LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP) – Several Southern Baptist pastors spoke during the final Together for the Gospel (T4G) conference April 19-21, including H.B. Charles, Greg Gilbert, Juan Sanchez and T4G cofounder Mark Dever.
The conference has always experienced a Southern Baptist influence as two of its four founders are Southern Baptist. Dever, pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., and Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, founded the event along with C.J. Mahaney and Ligon Duncan.
H.B. Charles, pastor of Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla., offered the first message from a Southern Baptist as he preached Tuesday night (April 19) out of 1 Peter, reminding the audience to remember the significance of personal salvation.
“As pastors we are called to proclaim and defend the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, but if we are not careful the never-ending busyness of ministerial work can make us prone to be unimpressed with the Gospel,” Charles said.
“You cannot faithfully serve the Gospel if you do not personally savor the Gospel.”
Shortly after delivering his message, Charles participated in a panel discussion to close Tuesday night about division in the evangelical church. Others on the panel included Dever, Duncan and Greg Gilbert, senior pastor of Third Avenue Baptist Church in Louisville.
During the panel, Gilbert used a personal example from his church to show that perseverance through division is possible.
“A lot has happened in our 130 years of Third Avenue being a church,” Gilbert said. “There have been a lot of divisions and disagreements among Christians and evangelicals, but through all of it the church and the Gospel that it preaches has endured. The Gospel is definitive and we don’t get to redefine the content every generation. The church that proclaims it is the foundation of unity.”
Wednesday morning (April 20), Juan Sanchez, senior pastor of High Pointe Baptist Church in Austin, Texas, offered the conference a morning devotion about Gospel friendship out of 2 Timothy 4.
“We learn from Paul’s last words here that he valued Gospel friendships and Gospel relationships,” Sanchez said. “Brothers, pastoral Ministry is hard and we should not do it alone. We cannot do it alone. We need deeply rooted Gospel friendships.”
After Sanchez’s devotion, Gilbert returned to the stage to preach a sermon from Philippians 2 about the key role humility plays in maintaining unity.
This year’s T4G gathering will be the conference series’ final event, and Gilbert argued humility will be vital in maintaining unity among evangelical Christians long after the conference is over.
“What breeds disunity is ultimately all of our tendencies, in our sinful nature, to live too much in our own regard,” Gilbert said. “We think too much of ourselves, and the reason we think too much of ourselves is we think too little of Jesus. We do this in two ways as we think too little of who Jesus is, and we spend too little time in our day thinking about Jesus.
“Unity lives where self-regard dies, and self-regard dies at the foot of the cross.”
Wednesday’s midday session included a sermon from David Platt, pastor of McLean Bible Church in Vienna, Va., and former International Mission Board president, about the importance of unity in reaching the unreached with the Gospel.
“If we are not living and dying to make disciples of unreached nations, then we are disobeying the Great Commission and disregarding the goal of God,” Platt said. “But by God’s grace, you and your church have a unique and significant part to play in seeing all the nations enjoy and exalt God.”
Afshin Ziafat, lead pastor and elder Providence Church in Frisco, Texas, opened the conference’s final day with a devotion from 2 Corinthians on identifying with the Gospel.
“The Gospel speaks to our identity and knowing our identity is important because it helps shape the way we view life and operate in life,” Ziafet said. “Christian, as an overflow of your union with Christ, you should be emitting the fragrance of Christ.”
Lastly, Dever helped close out the conference by asking whether authority is always itself abusive.
His answer: The response to abusive authority is godly leadership, which was modeled by Christ.
“Jesus has come to serve as no one else has ever served us,” Dever said. “He is the ultimate example of a good King.”
Dever closed the final conference’s final gathering by thanking the attendees, Southern Baptist and otherwise, for their support in the endeavor.
“This conference would not exist apart from you,” he said. “We’re thankful that God entrusted us to hold this conference, even if temporarily. What a joy it has been.”