Truth and Life Conference jump starts TMC's 2014
Posted on: January 20
By Bob Dickson
Sanctification – The action of the Holy Spirit in sanctifying or making holy the believer, by the implanting of the Christian graces and the destruction of sinful affections. – The Oxford English Dictionary.
The Master’s College launched another spring semester with its annual Truth & Life Conference on Jan. 15-17. Students, faculty and staff returning from Christmas break, along with TMC alumni, were challenged and encouraged as keynote speakers Dr. David Platt, Dr. Art Azurdia and TMC President Dr. John Macarthur taught from God’s Word on the subject of living a sanctified life.
The conference, which took place inside the college’s new MacArthur Center, is hosted by TMC’s Student Life Department and is an important component of the school’s mission to equip students for a life that honors Christ.
“The Truth and Life Conference is a great way to begin the new semester,” Dr. MacArthur said in his conference-opening address. “Before we all get involved in classes and homework, it’s important to let the Word of God saturate our hearts … to refocus together on a spiritual plane … Truth and Life is an amped up time to get spiritually focused.”
Dr. MacArthur framed the conference’s theme – and its importance – from the outset.
“Sanctification is the process by which a regenerated sinner is transformed into the image of Jesus Christ,” he said. “This is our life here. Our justification is in the past. Our glorification is in the future. Our sanctification is in the present. It’s critical that we understand this marvelous work of God, and the means by which it works.”
The conference’s other keynote speakers addressed sanctification – and its practical application – throughout the conference.
In session 2, which took place on the morning of Jan. 16, Dr. Platt tackled the subject of sexual immorality. Dr. Platt, who is the Senior Pastor of The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Ala. and author of the Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream, boiled sexual temptation down to a simple choice.
“You’re either going to choose to please your body or please God,” he said. “To engage in sexual immorality is to say, ‘I know best how this body is to be used.’”
Dr. Platt cautioned conference attendees to think rightly about how they define sexual sin, to avoid classifying one type of sexual deviation as worse than another. All forms of sexual gratification outside of the confines of God’s definition of marriage is sin and cannot be justified, he explained.
Dr. Platt also reiterated the Bible’s teaching on homosexuality.
“A Christian cannot justify homosexual sin,” Platt said. “If you do, you have to say either the Bible is dangerous or the Bible is deficient … we can’t exchange God’s Word for our experience … we may not choose our temptations, but we can always choose our reactions.”
Dr. Azurdia, who is the Senior Minister of Word and Worship at Trinity Church, Associate Professor of Pastoral Theology and Director of Pastoral Mentoring at Western Seminary in Portland, Ore., was the featured speaker for Sessions 3 and 4.
Dr. Azurdia taught on the subject of holiness. Specifically, he drew an important distinction between holiness and morality. He said that God wants a holy people, not a moral people.
“Morality is principally a negative concept in that it almost always defines itself by what one refrains from doing,” he said. “More often than not its preoccupation is with externals. Holiness, on the other hand, is the much more positive concept … it is far more thorough and comprehensive. The moral person abstains from wrong actions. The holy person hates the very thought of doing wrong … Holiness affects the totality of the person – what he does, where he goes, how he feels, what he thinks.”
Dr. Azurdia’s admonition to pursue holiness over morality was a caution to avoid the trap of pharisaical thinking and behavior – the very things Jesus Christ condemned so severely.
“God has never advanced His cause through a moral majority, but rather through a holy minority,” Dr. Azurdia said. “It is holiness that God seeks from you, not morality.”
And where do believers go to become holy? Dr. Azurdia pointed attendees to Jesus’ prayer in John chapter 17.
“You are sanctified by the truth. God’s Word is truth,” he said. “Young men and women, your effectiveness in mission turns on your experience of sanctification by the means of the truth.”
The conference featured an alumnus testimony and special seminar sessions that covered topics such as personal finance, the religious beliefs of the U.S. Founding Fathers, handling fear and anxiety, worship’s role in sanctification and a panel discussion on the Christian and homosexuality.
Seminar sessions were led by TMC faculty and alumni.
On Jan. 17, all three keynote speakers engaged in a question-and-answer discussion. Throughout the conference, attendees were offered the opportunity to submit questions for the panel. Dr. Macarthur, Dr. Platt and Dr. Azurdia answered a handful of them ranging from what books they are currently reading to strategies for fleeing temptation to their thoughts on social media.
“You can’t empty your mind,” Dr. MacArthur said in response to a question on battling temptation in the mind. “You have to fill it with something.”
All three panelists pointed to that “something” as being the Word of God.
The consensus encapsulated the theme of the conference. It was the purpose of Truth & Life distilled.