Next week more than 1,200 pastors and church leaders will come to Cleveland for our annual Basics Conference. An extended audience of men in pastoral ministry and young men coming up in seminary will also participate by watching the sessions online via live stream.
This will be our nineteenth Basics Conference. As I reflect on past years, I remember with great fondness our conference in 2002, when my guests were three men who had a significant influence on my ministry as a pastor and preacher: Derek Prime, Eric Alexander, and Dick Lucas. The emphasis of Basics then, unchanged to this day, was to encourage all who teach God’s Word to be faithful to the text, to allow the text to form the structure and content of the message, and to never fail to preach the cross of Christ.
Eric Alexander, a minister in the Church of Scotland for more than fifty years now, was asked in 2002 if God speaks outside of His Word. He replied, “The simple answer is no. God speaks in His Word and through His Word to us. The vehicle through which God ministers His Word to us is exclusively through the Scripture.”
He further encouraged all of us by adding, “The basic conviction that we all need to have about this is that the Word of God has saving power—the whole Word of God. Therefore, you may be preaching on something that you may think does not have an evangelistic thrust to it, but the Holy Spirit uses that part of the Word of God for His own purpose . . . . You need to give your congregation the whole counsel of God so that they begin to understand the whole Truth of the whole Gospel applied to the whole man offering them the whole Christ. That is fundamental.”
Our discussion back in 2002 also acknowledged that as pastors, we come to the task of preaching bearing the weight of its awesome responsibility. It is an endeavor that is accompanied by a large measure of discouragement. I remember being struck by the fact that my three heroes, who together represented over 150 years in pastoral ministry, still viewed themselves as unprofitable servants and approached the pulpit humbly, reliant solely and completely on the Holy Spirit.
It’s a reminder for each of us how important it is to pray for our pastors before they preach, while they preach, and after they preach. Our prayers underpin them, uphold them, sustain them, and strengthen them from week to week.
This year’s Basics Conference begins Monday, May 7 at 3:00 pm EST and concludes on Wednesday, May 9 at 12:30 pm EST. I can’t overestimate the importance of your prayers for all who are in attendance so that we may be stirred up and strengthened for the high and holy calling to which we’ve been appointed.
As always, thank you for your faithful partnership in Truth For Life. It’s your giving that covers the substantial costs associated with the live stream and makes it possible for men around the world to be encouraged in the Gospel through Basics 2018.
With my love in the Lord Jesus,
P.S. I warmly invite you to watch the live stream, as well! Go online to basicsconference.org on May 7 beginning at 3:00 pm EST. You may also want to forward this link to your local pastor if he’s not attending in person.
Topics: Letters From Alistair Begg