It was a Tuesday morning in July when I sat down in President Corey's office and told him the news. I had accepted a job to work as a senior editor for The Gospel Coalition and would no longer be working at Biola University.
With tears in my eyes I told him how hard it was for me to leave. I'd worked at Biola for nine years and met my wife Kira there. I loved my job working in the Office of the President. I was not looking to leave. The Gospel Coalition job, I told him, had come as an unexpected opportunity; one that I felt was of the Lord.
President Corey was characteristically gracious and kind. "Congratulations!" were the first words out of his mouth. He was sad to lose me at Biola but genuinely happy for me and happy for TGC. He prayed for me and hugged me. Later he opened an old, well-worn daily devotional book and read the entry for that day, July 18.
The verse for that day was Romans 1:16: For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God unto salvation, to everyone that believeth."
The author of the devotional was one Rev. B. Walther Pfeil of Hudson, New York, a man who Google reveals may have been a Lutheran pastor over a century ago.
President Corey read Rev. Pfeil's words aloud: "Abide with Jesus and with his precious Gospel because it is the only thing which will make you happy, truly happy both in this life and in the world to come."
See the full devotional in the scanned photo below:
As I listened to President Corey read those words, from a gospel-preaching saint of yesteryear, it struck me what a joyful thing it is live in the continuity of men and women, past/present/future, whose lives coalesce around the gospel: "the glad tidings of the grace of God."
Biola University is part of that gospel continuity. So is The Gospel Coalition. Leaving one for the other is really just a new assignment in the same mission, to steward the true gospel, to search its wide-ranging contours and to proclaim it proudly in this generation.
It's a continuity that goes back thousands of years and will carry on until the Lord sees fit to return. It's a continuity that, for me, includes so many godly people and institutions who have soundly stewarded and passed on the faith: my parents and grandparents; the Sunday school teachers and youth leaders of my upbringing; pastors at churches in Oklahoma, Kansas, Illinois, California; professors at Wheaton and Biola; writers and philosophers from Lewis to Bonhoeffer to Schaeffer to Augustine; poets and painters of the sacred art I've loved; architects and builders of the glorious cathedrals where I've worshipped; writers of the hymns that shaped my longings; and many others I have yet to encounter.
Reflecting on this is humbling and fills me with gratitude. What gratuitous grace and kindness is it that God would adopt me into such a family! But of course the greater gift still is not continuity with this epic mission but communion with God himself. He has adopted me; welcomed me into his personal presence, and into an eternal family.
This is the good news, the gladdest of tidings, that has motivated millions in a singular mission and unites us in the work of gospel continuity.