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  • Pastor Trevor Killip

Coram Deo Pastors Conference: Thursday - Day 3

One day more. The last day of conferences of this nature, though short in time, tend to be a challenge to get through. This was especially true for this final day of this conference. Wednesday was not only a long day, but a full day, challenging the soul and the mind. Now, there was one day more, to once again be fed and encouraged. However, these final days often present a lighter load, at least in terms of intensity. The conference still started at 9 AM and aimed to be over by 1230 PM. During those three and half hours, we would hear from three different speakers, with another panel discussion thrown into the midst of it all.

Session 7 - Finn & Van Dixhoorn

This day started as the others. We were led in more wonderful singing before the first message of the day. This first session was actually divided between two speakers, Nathan Finn and Chad Van Dixhoorn. Finn was new to me, but I've heard Van Dixhoorn speak one other time before this. Both of them specialize in history and their topics were biographical reports on two individuals. Nathan Finn was speaking on the life and contributions of Carl F. H. Henry, while Chad Van Dixhoorn spoke on the life and contributions of Harold John Ockenga. As you might expect, these message weren't very deep or particularly challenging, but they were interesting as we were given insight to two men who influenced the shape and nature of 20th century American evangelicalism. I didn't take any notes on these messages, as I was busy holding a cup of coffee, the Lord's blessing that morning, which imbued me with strength to withstand another day. I was also busy refilling the cup, as the cups were rather small, and my need was rather great.

Panel Discussion

Following the two biographicl sketches there was a panel discussion with both Nathan Finn and Chad Van Dixhoorn participating. This discussion was focused on the topic of church history and how the local church should engage with and pass on the history of the church. The discussion covered a fair amount of questions and was rather engaging, as both Finn and Van Dixhoorn have good senses of humor and humble spirits, providing for a lively back and forth. Granted, I am bias, as I have always appreciated history myself and the topic usually grips me rather naturally, perhaps more so than most. The key take away from this discussion was the wisdom that we can glean from the past, especially in regard to dealing with what to us are "new" challenges, but in history, are not new, rather they are just redressed.

Session 8 - Charles Jr.

One session more. Having been re-energized by copious amounts of coffee, I was ready and looking forward to the final session. H.B. Charles Jr. was the speaker, and if you are familiar with him, you know that he is an energetic and engaging speaker who is able to drive the truth of the text deep into the marrows of one's soul. He had the task of wrapping up the conference with a message expositing 2 Timothy 4:1-8. As with John Piper, there was much to note, actually, in looking at my notes, I took more notes on this message than Piper, and I took away more one-liners as well. H. B. Charles Jr. is quite the wordsmith who offers wonderful wisdom that is elegantly and conscisely packed. However, unlike summing up Piper, I'll provide more with H.B., for two reasons. It brings me joy to work through his message again, and now that I'm at home, and I am writing in the morning and not the evening, I'm not nearly as tired. Therefore, what follows is a near copy and paste of my notes. As such, it's relatively long, so you can peruse it or simply wait for the message to become available online where you can listen to it yourself.

He started his message with a story involving Samuel Clemens, aka Mark Twain, and a preacher. Clemens told the preacher one day after he was done preaching that he had a book at home with every word the preacher just said. The preacher insisted that his sermon was original and his own, but Clemens insisted, that every word spoken that day by the preacher was in a book at his house. Upon being pressed by the preacher, Clemens revealed the book was a dictionary. Clemens stated, "Words, just words." H.B. went on by posing the question, how much of preaching today can be described as that? Words, just words. He went on to state that such preaching has led to a misappreciation for preaching, leading to a preference of pulpit entertainment or a desire for a life coach behind the pulpit instead of a preacher.

He then moved to the text, which we read, and he then set the stage. In 2 Timothy 3 Paul warns Timothy that the last days will be hard days. And does Paul give Timothy a new strategy, a new paradigm, to deal with such times? No, he tells Timothy to stick to the Scriptures, and why? 2 Timothy 3:16-17. Verse 16 tells us Scripture is sufficient for Christian maturity and verse 17 tells us Scripture is sufficient for Christian ministry. H.B. then went on to connect chapter 3 to chapter 4 by stating that the good work of verse 17, is 2 Timothy 4:1-5. His bottomline was this: Biblical preaching is the first work of faithful ministry.

Why exposition? 2 Timothy 4:1-2, comes behind 2 Timothy 3:16-17.

"Expositional preaching is not a style of sermon, but a view of Scripture."

"To trust the Scriptures, is to trust the Scriptures."

Paul's charge to Timothy is the Lord's charge to the church. Not only does the church need preaching, but so does an unbelieving world, Romans 10:14. This led H.B. to deal with the question, what does it mean to preach the Word? He answered this with four points that come from the text.

  1. Preach the Word dutifully. (1)

    1. Verse 1 bids us to preach Coram Deo and reminds us that faithful preaching is always to an audience of one. By that he means we preach first and foremost under the eye of the Almighty.

    2. "As you preach, Jesus is present now, and He is coming soon."

    3. "Our ministries are to be carried out under the scrutinizing eyes of Jesus Christ."

    4. "There were two days on Paul's schedule, today, and that day." By that day, he means the day of Christ's return.

  2. Preach the Word diligently. (2)

    1. The all-consuming charge is to preach the Word. There are a number of responsibilites today that pastors tend to, and their churches expect them to tend to, that are not listed here.

    2. Preaching was originally a political term - a heradling term.

      1. A king/ruler would send his herald to proclaim a message/event. He was expected to do so accurately and authoritatively.

        1. To ignore the herald's message was to ignore the king himself.

      2. Pastors are called as heralds.

    3. "We do not have editorial authority over the content of the message."

    4. The power does not rest in the function, but in the content of the message.

    5. The question isn't can a man preach, but what does a man preach?

    6. "To be ready, you got to get ready."

    7. "A passion to preach without a commitment to prepare is just a desire to perform."

    8. Keep preaching no matter how the people respond.

    9. Reprove - is preaching to convince.

    10. Rebuke - is preaching to convict.

    11. Exhort - is preaching to exhort.

    12. All of which is to be done with complete patience... that is longsuffering, 1 Corinthians 13:7.

  3. Preach the Word defiantly. (3-4)

    1. Verses 3-4 explain the charge of verses 1-2.

    2. A warning about how depravity can corrupt the ministry of the Word.

    3. People will reject the truth.

    4. "Faithful preaching will expose spiritual counterfeits."

      1. They will find sound teaching intolerable.

      2. "They may leave your church, but they won't go home because they have itching ears."

      3. They want to hear preaching that won't confront their sinful standards.

    5. False teachers wouldn't have a platform if it weren't for the people wanting them there to begin with.

    6. These kind of people will turn away from listening to the truth.

      1. Paul doesn't say they will not turn away from preaching, but from the truth.

      2. He then referenced Jeremiah 5:30-31, which is in the context of a faithless priesthood. Highlighting that the people love it this way.

    7. We are to keep preaching in spite of opposition.

    8. He then went on to tell a story about how when he started preaching at the age of 17, another pastor, I believe, his uncle, gave a message.

      1. He started the message by highlighting the youth of H.B.

        1. What can a 17 year old say to parents about raising kids? To burying the dead and so on? Highlighting the limited life experience he had. After doing so the pastor went on for 45 minutes expounding this point: "That boy can tell you whatever the Word of God tells him to tell you."

        2. In other words, his youth, his inexperience does not hinder the truth. We have all we need to hear for this life, in the Word of God.

  4. Preach the Word devotionally. (5)

    1. As for you - you can't be faithful if you're reactionary.

      1. "Let the world be the world, let the church be the church."

        1. Stay the course.

    2. Be sober-minder. That is be alert.

    3. Endure suffering - to endure suffering you got to expect suffering.

      1. "Faithful ministry is spiritual warfare."

    4. Do the work of an evangelist - preach the Word.

    5. Fulfill your ministry

      1. "You get no credit for how well you start."

      2. He then used the account of Jim Ryun in the 1972 Olympics to illustrate the point, don't allow something that has knocked you down to stop you, get up, keep going, finish the race.

He then went on to cover verses 6-8 to conclude his message by encouraging us to finish as Paul did. The notes may seem thick, and yet, there is much that he said that's not included. A message worthy of listening to several times, for all people.

Piper's message was encouraging and emboldening. An appropriate message for battle wearied souls. H.B.'s message was encouraging, invigorating, and challenging. An appropriate message for those heading back to the frontlines. After the message we sang a couple more songs, prayed, and went our way.

I'll do another post sometime today or tomorrow, with concluding thoughts, the trip home, and the book loot I acquired during the conference.

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