SHEPHERDS, DAY TWO: “2 Sermons, 1 Interview, and a Spinning Wheel”

Dr. Rick Holland, Shepherd's Conference 2009

Dr. Rick Holland, Shepherd's Conference 2009

Today was the most beautiful March day I have ever experienced in my life.  It was just a perfect day, sunny and warm.  When I got out of my car after finding a parking space on a nearby street this morning, I was almost overwhelmed by the aroma of flowers and blossoming trees and bushes.    The glorious morning continued with an outstanding message from Rick Holland, the Executive Pastor at Grace.  His message was sourced in chapter eleven of Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians.  Here are some of my notes:

Intro: John Knox (personal favorite of Rick’s) has left a legacy of bravery.  Mary, Queen of Scots, said she feared Knox’s prayers more than all the assembled armies of Europe together.  His grave now lies under the parking lot of St. Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh.  But Knox’s bravery is but a shadow compared to the Apostle Paul.  In verses 23-28, we note Paul’s bravery.  However, back in verse 3, we notice that Paul did fear one thing.  What was it?  That believers would be bewitched in their minds and turn from Christ.  Interestingly, the passage is devoid of concern for their behavior, only their focus, their minds.

3 Applications of Pastoral Theology

1. A Fearful Ecclesiology (vv. 2-3)

  • Paul’s goal was to unite the Corinthians with Christ and then step out of the picture.
  • Paul was not jealous like a fiance but like a guardian of a great treasure.
  • Paul’s ecclesiology was influenced by his eschatology “to present you to Christ”
  • Paul’s fear was a sustained, heart-stopping fear.

2. A Functional Bibliology

  • Paul goes back to the epic analogy in Genesis 3.
  • Paul believed in the creation narrative–including a talking serpent!
  • Eve fell by cunning means; Adam chose willfully.
  • Satan uses our dictionary; just as liberalism and the emergent church do today.
  • Side study: Craftiness of the Devil (Gen. 3:1-6)
    • Satan disguises (2 Cor. 11:13-15).  He doesn’t want you to fear him; he wants you to take him home to dinner!
    • Satan deceives (John 8:44).  He tells half-truths.
    • Satan distracts.  He is an isogete.  Be careful of “but” and “and” in regards to “I know the Bible says that ____”.  Satan’s supreme ambition is to prevent the supremacy of Christ in the Church.
  • Are you the resident experts in the Bible in your church?  You should be.
  • “It’s easy to use the Word when you preach; it’s not easy to use the Word when you shepherd.”

3. A Jealous Christology

  • Christ is the centrality of our faith.
  • Christianity is a rational faith; it deals with the mind.  This is why Satan attacks it.
  • These were 1st generation believers.  Amazing that even they would drift from Christ.
  • The legacy of our ministry should be John 3:30.
  • Christ is the obsessive compulsive order of my life.  (Col. 1:18, 3:4)
  • Christ is not to be 1st place in a list; He is to be 1st place in everything. (Col. 1:28)

The second main session today was an interview on preaching with John MacArthur.  Lots of good stuff.  Didn’t take many notes; just listened.  Get the mp3 when it’s available.

For the afternoon, Deb and I dared to travel on the roads of Los Angeles down into the heart of the beast: Hollywood.  I’ll take the LA weather; you can keep the traffic!  It’s deplorable, nasty, dangerous, congested, and a host of other words.  Our goal was to reach Sony Picture Studios in Culver City to attend a taping of “Wheel of Fortune.”  Although the whole ordeal was quite tiring (about 3.5 hours), we had a blast.  Pat and Vanna and crew were busy at work all day on Stage 11.  They tape for 2 days every 2 weeks–only 39 days a year.  In those 2 days, they record 2 weeks of shows.  It was very interesting to watch the whole thing take shape.  The studio itself is much smaller than you might think from the camera angles on TV.  Everything is rush, rush, rush.  It’s easy for a TV audience to forget that, for the 150 people or so who work on the production crew, it’s just a job.  We had great seating and should be able to be seen on TV when the shows air on May 7-8 and May 27th.  It was fun interacting a bit with the announcer, Charlie O’Donnell, too.  He’s been in the biz for a long, long time.  He told me that right now their audience is about 12 million a week and has been consistently in the #1 or #2 spot for most of the 27 years in network syndication.  Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take any pictures.  It was fun learning the history of the studio as well.  It was formerly MGM.  We even walked over a part that had been the yellow brick road in “The Wizard of Oz”–very cool!

Well, the wonderful traffic delayed our return and we were unable to make it back in time for the service at 7 PM.  As anyone at Shepherds knows, if you don’t get there early, you will not only be unable to park anywhere near the church but also will not find a seat in the worship center.  So, instead of watching the satellite video in the seminary chapel, we elected to go back to the hotel, order some pizza, and watch the service on the Internet (live streaming).

Tonight’s message by Al Mohler was outstanding.  Although I have personally come to a strong belief already in the authority of the pulpit, this is probably the definitive sermon on the subject.  While it was not as challenging to me as other messages, it was as affirming as any other.  Here are my notes:

 

Intro: We are here because we are united in our conviction that preaching is vital.  We are being prepared for eternity and preparing believers for eternity by the preaching of the Word of God.  Churches are not measured by steeples but by preaching.  God is not silent and those He calls to preach must not be silent.  The pattern of preaching is that the Word is read and the Word is explained.  The stewardship of this is unspeakable.  No one is qualified for the pulpit.  Like salvation, the calling to the pulpit is by grace alone.  There is something missing from many pulpits and that is authority.  There is much hesitancy and timidity in pulpits today.  The one thing missing is the one thing most necessary.

Text: Matthew 7:28-29

  • In order to understand the authority Jesus was recognized as having, we need to understand the authority the scribes lacked.
  • The Scribes forfeited their authority.  They would take a text and pile up citations to “explain” it.  They were well known for making the Bible say whatever they wanted it to say, even in the 1st century.  They were artisans of nuance.  We too have such artisans, such spinners of elasticity. 
  • On the other hand, the teaching of Jesus produced amazement in his hearers. (Mark 11:18; Luke 4:22; John 7:46; Mark 6:1-2)
  • Where does Jesus get this stuff?  When we preach with authority, people should ask the same question.  The answer is that this wisdom comes from God. 
  • We must be careful however to remember that we are not God.
  • “These words of mine” in the text shows Jesus’ authority.  Beyond the Torah.  Jesus’ words.  And our response to His words will result in either life or death.  We can’t say this—“Listen to my words.”  The preacher’s authority is a different authority but it is a real authority.  It is not our words we preach but God’s Words.  We speak on God’s authority, not our own.
  • The authority to teach and preach the Word is assigned to us.  We are earthen vessels chosen for our earthiness.  We are powerless on our own to do this.  But it is a call and an office and a stewardship.  We will either succeed by God’s grace or we will crash and burn and take many with us.  The stakes are that high.  We must rightly divide the Word.
  • The most important part of our task is to declare b/c only the Spirit can truly do application.  We can get it to their ears; God alone can take it to their hearts.  We must put every text we preach in the context of the Gospel.  If you’re not passionate, don’t come out of your study until you are ready to bust down the door.  Come to the pulpit saying “I’ve got a Word!”
  • Every time our churches have the opportunity to hear the Word of God, it is another opportunity to be amazed.  There’s not enough amazement and astonishment in many churches because of the absence of authority.  That results in a lack of confidence in the Word of God.  Quit trying to establish your authority!  Forfeit your claims to authority.  Don’t preach impressions.  Don’t slump into commas if a period is needed.  Don’t curl into question marks if an exclamation mark is needed.  Watch and see what happens when a church is amazed by the teaching of the Word of God.

 

All in all, another memorable day in LA!  Looking forward to the final “official” day of the conference tomorrow…

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