Together for the Gospel (PT 2)

The Together for the Gospel conference was a first time event that celebrated both the unity and the diversity of Christ’s church. 2800 church leaders united under the banner of one thing: the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ. The diversity of this event was evident when listening to the panel discussions that took place throughout the main plenary sessions (5 panel sessions took place over 2 short days). Mark Dever (a Reformed S. Baptist), Al Mohler (a Southern Baptist), C.J. Mahaney (a Reformed Charismatic), and Ligon Duncan (a Presbyterian) were the principle leaders behind this gathering. They modeled for us how we as Evangelical gospel ministers can disagree on secondary matters yet come together and contend for what matters most (Jude 3). This conference was all about Biblical unity and Christ-exalting diversity.

C.J. Mahaney (in my mind) was clearly the most uneducated person among the “mighty men” (which included MacArthur, Sproul, and Piper); yet his sermon on 1 Timothy 4:16 had the greatest impact on my own soul. As D.A. Carson recently wrote, “The message of the cross proves that God’s folly has outsmarted human wisdom; His weakness has overpowered human strength.” The cross has saved many nobodies (1 Cor. 1:26-31), praise God for this! After a typical (strange) Mahaney intro, C.J. jumped into 1 Timothy 4:16, here he provided a number of excellent insights into the application of “watch your life.” C.J. said that it’s easier to study doctrine then to examine our heart, our motives, our attitudes, etc. Many pastors spend countless hours reading theology books, browsing theological blogs, and preparing biblical sermons. God calls us to watch our doctrine but not in isolation.

Mahaney reminded us that we cannot watch ourselves by ourselves. In other words, we need Christian accountability. He challenged Sr. Pastors to not set themselves above their fellow pastors and elders like Popes or Kings. Too many Sr. Pastors use their position as a shield to ward off any rebuke or criticism. Lay people or even fellow elders following Galatians 6 are accused of being unsupportive or worse yet insubordinate (by some “Sr.” Pastors). This type of attitude is deadly to the soul.

I’m thankful an elder at my church recently confronted me over something I did in an unbiblical manner. He gently corrected me and then he held me accountable to do what was right. In my estimation he showed great courage (though I realize I’m only an Ast. Pastor). :)

Nonetheless, all of us would do well to meditate on 1 Timothy 4:16: Practically how are you applying the first part of verse 16? Do you even have a strategy? We don’t grow in doctrine by watching TV, surfing the internet, or by playing an excessive amount of golf. Similarly, we can not really watch our lives (our hearts), simply by reading exegetical commentaries and other good Christian books. We have to be deliberate in this battle for our own souls before we will ever rescue the souls of others.

We need to encourage others to wound our egos. We need to ask people to lovingly identify sins in our lives (that we may not clearly see). All of us are like automobiles folks, we all have blindspots! Personal mortification should take place before most anything else. That’s why the Apostle Paul wrote, Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things; for as you do this you will insure salvation both for yourself an those who hear you.”

(pictures from Provocations and Pantings)

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6 responses to this post.

  1. Dever is actually a Southern Baptist although many probably wish he was not. Great review.

  2. Paul,

    I did not know that….Dever is a really neat guy though. I’d like to attend one of his weekenders down the road.

    What are you preaching on Sunday? What is everyone preaching on this Sunday for that matter?

  3. Matthew 5:21-26 in the AM and Jonah in the PM.

  4. I do not get to preach on a regular basis but when i get the chance i have been going through the epistle of Jude. It’s been one great study (atleast for me)!

  5. Curious: would any leaders of the conference reject reformed soteriology? I’m still thinking that this is the common bond between these men, charismatic or not.

  6. JM,

    No i think they are classic theologians (Reformed soteriology). I see what you’re saying in one sense…

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