Reflections on T4G

This year’s T4G conference in Louisville (8th-10th April) entitled ‘Unashamed of the Gospel’ brought together 7,000 attendees to the worlds worst-named sports arena – ‘The KFC Yum! Center’. Anything positive taking place in a venue with that name is a bonus, and this year’s edition of the biennial conference certainly had a lot of bonuses.

Worship was led by Bob Kauflin as before. He leads very well, though I found it disconcerting that he did so from a grand piano, in the middle of the arena rather than the front. It gave his voice a

disembodied quality for the 1,000-2,000 of us in front of him, though it was a boon for the guy whose Ecuador football shirt reflected so brightly in Bob’s stage lighting that I was reaching for my Geiger counter.

Some highlights from the plenary sessions, with links to the audio:

Thabiti Anyabwile on, ‘The Happiness of Heaven in the Repentance of Sinners’.
Repentance is increasingly thought of as unnecessary, Thabiti pointed out, even though it is “the goal of the gospel”. He was disarmingly candid about his own struggles with personal evangelism, while issuing the uncommon challenge, “Do we approach evangelism expecting to share in the heavenly joy?”

Matt Chandler: ‘Christ is All’
“For you to be a beast in the pulpit and scared of your neighbour helps no-one”, was coupled with the timely advice, “Don’t get tazed by an air marshall”, as he invited us to be bold – but not obnoxious – in sharing the gospel. He shared his personal go-to passage of Job 38 for those times when he slips into self-sufficiency. Wonderfully counter-cultural reminder that actually we DON’T have what it takes to persevere, but God does and he will share it with us.

Mark Dever with a title so long it needs an exposition all of its own.
In a fallen world, some fears come true, and yet our fears tend to lie to us about how important they are. Satan uses truths about terrible events to build the lie that God has abandoned his people.

Kevin DeYoung’s title was even longer and more deeply encoded than Dever’s
This wasn’t some rabble-rousing, locker room team-talk designed to make us amped up about the Bible’s inerrancy. Rather, it was a logical and relentlessly Biblical explanation of the inerrancy of Scripture that made us…amped up about the Bible’s inerrancy.
One of his closing points addressed the nonsense about accepting Jesus’ words but not the rest of the what the Bible says, as DeYoung pointed out that Jesus doesn’t stand above Scripture, he obeys it and fulfils it.

Ligon Duncan, whose sermon titles and deportment promise few thrills…
…and yet who always seems to deliver brilliant, pastoral exposition from the gut. I think his greatest achievement in this sermon was that he made getting to the gospel from Numbers 5 look easy.
“If you are going to bring people to Jesus, you need to know that he knows what to do with them when you do.”
Oh, and he also took us to Hebrews 13:13, which I’m a sucker for…

John MacArthur: ‘Mass Defection: the Great Physician Confronts the Pathology of Counterfeit Faith’
Looking at John 6 and the masses of people who left Jesus at the end of his message, MacArthur pointed out that “Nothing Jesus did offended them. What he said offended them. Don’t make people accepting your gifts or service as accepting the gospel. Salvation is by believing the words”.

Al Mohler spoke many highly educated and impressive sentences on, ‘The Open Door is the Only Door: the Singularity of the Gospel in a Pluralistic Age’
Unfortunately for me, I didn’t track with him very well. I think my struggle with listening to Mohler is that because many of his sentences are densely packed with meaning and implication, they take

time to think on, which distracts me from several subsequent sentences. Couple that with his weak spot of not giving us a clear structure to follow and my weak brain, and I get kinda lost…

John Piper was “Persuading, Pleading and Predestination: Human Means in the Miracle of Conversion”
Romans 9…Piper pondered…why is it there? Both at all, but more particularly at that point? Because if God is not faithful, all the encouragements of Romans 8 (e.g. “There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”, v.1), mean nothing. If God was not faithful to the Jews, why would he be faithful to Christians? Romans 9 chronicles God’s faithfulness.
What effect did the doctrine of unconditional election have on Paul’s relationship to lost people?
It sustained him in his sorrow over lost fellow Jews, empowered his labours to persuade the lost to be saved, and impelled the earnestness of his prayer for the salvation of the Jews.

David Platt on ‘Relenting Wrath: the Role of Desperate Prayer in the Mystery of Divine Providence’
Our prayers affect God’s actions…said the reformed pastor. 🙂 Focusing on Exodus 32 Platt showed us how God’s perfections, plans and promises are unchanging, and yet his purposes are unfolding. Moses (and the Ninevites after Jonah’s visit), fulfilled rather than changed God’s plans. It was striking as he also took us through Acts, demonstrating how every major move of the gospel in that book came in response to prayer.
“God hasn’t called us to watch history, but to shape history for the glory of his name.”
“Let us not settle for prayerlessness, and so settle for powerlessness.”

This was my fourth T4G, and the combination of fellowship, encouragement, great preaching and cheap books ensures I’ll do my best to be there again in 2016. 

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