May 6, 2006
Since my return from Together for the Gospel, I have been asked the following question countless times: “So, how was the conference?” And each time I have paused, trying to craft an appropriate description. I’ve found it to be a difficult task. Normally, I just end up repeating the words “extraordinary” and “unforgettable.” I doubt this proves particularly helpful, but I don’t know what else to say. For me the conference was, well, “extraordinary and unforgettable.” God’s grace was richly present among us at every moment.
Your encouragement has been so meaningful to Mark, Al, Lig, and myself. You men have buried us under an avalanche of e-mails and letters sincerely and specifically communicating your gratefulness for the conference. The evidences of God’s grace you describe seem to be endless, and I often find tears filling my eyes as I read your comments. We simply cannot thank you enough for your expressions of gratefulness. To know that God enabled us to effectively serve you brings some serious joy to our souls. I only wish I could look each of you in the eye and say “thanks.” With deep gratefulness in our hearts we ascribe all glory to God for what took place. As the Psalmist says, “This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes” (118:23).
On Thursday evening I had the privilege of introducing John Piper. I asked for the assistance of Jonathan Edwards in this task. Here is how Edwards encouraged his church to view “faithful ministers of the gospel:”
“Useful men are some of the greatest blessings of a people. To have many such is more for a people’s happiness than almost anything, unless it be God’s own gracious, spiritual presence amongst them: they are precious gifts of heaven Particularly, I would beseech and exhort those aged ones that yet remain, while they do live with us, to let us have much of their prayers, that when they leave the younger generations, they may leave God with them.”
These words are not only an appropriate introduction of John Piper, these words are an accurate description of the many pastors in attendance at T4G. You men are “some of the greatest blessings of a people.” You “are precious gifts of heaven.” And you are doing the most important and difficult work. For you daily care for the saints “[Christ] obtained with his own blood (Acts 20:28).” You “leave God with them” each week as you preach, counsel and serve the church. And one day “when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory” (I Peter 5:4).
You men are our heroes. And it was a pure privilege and joy to be with you and serve you during those few extraordinary and unforgettable days together for the gospel.