School of Theology 2015

Pathway to Power

To have divine operations in the life of a church is the greatest imaginable privilege and the mightiest power active on earth. Without fanfare, fleshly gimmicks or entertainment, the Holy Spirit troubles and turns hearts to repentance and faith in Christ, and God’s people are stirred to prayer and active service. Faithful churches everywhere desire the blessing of increased instrumentality.


   This year’s 40th School of Theology presented some of the key prerequisites for experiencing God’s saving and sanctifying power in the life of churches.
   We acknowledge that our sovereign God in His mercy and kindness may save lost souls at any time and in the most unworthy environments, but the exhortations of Scripture make it obvious that for ­consistent usefulness we must ever conform our ways to honour God’s Word.

Obedience, Reverence and Persuasion

    The following essential prerequisites for blessing were selected for attention this year. We stressed the need for obedience on major duties of the Word frequently omitted. We dare not forget that it was in the context of obedience that the Lord announced the sending of the Holy Spirit (John 14.15-16). Faithful expository preaching fails if it does not include sincere application, or address the spiritual needs and battles of the hour.
   We also pleaded for renewed ­reverence in worship, without which there can surely be no genuine visitation of God, for we are called to ‘serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear’ (Hebrews 12.28).
   In addition we advocated  ­persuasion, a neglected ingredient of evangelism, almost universally upheld by Gospel churches in the past. From Isaiah’s ‘Come let us reason together,’ to the many persuading, beseeching, convincing and warning texts ­related to the evangelism of the apostles, ­wrestling with souls is the method of the ­Bible, and we long to see it revived in ­preaching.

Reverence, a Pathway to Power

   The social revolution that began in the 1960s, swept away absolute moral standards. It also dismantled respect for authority, divine and human, so that the trivialisation of all things quickly became the norm. Many churches have gradually aligned themselves to the secular tide by extreme informality and entertainment-style worship. Is music morally neutral? Do musical forms convey a distinctive message? To address such issues we welcomed Dr John Makujina, Professor of Biblical Studies at Erskine College, Due West, South Carolina, author of the acclaimed work, Measuring the Music. His approach to the aims and claims of the contemporary worship scene was exceptionally thoughtful and challenging.

Contemporary Concerns – Surge of the Cults

   In the light of the considerably increased public outreach of Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons, and the vulnerability of people from nominal Christian backgrounds, we heard practical counsel from a leading writer and speaker on these movements in the USA, David A Reed. Once a Jehovah’s Witness elder, he is author of Jehovah’s Witnesses Answered Verse by Verse, and a companion volume on interacting with Mormons.

Afternoon Interval Sessions

   During our popular Afternoon Interval Sessions we heard Pastor Antoine Skaff, Pastor of Badaro Baptist Church, Beirut, Lebanon, speaking on churches in the Middle East, and Pastor James Zenker, Pastor of Beeches Road Baptist Chapel, Blackheath, West Midlands, on Sunday School ministry.


2015 - Pathway to Power

Dr John Makujina
Professor of Biblical Studies, Erskine College, Due West, South Carolina, USA
Power through Biblical Reverence
There is no doubt that reverence and awe, accompanied by a deep sense of the majesty and holiness of God, are becoming rare in the evangelical world, leading to the demise of convicting power as entertainment genres of music sweep into the churches.

Dr Makujina exposed the many fallacies on which the contemporary worship movement is confidently based, answering the justifications – such as the ­supposed neutrality of music and harmlessness of rhythmic musical genres – thereby demonstrated the priceless value of generations of godly traditional worship.
David A Reed
Author and director of ministry to cults, Massachusetts, USA
Contemporary Concerns - Surge of the Cults
David A Reed was once a Jehovah's Witness elder and presiding minister, who came to see his need of spiritual life through personal study of the Bible. For many years now he has published materials and videos, and given counselling to help cult members. His books have enjoyed an immense circulation. To have sensitive and effective advice on helping JWs and others to find spiritual life is of immense value in the present climate.
Pastor Roland Burrows
Pastor, Station Road Baptist Chapel, Cradley Heath, West Midlands
Reverence in Historic Times of Power
The ethos of churches in past times of blessing was vastly different from that of today. The watchword of the past may be expressed thus – ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, without which we will act foolishly, our strategies will be wrong, our efforts will be wasted, we will lose our way, and we will not be Christ’s churches any more’.
Pastor Ibrahim Ag Mohamed
Assistant Pastor, Metropolitan Tabernacle
Power Depends on Obedience - The Growth of Personal Christian Virtues
The work of preaching may be divided into four categories – Evangelism, Doctrinal, Exhortational and Glorifying. How may justice be done to the Exhortational? Pastor Ibrahim focused on the encouraging and urging, and also the beseeching, warning aspects of the teaching of Christian sanctification, and highlighted neglected aspects.
Pastor Antoine Skaff
Pastor, Badaro Baptist Church, Beirut
Christ's Work in the Middle East
Pastor Skaff of Beirut’s largest Reformed congregation spoke on the situation of believing churches in Lebanon and the Middle East, with the new opportunities, especially in ministering to Moslem refugees, and the new perils.
Dr Peter Masters
Pastor, Metropolitan Tabernacle
Power from Obedience - Reviving Godly Standards
There are many examples of matters once considered essential by evangelicals, which are now neglected or discarded, such as the right use of the Lord’s Day, standards of discipleship and service for the Lord, the honouring of church order, and the contentious issue of ­departure from worldliness. Obedience to the Lord is fundamental to true spiritual usefulness, and Dr Masters and other speakers advocated a return to scriptural faithfulness to these fading ­principles.
Power in Gospel Persuasion
We revisited this vital topic from a different perspective as it is pivotal and decisive in securing instrumentality in both witness and preaching. What is the correct view of the order of salvation?

Dr Masters showed the authentic Calvinistic doctrine and the practice of Puritan preachers and 18th-19th century worthies of awakenings alike.
Rev John Thackway
Pastor, Holywell Evangelical Church, Wales
Power Depends on Obedience - What May the Social Revolution Have Done to Our Church?
The impact of the social revolution on evangelical churches and the contrasting advantages of obedience to the biblical pattern of church life.
Power Depends on Obedience - Applied Sanctification
How the traditional two-nature model of sanctification best enables applied teaching for subduing of sin and advance in holiness. The doctrine established, and examined.
Pastor Jack Seaton
Pastor Emeritus, Inverness Reformed Baptist Church
Responding to God's Love
Preparatory Devotional Address (Psalm 116): The spiritual responses and resolutions of a serving heart to the love of God.
Pastor James Zenker
Pastor, Beeches Road Baptist Chapel, Blackheath, West Midlands
'Excuses I have heard'
Pastor Zenker spoke on ‘Excuses I have heard’ – for not engaging in Sunday School Ministry – and the answers and encouragements from the heart of a Sunday School pioneer and advocate. What will become of the rising generation if churches surrender this vital department of the Great Commission?