My wife Tammy and I recently attended the 32nd annual Ligonier National Conference in Orlando. We’ve been attending the conference on a regular basis since 1997, leaving the winter of the Midwest for sunny Florida, and it’s one of my highlights each year. The conference, which is described as a “family reunion” (because you often run into some of the same friends each year) was held at the impressive facilities at the First Baptist Church Orlando, the annual host of the conference. This was the second National conference held since the death of Ligonier founder R.C. Sproul 16 months ago. It was also the third consecutive conference that sold out.
James Brown, Director of Worship and Music Ministries at Independent Presbyterian Church in Memphis, Tennessee, returned after several years, to lead the 5,000 attendees in singing, always a highlight for Tammy. In addition to the Ligonier Teaching Fellows (Sinclair Ferguson, Albert Mohler, Steven Lawson, Robert Godfrey, Stephen Nichols, Derek Thomas and Burk Parsons), other main session speakers included Michael Reeves and Ligon Duncan. There were a number of optional sessions during meal breaks and recordings of the radio program Renewing Your Mind.
One of my favorite events each year is the “Bookstore Walkabout” where Sinclair Ferguson chooses several books from the conference bookstore that he recommends. Ligonier President and CEO Chris Larson, who served as one of the conference’s hosts, encouraged the attendees to pace themselves, as taking in all the conference has to offer is like drinking from a fire hose.
You can watch all of the conference sessions, including the optional sessions, FREE on the Ligonier app or Ligonier.org or on YouTube. Here are some of my highlights from the conference:
Understanding Beyond Measure – Stephen Nichols (from Romans 11: 33-36)
- God knows all things, together, at once.
- The diminished view of God leads to a diminished life.
Sanctified in Truth – Steven Lawson (from John 17:17)
- He taught on positional, progressive and perfected sanctification.
- God is more concerned for your character than your career.
- There are no unsanctified believers.
The Sanctity of Life – Albert Mohler (Psalm 139)
- We are pressing to a total abortion culture.
- There is big money to be made in sin (abortion).
- Planned Parenthood is the most obscenely named organization I can think of because the one thing they don’t plan for is parenthood.
- Abortion is liberal Protestant’s only remaining sacrament.
- The deadliest ideas have the deadliest consequences.
Question and Answer Sessions
- Good questions about the increase of evangelicals observing Lent (it was discouraged), LGBT issues, social justice, free will, the five points of Calvinism, etc.
- The social justice controversy is that there are well meaning people who are elevating social issues to the level of the gospel. Steven Lawson
- You don’t want free will, because you would always choose to reject Christ. Steven Lawson
- Freedom is found in holy obedience to Christ. Michael Reeves
- The problem in our day is that we are not calling sin, sin. Burk Parsons
From Everlasting to Everlasting – Michael Reeves
- God is day after day a strong tower.
- If you are the type of Christian who thinks by your great service, you’re doing God a favor, remember that He doesn’t need you. He relates to you by sheer grace.
Nothing Too Hard – Burk Parsons (Romans 9)
- We are called to be faithful members of a local church.
- If you don’t believe in the doctrine of reprobation, you don’t believe in the doctrine of election.
In This is Love – Derek Thomas (1 John 4:7)
- What kind of love does the Father have that He could not spare His own son?
The Spirit of Truth – Burk Parsons (Jesus’ Farewell Discourse)
- It’s stunning, but Jesus said it is to our advantage that He goes away so that the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth can come.
Saints in Light – Ligon Duncan (Colossians 1:12)
- We are both saints and sinners.
- Sanctification is a work of God’s free grace.
- Don’t look at God’s requirements are burdens. They should be a blessing.
- Christian freedom is doing what you were made to be and do.
- Sometimes, sanctification is going to feel like God is killing you.
The Inner Place – Derek Thomas (Hebrews 6)
- Jesus is the superior high priest. He sits because his work is finished
- Our great high priest sympathizes with us and intercedes for us.
Set Apart – Sinclair Ferguson (1 John 2: 15-17; John 17)
- We don’t belong to this world. When we realize that, we see the world with new eyes.
- If you don’t belong here, don’t live like you do.
- We don’t belong here. Our citizenship is in Heaven.
- Jesus died to make you holy.
The conference ended as usual with a choir made up of conference attendees singing a powerful version of Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus”, which brought tears to the eyes of some. The following day we attended worship service at Saint Andrew’s Chapel, where R.C. Sproul had served as pastor and Burk Parsons now does. As we walked to the church, we walked past R.C.’s grave. Rev. Parsons preached powerfully on Romans 16: 17-20.
During the conference, Ligonier announced their 2020 National Conference, which has a theme of “Made in the Image of God”. Speakers will include John MacArthur, Alistair Begg and H.B. Charles Jr. Find out more and register here.
I hope you enjoyed these takeaways from the conference. Again, check out all of the conference messages free on the Ligonier app or Ligonier.org or on YouTube.