Gospel, Grace, and Glory

  • Jeff Crotts
Bible open with pages blowing in the wind

Give justice to me, O God, and plead my case against an unholy nation; Oh protect me from the deceitful and unrighteous man! (Ps. 43:1 LSB)

Scripture tells us that God will fight our battles as we remain steadfast and faithful. This is one of the big takeaways I took with me from the 2021 G3 Conference I attended this past weekend in downtown Atlanta.  It was my first time at a G3 conference, so I did not know exactly what to expect.  The only thing I knew was that it has been growing into something of a movement.  Starting in 2013 with 750 people this conference has exploded with about 6,500 in attendance this year. Attendees are made up of a mix of men and women, sometimes with their children.  It was a very family-friendly event with two-year old’s corralled (literally) in the back of massive open-aired rooms listening to preachers projected from nine massive screens.  This Christ-centered conference that took place at the nine-level Georgia World Conference center was incredibly impressive. More impressive than the venue itself were the values that were preached on. The gold of this conference is these values had one foundation: Christ.

Big Eva and the State of the Church

If you weren’t aware, G3 stands for Gospel, Grace, and Glory.  This was a simple conference that started a few years back in a local church in Georgia.  This conference seems to be in response to The Gospel Coalition (TGC) and Together for the Gospel (T4G) coalitions and conferences. Some have expressed concern about how these movements have begun to immerse themselves in the rally cries with the world on social justice issues.  Buzz words like systemic racism, critical race theory (CRT), and government mandates have forced the need for movements to be clear on which side they stand.

Movements like TGC and T4G appear to be learning from, aligning, and integrating with these man-centered ideologies. In response, G3 is emphatically saying “no,” warning the church of the danger of these trends and calling Christians to form their world view on the inerrant and sufficient Word of God.

Conferences and movements like these have a significant influence over churches across the globe and influence in today’s vernacular known as Big Eva (Big Evangelicalism).  I do not believe Big Eva buys every dangerous ideology pushed by the world. However, I am convinced that Big Eva is buying enough of the newest culturally-based trends that a consumer mentality remains steady in many churches.

One recent hot selling item is the rally cry of “social justice.” Morality sells because it inspires.  Moral people, made in the image of God, truly desire their world to be a better place. The social justice movement spun in the right way with the right emphasis appears to be irrefutably good and unquestionably essential to the gospel.   

Think about it, who doesn’t want poor people to have their needs met?  Who doesn’t want our country to provide fairness to everyone, no matter one’s ethnicity?  Who doesn’t want our country and our world to be free of sickness?  We are all made in God’s image and unless your heart is completely hardened to humanity, we all want this.  Scripture even speaks of how Christ will accomplish this reality upon the establishment of His kingdom on this earth (Isaiah 25:8; Revelation 21:4).

The question Big Eva must ask is whether its mission is supposed to be the same mission that everyone else is fighting for?

Our world undoubtedly has cultural, social, economic, and political problems. Has the broader evangelical church invited the world to define these problems for them?  Pressure comes crashing down upon Big Eva when these issues are presented with massive complexities. The standard now is to “educate yourself” on the scale of astrophysics to understand racism through the prism of Critical Race Theory.  And if you do not, then apparently are closing your eyes against oppression, your silence is violence, and you are unloving. You are convicted as guilty of all the wrong that exists in the world past, present, and future. You are said to be responsible for the injustice that is done because you are complicit to the suffering in which you are guilty.

Conference Report

The speakers at G3 took a different approach. Through their sermons and Q and A’s, seemingly complex issues were met with straightforward Bible.  The sermons derived from a high view of Scripture and aimed at a high view of Christ.  The theme of this conference was Christ: A Conference on Biblical Christianity.  A consumer, window shopping for something novel might dismiss it all thinking, “What a waste of time, I have heard sermons like these over and over again.” 

Themes like Christ’s Headship, Lordship, Grace, and Cleansing Sacrifice were preached excellently.  As I listened there was nothing strikingly new about what was being preached about Christ.  There is no need for these orthodox teachings of Christ to be interwoven with novel trends of culture.  The Bible is not like a government mandate that changes from week to week, mayor to mayor, or political agenda to political agenda.  In the face of ever-changing “complex” issues like trying to solve the science of whether to be vaccinated or not, the Bible has not changed.  Like God who is eternal, His Word endures forever (Isaiah 40:6–8; 1 Peter 1:24–25).  Trying to solve whether the government has the right to legislate our rights to gather as a church cannot change what God’s Word clearly says about the church’s mandate to gather (Hebrews 10:25).  After all, Christ is the head of the church, not Caesar.

The Preconference

The conference’s commitment to a high view of Scripture and Christ saturated my itinerary. This started with the pre-conference Abner Chou who unpacked Paul’s teaching from 2 Corinthians 12 on God’s grace being sufficient, power perfected in weakness.  That we boast in weakness so that the power of Christ will be manifest is an especially compelling message for us as believers who live among a world vying for power and control. Christians can trust in God when they lose control in this world knowing that we are satisfied in Christ’s power, a power manifested in weakness!  MacArthur’s pre-conference message issued the charge to preach judgment, especially in our current times.  In the vein of the prophets, apostles, New Testament prophets, and early church elders, we are to preach judgment.  Jesus preached judgment more than anything else, so we should not shy away from warning believers and terrifying unbelievers of real eternal consequences that come from unrepentant sin. 


The music throughout the conference was led by Bob Kauflin and his son Devon. This experience was especially strong, meaningful, and prioritized a high view of God.  Christ was the priority, not raw emotion, yet there was emotion that was in tune with a love for the glory of Christ. I also had the privilege of meeting James and Erin Coates who is the pastor and wife in Alberta, Canada.  Though they are as normal as they come, they definitely took on a mini-celebrity status; James having recently been released from prison for keeping their church open during government restrictions.  They were basically unable to walk across the lobby without being stopped by 5 to 10 people at any one point.  Thursday ended strong with MacArthur’s powerful exposition on the suffering servant in Isaiah 52–53. 


Friday was packed with a line-up of heavy hitters. Phil Johnson spoke on Christ’s exaltation and Paul Washer gave a personal charge for the pastor’s piety. Voddie Baucham powerfully drew our hearts into worshiping Christ as the Son of God.


One of the most compelling little soundbites I heard during the conference was during a Q and A session with Hensworth Jonas, a pastor from the Caribbean. In response to a question under the topic “following the science,” Hensworth Jonas said that we cannot correctly understand anything related to science unless we first go to Genesis 1. We cannot understand anything about reality unless we go to the beginning of our reality.  In the same vein, we cannot understand anything about creation unless we first go to Christ because He is the Creator.  This may seem like a broad-brush statement and certainly, we can quip that under common grace God has granted us the skill to understand certain things about His creation.

Still, Hensworth Jonas was exhorting us to go to the Scripture first so that we would be kept from falling into massive foundational errors such as the Big Bang Theory and evolutionary explanations. Likewise, to keep yourself from falling into an anthropological error that teaches that man is inherently good you must start with the biblical doctrine of the depravity of man.  This reminds me of the testimony of one of the conference speakers who recounted how his Bible professor appeared to compliment him saying, “You are all heart!”  The student thought this to be an endearing encouragement until the professor followed with, “And you know what Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked, who can know it.”

Conference Conclusion

I assumed G3 was going to be what I reported it to be.  The issues are now drawn so clearly, and it becomes so polarizing that it is hard to have friendly conversations with your neighbor unless you are really going to “go there.”  The key is that the Bible has not become any less clear.  God’s Word never graduates from saying what it has always said about everything.  The issue for us is not going to be the need to be further educated on how to address these complex debates.  No, it is going to come down to one thing.  Are we going to be prepared to stand strong with the truth of the Gospel and be willing to face the consequences?