T4G Thursday

The conference planners were well aware of the needs of pastors when they selected Piper and Mahaney to speak in the last two sessions of T4G. We have been greatly inspired and challenged and humbled. We need to “be done with lesser things” and make ample room in our lives for the great priority of preaching the cross and living cross-centered lives. We need to nourish our souls and find strength for our calling. Piper’s and Mahaney’s sermons were just what I needed.

I urge you to look online for the (free) recordings of all the T4G messages, and listen in to what we have been hearing. But save these two for last. If you only listen to a couple, listen to these two.

Session #7 — John PIPER
I’ve been a Christian nearly 30 years, and this session was one of the most gripping and powerful sermons I have heard in person. The Spirit of God moved through John Piper as a mighty wind, bringing the written Word of God to us, and calling us to be brighter and saltier even radical Christian ministers. Speaking primarily from 4 texts in the last chapters of Hebrews (10-11-12-13), he described what creates a radical Christian ministry. We are to be persuaded of the much greater value of the Treasure (Christ), and desire to be with Him, and suffer with/for Him “outside the camp” (Heb. 13:12-13). I cannot begin to tell you more of this heart-piercing message. I can tell you that I prize Christ (my “Ticket” and my “Treasure”) more than ever before! I am willing to work harder, simplify my life, and to suffer more for His sake than ever before — so help me God.

Session #8 — C.J. MAHANEY
Speaking from Philippians 1:3-7, Mahaney prepared us for our “reentry” into the hustle and bustle (the “carousel”) of ministry life. He claimed most pastors (even here) do not serve in their ministry with joy, as Paul did. Are we constantly joyful? Learn from Paul, writing from prison, how to keep your soul joyful and minister the gospel. First, practice GRATEFULNESS to God. Be thankful, and do not murmur (which is really a great sin, questioning the ways of God). Second, gain CONFIDENCE in the FAITHFULNESS of God, and be faithful yourself. As Charles Bridges said, It is faith that enlivens our work with perpetual cheerfulness. Third, develop and keep AFFECTIONS for others (cf: Phil. 1:7-8).

I am not Mahaney, or Piper, and I am certainly not Paul. But I am called to preach the same gospel. As Spurgeon said when thinking of some great preachers,

[Such men] might preach the gospel better than I can, but they cannot preach a better gospel!

Take courage and joy, my heart. Thank God for this conference. Amen

MacArthur quote

We’re the only profession that cannot take credit for any of our successes, only for our failures.” — John MacArthur to 5,000 pastors & leaders assembled at T4G `08

T4G Wednesday AM

This is a great conference — with in depth teaching, sweet songs of praise and hymns of worship (before and after each session) and good times of spiritual fellowship throughout the day. Unfortunately, my friend and roommate Ron is sick with a bad cough/cold, and has missed a session or two. Please pray for his health to improve.

There were four speaker sessions today, and three panel discussions. I can’t post more than a few thoughts from each session, but have been deeply affected and instructed by these godly men who have been preaching to us.

Session #3 — John MacARTHUR
The first of the speakers today was John MacArthur, who received a standing ovation as he walked to the pulpit. His assignment was: The Sinner Neither Able nor Willing: The Doctrine of Absolute Inability (or total depravity). Moving through two dozen NT passages, he built a strong biblical case for this often neglected doctrine. He said a denial of this doctrine is at the heart of liberalism, and, that an “incipient Arminianism” had overrun evangelicals. Somehow too many preachers today believe that better methods on Sunday (everything from lighting, power-points, to informality of talk) makes sinners more likely to respond to the gospel. This is not the case, for man’s problem is (in my own words) not spiritual disinterest, but spiritual death. Man is unable and unwilling to turn to God, until the grace of God comes upon him. Depravity is a hard doctrine, but (as MacArthur said) ‘hard preaching makes soft people.’

Session #4 — Mark DEVER
The second speaker of the morning was Mark Dever, with a powerful expose of varous wrongs done to the gospel in our own day, by professing Christians. His address was titled: Improving the Gospel? Exercise in Unbiblical Theology. Dever summarized five ‘cries’ presently raised about how we ought to “improve” the gospel.

(1) Some wrongly cry, “Make the gospel public”
(2) Some wrongly cry, “Make the gospel larger”
(3) Some wrongly cry, “Make the gospel relevant”
(4) Some wrongly cry, “Make the gospel personal”
(5) Some wrongly cry, “Make the gospel kinder”

Each of these refers to a grouping of efforts to add to, amend or even change the very content of the gospel message in a given direction. The first cry refers to efforts to replace the message of the cross and the call to conversion with social action and efforts to influence the culture. Granted that individual believers ought to be active in mercy ministries and in molding our public policies — but these things are not of the essence of the gospel message. The second cry refers to those who blur the implications of the gospel with the content of the gospel (or, the ‘fruit’ with the ‘root’). Charles Colson was named in this group, for confusing “doing the gospel” with the message we must believe to be saved. The last few points were also powerful in their analysis of our modern culture and their wrong-headed attempts to change our precious gospel.

T4G Tuesday evening

Tuesday, Session #2 — Thabiti ANYABWILE (from Grand Cayman Islands)

This brother is a dynamic speaker, with such a fresh perspective on many things. I had heard him speak last year at the Desiring God Pastor’s Conference (from Ezekiel 8-9) which inspired me to preach a sermon on “Holiness–Lite” at CPCC.

This evening Thabiti spoke on this premise: There is no such thing as ‘race’ the Bible. There is only the one human race, with various ethnicities evident around the world. Key to this is understanding race as a BIOLOGICAL explanation for the differences noticed among groups of human beings. He spoke from several different Scriptures to explain how the concept of race is not only foreign to the Bible, but causes difficulties with various doctrines — including the gospel! If this strikes you as novel, I suggest you look online for the mp3 of the talk, or watch for its publication. My notes are pretty good too, and I’d be happy to review them in the near future.

PANEL DISCUSSIONS
I should also mention that for nearly every public address at the conference, there is a panel discussion afterwards with the 4 primary hosts (Dever, Mahaney, Mohler and Duncan) and the speaker from the recent session. They ‘chat’ publically and toss questions to each other, while 5,000 of us listen in. There are some great laughs and some sobering conclusions. These panel discussions are most interesting.

— Pastor David Bissett

T4G Tuesday

Well, my old friend and roommate, Ron Giese arrived just after midnight last night. we chatted for well over an hour before turning in. Christian friends, especially long standing ones, are precious gifts from the Lord!

The day started at 7:20 AM, but our special breakfast plans were thwarted (a local Papa John’s advertised “breakfast pizzas” delivered to the hotel) when no one answered the phone.

SESSION ONE — Ligon Duncan…
There is a growing suspicion and disdain for doctrine in American evangelicalism. Yet, Duncan says, systematic theology is necessary, important and unavoidable in Chrisitian living and ministry. He went through several NT passages to show this connection.

One reminder he mentioned was this: People do systematic theology all the time in our churches, when someone asks a question such as “what does the Bible say about ____?” (any topic works, such as ‘angels’ or ‘vocarions’ etc) The answer will be one form of doing systematic theology. Whether the answer is a good one (or not) depends on one’s grasp of the Bible.

At another point, as he taught from Acts 18, we learned that refutation of false doctrine actually encourages the brethren! This encouraged me, since we’ve invested several Sunday nights at CPCC on the series, “Critical Concerns for the Church.”

After the panel discussion we broke for dinner. Enjoyed some fish & chips in Louisville.

SESSION TWO – Thabiti Anyabwile on our Identity in Christ.
Very powerful stuff. (more soon).