I had a great time this past weekend speaking at the “Gospel Centered Life” Conference, hosted by Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church and their pastor, Tullian Tchividjian. Tullian spoke on the Gospel and how it changes the individual. Michael Horton spoke on the Gospel and the Church. My assignment was to speak about the Gospel going out to culture.
I learned as much from this conference as any other I’d ever been to, and I would highly encourage you to get some of the talks and listen to them. Michael Horton has become one of my favorite authors… His book Christless Christianity is a must-read. I am having all of our staff read the chapter “Turning the good news into good advice.”
Horton pointed out 2 things this weekend that I’d never really thought about that I wanted to share with you…
The first is that baptism and communion, the two ordinances of the church, are quite often presented in worship as the times in which we commit ourselves to God. We certainly do present ourselves to God in baptism and communion, but baptism and communion scream out God’s commitment to us more than our commitment to Him. They are mostly about what God did for us, not what we are doing for Him.They are not about the steps we are taking to God but the billion steps He took toward us. The focus of all our worship, when we come together, ought not to be what we are doing for God but what He has done for us.
The second is that the Great Commission does not begin with the words, “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel…” The Great Commission begins with the words, “all authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” In other words, the Great Commission begins with the Great Announcement. It is only as we grasp what Jesus has accomplished in the Gospel and what that tells us about how willing He is to save the world that we’ll ever be successful or bold in our pursuits of the Great Commission.
Tullian, in his talk about the Gospel, pointed out that what God is after is not one-time obedience. A great sermon on generosity can promote a big offering. God, however, is not after one-time obedience, He’s after a lifetime of obedience. The goal is that we would not have to preach sermons on generosity to get people to give, but that people would give naturally and freely whenever they see the need. Only the Gospel can really produce the latter. A lot of pastors are great at breaking out the generosity sermons in order to promote a big offering… but that is just an indication that their people have not really been transformed by the Gospel. We shouldn’t have to depend on eloquent sermons to provoke temporary generosity; generosity should be the permanent response of the people of God.
He also pointed that Christian growth is not growth beyond the Gospel, but deeper into the Gospel. My friend Trevin Wax also makes some great points about that here.
“The Gospel-Centered Life Conference” was a great conference, and I would encourage you to get the MP3 links when they are ready!