I was recently privileged to attend the Together for the Gospel conference in Louisville, KY. This is my second time to attend, and it has been a great experience both times. The conference brings strong preachers, great and challenging topics, and great community. In many ways, this conference operates as a salve to a pastor’s soul.The theme of this year’s conference was “Distinct from the World.” Over the course of three days, we heard 10 sermons. Mark Dever, H. B. Charles, Jr., Matt Chandler, David Platt, Kevin DeYoung, Ligon Duncan, Thabiti Anyabwile, John MacArthur, John Piper, and Al Mohler all preached the plenary sessions. Each session was also bookended with worship through song, led by Sovereign Grace Church’s Bob Kauflin. It truly was amazing to hear 13,000 people singing Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs in praise to God with little to no accompaniment. There is power in the praise of the people of God. The plenary sessions covered several topics, from sanctification to the immutability of God. Each session had a swath of takeaways, and I was challenged time and again. I would like to list three main themes that I took away from this conference.
- Now, more than ever, the church must be distinct from the world. We, as the church, are called to be set apart from the world, and as our context in the world falls further and further into a secularized society. The church will not flourish by bringing the practices and preferences of the world into our methodology and the philosophies of the world into our theology. We must stand for such essential doctrines as the inerrancy of Scripture, substitutionary atonement, the deity of Christ, and justification by faith alone, understanding that these very doctrines will bring us into conflict with the current culture. God calls us to be distinct from the world, but in the world. We must live in the tension of being citizens of the City of God while temporarily residing in the City of Man. We are distinct, and that is the most essential and God-honoring way to share the gospel.
- As the church, we must lead the way in racial reconciliation. David Platt, H. B. Charles, and Ligon Duncan all passionately preached on the need for racial reconciliation. We cannot be blind to this need in the church. For far too long, the church in America has been eerily silent on matters regarding race. This is not a hot take or a passing fad. We must stand up for those who are being oppressed. We must be a voice for the voiceless. And this is not a social gospel. This is the application of the doctrine of spiritual reconciliation. Since we have been reconciled to God through the finished work of Christ on the cross, we should extend a reconciling hand, and work toward strengthening relationships across all races. We need to work toward multi-ethnic churches. Why? Because the kingdom of God is multi-ethnic. The end game for us is a multi-ethnic people group gathered around the throne, singing “Holy, Holy, Holy!” Let us work for racial reconciliation in our churches.
- Pastors, we must continue to grow and be painstakingly precise in our language. I know that it’s burdensome. I know that it seems unnecessary. But I believe that pastors must be willing to be completely and totally precise in our language, especially while preaching the gospel. When we are communicating complex theological ideals and concepts, which Scripture often presents, we must do so precisely and carefully. We are not called to use the biggest words and show off our knowledge, but we are called to faithfully communicate the gospel and the Scriptures to our congregations in the most clear way possible. Sometimes that includes getting our hands really dirty in the text. Kevin DeYoung and John Piper do an excellent job of displaying the importance of being precise with our language. Precision guards against error. Precision edifies the church. Precision evangelizes the lost. Precision glorifies God. As pastors, we also must be willing to grow continually. We need to be teachable. We don’t have it all figured out and we haven’t arrived. Let’s be teachable. Let’s humble ourselves and lean into the Word of God, and communicate it clearly and precisely with our congregations.
I would encourage you all to head over to t4g.org and watch all the sessions. Each one was great, and there are fantastic, sweeping applications for us all, and I think you will be appropriately challenged.
I would love to hear your thoughts, so feel free to comment below, especially if you also attended T4G!