It’s been just over a week since the 2017 Shepherds’ Conference ended. The theme of this year’s conference was simply “We Preach Christ,” and each of the speakers took turns exalting and extolling the Person and work of Christ, and His centrality in the lives of believers. And because this year is the five hundredth anniversary of the launch of the Reformation, the overt emphasis on our Savior was particularly poignant.
For those in attendance—over 4,500 pastors and church leaders—and others who watched the sessions live online, there is still much to digest. The Shepherds’ Conference is an annual mountaintop experience—we come away encouraged, energized, and invigorated for the work ahead.
And we want to share that same spiritual stimuli with you. We recognize that most people—including many of our readers—weren’t able to follow along with the conference in real time. For those folks who are eager to share in the rich blessings and benefits of this latest Shepherds’ Conference, we want to help.
To that end, we asked some of the men on staff here at Grace to You which messages and sessions stood out to them as conference highlights. You’ll find their recommendations below.
“We Preach Christ.” That simple statement captures the essence of the apostle Paul’s preaching ministry, and the model that all preachers must pursue. “For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake” (2 Corinthians 4:5). In the opening session of the conference, John MacArthur took us to 2 Corinthians 4 to profile Paul’s apostolic ministry and how he persevered in the work of the gospel. John highlighted ten unwavering convictions that Paul carried throughout his ministry—convictions that sustained his ministry, and need to sustain ours as well. – Cameron Buettel
If you have been listening to expository preaching for a while, you have likely heard several sermons on John 1. You might not necessarily be looking for another one—particularly from an unfamiliar source. But let me encourage you to make time for this one from Michael Reeves, as he brings out of the text important details that are often overlooked. This is perhaps the first and only sermon I have heard that brings the eternal Sonship of Christ to bear on the ramifications of redemption theology. Not only is his message textually driven, but it is doctrinally deep and spiritually enriching. I’d highly recommend Michael Reeves for anyone who wants to know why theology is so important in expository preaching, as he masterfully blends the two together in a wonderful, practical way. – Peter Sammons
How important is it for pastors to be top students of Greek, and to have studied under the best evangelical scholars of our day? Do academic honors at seminary indicate that a man knows how to be a faithful shepherd of Christ’s flock? In an epic takedown of Christian academia, Master’s Seminary professor David Farnell (who prefers to eschew degrees and titles) points out the parallels between what was esteemed by people in Jesus’ day—namely, the Pharisees—and what is esteemed within evangelical scholarship today. In stark contrast to that backdrop, the Scriptures provide clear instruction about the character and priorities of a faithful pastor. – Wayne de Villiers
Iain Murray is a treasure to the church. His sharp theology, grasp of history, and attention to detail always make for compelling reading—and his preaching is no different. In his session, he transported us to the Delectable Mountains of John Bunyans’s classic work, The Pilgrim’s Progress, and to what Murray called Bunyan’s own shepherds’ conference. Bunyan’s characters encounter four shepherds—Knowledge, Experience, Watchful, and Sincere—and Murray expounded on the need for those attributes to be evident in the lives of God’s shepherds today. – Cameron Buettel
Tom Pennington’s message from 1 Corinthians 15 focused on the centrality of the resurrection and its importance in our gospel proclamation. When Christians preach the gospel, they usually talk about Christ being crucified for our sins. The resurrection, however, is often treated like a postscript. First Corinthians 15 shows us how vital the resurrection is to a complete gospel message. Both the death of Christ and His resurrection stand and fall together. Why? Because the resurrection demonstrates that God was satisfied with Christ’s death. If Christ had been crucified but not risen from the dead, the gospel message would be in vain. Either the tomb is empty, or the gospel is empty. – Fred Butler