There are lots of voices out there that suggest that evangelicalism today is struggling, perhaps even dying. This week I was at Together for the Gospel, a conference that draws in pastors, ministry leaders and serious minded lay people from around the country. From my vantage point I cannot more strongly disagree with the statement that evangelicalism is struggling or perhaps even dying. What is dying is a nominal evangelical Christianity that is apathetic to the Gospel because it has assumed the gospel for so long that it has forgotten the gospel. The gospel must always be central in our thoughts, affections and ministries. From my perspective what I see and what I hope to argue for in this article as I reflect on Together for the Gospel is that God is raising up a generation who is gathering around the core of biblical Christianity. My generation is a generation that loves Jesus, the preaching of His Word, His people, and loves to bring the gospel to the lost and all of life to the glory of God.
Perhaps that last paragraph was a bit strong and you disagree. As I was at Together for the Gospel, I met with some of the brightest young confessional evangelicals in the United States. We gathered to hear some of the brightest voices in evangelicalism such as Dr. Albert Mohler, Matt Chandler Thabiti Anayabile, John Piper, and David Platt among others. As we listened we were instructed, rebuked, and encouraged to have confidence in the gospel, so as to take it to our neighbors, friends and cities to the glory of God. As I listened to the sermons and engaged in multiple conversations with people from around the United States I was deeply encouraged by what I saw. What I see is a generation of pastors and ministry leaders who loves to exalt in Jesus and make Him known.
Many voices in evangelicalism today are saying that we are struggling and therefore that in some way we will die off. What makes conferences like Together for the Gospel so appealing is what they are offering to their audiences. Young people today are leaving the Church because they are tired of rehearsed answers. Young people are tired of a shallow nominal evangelicalism that places an emphasis on feelings above the Word of God. Young people want a robust evangelical theology grounded in the Word of God and in the teaching of the history of the Church. Thankfully there is such an evangelicalism, but it is not the evangelicalism that is often associated with evangelical thinking and practice today. What I see occurring in conferences such as Together for the Gospel and organizations like Desiring God, the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, 9Marks and the Gospel Coalition is a recovery of the evangelicalism of our forefathers headed by men like John Owen, Charles Spurgeon among many others.
The Reformers wanted to reform the Church around the Word of God. To do this they sought to take the teaching of Scripture literally and apply it to the people of God through the preaching of sermons that took the text as the point of their sermon and apply it to the people of God. As they did this God awakened people’s desires to the beauty and sufficiency of the Bible itself. What we are seeing are those who are nominal abandon biblical Christianity for theological liberalism, which is a completely different religion than Christianity entirely.
Biblical Christianity is rooted in the truth of God’s Word which contains the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Evangelical Christianity has always taken its cue from the text of Scripture itself. As the evangelical Church has heralded the evangel to the world in faithfulness to His Word the Lord has been pleased to bless His Church because of the gospel.
We need reformation today. We need conferences like Together For the Gospel to be encouraged, instructed and corrected. Make no mistake though, like Dr. Albert Mohler said at the end of Together for the Gospel the most important work we can do happens on the Lord’s Day. It happens in our small groups, in gathered worship, in one-on-one discipleship meetings, in church newsletters, and in a thousand different ways as you seek to be faithful to the Word of God and the gospel of the Risen Christ.
As Together for the Gospel came to a close and I leave Louisville, I do so deeply encouraged, and emboldened because of the gospel. I leave Louisville grateful for my time here but most of all glad I got to spend time here at this conference with my wife. This was my wife’s first time at a conference. We learned a lot while here not only about the Lord but about each other. We enjoyed extended theological discussion with a wide variety of people and were instructed by what they said to us. We leave Louisville and Together for the Gospel encouraged by what we see- a generation gathered around the throne of God, lifting head, heart and hands to the Lord Jesus pleading with Him to use their ordinary efforts in extraordinary ways to impact people’s lives for His glory. I don’t know about you but that encourages me and leaves me speechless that God brought almost 8,000 people to Louisville to lift up His name and be instructed by His Word and then to go home to make much of Him in all of life.
I pray as we go back to our respective vocations and to our churches that we would take with us what we have learned. I sincerely pray that we would not just be hearers of the Word but doers of the Word. I pray that God would continue to raise up an army of confessional evangelicals who are unashamed because of the evangel and herald it to and for His glory with greater confidence and boldness because of being at Together for the Gospel. I greatly enjoyed my time here in Louisville but am excited now for what He will do in this next season in and through those I’ve met here at Together for the Gospel for His glory. May God truly be glorified in and through our efforts for His name as we seek to faithfully proclaim His Word. Then, we will truly be known as the generation who is gathered around His throne, pleading with Him to use us powerfully in the lives of those around us, for His name and glory.