The annual Carey Conference was held on 5-7 January in snow-covered Swanwick. For some delegates, this involved several hours of travelling in difficult weather. The theme was ‘Confidence in God’s Word’.
Kees van Kralingen addressed the topic of the church’s witness in the world from the early history of the Ephesian church. In a period of only two to three years, the 250,000 inhabitants of Ephesus and everyone in the province of Asia had heard the word of the Lord. The preaching the word both publicly and ‘from house to house’ was blessed by God with remarkable progress in the gospel.
Professor Greg Beale treated us to three rich papers. In his first address, he demonstrated how the inerrancy of Scripture can be defended from the book of Revelation. In his second he gave us a biblical perspective on how the concept of temple runs through Scripture from the Garden of Eden to the consummated kingdom of Revelation. This whetted our appetite for reading his book The temple and the church’s mission.
Thirdly, he addressed the difficult verses of Isaiah 6:9-10, relating them to the sin of idolatry. He challenged his listeners: ‘What you revere is what you resemble, either for ruin or for restoration’.
The other main speaker was Pastor Conrad Mbewe from Zambia. He had exchanged the 35-degrees Celsius weather of his home country for the freezing conditions of Britain, to preach on the topic of Christian joy.
This joy is a clear command and great privilege, for Christians have this joy in the Lord. It also extends to Christian service, as he demonstrated with clarity and power from Philippians. This was biblical, experimental exposition at its best.
Pastor Mbewe also kept us on the edge of our chairs with his fascinating biography of Adoniram Judson. The church in Burma and the translation of the Bible into Burmese is a lasting testimony to this servant of the Lord and his wife, who faced so many troubles.
John Benton from Guildford in his paper ‘Have we gone soft on sin?’ presented us with penetrating insights into our culture. Sin is no longer seen as transgression of the law and rebellion against God for which we need forgiveness, but has been redefined as an ‘aberration’ causing us to be ‘victims’ who need ‘therapy’.
This shift of thinking has affected churches. But the enormity of sin is seen from the work of Christ on the cross. We need to hold fast to the doctrines of creation and the Fall.
The share and prayer session was, as always, a conference highlight. Reports from EMF students and other visitors presented moving accounts of the work of the Lord in other parts of the world. These also underlined the conference theme of confidence in the Word of God.
Audio and MP3 recordings can be obtained from conference secretary John Rubens at: 1 The Saddlery, The Chase, Newton Aycliffe,
Kees van Kralingen