More Reflections from The Gospel Coalition Conference, Day One

I’ve been real busy at the conference, and enjoying every minute of it.  I wanted to share some reflections from day one, and plan on posting more thoughts later.

The music was led by Keith and Kristyn Getty.  It was more upbeat and lively than I expected, which was actually nice.  The Irish flair was there with even a bagpipe solo.  They are introducing a fairly new song of theirs, “By Faith” and also did an even newer one.  Prior to session 2, the music at one point dropped out and the congregation was heard more clearly singing “O Church Arise”.  The 5,000 or so voices singing that song together was powerful.  Praise to Jesus for bringing together his people in places like this conference center (the massive McCormick Place in Chicago) and all around the world…

Session 1: Al Mohler - Studying the Scriptures and Finding Jesus (John 5)

—Download audio—

Mohler explains the problem of a Christless Old Testament, and explains how studying the Scriptures is supposed to result in finding Jesus.  He shows how so many people are practical Marcionites, claiming the New Testament is the Christian book, the OT is Hebrew Scriptures.  Basically, some would have us do synagogue lectures when we teach from the OT.  Don’t get me wrong, his tone wasn’t combative at all.  It was a very helpful and hope filled lecture on the importance of seeing Christ in the OT.

Session 2: Tim Keller - Getting Out (Exodus 14)

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Keller showed multiple links from the Exodus account to the New Testament.  He explained that the story of the Israelites could be described as this: They were slaves in bondage with no hope and a sentence of death, finding redemption by hiding under the blood atonement, crossing over from death to life, then having a promise of going to a new country.  They’re not there yet, but they’re on the way and God has given them his law and a worship system so they treasure and remember His work for them.  Keller then says, that’s exactly how you would describe the people of God today, too.  He goes on to discuss the layers of bondage and the redemption and how it was accomplished (all by Grace).

Session 3: Alistair Begg - From a Foreigner to King Jesus (Ruth)
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Begg gave us sketches of the beautiful story of Ruth.  He showed how Boaz, particularly, was the goel, kinsman redeemer and foreshadows Christ.  He also drew parallels from the locale of Ruth’s story and then David’s childhood tending sheep there in Bethlehem, to Christ and the Bethlehem shepherds coming at his birth in Bethlehem.  Much to see Christ from in this book.

Session 4: Round-table discussion - Tim Keller, John Piper, Crawford Loritts, Don Carson, Bryan Chapell
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Highlights from that are really anything Keller or Carson said.  Loritts emphasized the role of the preacher’s walk with Christ too, in preaching.  Piper emphasized not ignoring the context of the OT text itself when preaching from it. 

Keller explained his preaching as a fourfold trajectory often: 1) What you should do (as evidenced by this OT text); 2) You can’t do this (due to your sinfulness); 3) Christ has done it for you (i.e. the Gospel applied); 4) Until you rest in what He’s done, you can’t do it (living the gospel life). 

Piper mentioned Graeme Goldsworthy’s book on Preaching the Whole Bible As Christian Scripture as containing a line that really got Piper thinking and has changed how he preaches.  Goldsworthy said “If a Muslim liked your sermon, you didn’t preach a Christian sermon.  If a Jewish person liked your sermon, you didn’t preach a Christian sermon.” 

Carson brought out the Temple theme as one of many trajectories that are traced through Scripture and which really do point to Christ.  He stressed everything doesn’t point to Christ the same way, but when you are in a text that addresses one of these types or trajectories that aligns to Christ, you have a warrant for going to Christ.  Carson was also asked by Chapell, “Can you preach Proverbs without going to the New Testament?”  Carson immediately responded, “Why would I want to?  It wouldn’t even occur to me to do so.”  He also pointed out that it’s the same with texts like Isaiah, too.  Carson then went on to stress that the NT relates to the OT yes in terms of not only prophecy (OT) and fulfillment (NT), but also message hidden (OT) and message revealed (NT).  Personally I find that very helpful, yes some things are plainly clear, but other things were hidden until Christ clearly revealed them.

At the end of the discussion, Chapell fired off a list of helpful resources for preaching Christ from the OT.  I thought that list (plus Bryan Chapell’s own book, Christ-Centered Preaching) was excellent.  You’ll have to listen to the audio though since he gave it out so quickly.

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Aaron Blumer's picture


Thanks for the report and links!