being disciplined with our money and our time, building godly habits and fighting sinful ones, battling against our very flesh—but we’re supposed to be steadfast in our self-control? So not only do we have to do these things, but we have to do them consistently, perseveringly, day in and day out?

Combined with the weight of the virtues listed both before and after, it almost seems too much to bear.

The Christian’s Promise

And it would be too much to bear, if it weren’t for the promise that God gives us in the verses prior. Before the “make every effort to supplement,” there’s a “For this reason.” For what reason?

1. “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness,” Peter says. Through human effort, to be steadfast in our self-control would be impossible; but we’ve been granted the power of God Himself to have and do everything pertaining to life and godliness. Everything, Peter says! When we’re called to be godly, God doesn’t just leave us to our own effort, or only help us partway—He promises to supply everything that we need to become like Him. How are we granted this power?

2. “…through the knowledge of Him who called us to His own glory and excellence, by which He has granted to us His precious and very great promises….” By knowing Christ and by being saved, we receive this God-granted power purely through the immeasurable glory and excellence of God. Note how little we had to do with this! We don’t receive this power by trying to pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps. Instead, God reveals Himself to us and promises us the power of sanctification purely because He is glorious and excellent.

3. “…so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.” These promises that God gives us allow us to have fellowship with God and to become like Him. Not only that, but we become like Him “having escaped” our sinful corruption. Look at the past tense! The promises of God guaranteed our separation from the pull of our sinful desires, even if we don’t experience it fully yet.

So when we think about the task of becoming more godly, or becoming steadfast in our self-control, remember this: God Himself has promised to make us more like Him, and He’s promised to give us everything that we need to get there.

The Christian’s Motivation

But wait, there’s more! Not only does God promise us that this steadfast self-control is possible, but He promises two results of pursuing godliness.

1. They keep you from a meaningless life (v. 8). If you’re striving to become more godly, God promises that you’ll be neither ineffective or unfruitful. Have you ever worried that you’re not doing enough for God, or that you’re going to live and die with no legacy? God says to grow in these traits and you’ll have lived for the greatest cause there is.

2. They guarantee your salvation (v. 9-10). If you’re not trying to grow in these qualities at all, then there’s no reason to believe you’re saved. However, if you strive for these things and continue in them, “you will never fall,” says Peter. Not only that, but entrance into the kingdom of God will be “richly” provided. It may be hard to persevere in being a Christian, but God promises you’ll receive the greatest reward if you try.

The Christian’s Calling

So don’t lose hope as you try to live as a Christian, and don’t be complacent. Grow in your faith—your complete trust in God and His promises to provide for you materially and spiritually. And as you grow in your faith, become someone who is virtuous as well, trusting that the character God asks you to have is something that is worth your while. To know how to be virtuous, add knowledge, studying the Word of God to know His will. And the more you learn, the more you need to discipline yourself, growing in self-control.

And to this self-control, add steadfastness. Persevere. Endure. Don’t just be self-controlled for a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a week, but strive to make godliness the pattern of your life, growing in affection and love.

Remember that you’ve been bought by God and supplied with everything you need. And remember that you have a great hope in a worthy life now and an eternal, abundant life to come.

O Christian, persevere!

An Attitude of Gratitude

Next month during one of the monthly RGC men’s gatherings, I’ll be teaching on Faithfulness in God’s Word. And although I think it is entirely necessary for us to be faithfully in His Word, I wanted to reflect on the ways that God has been faithful to us individually as distinct persons, corporately as a local church, and universally as all the believers. These are some thoughts I had as I was thinking about how to approach my lesson. I want to cultivate an attitude of thankfulness every day and I think as Christians this is something we can all be doing. This is the attitude talked about in 2 Corinthians 4:15 which says “For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.”

As I think about God’s faithfulness to me, a few things come to mind. And they come from Romans 8:29. The first is that He has saved me. That He sent his son, Jesus Christ, down to die for my abundant sins. It was no doing of mine. It is all grace and this grace was freely given. So there is no “paying God back” in penance or pride in being one of the predestined. The second is that after He saved me, He is now sanctifying me. He is making me more and more like Christ. I know that day to day there is a growth in me and although I work at my spiritual disciplines and continue in obedience, God is really the one who produces the growth. And then thirdly I am thankful that I know where I will end up. I know that as I am growing to be Christ-like I will eventually be made like Christ. I know that it will be the end result. And I am so grateful this is promised to us in His Word.

God is not only faithful to us individually but to our church. Our local church was planted less than 5 years ago and speaking as one who has been there from almost the very beginning, God has been so good to us. God faithfully provided us with a church building, another elder, and a deacon (with hopefully more to come!). I have seen a thirst for learning and a thirst for serving. And that’s not to say that RGC is a perfect church. I’ve seen conflict within the church, abandonment from the church, and general apathy at times. But through it all I’ve seen God’s faithfulness in our church. What comes to mind is God’s faithfulness through other saints. Whether it has been through teaching events, seeing others step up and serve, or even random encouragement through conversing with others, I have been continually refreshed. So let us be “encouraging one another, and all the more as [we] see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:25b)

And then we get to how God has been faithful to all believers. This is the main idea I wanted to get at that prompted this blog post. God is of course faithful to believers in many ways: giving us all of creation to enjoy, giving us the Holy Spirit to teach us, but the idea I want to get at is how God is faithful to give us His Word. So often here in the United States we take the Bible for granted. We are privileged to be able to access the Bible on our phones and our computers. We can also find concordances, study Bibles, and sermons through the use of technology. We can buy Bibles rather easily, only having to wait 2 days if we have Amazon Prime. And of course every single hotel room has a Bible located in one of the drawers. But how many proclaimed Christians neglect this great gift? How many Christians aren’t reading their Bibles? Although unassuming in its presentation, the Bible contains powerful words. In it contains the very words of God! “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” (2 Timothy 3:16)

The Bible tells us what God desires of us, it tells us how to live a righteous and fruitful life, and it narrates for us the lives of heroes in the faith. God gave us His very Word and through the careful study of it we can come to a greater understanding of who He is. God is most faithful to us by gifting us with His Word.

(Note: These are just a few of my personal reflections of God’s faithfulness. This list is nowhere near a complete list of all of the ways God is faithful to us.)

So how do we cultivate thankfulness? Remember how God has saved you, reflect on how He is growing you, and eagerly anticipate how He will glorify you. Think upon how God has blessed you through someone else in the church. And think about how privileged we are to be able to read God’s Word for although authored by man, it is God-breathed. Upon doing so, we can develop a theology (study of God) that should in turn lead to our doxology (our praise to God.)

Trust the Lord by Seeking His Wisdom

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Be not wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.”

(Proverbs 3:5-7 ESV)

 

As individuals who confess Christ is Lord, we believe the content of the Bible is truth. Consequently, when we, being Christian, read through the Bible or hear it preached much of what is said is easily swallowed. It goes down like water. Take the above passage as an example. Without thinking too much, or at all, we can all agree that we should trust God with all our heart, that we should acknowledge him, and that we should turn away from evil. To mix metaphors, this is the low hanging fruit we can all easily pick and pocket away. Accepting these truths seems to be a given for those who are called God’s adopted children, but it is one matter to agree with the Word and another matter entirely to put it to active use.

There is a difference between knowledge and wisdom. If we only glance over this passage and take just as frivolous an approach in keeping it we’d be handling the Bible like it was a textbook instead of God’s Word given to us so that we’d be equipped for every good work. Here, when we’re talking about wisdom, we’re talking about wisdom as applying knowledge. Anybody given these verses in Proverbs 3 would be able to summarize it as I have in the opening paragraph. We, as believers, have been given the Holy Spirit. This means when we come to Scripture we have the capability of applying the knowledge we read and turn it into wisdom. We have the capability to grow in Christ-likeness, pursuing our sanctification, when we take Scripture and use it to examine our hearts.

The writer of Hebrews says, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account,” (Hebrews 4:12,13 ESV).

Here he is saying that Scripture is able to separate the carnal motivations from our God-glorifying ones. We, as believers, are able to see ourselves for who we are when the Holy Spirit enlightens us through the reading of the Word. Scripture is capable of exposing our sinfulness to us, and by having that sin exposed is how we grow in wisdom and Christ-imitating character, but we have to handle Scripture like it’s life changing. Put another way, we’re not just looking to have passages committed to memory for the sake of memorizing them.

In 2 Timothy 3:16, 17 Paul says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

The memorization of Scripture is for us to meditate on it, and as we meditate on Scripture, allowing the Holy Spirit to enlighten us and convict us of our sinfulness, we grow ever more conscious of our absolute need and dependence on God to deliver us from our sin, and when that happens then knowledge becomes wisdom.

Let’s go back to the opening passage, and allow me to share with you the process I underwent to work through it and how God is allowing me to share with you the wisdom he’s blessed me with to bless you. When I looked at the passage in Proverbs, I had to consider my understanding of trust. I’ve always defined trust as a stock I put in people or ideas, an immaterial currency I could transfer from one account to another at will. Of course, even if that is an acceptable definition, I still needed to figuratively place that immaterial currency into something or someone. Yet, it’s not as simple as throwing money and expecting results. It’s not as simple as saying, “Yes, I trust God with all my heart.

I was born a sinner, and I live in a world that expounds a religion of self-glorification. Without taking the time to give you my testimony, suffice it to say I didn’t really understand what Christ had done for me until I was heading off to college. All that time I had been formulating ideas of how the world works, taking  bits of the human experience and mashing them up with my observations to create a worldview that was devoid of Christ. What I’m saying is that, even to this day, within myself are deep-seated beliefs that are founded on my humanist “wisdom” than what God has given me through his Word.

You might be asking yourself why the roundabout way to get to this part of this post. I was well aware of these passages before sitting down and piecing them together. I am abundantly aware of the Word’s power to convict me of my sin and of Paul’s command not to quench the Holy Spirit in 1 Thessalonians 5:19.  It is because of my sinfulness that I will divert my attention so I do not meditate on the Word. At times I do not want to be changed by God. I find myself, at times, glossing over the Word and pocketing those low hanging fruits, coming to the Word irreverently. I want to stubbornly hold fast to the “wisdom” I have made for myself. A worldview that is centered on human failure and our inability to love anybody but ourselves, a worldview that denies the hope we have in Christ in rooting out the sinfulness in our hearts. That “wisdom” didn’t fall into my lap. I earned it through heartache and the ensuing loneliness. So you can imagine why I don’t want to let it go at times. I’d identified with my suffering in a perverse way. It had become my identity.

But when I was made new in Christ, I was freed from that identity. Still though, today I have to fight that flesh everyday, putting it off and putting on the new life Christ gave me through his death. There are times when I am seduced by the thought of using Scripture to supplement my old worldview instead of wholly resting my heart on the Word of God. I want to lean on my own understanding, but I have to remind myself of Proverbs 3:6, “In all your ways acknowledge him,/and he will make straight your paths.” To acknowledge God in all my ways means to put him foremost in my thoughts before I act. I really have to submit my life to Him entirely. Yet again, it’s easier said than done.

What I have found in reading and meditating on all these verses and examining my life is that I need to continue delving into Scripture and raising my life up for examination, so I can continue being changed and growing in Christ-likeness. When I became new in Christ, I wasn’t suddenly emptied of all my past experiences and knowledge. What has to happen is that all that I am has to be placed in subjection to God. I must discard what is unprofitable and a hindrance to the kingdom, and replace it with wisdom, God’s wisdom that will inform my actions. What has happened to me; what has happened to you is part of God’s plan. We can’t let our past and our sinfulness dictate how we spend this new life we have in Christ.

Let me leave you with these verses. I’ve found it helps to remember why God has chosen us:

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2: 9-10 ESV)

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