Tag Archive | Question and Answer

Session 6 – Question and Answer

Expositor’s Conference 2013

Session 6 – Question and Answer (Sinclair Ferguson and Steve Lawson)

Q.           How much does preaching in the power of Holy Spirit have to do with the amount of time the preacher spends in prayer?

A.            Preparation and prayer are interrelated. But power in preaching is absent apart from the Spirit. Disciplined study includes prayer as part of the preparation. We must be careful not to allow our preparation fill just the remaining time. We are told that there was prayer in the upper room before the day of Pentecost came.

 

Q.           What was the relationship of the Holy Spirit to Jesus as Jesus hung on the cross and said “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”

A.            Jesus was highly exalted by his death on the cross, and in that the Father was pleased in the obedience of Jesus Christ. On the cross Jesus was sustained by the power of the Holy Spirit in the sense that the abandonment of God did not overwhelm him, but he was sustained by the power of the Holy Spirit. The garden of Gethsemane shows us that Jesus did not desire to experience this divine desertion. But he remains faithful in choosing the cross so that he might gain the bride.

 

Q.           What advice would you give to young pastors training up young men? How can churches better train up men for ministry?

A.            Here is the question – What minister has invested themselves in your life? Ministers today are preparing themselves to be ministers but not servants, because they have never been served. Ministers today are preparing themselves to lead without ever having themselves been lead. The minister must allow the younger men to get near enough to them “smell” what ministry is all about. Younger men need to see and feel, not just hear, what ministry is all about. Preparation for the ministry is becoming very expensive. The people of God need to be encouraged to provide for those who are preparing for ministry. Young men are drawn to the strong preaching of the word of God. Intentional discipleship in theology, history, and the doctrines of grace is also important.

 

Q.           Opinion of covenantal baptism as compared to other forms of baptism in the Presbyterian Church.

A.            The mode and time of baptism is generally not part of the confession of faith for members. But this is different for officers. The theology will affect the atmosphere of the church. There are people who are drawn by the particular idiosyncrasies of a church. We must not be driven to be different from everyone else as the only goal for ministry. Being argumentative is a biblical disqualification from leadership.

 

Q.           Why did God create Lucifer knowing he would become Satan?

A.            There is a big answer – God does everything for his own glory. Another answer is that there is a display of God’s character in the judgment of evil. However, the ends do not provide a full explanation. We must appeal to Deuteronomy 29:29 in this matter. We would have to understand God as God understands himself to answer questions such as this. We must not feel any personal constraint to know every answer to every question. There is an answer to every question, but we will not know the answer to every question, or we would be God. The wisdom and knowledge of God is beyond our ability to comprehend. The sin of Adam and Eve was this desire to have the knowledge and wisdom of God.

 

Q.           The work of the Spirit in regeneration – what is the difference before and after Pentecost?

A.            The same methods were at work for Old Testament believers as for New Testament believers. Both are regenerated in the same way. This continuity is undergirding. The same fruits of the Spirit are seen in the lives of Old Testament believers as in the New Testament. Old Testament saints are regenerated in light of what Christ will do. New Testament saints are regenerated in light of what Christ did. The Old Testament is a progressive revelation of Jesus Christ – the seed of the woman, the offspring of Abraham, the son of David, the suffering servant, the lamb of God. We now live in an epoch of which John the Baptist could only dream of. We have a much greater revelation of the trinity now than the Old Testament believer had. We have this same experience now in the increasing maturity of the believer. The Spirit never gets ahead of Jesus in this progressive revelation. Consideration the narrative in Galatians 3 about the law being the pedagogue to bring us to Christ. Looking back from the position of being in Christ, Paul says that being under the pedagogue was like being a slave. However, before Christ, those who were under the pedagogue delighted in being under the law. It is a matter of perspective from your point of revelation.

 

Q.           How do I know if I have studied and prayed enough for this Sunday’s sermon?

A.            There is no set answer to this question to be found in the Bible. It differs from person to person and occasion to occasion. It does require a life dedication to both study and prayer. We probably have never studied enough or prayed enough. You know it is time to stop studying and praying when someone knocks on the study door and tells you it’s time to preach.  There is a maddening disconnect between our preparation and prayer and the power of our preaching at times.


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Question and Answer Session – 2011 True Church Conference

Question and Answer Session

Bruce Ware – BW

David Miller – DM

Steve Lawson – SL

Jeff Noblit – JN


Q: How can we avoid a religion of dead works?

BW: We get to the point of dead works when there is a heaviness in doctrine without a heart embrace of the gospel. We also need to ignore wanting to be liked. We need to be offensive when we need to be offensive. Our approval is from God alone.

DM: When the preacher of the church diverts the attention away from the gospel to other things.

SL: We must keep the main thing the main thing. Keep the peripheral issues suppressed. We must cease reliance on pragmatic things and depend on the power of God. This was the problem with the church in Ephesus. See Edwards “Religious Affections” on this topic.

JN: A doctrinally sound and spirit-lead pulpit is necessary. There must also be church discipline. Doctrine must be taken seriously by the congregation.


Q: Can a church’s methodology undermine its sound theology?

SL: This can happen in evangelism, giving a false assurance of salvation. Using manipulative evangelism. The methodology cannot be man-centered. Doctrine and methodology should be guided by godly men. Strong preaching makes for soft hearts. Soft preaching makes for hard hearts.

BW: Training for a theological and biblical mind and heart need to be promoted in the church. Not just keeping people entertained and out of trouble. The whole of the program in the church needs to be focused in this. Equip the people to have the mind of Christ.

JN: What helps the most is preaching. More than classes. More than seminars. We need to know the answer to the question “How?”


Q: How do I learn to preach the gospel – be a gospel centered preacher?

SL: It is more caught than taught. Sit under strong gospel preachers. The text must be king. Don’t bring truths to the text, take truths from the text.

BW: Don Carson’s approach to historical-redemptive progression of revelation.

JN: The text has a limited fulfillment and an ultimate fulfillment.


Q: Who should we be listening to as an example?

SL: Jesus Christ. Adrian Rogers because of his bold authority. John MacArthur because of his Bible exposition. S. Lewis Johnson because of his expository style. Gary Thomas because he is articulate. John Piper because of his fervency, zeal and God-centeredness. But we must be careful trying to emulate anyone. We must be ourselves. Read Spurgeon. Read Whitfield.

BW: Brian Borgman because of his careful exegesis. Lee Tankersly because of his application.


Q: Excesses we look back on and cringe.

SL: Trying to have too many cross-references and losing sight of the text. Spurgeon said that the whole Bible called out to him every week “Preach me! Preach me!” Not having application for our doctrine.

DM: Not persevering with the text until your own heart has been affected. How should we expect others to repent unless we have done so ourselves?

BW: Balance – we need to be full of grace and truth. Truth without grace leads to harshness.

 


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Expositor’s Conference – Session 7 – Preaching the Immutability of God (Steve Lawson)

Session 7 – Preaching the Immutability of God (Steve Lawson)

The seventh and last session of the conference is led by Steve Lawson preaching on the Immutability of God. As a side note, next year’s conference will feature Dr. Al Mohler. Preregistration is $89.00. And if you are in the Mobile area, John MacArthur will be preaching at Christ Fellowship Church on Wednesday, October 6 for a prayer breakfast and the evening service. He will be preaching on the topic of his forthcoming book: Slave.

The text is Malachi 3:6. This is a revelation of God about Himself – His own absolute immutability. The location of this revelation is significant – at the close of the Old Testament. In the midst of the change to come, God declares that He will not change.

So is it true that, even though the message does not change, the methods must change? If God has never changed, if human nature has never changed, if the methods of grace have never changed, then why should we expect that the methods need to change?

1. The definition of God’s immutability. God is unchanging, forever the same, never mutates, His attributes never cease, they never change.

(a) God’s essence is unchanging. He is, was, and will always be spirit. Refer to Psalm 102:25-27.

(b) God’s attributes are unchanging. Refer to James 1:17. God has no shadows. God cannot change for the better because He is already perfect, and being perfect He cannot change for the worse (A.W. Pink).

(c) God’s purposes are unchanging. God’s purposes were fixed in eternity past. There is no Plan B. Refer to Isaiah 46:9-11. However, we must always be amending our plans to align with the immutable purposes of God.

(d) God’s word never changes. Refer to Psalm 119:89. Even man’s law changes, but God’s word never changes. Refer to Isaiah 40:8, Matthew 5:18, Luke 16:17. Application: a ministry that never goes out of style is preaching the word of God.

(e) God is unchanging in the object of His love. Refer to Jeremiah 31:3. Nothing shall separate us from the love of God.

(f) God’s judgment is unchanging. The execution of God’s justice is unchanging. God’s wrath is unchanging. Refer to John 3:18. Annihilationism is unthinkable for an unchanging God. Refer to Revelation 14:11, 20:10. Forever and ever is also used to describe how long believers shall be in heaven.

2. The implications of God’s immutability.

(a) Our message never changes. As long as we preach the Bible we will never contradict ourselves. Refer to Hebrews 13:8. Preach the same Christ every day. Human nature does not change. The sickness is always the same. God’s remedy to the sickness does not change.  Refer to John 14:6. And the requirement placed on sinners does not change – faith in Jesus Christ.

(b) Our method never changes. These are the ordinary means of grace – the word of God, sacraments, prayer. In every season, the word of God going forward in public proclamation is the primary method of grace. God only had one Son, and He made Him a preacher.



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Expositor’s Conference – Session 6 – Question and Answer (R.C. Sproul)

Expositor’s Conference – Session 6 – Question and Answer (R.C. Sproul)

The sixth session of the conference was a question and answer session. Any reference to “I” or “My” in the answers is on the part of the speaker, not the writer.


Question: Is there a specific will of God revealed through His Holy Spirit?

Answer: The secret counsel of God for the individual is just that – secret. We should not spend time worrying over this. We should spend our time with working on the revealed will of God in the Bible and form our decisions based on the revealed will. The will of God is your sanctification. There is extraordinary providence – a leading of the God directly, but far less frequently than people suppose. When someone says God is calling me to do thus-and-so, ask “How do you know?”


Question: The resurgence of the popularity of reformed theology. What about the groups arising within the reformed camp? How inclusive should we be? How likely is division?

Answer: Evangelicalism was a small minority in Christendom years ago, but has exploded and has eroded. Reformed theology is now resurging, but there is already erosion. Negotiations on justification and imputation are already occurring. The camp is as broad as the non-negotiables of the faith.


Question: Reconciling God’s immutability and Christ’s kenosis.

Answer: They cannot be reconciled. All God’s attributes are immutable. The kenosis theory of emptying as we know it was developed by 19th century liberal theologians – that Christ laid aside his divine attributes. Reformed Christology recognizes that Jesus was, remained, as is, 100% God at all time. Chalcedon answered this question. Each nature retained its own attributes.


Question: What laws does God command a Gentile nation to obey?

Answer: Theonomy is a movement to create a Christian nation with the Old Testament civil laws. Rushdoony and North are the preeminent proponents of this movement. The New Testament in no way reflects the desire to maintain the Israelite civil state.  However…the Old Testament does reveal God’s righteous and God’s justice. Laws may be based on Old Testament principles without attempting to resurrect the entire Old Testament civil code. The work of theonomists in showing how the Old Testament law impacts the New Testament has been excellent. North has a book which is dedicated to R.C. Sproul. The church also needs to impact government by being a prophetic voice.


Question: Pink addresses the wrath of God and gives a special note to preachers to preach the wrath of God.

Answer: Preachers are guilty of not declaring the whole counsel of the attributes of God. We fail to see that God is glorified in His justice as well as in His mercy.


Question: What about the cessation of spiritual gifts?

Answer: I believed miracles ceased at the end of the Apostolic age…because the function of the miracle was to authenticate agents of revelation. Miracles only appeared at significant epochs of Biblical history. We must also be specific about our definition of what a miracle is – an immediate intervention of God to do that which only God can do.


Question: Can God speak outside of scripture.

Answer: Of course He can. But does He? No. Not in the terms of new specific revelation.


Question: Thoughts on denominations in light of unity. Are they necessary? Are they desirable?

Answer: The zeal of denominations is admirable. There are issues that will never be resolved this side of eternity. We must practice the way we are convinced God would have us the way practice and not practice they way God is not pleased to have us practice. It is another matter to break fellowship over such an issue. Any doctrine left to the development by inference from scripture is subject to error (i.e., baptism).



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Expositor’s Conference 2010 – Session 2 – Question and Answer (R.C. Sproul)

Session 2 – Question and Answer (R.C. Sproul)

Departing from the published conference agenda, the second session Monday night is a question-and-answer session with Dr. Sproul. Questions are taken from the audience. Steve Lawson quipped that he would handle anything that Dr. Sproul stumbled on.

Please note that the use of “I” and “My” and the like below refers to the answers of Dr. Sproul.

Question: Thoughts on the legitimacy of lay preaching, those who are working in a profession and preaching “on the side”.

Answer: I have a bias for lay preaching. My father was a lay preacher. The legitimacy comes with the call – some are sent, some just went. Lay preaching should be done under the jurisdiction of the church.


Question: Biggest challenges to the Biblical church and reformed theology.

Answer: Doing the Lord’s work man’s way. To be seduced by method and technology.  Pleasing man instead of pleasing Christ. “Redoing” church and “Reimagining” church. Degrading the symbols in the church (such as the redesign of the pulpit – think Plexiglas). Designing church services for unbelievers or to accommodate unbelievers.


Question: What is your most significant book?

Answer: The most responded-to books are the Holiness of God and Chosen By God. The children’s books are the most important.


Question: Has the church been adversely affected by thinking that preaching only occurs within the walls of the church?

Answer: Paul engaged people inside and outside the church. Some of the greatest preachers of all time were street preachers. The greater concern is the erosion of preaching inside the church.


Question: What about efforts to rescue the culture apart from the preaching of the gospel?

Answer: Revival does not necessarily change the culture. Babies don’t change the culture. Those that change the culture must first become adults in the faith – they must be transformed and not conformed. We do that by investing in the people of God by preaching the gospel.


Question: The difference between teaching and preaching.

Answer: Helping people to see how to apply the truths of scripture to their lives.


Question: The problem with the congregational attitude concerning the length of sermons.

Answer: People should sit for a sermon for as long as they will sit for a professional football game. But a preacher must earn the right to preach for 45 minutes. Most preachers don’t have enough to say to preach for 45 minutes. We should finish when the people want more, not when they’ve had too much.


Question: The response of the congregation to worship and preaching. What do you think needs to be done?

Answer: Since when did preaching and the response to the preaching become not part of worship?


Question: What impact does the absurdity of some “science” claims have on the church.

Answer: People swallow nonsense answers – for instance Stephen Hawking.  Our congregation has not been taught that rationality applies to the seeking of truth. Our church culture has been taught that you can get to the heart without going through the mind.



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Question and Answer Session

Saturday night at True Church 2010 ended with a question-and-answer session. The panel consisted of: Barry King, Conrad Mbewe, Jonathan Sims, Michael Haykin, and Jeff Noblit. Matt Fowler moderated the questions. No attempt is made to relate the answers to who provided them. In many cases multiple people provided the answers.

Question: What hyper-Calvinistic tendencies have you faced in your own congregation?

Answer: Church members can be Calvinist in their head but hyper-Calvinist in their heart. This is a result of our quest for doctrinal purity. Sometimes people attack over the internet. Sometimes people have too high or different expectations based on what they read on the internet. Church members spend too much time in morbid introspection and lose their vision of Christ. Some people moving from “easy-believism” go too far and end up in the opposite ditch. It is seen in the attitude that God hates the wicked and does not want to see them saved.

Question: Is there a tension between counseling seekers and looking for lament?

Answer: Lamenting is not necessarily wrong until it is taken to an extreme. Godly sorrow for sin is right. But when a person is converted not all their attention should still be given to their sin. There is a sense in which we must recognize that our sins have been put away, as far as the east is from the west, in the depths of the sea.

Question: How do you train men who are being called to eldership in a church plant?

Answer: Encourage older elders to pick out the “Timothys” in their congregation early and begin their training before they go out to plant churches. Put these young men on the pastoral team. Get input from several people before men are sent out as elders to plant their own churches. Formally, cover three areas: doctrine, preaching, and evangelism.

Question: What about the 3000 people who heard the message in Acts 2 and were baptized the same day?

Answer: The profession of faith in the Bible is baptism. The church is not held to any one model in bringing in members.

Question: What do I do if I have become calloused to the lost?

Answer: It is not a matter of feelings, it is a matter of obedience, whether I feel like it or not. We have lost our sense of duty. It is also a matter of our awareness of what God has done in our own lives. It is also a matter of bringing glory to God.

Question: What do you say to a person since we are not seeking a “decision”?

Answer: 1) we can invite them to church and to special events. 2) we can give our personal testimony. 3) share the gospel without asking for a decision. 4) ask someone what they think. 5) don’t make the sinner’s prayer an act required for salvation. 6) guide someone to Bible passages that show what are the fruits of salvation.

Question: Is there a recommended soul-winning course?

Answer: John Blanchard’s book “Ultimate Questions” can be used to train in evangelism. Divide it up into eight sessions.

Question: Is there a revival of young people who are embracing the doctrines of grace? Do we need to fear an expansion of hyper-Calvinism?

Answer: Any time there is an expansion of Calvinism there is an expansion of hyper-Calvinism.

Question: How long should a person be inactive before church discipline is practiced?

Answer: The Bible does not give us a guideline in this, other than the spiritual well-being of the congregation is under the supervision of the elders of the church. It depends on what you have done in the period before consideration of the practice of church discipline. Have you visited with them? Have you prayed for them? Have you warned them? What were they told when they joined? Did they understand the requirements? The goal is restoration, not removal. Inactive members belong on the prayer list, not on the members list.

Question: How do we teach sovereign grace in a congregation that knows nothing of these doctrines?

Answer: Don’t use the words “reformed” and “Calvinistic”. Just preach through the word of God and over time the doctrines of grace will come up. We need to be patient with those who just don’t see it yet. Recognize that there are mysteries that may not be able to be satisfactorily resolved for all people. Weak pulpits joined with a study of systematic theology will come back to bite the church. Our aim is not reformed, our aim is not Calvinistic, our aim is Biblical. And this must be done in love. Calvinism cannot be a “hobby-horse” preaching topic. There is no need to read Calvinism into every Biblical passage. Have role models in the church – both from history and present in the church.


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