GCNC: Day 1

April 21, 2009

Hi, NHF family … super-apologies for the live-blog failure.  Our little group grumbles observes that the only place with free, reliable Internet access around here is the local McDonald’s.  Go figure.  We hope you’ve been able to catch some or all of the plenary sessions on the live webcast instead.  This day has been a real blessing.  Overwhelming and intense, but a real blessing.

Everyone arrived safely; those of us who arrived earlier made a killing at the free (and not-so-free) book exhibit hall.  Our community will definitely benefit from some of these goodies.  We headed right into worship and four sets of speakers: Tim Keller, John Piper, Phil Ryken and Mark Driscoll.  Our group is definitely getting good bang for our bucks.  God’s provision has been deep, both through His Word and His servants, and through our meals (enormous pancake brunch at Walker Bros. Pancake House and Gibson’s Steak House).  Sharon took some great groupie shots with Mark Driscoll, we chatted a bit with Jeff Louie (Stuy H.S. alum, class of ’73), and Sam told Driscoll that he looked like Joba Chamberlain of the New York Yankees.  Yes, we’re just tearing up Rosemont, IL.

But enough of our silliness as we wreak havoc in Chicagoland.  More meaningful highlights from this day, after the jump …

Session #1: Tim Keller, “The Grand Demythologizer: The Gospel and Idolatry” (Acts 19.23-41) (Teaching Notes)

  • You can’t minister the Gospel very well until & unless you look around and see what the idols are.
  • Every individual, community, culture looks to something to save it, to rescue it, to place its hopes in.
  • Don’t be naive, Biblically-speaking, and think that there are no idols anymore just because we in the West don’t bow down to little statues.
  • To be an effective minister of the Gospel, you have to (1) discern the idols (personal, religious and cultural), (2) expose the idols, and (3) destroy the idols.
  • Discerning idols:  when you look to anything that is created to give you what only God can give you, that is idolatry.
  • Exposing idols: personal idols include money, love and children; religious idols include truth, gifts and morality; cultural idols include family (“traditional” cultures), the individual (Western cultures) and politics.
  • Destroying idols: can get dangerous because idols become violent & threatening when they are opposed.  It cost Paul something to oppose idols.  It cost Jesus His life to oppose the powers, when all the powers and principalities were unleashed against Him.  Nevertheless, He utterly defeated them.
  • Idolatry (basically, adultery against God) deserves death, but God loves and wants to reconcile with us, the adulteresses, so Jesus took our punishment instead.
  • Let Christ’s triumph become our triumph and live in the reality of His death and resurrection.
  • Take the Gospel to the idols, and turn this world upside-down.

Session #2: John Piper, “Feed the Flame of God’s Gift: Unashamed Courage in the Gospel” (II Timothy 1.1-12) (Teaching Notes)

  • Main point: “Timothy, keep feeding the flame, the white-hot flame, of God’s gift in you; namely, the gift of unashamed courage in speaking about Christ and suffering for the Gospel.”
  • Boil in the Spirit, don’t just fizzle.  You, no matter what your feverish temperature, are not hot; fire is hot.
  • Paul is jealous to see this white-hot fire continue to be fed in Timothy; so also, we should be jealous to see this white-hot flame in ourselves.
  • Suffer by the power of God, be unashamed by the power of God, feed the flame by the power of God.
  • Get this power of God by the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
  • And don’t play fast and loose with graces given.  “Grace to you” and “Grace be with you” should never become throwaway words, but avenues of God’s Word taking root in our individual and corporate lives.
  • Feed the flame by “giving heed, seriously, deeply, meditatively, contemplatively, with faith, to [the Word] which has as its central truth that grace will be the means of your power, the means of your courage, and you will speak and suffer well.”  (Piper)
  • Our calling into a life of courage, speaking & suffering, is not based on or according to anything we do, feel, think or act.  It’s all according to God’s purpose and grace.
  • God’s eternal purpose is to be gracious to us, just as it was to be gracious to Timothy.

Session #3: Phil Ryken, “The Pattern of Sound Words” (II Timothy 1.13 – 2.13)

  • We have been entrusted “to be faithful through suffering, in the call that Jesus gave [us] to be a minister of the Gospel.  Will [we] fulfill that sacred trust?”  (Ryken)
  • Sound doctrine cannot be mere theological speculation; it has to be a whole way of life; it must take root in the heart and create a whole way of life shaped by Christ.
  • God’s definition for success in ministry: “It is faithful ministry, faithful to Jesus, to His Word, to safeguarding and living out His Gospel.”  (Ryken)
  • “People who are faithful in ministry tend to be faithful wherever they go.”  (Ryken)
  • Can we communicate the Gospel to a rising generation?  In any particular place, society, nation or people, the church is never more than one generation away from extinction.  Therefore, ministries must be passed along to faithful men.
  • What sacred trust have we received from God?  How are we preparing to pass it on to others?
  • “One of the most important ways to keep the faith is to pass on the faith.”
  • Are we working faithfully for these three rewards: victory, crown, harvest?  “Keep working hard, and in due season, God’s Word will have its reward.”  (Ryken)
  • Remembering the Gospel gives strength to a faithful ministry: remembering not just what Jesus did, but who He is.
  • If we are faithless, then He will remain faithful.  This is “a Gospel twist that opens up such wide mysteries in the love of God.”  (Ryken)
  • Wouldn’t Adam say: “I failed so badly in life and ministry, putting human reason and knowledge before trust in God, but God kept His promise to crush His enemy under His heel”?
  • Wouldn’t Abraham say: “I was so faithless and spawned generations of strife, but God gave me children of faith more numerous than the stars of the sky”?
  • Wouldn’t David say: “I was so faithless and wooed by sex and money, but God was faithful and put my Son on the everlasting throne”?
  • Doesn’t the Cross of Christ present the best testimony of God’s faithfulness?

Session #4: Mark Driscoll, “Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth”  (II Timothy 2.14-26)  (Outline Notes)

  • There are 3 kinds of people in the church: Positives, Negatives and Neutrals.
  • The Positives want the Gospel to win: they are supportive of ministry, loving, peaceful, and always default to Jesus’ Gospel.
  • The Negatives want themselves to win: “these are the people who, when the pastor sees their email in the mailbox, his stomach knots up.”  (Driscoll)  Unfortunately, they are also loud, visible and powerful.  They are like bees: their sting isn’t much, but when they swarm, it’s trouble.
  • The Neutrals are most people: what the Bible calls sheep, timid and easily confused & swayed.
  • Paul exhorts Timothy to be a Positive, to not return evil for evil, “to respond to the Negatives in a way that is positive for the sake of the Neutrals.”  (Driscoll)
  • Paul had been THE NEGATIVE, participating in Stephen’s murder.  But God’s grace turned him into a Positive, and so he can legitimately exhort Timothy to be a Positive, by the power of God’s grace.
  • There are 20 different kinds of Negatives, including “Misinformed Negatives,” “Single-Issue Voter Negatives,” “Tradition Negatives,” “Critic Negatives” and “Gossip Negatives.”
  • Paul offers 20 pieces of Positivist advice to Timothy, including “positively invest your words,” “positively rejoice that God rules the church,” “positively flee youthful passions and grow up quickly,” “positively seek peace & righteousness with urgency,” “positively be kind like Jesus,” and “positively desire good for your enemies.”
  • Which Positives in the church need to be honoured?
  • How can you be more positive?
  • How can you be a better neutral, discerning and choosing the positive influences?
  • How are you a negative?  We’re all negatives, so what is your poison?
  • Repent.  Receive the good news of Jesus.  Enjoy Him positively and share HIm positively.
  • Be someone who can say, “I would gladly lose if the Gospel could win.”

One Response to “GCNC: Day 1”

  1. DK Says:

    Dang, sounds like fun!

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