The conference’s final day was difficult. I felt as if my brain was already full with five more sessions to go! Thankfully, we were able to mix in some “down time” that helped. With as many times as I’ve been in Louisville, it seemed a shame never to have taken the tour of the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory, but that oversight has now been remedied. It was a great tour, and I was able to bring home a mini-bat for Nate.
Plenary Session 7 — The Underestimated God: God’s Ruthless, Compassionate Grace in the Pursuit of His Own Glory and His Ministers’ Joy (Ligon Duncan)
First of all, Jeff & I agree: of all the plenary speakers, Duncan undoubtedly has the best preaching voice! Though he does have a close rival in breakout speaker Russell Moore. Duncan’s message was based on 1 Kings 19, and was a bit of a prequel of sorts to the message C.J. Mahaney delivered on Tuesday. Using the example of Elijah fleeing from Jezebel, he showed how even those who believe in the sovereignty of God sometimes doubt his power. Those serving in ministry are prone to discouragement, but this discouragement is nearly always the result of underestimating God’s ability to do what he has said he will do. Sometimes we don’t get the result that we want from our ministry, but we can trust that God will fulfill his purposes, and that those purposes are ultimately for our good.
Plenary Session 8 — The Fulfillment of the Gospel (Matt Chandler)
Two years ago, the T4G speakers and attendees prayed for Chandler, who had brain cancer and a prognosis of short life. The very fact that he was standing on the stage — fully healed! — was a testimony to God’s grace & mercy, and an encouragement to everyone in attendance. Who better to follow a message on pastoral discouragement with a message of eschatological hope from Revelation 21 & 22? He balances out hope-filled encouragement with a charge to be “all in” with our faith.
Plenary Session 9 — Glory, Majesty, Dominion, and Authority Keep Us Safe for Everlasting Joy (John Piper)
John Piper provided a fitting end to the conference, preaching on perseverance from the perspective of a man nearing the end of his own pastoral ministry (Bethlehem Baptist Church will soon be installing Piper’s successor after he has spent more than 30 years in that pulpit). His text was the Doxology from the book of Jude, and was phenomenal. I especially benefited from his treatment of the difficult verse 21, in which Jude writes “keep yourselves in the love of God”, which seems contradictory to many readers (the last time I heard this text preached it was butchered). Piper tied into what DeYoung had preached on Wednesday about our role in our own sanctification, and showed how the four attributes of God listed in verse 25 come to expression in God’s keeping of his children.
Here’s the audio, and Taylor’s write-up. While there are many who will want to skip straight to John Piper’s message, I encourage you to listen to the others first, as he manages to refer to all eight of the previous plenary messages in his own sermon.
Panel and Breakout Sessions
There was also a good panel discussion on the final about “celebrity pastors” that was very good, particularly the insight and challenges provided by Carl Trueman. The audio should be available soon, but you can read Taylor’s write-up for the highlights. I also neglected to mention Carl Trueman’s excellent breakout session, which I attended on Wednesday. He spoke about ways that the Protestant Reformation is still happening today, and ways that Protestant churches have reverted to some pre-Reformation practices. Again, the audio should be available soon (along with all the other breakout sessions). You can also check out Trueman’s book Reformation: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow, which includes much of the same material.