A good Christian conference is an oasis for the battle-wearied pilgrim. Our journey to the celestial city is not without its discouragements and challenges.
Therefore, any opportunity to have our perspective refocused on the Lord, and for fellowship with like-minded believers is most welcome.
This was my first time at the Grace Baptist Assembly, which met this year from 21 to 23 May in its regular venue of the Hayes Conference Centre, Swanwick.
Whilst I recognise that we have brethren in churches with different distinctives, it is always nice to meet with those like-minded in convictions and practice.
The mutual affinity that exists produces an encouraging environment to stir one another up to contend for the faith.
The ‘UK Church Reports’ session proved particularly eye-opening. It impressed upon me afresh the need to pray for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit in reviving and strengthening churches across the nation.
Jonathan Bayes spoke on the spiritual status of children in our Baptist congregations, many believers carry the burden of unconverted children and grandchildren.
It was therefore helpful to be reminded that since God chooses whom he will save, and ordains the means to accomplish salvation, we can pray with faith that God will work in their hearts, as they are in an environment where regeneration and faith can occur.
Another highlight was the ministry and testimony of Peter Schild from Frankfurt. Though the scene in Germany is bleak, what a joy it was to hear how the Lord snatched Peter as a brand from the fire, raised him up to be a minister of the glorious gospel, and an instrument in building a healthy Reformed Baptist Church.
The Frankfurt Evangelical Reformed Baptist Church is a church which runs against the spirit of the age. It is serious about preaching, evangelism, reverent worship and confessional truths. And they are seeing a remarkable number of conversions.
Peter Schild also gave a riveting history lesson on the great Johann Oncken. I only wish there was more about him in writing, to satisfy a newly implanted appetite.
Many of us may have attended the Assembly downcast and saddened that our service seems to reap little fruit. But Graham Field’s opening address reminded us that our rejoicing should be in our salvation and the Lord’s sovereign grace, not in our service.
Gerard Hemmings’ ministry on the New Covenant was glorious, rich, heart-warming and Christ-exalting.
The closing address by David Last was balm for a despairing saint. It is so easy to be overwhelmed by the difficulties we face, but David brought out from the life of Abraham that God accomplishes his purpose supernaturally, a timely reminder that God is not troubled by our circumstances, as we are.
Recordings of the sessions are available online from gracebaptistassembly.org.uk.