By Brian Blackwell, Message staff writer
PINEVILLE, La. (LBM) – Christ is in hot pursuit of those who are lost and desires all to come into a relationship with Him, Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary Professor David Allen said during the recent E4+ Preaching Conference.
Citing Luke 19, Allen told a record crowd of more than 100 pastors and ministry staff and 19 pastors’ wives at First Baptist Church, Pineville, that Zacchaeus longed to see Jesus and went to great lengths to get a glimpse of Him. In the end, Zacchaeus who had stolen from the poor through his job as a tax collector encountered Jesus and his life was changed forever.
“Jesus did not save Zacchaeus because Zacchaeus gave money to the poor or gave back what he extorted,” he continued. “Jesus saved Zacchaeus out of grace because all of salvation is by grace through faith, not of works lest anyone should brag about it. And he gives evidence of that salvation by opening up his pocketbook and his billfold and giving to the poor and by making right what he extorted from the people.”
Allen said while many in the crowd hated Zacchaeus because he had used his position as a tax collector to steal from them, Jesus reminded the Jewish people that Zacchaeus, too, was a son of Abraham like them. Furthermore, Jesus’ mission was to seek and save the lost like Zacchaeus.
“These are the people Jesus was seeking – the people who are lost,” he said. “If you’re without Christ, you’re lost. Everybody is separated from God. They may not feel they are lost because it’s not a feeling, it’s a condition. It’s the condition of being spiritually separated from God. And those are the people Jesus sought to save. He is the hound of heaven on the trail of lost people. He seeks, no, he desires their salvation.”
The Sept. 19 E4+ Preaching Conference presented a program intended to “exemplify, encourage, equip and empower pastors to preach expositional sermons.”
Past speakers included Don Wilton, pastor of First Baptist Church, Spartanburg, SC; Fred Lowery, pastor emeritus of First Baptist Church, Bossier City; David Uth, pastor of First Baptist Church, Orlando, Fla.; Steve Gaines, pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church, Cordova, Tenn., and a former SBC president; and Jamie Dew, president of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
The conference also featured breakout sessions for pastors and directors of youth, media/ sound, music, children, as well as ministers’ wives. Breakout sessions for pastors included such topics as leadership and preaching through certain books of the Bible, and were led by professors from Louisiana Christian University, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, as well as Waylon Bailey, pastor of First Baptist Church, Covington.
Breakout sessions for ministry staff and wives were led by the staff of FBC Pineville as well as Mark Cole, global student pastor of First Baptist Church, West Monroe. Volunteers and sponsors (including individuals, businesses, ministries, churches and schools) help off-set the cost of the conference.
Holloway told the Baptist Messag the E4 Conference, now in its 15th year, began with a desire to sharpen and encourage pastors.
“This year’s conference was our highest attended and one of the best. Seeing people worshipping, ministering to one another, laughing together, as well as learning together is what make E4 such a special time each year. Adding the ‘+’ with sessions for other staff members fulfilled a vision we’ve had for several years. We look forward to expanding that part of E4+ in the years to come.”