Learning God’s Word With Project Timothy, ETCAsia and Prof. D A Carson
A packed sanctuary
From 8 to 9 March 2018, GBC played host to about six-hundred odd visitors as we partnered Project Timothy, an interdenominational conference focused on expository preaching of the Bible, and the newly formed Evangelical Theological College of Asia. It was a joy to see our fourth floor sanctuary completely packed with brothers and sisters from different churches and even around the region and beyond as we spent two nights studying Romans Chapter 3 and 4.
Few teachers have the eloquence and vast academic standing of Professor D A Carson, research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, whom many consider to be one of the foremost evangelical scholars alive today. An author of more than fifty books, including “A Call to Spiritual Reformation: Priorities from Paul and His Prayers” and “How Long, O Lord? Reflections on Suffering and Evil”. Carson is a founding member and the current president of the Gospel Coalition. Using a wide range of carefully explained analogies, scholarly surveys and attention-grabbing illustrations, Carson did so much more than explain the text – he magnified Jesus Christ at every turn, causing our hearts to long more and more for Jesus, the substance of his preaching.
For many GBC members who attended, it was a humbling experience to hear such stirring exposition and careful, skilled Bible teaching. It reminded many of us that there is still so much more that we can learn about God’s holy Word.
“By faith”: Romans 3 and 4
From Romans 3:21-26, Carson taught us the content of the gospel, and showed us why the German reformer Martin Luther called this “the most important chapter in all the Bible”. Unpacking the dense language in the text, Carson explained that first, with the coming of Jesus, a new way to be righteous had opened up that was separate from but related to the Old Testament law. Second, this righteousness was accessible to all regardless of racial distinction but only on condition of faith. Third, the source of this righteousness was found in Jesus Christ and His propitiating, redeeming, justifying work. Finally, this was the demonstration of God’s righteousness by condemning them rightly in Jesus.
He asked a key question: have we grown overfamiliar with the gospel? As a church that loves the Bible, we must continually be excited about the content of the gospel, and live lives that reflect its glory to all the world.
On the second night, Carson made four points from Romans 3:27-4:25 on the nature of “faith”, and what it means. First, he explained that the faith means the exclusion and end of boasting. Second, that faith was necessary for grace to survive. Third, faith enables both Jew and Gentile to worship the one God without distinction. Finally, Christian faith fulfills and upholds the Old Covenant anticipation of something better.
At the end of his sermon, Carson reminded us that we are “children of the promise” together with Abraham and Israel who walk with God “by faith”, and to trust in His word and promises. Quoting Galatians 3, Carson asked us if we who had begun by the gospel were now returning to works, to our mere religious performance for our right standing and acceptance before God?
As we concluded the conference and the crowd emptied out, it was a joy to see GBC members assisting to clean up, move chairs, and restore the premises to its original set up. Led by Kok Pui and Carrie, various group members, attendees, young adults and even the youth from the Chinese congregation worked together to move furniture and restore the fellowship hall and other rooms.
We give thanks for such an opportunity to host an excellent ministry and also to be blessed in the process. May more such opportunities come our way at GBC.