“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” (Romans 12:1).
Felistas and I returned last night from South Africa where I was preaching with John Piper at the 2010 Rezolution Conference. In my last blog, I reported on the Piper 2 Pastors Conference which was held in Pretoria on Thursday 14th. Friday to Sunday was taken up with the Rezolution Conference itself at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg. Here is a brief report.
Friday, 15th October 2010
On this first day, the conference was only in the evening. Whereas the organizers had earlier anticipated some 5,000 individuals in attendance, there was an estimated 2,500 in attendance. We were led in the singing by a special Rezolution Conference choir, dressed in African attire. They came together solely for the purpose of leading the singing during this conference and often combined the English lyrics with vernacular ones.
|The Rezolution Choir and Band|
John Piper preached on “God’s zeal for God, God’s love for God.” He showed from Scripture after Scripture that God’s chief end is his own glory. He went from creation, to the call of Abraham, the exodus of the people of Israel from Egypt, their pilgrimage through the wilderness, their invasion of the Promised Land, their being sent into captivity and their return to the Promised Land, and even the coming of the Son of God into the world. It was all for the glory of God and “for his name’s sake!” He ended his evening’s message, therefore, by imploring us to check our spirituality by whether we too are God-centred. God ought to be our precious treasure!
|John Piper preaching his first sermon|
Saturday, 16th October 2010
This was a full day. It started with Stuart Townend with his men leading us in singing. We sang a number of older songs (e.g. “Oh, for a thousand tongues to sing) and some new ones—the latter were almost all written by him. No tears this time!
|Stuart Townend and his team leading the singing|
John Piper preached his second sermon. This one was on his favourite theme: “God is most glorified in you when you are most satisfied in him.” If you have never heard Piper preach on this theme, welcome to planet earth! I last heard John preaching on this theme in 1998 when we preached together at a Banner of Truth conference in the UK. He has sharpened his arguments even more since then. Piper argued his case primarily from Philippians 1:20. Then he buttressed his argument with various texts of Scripture that teach and command Christians to find their joy in God.
|John Piper preaching his second sermon|
After break, I came on and preached my first sermon. It was on Romans 12:1 and the subject was, “The benevolent basis of Christian Resolve.” The sermon was basically an overview of Romans 1-11. I began by painting the miserable state in which the gospel finds us—enslaved to sin and under the wrath of God. I then went on to show the justifying fruit of Christ’s death, the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, and the electing grace of God the Father. I ended by showing from these same chapters of Romans that all this is for God’s glory, and we are destined to share in that glory! This is the mercy that God has had on us, which should be the basis of our commitment to him.
|Part of the congregation singing the praises of God|
|Part of the congregation listening to the preaching of the Word|
After lunch, Stuart Townend and his band returned to lead us in more of his “all time greats”. After that I mounted the pulpit and preached my second sermon. It was still on Romans 12:1 but the subject this time was, “The Logical Nature of Christian Resolve.” You do not need to be a genius to guess that it was based on the second half of the text, which says, “…to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” I argued that before you can obey God in the specific challenges that come your way day by day, as displayed in the rest of the book of Romans, you must resolve to surrender your whole life to God. It is only reasonable!
|Conrad Mbewe preaching his first sermon|
|Conrad Mbewe preaching his second sermon (as seen on big screen)|
The last session in the day, after supper, was a Question and Answer session. Our moderator, Tyrell Haag, had spent much of the afternoon compiling the questions that came in through tweeter, facebook, and a drop-in box at the back of the hall. The questions included ecclesiastical matters such as tithing, how we spend a typical day, the danger of those of us who are perceived to be very gifted discouraging those with “lesser” gifts, dating, etc. Knowing how tricky Q&A sessions can be, John and I had prayed for divine wisdom in answering these questions, and it seems that the Lord was pleased to answer our prayers. We were of one mind as we answered them as best as we could from Scripture.
|Tyrell Haag fielding questions to Conrad Mbewe and John Piper|
Sunday, 17th October 2010
This was the last day, and we only had a morning session. It began with the Rezolution Choir, who were once again dressed in beautiful African attire. They led us in singing a mixture of ancient and modern hymns and songs, with some Zulu fitted in at appropriate points.
|The Rezolution Choir and Band on the final day|
Finally, John Piper came forward to preach his final message. “You exist to spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples.” That was his final sermon, the essence of which was that when we love God and find our satisfaction in him, then we will truly love people because we will want to introduce them to this God who has so satisfied us that we want nothing outside of him. He used 2 Corinthians 8:1-7 to prove his point. He then took us through some pivotal passages in Hebrews to show how persecuted Christians, including our Saviour, were willing to sacrifice, suffer, and die because of a sense of hope that filled them with joy in the midst of affliction. As a result of their suffering, many were enriched unto eternal life. This was the final message of Rezolution 2010!
All these messages are available in full on the Rezolution 2010 Website. Just click here!
|A book review--a regular feature at the start of each session|
Before I end this brief report on the conference, one item that I must commend the conference organizers for was their book reviews at the start of each session. At least three books were commended to the attendees by those who were introducing the sessions before handing over to the person or group leading the worship. There is no doubt that this introduction helps those who are new to the world of Christian books to know which books to go for as soon as the session comes to an end. Augustine Bookroom provided a good array of books, most of which were by John Piper. My only title published outside Zambia, Maintaining Sexual Purity (In a Sexually Permissive Society), was also available. Not bad!