Friday 27 March & Saturday 28 March 2015
John Greer, Jonathan Northern, Ibrahim ag Mohamed & Alun McNabb
On Friday 27th and Saturday 28th March, a good number gathered for the sixth ‘Birmingham Conference’ at Ebenezer Chapel, Old Hill. This conference is organised by the Committee of the Christian Worship Trust. The aims include uniting and strengthening one another in the great doctrines of the faith against a background of increasing secularism and compromise, to encourage heartfelt experiential devotion, and to promote vigorous evangelism. The 2015 conference did not disappoint in these aims, with stirring and helpful addresses and warm fellowship between meetings. The main speakers were John Greer (Ballymena), Jonathan Northern (Baldock), Alun McNabb (formerly of Dudley) and Ibrahim ag Mohamed (London).
John Greer gave two powerful addresses on the Priesthood of Christ – a glorious and wonderful theme. The first focused on Psalm 110 and Hebrews 7 dealing particularly with the Oath, Order and Obligation of Christ’s priesthood. We were shown that all false religion has its ‘priests’ who come woefully short of sinful man’s real need, but that all the believer needs is found in our Great High Priest whose priesthood is unchangeable. The second address dwelt on Hebrews 4:14-16 and particularly underlined that while all false works-based religion effectively says ‘We do … and therefore we have’, the true believer in Christ proves the opposite, that ‘We have a great high priest … therefore we hold fast’. The consideration of what we have in Christ, and what he has done and is doing for us, is the ground and energy that causes us to prayerfully persevere. In each address there was much food for our souls as well as help in dealing with this glorious theme in ministry.
Jonathan Northern gave a helpful address on ‘Profiting from Old Testament Types’ in which we were given a number of guidelines for identifying and using Old Testament types while avoiding some of the pitfalls that exist with this approach to Scripture. This was coupled with examples from David, Joseph and Boaz. It was far from a dry study and it was wonderful to be reminded of the wonderful works of God in arranging Old Testament characters and events such that they often speak typically of the person and work of Christ and other glorious New Testament doctrines.
Ibrahim ag Mohamed gave us an engaging and helpful address on ‘Witnessing to Moslems’. Aspects of belief and practice under Islam were first underlined, followed by several things to be wary of in our witness, as well as others to positively inculcate. The address should help us all in these days to reach them in a more effective way.
Alun McNabb addressed a very full chapel at the Friday evening preaching rally. His text was John 13:34/35 and the sermon focused our minds on Christian unity, urging us not to let needless issues cause division. It was a reminder that unity in the truth is so vital amongst the Lord’s people.
A discussion session for men was led by Dewi Higham focused on leading public worship. This resulted in many helpful comments from attendees as well as from a panel made up of the three main conference speakers.
A feature of this conference is that wives of men in church leadership are welcome to attend, and indeed a separate discussion session is held for them. This year it was led by Lis Northern on the subject ‘Adorning our faith’ – from all reports this was also a most profitable time. There is no Biblical office of ‘pastor’s wife’ but our wives do have a unique path to walk and no doubt value time spent with others similarly placed.
Aside from the more formal sessions there was plenty of time for fellowship with brothers and sisters of like mind. The path of the pastor/elder is singular in many respects and fellowship of this kind is very precious indeed.
The conference would not be possible without the kindness and devotion of the pastor and members at Ebenezer. Much would have been needed in preparing the building and providing the superb meals for all delegates: may God bless them abundantly.
Philip Hambridge (Cowley Hill Free Church, Borehamwood)