I have been going to the BoT conference for a few years now. There are two things I love about it. Firstly, I love the fellowship. It is great to catch up with men from all over the country who are labouring to preach the gospel. Most of them I see only on this occasion. I even have a great time with the men in our presbytery who I see more regularly. There is something about the atmosphere.
Secondly, I love that the preaching and teaching is warmly Christ-Centred. As one of the promo videos said, the Banner conference is an oasis of rest, made so because we have our eyes directed to Christ.
So here I am – the first day of the Banner conference. A historic one because it is the last to be held at Leicester Uni for contactual reasons.
Today was only a part-day as people travel in, but enough to hear two great sermons. The first was from Ted Donnelly. I only know him by reputation. I had never heard him preach, not even a recording. But I understand he has been a regular “Banner Man” in years gone by. He has suffered some ill-health and so this was something of an emotional return. He focussed on Romans 10:15, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news.” In an age where preaching is undervalued, this is a vital encouragement to us poor preachers! We have God-given authority, we have blessings to offer, there is a need for us to address, and the message we have is simple to understand. It is a message for all. It was a great encouragement as we press on.
On a personal note, one quote stood out for me which shows the balance e need as preachers:
“In the pulpit we are to be at our boldest. Out of the pulpit we are to be at our humblest.”
The second sermon was by David Campbell, an Ayrshireman, ministering at Grace Baptist Church in Carlisle, PA. He focussed on the first two sayings of Jesus on the cross in Luke 23:
“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (v34)
“Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” (v43)
They show both the darkness and light of creation. Darkness because of the fallenness of the human condition that needs forgiveness that Jesus speaks of. Jesus’ utterance shows the heart of God, that he does not desire that any should perish (as they must) but might receive forgiveness. Light meaning the grace of God in the promise of paradise, even for a thief dying on a cross beside Jesus. Grace wins.
A good way to end a day!