Passion: Lessons from Shepherd’s Conference 2015

Note: To watch the video from the 2015 Shepherd’s Conference, please click here. It will take a lot of time to get through them, and many of them will require you to watch several times, but it is something I would urge every person to do. You will be encouraged and grow in the teaching of these godly men.

This past week, I had the great privilege of attending the 2015 Shepherd’s Conference at Grace Community Church in Southern California. Also known as the Inerrancy Summit of 2015, the conference was highlighted by speakers from around the world in conjunction with attenders from around the world gathered together for the sake of discussing the integrity of Scripture.

In 1978 evangelical scholars gathered for what has been called the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy. This event brought nearly 300 of the most noted scholars together in order to provide a positive defense for Scripture and establish not only the need for defending inerrancy, but also to define inerrancy. That document, the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, sets forth to be the hallmark on defining the integrity of Scripture.
When the Inerrancy Summit of 2015 was announced, my first question was “Why?” In my mind, determining the Bible to be inerrant is a given and therefore does not require discussion. The people I surrounded myself with would all affirm an inerrant Word. Yet, as my ministry has grown and I have been privileged to come in contact with more and more people, I recognize this is not the case for everyone. In fact, in my own studies and growth, I recognize that many that I first came in contact with as a young Christian may call Scripture inerrant, but they really have no understanding at all of what that means, and thus undermine in the undercurrent of many of their sermons and teachings. Add to that my youth. I am young enough that I was never around for the undermining discussions that took off with great speed in the 1960’s and 1970’s.
However, it has become quite clear, there is a need to defend the truth. As proclaimers, teachers, and expositors of the Word, we must be mindful that what is being taught is the Word of God. It requires care and diligence, seeking to teach God’s truth only (and not our own ideologies) in order to not lead others astray.
With nearly 5000 men coming together, the impact of the Inerrancy Summit has been made and now those men must continue on the work in their own ministries. So what has come out of this conference? With the opportunity for taking in 20 sermons during the week, it is hard to compress so much information into a brief post. What I want to do is establish three key principles that all of us should take away.
A Passion for God’s Word
Ian Hamilton reminded conference attenders that in Christ’s teachings, he equated the character of God with the character of the Scripture. At face value, this seems like a simple statement. However, beyond the surface this suggests something deeper to us that we often fail to grasp. God the Father and the Word of God are not mutually exclusive. They go hand in hand in the life of a believer. God works in our lives by revealing Himself through His Word. In this same way, a high regard for God is not mutually exclusive from a high regard for God’s Word. As one is elevated, the other must be elevated. If God is trustworthy, then His Word must also be trustworthy. If the Word were not trustworthy, then God would no longer be trustworthy.
This is why the topic of inerrancy is so important. To deny it for the Bible denies it for God. Therefore, we must be careful in how we treat the Word in order to not also depreciate the magnificence of God. For this reason, we must have a high regard for both and not try to insert a dichotomy in between the two.
A Passion for God’s People
Not often do we think about the impact of inerrancy in missions. We simply think about it in terms of the Bible with little regard to how this impacts our sharing of the Gospel. In General Session 6, Miguel Nunez grasps hold of this concept, urging believers to remember that our view of Scripture impacts our view of missions.
A natural outpouring of a passion for God and His Word is manifested by a passion for God’s people. As we come to recognize the truth contained within the Word, there becomes a desire to share God and His plan of salvation through Jesus Christ with the nations. The truth found within the Word promotes an excitement, a form of awe, in which our passion becomes a desire for seeing others experience the same freedom from the same truth in the same way that we have.
A Passion for God’s Commission
Finally, I would suggest one final point that every person should come away with from the conference. If there is a passion for God and a passion for people, those should combine together into a passion for God’s commission. There comes a great desire to build up God’s people by proclaiming God through God’s Word.
The Word of God becomes a tool for both building up people and encouraging people. We build up people by pouring the Word into their lives, seeking to push them to grow in maturity and in turn, hope that they will do the same for us. Likewise, in its inerrant sufficiency, the Word can be used to encourage people, both in trials and in joys, by reminding them from where all things come and who has control.
As my wife and I seek to embark on our journey as missionaries to Argentina, we have developed a basic outline of ministry that seems to function well here. It is declare, disciple, and develop. For ministry, we want to declare God’s Word, seeing others come to a saving relationship with Him. As this takes root, we want to disciple the people so that they maybe well-founded in truth. Finally, we want to develop leadership to take over the church (thus working ourselves out of a job). I would suggest that if there is a passion for God and a passion for God’s people, both individually and corporately, the function of all of this becomes the fulfillment of the Great Commission. As Christ called on the apostles to make disciples, teaching them all that He taught them, our functioning goals should center around doing just that…..making disciples.
As ones who are convicted by the Word to be committed to the Word, and thus to God as well, we must be people who hold it tightly, guarding the Gospel if you will, in order to reach those around us. May we stand committed to the inerrancy of the Word, translating that into a passion for God, His people, and His commission. Therefore, go forth and teach that which you know to be true.

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