Last week our pastoral staff attended the “Together for the Gospel,” pastor’s conference in Louisville, Kentucky. We had great times of worship, fellowship, encouragement, and instruction from God’s Word. The theme was “We Are Protestant,” and the conference asked the question is the reformation still relevant today.
The spirit of T4G is one of unity for the sake of the gospel. The leaders and participants don’t agree on everything (worship service styles, baptism, eschatology, etc.), but they agree on the centrality of the gospel in ministry. We were blessed by attending, so in the spirit of sharing here are a few highlights:
Seriously. The vast majority of whom are active pastors. I thought of the council of Nicea in AD 325, the first public meeting of “worldwide” church leadership since the days of the Apostles. Approximately 300 attended that meeting. Seeing 10,000 people gathered who are committed to the proclamation of the gospel was a vivid confirmation that God will build his kingdom. The singing alone was worth it.
Filled with Bible
Ligon Duncan made the observation that the Reformers were convinced that the corporate worship of the church should be ordered by the Bible and filled with Bible. This conviction wasn’t limited to sermons, but also included songs, and prayers. I was encouraged as I thought about our corporate worship: it is definitely filled with Bible!
The Who Question
C.J. Mahaney’s message from Job on pastoral care in light of suffering really hit home. He acknowledged that everyone struggles with the “Why Question” in suffering, and we assume that answering that question will someone take the pain away. He pointed out that in chapters 38-42 the why question for Job was overwhelmed by the who question. In the end “Job doesn’t see all, he sees God and that is enough.”
Good Works, Good News, and Assurance
Kevin DeYoung’s message on the relationship of good works to assurance for the believer was probably my favorite of the whole conference. He surveyed 1 John and asked the question “must we be sanctified in order to be glorified?” The short answer is yes. He said “is the authentic Christian life full of weakness? Yes. Capitulation? No.” He did a great job balancing the fact that our salvation is accomplished by the sheer grace of God, and yet we are called to evaluate our lives for confirmation that we love Jesus, his commands, and his people.
Don’t Preach a Flat God
Matt Chandler’s message from Romans 11:33-36 on preparing our churches to endure suffering was timely and powerful. The main idea was, if we don’t see God as great (and preach him as such), then we won’t be motivated to endure suffering for his sake. He recounted the martyrdom of some of the English reformers. Their example was sobering and encouraging. Jesus is worth the greatest sacrifice.
Seeing Old Friends
There were so many people, and yet it seemed like everywhere we went we ran into someone that we knew. I saw many friends ministering all over the country. It was great to see some GPBC extended family there- Mitar Rudanovic and Tom Oostdyk.
All the messages will be available online soon. I would encouraged you to check them out.