On Friday 18th and Saturday 19th March brethren from various parts of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales met for the Seventh Annual ‘Birmingham Conference’ at Ebenezer Chapel, Old Hill. The Conference was very well attended.
The Conference preachers were Pastor David Silversides (Loughbrickland, Northern Ireland), Pastor John Thackway (Holywell Flintshire, North Wales) and Pastor John Saunders (Chichester, West Sussex).
The Conference was indescribably exceptional and wonderfully extraordinary, as the Lord went before; granting enabling and blessing during what may rightly be described as precious golden hours. Where the Word of God was faithfully declared and attended by the unmistakable convicting and convincing power of the Lord, bringing much needed help and application to our souls and lives.
As in all past gatherings the meetings were characterised by reverent worship, Scripture reading, prayer and the singing of Psalms and Hymns from the Christian Worship Hymnbook.
Pastor David Silversides from Northern Ireland gave two very stimulating and heart warming addresses on the doctrines of “Adoption and Election”, their comforts and blessings. These doctrines were carefully cited and examined in both the Old and New Testaments. Tracing their source, principle and end brought much comfort to the soul. We were also reminded of the certainties which these doctrines bring; primarily how they vouchsafe our present ongoing sanctification and then finally our glorification and perfection in everlasting life to come.
The Second address was equally helpful predominantly in seeing why, the decree of God in Election and it’s execution in Adoption in time, must be kept separate. Pastor Silversides also explained why a correct understanding of the doctrine and it’s order is paramount as it guards against two errors: mysticism and presumptionism. We considered how these two contemporary errors have to our great lament caused widespread confusion and harm in the Church over recent years. Finally we were lovingly exhorted to personally examine whether we are bearing fruits of righteousness, the marks and evidences of Election and Adoption by Sovereign grace.
Pastor John Thackway from Holywell preached two very fine and pastorally hearted messages on the Doctrine of Divine Chastisement. In the first he gave ample Scriptural proofs and examples of the Doctrine. Then drawing from Job’s life in Job 5, and then from Hebrews 12:6 it was demonstrated that without exception, every child of God to varying degrees is chastened of the Lord. We were reminded that our heavenly Father’s chastisement is not punitive, but corrective and always done out of love, and for the everlasting good of His dear children. Pastor Thackway’s second address established the “Blessings of Divine Chastisement”. We were reminded how, if humbly submitted to, it always yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness. Heb 12:11. Moreover underpinning all of God’s works is the wisdom and love of God our Father in conforming us to the Lord Jesus Christ. The love of God is faithful.
Many comforting examples and instances of blessing from chastisement were drawn from the Scriptures and from the lives of some of the most godly saints of past generations. We were crucially reminded how chastisement is an integral part of our sanctification which also tests and exhibits our adoption by God. This all providentially dovetailed and complimented the addresses given on Adoption. In closing while chastening is painful we were most positively reminded again that the Lord is chiefly concerned about our person and character being fashioned to the likness of the Lord Jesus Christ through trials and the loving chastening of the Lord.
On the Friday evening Pastor John Saunders from Chichester preached a very moving sermon at the Gospel Rally where many gathered, including a large number of youth who came especially for the Service. The text was John 19:5 “Behold the Man”. The Lord Jesus Christ was considered through the eyes of the spiritually blind Jews at His mock coronation, unjust trial and agonising crucifixion. They accused Him of corrupting the Nation and the Law of God, but it was they who were corrupt, and He pure and undefiled. Then our Lord was beheld through the eyes of the Roman soldiers who had hastily dismissed God the Son as just another man and a criminal, so they enquired no further. Then finally we beheld the Lord through the troubled eyes, mind and conscience of Pontius Pilate, who although he and his wife had marvelled and wondered at the Lord; Alas, because of sin they too looked no further. On each of these points the unsaved were tenderly but solemnly exhorted to turn aside from such dismissive and depraved reasoning’s and to give themselves no rest until they beheld the Lord Jesus Christ as He is revealed in the Scriptures.
On the Friday a discussion for men was led by Pastor Dewi Higham focusing on the importance of Evangelism. Although the subject is broad and comprehensive there were many helpful comments and suggestions from the attendees and the panel made up of the three main, preachers. These were personal evangelism, Open Air Preaching, evangelism within our family, and within in the Church and towns where the Lord has providentially placed us.
As in the past an important feature of the conference is that all women are encouraged to attend. A separate discussion session was led held for women by Mrs Mairi Higham on the important subject of maintaining a consistent defeat over sin (“maintaining a constant victory”). Verses such as Romans 8:1 were thought upon. From the reports, the discussions were very helpful.
Aside from the more formal sessions there was plenty of time for fellowship with brothers and sisters of like mind. Again the conference would not be possible without the kindness and devotion of the Pastor, Roland Burrows and the Church Members at Ebenezer Baptist Chapel. All of the arrangements, from the food to warm fellowship were God honouring and most encouraging to the soul.
The conference is organised by the Committee of the Christian Worship Trust, and it’s aims are to strengthen Christians in Biblical Reformed Theology and against increasing worldliness and compromise in the Church as well as to encourage experiential devotion to God and earnest evangelism to the lost.
The conference next year is planned to be held on Friday 24th and Saturday 25 March 2017, God willing the preachers will be Pastor William Macleod (Scotland), Dr Michael Haykin (USA) and Pastor Malcolm Watts (Salisbury, UK).
God willing this year the Christian Worship Camps will be held from Monday 22nd to Saturday 27th August 2016.
Pastor Chalan Hetherington (Hemel Hempstead)