EDMOND—The Priority of Preaching Conference registered 176 pastors and church leaders from all across Oklahoma. The annual event met Feb. 25-26 at Edmond, First with the theme of the conference being “Preaching Christ in all of Scripture.”
Three renowned scholars spoke during the two-day event, which included Paul House, professor of divinity at Samford University’s Beeson Divinity School; Jim Shaddix, professor of preaching at Southeastern Seminary; and D.A. Carson, emeritus professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.
House opened his first lecture taking a survey of how often those in attendance preach during a week, including how often on a Sunday, which could be up to three or four times that day. His intention was to share with attendees how to evaluate sermon preparation in regard to ways biblical theology can be presented.
“Remember, first of all, that you have more than one opportunity, most of you, per week to use what you are learning (at the conference),” House said. “Second of all, everything doesn’t ride on the sermon. This is good news. Remember, you’re going to be preaching in a Christian meeting. So you’re going to pray to God. You’re going to have songs that are being sung that will contribute to the overall instruction and growth. And there are other ways in which you can get help.”
House pointed out that pastors get help from Sunday School or small group Bible studies and other times church members receive instruction from Scripture. “What are they teaching that would work together with what you are preaching?” House asked. “What are you trying to get done as a whole church to get God’s Word out in different ways to different ages as best as you can?”
Shaddix gave guidance on the process of sermon preparation, which included looking at the pastor’s personal study time as a chance to meet with God.
“God has ordained me and you to be a part of the process,” he said. “Have you ever thought about this? We’ve got a Book here that is inspired; it is inerrant; it is infallible; it is supernatural, and God has given it to you and to me who is fallible, errant, natural… all of those things that (the Bible) is not, and He says ‘I’m trusting you to preach it.’ That’s a train wreck waiting to happen.”
But, Shaddix said, through God’s grace and wisdom, He has provided preachers everything needed to preach God’s Word. Shaddix also encouraged pastors in attendance to use Bible commentaries.
“I think it’s an arrogant thing for me to say, ‘All I need is me and my Bible and the Holy Spirit,’” Shaddix said. “Well, I get that, but you know, there are brothers who have spent their entire lives studying one book of the Bible. Who am I to say that they don’t have something to say to me?”
Carson preached a sermon from Matthew 11 about John the Baptist questioning Jesus and discussed John’s mindset, as to why he questioned Jesus. Carson said, looking at Matthew 3, that John was expecting judgment. This is referenced in the Book of Isaiah, including chapters 35 and 61, which, as Carson said, John knew well.
“I suspect that John the Baptist expected Jesus to be the ‘Warrior Lamb.’ But John the Evangelist, the writer, notes that John the Baptist speaks better than he knows,” Carson said, pointing out that John the Baptist declared in John 1:29 about Jesus, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” However, John the Baptist had doubts, Carson said, because of what Jesus was and was not doing.
“(John the Baptist) expected a triumphant Messiah who would bring justice and vindication,” Carson said and made the application of the expectations many Christians have. “A lot of human discouragements erupt in our lives because of false expectations.”
Brett Selby, pastoral leadership specialist for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, summed up the conference. “The purpose of every sermon is to proclaim Christ, not simply teach a particular truth or principle,” he said. “Helping people to catch a faith view of Christ through the sermon is what fuels the worship and mission of the church. Every part of this year’s conference was focused on helping us proclaim Christ from any text of Scripture. And we all came away better equipped to do just that.”