Friday, May 30, 2008

Banner (Final Thoughts)

We completed day three at the Banner Conference yesterday and made the trip back to C-ville.
Final day reflections:

The 9:00 am session with Richard Phillips was on Hebrews 13:9-14, "Outside the Camp." He stressed 13:10: "We have an altar…." Early Christians focused on Christ. He made the good point that throughout Hebrews the author might have made appeal to the Lord’s Supper as a Christian version of the OT sacrificial system but instead he merely appeals to Christ. He does not put forward a sacerdotal view of the sacraments but points to Christ.

The 10:45 am session with Ian Hamilton was on "The Minister’s Character" (Isaiah 42:1-4). He noted that preaching is the overflow of a life. It cannot rise above the man. M’Cheyne: "Do not forget the culture of the inner man."

In Isaiah 42:1-4 Jesus is put forward as the prototypical servant. Hamilton noted the three-fold "Behold" (Isa 41:24, 29; 42:29) which culminates, "Behold, my servant…."

He offer four application "Beholds":

1. Behold his complete dependence on God.
2. Behold his unyielding faithfulness to God (esp. v. 4).
3. Behold his personal humility before God (v. 2).
4. Behold his grace that magnifies God.
"Let it be said of our churches that we welcome sinners."

At the lunch break, Howard and I sat at table with Iain Murray.

At 1:30 pm there was a "Preaching Panel" with all the speakers.

Each speaker was asked to list his top five books. A sampling:

Craig Troxel suggested:

1. Calvin, Institutes
2. Sibbes, Bruised Reed
3. Bavinck, Doctrine of God
4. Bunyan, Pilgrim’s Progress
5. Berkhof, History of Christian Doctrine

Ian Hamilton:

1. Calvin, Institutes
2. Owen, Complete Works (esp. volumes 2, 3, 6)
3. Chrysostom, On the Priesthood
4. Marsden, Edwards Biography

Ian Murray:

1. M’Cheyne, Memoirs and Remains
2. Calvin, Institutes
3. Edwards, Works, vol. 1
4. Murray, Romans
5. Lloyd-Jones, Sermon on the Mount
6. Spurgeon, Autobiography, vol. 1

Best books to give a non-believer:
Campbell: Ultimate Questions; Troxel: Lion, Witch, Wardrobe; Murray suggested a good Christian biography.

How to spend time reading: Hamilton suggested heavy works in the morning and lighter later in the day. Murray repeated the need for keeping notes in your books (in pencil!) and indexing at the back of the book for future reference.

Discussion on the value of preaching with or without notes. Ian Murray stressed the need for a "skeleton." He noted Lloyd-Jones said the words were secondary to the thoughts.

Aside note: Murray several times expressed his dislike for preaching through a book. He argued that this was a novel approach in the history of preaching. When someone mentioned preaching from Amos he admonished preachers not to try preaching through such a book unless they are exceptionally gifted!

Should every sermon mention Christ and the gospel?

The panel seemed in agreement that as long as the gospel is being regularly proclaimed that explicit reference to the cross need not be in every message. Preachers should be guided by the text. Congregations need the whole counsel of God.

Another aside: Regarding maturity in ministry, Murray said an old deacon once told him: "You can’t put an old head on young shoulders."

We missed the last session by David Campbell on "Reaching the Lost" so as to make it home in a timely manner.

The Banner Conference was very good. Messiah is a perfect place to hold such a meeting. All the attendees are on campus and share meals together. In addition to good preaching, hymn singing, and an excellent bookstore, the best part of the meeting was fellowship in free times with brother pastors.

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