To be honest, I think writing this review of TGC is more for me than for you. As I am writing this I am trying to process everything I heard. It was like trying to fill up a dixie cup full by turning on the fire hydrant (the dixie cup is my brain). It was so good to hear the brilliant men stand up and faithfully expound God’s word. Overwhelming, but fantastic.
I got lazy on Thursday. When I say lazy I mean we were exhausted. So we opted out of going to the early morning session on “Love Wins.” Due to the robust dialogue Rob Bell’s book has had in Evangelicalism, TGC decided to do address it in an early lecture by Carson and then a panel discussion with Carson, Keller, Loritts, DeYoung, and Um titled God: Abounding in Love, Punishing the Guilty. I have heard that it was a great lecture and panel discussion. Here is a link for the lecture and the panel discussion.
We got there in time to see the next session though. Session 8 was Mike Bullmore preaching from Zephaniah titled God’s Great Heart of Love Toward His Own. Extremely insightful, Bullmore explained that Zephaniah is unique to the OT and presents a different angle to our salvation. “The OT is pregnant with the Gospel of Jesus,” said Bullmore as he began. Like the other minor prophets, Zephaniah gives a sober assessment of mankind, specifically the Jews at the time. During the pronouncement of woes and the talk of judgment, Zephaniah alludes to a glimmer of hope. This glimmer is later birthed into full fledged hope and in this we see Zephaniah’s great contribution to the story. The great contribution is that it shows the picture of God rejoicing over us and our salvation. Not only do we rejoice in our own salvation but God rejoices over us! Here is a link to his sermon.
The final session of the Gospel Coalition was Getting Excited About Melchizedek preached by D.A. Carson based in Psalm 110. This is one of those sermons that you need to listen to at least twice (I feel it is that way with most of D.A. Carson’s stuff). To inadequately summarize Carson, he sees Psalm 110 uniting the priest and king theme. David is looking not to himself or a regular human priest-king but to the ultimate Messiah. Melchizedek fits into the picture because David mentions him. Carson then traced the trajectory of Melchizedek from Genesis 14 to Hebrews 7. Concluding that Melchizedek was a real man and not a Christophany/Theophany, Carson argues that David (back to Ps 110) was introducing the ne covenant. Overall, (if you are totally lost, it is not because Carson made little sense but because my mind is but a small Dixie cup) the theological payoff was that we not only have a high king who brings judgement and conquers but also that He is a high priest. I encourage you to listen to this sermon because after hearing it, I am strangely excited about Melchizedek! Link.
The Gospel Coalition ended and then Christ and City began. TGC was nice enough to allow Christ and City to use McCormick Place for the rest of the day for free. To briefly summarize, Keller spoke twice. The first was on reaching the city and the second was on his book Generous Justice.
Two cool things happened. First, I got to meet Jeff Vanderstelt, the president of Soma. He led a breakout session on equipping your people to be ministers of the Gospel in all spheres of life. Since I volunteered to help with Christ and City, and a buddy of mine was heading that up, I was Mr. Vanderstelt’s personal assistant for a little while. It was cool. I got to talk briefly with him, introduce myself, and tell him that I will actually be interning with Soma this summer. After his message in the breakout sessions, I walked him to dinner and before I left he shook my hand and said, “I look forward to spending some time with you this summer.” He seemed genuinely excited that I will be with him this summer, that was encouraging.
The second cool thing was the post conference concert. Lecrae, Tedashii, Trip Lee, and KB took over the stage and we rocked it out for two hours. I love hip hop so that was a blast for me. Caleb Beaty (here is his blog), Carnia, Dan, Julie, and I pushed our way to the front of the stage to went crazy. Jumping up and down, yelling the lyrics, praising the Lord, throwing our hands up, we all had a blast. I still hold that Reach Records put on the best holistic concerts: good music, energetic, lights, big bass, and extremely encouraging. Those guys are genuinely concerned with making Jesus’ name great instead of their own. If you like music check out The Reach Records website and buy something!
Overall, reflecting on the last couple days, they have been phenomenal. I am privileged and honored to be able to listen to the great preachers and artists. I would say, if you have a chance to go to a conference like Gospel Coalition, do it! For the complete list of speakers and their downloadable sermons go here.