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.