26 June 2007

National Founder's Conference (NFC) Session One: Dr. Roy Hargrave

by Dan Phillips

e arrived at Bethel Baptist Church and enjoyed warm greetings. Frank and I basked in Phil's popularity. (Hey, knowing famous people is cool, too!)

This is the conference primarily for Southern Baptists interested in the proclamation of the Biblical doctrines of grace within the Southern Baptist Convention, though not all present are SB's.

Coming in, I saw books, and wondered how I could squeeze any into my suitcase. My wife Valerie did such a brilliant job stuffing everything in... I don't know how I can jam everything back in as it is, let alone with more books.

I notice that the conference is evidently being filmed, or videoed, or digitized, or whatever the right word is. Representatives of missions and ministries are introduced, among some Christ-centered hymn-singing.

Roy Hargrave has pastored for 33 years, and currently is pastoring Riverbend Community Church in Ormond Beach, Florida. After a reading of Hebrews 1:1—2:4, we prayed, sang, and Dr. Hargrave took the pulpit.

After reading Psalm 2, Dr. Hargrave prayed and began to expound the psalm. The text is shocking, like looking down the barrel of a gun. On the one hand, we see the rebellion of the peoples against God; on the other, God's transcendent sovereignty over man's rebellion and hatred. This both encourages, and admonishes and rebukes us.

We see what David must have felt as he wrote this. Ultimately, this psalm is about Christ. If we do not see Him in it, we are not understanding it. All doctrine must flow from Christ, or it has no life.

This psalm was to be sung, and it breaks down into four stanzas of three verses each. This psalm, he stressed, answers the most critical question confronting our culture: who has the right or the authority to rule? This is the heart of it, all else is peripheral. This is the fundamental flaw in the church today. While we maintain an ethical bent in our preaching, we negate its legitimacy through Christless preaching. We may be informed, but we are seldom moved, nor pointed to Jesus Christ. This is the point that is being missed.

The movements in these four stanzas, which he says is clear-cut in the passages themselves. Think of them as four scenes. The Word of God is powerful—the Word of God understood is powerful. It is not a magic book. We must preach clearly, to the understanding, to expose the text itself (not other texts than what we are supposed to be preaching).

First scene: a resistance described (vv. 1-3). This resistance has four elements.

First, commotion (v. 1), where ragash indicates noisy and rebellious clamor against God. This is phrased as a question, indicating amazement at the audacity of the creature to raise his fist against his Creator and declare rebellion against him. It is sad that we fail to be amazed ourselves at the breathtaking gall of such breaking away from God.

Spiritual combustion is when depravity reacts with truth to produce conflict. This is a reaction that is universal, in varying degrees, when truth is set before the depraved mind. It is the same whether it is natural (Romans 1) or special (2 Timothy 4:3) revelation. Cultures do not fundamentally differ in nature, because human nature does not change from culture to culture; only the specific manifestation does. In our culture, it has heated up, so too many in the church have responded by removing offensive elements from the Gospel, so as not to create so much combustion. Less uncomfortable truth, less combustion, but "greater impact."

We have reduced the Gospel, because we do not like the conflict, controversy, commotion. We have failed to understand the depths of depravity in the human heart. We ignore the malady, so our "remedy" is rendered useless. People are not interested in Christ, because they have no idea why they need Him. Jonah's message was not "God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life." It was, "Forty days and you're toast."

Second, conspiracy (v. 2). Under the Devil as architect, many are unsuspecting participants in this conspiracy, because they are of their father the Devil.

Third, contempt (v. 2), as they take their stand together against the Lord and His anointed. The flesh lusts against the Spirit, because they are contrary to each other. We are not close to the world's philosophy (or, I'd add, we'd better not be). The world is hostile to God and His Word, and contemptuous of Him. We mustn't compromise with or cozy up to the world.

Fourth, confusion (v. 3, break their bonds asunder), as they try to cast off all restraint. We shouldn't be so blithe about the removal of the Ten Commandments, for it is the law of God that drives us to despair, which drives us to Christ. Our Christianoid self-help junk is worth than unhelpful.

SCENE TWO: a remonstrance demonstrated (vv. 4-6).

First, a controlled derision (v. 4). God laughs, and holds them in derision. God is not pacing back and forth helplessly, like the God of popular theology. He sits on His throne in absolutely control.

Second, a calculated declaration (v. 5). God speaks in His wrath and terrifies them in His fury—what a different picture of God than the God of contemporary preaching.

Third, a conclusive determination (v. 6). God has set His king, which (ultimately) is Jesus Christ. God's plan in Christ is an absolutely sure and certain thing, and each of us will bow the knee to Him. There is no evading.

SCENE THREE: a reassurance declared (vv. 7-9).

I didn't get the outline-point on v. 7, but Hargrave sees in it, not the Incarnation or the Resurrection, but the continuing procession of the Son from the Father. "Son" is not a made-up name or title, but an eternal reality. We need to preach the deep truths of God, and not waffle on truths such as that of the Trinity.

A conferred inheritance (v. 8). God gave Christ the elect as a love-gift.

A consummate vindication (v. 9). This element is also absent from preaching, the fact that we are to glory in all of the attributes of God. To be specific, one day, we will glory in the wrath of God. He was in the Roman Colosseum and recalled how many Christians had been dragged out and slaughtered there. Many of those who dragged all Christians out thus are probably in Hell; a cross now stands in the spot.

SCENE FOUR: a reassessment is demanded (vv. 10-12).

First element, a comprehensive warning (v. 10). We fail today, by shearing out the warnings of the Gospel. The preaching of the whole Word of God is a great blessing; it is a curse when the Word of God is not preached fully. This verse shows us that we should be warning every man, telling them the Bad News, or the Good News is meaningless.

Second, a compassionate invitation (v. 11). This is a call to that mixture of joy and trembling which comes from a true view of the holy God revealed in the Bible.

Third, a conditional deliverance (v. 12). The gesture of the kiss is to show allegiance and submission, to show humility. Coming to God is not a negotiation. Too often, our evangelism tells people only half the truth. People need to be told to come to Christ in unconditional surrender. Though election is indeed unconditional, conversion is not. All are commanded to believe, and unless they repent and believe in Christ, they will not be saved.

And so we must preach to all, sow the seed, not try to guess who is elect and who isn't.

Hargrave closed, urging all to search the Scripture for ourselves, so that we see these truths for ourselves, and not on his say-so.

He closed in prayer, and we sang "Amazing Grace."

Dan Phillips's signature


Phil Johnson said...

Good job. And Timmy Brister got the point you missed: "a continued procession."

Hey: Since he's liveblogging so competently, maybe we should provide some rollicking color commentary. It'd be a lot easier and a lot more fun.

Timmy Brister said...


You've been caught by the preacher paparazzi.


Stefan Ewing said...

Wow, I need to get down on my knees in repentance. Five months and one day ago, the Lord saved me due to what I thought was my free decision. Four months ago, I started wrestling with the implications of Calvinism. I started affirming it in my head, but I was not yet fully convicted in my heart. Just these last few days, I've been gasping and wheezing in the home stretch to fully affirming the doctrines of grace in my heart and blood and bones. I've been reading Pink and Sproul and Lloyd-Jones and Ascoll, but I desparately needed a sign from the Lord that everything really is due to his sovereign grace alone.

Meanwhile, our pastor is preaching on this very psalm this coming weekend, and I was coming up dry in my background research for it. Granted, Ray Hargrave's sermon is more pastoral advice than lay application, but I know that this will inspire our pastor in ways that the pitiable stuff I came up with will not! Praise the Lord for his wonderful, providential blessings! Praise the Lord for this wonderful sign! Praise the Lord for his sovereign, loving grace! Hallelujah!

Stefan Ewing said...

Sorry, sorry, sorry—Roy Hargrave.

I'm just so excited, I can't believe this. This is just absolutely amazing. I can't even express what I'm feeling right now, but Praise the Lord!

Connie said...

"the conference is evidently being filmed, or videoed, or digitized..."

Wow, Dan! Apparently OK does have, "WLANs...internet cafe's...three-hole plugs" :-)

Al said...

Dan, One suitcase? At a conference with books for sale? New at this?

al sends

Kristine said...

Great Post. Great admonishment; the kind of conviction that "hurts so good". Yeah, yeah, I know-dorky-but I didn't know how else to say it.

And I'd say more, but this place scares the...well, I get a bit intimidated sometimes with all the smart, theologically savvy people on board :)

I'm looking forward to reading more of what's preached at the conference. Thanks Dan!

James Scott Bell said...

"This is the conference primarily for Southern Baptists interested in the proclamation of the Biblical doctrines of grace within the Southern Baptist Convention..."

Not being a Baptist, I'd love to hear more about what this means. What are "most" SBs vis-a-vis the "doctrines of grace"?

donsands said...

"All doctrine must flow from Christ, or it has no life."

The Messiah is what Truth is.

This was so very well done. Thank you for this most excellent post.

northWord said...

Goodness this is a fantastic article, Dan.

There are so many nuggets of wisdom to savor in here, this is my favorite:
"Spiritual combustion is when depravity reacts with truth to produce conflict."
I'm putting that whole paragraph away (and more) in my quotes folder along with the Spurgeon, Henry, Mather, and others.
Great, great stuff.

Hi Phil :) (I think!)

northWord said...

oops, sorry! - I didn't notice the link in timmy brister's original comment!

FX Turk said...

Nobody will believe this, but I got nothing to say -- Timmy Brister was not as skinny as I thought, and Joe Thorne was neither as old nor as tall as I expected.

However, Phil's mom blows the doors off as a cook. It seems obvious how Phil got into the great shape he is in today.

Mark B. Hanson said...

jsb -

Most Southern Baptists are more or less in the Arminian camp as regards human ability, although many have been shaped by dispensationalism such that they believe that once you have chosen Christ you cannot "unchoose" him.

Five-point Calvinism is definitely a minority report in the SBC, although the numbers appear to be growing, especially among younger believers.

Ben Stevenson said...

Mark Dever has posted an article on his new blog in which he attributes some of the recent growth in Calvinism to the popularity of C.H. Spurgeon.

Ric said...

When I read "Roy Hargrave has pastored for 33 years, and currently is pastoring Riverbend Community Church in Ormond Beach, Florida." I was saying to myself - "That's my old pastor at my old church when I lived in Ormond Beach!"

Gilbert said...

Hi Dan,

Being a volunteer video director at my church...

"I notice that the conference is evidently being filmed, or videoed, or digitized, or whatever the right word is."

The correct word is: recorded. As in, "This event is being recorded and I sense it is really deep stuff that I, as a Christian, would really love to hear, even if I don't know what a 5-point Calvanist is from a hole in the ground, and I would beat Osama Bin Laden with a hard, cold piece of meat to have a copy of this event. Or at least pay a reasonable fee for one."

If anyone knows how that would be possible, I'm all ears!


DJP said...

"Recorded," thanks. I just remember a debate in the LA Times decades ago about what to call it. Not the conclusion.

Gilbert said...

Well, all I can say is I pray you are just like a sponge and soaking it in to the depths of your soul. I was up until 1 AM reading and reading and reading and reading and soaking in what I think was Spirit-lead teaching as transcribed by ypu and Team Pyro!

...And I still hope they make copies available for those who want to more fully know Jesus!