Reflections on Attending “The Gospel Coalition”

I returned yesterday from attending The Gospel Coalition Conference at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. For those who were unable to attend, Justin Taylor has provided relatively detailed notes from the main sessions:

Session 1: What is the Gospel (D.A. Carson)

Session 2: Gospel-Centered Ministry (Tim Keller)

Session 3: Passing on the Gospel (Crawford Loritts)

Session 4: What is the Gospel Coalition (D.A. Carson) (These notes were provided by Justin Buzzard, not Justin Taylor)

Session 5: The Triumph of the Gospel in the New Heavens and the New Earth

According to Carson, in about three weeks the Gospel Coalition website (www.thegospelcoalition.org) will be up and running, complete with FREE downloadable video of these main sessions. When it is up and running, I will pass along the word.

Now for my own reflections:

1. The size of the conference (300-400) allowed for terrific interaction with others, and a chance for me to see a number of dear gospel friends. In fact, the opportunity to renew gospel friendships and make new ones is one of the most important benefits of such a conference. After all, for most conferences if you are interested solely in the content you can either download or purchase the audio and listen from the comfort of your home, car, etc. But there is no replacement for renewing gospel friendships and making new ones. These events always renew my vision and excitement for what God is doing around the nation and the world through his people. One of the dangers of ministry can be isolation, in which our horizon of what God is doing is limited to our specific context. Satan often uses this to provoke either pride or despair, depending on how one perceives their local context.

2. Carson helpfully addressed the relationship between The Gospel Coalition and Together for the Gospel. There is a lot of overlap between the two, and they share a similar desire to form broad partnerships around a robust and right understanding of the gospel, not simply a lowest common denominator. The driving question of the Gospel Coalition is “”What can we do to promote a robust, gospel-centered evangelical center in our increasingly diverse country, particularly for the arising generation?” As it stands now, the Gospel Coalition intends on holding a national conference in mid to late April of odd number years; this will compliment the Together for the Gospel conferences that take place the same time of year but on even numbered years.

3. I found Tim Keller’s session on gospel-centered ministry particularly helpful. The phrase/concept is thrown around a decent bit, but Keller’s message put flesh on those bones. I was especially encouraged to hear him contend for the centrality of proclamation within the larger context of gospel ministry. One of the dangers I perceive in parts of evangelicalism is that in the rush to care for people and live out the gospel that the proclamation of the gospel is lost or ignored. At its heart the gospel is a message to be proclaimed.

4. Piper’s message on the new heavens and new earth was a combination of careful preaching of the text with soul-stirring passion for the glories of the realities he was preaching. I am now even more eager for God to consummate his redemptive purposes!

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