We are wrapping the 2018 Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology this weekend at Proclamation Presbyterian Church outside Philadelphia. Our theme this year is "Spirit of the Age - Age of the Spirit." As we have been celebrating the exalted Christ's outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost and its implications for our age of history, let me briefly highlight some of the main benefits we now enjoy:
1. By the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost, the gospel is unleashed with power from on high. Prior to Pentecost, the gospel was confined to a small cultural and geographical corner of the world. But with the Spirit's coming, the gospel "has gone forth everywhere" (1 Thess. 1:8). Paul could state that the gospel has gone out "in the whole world" and "is bearing fruit and increasing" (Col. 1:5-6). Because of the outpoured Spirit, we who live in lands distant from the original church have heard and believed, and we have a mighty confidence in God for the success of the gospel among those who have still not heard its saving message.
2. At Pentecost, Christ has joined his ministry to the Spirit to advance his saving ministry with great power. Paul makes the stunning statement in 2 Cor. 3:17: "Now the Lord is the Spirit." The point is not an ontological union of the Second and Third Persons of the Godhead but an economical joining in the application of that salvation which Christ has achieved. It was for this reason that Jesus told his disciples, "it is to your advantage that I go away" (Jn. 16:7). Now Christ lives and moves in his people by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit comes "that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith...that you may be filled with all the fullness of God" (Eph. 3:17-19). What a joyous realization that by his Spirit, Christ lives in us!
3. After Pentecost, the Spirit is at work convicting sinners and regenerating their hearts to believe. Jesus taught of the Spirit: "when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment" (Jn. 16:8). Now, the most hardened sinner can be saved through the witness of the gospel, by the Spirit's power to convict of sin and bring to saving faith.
4. Because of the Spirit's coming, believers can and will be transformed into the glorious image of Christ. Whereas Moses would depart from the Lord's presence with a radiant face - only to have that divine imprint fade over time - Christians "beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another" (2 Cor. 3:18). Now, genuine Christ-likeness is not only our goal but the experience every Christian is able to know in growing measure. To be like Jesus! Yes, because of Pentecost.
5. By the sending of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, Christ has glorified himself in the world. Jesus told the disciples, "When the Spirit of truth comes,...He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you" (Jn. 16:13-14). Through God's Word, believers in Christ behold the glory of Jesus, seeing in the gospel "the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (2 Cor. 4:6). Even the unbelieving world - which would never have known or cared a crucified Jew named Jesus - has had his glory revealed in the lives and witness of Christ's Spirit-indwelt people. What a thrilling thought! And what a glory-strewn purpose for our lives as people of the Holy Spirit in this world!
We are living in the Age of the Spirit, and thus able to speak of God's truth and grace to the spirit of the age. I hope you are able to join us for this year's PCRT. And I pray that you rejoice at the glorious thing Christ has done in sending the Holy Spirit to be the conquering power of our age.
This weekend we kickoff the 2018 Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology, meeting April 13-15 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Our theme this year is The Spirit of the Age: The Age of the Spirit. I am excited to welcome Conrad Mbewe and Danny Akin and looking forward to exploring the mighty work of the Holy Spirit in the age of the gospel. Especially exciting is our privilege to hear the teaching of Richard B. Gaffin, Jr., whose teaching on the resurrection Spirit literally changed my life when I sat under his seminary teaching. Friday will be a priceless opportunity to hear Dr. Gaffin lecture on Pentecost and the Work of the Spirit Today.
Now, for some book suggestions related to this important theme.
First, I can turn to no other than Dr. Gaffin himself. For a more academic version of his essential work, Perspectives on Pentecost, will open up his teaching on the difference that Christ's sending of the Spirit has really made.
For a less academic, but mind-expanding work on the gospel, Gaffin's By Faith, Not By Sight: Paul and the Order of Salvation is an classic that I cannot recommend too highly.
Other books that will inform the topic of our time as the Age of the Spirit are Geerhardus Vos' classic, The Pauline Eschatology and Anthony Hoekema's The Bible and the Future. One of our previous PCRT conferences tackled this theme in book form, These Last Days, edited by me and Gabriel Fluhrer.
I have no doubt that conference attenders will be delighted to hear Conrad Mbewe, and readers will be blessed to consider his book, Pastoral Preaching: Building a People for God.
When we think of the work of the Spirit in our age, we inevitable turn to the Spirit's power in the inspired Word of God. If you have not read Kevin DeYoung's Taking God at His Word, you will be soundly instructed in this brief commendation of the Bible.
Kevin has also authored a meaty booklet on The Holy Spirit, that is an ideal introduction to this theme.
Finally, some years ago we held a memorable conference on The Promised Holy Spirit, the audio recordings of which are available in our Reformed Resources.
I look forward to seeing you in Grand Rapids, or in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania on April 27-29!
You know the importance of sound doctrine preached. Yet in many churches God's Word is no longer preached. Congregations no longer bear fruit.
Secularism seeps into churches, maybe even your church.
Alliance members like you look to the Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology for sound doctrine preached! Maybe you are fortunate to be in a church with confessional doctrine, but you see the need for others to have access to the same fruit-bearing teaching.
PCRT brings sound doctrine preached to thousands faithfully.
Pastor Rick Phillips, chair of PCRT, reminds us:
"I can remember my first PCRT and the palpable excitement that attended God's Word.
The packed, hot sanctuary shook as we sang Martin Luther's great hymn, "A Mighty Fortress." In the center, was a beaming, singing, Jim Boice. Dr. Boice was the founder, guiding PCRT to be a cornerstone of the Alliance.
Over that weekend, I was exposed to condensed, clear, "black-coffee" Reformed theology. The result was not merely the persuasion of my mind but the enflaming of my heart with a passion for the truths of God's Word. "
Maybe you have your own PCRT story to tell, a story of hearing God's Word in a meaningful and new way. A story of being changed by the working of the Spirit through the teaching at PCRT. We hear from many people - even people who have attended church all their lives - who discover at PCRT the truths fought for centuries ago.
But it's larger than just PCRT; farther than just Philadelphia!
Alliance members sponsor events throughout the year, bringing proclamatory, expository teaching to more people across the continent.
Even if you are unable attend this year, your support enables pastors and college students to attend at reduced rates. Events can't continue by registration fees alone but require the support of Alliance members like you. Your gifts allow registration rates to remain low and means more people hear God's Word.
We don't labor alone and for that we are grateful. Thank you for standing with us.
Text Links:http://www.alliancenet.org/philadelphia-conference-on-reformed-theology http://www.alliancenet.org/events https://my.monkdonate.com/48/d/52e844a4
Thank you Rev. Alexander for this volume and for a lifetime of preaching God's Word, ministering to God's Church, and honoring God in all you do.Eric Alexander's great concern in this series of studies is that Christians should know how rich they are in their gracious God and Saviour, and in His perfect work of salvation. Each study brings out a fresh aspect of this theme, as we contemplate in turn the character of God, the salvation of God, and the Church of God. In words which Rev. Alexander quotes from the works of the puritan Stephen Charnock: "If rich men delight to sum up their vast revenues, to read over their rentals, to look upon their hoards, how much more should the people of God please themselves in seeing how rich they are in having an immensely full and all-sufficient God as their inheritance." These warm and pastorally-directed studies will provide satisfying food for the hearts and minds of Christian readers everywhere.