9Marks Conference

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by Michael McEwen

Welcoming the 700 plus men and women attending the third year of the 9Marks at Southeastern conference, President of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Daniel Akin commenced, “Many people ask how this conference came about at Southeastern. Quite honestly, we are very interested in serving the church, especially training those in our seminaries and churches to take part in this great blessing. In essence, then, 9Marks and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary share the same mission.”

This year’s conference theme was “The Gospel?” The 9Marks Conference speakers each addressed the multifaceted nature of the gospel. Throughout the six sessions over two days, the proficient speakers articulated the power and grandeur of the gospel, each drawing from a number of books, epistles, and psalms from the Bible.

Mark Dever, pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, DC, addressed the teeming chapel with the reality of proclaiming the gospel to the spiritually sick. People must know they are in need of a Savior, said Dever, before they can accept their Redeeming Savior. Dever noted that the gospel assumes the reality of sin.

Echoing Dever, Thabiti Anyabwile, pastor of First Baptist Church in Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands, conveyed the eternal ramifications found in Romans 3:21-26. The sacrifice of Christ, said Anyabwile, demonstrates and satisfies the Father’s righteousness for every human being. Both Dever and Anyabwile illustrated that there is an eternal debt that must be paid and only the God-Man, Christ Jesus, paid that debt for humanity.

The story of Christianity professes the God who is not hesitant of ‘coming down’ in grace-filled redemption and rescue. The sovereign power ornamenting the ninety-third psalm, observed Ben Mandrell, pastor of Englewood Baptist Church in Jackson, TN, points to the absolutely sovereign God of all things. “But this God is not only a law-giver, he, too, is the shepherd who has not only a master plan for his order but for his people as well.”

Referencing John Piper, Daniel Akin, President of Southeastern, said, “Preaching the right gospel with the wrong motives, Paul celebrates. Whereas preaching the wrong gospel with the right motives, Paul curses. So we hope to preach the right gospel with the right motives.” Properly orienting the motives and the tongue are of utmost importance, said Akin, and when the two are aligned the true and good proclamation of the gospel goes forth transgressing all boundaries in the name of the loving Savior. 

“The purpose of the church is doxological. We are here for the glory of God. The glory comes down in the church when you communicate and persevere in the gospel,” declared James MacDonald, founder and senior pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel in Chicago, Ill. The attendees of 9Marks perceived throughout the weekend the need for the gospel, the sovereignty and vastness of the gospel, and through MacDonald a number of practical implications were exhibited for present and future leaders and pastors.

Too easily those in ministry begin to worship the success of their ministries, but confronting these possibilities, Darrin Patrick, pastor of The Journey in St. Louis, MO, disclosed to his hearers that the point of Paul’s text in Philippians is a divine invitation to something bigger. Without worshipping the good things God gives us, said Patrick, contentment then becomes a foretaste of the heavenly world. “If you want to move from coveting to contentment, you must come to the end of your strength. Literally, through utter-strengthlessness.”

After two days of delving into the depths of the Scriptures and providing profound wisdom through their years in ministry, each of 9Marks speakers left the attendees with the command: “Go and do likewise throughout the earth.”

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