John Piper preached on Wednesday evening.  His influence in my life is impossible to measure.  I’ll never forget the first time I read Desiring God almost twenty years ago.  His Christ-saturated approach to God’s Word began to slowly reshape my pursuit of and passion for God.

The primary question that Dr. Piper’s message addresses is: “Did Jesus and Paul preach the same gospel?” Piper urges, “Read all Gospels  in the shadow of the Cross.”

Piper begins by noting three things about people who claim to trust in Christ (Luke 18:9-14).  There is the person whose righteousness is “moral.”  Next, there is the person whose righteousness is religious/ceremonial.  Finally, there is the person whose righteousness is a gift from God.

Piper explains the Luke narrative with the intention of unpacking seven crucial principles (the manuscript is available at

1. Jesus taught justification by faith on the basis of imputed righteousness, not inherited righteousness.

2. No matter how religious you are, don’t trust in it.  Only trust in Christ alone.

3. Take heart in your struggle with indwelling sin.  When you feel like a failure — look to Christ alone.

4. All moral transformation is the fruit, not the root of justification.

5. Never forget – All good works, words, and deeds will serve to strengthen, not ground your justification.

6. The gospel is universally and globally needed.

7. Give Christ all his glory in the work of salvation!

The grand purpose in the universe is for Christ to be glorified.  Piper’s conclusion: Indeed Jesus and Paul preached the same gospel.

C.J. Mahaney concluded Together for the Gospel with an excellent message from 2 Timothy 4:1-5.  Mahaney unpacks the biblical description of the pastors’ charge.  He notes, “We all have different gifts — but the same charge.”

Mahaney admonishes pastors, be faithful to the message (v. 2).  Pastors must preach the Word, which is to say, they must preach the gospel. “Never assume that people have an exhaustive knowledge of the gospel.”  “Never altar or add to the story.”  “Be committed to unoriginality.  Don’t lose sight of what matters most.”

Remaining faithful to the message requires pastoral wisdom (vv. 2-3).  Mahaney urges, “We must be familiar with those we are addressing.”  In other words, we must know the people.  We must understand the hurts of the people.

Remaining faithful to the message requires godly character in general and patience in particular (v. 2).  Impatience reveals pride and self-righteousness.  And remember that sanctification is a process.  “Be patient with people who process truth slowly.”  “Don’t assume that you are sufficiently patient.”

Pastors must be faithful to their ministry.  They must do the work of an evangelist.  They must endure suffering.

Finally, pastors must be faithful to their Savior.   Mahaney’s message was a deeply encouraging message for each pastor and an appropriate way to conclude the conference.  What a blessing to sit under the ministry of the Word!

I am thankful for the chance to serve side by side with two men of God, Brock Ewing and Wayne Pickens.  Brock has proven to be an exceptional intern and has faithfully served in a multitude of ways.  And my Senior Pastor is not only my boss.  He is one of my best friends in the world!

I am also thankful for a home church who is not only expects their shepherds to faithfully feed the sheep; but a church who joyfully send the sheep from time to time to be fed themselves.  These shepherds are ready to come home!

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