The Fourth Annual Bethlehem Conference for Pastors

This is a call to pray for our upcoming conference. To guide your prayer I print here the letter I sent to all the pastors on our mailing list. It shows you the spirit and the content and speakers of the conference. Our registrations are running ahead of other years, so I anticipate a significant attendance and powerful time of study and prayer and worship. Pray that God would teach us the truth and fill us with his Spirit and enable all of us to lead our flocks with the T-shirt (1 Peter 5:5) of humility and the mantle of divine power (Luke 24:49).

Dear friends!

I invite you to the Bethlehem Conference for Pastors because…

I want to think and pray with you about the extraordinary power of the Holy Spirit—or whatever Jesus meant when he said to the disciples, “Stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). I want you to help me “test all things and hold fast to what is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). Specifically, I want us to assess biblically the claim that New Testament gifts of prophecy and miracles and healings are available today and should be “earnestly desired” (1 Corinthians 14:1). And I want us to do this under the banner of the sovereignty of God and with a deep commitment to the centrality of the infallible word of God written.

I confess that the more I submit myself to Scripture (rather than experience and tradition) the more open and desirous I become to see the glory of God revealed in these ways in our day. I hope to share with you some of my longings and how they have been taking shape in recent years. I want to hear your heart and your biblical apprehensions.

Wayne Grudem will be our keynote speaker, delivering three messages on Spiritual Gifts and the Sovereignty of God, with a special focus on New Testament prophecy. Wayne’s allegiance to the inerrancy of Scripture and his Reformed commitments make his emerging leadership in the “Third Wave” somewhat of a puzzle to many. His book on the gift of prophecy has been immensely important in the movement.

I first heard Don Williams speak when I was a student at Fuller about 1970. His intensity and passion for ministry have not diminished. But he is no longer a pastor of a mainline Presbyterian Church. He is now the pastor of the Coast Vineyard in San Diego. He will tell us his story and how he was moved along the way to more and more openness to “Signs, Wonders and the Kingdom of God” the title of his most recent book.

Most of us became familiar with the name John Kyle while he was the missions leader of InterVarsity during days of great growth at Urbana. He is now the head of the PCA Mission to the World. He does not see himself as part of the “Third Wave”, but is full of hope and vision for completing the Great Commission under the power and authority of our sovereign God.

For my part, I hope to do a biographical study of Martyn Lloyd-Jones with a special focus on his own passion for power and revival and “the baptism of the Holy Spirit”. He has been a great inspiration to me.

May the Lord give you guidance about being with us. I expect to meet him with you in a powerful way.

Longing with you for “all the fullness of God”,

John Piper

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