Greening_inline“O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!” Jesus said. “Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?”

The conversation occurred two millennia ago on the road to Emmaus. The two disciples, who now found themselves on the receiving end of this rather pointed rebuke, were confused, dejected, and dismayed. Several days earlier, all their hopes had been dashed to pieces as the long-awaited Messiah suffered the ultimate ignoble defeat at the hands of the Roman oppressors. Before it had even begun, the battle was lost. Israel, it seemed, would have no redeemer after all.

At the premier session of the GARBC’s annual conference, National Representative John Greening noted that 2,000 years later, our world is filled with people just as dejected and perplexed as those two disciples. “Are we, like Christ, intersecting with people who are confused and disappointed by life’s circumstances? Are we, like Christ, expounding the Scriptures in such a way that He—Christ—truly has the preeminence?”

On the occasion in question, Jesus’ strategy for correcting the disciples’ misapprehensions was simple: He taught them the Bible. More specifically, He taught them how the entirety of the Old Testament Scriptures foretold His coming, suffering, death, and resurrection: “And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself” (Luke 24:27).

This year’s conference theme is taken directly from this passage: “And Beginning with Moses: Proclaiming Christ from the Old Testament.” Greening is concerned to establish from the outset that the proclamation we are called to undertake is far more than a merely academic exercise. “It is too easy for us to see the homiletical process as the end, when in fact it is the means to the end,” Greening said. “My hope in introducing the conference with this passage is that we will see the learning objective for our general session gatherings as not merely a series of cognitive lectures on expositional process, but instead as a stirring reaffirmation of the importance of Christ-centered ministry philosophy, by which people are saved.”

As the first session drew to a close, Greening invited the conferees to internalize five determinations—resolutions, if you will—that can, if taken seriously, unleash the gospel’s regenerative, illuminating power on a confused and dejected world: I will connect with people with faulty perceptions; I will use all the Scriptures to correct faulty perceptions; I will make it my aim to present the superior Christ; and I will strive for transformative outcomes.

As Greening stepped down from the podium, song leader Rollie Lindstrom led the gathering in a rousing rendition of “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.”

Great is thy faithfulness! Great is thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed thy hand hath provided—
Great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me.

It’s going to be a great week.