For the third year now our church is hosting a pastor’s conference called Bethlehem Conference for Pastors. In 1988 there were about 100 in attendance. Last year there were about 120. Would you pray for 150 this year? The testimonies of those who come have made us confident that it is a great source of strength and growth.
The keynote speaker this year is Sinclair Ferguson, formerly a pastor in Scotland, but now a professor at Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia (where our David Livingston went to school!). The topic I have asked him to address is:
The reason for focusing on this topic is its immense importance for our evangelism and world missions, and its awesome implications for every individual who spurns Christ. We live in an increasingly pluralistic society. The old Christian consensus is gone. It is more and more costly to stand for any biblical truth, especially this one: “No man comes to the Father but by me.” Many Christians are abandoning the old orthodox conviction that unbelievers will be excluded from heaven. Even more are denying that there is a hell where unbelievers will “go away into eternal punishment” (Matthew 25:46).
I have asked Dr. Ferguson to address three questions: 1) What is the biblical basis of the doctrine of eternal punishment? 2) How do the justice and mercy of God relate to this reality? 3) How shall we preach in light of these things? The tapes will be available to any of you who want to hear his messages.
Dr. Ferguson wrote to me asking for prayer. Would you join me in praying for him? He said, “It is a solemn subject you have invited me to consider. Pray with me that the Lord will help me to feel its weight as I think about it over these coming months.” Pray that God would guide him into truth, and give him the grace to minister to us with power.
Greg Livingstone, the founder and president of Frontiers (a new mission agency focusing on unreached Muslim peoples) will give the closing missions challenge to the pastors. His title is: “Goliath is Back. Where are the Davids?” Pray that this will give a passionate missionary thrust to the conference. We are not interested in merely studying. We want our lives changed and empowered and made fruitful for the kingdom.
Tom Steller and I will give personal and biographical messages at the conference. Tom’s is called “Finding the Pace to Finish the Race: Biblical and Personal Reflections on Surviving and Thriving in the Ministry.” Mine is called “Oh, that I may never loiter in my heavenly journey! Reflections on the Life and Ministry of David Brainerd.” Pray that God would enable us to strengthen the pastors for their great work.
Finally, remember that Cumberland Valley Bible Book Service will have its great array of discounted Christian books here again. The store will be set up Sunday morning January 28 through Wednesday evening January 31. Does your family have a full concordance to the Bible and a good Bible dictionary and a one volume commentary on the whole Bible? Invest in truth.
Praying with you for the reviving of the shepherds and the flocks,