Upcoming Gospel Coalition and Band of Bloggers

16 04 2009

Next week from Tuesday to Thursday, a group from my school will be heading down to Chicago for The Gospel Coalition conference.  This conference is going to have some great speakers like John Piper, DA Carson, Mark Driscoll, Tim Keller, and Ligon Duncan.  Along with the main speakers, there will be a number of workshops available.  I’m excited to go and be refreshed and encouraged by these and other attending brothers.

A joint venture of this conference is the Band of Bloggers which is a fellowship of bloggers that meets for a lunch seminar on blogging for Christ.  We’ll here from a panel of top Christian bloggers as they share and relate their methods and philosophies of blogging with a Christian perspective. Speaking of blogging, assuming there is internet in the convention center, I’ll be live blogging this event.

At both conferences, we’ll be receiving a number of books.  I’ve listed them below, and there will be a number of drawings for other books.

  • Finally Alive by John Piper
  • Unfashionable: Making a Difference in the World by Being Different by Tullian Tchividjian
  • Lost and Found: The Younger Unchurched and the Churches that Reach Them by Ed Stetzer, Richie Stanley, and Jason Hayes
  • The Soul of Life: The Piety of John Calvin edited by Joel Beeke
  • Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions by Greg Koukl
  • The Advent of Evangelicalism: Exploring Historical Continuities by Michael Haykin & Kenneth Stewart
  • Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption in Christian Families and Churches by Russell Moore
  • The God I Don’t Understand: Reflections on Tough Questions of Faith by Christopher J.H. Wright
  • ApParent Privilege by Steve Wright and Chris Graves
  • Perspectives on Christian Worship: Five Views edited by J. Matthew Pinson
  • Journal of Ministry and Theology
  • ESV Study Bible
  • The Bookends of the Christian Life by Jerry Bridges and Bob Bevington
  • Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families and Churches by Russell D. Moore and C.J. Mahaney,
  • Jesus: Dead or Alive by John Blanchard and Faith Cook
  • Christianity Explored-How to Run the Course
  • Getting the Gospel Right by Cornelis P. Venema,
  • One Minute After You Die by Erwin W. Lutzer,
  • Marks of a Disciple by Lorne C. Sanny
  • Total Church: A Radical Reshaping around Gospel and Community by Tim Chester and Steve Timmis
  • A Proverbs Driven Life: Timeless Wisdom for Your Words, Work, Wealth, and Relationships by Anthony Selvaggio
  • The Gospel Story

John Piper’s Endorsement of Mark Driscoll

3 10 2008

There’s a huge debate going on between Michael Newham, Ingrid Schlueter, and Steve Camp over the fact that John Piper would let Mark Driscoll come to the DG National Conference and therefore was endorsing Mark Driscoll.  Honestly, I take the stance that it was completely fine for Driscoll to speak at the conference.

We all have problems and Mark Driscoll is no exception, but to say that he cannot preach is ridiculous because then none of us could preach.  I separate over doctrinal issues, not issues of spiritual maturity or orthopraxy.

John Piper’s New Illustrated Book on Job

30 09 2008

While I was at the Desiring God Conference, they played us a clip of the new Illustrated Job.  Basically, John Piper wrote a poem about the life of Job, and they finally took his poem and put it into book format with some really cool illustrations.

You can read more about the book by going to the website, and there you’ll also be able to watch the promo video that I saw at the conference.

Logos Presents: John Piper’s Library

29 09 2008

That’s right, Logos, the top name is Bible software, is offering all of John Piper’s books in electronic form.  If you’re a John Piper fan (and even if you’re not).  This would make a great addition to your library as a pastor, Bible student, or layman who loves to study.

You can visit their website for more information and to purchase the complete set or individual books.  Also, be sure to look at all of Piper’s manuscripts that they’re offering.

Session 8 – John Piper

28 09 2008


“Is There Christian Eloquence” was the topic of John Piper’s Message.  He had some trouble texts in 1 Cor. 1:17 and 2:17.  These two passages put eloquent words in a bad light.  So, the question is, is the use of verbal impact nullifying the work of Christ.  To further complicate the question, most scholars in history have said that the Bible itself in many places are stunningly eloquent and many passages contain words that were specifically used for high impact.  Many church fathers have attested to the fact that the Scripture is eloquent.  Great preachers of the past were eloquent in their preaching.

Before getting into how we will grapple with this, Piper makes a disclaimer.  A younger generation views classic eloquence as a problem they don’t have, but it doesn’t matter what style of speaking you use, if you’re good at it, people can only be attracted to the style and that non-eloquent style has nullified the cross.  James Denny said, “No man can give the impression that  he is clever and Christ is mighty to save.”

Books and culture are frequently posing the problem of eloquence.  They draw people to the author and away from Christ.

There were a group in Paul’s day called Sophosists.  Everything they focused on was the question “how”.  It drew away from truth and the reality of life.  This is the context of Paul’s life along with the division of the Corinthians who loved different preachers because of their speech.

The cross is so destructive to human pride that those who’s aim is eloquent rhetoric , it undermines their value of the cross.  My corruption and God’s free sovereign grace leaves me deserving nothing, but when I Sophosits hears that, it must seem stupid to him.  To a Sophosist, it’s all about who has the better speech, it doesn’t matter anything else.  Verse 20 talks about the debater who’s folly is the wisdom of the world.

What we find here is a double-pronged criteria to discern between good and bad eloquence.  Are you with the Sophosists to boost your ego and use only poweful words?  Are you putting your words in the shadow and not doing Jesus justice.

The Bible does have eloquence, but it’s because it’s not for the exaltation for Christ and not of man.  Pro. 15:33 indicates that our words should be thoughtful and be taken into consideration depending on the context.  Pro. 25:11 shows that we are invited to use poetic and beautiful speech.  Col. 3:17, whatever we do in word is to be done in the name of Christ Jesus; we are urged to think whether a word is honoring.

If we are invited to speak eloquence, if the Bible is full of eloquence, and if we are guided in the use of eloquence, then what help should we hope to depend on using eloquence because the Holy Spirit doesn’t need our words in order to save sinners.

What can we expect?

Artistic, surprising, or provocative language may keep people awake, focused, and amused for reasons they cannot explain.
Eloquent language may bring a person into a closer relation between the speaker and the listener.
Eloquent language may have an awakening affect on a person’s mind and heart short of regeneration but this awakening may lead to salvation if the person were to look at the Word.
Certain kinds of eloquence (cadence, meter, rhyme) may not only interest and awaken the heart but increase the impact of that by making things memorable.
The beauty of eloquence can join with the beauty of truth and increase the power of your words.

If a person delights in the beauty of your language but hasn’t yet seen the beauty of the Lord.  You have an opening to show that person that the eloquence they enjoy is like that in the Bible.  We are invited to be a reflection of God’s image through our words.

Concluding Thoughts

I saw a different side of Piper today.  He has a deep knowledge of literature and he’s kind of OCD about improper grammar.  He made a very convincing argument for the importance of literature and the balance of eloquence in our preaching.  This makes the top 3 of the topics I listened to, the other two include Mark Driscoll and Bob Kauflin.

2008 Desiring God National Conference

Session 2 – Panel Discussion: Driscoll, Ferguson, Piper

27 09 2008

Mark Driscoll

Q: How do you handle criticism?

A: I try to turn critics into coaches and try to see if there’s at least an ounce of truth to what they’re saying.  I also pursue the serious critics so I can learn for change.  I also view people who criticize in love and hope as my friends.  The one thing that is always in the back of my mind about words this day of age with technology is that what I say is instantly transmitted, constantly being replayed, listened to globally, and permanently out there.

Q: How do you help rape victims and others who have suffered abuse?

A: I’m not going to say what Driscoll said at this point because he gets enough criticism, but I will say that Piper helped by pushing Driscoll’s jaw up and stopping his speech, I thought that was interesting.  That being said, Driscoll’s answer was that hope can only be found in the cross, which is atonement, which leads to regeneration.

Q: What do people substitute for substitionary atonement?

A: Moralistic, therapeutic deism.  Who and what a real Christian is becomes difficult to distinguish between when you’re facing this problem.

Sinclair Ferguson

Q: We see the younger generation focus on the centrality of Christ, but do you have to say about the unity of Christ?

A: We don’t realize true essentials and therefore separate ourselves from those who don’t hold all five points even though they still believe in the sovereignty of God which is one of the true fundamentals.

Q: How do you work through discouragement?

A: It does correct those things that need to be fixed in our lives and we learn from discouraging moments, but it also draws and gives us a closer sense to God.  At the end of the day, the resurrection is the sight that God has spawned for us to view.

Q: What do people substitute for substitionary atonement?

A: People take away the wrath of God which is detrimental because the wrath of God is what makes salvation so sweet.  Without the wrath of God, we would not have joy.

John Piper

Q: How is it not discouraging that every careless word will be judged? (Matt. 12:36)

A: First of all, our words are not going to be the grounds of our acceptance to God.  Also, I look at it as being judged on the judgment day, but judgement day will only consist of standing before the great white throne, being shown our sins, having them thrown out (covered by the blood), and never being reminded of that again.  The loss is the proportion of how great a reward we’ll have because either we gain a reward for our works or we get nothing (not punishment).

Q: What do people substitute for substitionary atonement?

A: What people will throw out before they try to throw out what was done on the cross is the wrath of God.  These type of people include Universalists and those who just abandon God.

Moderated by Justin Taylor.

2008 Desiring God National Conference

Session 1 – Sinclair Ferguson

27 09 2008


The conference was started with an introduction, and a beautiful dramatic reading of select passages that pertain to the Word.  Directly following the reading, the music was started with powerful music. We sang 4-5 songs which most I had not heard of but worshipped wholeheartedly with.  It was a time of reflection, rebuke, and praise.

After the music, Piper gave a welcome speech and introduction to Sinclair Ferguson.  Ferguson is a pastor in Columbia, SC.  He is a member of the Association of Confessing Evangelicals and a professor of Systematic Theology at Dallas Theological Seminary Westminister’s Theological Seminary at the Dallas campus.  He has also authored roughly around 20 books.

Prior to the message, a DVD was shown.

The video was a silent film that depicted a young single father who is shown waking up on Sunday morning.  Immediately, he is frustrated about petty things as he walks around the house getting ready.  He is harsh with his 3 daughters, and leaves all the preparation of the younger girls to the oldest daughter while the father only concerns himself with his own needs.

The father barks orders as he rushes everyone out of the house to take them to school.  The demeanor quickly changes as the family pulls into the church parking lot and walks through church doors.  All of a sudden, it’s a completely different family with a friendly and warm personality who are shown seemingly to worship with sincerity.

There was a thickness in the air and a silence for a few seconds after the video closed out.  Basically, the message of the video was the hypocrisy of many Christians’ lives and how huge a role the tongue plays in that.


Ferguson came on the stage and began his message from James 3:1-10.  His proposition was that the practical purpose of Scripture is to make us spiritually mature, and bridling the tongue is a hallmark of spiritual maturity.

His sermon outline was as follows:

Use of the Tongue (1-12)
The difficulty of taming the tongue.
Not all of us are to be teachers – those who’s responsibility it is to talk much.
James states that we all stumble in many ways.
As a mature Christian, one must learn to bridle his tongue
Also, one who can control his tongue, must and will control his body – his actions.
Christians are divided into two categories: 1) those who find it hard to use their tongue or 2) those who speak more than they should
When James speaks about the mastery of the tongue, he’s not talking about how much we say, but learning when it is necessary to speak and when it is best to remain silent, so that we may speak words that are seasoned with salt and full of grace.  In order that these words might allow the glory of God and His Gospel to take full affect.
There is also a failure to bridle the tongue.
Bridling the tongue is a moment by moment endeavor, yea a battle.
It’s a bridle in the our mouth that must constantly be pulled on in order to direct our words.  We’re also given the picture of a small rudder which guides our whole being.  It’s like a smoker who breathes out what is within and it can be smelled, but to the smoker, the smell is non-existent.
There is a disproportionate power to the use of the tongue that permeates everything we do.
The destruction caused by the tongue.
It’s a stain that renders the body unusable as a shirt that is unwearable because of the coffee stain.
The poison of the tongue of the serpent can be referenced here. (Gen. 3)
One of the best ways to work on the tongue is to meditate on the 10 commandments and learn how our tongue leads us to break those commandments.
Jonathan Edwards had a few resolutions about speech.
Resolved, never to speak evil of anyone, so that it shall tend to his dishonor, more or less, upon no account except for some real good.
Resolved, in narrations never to speak any thing but the pure and simple verity.
Resolved, never to speak evil of any, except I have some particular good call for it.
Let there be something of benevolence, in all that I speak.
The deadly inconsistency that plagues the tongue.
Adam and Eve were given perfect dominion in the garden not only of external order but internal order; but now we have lost dominion of the earth and we are now being controlled by a little instrument and curse the image of God.
Context and Practicality of the Tongue
The books of James has at least 20 resolutions about how a Christian will employ his tongue. (I got all but one, it was fast.)
I resolve to ask God for wisdom, to speak out of single minded devotion for him.
I resolve to boast only in the exaltation i receive in Jesus Christ.
I resolve to set a watch over my mouth.
I resolve to constantly be quick to hear and slow to speak.
I resolve to learn the Gospel as a way of speaking to rich and poor.
I resolve to speak in the present conscienceness of my final judgement.
I resolve to never to stand on anyones face with the words I employ.
I resolve to never to claim a reality in my life that I do not have experience in.
I resolve to resist quarrelsome words that must be modified.
I resolve to never speak decided evil out of a heart of antagonism.
I resolve to never boast in a anything I haven’t accomplished.
I resolve to never to grumble.
I resolve to have total integrity in everything i say.
I resolve to speak to God in prayer whenever I suffer.
I resolve to sing praises to God whenever I’m cheerful.
I resolve to ask for the prayers of others when I’m in need.
I resolve to confess it when I fail.
I resolve to pray with others one for another when together with them.
I resolve to speak words of restoration when I see another wander.
Context of the Tongue in the Glory of Christ
We are brought to see the depth of our sin and need.
Isaiah goes through all the woes because of the depravity of the people’s unclean lips and his own. (Is. 5)
Have we been brought to that point because of the depravity of our tongue, or instead have you prided yourself in the fact that you haven’t misused your tongue as others have?
There is a glorious sense of hopefulness that God will bring us forth from what we once were.  We become the first fruits of Christ. (1:18)
One day, every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.
The use of the tongue is to be transformed by the heart, and the heart is to be transformed by the Word of God.
A transformed heart produces a transformed tongue.
It is imperative to get under the Word as much as we can because it is the only thing that change our tongue, and because the tongue is the rudder of our life, the Word of God in turn changes our life.
Christ is our exemplar.
Before God can become our exemplar, He must become our Savior.  We must understand the saving work of Christ that has saved us from the depraved state of our heart.  We must not look at Christ as our example, we must look at Him in the right order.
James is saying that he desires that we may one day grow to a maturity that we may so speak as our Lord Jesus.

Concluding Thoughts

Sinclair Ferguson is a unique pastor who practices precision in his speech and well chosen words.  For those of you who don’t know, Ferguson has a Scottish accent.  He made an interesting comment, though, after the sermon that after 15 min. of preaching, we forget about the accent.

On a deeper level, I was overwhelmed by the importance of having a tongue that guards what it says and is very purposeful when it does say something.  In turn, I also realize my need for more time in the Word because that will dictate what comes out of my mouth.

This a more personal note, but I just wanted to mention a girl I met tonight.  Her name is Olivia, and she approached me because she saw that I was blogging with my Mac during the conference.  She is an aspiring blogger who just started this summer, and she gave me her blog address to check out.  I read through some of her blog, and I just wanted to recommend it to those of you who read my blog if you’re looking for a fresh and passionate perspective on God.  You can check it out at Nobody416.