Day three of the ARBCA General Assembly opened with a devotional by Pastor Steven Woodman on the question of John the Baptist, "Are You the Expected One, or shall we look for another" (Matthew 11:3). The focus was how to deal with doubts. This was followed by another theological discussion which was profitable. This was followed by several missionary reports: Jim Adams and Don Donell brought reports about the work in Chili and Argentina. Don Lindblad gave a report on the work in Cuba. I was particularly blessed to sit with a group at lunch and hear from Steven Murphy as he shared his testimony and the work of his church in Ireland.
At 4:45 Dr. Mike Renihan preached a sermon on "Prayer as a Means of Grace." Prayer is the blanket that wraps and glue that binds the other means of grace. Prayer is a part of natural religion that precedes the fall; it is the oldest means of grace. Like the other means of grace it is of Divine origin and contains Divine promises. Prayer is both a private and public means of grace. It was a foundational practice that defined the early church. Prayer is an essential part of the pastoral ministry. We speak to men on behalf of God in preaching. We speak to God on behalf of men in prayer.
The final evening session began at 7:00 with Pastor Steve Garrick preaching on "The Minister's Expectation of Success." This was a stirring close to the 2011 General Assembly. Using 1 Timothy 4:16 Pastor Garrick proved that the pastor has every right to expect Biblical success--God's blessings upon his ministry. Pastors are proof that Christ loves the church because He has gifted them to minister to His church. Using the text Pastor Garrick gave four elements to his argument:
1. There is Biblical warrant to expect success - "For as you do this you will ensure salvation both to yourself and to those who hear you." Success in the pastoral ministry is the salvation of God's elect and the sanctification of the same.
2. The blessing is contingent upon the pastor taking heed to himself - "pay close attention to yourself." The pastor must give himself to physical discipline, to spiritual discipline, and to ministerial discipline.
3. The blessing is contingent upon the pastor taking heed to his teaching - "and to your teaching." "Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching" (1 Timothy 4:13).
4. The blessing is contingent upon consistency; i.e. perseverance in both Godliness and teaching.