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God’s Glory, Our Joy

Category Articles
Date December 19, 2003

‘God’s Glory, Our Joy’ was the name of a conference held on Friday 17th and Saturday 18th October at Milnrow, near Rochdale. It was organised by a group of pastors from evangelical churches in north-west. An invitation was extended to all Christians, and the aim of the event was to remind them of their ‘chief end’ – to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. This was the fourth such conference, and its particular emphasis over the years has been on the central place of the local church in Christian life and service. This year’s conference title was ‘Servants of the Living God’, and most of the speakers discussed issues surrounding mission (both foreign and local).

The first day began with an afternoon seminar for pastors / elders, led by Daniel Webber, the director of the European Missionary Fellowship. His topic of choice was ‘trends in modern missions’ and we have heard reports that his thoughtful material led to vibrant and beneficial discussion.

Following a buffet tea, the first ‘open’ address was given by Naptally Ogallo, co-pastor of Trinity Baptist Church, Nairobi, Kenya, who is currently in the UK for theological training. He spoke on Romans 12:11: ‘fervent in spirit, serving the Lord’. Naphtally drove home to his listeners the importance of sacrificial, zealous service, and challenged us to put aside the distractions of the world. In particular, many found that his ‘outsider’s’ view of British culture provided a fresh understanding of the dangers of materialism and laziness, both inside and outside in the church.

The next morning, Neil Richards spoke on ‘Conversions: true and false’. As a retired minister, he spoke with years of experience and pastoral insight, providing a careful biblical definition of conversion, and considering our methods of evangelism in the light of this.

Mr. Richards was followed by Daniel Webber, who spoke on ‘Mission for the glory of God,’ encouraging us to take a higher view of missions. He stressed that mission is the work of a sovereign God, whose agent on earth is the local church. When he highlighted the Antioch church’s decision concerning who to send out as missionaries, few will forget how he almost broke into song: ‘Simply the Best!’

In the afternoon we heard an interesting address from Walter Johnston, the pastor of Chorlton Evangelical Church, Manchester. Under the title of ‘Christian service: knowing the will of God’, he delved into the practical issues surrounding guidance from the Lord. He began on the basis of the sufficiency of the Scriptures, as exemplified by the Lord Jesus’s knowledge of them and reliance upon them. He exhorted us to concentrate primarily on obeying the written guidance in God’s word, rather than seeking mysterious leadings and feelings. Such teaching is rarely heard, but there was a fresh and healthy emphasis on the liberty which such an understanding of guidance gives to the Christian. This was a positive paper which left us with much to think over and work out in our own minds.

Daniel Grimwade, of Thornhill Baptist Church in Yorkshire, emphasised how Christian service is to be undertaken in submission to Christ, who commands us to build up his church. Therefore, he urged us to direct our energies into serving through, for and amongst our fellow believers in the context of the local church.

Naphtally Ogallo preached a closing sermon on 1 John 2:15-17. He contrasted the love which the world offers to us – which neither satisfies nor lasts – to the God’s love, which satisfies completely and lasts eternally. His words were both searching and moving, providing a fitting note on which to end.

Another conference is to be organised in 2004, and, judging by the quality of this year’s addresses, it is certain to be of great help to any who attend. The speakers addressed the matters which we most needed to think about. There was also good opportunity to meet brethren from other churches and to renew fellowship with friends. What are our priorities? Why are we so easily distracted from our ‘chief end’? The conference called us to remember the things that matter most. We trust that it will have a lasting effect on our lives and churches.

Matthew Cox

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