More than 250 pastors, missionaries and ministry students gathered in Leicester, in April, for the 2013 Banner of Truth Ministers’ Conference. Its theme was ‘The gospel: what it is and why it matters’.
At first sight this theme may seem rather elementary for a ministers’ conference. But while the gospel is elementary, it is also the whole of Christian life and ministry. As one speaker put it, it is not just the ABC, but the A-Z.
So with this vital theme in mind, over four days the speakers unpacked some of the glories of the gospel and their applications. In typically thorough and engaging style, Sinclair Ferguson led us through three passages in Romans, reminding us of the power, logic and mystery of the gospel.
He showed how our ministries will be strengthened if, like Paul, we deal with troubles by reasoning a solution out of the gospel itself, and by carefully keeping Christ at the centre of our preaching.
Jonathan Watson challenged ministers to recognise the commitment God requires of us as bearers of the gospel to a lost world. Warren Peel and Jeremy Walker took two sessions each on aspects of the gospel in the life of the church. These messages were good examples of ‘reasoning out of the gospel’.
Mr Peel spoke warmly about the peace, liberty and joy that we should know as we grow in understanding the gospel and in fellowship with the Lord Jesus himself. Mr Walker preached passionately about other effects of the gospel on our hearts, showing that its glories must stir us, so that our presentation is a worthy reflection of our message.
Mike Reeves’ sessions were moving. The first focussed on the loving missionary heart of our heavenly Father, and the second on the life of Augustine of Hippo. We saw how Christ so captivated Augustine’s heart that other loves lost their power over him.
The conference had a good international flavour, with men attending from many countries. Several reported on challenges in God’s work overseas. We encouraged one another in discussion, conversation and prayer; sang heartily to the Lord; and heard about (and even bought) some excellent books. And the more energetic men joined the traditional football match!
This was a refreshing time. Please pray that the Lord would help us to put these lessons into practice, so that the gospel might go forth with power.
Pic. (l to r): Jonathan Watson, Jeremy Walker, Warren Peel, Andrew Swanson, Sinclair Ferguson