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My Reflections of the 2019 Gospel Coalition National Conference

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Last week my wife Tammy and I attended the 2019 Gospel Coalition Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana. This was the first time we had attended this particular conference and it was a wonderful experience. Logistically, there are a number of hotels nearby the Indianapolis Convention Center (ours and others had walkways from the hotel to the convention center) and more than 200 restaurants in the surrounding area. About 7,200 people from around the world attended the conference, which had a theme of “Conversations with Jesus”. Each of the main messages was from a passage in the Gospels in which Jesus was interacting with people.   The video of all main sessions, and audio of all other sessions are available for FREE here:

There was definitely an international flavor to the conference, as it was emphasized that the Gospel Coalition is not just a U.S. organization. There was a conference bookstore with thousands of titles at discounted prices (check out the Gospel Coalition’s new online bookstore), and an exhibit hall with in excess of 100 exhibitors representing ministries from around the world. A conference app was valuable in helping us to navigate the convention center and conference sessions.

The conference started with pre-conference sessions on Sunday evening and Monday morning, with the first main session beginning Monday afternoon. In addition to the eight main sessions, there were three breakout sessions you could sign up for. In addition, there were auxiliary events early morning, during meal breaks and late in the evening. Needless to say, we were pretty tired when we returned to our hotel each evening.

In addition to the excellent teaching, a highlight was the worship led by Matt Boswell.
We also enjoyed running into a lot of friends (from our presbytery, from ministries we support and one of my former professors from Covenant Seminary).
It was a great experience and we can’t wait for the 2020 Gospel Coalition National Conference.
Here are some of my favorite quotes from some of the sessions I attended.

 John Piper

Unashamed to be Scorned with Jesus. Mark 8:31-38

  • There is no Gospel without the sovereignty of God. It is the golden stitching that holds the fabric of the Gospel together.
  • Whose approval do you most crave? In whose presence do you least want to be shamed?
  • Jesus said that the Son of Man must suffer, be rejected, be killed and raised.

Tim Keller

You Must Be Born Again. John 3: 1-21

  • The new birth is a challenge to morality in religion.
  • Never underestimate the power of the new birth to change someone.
  • The new birth gives us a new sensibility and a new identity.
  • How do you know that the new birth has happened? You will have a changed life. You will not be the same.

Ligon Duncan

A Pagan Woman Who Understands Grace. Mark 7:24-30

  • The Syrophoenician woman apprehended His mercy. Her sins were many, but His mercy was more, and her faith was great. (Matthew 15:28)

H.B. Charles

The Woman at the Well. John 4: 1-42 (my favorite message of the conference).

  • Jesus came to reach the up and out and the down and out. There is no one beyond the reach of grace.
  • Jesus is willing to cross any barrier to reach the lost. Are we?
  • Salvation is free for the asking.
  • She was not seeking God, but He was seeking her. And He still is seeking sinners.
  • It was not what she had done, it was what Jesus had done.
  • It’s not our job to advertise the church, it’s our job to magnify the Christ
  • Worship must be on God’s terms, not ours.
  • As we look at this story, may we be reminded of the greatness of God’s grace to us.
  • In the beginning, the blood covered two people. At the Passover, the blood covered a household. At the Day of Atonement, the blood covered a nation. The blood of Jesus, the Lamb of God, covers the sins of all who believe in Him.

Kevin DeYoung

Hometown Disadvantage. Luke 4: 14-37

  • Saying “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing”, was the ultimate “mic drop” by Jesus.
  • Some of us are too familiar with Jesus to impressed by Him.

Tim Keller

What a Minor Prophet Teaches Us About Nationalism and Race, Grace and Mission.

  • Racism is a sin because as it is a violation of the second commandment.
  • The Christian view of justice is based on love, the world’s view is the opposite. The world says that you can have either justice or love, but not both.
  • Jonah didn’t know how God could be both just and merciful.
  • The book of Jonah contrasts Jonah and pagans, and always makes Jonah look bad.
  • Jonah is the anti-Good Samaritan.
  • Christians have to care for the common good.
  • The church gathered and scattered should not only preach the gospel and witness, but also do justice and care for the poor.

Tom Nelson

The Economics of Neighborly Love

  • To be faithful is to be fruitful.
  • As an image bearer, we are to be fruitful, including in our work.
  • When you have compassion and capacity together, Jesus says you have a great example of neighborly love.

Trip Lee

Healing and Faith. Matthew 8: 1-13

  • Faith is bringing your brokenness to the One who is both willing and able.
  • God does not let anything into our lives that is not for good. He is perfectly sovereign.
  • It’s good news that Jesus gravitates to people like you and me.
  • Faith is not giving God an assignment and holding Him to it.
  • If your picture of Glory is a bunch of people who look just like you, you’re gonna be disappointed.
  • The opposite of gratitude isn’t silence; it’s entitlement.
  • Demanding things of God can seem like some kind of stronger, bolder faith. But that is fake, pseudo-faith.

David Platt

Paralysis and Forgiveness. Mark 2: 1-12. (The message that most challenged me).

  • Our ultimate need is never physical, it is always spiritual.
  • Jesus has authority to forgive our sins.
  • Death has been defeated by the Son of Man and He will have the last word.
  • Our ultimate need is not to be remedied of our maladies but to be reconciled to our maker.
  • The Good news is not that God will heal all of our sicknesses now, but forgive all our sins forever.
  • Forgiveness is God’s greatest gift because it meets our greatest need.
  • This is the good news of the Bible, the greatest news in all the world: God has not left sinners alone in a world of sin and suffering.
  • There are more believers at this conference than there are in Turkey, a country of 80 million people.

Author: Bill Pence

I’m Bill Pence – married to my best friend Tammy, a graduate of Covenant Seminary, St. Louis Cardinals fan, formerly a manager at a Fortune 50 organization, and in leadership at my local church. I am a life-long learner and have a passion to help people develop, and to use their strengths to their fullest potential. I am an INTJ on Myers-Briggs, 3 on the Enneagram, my top five Strengthsfinder themes are: Belief, Responsibility, Learner, Harmony, and Achiever, and my two StandOut strength roles are Creator and Equalizer. My favorite book is the Bible, with Romans my favorite book of the Bible, and Colossians 3:23 and 2 Corinthians 5:21 being my favorite verses. Some of my other favorite books are The Holiness of God and Chosen by God by R.C. Sproul, and Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper. I enjoy music in a variety of genres, including modern hymns, Christian hip-hop and classic rock. My book Called to Lead: Living and Leading for Jesus in the Workplace and Tammy’s book Study, Savor and Share Scripture: Becoming What We Behold are available in paperback and Kindle editions on Amazon.

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