Friday 22 March & Saturday 23 March 2013
John J Murray, Pooyan Mehrshahi & Dafydd Morris
Despite adverse weather conditions, around seventy ministers, church workers, and their wives gathered for the fourth annual Birmingham Conference. Although the snow came down heavily outside, hearts were well warmed as God’s Word was faithfully preached over the two days. The speakers this year were Rev. John J. Murray (Inverness), Pastor Pooyan Mehrshahi (Cheltenham), and Rev. Dafydd Morris (Carmarthen).
In two addresses, Mr. Murray handled the vital subjects of ‘The Fear of God’ and ‘The Providence of God’. In the first, he addressed the biblical doctrine of ‘The Fear of God’, before then drawing a number of practical ways in which this should show itself in the lives of both believers and churches. He explained that there is a need for churches to recover a high, biblical view of God. Such a recovery would have powerful consequences for the believer and the unbeliever. Mr. Murray spoke of how this doctrine should never just be academic, but affect every part of our lives, in terms of sanctification, perspective, worship, fellowship, and piety.
In the second, again, Mr. Murray dealt with a much neglected and maligned doctrine, ‘The Providence of God’. He began by outlining the biblical doctrine of providence and the twofold nature of providence including creation, and ongoing providence (including redemption). This was followed by many practical challenges as to how believers must learn to read and trust in God’s providence, knowing that God’s purposes can never
be thwarted, and He always works for the ultimate good of His people.
Mr. Mehrshahi spoke on ‘Holiness in the Ministry’ and ‘Holiness in the Church’. With regards ‘Holiness in the Ministry’, after underlining the holiness of God through Isaiah 6, he explained that the first principle of Gospel ministry is holiness. The office of the ministry is a holy office. As Robert Murray McCheyne stated – ‘my people’s greatest need is my personal holiness’. Looking at a number of different titles God uses for His
ministers, Mr. Mehrshahi challenged the ministers present to remember the sacredness and greatness of the work they had been given to do.
In the second address on ‘Holiness in the Church’, it was emphasised that it is God who makes the Church holy, both in redemption and in the continuing work of sanctification. The Church should be holy, not least in the fact that the very title means ‘called out ones’. Mr Mehrshahi spoke of how it is the will of God for our churches, purchased with the blood of Christ, to be holy. This is to be seen in purity of doctrine, worship, and conduct. Both Mr. Murray and Mr. Mehrshahi were particularly helped of the Lord, as the messages came with authority and power.
During Friday afternoon, there was a helpful and edifying Fellowship Meeting for the men with the focus of looking at ‘Preparation for the Lord’s Day’. The discussion specifically considered the final preparation of the minister’s mind and heart on the Saturday evening before ministry on the Lord’s Day. A number were able to share personal experiences and approaches.
The ladies had a separate meeting at that time which was led by Mrs. Margaret Thackway, appreciated very much by those in attendance.
A number of Conference attendees had the privilege of spending some time before the Friday evening session at the nearby Christian Heritage Centre in Rowley Regis, which is well worth visiting. With a fine display of 50 illustrated panels, and a host of antique Christian artefacts and books, it gives a helpful insight into the massive impact Christianity has had on this country over the centuries.
On the Friday evening, Mr. Morris preached a stirring Gospel message on John 12:21, ‘Sir, we would see Jesus’. He spoke with striking clarity on how the need of every single person, whether believer or unbeliever, is to look to the Lord Jesus Christ. In particular to look to His glorious work at Calvary. For the unbeliever it is the way of salvation, to look to Jesus and live. For the believer, to look to their precious Saviour, is their happy and sustaining portion both now and forever.
The Birmingham Conference has steadily grown since its inception, and those in attendance this year were blessed with rich ministry and fellowship, as well as wonderful hospitality from Ebenezer Baptist Church.
Next year’s is due to take place on 21st and 22nd March 2014 (D.V.), and many would benefit from being present
Jonathan Stobbs (Penzance Baptist Church)