‘Christ For The World’ — Synopses of major speakers
By: Major Frank Duracher
Special guest speakers for the 2021 Southern Bible Conference were: Dr. Carla Sunberg is General Superintendent for the Church Of The Nazarene, and Dr. Dan Boone, Trevecca University president.
Below are brief synopses of both speakers’ presentations. Click here for a full report on SBC.
Dr. Carla Sunberg
- Two instances with Jesus in a boat (enormous draught of fishes; stilling the storm) were examined. “To be ‘All Out For Souls’ we have to have Jesus in the boat. But even rocky waters have fish in them. Our challenge is to bring the two together.”
- Considered Jesus’ greatest sermon, Luke’s version should be called “The Sermon On The Plain,” since scripture says He stood on flat, level ground. But Luke also reveals that although the hug crowd came to witness His power, Jesus preached instead directly to The Twelve, laying out for them what it would cost to follow Him. Consider yourself blessed if you are poor now; if you are hungry now; if you weep now; if you are hated for My sake. “There’s something really costly about following Christ,” she preached. Luke includes a corresponding list of “woes” that are complete opposite to the beatitudes—all results of the absence of total dependence on the Lord. “Christ doesn’t need disciples on the fringe; but followers who have totally surrendered to Him.”
- Once you figure out how to love God, you’ll know how to love others—including your enemies (Luke 6). Luke records Jesus as saying “Be merciful,” while Matthew records the same discourse as “Be perfect”—while both have their root in Deuteronomy, which says, “Be holy.” The term “Holiness Unto The Lord” has its origin in Zechariah 14:20–and that is the foreshadowing of the future restoration of God’s people; from the extraordinary to the ordinary, a concept so engulfing that it was printed on horses’ bells and cooking pots. Without holiness, we cannot measure up, because we are created to be God’s holy people in this world.
- Sunberg’s final session probed disciples becoming like the teacher—putting on a new character. Becoming like Christ is illustrated by looking into a mirror. The goal is to reflect the image of God. Adam & Eve had the perfect mirror image, but when the Fall occurred, the couple (and all of us) turned the wrong way. Christ came to turn us back around. A mirror’s reflection depends on how close you are to it. Live so that when people see us, they’ll know Jesus in Heaven because they’ve seen Him before (in us).
Dr. Dan Boone
- “We are vulnerable; and we know it!” Dr. Boone repeatedly said in his first session. Showing the Virgin Mary as the ultimate vulnerable person of the human race, Boone contrasted her vulnerability with the archangel Gabriel’s might. “But as it turns out, the most vulnerable person in this passage is the Son of God, who is completely dependent on his teenage mother. Jesus is God’s answer to our vulnerability.” He shows up in our vulnerability and brokenness. “Let God birth Himself in the womb of your heart.”
- From Luke 10: 25-37 comes the Parable of the Good Samaritan. “We know nothing about the rich, young scribe—except that he had the three desirable attributes: he was rich, young, and a had a powerful position as a scribe.” But his question to Jesus, “How far does this neighbor thing go?,” was no more than an attempt to justify himself—likewise the Priest and the Pharisee. The Samaritan (not part of the neighborhood, by the way) was looking to justify his own heart. So, who is the real neighbor?
- A precious gem from Luke 24:44-49 reveals that “Jesus opened their minds to understanding.” The Jews went out of their way “compartmentalizing” (clean, unclean, holy, unholy, etc.). Read Luke to see how unsettling Jesus was to all those compartments. A thread of compartments Jesus upended sped by some 20 references (Luke 4, Nazarenes tried to kill Him; Luke 5, Jesus touched a leper; Luke 13, He healed on the Sabbath; Luke 18, Jesus ate with sinners—just to name a few). Acts then is a continuation of Luke—was happened with Jesus in Luke (birth, purpose, ministry) is completed in Acts with the Church (birth, purpose, ministry). It takes the Holy Spirit to shatter our categories (prejudices); closing the chasm between me and my brother so the world can see Christ’s love through us.
- Throughout all four Gospels, a pattern emerges (take, bless, breaks, gives)—it is a practice Jesus repeatedly does and is in fact, for us, the essence of holiness. For example, the feeding of the five thousand proves that “What happens to the bread in Jesus’ hands, happens to Jesus in the hands of the Father—and the pattern is for us as we seek to live a sacred life.” The bread (and fish) was chosen (taken) by Jesus; Jesus is chosen by God. The bread is blessed by Jesus; Jesus is blessed by the Father. The bread is broken by Jesus; Jesus is broken by God. The bread is given by Jesus; Jesus is given (to us) by the Father. The same four things happen to every believer as we follow the path and pattern of Jesus. In living this way, we can be the presence of the crucified Lord to the world.
- How are your eyes? The older we get, Dr. Boone observes, the more our minds are conditioned to see what we are programmed to expect The two followers of Jesus walking along the Emmaus Road were in deep discussion about the death of Jesus, when Christ Himself began to walk alongside. But their “old eyes” didn’t recognize Him. Theirs were “old eyes looking Resurrection in the face, but could not see Him.” It’s hard to see the power of the Resurrection in a world of crucifixion. But when they sat at the dinner table, Jesus took the bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it (a striking connection to the previous session)—and they received new eyes; they realized it was Jesus all along! Dr. Boone drove home the point, “How is it that your eyes be opened to see what God is doing—doing things never seen before?”
- Boone’s final session examined what the Kingdom of God will look like. He began with things we can’t see: UFOs; what causes a Flashmob; even COVID. The Kingdom of God is central to Jesus’ teaching—more than any other subject. The Kingdom is here; and at the same time, still to come. The Kingdom is at the heart of The Lord’s Prayer (Luke 11). “We need people who walk around with pictures of what the Kingdom of God would look like.” It is the redemption of all creation: “This all belongs to Me!” God says.
- UFOs? Probably not. Flashmobs? Perhaps. Viruses? Hopefully not. But the Kingdom of God? Definitely.
**Photo Credits: Laura Dake