I arrived in Chicago last night in order to attend “The Gospel Coalition 2011” conference. The theme this year is They Testify About Me – Preaching Jesus and the Gospel from the Old Testament. Thousands of people are expected to attend. Speakers will include Al Mohler, Tim Keller, Alistair Begg, James McDonald, Conrad Mbewe (of Africa), Matt Chandler, and D.A. Carson. Music will be led by Keith & Kristyn Getty. I hope to blog my way through, but we’ll see!
I’m rooming with a very dear, old friend, (Dr Ron Giese), staying in the conference hotel overlooking the McCormack Place convention center. We have already enjoyed catching up on things. In the lobby I happened to be standing next to a little group that included Justin Taylor (he’s way taller than I expected), Collin Hansen, and a couple of other ‘famous’ guys. Neat stuff.
Last night Ron and I rode the city bus to downtown for world famous Giordano’s Chicago deep dish pizza (fantastic).
This is a big American city, with old and new buildings (tall and wide), and streets throbbing with commerce and people. This morning I read about cities in the Bible. I lingered over Isaiah 26, which declares to believers, “We have a strong city…”
In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah:
“We have a strong city; he sets up salvation as walls and bulwarks. 2 Open the gates, that the righteous nation that keeps faith may enter in. 3 You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. 4 Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.
From Genesis on, the Bible presents a contrast between the cities built by men, and the ‘city’ being built by God (here’s a nod to Augustine’s famous writing CITY OF GOD). The ‘city of God’ is the only safe and lasting place to dwell. As Isaiah tells us, you enter by being righteous — right with God — by humble faith (26:4) in His mercy and grace. And that’s found in Jesus Christ, who came and brought the kingdom of God near. Isaiah not only declares these things, but invites men and women to come and enter — and enjoy the blessings of our great redeemer God.
I look out my hotel window and see a great city before me. As I attend this conference, with thousands of believers gathering to praise the Lord, and to sit before His Holy Word, I see a greater city. I’m glad to be an American, but I am overwhelmed that I am a citizen of heaven.