The sessions on Wednesday (day two) evening focused on the inseparable connection between theology and Christian living. Messages from Ian Hamilton and Mark Dever emphasized the significance of biblical inerrancy in both theology and practical godliness. Teaching from well-known, beloved texts, each man offered fresh insights that were as practical as they were profound.
Christ’s Commitment to Scripture
Ian Hamilton’s message focused on Christ’s emphatic statement in John 10:35: “The Scripture cannot be broken.” Jesus spoke those words in defending His deity against obstinate, faithless Jews. Their refusal to accept the overwhelming testimony of His miracles and good works demonstrated the hardness of their hearts. They were deaf and blind to the truth of Christ’s divinity—not for lack of evidence of His deity, but because of the spiritual death that consumed their hearts (John 10:25–28).
Surprisingly, though, they did hold a high view of Scripture. The same people who stubbornly rejected Jesus Christ because of the spiritual death in their hearts also confessed a firm belief in biblical inerrancy. As Hamilton put it, they were “jot-and-tittle inerrantists.”
The shocking marriage of rebellion and orthodoxy that took root in the hearts of Christ-rejecting Jews stands as a sober warning to Christians today. Believers must guard against that same hypocrisy taking hold of their own hearts. God’s people must not merely assent to the character and quality of God’s truth, but carefully follow Christ’s example—His conviction—concerning the power and immutability of Scripture. The gospels demonstrate that Jesus’ entire life was dominated by the words of His Father. He faithfully believed, loved, taught, and lived out God’s Word on a daily basis.
It’s not enough to hold Scripture in high esteem. God’s people must faithfully live out the truth, submitting to its commands and standards, and adorning the gospel with the testimony of their lives.
The Son of God was fully dependent on the Word of God, and no one was more humble, more loving, or more submissive to the will of the Father. Jesus’ life was a living testimony to the inerrancy, authority, and sufficiency of Scripture. As children of God, our lives must likewise testify to our submission to the authority of His Word.
The Passionate Pursuit of God’s Law
In Wednesday’s final session, Mark Dever led a meditation on Psalm 119, reading all 176 verses and taking his audience on a guided tour of the psalm’s rich descriptions of God’s law. As Dever explained, Psalm 119 shows that God’s Word is eternally linked with God’s nature. Our view of God, then, should correlate with our view of His Word.
Dever also described the rich blessings of God’s Word. We know there is much fruit to be gleaned from the careful and deep study of Scripture. But Dever challenged us to consider the variety of blessings that come from simply reading Scripture or hearing it read, including these: It inspires our awe of God, causes godly sorrow over sin, produces practical purity, gives us hope, and delivers us from the destructive effects of evil.
His main point was clear: We must not let discussions about God’s Word to ever take the rightful place of God’s Word itself. We must guard the Word’s supremacy in our churches and in our hearts. And we must not let it be usurped by our own wisdom or opinions—that’s the path to Phariseeism.
Symbols of Sacred Scripture
Steve Lawson kicked off Thursday (day three) morning with a study of what Scripture says about its own quality and character. Specifically, he examined seven key symbols that the Bible uses to describe the nature of God’s Word. Each of those metaphors—sword, mirror, seed, milk, lamp, fire, and hammer—vividly depicts the way the Holy Spirit works through His Word to bring about His will in the lives of His people.
Lawson’s description of God’s Word as a lamp to our feet was particularly convicting. As he explained, it’s assumed in the metaphor that the light is reaching our eyes and our minds. But the true value of Scripture is borne out in how we live—the lamp is most effective and valuable when it guides our steps.
That’s all for now from the conference. We’ll be back next week to wrap up the rest of the sessions and to offer some final thoughts on this tremendous week. In the meantime, remember to follow along on the conference live stream shepherdsconference.org — and share your own thoughts and responses in the comments below.