Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Power of Words and the Wonder of God - Desiring God 2008 National Conference

Invitation from John Piper

Dear friends,

This is one of the most unusual conferences we have ever conceived. My expectations are very high that its effect will be mind-sharpening, heart-humbling, mouth-seasoning, backbone-strengthening, and Christ-acclaiming.

The theme is The Power of Words and the Wonder of God.

This conference is the overflow of my amazement at the significance of words. Think of it:

  • The Son of God is called the Word (John 1:1);
  • the universe was created with a word (Heb. 11:3);
  • all things are held in existence by the word (Heb. 1:3);
  • God reveals himself to us through the word (1 Sam. 3:21);
  • Jesus healed and cast out demons with a word (Matt. 8:16);
  • faith is sustained by words (Heb 3:13);
  • we fellowship with God by the words of prayer;
  • we worship him through the words of song and confession and preaching;
  • our relationships are all sustained and nurtured by words;
  • we speak our love to each other by words; kings rise and fall by their words;
  • politics, news, entertainment, business, education, international relations , families, friendships—all are possible because of words.

Language is God’s idea. It belongs very close to who and what he is. It has huge potential for good, and catastrophic potential for evil. The tongue, James says, is seemingly untamable. “With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God” (James 3:9-10).

All issues today—political, religious, educational, theological, etc—relate to the way we use words. We think them in our heads and we speak them with our mouths. What would the world be like—the home, the church, the school, the public square—if words were used the way Jesus used them? That is not an easy question. We might be surprised.

I have asked Sinclair Ferguson, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Columbia, South Carolina, to set the stage with an exposition of James 3:1-12. This text is astonishing in the power it attributes to the tongue. “No human being can tame the tongue” (James 3:8).

Paul Tripp, who teaches at Westminster Seminary and counsels at the Christian Counseling and Education Foundation, has written wisely on the crucial place of the heart in how we help or hurt each other with our words (War of Words). “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matt. 12:34). I expect to love people better with my mouth because of this message.

Daniel Taylor, who teaches English Literature at Bethel University, is a lover of stories and has written about their power (Tell Me a Story: The Life-Shaping Power of Our Stories). This power is more pervasive than you may think and touches the heart of the gospel.

Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, has agreed to tackle the knotty issue of tough and tender words, words in controversy, words in confrontation, words like Jesus and Paul used when they called people vipers and said, “If anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed” (1 Cor. 16:22).

Bob Kauflin, a worship pastor with Sovereign Grace Ministries, who just wrote the book Worship Matters: Leading Others to Encounter the Greatness of God, will help us explore what happens to words when we put them with music and sing them. Why is the world so filled with singing? Just turn the knob on your radio. Hundreds of stations. And most of them are singing. What is this power?

The task I have set for myself is the question: “Is There Christian Eloquence? Clear Words and the Wonder of the Cross.” Paul said, “Christ did not send me . . . with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power” (1 Cor. 1:17). Yet who can deny the eloquence of Paul and others in the Bible? What is this? Should we pursue it?

We will worship Christ together. We will think hard. We will pray. We will meet people who are serious about their minds and their mouths. And I pray we will go home ready to obey the words, “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt” (Col. 4:6).

I would love to see you there.

John Piper

Register HERE!

The Conference runs from September 26-28, 2008


Registration received by August 15, 2008
$135 per person

Registration received by September 12, 2008
$160 per person

After September 12, 2008, please register at the door ($175 per person). If you plan to attend individual sessions only, you must register at the door ($25 per session). If the conference sells out, neither of these registration options will be available.

Aims of the Pastors Conferences

Rooted in the Scriptures as God’s infallible Word, and dedicated to revival and reformation in the pastoral ministry, The Desiring God Conference for Pastors is a gathering of church leaders for serious thought, honest discussion, and earnest prayer concerning crucial Biblical teachings in historical and contemporary perspective. The aims of the conference each year are:

  • Theology: To stir up consideration of the Biblical truths that Puritans liked to call the "doctrines of grace."
  • Encouragement: To revive the spirit of the downcast and strengthen each other's hands in the work of the gospel.
  • Preaching: To promote earnest, powerful preaching that inspires in God's people a love for the truth and a life of obedience.
  • Missions: To advance the cause of frontier missions through the incentives of sovereign grace.
  • Worship: To promote God-centered, Bible-based, heartfelt worship in the churches.

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