Tag Archive | True Church Conference 2011

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.



Steve Lawson – “Gospel-Centered Preaching” – 2011 True Church Conference

Message 7 – Steve Lawson – “Gospel-Centered Preaching”

This sermon is a continuation of the message which Dr. Lawson began last night, looking at the five common denominators of the 19 sermons in the book of Acts. This has been expanded to six common denominators over the course of the evening. This represents 25% of the book of Acts. The first common denominator covered last night is that Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of Old Testament Scriptures. The text of the sermon is Acts 3:11-26. Here is the remainder of the common denominators.

2. The sermons emphasize the sinless life of Christ (see verse 14). Jesus Christ is the Holy and Righteous One. Sinless perfection. Perfectly moral character. Perfect compliance to the will of God. No deviation from the glory of God the Father. Why is this important? Why did Jesus not come from heaven immediately to the cross? Jesus lived under the law, in subjection to the moral law of God. The very law we fail to keep, He kept. It is this righteousness that is imputed to us in justification. Righteousness imputed to sinners was not created out of nothing. We need more than our sins forgiven, we need a holiness that does not belong to us, a righteousness that is not our own.

3. The sermons emphasize the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ (see verse 15). The charge is killing the author, or prince, of live. The originator of life was put to death. Jesus did not die as a victim, He died as a victor (see Acts 4:10ff). The rejected stone has become the chief cornerstone.

4. The sermons emphasize the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. Of all who were crucified, there was only one who was raised from the dead. See verse 15. And a subset of this is frequently the eyewitness account of the resurrection. A living savior must be dominant in our preaching. A dead savior is no savior at all.

5. The sermons emphasize the necessity of repentance and faith (see verses 6, 16, 19). These two are inseparable. Without faith, repentance is nothing more than a moral resolution. Without repentance, faith is just head knowledge.

6. The sermons emphasize the inescapability of the final judgment. There will be a final judgment at the end of the age. A final day of accountability. Otherwise, our preaching is nothing but suggestions and options to the people. There are consequences for not heeding the preaching. See verse 23. A closely related topic to this which is emphasized in these sermons in the book of Acts is the session of Jesus Christ at the right hand of God the Father in heaven. He is the judge who presides. See Acts 17:31 – this day has been fixed.

Now is the time for the strongest men to preach the strongest message in the context of the strongest ministry. – Dr. John MacArthur.


David Miller – “The Atonement – Satisfaction” – 2011 True Church Conference

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Message 6 – David Miller – “The Atonement – Satisfaction”

This is the second part of the sermon which David Miller began on day 1 of the conference. The text is Isaiah 53. The previous sermon was about the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ. He made his soul an offering for sins.

1. The incontrovertible will of God. The redemption of sinners was the will of God from before the beginning of God – it was decreed by God, it was spoken by God, and it will stand. It was the will of God that His Son should die. Those who carried out the infliction of the death of the Son were sinning and responsible for their actions, yet this action was still the providential will of God. Peter says as much in His sermon on the day of Pentecost and then again in Acts chapter 4. This will of God cannot be questioned. In Psalm 2 we see the response of God to those who would question the incontrovertible will of God – He will laugh and hold them in derision.

2. The intrinsic worth of the substitute. How is it that Christ in his physical sufferings, death, and burial could satisfy the claim of justice for an innumerable host of people? The wages of sin is death – not just physical death, but also spiritual death. How could the physical death of Christ pay the price for the spiritual death due to man? Should he not have to spend an eternity in hell? The reason is based on the worth of the substitute. First, He was a man, He was a human. But he was a perfect man. He in no wise needed to suffer for His own sins so He could therefore suffer for the sins of someone else by substitution.  But He was so much more. He was God in human flesh. He is infinitely righteous. He is infinitely holy. There is an intrinsic worth in the son of God that could save worlds of sinners.

3. The incomparable work of the Savior.

a. He accomplished satisfaction. This is the propitiation. Indefensible wicked sinners, condemned before God, are declared righteous because of the substitution of the blood of Jesus Christ and the complete satisfaction of holy justice.

b. He has acquired a seed. A seed declared from eternity past. The death of Christ purchased this seed. This is the bride of Christ presented to Him by the Father.

c. He has accumulated the spoils. He conquered death, the grave, sin, and triumphed over Satan. Satan’s domain has been spoiled. Jesus is in session ruling and reigning at the right hand of the Father.

d. He advocates for the saints.

Before the throne of God above
I have a strong, a perfect plea
A great High Priest whose name is Love
Who ever lives and pleads for me
My name is graven on His hands
My name is written on His heart
I know that while in heaven He stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart

When Satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within
Upward I look and see Him there
Who made an end to all my sin
Because the sinless Savior died
My sinful soul is counted free
For God the Just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me

Behold Him there! The risen Lamb
My perfect, spotless righteousness
The great unchangeable I AM
The King of glory and of grace
One with Himself I cannot die
My soul is purchased with His blood
My life is hid with Christ on high
With Christ my Savior and my God


“Before the Throne of God Above” – words by Charlie L. Bancroft, 1863


Steve Lawson – “The Gospel in the Old Testament” – 2011 True Church Conference

Message 5 – Steve Lawson – “The Gospel in the Old Testament”

The text of Dr. Lawson’s sermon is Acts 3:11-25.  The gospel is rooted and grounded in the Old Testament. It is not a new idea in the New Testament. It is and always has been the one and only way of salvation. The only difference is the point of view which people look unto Jesus Christ, forward or back. The gospel began in Genesis. Take for instance Genesis 3:15. The blood of Jesus is a scarlet thread through the Old Testament.

There are five common denominators in the 19 sermons found in the book of Acts. The sermon of Acts chapter 3 clearly shows all five of these distinctives. Tonight we look at only the first of these five.

1. Jesus is the fulfillment of the Old Testament. Peter preaches that the gospel is inseparably found in the Old Testament. See verse 13. The selfsame servant of the Lord found in the Old Testament is Jesus Christ of the Old Testament. Isaiah is replete with “servant songs”.  Then see verse 18. Every single prophet in the Old Testament foretold of the coming of Christ. Then see verses 20-21.  There are pictures of Jesus throughout the Old Testament. He is preeminent throughout the Bible. Then see verses 22-23. The entire Old Testament looks forward to the coming of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ spoke as no one ever spoke. His words were greater than that of Moses. Don’t listen to Moses. Listen to Jesus. He is the great prophet of God.  Then look at verse 24. All the prophets without any exceptions had one central compelling message. Then look at verse 25. Jesus is the fulfillment of the covenant with Abraham. All the blessings of grace and salvation would come through the seed of Abraham, the Lord Jesus Christ. Then look at verse 26. God reiterates that Jesus Christ is His chosen servant and sent him to bless by turning men from their wicked ways.

Romans chapter 1 shows the basis the gospel has in the Old Testament. In verses 1-3 we see the basis of the scriptures and the lineage of Jesus. And then verse 17 pulls from the Old Testament to tell us that the just shall live by faith. Then in Romans chapter 4 we see examples in the Old Testament of salvation through faith alone. Abraham and David are specifically called out.

The same case is made in 1 Corinthians 15. Paul points out that the Old Testament scriptures point to a Christ who died, was buried, and was raised from the dead.

And finally consider Galatians 3. There is only one way of salvation. Salvation of the Gentiles was foreseen in the Old Testament.


Thomas Clay – “The Role of Music in the Church” – 2011 True Church Conference

Breakout Session 2 – Thomas Clay – “The Role of Music in the Church”

1. What it is not.

a. It is not a showcase for talent. Character is what is important, then gifting.

b. It is not synonymous with worship. All aspects of worship are worship, not just the music.

c. It is not about singing about praise and worship. The song is not about the worshiper, it is about God, the object of our worship.

d. It is not primary. Preaching is primary.

e. It is not style-driven. The descriptive term is not to be the foundation. It is to be truth-driven.

f. It is not a meritorious work to usher us into God’s presence. Jesus Christ is the only one who can usher us into God’s presence.

g. It is not dependent on imagery. It is dependent on the word.

h. It is not individual driven (soloist, music minister, choir). It is congregation driven.

2. It is obedience. We are commanded to worship through singing. Both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament (Ephesians 5:18-20).

3. It is for corporate edification. It is not to be an individual ecstatic experience. And it is not to be an individual stoic experience. See Colossians 3:16-17 to back up this outline.

a. Music is to be gospel-centered. Based on the word of Christ. Faith comes from the gospel.

b. Music is to be experienced richly. Music should express the gospel richly, deeply. Instead of trying to please everybody we should be seeking to edify everybody.

c. Music is to teach and admonish. What a church is singing is what they believe. Theology can be developed through singing. Or, on the other hand, a gospel-centered pulpit can be torpedoed by shallow, worldly music.

d. Music is to be done with wisdom. Move toward reforming your church in this area.

e. Music is for one another. It is not just to God. It is also to one another. It should be edifying. It is just as wrong to be stone-faced in singing as it is to be jumping off the stage. The minister must be stylistically-sensitive. The body is to be edified (Philippians 2:3-4). And individuals in the congregation should also consider one another and not be offended.

f. Music is to God. Specifically in thankfulness to God. It must be with reverence and awe.

4. The pastor/music minister relationship.

a. The music minister must be a servant. See Genesis 39:4-6. The music minister should be a “Joseph” for his pastor. Serve the pastor.

b. The music minister must not have his own agenda.  There must be a protected relationship.

c. The music minister must have a high view of biblical and pastoral authority. We should not attack authority.



Breakout Session 1 – Michael Statom – “Meaningful Church Membership” – 2011 True Church Conference

Breakout Session 1 – Michael Statom – “Meaningful Church Membership”

The book of Nehemiah provides parallels to discuss meaningful church membership. Grieving over a fallen condition. Assigning workers to duties. Disciplining. Enduring ridicule and mocking.

1. The connection between church membership and church discipline. See 1 Corinthians 5. This is a failure to address an issue that they knew was wrong. In fact, they were arrogant about not dealing with it (verse 11). We are called to judge ourselves (verse 12-13). There must be a distinction between who is in and who is out. See 1 John 2:19 and Acts 5:13-14. God draws the true believers to His church.

2. The purpose of church membership.  The gospel is what separates us as members of the church. The gospel sanctifies us as growing members of the church. The gospel is what brings us together as a church.

3. Establish a process for church membership.

a. Consider how to handle existing members. Are they going to have to sign the church covenant?

b. Bring people into the church initially through small groups.

c. Move those who are interested in membership through a specific class. The purposes of this class are to: 1) introduce ministries, 2) cause introspection on salvation, 3) communicate expectations of membership, 4) define the means of membership.

d. Elders should work with each individual. How will that person use their spiritual gifts? (see 1 Corinthians 14:12). Signing the church covenant.

e. Follow-up with members. Keeping up with who is not showing up. Finding out who there is out there who are depending on their church membership for their eternal security.



Jeff Noblit – “Striving to Avoid Extra-Biblical Excess” – 2011 True Church Conference

Message 4 – Jeff Noblit – “Striving to Avoid Extra-Biblical Excess”

Looking at what we don’t do well and where we are not properly balanced.

1. Watch for clarifying terms – rules, convictions, and viewpoints which are not commanded in scripture are extra-biblical. Individuals have them. Churches have them. They can be healthy as long as they are not viewed as adding to our righteousness. Our efforts do not improve our standing before God or make us superior to others. Can we still fellowship with those who don’t have our convictions? Extra-biblical excess is when these things become a pillar of the church when they are not commanded by the scripture, when they become the identity of the church. A lot of this shows in what descriptive term we put in front of the word “church” – contemporary, emerging, family-integrated, etc. The gospel must draw them or we must fail. We should not depend on the additive descriptive to be the draw. These things should not be the draw for someone to join the church.

2. Watch for worldly externalisms. See Colossians 2:8, 18, and 20-23. The world wants to impose externals on you instead of Jesus Christ. Also see Galatians 4:3. This is works religion. The highest form of worldliness is legalistic religion. Much self-abasement is actually flaunting religion and self-indulgence. We turn to our own self-restraint to combat sin, but Paul tells us that these external rules do not stop the indulgence of the flesh.

3. Watch for pendulum swings. See Matthew 23:15 – from one excess to another excess. We swing as we leave a weak, unhealthy church and land in a legalistic church, a whole new set of extra-biblical excess and error. We must strive to maintain a biblical balance. Structure and organization are not bad. New external forms do not transform the heart.

4. Watch for silly women. See 2 Timothy 3:6-7. False teachers find a foothold among weak (or silly) women. Women that are burdened by sin. Women that are led by their passions. These lead to the abandoning of sound doctrine. These lead to never being able to be grounded on the truth.

5. Remember that a sovereign God is behind all. See 1 Corinthians 11:18-19.  There may be divisions in the church, but verse 19 says that we should expect this.  And why should we expect factions within the church? Because that is how God reveals what is genuine. Factions are used to purify and purge the church.

6. The irrevocable reference point – total abandonment to the gospel. Our reference point must be on the power of gospel message to change lives. We will build on the foundation of the gospel or we will fail (see Romans 1:16, 16:25).


Bruce Ware – “The Gospel 101 – God’s Gift of the Gospel” – 2011 True Church Conference

Message 3 – Bruce Ware – “The Gospel 101 – God’s Gift of the Gospel”

What is the gift of the gospel? There is a narrow and a broad understanding of the gospel. The narrow understanding is the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. His work to pay for our sins. The broad understanding is how the gospel is lived out. It is the application of the gospel. Living lives to the glory of God and the furtherance of His kingdom.

The text for Ware’s second message is 1 Corinthians 15:1-8.  Look at the structure of this message: 1) Christ died for our sins and was buried. And Paul points to the Biblical support and empirical support for this claim. 2) Christ was raised on the third day and appeared. Once again, Paul points out Biblical support and empirical support for this claim. These two claims are absolutely essential to the Christian faith – rooted and based on history, and also rooted and based in theology. Christ died – historical accuracy – for our sins – theological truth. To the physical eye all three being crucified looked the same, but to the spiritual eye the One in the middle was supremely different than the other two.

Christ died “for” our sins. The Greek word “huper” has a strong and a weak meaning. Either for the benefit or as a substitution. Did Christ die to provide us a benefit? Yes, but it is much more than that. Christ died as a substitute for us. This is seen in John 10:15. Penal substitution is central to the work of the cross.

Christ was raised on the third day. 1 Corinthians 15 is about the resurrection. Look at the theology of the resurrection. If Christ has not been raised we are still in our sins. What does the resurrection of Christ have to do with efficacy of the atonement of our sins? Sin is a two-fold program. It is a penalty we cannot pay and a power we cannot overcome. The penalty of sin is death. The power of sin ultimately is the power of death. Christ died for the penalty of sin on the cross. But he must rise from the dead to show that the penalty of sin is set aside. And then the resurrection demonstrates that Christ also has the power over sin.

What is the relationship between the payment for the penalty and the conquering of sin’s power? Is there a relationship between these two? We love to preach the power over sin, but not the penal substitution for sin. Heresies arising from the misuse of the love of God cause some to disown the need for the penal substitution. We love the Christ victorious over sin, but disdain a wrathful God who demands that the penalty be paid.


Bruce Ware – “The Gospel 101 – Our Need for the Gospel” – 2011 True Church Conference

Friday, February 18, 2011

Message 2 – Bruce Ware – “The Gospel 101 – Our Need for the Gospel”

Dr. Bruce Ware is a professor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. The topic of his first message today is the gospel – the basics of the gospel, our need for the gospel, the basis of the gospel.

Why do we need the gospel? Because for many people grace is not amazing. We are concentrating on self, even in our churches. We sing a song entitled “Entitled Grace”. The gospel must be amazing.

What is the basis of the gospel? The gospel has three pillars, as a stool needs three legs. Then they must be joined together.

1) Humanity’s sinfulness. You cannot preach the Bible without preaching about sin.

a. sin is universal. Jews and Gentiles are sinful. All have turned aside. This is Paul’s message in Romans. When it is said that we fall short of the glory of God we should understand this to say that we fail to ascribe to God the glory due to Him and Him alone.

b. the penalty and power of sin. By sin we are found guilty. We have incurred the penalty of divine judgment and eternal condemnation. And the power of sins speaks of our abject slavery to sin. We are held captive by sin in life and are being lead to death if we are outside of Christ (see 2 Timothy 2:26).

c. the total inability of sinners to rescue themselves.  No flesh can be justified by the works of the law (see Galatians 2:21). No offering we can make can satisfy for the punishment of our sin (see Hebrews 10:4)

We rob our people of understanding when we don’t preach on sin. It is the greatest problem we have to deal with in our lives.

2) God’s holiness.  We must understand God’s holiness, righteousness, and justice. We must first understand that God is separated from us because He is holy. Righteousness is God’s holiness in action. It is God’s “right-ness” in what He speaks, what he does, what He thinks. He conforms perfectly to His holiness. And third God judges rightly because He is righteous.

a. God is the lawgiver. The One who sets the standards.

b. God is the judge. He hold’s his creatures accountable for their conformity to holy, moral standards (see Romans 2:6ff).

What is the relationship between our sin and God’s holiness?  God must judge our sin. Sin cannot be disregarded. God must deal with our sin to satisfy the full demand of justice. And this could be the end of the story. 2) Eternal death and condemnation is exactly what we deserve for our sins.

3. God’s mercy and grace.  Hopeless man is the target of God’s mercy (see Ephesians 2:1ff.) Grace is God’s kindness to those who are undeserving. A required gratuity is no gratuity at all (see Ephesians 2:8-9).

What is the relationship of God’s mercy and grace to our sinfulness? See Romans 9:15. It is God’s initiative to freely give mercy and grace to anyone He desires, and He did not have to do so. He has neither an external nor an internal obligation to show mercy and bestow grace.

But what is the relationship between the holiness of God and the mercy and grace of God. Grace and mercy cannot be shown in contradiction to the holiness of God. Therefore there was no compromise allowed in meting our mercy and grace at the expense of God’s holiness. God’s standard of holiness is not disregarded in any case. Therefore the cross – the cross fulfills the demands of God’s holiness and lets mercy and grace be shed on His people. And the ultimate aim of God’s mercy and grace is to produce holiness in His people – imputed holiness and experiential holiness.

God’s holiness, righteousness and justice are fully displayed at the cross. And God’s grace and mercy are likewise fully displayed at the cross.


David Miller – “The Atonement – Substitution” – 2011 True Church Conference

Thursday, February 17, 2010

Berean Husband is blogging live from the 2011 True Church Conference at Grace Life Church in Muscle Shoals. It is nearing 6:30 p.m. and just about time for the first worship segment to begin. Then, at 7:15, the first speaker of the evening, David Miller is scheduled. David Miller is a regular favorite at the True Church Conference. He will be preaching on “The Atonement – Substitution”. There are around 600 people here tonight. The choir began with a rendition of “Come Ye Sinners Poor and Needy.”

Message 1 –  David Miller – “The Atonement – Substitution”

The text of Miller’s sermon was Isaiah 53. The subject is the doctrine of substitution and satisfaction. God taking into account our sin and His justice, took the initiative to redeem fallen man. God chose to deal with us through a substitute, His own son. Thereby was holy justice satisfied. God is therefore just and the justifier.

In verses 2-3, we see his unattractive position.  In verses 4-6 we see his participation in suffering. In verse 7 we see his portrayal of submissiveness. In verses 8-11 we see his propitiation for sins. In verse 12 we see his unlimited power over Satan.

1. The wickedness of the sinner. Man is a transgressor. Man has turned to his own way. Man rejects authority. Man has gone astray. Man will not submit to God, to scripture. Verse 3 tells us that Jesus Christ was despised by man. And we are all this kind of sinner.

2. The wrath of a sovereign God. The wrath of God is not uncontrolled.  The Greek word “thumos” is never applied to God. God is never out of control. The word for the wrath of God is “orge”. An outrage over sin. He is displeased over sin.  There is a dam of patience holding back God’s complete wrath at this time. Otherwise there would be immediate and utter damnation.

The wrath of God is seen in God’s bruising His son, Jesus Christ. All the wrath of God on the damned will never equal the wrath that God poured out on His son.

3. The infinite wisdom of the son. We see this in verse 11. It is the knowledge of the son that justifies the sinner. It is the wisdom of Jesus that overcomes the dilemma of the wrath and justice of God versus the grace and mercy of God. How do you reconcile these two attributes? How can justice be served and yet man be saved by grace?  The wisdom of the son is in the substitution.

If man tries to overcome this dilemma on his own, he will inevitably remain dead in his sins, with the justice of God unsatisfied. But the wisdom of God intervened and reconciled justice and mercy. This was possible because of the infinite worth and value of the son. Romans 11:33-36 is a doxology of praise that expresses our thanksgiving for this reconciliation.