Friday, March 20, 2009

Nuggets of Glory Pt. 1

Yesterday was Day 1 of the 22nd Anual Ligonier's Holiness of God Conference in Orlando. It was extraordinary! Yesterday and today I heard enough to keep my spiritually and mentally busy for quite some time. I have been taking furious notes but feel like there's a lot has still gone over my head. Even though there's much I'm sure I've missed, there's tons that I was thankfully able to grasp, and wanted to share some of the highlights thus far. I'll try to expound on them a bit in the future, but felt like I should get some out while it's still fresh in my head.

  • The first half day of the conference was a "mini-conference" that focused on the life and legacy of John Calvin. Ligon Duncan spoke first and his focus was "Calvin and the Christian Life." What stood out to me more than anything else was his (both Duncan and Calvin) view of piety. Because of all the history and tradition that has come before me I have always kinda viewed the idea of piety with more than a small ammount of skepticism and have frequently just disregarded it (as what I percieved as Pharisaical religion). Calvin however regarded it as one of if not the utmost virtue, and Duncan follows suit. However, he defines it as an experiential love of God as the Father combined with a reverential fear of God as Lord. This is something I would absolutely deem worthy of our constant effort, and believe that if we disregard this we do so to both our temporal and eternal detriment.
  • Thus far my favorite speaker, hands down, is Sinclair Ferguson. Other than his fascinatong accent that makes him so enjoyable to listen to, he has a love for God as LORD and a love for the revealed knowledge of God that is contagious in his preaching. During the Clavin mini-conference he was the one given the task to tackle the Doctrines of Grace. He did it with such simple eloquence that I felt a bit dazed when he was through. "Wow!" I thought to myself, "that was so great." I look at my watch and can't believe so much time has passed, but in the same breath I didn't want it to end! Now there's not much I can add to his teachings on the Doctrines of Grace, but one of things that Ferguson said that just caused me to respond with great joy was the statement he made when he was talking about the perseverence of the saints; "[Jesus] did not come [and die]to make salvation possible, he came to save!"
  • The next session what struck me most was not a statement made by the speaker (Steve Lawson) or even a passage of Scripture, but it was the example of John Calvin's life and dedication to God. This man was regenerated and saved at age 24 and wrote the first edition of Institutes of the Christian Religion at age 25!!! This was incredibly encouraging and, at the same time, exceptionally convicting. I want a life and legacy like that!
  • The first Q & A session was focused primarily on Clavin and the love for him that the men on the pannel has was extraordinary. One of the things they kept coming back to was the balance between scholar and pastor/teacher. He loved plumbing the depths of the glory of God in Christ and in Scripture but Clavin didn't stop there! He had an unquenchable passion to share his vision of God's glory with the body of Christ and primarily his largely ungrateful congregation in Geneva. AND something that needs to be remembered about Clavin was that while he absolutely believed in and preached a wholly sovereign God he was all about evangelism and missions! He launched all sorts of international missions and encouraged the people who came to his congregation from without to go back to their home (whereever it may have been) and preach the God of Scripture!

Those were the highlights from the Calvin mini-conference and it's getting late, so that's two good reasons to wrap this up and return later.

I am loving this conference and am exceedingly grateful that things worked out so I could make it. Would love to hear any thoughts or responses!