The seventh annual Bethlehem Conference for Pastors is coming January 24-26. The theme this year is “Sanctification by Faith Alone,” and the keynote speaker will be Daniel Fuller, Emeritus Professor of Hermeneutics at Fuller Theological Seminary.
The fact that Dr. Fuller is coming is for me a very special privilege and satisfaction. Many of you know that, after Jesus and my father, I am more indebted to Dan fuller than any other man for what I understand of Scripture and the ways of God. He guided me during those utterly crucial years of seminary, 1968-1971.
He imparted to me a way of squeezing the Scriptures for every drop of delicious truth I could possibly get.
He pointed me toward the all-encompassing truth that God’s glory is the unifying goal of history.
He showed me the key to sanctification called (in Paul’s words) “the work of faith” (1 Thessalonians 1:3; 2 Thessalonians 1:11).
He inspired in me a hunger to get into the mind of the biblical authors and, as much as possible, the mind of God, and to see reality from that utterly, wonderfully, radically different perspective.
Twenty-five years later I am still trying to catch my breath from the discoveries he has helped me make.
Now he is coming to Bethlehem, and he has asked me to ask you to pray for him. Would you pray that from all his years of thinking he would know what to include in three one hour lectures. Pray that he would have a free mind and a free tongue to deliver God’s burden for the pastors and church leaders who come. Pray that his messages would be anointed for the strengthening and empowering of life and ministry.
Then pray for Ray Ortlund, who is coming to speak from the pastor’s viewpoint on purity and power. Ray Ortlund was the pastor under whose ministry I fell in love with the local church back during those amazing years of 1968-1971. He was the pastor of Lake Avenue Congregational Church, and is now the speaker on the Haven of Rest radio program. Pray that his personal touch will be the perfect supplement to Dr. Fuller’s theological challenge.
Many of you remember Wilfred Fon, the Cameroonian church leader who worked among us for several years while attending Bethel Seminary. Wilfred will give the climactic missions focus to the conference. My goal is that everything we do be given a global twist for the sake of the unreached peoples of the world. Wilfred will help us do this from his unique third world perspective. Pray that God give Wilfred a word that sets our hearts to singing for the sake of the nations.
Finally, I will try to give a message about the great Puritan theologian John Owen. This is not easy. Owen was a giant and I am not an expert. Pray that I will be led to the kind of focus that will be worthy of Owen’s greatness and that will inspire true holiness and a passion for Christ in the pastors.
Jon Bloom is the Conference coordinator this year and would appreciate any help you might want to give. Please pray that God would bring the pastors who need this focus. Ask the Lord to make it refreshing for all who come. May the kingdom advance because of what we do! You are crucial in making this conference as fruitful as it is.
Your partner in the Great Work,