Preaching Conference: Day Two Highlights

Day two of Gordon Conwell’s National Preaching Conference did not disappoint. Few Fridays can live up to the expectations that this day set for all other Fridays. I am still relishing in Gordon Conwell’s orientation week genius. There is in my mind no better way to start off a  semester studying Homiletics than to sit for two days under the instruction and preaching of some of the greatest preachers in the field. I was blessed.

Session Four began the day with a powerful sermon on David and Bathsheba by Winfred Neely, a professor of Homiletics at Moody Bible. Here are a few great quotes from my notes that have stuck with me and I thought might encourage you too:

“Uriah returns and David attempts to persuade him to bed his wife as a cover up. But he doesn’t. As if one sin wasn’t enough, he places Uriah in the front line so that he is struck down. Wedding bells then fill the air in Jerusalem, David and Bathsheba wed. He takes his abusive power, this adultery, this murder, and crowns it with marriage. Bathsheba bears the child. David pulled it off! He did it, he got away with it, he pulled it off. Hold on, time out. The narrator makes a theological statement about what has occurred, “but the thing that David had done was evil in the eyes of the Lord.” Secret sin on earth is open scandal in heaven. Heaven is scandalized at David’s actions.”

“What is the moral of this story? Every story has a moral. It seems to Neely that it is this: Forgiveness does not eliminate devastating consequences of sin and the devastating consequences of sin do not eliminate our need to trust and lean on the Lord. Some of us here have already traveled down this road of disobedience and we have confessed and been forgiven, even restored to him, but there are still consequences in our life, and they aint going anywhere! Be encouraged to continue to trust the Lord, continue to walk with God, continue to worship, this is the barometer of our restoration to God!”

Session Five continued with David Wells, research professor at Gordon Conwell, teaching on Paul’s correspondence with the Corinthian church. Here are a few great quotes from my notes that have stuck with me and I thought might encourage you too:

“The pulpit symbolizes a connection with God and the bar stool the connection with the people as a friend. Is there something wrong with trying to be connected to an audience? No, of course not. The issue is not the place, but what is going on in our minds when we feel obliged to make this change with our audience. Our horizontal connection with our audience can eclipse the vertical relationship with God! Without the vertical connection the preacher is at best a counselor. This is the issue that Paul engaged.

“We are all vulnerable to unrealistic expectations and we bring this into the church before the preacher. No Biblical preacher can allow this, we come to God on His terms, not our own. What our culture inclines us to be is inspirational and therapeutic, we cannot acquiesce to this demand, any more than Paul would to the demands of eloquence in Corinth. We must be met by God, not our thought of who God should be. The vertical dimension is being lost with what preachers are doing horizontally. The whole point of theology and preaching is that we might become God centered in our thoughts and God fearing in our hearts. Bring the congregation into the very presence of God! This is our task in preaching, the vertical. Preaching is not merely communication, the preacher comes with the revelation, not simply a speech, the preacher comes with God’s self disclosure and not simply with the skills to rouse an audience.”

Session Six ended the day with the one and only Walter Kaiser Jr., the very one in which the chapel I was sitting in was named after. He gave a great discourse on the image of the “Branch” in the Old Testament being fulfilled in the New. Here are a few great quotes from my notes that have stuck with me and I thought might encourage you too:

“The “branch of the Lord.” We get the divine nature of Jesus here clearly. The prayer of the church ought to be salvation to the Jews! They are part of the branch! The Branch will wash people from their sin. The Branch’s glory will be a Huppah, a canopy of glory. When will the branch of YHWH rescue the Jews? We don’t know. But this ought to be our prayer. The Branch will gather and bring the home, sprinkling clean water on them. This is th sign of the Messiah’s second coming. The biggest sign is that he will gather his people back in the land. Half of the Jews have returned. Wake up! Our salvation is a lot closer than we think.”

“So preach like it is coming, preach like it has gone out of style, preach that he is coming very soon. Preaching need to be urgent. Christ is the sufficient Messiah in the OT, not just the NT. Is Jesus sufficient? Yes, his kingship speaks to it, his servant ransom speaks to it, his fleshly incarnation speaks to it, his divinity speaks to it. He is sufficient. The OT speaks of Christ as sufficient as much as the NT. What a privilege to be an announcer of the word of God in these days. The Branch of the Lord whose name is Jesus Christ, sufficient, altogether sufficient. Preach this!”

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