Yesterday was a great day! We heard our first three plenary speakers, as well as two great moderated panel discussions. Luckily for those of you following along at home, the logistics and Internet folks at T4G are on top of things, and have already got the audio from each of these sessions online. I recommend you check them out when you have time!
Plenary Session 1 — The Sustaining Power of the Gospel (C.J. Mahaney)
This message, based on 2 Corinthians 4, was one of the most encouraging sermons I’ve heard. Mahaney spoke about the trials faced by those in ministry, particularly the temptation to lose heart. He exhorted us to cast on the Lord “the burdens of today, the sins of yesterday, and the fear of the future.”
Plenary Session 2 — The Power of the Articulated Gospel (Al Mohler)
More of an academic lecture than a sermon, this was still a powerful message from the president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Based on Romans 10:15-17, Mohler spoke of our culture’s emphasis on images instead of words, and on the desire of many evangelicals to “show” the gospel rather than “speak” the gospel. But the gospel is a message that must be articulated and demonstrated; no one can be saved apart from the proclamation of a very specific — and offensive — gospel.
Panel Discussion 1 — Complementarianism (Ligon Duncan, Russell Moore, Greg Gilbert, John Piper)
Why is the issue of gender roles so vitally important to our understanding of the gospel? This was a great discussion, particularly in light of the fact that the college Sunday School class where my wife and I serve is currently studying the issue of complementarianism vs. egalitarianism. Piper was one of the men who invented the term “complementarian”, so it was good to hear him reflect on more than three decades of debating the issue. Russell Moore is the president of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, and Greg Gilbert is a young pastor with a young congregation who has seen much of what he calls “functional egalitarianism”.
Audio is not available for this one yet, but here is Taylor’s write-up.
Plenary Session 3 — False Conversions: The Suicide of the Church (Mark Dever)
Dever has long been one of my favorite preachers, and this message was right in his wheelhouse. While it was strange to hear Dever (of all people) deliver a topical sermon, this is something which desperately needed to be addressed. Our churches are filled with those who have never been converted to faith. This is dangerous on many levels, and unloving toward those who have a false sense of security. If you only listen to one message from today, make it this one!
Panel Discussion 2 — Preaching: Is There a Plan B? (Ligon Duncan, Mark Dever, CJ Mahaney, Al Mohler)
The short answer? No. The biggest takeaway from this session was the fact that preaching is not separate from worship (as many say), but the central part of our corporate worship. We must learn to view preaching as something that requires active listening, not passive observation.
Here is Taylor’s write-up.
Looking forward to another full day of great preaching today!