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First Reformed Conference in Riga and Latvia

Category Articles
Date February 16, 2002

FIRST REFORMED CONFERENCE IN LATVIA

Malcolm Firth gave two lectures on Charles Spurgeon – a man read and admired by many Christians here.

Just over 100 people gathered on 1st and 2nd February this year for the first Reformed Conference to take place in Riga, Latvia. Most were non-Reformed Russian Baptists from Latvia, but there were also small groups from the other Baltic States of Estonia and Lithuania. It was a most encouraging and profitable time for a number of reasons:

1) Rev. Stuart Olyott (Lecturer in Practical Theology at the Evangelical Theological College of Wales) was the main speaker. He gave four addresses from the letter to the Romans concentrating on chapters one, three, eight and sixteen. For many this was the first time they had heard the doctrines of grace proclaimed and a number were both challenged and encouraged by his ministry of the Word. Preaching on chapter 8 of Romans for example, Rev. Olyott directly dealt with the controversial doctrines of election and the perseverance of the saints, but his exposition was a model of clarity and warm Christ-centred preaching. He certainly helped to dispel the common myth that Reformed men are detached academics by his passionate proclamation of these truths, and together we were led to praise and adore the wonderful grace of our Heavenly Father.

(2) Malcolm Firth gave two lectures on Charles Spurgeon – a man read and admired by many Christians here. However, the fact that a number of his sermons have been edited in translation has meant that few have really known much about his life and theology. In the first lecture therefore, he gave an overview of his life, and in the second concentrated upon his preaching ministry. Spurgeon is a wonderful example of how good Calvinistic theology should lead to a earnest desire to see Christ exalted in the saving of men and women. The truth that it is God who saves leads to fervent preaching in evangelism and mission, not – as is generally thought to be the case over here – to a neglect of these usual means by which God works.

(3) Thanks to a number of publishers many good Russian translations of Reformed books are now in print. One of these publishers, Alphom Press (Evangelical Press)have translated Stuart Olyott’s commentary on Romans – “The Gospel as it Really is”, as well as Arnold Dallimore’s small biography of Spurgeon and a number of Spurgeon’s sermons. These as well as many other books were available for purchase throughout the conference. In the one and a half days over 450 Reformed books were bought, and it is hoped that this will bear much fruit in the future.

Financial and other support came from the Riga Reformed Theological Seminary (http://www.rigatheo.com), anonymous donations from the U.K. and from the Salvation Temple – a Baptist Church in the centre of Riga that allowed us use of their premises free of charge. It is hoped that a Reformed conference in Latvia may become an annual event, with perhaps both the small numbers of Reformed Baptists and Paedobaptists here, joining together for mutual encouragement and to proclaim the glories of God’s amazing grace.

Malcolm Firth

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