Midwestern Seminary partnered with 9Marks to host “A Conference on The Gospel” on Feb. 4 in Kansas City, Mo., with sessions aimed at providing a biblical understanding of the gospel.
Keynote speakers Mark Dever, Zach Schlegel, Brian Davis, Bobby Scott, and Jeremy Treat brought lectures and messages revolving around how the gospel is essential for salvation, for reconciliation with God, and for the local church.
“We are grateful to partner with 9Marks to encourage pastors and ministry leaders from around the nation,” said President Jason Allen.
“Through such events, we also desire these pastors and ministry leaders to know that they can trust Midwestern Seminary to provide unparalleled theological education for not only themselves but for those called into the ministry from their churches.”
Dever, the senior pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., led the conference’s first session asking three basic questions: What’s the gospel? What’s the church? and What are things we can do to keep the gospel central in our local church?
To begin, Dever warned the audience to “Never assume that everyone knows and understands what the good news is.” He then defined the gospel, saying, “The good news is that God, through Christ, is reconciling sinners to himself so that all who have repented of their sins and trust in Christ alone for their salvation are forgiven for their sins. The punishments have fallen on Christ, our substitute, who was crucified, died, buried, was raised, ascended, and is returning.
“I took about 40 seconds say that to you,” he continued. “So, there is no reason that you can’t, in your own fellowship of Christians, often remind each other of what the good news is. Make sure the good news is clear. There are many ways it can be said, but the news itself is wonderful.”
Dever also noted that the local church holds special responsibility for shaping and preserving the gospel. Once a church is established, then that body should be a “pillar and foundation of gospel truth.”
He concluded by offering 16 practical points of application for how pastors can be good stewards of the trust God has given the local church in preserving the gospel.
Schlegel, senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Upper Marlboro, Md., brought a message about how words are vitally important for anyone who is communicating, but they’re even more essential for pastors. The reason pastors should feel the weightiness of their word selection is because carelessly preached words could wreck lives, or they could wreck churches.
Preaching from 2 Timothy 2:14-26, Schlegel highlighted how the apostle Paul taught Timothy to deal with false teachers in the church. As such, an example is provided for how today’s pastors can protect their churches and protect the gospel as well. He did this by using three metaphors: the good worker, the clean vessel, and the Lord’s servant.
A “good worker,” a.k.a. the pastor, is to remind the church body of the gospel, lead them away from quarreling, handle God’s word rightly, and strive to be approved by God.
The pastor as a “clean vessel” is to distance himself from false teachers and false teaching.
“Pastor, settle in your mind right now about the sufficiency of God’s word for our task,” Schlegel said. “Hold fast to God’s word. Preach God’s word. Stay away from the ear-tickling ideas of man that twist and ignore the words of God so you will be a vessel for honorable use.”
Finally, Schlegel encouraged attendees to be the “Lord’s servant”—accomplishing this task by being kind, even amidst a heated confrontation, as it may lead to the other person’s repentance and salvation.
The conference’s next message was delivered by Scott, pastor of Community of Faith Baptist Church in South Gate, Calif., who was tasked with encouraging attendees to be faithful witnesses for Christ and with showing them how they can train others to present the gospel message as clearly as possible.
Over the centuries, Scott explained, God has used ordinary people to proclaim his gospel message. Scott then walked the audience through specific examples of the Bible’s redemption story, particularly seeing Jesus in the Old Testament, and he keyed on the fact that today’s believers need to read the story, trust in the story, and refer to the story in order to tell others the story.
In concluding, Scott advised, “Go back and tell your people the gospel is a story, and they can tell the story. It is a story about our King, who came to rescue us by dying in our place, conquering sin, death, Satan, and everything else. And he arose victorious to grant salvation to any and all who repent and believe. That’s the story.
“I tell people the story—and you know what happens—some will scoff, some will mock, and some will listen. Regardless of what happens, be faithful and tell the story.”
Treat, pastor for preaching & vision at Reality Church of Los Angeles, brought the next message, sharing where the theme of the kingdom of God comes from, why it matters, and how it relates to the gospel.
Treat defined the kingdom of God as “God’s reign through God’s people over God’s place.” He added that there is significance in adding “of God,” because “if you talk about the kingdom as some kind of utopian paradise, but you don’t mention God, then you’ve completely missed it. No, the kingdom is a vision of the world reordered around God’s sovereign love. So, it’s about the reign of God, but God reigns through his people. And so, God reigns through his people over a place, the kingdom of God.”
Showing how the kingdom of God ties in with the gospel, Treat said the kingdom shows us that the gospel applies to all of life. Additionally, we should make our faith public, as that’s how the gospel is spread.
Treat also noted that the kingdom shows the gospel is communal. Once we are saved individually, we are also saved into a body—the church.
He said, “The church fits within the broader vision of the kingdom of God. The church is the redeemed people of God gathered by the gospel and organized according to the Scriptures. The church is the instrument of the kingdom of God, so the world ought to be able to look in at the church and say, ‘Oh, that’s what it looks like living under the gracious reign of God.’”
In the conference’s final session, Davis, who is pastor of Risen Christ Fellowship in Philadelphia, preached from 1 Corinthians 15:9-10 and provided insight into the topic, the posture of gospel ministers.
The top priority in a pastor’s life is the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. With this priority in mind, the appropriate posture, Davis explained, is to minimize oneself and to magnify the Lord.
Speaking to a pastor’s humility, Davis referred to the apostle Paul, who minimized himself in light of the real priority.
“Paul elaborated on this glorious gospel of Christ. He was compelled to humiliate himself by showing his own dishonor and weakness and unworthiness even to be a bearer of the message. So, he aimed at rightly prioritizing the message to rightly posture himself as a minister. The minister must know and show that he himself is empty. They must minimize themselves.”
Secondly, Davis shared that it is only by God’s grace that a pastor can minister the gospel. He explained from 2 Corinthians 4:7 that a pastor is like a clay vessel, which in ancient times was cheap and fragile, but it still showed light.
“Boy does that describe us. So, Paul is communicating that he’s of very little value, and he’s very fragile and weak. It would be the equivalent to us comparing ourselves to a paper product or to Styrofoam cups.
“The whole reason God chose you as an earthly pot is to show where all the power is, and it’s not in you. We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that the surpassing power belongs to God.”
To view all sessions of the “A Conference on The Gospel,” visit https://www.mbts.edu/9marks20.