I enjoy sitting through conferences. I learn much from other men and a good marathon in God’s Word and song is good for the soul. Why a conference on the church? With so many people rethinking and redefining church today, we must be reminded of what God has to say about His church from His divine Word. Furthermore, the church was founded by Christ and should never be placed on the same level as a secular club or even a parachurch organization. Jesus Christ died for His church (Ephesians 5)!
This past Saturday concluded the 2014 G3 Conference on the doctrine of the church. Following the last song, the announcements were made, the final prayer was offered, and the crowd dispersed. Although the entire weekend was packed with great preaching and singing, it really was not normal. The final prayer ushered in a reality that everyone must return to their own local church for worship and service.
During the build up to the 2014 G3, I have spent much time thinking, reading, and researching the doctrine of the church. This past weekend has caused a new hunger regarding the doctrine of the church. I will begin a series of articles on the church that will appear on this blog over the next week.
Anyone who attends a conference realizes that music is often a very important part of the worship. Devon Kauflin (See Sovereign Grace Music) and several other musicians led in song throughout the conference. All of the songs in the conference were complimentary of the preaching, but most importantly, they were saturated with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
On Thursday, I opened up the conference with a statement about the purpose and functionality of the church of Jesus Christ. It was my goal to point out the necessity and primacy of the church in the lives of the redeemed. I argued from Ephesians 4 that the church is God’s will for our lives. Although many other things compete for our attention, God desires for His people to spend their lives through the local church as they worship Him and make Him known within the neighborhoods and throughout the nations.
The first day was a good start to the conference as Tim Challies followed me in session two. He made the point that the Christian life was “radically normal” as opposed to the long line of books in our modern culture that are teaching the other view of the Christian life. Conrad Mbewe preached on the worshipping church and made a clear point regarding the purpose of salvation being centered on God’s desire for a worshipping people. The final preacher of the night was Steven Lawson and his text was Romans 8 as he pulled his points from the “golden chain of salvation” found in the text. He made a very clear point that God chose the church before time and effectually called the church in time to assemble, worship, and serve Him.
Friday, the second day of the conference, was a packed day of worship. It started at 8am and lasted until Voddie Baucham finished at around 9:30pm. David Miller started with a sermon from Matthew 16 on “The Founding and Founder of the Church.” He talked about the nature of the church along with a clear statement about Jesus as the head of the church. In the sixth session Steven Lawson unpacked 2 Timothy 4:1-5 on the church’s call to biblical preaching. He did an excellent job of showing the responsibilities of the man who stands in the pulpit.
During our afternoon break, Todd Friel (Wretched Radio) led a breakout session on evangelism and following lunch, all of the speakers assembled for an afternoon Q&A panel discussion on the doctrine of the church. The questions were pre-submitted and allowed helpful discussion on both doctrine and practical aspects of the church.
The mid-afternoon time included John Snyder (See Behold Your God) and Todd Friel’s live Wretched show. John Snyder preached in session seven on the church’s need to begin ecclesiology with the self-revealed character of God. In his sermon taken from different passages of Scripture, he pointed out the reality that God is never contradicted in His wrath and love. He pointed out that how we do church reveals much about what we think of God. Todd Friel, in a live show on campus, took a few of the speakers from the G3 and interviewed them on different subjects. This always proves to be a well attended and enjoyable time during the G3 Conference.
The evening sessions on Friday included Conrad Mbewe and Voddie Baucham. Conrad Mbewe started in session eight on the mission of the church as he clearly articulated the need to make disciples rather than baptize goats. Voddie Baucham finished our long day of worship by preaching on the church’s need for a healthy Christology while avoiding this sissified view of Jesus that is often taught through image and message through many congregations.
The G3 Conference ended on Saturday after our final two sessions with David Miller and Voddie Baucham. David preached on the excellency of Christ as the founder of the church and Voddie addressed the need for the church to disciple men who in turn disciple men. This is the pattern of the church and the only true means of genuine church growth.
While conferences are often greatly used for God’s glory, they are temporary tools that eventually come to an end. The pastors who attend must go back to the reality of being a pastor. The church members must return to normal life as a member of a local church. Like any other parachurch organization, a conference is to come alongside the church to equip and encourage, but conferences should never tower over the church.
A.W. Tozer once said these words, “The basic trouble with the church today is her unworthy concept of God… Our religion is weak because our God is weak… Christianity at any given time is strong or weak depending on her concept of God.”
Soli Deo Gloria,
Pastor Josh Buice
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For a full bio of each speaker, view this page on the G3 website.
NOTE: All of the sermons will be archived here within the next two weeks.