In the beautiful, autumnal setting of Pitlochry, nearly 40 members of churches across Scotland met for a second Scottish Reformed Baptist Conference.
Due to the blessing and encouragement of the previous, introductory conference last year, there was a clear desire to meet again; and so, from 9-11 October, we met together at the Atholl Centre.
Saved to serve
This year’s theme was ‘Saved to serve’. Jack Seaton spoke at the opening session, on Christian service, considering the words of Paul to Jesus in his Damascus road conversion experience, ‘What will you have me to do?’ We were reminded that to know Christ is to serve him, and that the commencement, continuance and conclusion of service is in Christ and for Christ.
Our main speaker was David Campbell, pastor of North Preston Evangelical Church, who took three sessions. The first explored how we can serve the body of Christ through using our gifts. Speaking from Romans 12:3-8, he helped us see how all our gifts and talents come from God and are to be used as he desires, in serving fellow believers.
In Romans 12, Paul considers each believer has property in another’s gifts; and, as each church has its own needs, so God gives a variety of gifts, that every Christian might minister to those needs.
In his second session — from Romans 10:1 — Mr Campbell considered how we can serve the people of Israel by prayer. We were challenged to spend more time interceding for God’s ancient people, as we are indebted to them in so many ways.
We have been richly blessed from their prayers for us (as we see in Psalm 67), their writing of Scripture, and through the Saviour himself being born of that nation. Seeing the conversion of the Jews to Christ will bring blessing to the world and joy to Christ, we must continue to regularly pray for them.
In his final session, from Galatians 6:9-10, we were encouraged to serve the world in general by doing good. Despite the heavy demands and poor returns of doing good, we were challenged to do so without becoming weary. We are to do good expecting ‘a harvest’ and as we have opportunity. Christ came to do us good, so we too must, in this short season of opportunity, seek to do good.
Ali McLachlan, pastor of Grace Church West Edinburgh, gave us an encouraging update on the work of the gospel in Poland. Mariusz (Max) Bartkowski has been sent to plant a church in Bydgoszcz and God has given him remarkable opportunities to share the gospel in this Catholic country. One such was being able to give a talk on how he presents the gospel to about 20 businessmen who were learning presentation skills.
Dr Nick Needham gave us a historical lecture on the life and service of John Wycliffe. Wycliffe was one of the greatest thinkers and theologians of his day, yet is now best known, first, for his insistence on the sole authority of the Bible, despite being accused of being a ‘heretic’ by the Roman Catholic Church, and, second, for his work on translating the Bible into English.
Despite never mentioning ‘justification by faith’, it is clear from Wycliffe’s writings that he believed in God’s grace alone for salvation, and so is deserving of his famous title, ‘The Morning Star of the Reformation’.
Gilbert McAdam, pastor of Wick Harbour Mission, spoke on Jeremiah’s call to be a prophet, in Jeremiah 1. He made the point that Jeremiah was called to a situation of impending judgment similar to that we face today. Just as he was chosen to serve God, so we have the same commission to preach the gospel. We must be ready to endure hostility as Jeremiah did, in order to take God’s Word to the world.
Each session was stimulating and, in addition to the excellent Bible teaching, we were able to enjoy times of prayer and fellowship together. The weather was favourable for us to enjoy a walk on Tuesday afternoon, when some of us went to the Christian Heritage Centre at Moulin, and discovered more about the life of the first Scottish missionary to India, Alexander Duff.
Next year’s conference is already being planned. The challenge remains for us all to be ‘doers of the Word and not hearers only’; and to continue to ‘present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is our reasonable service’.