Jeff Purswell preached from Ephesians 6:10-20 at the second general session of our Pastors Conference. His message, titled "A Call to Arms” addressed spiritual warfare and the battle that we wage against the enemy of our souls. Jeff said,
“Satan only works as God allows. When He does work, God uses even those evil schemes. What the devil means for evil, God means for good…This is the mystery of providence...This gives us hope. We wrestle with subjugated powers. Vanquished powers. They wreak havoc and have real consequences, but they have no enduring power over those who are in Christ Jesus. At their worst, they are in service to God’s sovereign plan.”
“Spiritual warfare is mysterious. But fighting is not a mystery. All of us in Christ Jesus have this armor at our disposal. And all of us are called to deploy it.”
This armor is a divine gift we receive. It doesn’t drive us to our own cleverness or resources. It drives us to Christ and his resources.
Right-click to download, or listen here:
October 31, 2012 by
Categories: Pastors Conference
“We can sometimes be so immersed in the battle, we can lose sight of the nature of the battle and the needs of the battle. This text gives us hope because it points us to the provision God has made to equip us.”
This morning’s session was “A Call to Arms” as Jeff Purswell expounded on Ephesians 6:10-20 - spiritual warfare and the battle that we wage against the enemy of our souls.
We first looked at our call to be strong in the Lord and the strength of his might. (vs. 10) “The very command to be strong is at the same time a promise that the strength is available. Because of what Christ has accomplished, we are joined to Him. There is no trial personally or pastorally that is greater than your ability to withstand. No circumstance personally or pastorally that is greater than your ability to navigate or persevere in…Any thinking of spiritual warfare has to start here – the divine power that is available to us.”
Secondly, Jeff talked about the context of our spiritual warfare. This call to be strong is for a purpose. We need power because we are in a struggle to resist an opposing force. The devil is an intelligent foe that carefully devises plans against the Gospel and the church. He has a full ray of insidious temptations Our battle is not against flesh and blood.
Jeff went on to remind us that “Satan only works as God allows. When He does work, God uses even those evil schemes. What the devil means for evil, God means for good…This is the mystery of providence...This gives us hope. We wrestle with subjugated powers. Vanquished powers. They wreak havoc and have real consequences, but they have no enduring power over those who are in Christ Jesus. At their worst, they are in service to God’s sovereign plan.”
And we ended with the provision God has made for us to resist this warfare. He’s given us full armor. “Spiritual warfare is mysterious. But fighting is not a mystery. All of us in Christ Jesus have this armor at our disposal. And all of us are called to deploy it.” This armor is a divine gift we receive. It doesn’t drive us to our own cleverness or resources. It drives us to Christ and his resources. “Our hope in this battle is not technique. It is God – the resources He gives and the strength He supplies.”
So at the end of the day, what is Satan really after with us? Satan wants to rule our hearts. He wants to take us captive to believe his lies and do his will. He hates God. His forces are aimed at capturing and destroying God’s image bearers. All the spiritual forces of wickedness conspire to this end. What do we do? Bottom line, we stand firm – in what god has done for us, what He has done in us and what He promises to do for us. We repent, we believe, we trust, we resist – that is the great power encounter. To reject lies about God and sin, to resist cravings that displace God in our hearts. That is the power encounter - the application of the Gospel.
---Conference audio available in a future post --
Dave Harvey preached from Matthew 18:21-35 at the first general session of our Pastors Conference. His message, titled "Forgiveness: Debtor No More" looked at the parable of the unforgiving servant to clearly see that forgiven sinners forgive sin. Dave said,
“The Gospel comes to us in the midst of our fallenness and reminds us that we didn’t get what we deserved, and so we can’t hold one another hostage until we feel like they’ve got what they deserved. At the cross, I’m reminded that I didn’t get what I deserve.”
We are called to transfer to others the staggering mercy we have received through Jesus Christ.
Right-click to download, or listen here:
October 31, 2012 by
Categories: Pastors Conference
Dave Harvey opened up the conference speaking on forgiveness from Matthew 18. Titled “Forgiveness: Debtor No More,” he unpacked the parable of the unforgiving servant - “The Lord rocks Peter’s whole paradigm by revealing to him that his view of forgiveness is too small. And he does it by showing him a parable of debt cancellation.” Harvey went on to say “Forgiven sinners forgive sin. Forgiveness comes with a divine redundancy.”
Walking through the debt forgiven, the mercy offered and the cost absorbed, we soaked tonight in the astounding reality of God’s complete forgiveness. In referencing this parable in Matthew 18, Matthew Henry states “…if that is the measure of forgiveness the disciple has received, any limitation on the forgiveness he shows to his brother is unthinkable." Harvey went on to remind us “The Gospel comes to us in the midst of our fallenness and reminds us that we didn’t get what we deserved, and so we can’t hold one another hostage until we feel like they’ve got what they deserved. At the cross, I’m reminded that I didn’t get what I deserve.” We are called to transfer to others the staggering mercy we have received.
Simply put, forgiven sinners forgive sin.
- Audio will be available in a future post -
October 30, 2012 by
Categories: Pastors Conference
Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando, Florida is a bustling place right now, as pastors and their wives are arriving for the Sovereign Grace Pastors Conference. The band is rehearsing and the happy sound of conversation is echoing down the hallway as friends reunite. We love being together. And this is obvious.
“Grace, from First to Last” is our conference theme, and we are eager to celebrate that grace together this week. Attendees have come from 14 different countries - Australia, The Bahamas, Bolivia, Canada, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Germany, Ghana, Mexico, Nigeria, the Philippines, UK, USA, and Zambia. We thank God for bringing us all here safely, and await the arrival of others who are delayed and still traveling due to Hurricane Sandy. Please join us in praying for this conference as we gather around God’s word to celebrate the glorious gospel and better apply it to the churches we love and serve.
Keep your eye out for regular recap posts, as we share highlights from each main session. And for those who want to join in tweeting, the hash tag is #SGPC12 .
October 30, 2012 by
Categories: Conferences | Transfer | Video
From generation to generation... What we treasure, we must transfer!
This reality is what lies behind Transfer, a four-day gathering (May 25-28, 2013) hosted by the churches of Sovereign Grace Ministries. Transfer exists to celebrate and proclaim those biblical truths and values that are most important to pass on from one generation to the next. For values to be transferred, they must be seen, taught, and experienced in daily life, not simply at a conference. For that reason,Transfer is designed both to equip and inspire you to view your life, generation, and church as part of a much larger tapestry God is weaving for his glory. You are not alone. And at Transfer you’ll have the opportunity to join with different generations to celebrate and be strengthened in the values we treasure most.
Why this conference?
That the next generation might set their hope in God... Psalm 78:4, 7 says: “We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done... so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments.” We want to transfer what matters. We want those after us to see how glorious a relationship with Jesus is. We want them to hope in God – not in our methodologies, our practices, our structures, or even our example, but in God himself. Drawing on our history as a family of churches and the amazing truths we celebrate, the Transfer Conference will create a context for us to intentionally transfer the things we treasure to the next generation. If we assume these things, we will lose them, so we must be intentional to transfer them. In a focused way, Transfer will allow us to do this by devoting each session to a particular truth we collectively treasure: God’s glory, God’s gospel, God’s word, God’s presence, God’s people, God’s design, and God’s mission.
Who should come?
Transfer is for... Young Adults. Transfer will be geared especially toward young adults (18 and over). If you’re a young adult, your season of life is an ideal time to become grounded in the things that matter most. As you seek out which things are of first importance, we want you to be established in the truths we treasure.
Transfer is for... Teens. If you’re a teenager, you also need to explore the things that matter most. We want to partner with your parents in passing on the most important things to you.
Transfer is for... Parents. If you’re a parent of a teen, you are already doing a lot of transferring. This conference can be refreshing to you as you come with your teen and hear thetruths we love once again.
It’s for... Anyone. If you don’t fit into any of the categories above, but just want to come, press into the Lord with his people, and be amazed by the things that have been amazing us for so long as a family of churches, you’re welcome to come.
Registration opens December 1st. In the meantime, enjoy this promotional video that allows you to journey through our 30-year history where we’ve sought to faithfully transfer the truth we collectively treasure.
October 29, 2012 by
Dear Friends of Sovereign Grace,
Yesterday the Polity Committee sent the pastors of Sovereign Grace a polity proposal to review prior to this week's Pastors Conference.
This commences a 90-day period of examination of our proposal during which we hope to engage all of our pastors on the proposal and to hear their feedback. At the end of that 90-day examination period, we will review again and make any appropriate changes before submitting it for ratification.
The Polity Adoption Plan will be explained in more detail this week at the Pastors Conference. There will be a more formal presentation of the polity and an open Q&A for all the pastors so that they can ask the Committee any questions they have about this Polity Proposal.
I want to express my appreciation to the other Polity Committee members for all of their hard work. I also want to thank the Board of Directors of SGM and the entire Leadership Team for their gracious support of the Committee in its labors. And, of course, on behalf of the Polity Committee, I want to thank all of the pastors of SG for their encouragement and assistance for the last 6 months.
We love the churches of Sovereign Grace and the work of this Committee was motivated by the desire to see them each blessed for generations to come, as much as that is possible, by developing a biblical and wise governance.
In His Name,
Download the Sovereign Grace Polity Proposal
October 26, 2012 by
Categories: General | Lawsuit updates
Please be aware of the following press release.
October 26, 2012
Statement by Tommy Hill
Sovereign Grace Ministries Director of Administration
Re: A Civil Lawsuit Filed Against Sovereign Grace Ministries Oct. 17 in Maryland’s Montgomery County Circuit Court
Though not yet served, Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM) leadership has obtained a copy of the civil lawsuit filed last week against SGM and several pastors of its associational churches. This recent complaint makes broad allegations that SGM pastors were negligent in providing spiritual counsel and pastoral care in situations involving persons who had previously suffered child sexual abuse. It is important to note that it does not allege any act of child abuse by a pastor or staff member of SGM or of an associated church. SGM is not in a position to comment on the specific allegations at this time, but we are beginning a careful legal review of each allegation. Upon initial review it appears the complaint contains a number of untrue or misleading allegations, as well as considerable mischaracterizations of intent.
Child sexual abuse is reprehensible in any circumstance, and a violation of fundamental human dignity. We grieve deeply for any child who has been a victim of abuse. We want to minister the love, grace and healing of God to any who have suffered this horrific act.
SGM is committed to integrity and faithfulness in pastoral care, as are the pastors of local congregations. We take seriously the biblical commands to pursue the protection and well-being of all people – especially children, who are precious gifts given by the Lord and the most vulnerable among us. These biblical commands include fully respecting civil authority to help restrain evil and promote righteousness as Romans 13 instructs us. SGM also encourages the establishment of robust child protection policies and procedures based on best practices.
SGM churches are separately organized and constituted in their respective communities. They voluntarily partner together for certain aspects of their broader common mission: to plant churches, develop resources, train pastors and serve international ministries in order to proclaim the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We ask that you please join us in praying that God guides and leads all of us in these challenging circumstances, ministering His grace, comfort and peace to all who are affected by this situation, and that His truth would prevail.
October 25, 2012 by
Cornerstone Church of Knoxville hosted a weekend with Jerry Bridges, October 19-21, where he spoke on the topic of endurance. In his first message, Mr. Bridges shared from 2 Timothy 4:6-10 on the four essentials of finishing well. Later, he conducted breakout seminars focused on endurance for adults ages 50+ and for college students. Sunday morning Mr. Bridges spoke from one of his newest books, "Who Am I?" about our identity in Christ. You can access all the audio from this weekend with Jerry Bridges here.
We want you to know that beyond serving us through his teaching, Mr. Bridges served us through his example. He has modeled endurance. He has served on staff with the Navigators for over 40 years and has authored more than 20 books. Mr. Bridges is 82 years old. This year he underwent heart surgery. Still, he spends his time writing gospel-centered books, teaching God's Word, and serving churches like Cornerstone Church of Knoxville for the glory of God. He is modeling for us what it means to finish well.
This weekend with Mr. Bridges was a great success. With his health issues and concerns, Cornerstone Church prayed that Mr. Bridges would be able make the trip from Colorado. We are most grateful the Lord answered those prayers and the church was well served through both Mr. Bridges' teaching and example.
Bill has served as Senior Pastor of Cornerstone Church of Knoxville since its inception in April, 1990. His responsibilities include general oversight of the church, training and care for the Pastoral Team, Sunday morning teachings, and directing our evangelistic efforts at the University of Tennessee through its campus outreach, Volunteers for Christ. Bill married his high school sweetheart, Cheri, and they have four children.
October 24, 2012 by
Categories: Conferences | Germany
Arche Church in Hamburg, Germany was privileged to host the annual Eckstein Conference this past week, October 18-21. Pastors, leaders, and Christians from all over Europe gathered to be further instructed from God’s Word on the transforming power of the gospel.
Sadly, the church in the land of the reformation is in poor health due to the influence of liberal theology. Many churches have moved far away from what Luther recovered. The Eckstein Conference serves to draw many to return to sound doctrine and practice according to the Word of God. This year C.J. Mahaney and Jeff Purswell served as our main speakers unpacking the Scriptures to help us further see the connection between the gospel and progressive sanctification.
One of many highlights of the conference was Jeff’s sermon from Isaiah 6 about the holiness of God. He made specific connections between the theological truth of the text and its applications to every day life. In his message Jeff made the point that just as Isaiah could not stand before God, we too need help from outside ourselves to be in the presence of a holy God. We can only find hope in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Many of the attendees commented that they have never heard Isaiah 6 preached more powerfully.
It was also a great joy to welcome C.J. Mahaney. This was his first time speaking at this conference. In his fine and joyful manner he immediately won the hearts of the Germans. In his message from James 4:1-2 he addressed how cravings underlie conflicts. His preaching was practical and uplifting for those in attendance. In his message on Hebrews 3:12-13 he addressed the responsibility we have to help each other grow in godliness. He used an illustration of a businessman preparing for an important meeting but failed to notice the cream cheese that was on his face, remaining from his earlier breakfast. No one alerted this businessman of what was obvious to others…the cream cheese on his face. This businessman was heading into an embarrassing situation and no one was willing to stop him. The stakes are much higher for us as Christians.
In attendance at the conference was a woman who was preparing to divorce her husband of 30 years. Upon returning home she wrote us:
Dear Pastors, yesterday I was at the Eckstein Conference....the sermons were so clear and convicting that I decided to humble myself by writing a letter to my husband. The result was that both of us have decided to devote ourselves to each other again. May the Lord help us. The message of C.J. Mahaney with the cream cheese was very helpful and convicting. To God be the glory for these wonderful days. God bless you all!
The Arche Church in Hamburg is thankful to God for our deep friendship with C.J., Jeff, and Sovereign Grace Ministries. To God be the glory!
Christian Wegert leads Gemeinde und Missionswerk Arche in Hamburg, Germany. He graduated from the Sovereign Grace Pastors College in 2008. Christian and his wife Verena have two daughters and one son.