Desiring God 2007 National Conference - Session 3 & 4 - Speakers Panel Q&A

Saturday, September 29, 2007 The theme of this year’s event is “Stand: A Call for the Endurance of the Saints,” and the theme verse is from Revelation 14:12:

Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.

john-macarthur-speaking.jpg John MacArthur

After a morning break, John MacArthur returned to the platform to complete the second half of his message entitled, “Certainties That Drive Enduring Ministry,” that was begun on the evening before.

Certainties That Drive Enduring Ministry, Part 2 - Session 3

First, a quick review of the main points he emphasized in his first message:

1. Paul embraced with all his heart the superiority of the new covenant.

2. He embraced the reality that ministry is a mercy.

3. He embraced the essential necessity of a pure heart.

4. He was certain of his responsibility to accurately handle the Word of God.

In the second portion of his talk, John MacArthur noted five additional ways that Paul endured (and we can endure) in the face of innumerable assaults on his Christian walk.

5. Paul embraced the reality that the results of his ministry did not depend on him.

We are not in control of results when share the Gospel. Paul reminds us in 1Corinthians 3:6, “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.”

Evangelism is totally from the Word of God speaking to human hearts.

Also, God has chosen the weak and lowly to preach his Gospel to the ends of the earth (1 Corinthians 1:27). And consider how that Gospel is, to the natural mind, foolishness.

For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18

He reminded us that generally, when we share the Gospel, our audience is composed entirely of people who are spiritually blind, deaf, and dead. The only way that the Gospel ever triumphs is by the sovereign regenerating grace of God! The Lord simply asks us to faithfully preach the gospel; he will take care of the results.

6. He embraced the reality of his own insignificance (2 Corinthians 4:7).

The power of the gospel is not the product of human efforts or technique, but of God alone. We are “earthen vessels”– cheap, common, and replaceable. We are nothing in contrast to our message. This knowledge prepared Paul to expect hardship in his ministry; and thus, it better equipped him to endure.

7. He embraced the benefits of suffering (2 Corinthians 4:8-11).

Success appeals to our flesh and fosters pride, obscuring the Gospel. But afflictions, with their effect of shattering our self-confidence, reveal the all-powerful strength of Jesus Christ. Paul saw weakness as a means to the spiritual power of Jesus needed to be effective, and endure.

8. He embraced the need for bold conviction (2 Corinthians 4:13).

Paul’s message was not driven by gimmicks and fads. He was driven by what he believed – by conviction. A person of deep conviction is not hunting for something to say. He is hunting for someone to say it to. A person whose ministry is built on current trends will fade away. Personal conviction is a staple of enduring ministry.

9. He embraced eternity as his priority (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).

Paul forsook pursuing earthly pleasures and popularity and set his eyes on the “eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” He was able to endure because his hope couldn’t be shaken by present troubles, but was fixed on things unseen. Life is not about comfort or popularity – it’s about people’s souls, and where they will spend eternity.

Dr. MacArthur closed by reminding everybody that God’s message never changes, and that nothing else counts but sharing the eternal message with which we have been entrusted. Our focus should always be on God’s future hope for us, and not on this present world, and what we can get out of it. Our future home is eternal!

 

Today’s Decisions Determine Who You’ll Be Tomorrow - Session 4

randy-alcorn-wife.jpg Randy Alcorn and wife Nancy

In the afternoon, the speaker was Randy Alcorn. Randy is the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries, and author of several books, and has written for many magazines; he also produces the popular periodical Eternal Perspectives. According to Dr. Piper, “Randy has stood firm with an eternal perspective in the battle for the sanctity of human life, no matter what the cost.”

Whether or not you endure in your Christian life is dependent upon who you become. Will you become God’s person or your own person, Christ-dependent or self-dependent? It is the little choices of life that determine which one you will become.

For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he… Proverbs 23:7

Your life is determined by the little decisions you make. Endurance consists of a “long obedience in the same direction.” Losing direction is the cumulative result of many poor little decisions.

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. Psalm 1:1-3

Where do we take our cues from? Where will we be planted? What influences will affect us?

We have to look at our lives and consider what we are actually doing to become more Christ-centered. If we are to endure, we need a high passion – a passion for Jesus Christ.Real spirituality is the development of regular spiritual discipline. Discipline yourself with a purpose in mind – the purpose of godliness. And for this, we need the Word of God.

Offer your bodies and minds to God. We often regret certain ways we spend our time, such as watching too much TV. Have you ever finished reading God’s Word and felt that you’ve wasted your time?

We have a choice about who we present our bodies to (Romans 6:12-14).

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Romans 12:1-2

Reclaim the hours of your day that are being wasted on useless activity. Read God’s Word and other great books. Have conversations with your family about what you’re learning. Redeem the time so that it enriches you and makes you the kind of person you want to be.

Make heaven your motivation (2 Peter 3:13). Clothe yourself with humility to encounter suffering (1 Peter 4:12). Follow those who have finished well (Jim Elliot and his brother Burt). And set your heart on who you want to become. Then pray to God that He would make it so. The Christian life is hard work – hard, God-empowered work (Colossians 1:29). And this hard work is what puts us in the position to bear enduring fruit (Psalm 1).

 

Speakers Panel Q&A

In the late afternoon, there was a time for questions and answers. Questions were addressed to a panel made up of Jerry Bridges, Helen Roseveare, Randy Alcorn, and John Piper. They answered questions on topics ranging from singleness to suffering, counseling to courage, and Puritans to perseverance.

The entire three-day conference is available by the Desiring God ministry on its Web site at: www.desiringgod.org.

Desiring God is a ministry of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, MN, where John Piper is lead pastor for preaching. Their mission is to produce and distribute resources that spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ. To learn more, visit their Web site at: desiringgod.org.

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