Dr. Alistair Brown Addresses 2015 ABCNJ Annual Session Theme
At the recent 2015 American Baptist Churches of New Jersey Annual Session held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in New Brunswick, New Jersey, the over 600 people who attended the annual gathering heard the plenary address of Dr. Alistair Brown, president of Northern Seminary, an ABC-related school of theology located in an inner suburb of Chicago. That address was videotaped in its entirety by ABCNJ and if you click on the link provided in the preceding sentence, you can see and hear the entire address again.
Using Romans 10: 14-15 as his primary scripture text, Dr. Brown started his address by first lifting up the critical importance of seminary and theological education for the pastor who we call to lead the church, to handle the word of God and proclaim the message of eternal life. Through concise rhetorical questions, he illustrates this vital task: "How could it be that we would never consult a doctor who is not thoroughly prepared...engage an accountant who does not understand his/her profession...a lawyer unless he has spent years in the profession...but yet somehow today we think its alright for someone to handle the word of God and not be thoroughly prepared for the work of ministry? Seminary is part of the church's preparation for those who will lead it"
And so it also for the disciple - that each one must be prepared to handle the word of God and proclaim the message of eternal life. He addressed the theme, "Testify!" along three main points:
We need to have something to which we testify. Testifying is more than just talking about our loyalties, our hobbies, our beliefs. These are all inadequate comparisons to testifying about Christ. When we accept Christ, everything in our lives change. We are not our own, we were bought, we become utterly his. Christ comes into our lives not only as another furniture to occupy space in our homes. Christ comes and buys the whole house!
Our testimony should be that Jesus Christ is Lord of all. The central message of the Good News is that God so loved the world, that he sent an only son - not to condemn the world, but to save it; and those who believe in him will have eternal life. Jesus Christ is "Lord of all", and anyone who believes in him will not be put to shame, and everyone who calls on him will be saved. Salvation is available to everyone. He is the only savior - the way, the truth and the life.
Testifying means telling. We love the idea of our faith, more than the act of actually sharing it. We overrate the notion that our lives alone are sufficient witnesses to our faith. Testifying about Jesus Christ means "telling" about Jesus Christ. Referencing his text on Romans, he emphasized that people don't know what they have never been told!
Dr. Brown ended his stirring and inspiring address by reminding all of us that it is the very love of God that compels us to testify! Do you know how we find something new about what we have seen or heard that grabbed our attention, or moved us passionately, for the first time and then return to it a second or third time? You are encouraged to go to the video link above to hear Dr. Brown's address again.