Thursday, June 29, 2006

Knowledge of the Holy

What is God? Perhaps there is no more pertinent question in our time. It could be argued that no more needful doctrine demands to be explained and exegeted than the clear, coherent, biblical, and uncompromising Doctrine of God. Knowing who (or as the catechism states "what") God is in a time of smorgasbord theology and eclectic philosophy is perhaps the most challenging and yet the most needful pursuit of our day. There can be no doubt that fundamental to any talk about God must begin with who God is. It is to this end that the good folks New Life Fellowship Church presented their Annual Bible Conference with this year's theme being: Knowledge of the Holy: Understanding the Attributes of God. I have had the pleasure of being a part of this conference for the past few years, and I prayerfully and joyfully anticipate being a part of the conference for many years to come. However, the greatest pleasure I received this past year was not in my participation, but was rather two-fold:
One, while I thoroughly enjoyed traveling to the Chicago area and ministering among the conferencees and the members of New Life Fellowship Church, the greater joy was the encouragement I received from sitting under the preached word. And man, did Sherard Burns preach (any surprises there? :-). Louis Love kicked off the evening with a brief, but insightful, commendation of the study of God and His attributes. If there was any doubt as to whether or not a study of the Attributes of God is beneficial to the Christian church, Louis laid them to rest. And following Louis, Sherard rose to preach on the Immutability of God and nailed the coffin shut. Whether it was immutability, righteousness, or wisdom, Burns demonstrated the biblical and theological weight of God's attributes and reminded us that our lives and our minds are only significant in that they are set upon the one true God - who He is and what He requires. "Logic on fire" is what D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones called it. It is what we need more of from Reformed preachers.
Secondly, I was once again encouraged by the way in which those at New Life Bible Conference receive the Word preached. They do so with an active participation and a glad heart. I do not ever preach at a more receptive place. It is clear that the majority of these people are given a diet of faithful preaching and are discerners and examiners of the word. Here in lies one of the major contributions the Reformed Black community can make to the predominantly Black church in general. We must be people of the Book! We must recognize and even insist upon preaching that is grounded in the Word of God. And while we may fancy he who is able to turn a phrase, or to enlightened with a whimsical even humorous illustration or two, we must ultimately insist that our preachers be studied, not so much in the finer points of effective audience arousal, but in the finer points of theology and the Bible. This is the hallmark of a Christian Church - Bible-believing, Bible-proclaiming, Bible-living Christians. This is what the New Life Bible Conference is seeking to produce. Praise God for it and them.
What a wonderful time we had at the Conference. Those who were there will surely offer similar testimonies. I could say, "You should've been there." But that would be too clicheish. So, I'll just say, "Don't take my word for it, make plans to be there next year." Then you will be telling other people, "You should've been there."

4 comments:

LouLove said...

Brother Carter:
There is one thing you left out about the conference and I understand why.
What you failed to discuss was your contribution to the conference. I realize you did not want to "toot your own horn" and I appreciate that, however I feel it is important for your readers to know the impact not only of what you write, but of what you preach.

For those of you who do not know, let me fill you in on what I am sure is not a secret. Bro. Carter is a gifted proclaimer of the Word of God. As a matter of fact, it was Carter who preached all alone the first New Life Conference in 2003.

Anthony was virtually unknown to the people of New Life Fellowship Church. I and my wife had just met him and Adriane earlier that year at the Bethlehem Pastors Conference. But let me tell you something people, after that first message, “Anthony Carter” became a household name in Central Lake County, Chicago.

What was it about the preaching of Carter that had and continues to have such an impact on the New Life Conference attendees? In a word I believe it is “earnestness”. When Carter preaches it is clear that his preaching springs out of an unwavering conviction of the truth that he is declaring. Carter reminds me of the words of an old song we use to sing, it had a part in it that went something like “I just couldn’t keep it to myself”. That is earnestness in preaching, it is not all of what earnestness is but it is necessary to earnestness. Someone once said “It is the irrepressible in a man that makes him earnest. If he can keep anything in, then let him keep it, for such a thing, generally speaking, is not worth letting out, and his utterance of it will have no force. But when it comes to such a point with him that he feels like the old prophet who said, ‘Then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire shut up in my bones; and I am weary of holding it in, and I cannot endure it’, then he will speak in such a way as to thrill and overawe his hearers”
This is the impression I sense when Carter is preaching. Have you ever heard him expound on the Love of God, or how about the Doctrines of Grace? Man you do not know what you are missing. I know Anthony will get me for going on and on, but you who read his blog need to know this. Actually, the greater Reformed community needs to know this. All though you will not detect this by the speakers at the most popular Reformed conferences, there are many Reformed African American preachers who can “bring it” (really preach). And while I am on this soap box, let me say this to all my Reformed African American preachers; retain the earnestness. Just because you have come to some heavy truths does not mean you have to dry up. Nor does it mean you have to grab a long hanky and hoop your way into insignificance. It simply means be under conviction that what you are preaching is the truth and it is worth saying and say it like you are that last man on earth who can say it. Now if you do not know what I mean, I suggest you look on Anthony’s itinerary and follow him to his next preaching engagement, sit close, be quiet, and listen carefully and you will come away having no doubts.

Brother Carter; I thank God for your ministry and for your faithfulness.

P.S. If you think I went on and on about Carter you should hear C. J. do an introduction.

ajcarter said...

Thanks, my friend. You are far too kind. May we all find our boast in the Cross, where human pride goes to die, and God's glory is all the story.

Eric M Washington said...

Anthony,

Thanks for the udpate; I surely wanted to be there. "$$$ too tight to mention." Black preachers, espeically those of us who are Reformed, must always keep in mind that it is God's word and not our twist on God's word. The people of God need his word, not our tuning, humming, or hooping (I know this is not the case among Black Reformed preachers). There is a veritable dearth of sound expositional preaching in Black churches. Brothers give three points of application without exposition. What's up with that? Keep on preaching, brother. You have helped me much! I have you on DVD from the Black and Reformed Conference here in Michigan last year!

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