This is a brief overview of the final two sessions on day 3 of The Gospel Coalition Conference.
Session 8: Mike Bullmore – God’s Great Heart of Love Toward His Own (Zephaniah)
Bullmore explained that Zephaniah, like many books in the OT and the OT as a whole, actually contains the gospel. “The Old Testament is pregnant with the message of the Gospel,” he said. “As salvation history progresses it is increasingly easy to detect the specific shapes and contours of the Gospel… The Gospel is here [in the OT] in utero.” Zephaniah begins with the sober condition of man, it appears that there is no hope because the righteous judgment of God is just and deserved. But then in chapter 2:1-3, there appears a glimmer of hope. God will remember mercy in the midst of his judgment. By the end of the book, particularly in verses 14-17, that glimmer bursts forth into a great and glorious rejoicing at the consummation of God’s salvation of his people. God does not look upon us, his people (including Gentiles too, per Gal. 3:29, he pointed out), with some disappointment, as if that’s the best God could do with us. No, He rejoices in love over us with singing. We will be and are joyful over our salvation, but God’s joy is even greater than our joy.
Bullmore also pointed out that our Gospel message should include this aspect from Zephaniah. The aim or end of everything that God is doing for us, is too often left out of our Gospel presentations. Our people need to be reminded of the great point of it all. “This vision of the consummation is the great contribution of Zephaniah”. We can’t forget to state this, it must be spoken. It doesn’t work if it is unspoken. When spoken, it will serve to awaken eagerness and anticipation for this in our hearts.
Micah is right, that Bullmore's delivery wasn't as engaging as that of some of the other speakers, but the message of Zephaniah was so rich that it was a joy to hear this message.
Session 9: D.A. Carson – Getting Excited about Melchizedek (Psalm 110)
Don Carson’s message on Melchizedek was perhaps the best message on the theme of this conference. He took pains to explain the text in Psalm 110, Gen. 14, and Hebrews 7. Carson first explained that Psalm 110 is the OT chapter most quoted in the NT. He then went on to say, “Melchizadek is one of the most instructive figures in the Bible for helping us put our Bibles together and for seeing clearly who Jesus is.” He went on to argue persuasively that Melchizadek was not a preincarnate manifestation of Christ (a Christophany). Hebrews 7 says Melchizadek was like Christ. He was an actual priest-king whose life and the way he was included in Scripture, foreshadowed Jesus Christ the ultimate Priest-King.
Carson explained that paying attention to how the NT uses the OT is very instructive. They are almost always carefully reading the OT. The NT use of the OT should shape how we see the relationship between the testaments and how we preach Christ from the OT. His lecture was quite academic but designed to instruct. It wasn’t just on the academic level, though. He plainly rejoiced in and exulted over Jesus as our Priest-King. He exampled how all the functions and purposes of the priesthood is fulfilled in Jesus Christ, only it is a much better priesthood. Jesus Christ is our approachable and perfect High Priest.
Appropriately, the service ended with the Getty’s leading us in the song, “Before the Throne of God Above”.
I hope to give some final reflections on the conference, tomorrow.