Last Saturday I attended, for the first time, the London Men’s Convention. Ten of us drove down from Norwich to an aircraft hangar in London’s Docklands that goes by the name of ExCeL Royal Albert Hall it certainly isn’t, but you can’t keep nearly 4,000 men down, especially when stirred by the preaching of Tim Keller and others, and by the music of Stuart Townend.
The theme of the day was ‘The Man for all Men: Be Men of Jesus’, and the four main talks covered,
He came as King (Matthew 14:22-33) – Wes McNabb
He died for sins (John 19:23-37) – Tim Keller
He rose to rule (John 20:1-3, 10-18 – Tim Keller
He will return in glory (2 Thessalonians 1:1-12) – Mike Cain
My thoughts are:-
The day was a great encouragement. Each speaker has the ability to present familiar truths in fresh ways, so that we were led to marvel again at the person and work of Jesus Christ. None of them wandered far from the central truths of the gospel, yet you never felt, “We know this already; why is he bothering to tell us again?” Preachers, then, were given good models of what faithful biblical preaching can be. Gentlemen: our job is not, on the whole, to find fresh things to say, but to find fresh ways of presenting old truths.
The speakers did not shirk from addressing the sterner truths of the gospel, such as sin and judgement. But they did so sensitively as well as forthrightly. And they did not allow to forget that the gospel really is ‘good news’.
Wes McNabb spoke of Jesus Christ as King of Knowledge, of love, and of power. Wes is a young man, but speaks with wisdom and passion.
Tim Keller, in his talk on John 19:23-37, stressed that Christ died ‘in accordance with the Scriptures’. He also drew the doctrine of substitutionary atonement from the imagery that John employs this passage; some of this I found convincing, but I thought that he might be slightly over-egging that pudding. Similarly, I didn’t quite get the point when he suggested that our Lord’s cry, “I thirst” is linked with his being the ‘Water of Life’. But this was good stuff.
Tim Keller’s message on John 20 was also instructive. The preacher affirmed the objective truth of the resurrection (noting that this was the last thing that even Jesus’ closest friends and disciples were actually expecting). He asked us to consider, ‘What would it take for your friends to believe the resurrection?’ and suggested that the evidence will withstand any reasonable and fair scrutiny. Keller also linked the resurrection with the gift of the Holy Spirit, reminding us that we, in many ways, are better equipped than those first witnesses to share the good news.
Mike Cain spoke of how sin’s punishment fits the crime. The crime is to take the attitude, ‘I don’t want anything to do with the God who made me.’ The punishment is the fulfilment of that wish: to have nothing to do with the God who made me. Paul speaks in this passage of how Jesus will be glorified in his people; let us (urged Mike Cain) glorify him today.
I must say a word about Stuart Townend and those who helped him lead the singing. There were no theatricals here, no attempt to whip us up into a state of fervour. Strong tunes, strong rhythms and (above all) strong words helped us to praise the living God with our minds, hearts, and voices.
Next year the Men’s and Women’s Conventions will be held on the same (13th March) as part of the ‘Passion for Life’ outreach. Would I recommend it? Sure!