Our evening speaker is Sinclair Ferguson. After a word of introduction to the conference and a prayer from Iain Murray, he took us to Philippians 3 with the intention of looking over the coming three nights at three dimensions of Paul's autobiographical testimony
1. His conversion to Christ
2. His communion with Christ
3. His consolidation in Christ
So this first evening it was Paul's conversion to Christ. The context here is that of the danger of false teaching, in particular the Judaising tendency of dogs and distorters of the flesh. Three things
1 What he was without Christ - ambitious and angry. Lloyd-Jones once spoke of the Christian as a man who has had his mouth shut. That was Paul, who appeared to have so much in his favour with regard to pedigree and performance but came to see he was nothing. Christ took hold of him. He was stopped in his tracks and yet embraced at the same time by Christ.
Importantly, how was he taken hold of Christ? Stendahl and a mass of scholars in his wake have contended that Saul was not actually converted but simply accepted Christ as Messiah. There is enough evidence in the New Testament, however, to trace the line of his conversion. In persecuting Christians Paul was going beyond his teacher Gamaliel. A careful reading of Acts reveals Paul to be a very angry persecutor who outstripped his contemporaries in his zeal.
It is often asked why it was the tenth commandment that gave Paul so much trouble. If we read Acts with care then we will see that Luke draws attention to certain things in connection with Stephen (eg 6:9) because this was the first man he came across who was actually beyond him and so on reflection saw that he was guilty of covetousness.
It is Paul's realisation of God's mercy that is the secret of his genius. No-one came as close to destroying the church as Saul and et God had mercy on him. What a motive to prayer.
2 What he became in Christ -
There was a new spiritual accountancy
There was a dissatisfied satisfaction - Christianity is Christ.
We had the Jack Nicklaus story, which is lovely. All it was was a look from the great Jack but his boy looked up and said "Do you know Jack Nicklaus?" Well, of course, he didn't. But he knows Christ adn that's the best. (Worth hearing again).
This was a superb exposition by a superb theologian and preacher. It was a privilege to be here.