For a few days the other week, Andrew Hoffman and I were able to go to Chicago to hear some brilliant minds and disciples of Jesus Christ talk about the Gospel; hence the name of the conference, The Gospel Coalition. (If you are unfamiliar with this, check out their website thegospelcoalition.org for some free sermons, book reviews and great blogs. You can also hear most of the talks from the conference.)
Here is what I am bringing home from this conference: the centrality of the Gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ, in all things. The theme of the conference was “They Testify About Me: Preaching Jesus and the Gospel from the Old Testament.” This title, referencing John 5:39, made it very clear that the plan of the conference was to have really smart and really good preachers talk about Jesus and the Gospel. It blew me away. What I loved about this was that the speakers never forced metaphor or symbolism to say “this is Jesus here” or “this stands for Jesus.” In a way which is more appropriate and truthful to the text, they found trajectories which all ended up at Jesus. Messages of faithfulness and hope, salvation by grace, on and on, they showed that Jesus was the “better…” or “greater…” or “final…” of what was presented in the Old Testament.
What stuck me like a bolt of lightning was when D.A. Carson said “People ask me, ‘Do I have to preach Jesus and the Gospel from the Old Testament?’ and I respond, ‘Of course I don’t have to, but why would I do anything else?” Amen! Why would you ever pass on an opportunity to show how countless stories of the Old Testament are preparing us, pointing us to the message of grace we find on the cross.
In this Easter season, think about the role the Gospel plays in your life. Many of you are probably like me; I’ve heard this message so much that I have forgotten how this is the most central teaching in my life – I am a sinner saved by grace through faith in our resurrected Lord, our Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth! As soon as I returned from Chicago, I came across the words of Paul in his first letter to the church of Corinth that sum up what God showed me that week: “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!”