We had a wonderful day on Sunday as we began our annual Bible Conference at the Way of Life Baptist Church. We enjoyed some Good singing by the River Jordan Quartet. The singing was great, but the highlight of this gathering was and is the preaching of the Word of God. Our souls were both fed and made hungry for more of God's precious truth.
The first message was by Pastor Jimmy Strickland. He preached from 2Cor. 7:2-16, showing to us the tender, pastoral heart of the apostle Paul as he wrote about how he had commanded the Church at Corinth to exercise Church discipline.
Paul had written to the Corinthians a letter of rebuke (1Corinthians) to correct some serious errors of both doctrine and practice. One very serious moral failure with which Paul dealt was that described in 1Cor. chapter 5. It was an example of gross, open sin that needed to be addressed by the church. However the Corinthians had not dealt with this sin. On the contrary, they were "puffed up" (v.2) and even "glorying" (v.6) in it.
Bro. Strickland helped us to see into Paul's heart as he wrote again to the Corinthians about this matter, only this time, not to rebuke them but to rejoice in the fact that they had received his instruction, obeyed it, and had made this matter right.
Paul had been grieved in his own spirit because he had had to write such a harsh rebuke to them. He didn't want to do it, but he had to do it. Bro. Strickland made the application of this by telling us that very often it would be much easier on a pastor to not have to deal with sin. It would be much easier not to practice Church discipline. It is not something that the pastor just wants to do. He leads his flock to exercise discipline because it is necessary for the spiritual health of the Church.
Also, Bro. Strickland spent a good deal of time dealing with the distinction between "godly sorrow" and "the sorrow of the world"(v.10). Another great theme of this message was the cause and effects of true repentance .
My review doesn't do this excellent message justice. Everyone seemed to agree that this was probably the best treatment of this passage that we had heard. My own personal reaction was:"Shoot! I wish I'da said that!"
I wish I had time to tell you about Bro. Steve Weaver's sermon on Nehemiah ch. 8 and Bro. Howard Estep's message on the Kingdom of God, but I gotta go mow. I'll try to write about the others later today if possible.