Monday, February 25, 2013

Gleanings From the Field-A Look at Ligonier Part I

Over 5,000 believers from all over the country
attended Ligonier 2013
     If I were to describe myself to someone who did not know me, I would tell them that I am much like a cheerleader for God.  My gift is one of encouragement and exhortation though all of us are called to encourage one another.  As the writer of Hebrews says so well, "But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called 'today', that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin."  How important it is for us to remind one another of God's great truths so that we may not slip into temptation and sin.  With that in mind, I wanted to share with you some truths which I gleaned from God's field at the Ligonier Conference I attended in Orlando, Florida this past weekend.  It would be impossible for me to share everything that three days of preaching and teaching covered, but I want to hit some high spots to encourage you in your walk with Christ.
     For this conference, the overall theme was "No Compromise" and pictured Daniel in the Lion's Den on the cover of our program.  In all honesty, I do believe that we as Christians are much like Daniel today.  Our culture is hostile to the Gospel as never before, and we are called upon by our Lord to stand for the truth as found in His Word.  Dr. Steven Lawson, Pastor of Christ Fellowship Baptist Church in Mobile, Alabama, pointed out the rejection of truth by Pilate during the trial of our Lord Jesus (John 18:33-38).  He mocked Jesus for saying that He came to bear witness to the truth by saying "What is truth?"  Today, in our world, Dr. Lawson said we are witnessing that "spirit of Pilate" in our colleges, the media, seminaries, pulpits and even in government as never before.  The truth is questioned or considered to be relative.  In fact, he stated that 84% of teenagers polled today do not believe in absolute truth.  This is a sad reflection of our current state in our culture.  Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me" (John 14:6).    There are no exceptions.                                                                                                                                  Dr. Lawson gave seven points concerning truth.  1) Truth is objective.  2) Truth is singular...there is only one body of truth and that is found in the Bible.  There is only one plan of salvation for man...not many roads.  3) Truth is immutable.  It never changes and it is always right.  4) Truth is absolute.  It is exclusive and not relative.  It discriminates.  Anything outside of truth is a lie.  5) Truth is divine.  God is the source of all truth which is revealed in his holy, inspired, God-breathed book called the Bible. 6) Truth is authoritative.  Truth is not an option and it demands something from us because we cannot be saved apart from the truth found in Jesus Christ alone.  7) Truth is powerful.  It convicts, it saves, it judges, it sanctifies and it is not about feelings or being blessed here on earth.  As believers, we are called to herald the truth of God's Word to bring light to the darkened world system.  Only as we know and grow through the study of the Bible are we able to know the truth.
     In a later teaching session, Dr. Lawson covered the topic of the inerrancy of Scripture as the final authority for our lives and for our godliness.  He indicated that we must all become students of theology and sound doctrine as revealed in the Bible.  Have we ever thought of ourselves as theologians?  Yet, we are called by Christ to handle the Word of God with care.  When we abandon the Word of God, we are abandoning the Lord Himself who has disclosed to us His character, glory and power in its pages.  It is a breathing, living Word which will never pass away (Matt. 24:25).  As Christians, we are called to stand uncompromisingly on the Bible as our rule of faith.  It is the foundation of our beliefs and it cannot be broken as Jesus said (John 10:35).  Therefore, anything which contradicts the full counsel of God as stated in the Bible, is a lie.  Dr. Lawson concluded his talk by indicating that reformation and revival comes about by the preaching of God's Word which contains the truth.  We are to take this truth and preach it unashamedly to refute error.  Yes, it may cost us relationships, but we are the light of the world called by Christ to take the Gospel to all the world.
     Another very important encouragement came from Dr. Alistair Begg, Pastor of Parkside Christian Church in Cleveland, Ohio.  He spoke on preaching the Word.  While this could have been aimed at pastors only, Dr. Begg included church leaders and laymen as well.  We are all called to speak to others the truths found in the Bible.  One of the elements often missing today is the teaching of sound doctrine.  Without this, believers will never mature and grow as the Lord has intended.  Keeping this in mind, Dr. Begg offered an insight that is so crucial.  When we attend conferences, we should never demand that our pastor be like one of the conference speakers.  Each man called by God to serve as a pastor has his own personality and gifts.  Therefore, we are called to pray for our pastor before, during and after his sermons.  In fact, we are to pray for all our church leaders on a regular basis.  The enemy of our souls is crafty and looking to find a way to tear apart a congregation or any of its leaders.  Our pastors and leaders are a gift to us.  Their task is mighty as they explain the Word of God to us.  However, they are sinners as we all are.  This is why prayer for our pastors and leaders is so very important.  Dr. Begg concluded with this insight:  "To preach salvation by good works will please people and they will be happy.  To preach salvation by grace will offend people intellectually and morally.  They won't like it because it is the truth.  You cannot be faithful and popular with the world as a pastor."  This applies to laymen as well.
     Rather than rush through many of the other good points of exhortation, I will close at this point and summarize what we have learned thus far.  First, Jesus Christ is the living Word of God.  He is the truth and all truth is found in Him.  Secondly, the Bible is the inerrant, infallible Word of God.  It is the foundation of our faith and we ought to be students of it.  We are called to be theologians to understand not only who God is but who we are in light of the scriptures.  Third and most importantly, we are to pray for our pastors, church leaders and church fellowships.  Prayer changes all things and moves mountains.  We, likewise, are to be able to preach the Gospel in our daily walk to those we encounter.  God has made us ambassadors of His grace.  These are some of the essential teachings we heard at Ligonier.
     Personally, I grow every time I attend a conference like this.  My prayer has been to hunger and thirst after righteousness this year and opportunities like this prove to be a blessing.  I also want to let my readers know that Ligonier offers an online set of courses which anyone can take advantage of by clicking on www.ligonier.org .  The program is called Ligonier Connect and for $9.00 a month anyone can sign up to take courses.  There are 44 offered.  You can go at your own pace and enter into discussion with other students from around the world.  You can also take a quiz or assessment of what you have learned.  This is offered for individuals or even small groups.  As long as we are here on earth, God has called us to be students of His Word and this is another way we can grow.
     In my next installment, I will share more encouragement from this conference that "none of us may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin" as the writer of Hebrews has admonished us.  May you be blessed as you think on these things and search God's Word for yourselves.  Selah!

I welcome your thoughts and insights.  Your comments are always appreciated.

3 comments:

Persis said...

Thanks for sharing, Barbara. Looking forward to your other posts from the conference.

Diane said...

"we are to pray for all our church leaders on a regular basis. The enemy of our souls is crafty and looking to find a way to tear apart a congregation or any of its leaders."

Thanks so much for sharing Barbara. I've been looking forward to your report on the conference. I love that pastor Begg made these vital points. So much of the trouble to be found in our local churches might be averted if people would pray diligently for their leaders and not expect them all to measure up to the superstars. Good words!

Barbara Thayer said...

Thank you both Persis and Diane for your comments. It is so good to share what we learn as it cements it into our minds. The conference was a taste of heaven...and as much as possible, I want you to experience a little of that feeling as your read my summation. Blessings to you both!