Justification Impacts Ministry B

Justification Impacts Ministry (Local Conferences 2024)

More than 850 church leaders attended Local Conferences in the first half of the year to consider together how justification by grace impacts church ministry.

Pastor Tim would ask his wife on the way home from church, “what did you think of the preaching today?”

His wife assumed her husband genuinely wanted to know and therefore gave honest feedback and criticism. When he became defensive and argumentative about every point she made, they realised he didn’t really want to know.

For him, his worth and value depended on how well he preached. In his heart he was seeking to justify himself by his weekly preaching. Whilst he believed in justification by grace, his heart was operating on justification by preaching.

This is the story Tim Keller told at the Scottish Ministry Assembly in 2005, where he described himself as a pastor who didn’t really believe the gospel down deep.

Pastor Tim is not the first preacher of justification by faith to struggle to live by its truth. In Galatians, Paul opposes Peter because he is not living in line with the truth of gospel (Galatians 2:14). Whilst he has grasped justification by faith, he is failing to live by its truth as he separated from his Gentile brothers out of fear of the circumcision party.

In Galatians 2 Paul urges Peter to live in the grace of Christ, where the truth of justification shapes his life and ministry.

Pastor Tim and the apostle Peter are not alone as church leaders who have struggled to live by the reality of the gospel. This is the challenge of every servant of Christ: to act in line with the truth of the gospel.

How does justification impact ministry?

At our Local Conferences this year we explored the good news that God accepts us on the basis of what Jesus Christ has done, and not on how well we perform in our service for him.

From February to June, more than 850 church leaders gathered across 27 different locations to think through how justification by faith impacts ministry.

  • London local 2024 web

    London Local Conference

  • Suffolk local 2024 web

    Suffolk Local Conference

  • Edinburgh local 2024 web

    Edinburgh Local Conference

  • Birmingham local 2024 web

    Birmingham Local Conference

Each day had a similar structure and flow but was tailored to the particular location, beginning by looking at Galatians 2:11-21 and the vital truth of justification by faith that is vital for living as well as being saved.

Whether we have really grasped how God accepts us in Christ shows itself when we are criticised, when we are complimented, and in how we handle success and failure.

The purpose of the Local Conferences is to spend time conferring with one-another and not just listening to plenary talks. So, in groups we chatted though the wonders of the doctrine of justification by faith, and then sought to apply it to our ministry and church life.

In the final session we were spurred on in our discussions by a video interview between Graham Beynon (FIEC Head of Local Ministries) and Glynn Harrison (author and retired consultant psychiatrist) looking at how we can practically appropriate the truth of justification to our hearts.

Why Local Conferences?

Together with encouraging one another with the gospel, these day conferences provide a wonderful opportunity for men and women serving in a particular area to meet together.

Over the coffee breaks and lunchtime, stories and news are shared of all that God is doing. These local relationships are critical to our partnership together in the work of the gospel.

It was lovely to hear of new appointments being made, new people turning up at services, conversions, and baptisms. There is so much to give thanks to God for going on amongst our churches at the moment.

Those who came testified to being encouraged and enthused by the gospel for the work of the gospel they have been called to. In the gospel we are declared righteous and now we are able to say with Paul:

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)

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