Last week, I was privileged to spend a few days at Twin Lakes Fellowship for their annual conference. It was good to see familiar faces and meet new friends. I grew up partly in Savannah, Georgia and was a member of Independent Presbyterian Church. Dr. Terry Johnson, the senior pastor of IPC was my pastor in my middle and high school years. He is a regular at the conference and it was good to talk to him and hear words of encouragement from him and other IPC pastors throughout the week.
TLF exists to encourage pastors from various denominations both Baptist and Presbyterian, as well as Europe and the United States. The conference usually takes place the week after Easter, which marks a time of needed refreshment in the Word and prayer.
The vision of TLF is, “We seek (by brotherly persuasion, helpful publication, friendly discussion, and compelling example) to build a church that will be faithful to the following commitments: expository preaching, biblical worship, biblical and confessional theology, a biblical understanding of the Gospel, a biblical understanding of conversion, a biblical understanding of evangelism, a biblical understanding of church membership, a biblical understanding of mutual accountability in the church, a biblical understanding of church government, and a biblical view of Christian discipleship – and thus a church with a shared vision of ministry.”
The keynote speakers were H.B. Charles, Jr. from Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church in Jacksonville, FL and Geoff Thomas of Alfred Place Baptist Church in Wales. Thomas has been the pastor there since 1965! Other speakers were my RTS professor, Dr. Jon Payne (pastor of Christ Church Presbyterian, Charleston, SC), Dr. David Strain (senior pastor, First Presbyterian Church, Jackson, MS), and Dr. Scott Swain (president, RTS Orlando).
The theme of the conference was the Holy Spirit. Of course, the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity is inexhaustible, but the subject of His person was presented thoroughly well. Dr. Payne encouraged us with a lesson on the life and ministry of Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones, entitled ‘The Electric Welshman’. If you don’t know him, look him up on YouTube. His sermons are incredible. One of the aspects of Lloyd Jones’ life that Payne touched on was the call to preach. He said that no man should preach unless, as Lloyd Jones points out, he has a desire to proclaim the gospel above all else. He also said a preacher must have a willingness to sacrifice and a passion for others to know the power of the gospel.
Dr. Swain was thrilling with two lessons on The Doctrine of God, (also an inexhaustible subject). Swain said, “God is not contingent. God is not composite. God is not capable of growth or decay. God is not quantitative.” Basically, God is not measurable, he is unchangeable, as the fourth question of the Westminster Confession of Faith’s Shorter Catechism answers.
I had never heard H.B. Charles Jr. preach before, but I was expecting the roof to be lifted from his reputation. He was somewhat more subdued than I thought, but the Holy Spirit was clearly present as he preached. Charles pointed us to the power of the Spirit and said, “The Holy Spirit will only fight with his own weapon.” That weapon is the Bible.
Finally, Geoff Thomas brilliantly brought us home with two captivating sermons to end Tuesday and Wednesday from Luke 11:9-13. Thomas encouraged us with a simple call to ask for the Holy Spirit, as our Lord Jesus tells us to do from this passage in the gospel of Luke. He said, “Ask God to give you God.” I would encourage you also to look at that passage and simply ask God for God.