Tuesday, May 04, 2010

2010 Banner Conference Report #2

Following on from part 1, here is the rest of my report on Banner 2010:

The Sabbath

On Tuesday morning Ian D. Campbell gave an excellent address on the Lord's Day, waxing all theodramatic, or rather theooperatic, he entitled his message "Sabbath the Opera in Seven Acts". 'New Covenant Theology' types often complain that those who hold to a Christian Sabbath view of the Lord's Day do so on the basis of Puritan confessional theology rather than the teaching of the Bible. Ian D. undermined that claim by adopting a rigorous and bracing redemptive-historical approach. I can't hope to capture the power and impact of this message in these brief notes, but here is a little taster.

1. Before the beginning

God's rest in the tranquility of intertrinitarian fellowship prior to the creation. The Lord's  purpose in creation was that human beings might share in his rest.

2. Creation

Creation is a temple in which the glory of God is revealed. God rested from his labours on the 7th day (Genesis 2:1-3). After being created together with Eve on Day Six, Adam and his wife would have awoken to their first full day together on the Sabbath, enjoying rest and fellowship with God.

3. Sinai

After the exodus, Israel was set apart as God's covenant people at Sinai. The Lord gave his redeemed people the Ten Commandments, including the Fourth Commandment, giving Israel a day of rest.

4. The rest of Canaan

The people of God entered their rest in the land after years of wandering in the wilderness (Psalm 95). In accordance with the laws of Moses, life in the Promised Land was punctuated by a multiplicity of Sabbaths. The weekly Sabbath, the Day of Atonement, the 7th year, the 50th year of Jubilee. At the exile, the land enjoyed its Sabbaths.

5. The Word made flesh: the Lord appears on the Stage

Jesus came not to set aside the law, but that its requirements might be fulfilled in his people, Romans 8:3. He is Lord of the Sabbath, Mark 2:28. As Boaz would not rest (Ruth 3:18) until he had redeemed Elimelech's property and married Ruth, so Jesus, the "restless redeemer" would not rest until he had given rest to his people. It is through his finished work that we find rest. The old covenant Sabbath was buried in the grave with Jesus. He rose from the dead bringing in the new and better day of rest, Lord's Day. Also it was on the first day of the week the Holy Spirit was poured out on the church.

6. The church has entered the Sabbath rest that remains for the people of God

Hebrews 3 & 4. Our rest on the Lord's day is an anticipation of our eschatological rest. New Testament texts that appear to say that the Sabbath rule no longer applies (Romans 14:5-6, Colossians 2:16) do not refer to the Fourth Commandment/Lord's Day, but to the other Jewish Sabbaths that have now been abolished in Christ. If every day alike is in effect a Lord's Day, then no day is specifically set apart by him as holy

7. The Lord of the Sabbath will return

The coming of Christ will usher in the saint's everlasting rest, Hebrews 4:9.

If as Lloyd-Jones said, "Preaching is theology on fire", then this message was "biblical theology on fire", panoramic redemptive-historical preaching at its very best.

Ian D. gave a second message on Wednesday morning entitled, A Sabbath Rest for the People of God: Will That Be Sufficient?, concentrating on Revelation 1:10.

1. The change John witnessed

As a follower of Jesus John witnessed the change from Old Testament Sabbath to the Lord's Day. On the evening of his first Lord's Day the apostle saw the risen Christ in the upper room.

2. The practice John adopted

Even when in exile on Patmos, John continued to observe the Lord's Day as a special day of rest, noting that he was in the Spirit on the Lord's Day. In 1 John the apostle emphasised that sin is lawlessness and that God has saved us so that his righteous standards as revealed in the Ten Commandments might be fulfilled in us. His commandments are not burdensome, including the observance of a day of rest.

3. The blessing John enjoyed

He was "in the Spirit" on the Lord's Day. This suggests the Spirit's revelatory presence as in Ezekiel. But we can also expect that the risen Jesus will meet with us by the power of the Spirit as we gather in worship on the first day of the week, Matthew 18:20. Where Christ is the Father and the Spirit are also present.

4. The message John received

Christ is coming quickly, Revelation 1:7, 22:20. He is coming to take us to be with him for ever, John 17:24.

In Brief

On Tuesday and Wednesday mornings there were brief 15 minute slots. Bernard Lewis, now of Emmanuel Evangelical Church, Newport reflected on his impressions of the Evangelical scene in the UK since his return to this country after many years on the mission field in Papua New Guinea. Jonathan Watson of the Banner gave a talk on Scottish preacher, John Milne, friend of Andrew Bonar and his stress on the importance of the empowering presence of the Spirit in ministry.


The "Taffia" is a fringe meeting of mostly Welsh ministers, traditionally held on the Wednesday night of the conference. In recent years we have tended to meet in my room and things got a bit crowded last time. Looking for somewhere with a bit more space, Downsie blagged a key for one of the conference side rooms, which made for a more comfortable gathering. Enticed by the promise of a plentiful supply of Iron Bru and Pringles, Ian D. Campbell agreed to come along and field our questions. It was a fine time of fellowship as Ian D reflected on church life in the Highlands and islands of Scotland.

Loving the Lord

Ted Donnelly preached the closing sermon on Loving the Lord from John 21:15-17. He opened by reflection on what contradictory creatures we are. We can be wise and yet stupid, kind yet cruel, selfless yet egocentric. Peter like us was a mass of contradictions. The risen Lord dealt with him most graciously after Peter who boldly protested, "I will not deny you" in fact denied Jesus three times. Jesus dealt with his past. The fire he kindled on the beach was a reminder of the fire that blazed in the courtyard on the chilly evening when Peter denied his Lord. Jesus echoed the triple denial by asking Peter three times, "Do you love me?". Peter's past failures were recalled only to be forgiven. Next our Lord clarified the present. The key question, "Do you love me?" was intended to probe Peter's sense of forgiveness, Luke 7:47. Love for Jesus is an evidence of new life, 1 John. Finally Christ was commissioning Peter for the future. He needed to be publicly restored in order for him to exercise his apostolic ministry. Love for Jesus is the most important qualification for Christian service. Only those who truly love Jesus will be able to faithfully feed his sheep.

So, the conference drew to a close with a reminder of what matters most, love for Jesus, the Jesus who graciously  forgives and restores broken failures. I'm sure we all needed to hear that. I know I did.


Conference highlights for me were Liam Goligher's first sermon on Monday evening on the Throne of Heaven, Ian D's first address on the Sabbath, O. Palmer Robertson's three messages, and Ted Donnelly's closing sermon. At its best the preaching was mind-expanding, powerful  and challenging, but perhaps more attention needs to be given to direct application of the Word to our ministries.

It was a joy to renew fellowship with old friends and meet some people for the first time. I don't know whether it's me getting less shy and feeling a bit more comfortable in my own skin as I get older, but the conference seems to be more a friendly gathering now than when I first started attending over 20 years ago. A surprising number of men approached me to say that they were regular readers of this blog. One lunch time fellow-bloggers Gary Brady, Jeremy Walker and I had a wonderfully geeky conversation on the finer points of blogging.  Ah well, that's it for another year. Its back to reality now, fortified and encouraged by the ministry and fellowship of the Banner conference. Oh, and the book featured at the top my Banner reports is one of the titles I purchased, The Imperative of Preaching: A  Theology of Sacred Rhetoric, by John Carrick, Banner of Truth Trust, 2002, 202pp.

Contact the Banner of Truth Trust to order recordings of the conference addresses.

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