A HeartCry conference was recently held for our missionaries in North India. The following report of the conference was given by one of the leaders, Rema S.
In the first session, the teacher said that he would be talking about four priorities in a pastor’s life – the life of the pastor, the doctrine of the pastor, the preaching of the pastor, and the church leadership of the pastor. He reviewed what he had taught last time, talking about the need of holiness, the foundation of holiness, the definition of holiness, the practical areas of holiness, the means to holiness, and the power for holiness.
He talked about the fact that holiness is developed in prayer. He then said that he would be talking about the relationship between the law and grace, and how they affect things like justification, sanctification, and the Gospel. He mentioned the danger of falling into either extreme in this issue – legalism and antinomianism. He then asked 17 questions relating to the law, Jesus, the Gospel, justification, and sanctification – the answers to which were dealt with in subsequent sessions.
Talking about the law, he said that the word “law” means different things in different passages of the New Testament, and that Christians are bound to follow the moral laws from the Old Testament. Using an illustration he explained that in justification, the law is opposed to grace, but is an ally to grace in the process of sanctification. This is something which was talked about in subsequent sessions as well.
He talked about the function of the Old Testament law for the Christian and ended the day with the truth that people in every generation can be saved only by Christ – whether it be through believing prophesy about Christ, through promises of Christ in types, or in the person of Christ.
On the second day, the teacher built on what he had taught the first day. He talked about the two extremes of legalism and antinomianism. He described characteristics of both and explained why they were defective in their view of the relation of the Christian to the law, saying that the antinomian fails to see the differences between justification and sanctification.
He then talked about Gospel obedience. This is based on our union with Christ, initiated by faith, empowered by the Holy Spirit, motivated largely by love and grace, directed or guided by the law and the commandments (including those in the New Testament), and has God’s glory and pleasure as its goal.
He then talked about the relationship between love and obedience, showing that they don’t contradict each other. Instead, love motivates obedience. He discussed another motivation for Gospel obedience, the fear of God, clarifying that it is not the fear a slave has for his master, but the fear that a son has for his father in the context of discipline. He said that this motivates people when love and grace seem insufficient.
He also talked about the importance of making the distinction between the Christian’s positional righteousness and his actual righteousness, saying that in the context of sanctification, it is not helpful to think God doesn’t see our sin because He sees Jesus. How one handles freedom was also talked about, mentioning that freedom is not meant to release us from God. Instead, having been made free from sin, we are now free to please God and edify others. The day ended with a question and answer session.
The main topic of the sessions on the third day was preaching. The teacher said that the life and doctrine of a preacher (topics covered in the previous two days) are very important, but they aren’t enough on their own. A preacher should be able to preach biblical, simple, clear, and direct sermons. He reviewed what had been taught on the subject from his previous visit.
He shared some basic characteristics of biblical preaching – that it should be from the Bible, that it should have a well-defined subject and purpose, that it should have unity, order, and progression, that it is applied specifically to men’s hearts, lives, and consciences, and that it is empowered by the Holy Spirit. He then presented some evidences to know that one is called to preach: inward conviction by the Holy Spirit, God-given character, God-given gift, and confirmation by the church. He dwelt on each of these points, especially clarifying what it means to be called to be a preacher.
He then talked about three types of messages which every preacher needs to know how to preach – a textual message, a topical message, and an ex-positional message. He repeatedly cautioned against being too complicated and stressed the need to be clear, simple, and direct – which is simply good communication. He talked about how to prepare a sermon and gave the participants verses to practice on so that they study and explain what the verse is saying, cautioning that it is a very serious thing not to do so in one’s preaching. The day ended with a discussion on regeneration and conversion – a topic which was triggered by the way Revelation 3:20 is often misinterpreted.