Category Archives: conferences

T4G Recap and Recommendations

Ryan (@RyanTBrice) really pushed for us to go to “Together for the Gospel” this year. I have to admit, the timing was terrible and I wasn’t looking forward to the long drive. I’ve always heard great things about T4G but I wonder how “together” something really is if its just a room full of male WASPs (or maybe it should be WASCs). I was pleasantly surprised at the number of women and people of color.

The conference was full of great preaching and lots of free books (which is basically my love language). For whatever reason, I was not prepared for how powerful the music would be. We sang only hymns (all from the new “Hymns of Grace” hymnal). I like hymns (I mean, I have a hymnal with my name engraved on it!) but, in general, my tastes are a little more diverse. Not to mention, the “band” was Bob Kauflin on a piano. I was not prepared for how loud and powerful 10,000 voices were going to be. These were not casual singers, these (still mostly men) were singing at the top of their lungs. Most of the time, the piano was just background accompaniment. Often Bob would stop singing and let the voices swell. I think the word “foretaste” captures that moment. Thinking of heaven primarily as worship, these moments of singing were a foretaste of heaven. Here’s a little sample (though it fails to do justice to the magnitude of the moment):

As far as the speakers, I think I’d recommend you start with these three:

  1. The Q&A with Mark Dever and Phillip Jensen. Their discussion was funny, thought-provoking, and convicting. In the middle of their conversation, there were a ton of important practical takeaways. They even broached the subject of Student Ministry! Jensen said in Student Ministry you (1) never get past square one (stay with the gospel), (2) never assume a student is a Christian, and (3) be an expert on sovereignty and sex! Talking about sovereignty and prayer, he briefly explained how our (often) flat view of sovereignty robs the power from God and our prayers: “In God’s sovereignty he is more sovereign than that. We are people, not puppets. His sovereignty encompasses prayer, it is not fatalistic.” There was an interesting foray into Bible translation that was helpful (e.g., how do people in our modern world understand the term “faith.”). Jensen did not fear speaking strongly on a subject (e.g., “I’d cut my tongue out before I’d call a building a sanctuary.”). All-in-all, worth your time.
  2. Mark Dever’s message on endurance. His sermon was rich, encouraging, and convicting. It was good to be reminded of the difference between genuine revival and the false emotion of revivalism. It is never bad to be reminded that “God’s Word is never in danger of not succeeding… The weight of the world is on God’s shoulders, not mine.” This message will have to be watched many times in the future. If you’re discouraged in ministry, watch this message. My favorite moment was to hear him share the personal stories of people in his ministry who have been saved. As he was sharing those stories, I was reminded of the people in my ministry who came to Christ. Each person saved is immeasurably significant and I dare not lose sight of people in the quest to “grow a church.”
  3. Matt Chandler’s message on courage. This message was important because of the culture we now live in. He started by talking about the fear that many in his congregation feel because they are being labeled as phobic and hateful and there is no chance for explanation or defense. In the loss of the pseudo-Christian majority, Christians are going to continue to learn the meaning of genuine courage for Christ.
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Kevin Vanhoozer on Pauline Perspectives

I recently watched Kevin Vanhoozer’s presentation, “Wrighting the Wrongs of the Reformation?  The State of the Union with Christ in St. Paul and in Protestant Soteriology,” given at the 19th Annual Wheaton Theology Conference last month (audio or video can be found at Wheaton’s website).  Vanhoozer offers a humorous and helpful overview of the differences between the ‘old’ and ‘new’ perspectives on Paul.  In the process he clarifies where both camps have misunderstood each other and offers ways forward in the discussion of justification, salvation, and the mission of God.

Below is embedded the audio and video of his talk.

Vanhoozer Video

What is the Proper Response to the Gospel? Danny Akin on Romans 12:1-2

As a recent graduate of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary I cannot express how thankful and proud I am for the godly leadership of Danny Akin.  He is one of the main reasons I decided to attend S.E.B.T.S.  He has been one of the leading proponents of a “Great Commission Resurgence” in the Southern Baptist Convention.

In the following video you will see Dr. Akin preach from Romans 12:1-2.  While watching this video I was again challenged to give God everything.  I don’t mean to use that word “everything” lightly.  I want to live for God as a “living sacrifice.”  I want to be a dead man walking.

Also, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen Dr. Akin preach without notes or a manuscript!  Must be a message particularly close to his heart.  As you’ll notice, it doesn’t take Dr. Akin but a few moments to teach the gospel and how it calls us to proclaim the gospel to the nations.

He explains Romans 12:1-2 using three words:  consecration, transformation, and satisfaction.  However, to get to Paul’s point in Romans 12:1-2 one has to understand Romans 1-11.  That is the beauty of this message!  Dr. Akin walks through Romans 1-11 in a beautiful, succinct, clear manner that does complete justice to the intended meaning of the text.

Here are a few poignant quotes from Dr. Akin’s message:

Why do we need a gospel?  Why do we need the power of God?  Why do we need to be justified?  Why do we need to be saved?  The answer is — we have a massive sin problem.

Revelation brings responsibility.

Your salvation was not an accident.  Your salvation was not an afterthought.  Your salvation was not ‘Plan B.’

God wants your eyes.  God wants your ears.  God wants your mouth.  God wants your mind… God wants your hands and your feet.  In fact, God wants all of your body — every single part of it.  He’s not interested in most of it.  He’s not willing to negotiate and bargain… You can’t give God part of you.

The mind is a very delicate thing that must be brought under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

The Bible says if you’re not careful, both as a Christian and as a church, we can begin to look a whole lot more like the world than like Jesus.

I find that there are a bunch of stupid Christians… They love Jesus with their heart but they don’t have a prayer of a chance of explaining to somebody what they believe or why they believe it.

[Read a book] that will stretch your mind so that you can think more Christianly day-in and day-out rather than being a surface, sloppy, silly, stupid, Saint – we don’t need any more.

Any system of theology that lessens your passion for the Great Commission and evangelism is a theology not worth having.

In the day and age we live, you can’t be a stupid Christian.  You have to be able to think well about the gospel and the implications of the gospel.  You have to be able to explain and understand both what you and believe and why you believe.  If you don’t read, that’s not going to happen.

For the audio-only version of this message see my previous post on the 20/20 Conference at SEBTS.

20/20 Conference at SEBTS

Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the “20/20 Conference” at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.  However, the audio and video from each session is now available online.  I would highly recommend everyone checking out the messages that were presented.

Matt Chandler spoke via video on Colossians 1 about “Defining the Gospel Clearly.”

Danny Akin described the “Proper Response to the Gospel” based on Romans 12:1-2.

David Platt explained what a “Gospel-Centered Community of Faith” looks like by teaching from Acts 3:1-10.

J. D. Greear clarified some “Cultural Assumptions That Make the Gospel Offensive” based on Acts 4:1-21.

Clayton King demonstrated “Paul’s Witness for the Gospel” in Acts 17:16-31.

Reflections on "God Exposed." (Part 2)

How do I describe the impact of C. J. Mahaney’s message this weekend?  I have yet to hear a teacher of the Bible who so accurately understands his own shortcomings yet so clearly magnifies God.  Mahaney taught from 2 Timothy 4:1-5 and encouraged faithfulness to the gospel through the content and character of the preacher.

Mahaney made clear that the Word of God is essential to the church.  Before being overwhelmed by the obvious he traced out the implications of such a thought.  For example, the primacy of the Word of God should be reflected in the schedule of the preacher (i.e., I should set aside adequate time to unhurriedly exegete, applicate, and illustrate the text of Scripture).  I cannot let lesser duties overwhelm this primary concern nor can I allow sinful procrastination to cripple my Bible Study.

I was also reminded during this time that a pastor/elder is most adequately equipped to teach the Bible at a particular church because preaching requires pastoral skill and discernment to teach and apply the Bible.  A pastor should know the struggles and victories of his congregation and, therefore, know the appropriate use of admonition and exhortation.  I would not want to admonish the weak and encourage the unruly!  This requires an atmosphere of community that is conducive to openly sharing life.

Mahaney pierced my heart with his encouragement to preach “with all patience” (2 Tim. 4:2).  It is sometimes easier to give a weekly monologue than be patient with people.  I must always keep in the front of my mind God’s patience with me.  Further, I cannot expect my listeners to immediately understand and apply everything I preach.  God has been slowly working on my heart and I have been “living in the text” for weeks.  How foolish of me to think that what took me weeks and years to understand will immediately be fully grasped by my audience.  Further, it is the height of arrogance to think that I am such a good communicator as to condense years worth of Biblical study and personal sanctification into a single hour-long sermon.

All-in-all I must persevere in the careful and consistent teaching of the Word of God and “be grateful and surprised” that anyone shows up to hear me speak at all!

Reflections on "God Exposed." (Part 1)

This past weekend (September 25-26) I attended the 9 Marks “God Exposed” conference held at SEBTS.  My heart and head are both full from the information and exhortations I received.

Audio from the event can be found at the SEBTS website.  On the IX Marks website some blog reflections can be found.

Mark Dever opened the conference with a message from Mark 4 that was encouraging and convicting.  He challenged us to depend totally on the power of the Word of God and not on our own personality, creativity, or intelligence.  Being dependent on God and His word leads to humility and confidence (two traits that I normally view as opposed).  We have humility because we realize that God is accomplishing the growth of the Kingdom of God.  We have confidence in the fact that God will accomplish what he promised.  I was reminded through this exhortation not to confuse size with significance in my own ministry.  Further, I am thankful that God chooses weak vessels.  One memorable quote from Dr. Dever:

If you think you can be filled with the Spirit without being filled with the Word, you need to check what Spirit you are being filled with.

Dr. Akin underscored this point during the Sermon Review (an idea I wholeheartedly recommend for teachers of the Bible) by showing the connection between being filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18) through the word of Christ (Col. 3:16).

The Word of God is powerful because God is powerful.  The Word of God will be victorious because God is the victor.

You have been born again: not originating from the mortal but from the immortal, that is through the living and permanent word of God.  ‘For all flesh is like grass and all its glory is like the flower of grass.  The grass withers and the flower falls off but the word of the Lord endures into eternity.’  Now this is the word which was preached to you (1 Peter 1:23-25).