What a privilege it is to be ministered to by God, through the likes of the men that are involved in the Gospel Coalition. This years conference was focused on Paul’s second letter to Timothy. The title should be gripping for those in ministry: Living the Vision of 2 Timothy.
It seems the headliner for Entrusted with the Gospel is Tim Keller’s message on idolatry, using Acts 19:21-41 as his text. Tim looks at how Paul always seemed to attack the idols of the culture or place he preached before giving them the gospel. Keller takes quite a detailed look at what constitutes idolatry and gives some very helpful thoughts and examples to help us think through this issue of idolatry. Tim points out that we live in a very idolatrous age, and even in the church we have our own systems of idolatry.
John Piper (2 Tim 1:1-12) tackled the subject of courage, as he examines the timidity of Timothy, and the boldness that Paul calls Timothy to. Piper understands the gift that Timothy received through the laying on of hands was the white hot flame of courage to stand alone in the face of opposition. Piper calls all pastors to be bold and courageous, because that is what Paul modeled, and it’s what the sheep need. The sheep need bold leaders who will stand up courageously without wavering. And Paul’s final motivation for Timothy is the fact that before the foundation of the world God chose Timothy to be his man.
Phil Ryken’s message (2 Tim 1:13-2:13) ‘The Pattern for Sound Words’
Mark Driscoll gave a very helpful look at rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Tim 2:14 -26). Mark’s message has the flavor of coming from the battlelines as he looks at quarrels about words, irreverent babble, and ignorant controversies, and he humbly admits some of it comes from his own hand of failing. A significant part of his message looks at categories of people who bring quarrels, babble and controversies into the church. These categories are quite humorous and can be helpful, but we have to take care that we don’t put people so quickly into boxes as they struggle to grow into their faith.
K. Edward Copeland (2 Tim 3:1-9) looks at the subject of godlessness in the last days when men are ever learning but not able to come to the knowledge of the truth. His message title is verycaptivating: Shadowlands: Pitfalls and Parodies of Gospel-Centered Ministry.
Brian Chapell (2 Tim 3:10-4:5) looks at what it means to preach the Word. Chapell has a very rich section of 2 Timothy about all Scripture being God-breathed, and preaching the Word, being ready in season and out of season.
Aijith Fernando is National Director for Youth for Christ in Sri Lanka, and he has a unique perspective having come from a country that once was very Christian while under British rule, but the new nationalist fever in Sri Lanka is seeing a new wave of persecution of the church as a move to cast off the relics of the British occupation. New legislation in their parliment attempts to make it illegal to evangelize anyone under the age of 18. This has some serious implications for Aijith’s work with Youth for Christ, and his subject of missions is very gripping.
Ligon Duncan (2 Tim 4:6-22) looks at the subject of Finishing Well.
Don Carson concluded the conference with a discussion of what Paul meant in 1 Corinthians 9 when he said he became all things to all men, a widely abused scripture both liberally and conservatively. Carson does a masterful exposition of the text to draw the correct understanding of what Paul was saying, and how we should shape our ministry efforts by this principle.
The Q&A session was just marvelous. The main focus was on how 2 Timothy and a Scripture-focused ministry works itself out in the ministry of the church. Piper, Keller and Loritts provide impassioned pleas for church leaders to stay true to the teaching and preaching of Scripture at all points, and from that flows the shape of ministry. Loritts said it best when he said, “We have to be careful that we believe that God is articulate.” In other words, Scripture is God’s wise and powerful articulation to his people, and it should be treated as such. Piper said, “If Scripture bores you, get out of the pulpit.”
If you are in ministry, this conference will challenge, instruct and encourage you.