Monday, May 16, 2005

Blogging from Begg -- day 1

I’m blogging tonight from Cleveland. I’m up here for the Parkside Church Pastor’s conference, put on by Alasair Begg’s ministry. I come up every year to enjoy fellowship and get renewed in the basics of biblical preaching. This year, I brought with me John Daly, of Cincy House, a house church that is doing some great stuff in the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area (and he’s an all around good guy).

I took 10 pages of notes tonight – more than enough for a month of blog posts – though I won’t regale you with all the information. I’ll just give you two snippets for tonight:

First we heard Derek Prime, an English Anglican, who gave us an exposition of Ephesians 6 – putting on the whole armor of God. One of the most brilliant things Prime did was take us back to Ephesians 5:21 “submit yourselves to one another out of reverence for Jesus Christ” and then forward through the commands to wives and husbands, parents and children, and slaves and masters (read employees and employers). He made the connection that these intimate spheres are the spheres in which we experience spiritual warfare and have the need of God’s armor. Spiritual warfare is not some mystical fight against demon possession (like the exorcist) – rather it is the daily struggle against the subtle temptations to put me above those around me. Thus the command to submit ourselves to one another. Prime showed how if we were to exhibit true gentility in the home and at work, we are utterly dependent upon the empowering of the Holy Spirit to make it happen. This session made the whole of Ephesians 6 become very practical for me!

Then we heard from Ian Murray, founder of the Banner of Truth trust, who talked about the great Victorian evangelist Charles Haddon Spurgeon. One of the great points here was that Spurgeon saw evangelism as the act, not of one great orator, but an act of the whole church. The reason the Metropolitan Tabernacle grew with such leaps and bounds (to be 5,000 members in 1874 –the largest congregation in the world at that time) was that there were congregation members who were serious about inviting their unchurched friends to worship. Spurgeon would do his part, and his congregation did their part. Another aspect of the great growth was the commitment to prayer – to the recognition that growth doesn’t happen without a move of the Holy Spirit – and so the congregation members would spend great amounts of time in prayer for their friends, for the congregation, and for Spurgeon. That was the engine of growth – not slick technique or demographic marketing. It was a simple outpouring of spiritual power.

Lots of other great teaching, conversation, and really good food. I’ll try to post more tomorrow night!

Soli Deo Gloria