This year I had the privilege and joy of attending the Together for the Gospel conference in Louisville, KY with the pastoral staff from my church and some other brothers. Together for the Gospel is a biannual conference for pastors and church leaders from different evangelical denominations designed to remind, encourage and contend for the centrality of the gospel. This year’s theme was the Unashamed Gospel. From nine different plenary sessions, we were all encouraged in various ways to be confident and bold in our evangelism.
Mark Dever’s message was titled The Certain Victory of Christ’s Church: An Encouragement to Evangelism. From Isaiah 36-37, he reminded us, in spite of current or looming horrific circumstances in our culture, to be faithful in our evangelism because God will fulfill His promises. This session ended with a robust singing of Martin Luther’s famous hymn, “A Mighty Fortress is Our God“.
Thabiti Anyabwile’s message was titled The Happiness of Heaven in the Repentance of Sinners. From Luke 15, he encouraged us to be unashamed in calling sinners to repentance because of the joy heaven experiences when sinners repent. He also reminded us that we also share in this joy when sinners repent and this should spur us on to be faithful evangelists.
R. Albert Mohler’s message was titled The Open Door is the Only Door: The Singularity of the Gospel in a Pluralistic Age. From Acts 4 and other texts, he encouraged us not to shrink back from declaring the gospel because of its inherent authority and exclusivity. It simply is unlike any other message and we have been commissioned to preach it.
Kevin DeYoung’s message was titled Never Spoke a Man Like This Before: Inerrancy, Evangelism and Christ’s Unbreakable Bible. From John 10:35 and other passages in the gospels he reminded us how Jesus believed and quoted the Word of God during His ministry. If we are to be faithful evangelists (& preachers), we must never sway on the inerrancy and authority of Scripture and the historicity of Christianity.
David Platt’s message was titled Relenting Wrath: The Role of Desperate Prayer in the Mystery of Divine Providence. From Exodus 32, Platt reminded us that we must be a people of prayer as prayer is one of the means God uses to accomplish His purposes in history. He spoke of his observation that while the reformed resurgence excels in doctrinal preciseness, prayer is severely lacking. He urged us to remember that a right doctrine of God’s providence results in relentless devotion and confidence in prayer.
Matt Chandler’s message was titled Christ is All. From 2 Timothy 1:8-14, he encouraged us to be bold in evangelism and be prepared to suffer, but not to fear because Christ has defeated death and has had an eternal plan for us. He said that zeal for evangelism is rooted in knowledge of God.
Lig Duncan’s message was titled The Gospel by Numbers from Numbers 5:1-5. In his message, Duncan reminded us that we can be bold in evangelism because Christ is God and has borne the wrath of God for sinners so we can receive mercy & grace. In Numbers 5:1-5, the Lord commanded Moses to put defiled people outside the camp of Israel. This separation served as a reminder that physical uncleanness was a pointer to moral uncleanness which can’t dwell with God or His people lest the clean people be defiled. However, pointing us to Luke 5:12-13; 8:40-56, Jesus touches the leper, the woman with the issue of blood and the dead daughter of Jairus and they become clean. The defiled became undefiled when they meet Jesus.
John MacArthur’s message was titled Mass Defection: The Great Physician Confronts the Pathology of Counterfeit Faith. From John 6, MacArthur spoke of the reality of false converts in the church. He reminded us that false converts are attracted to crowds and the supernatural much like the people during Jesus’ earthly ministry. However, when Jesus said hard things or things that confronted sin, many people fell away. MacArthur went to say that real disciples heed and cling to God’s word. Real disciples will speak like Peter did in John 6:66-69.
John Piper’s message was titled Persuading, Pleading and Predestination: Human Means in the Miracle of Conversion. From Romans 9, Piper reminded us that the doctrine of election is the foundation of hope for things mentioned in Romans 8 and ought to spur us on to labor hard in evangelism and not be dismayed or disillusioned when we don’t see immediate results. From eternity past, God has a people that will be claimed as His, therefore share the good news!
While each talk was of significant worth, DeYoung and Anyabwile’s talks provoked me in healthy ways for different reasons. DeYoung, with all of his humor and intellect (he really is funny), encouraged me greatly by reminding me how Jesus clung to the Word of God in His ministry which displayed a particular authority to His opponents. The constant battle is to resort to other means (think pragmatism or emotionalism) in ministry instead of faithfully relying on God’s authoritative, inerrant and all-sufficient Word. Jesus said “It is written….” and the church should say the same.
Anyabwile provided a perspective about evangelism that I know, but often don’t think about – the rejoicing of heaven at the repentance of sinners. In the parables of Luke 15, Anyabwile helped us to see the rejoicing aspect of the recovering the lost sheep, the lost coin and the son’s repentance. I don’t often think of heaven’s perspective when I share the gospel and this provided me with a new way of evangelistic thinking. He also reminded us that calling people to repentance shouldn’t be something to fear, but to rejoice in.
“Repentance is God achieving the goal of redeeming the lost as His mission.”
Thabiti Anyabwile, T4G2014
In addition to the messages, we were led in song by Bob Kauflin of Sovereign Grace Music. It did my soul well to participate and hear over 7,000 men and women (mostly men) fervently sing biblically saturated songs about the hope we have in Jesus.
Graciously, T4G has made all of the messages available as audio files and a video files.
Visit T4G to hear them all.
Grace & Peace,