The Power of the Gospel and the Call to Missions

Today was a great day for Southern Baptists gathered in New Orleans. The Pastors’ Conference had some great sermons. I realized something that is generally true. The older preachers deliver messages that basically say, “I know you’re tired, but don’t give up, pastor!” And the younger preachers deliver messages that basically say, “There’s work to do, so don’t put your feet up, pastor!” I don’t think either one is right or wrong. We all need to hear both. Maybe it’s an already/not yet kind of thing.

The two highlights for me were David Platt’s message on John 2:23-3:16 and Fred Luter’s sermon on Romans 1:16-17. Platt confronted head-on some of the controversies brewing within the convention by trying to clarify some of his earlier criticism on the use of the sinner’s prayer. He was both humble and courageous as he explained the dangers of formulaic easy-believism, the supernatural nature of the new birth, and the urgency of global missions.

Luter gave a powerful word on the gospel as God’s means of transforming people. He began by painting a picture of how sin-stained our world is and asking, “What can change our world?” He answered with, “The same power that changed you.” There but for the grace of God go I.

The day ended with the 9Marks at 9 gathering. Mark Dever moderated a panel on global missions with David Platt, Zane Pratt, and Tom Eliff. It was really wonderful. A lot was said about the IMB’s push for local churches to embrace (adopt) unengaged, unreached people groups. I look forward to the day when our local church will make that very commitment. I love Tom Eliff’s pastoral heart. He talked about the importance of local church pastors getting the gospel right in the pulpit each Sunday, saying that is the most important thing a pastor can do for international missions. He lamented the reality that many of the people called to missions and endorsed by their local churches arrive at the IMB with no skill in Bible study or basic doctrine.

There’s much to be grateful for. The Lord is good, and there’s work to be done!

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