Banner of Truth Borders Conference
Setting out for Carlisle on a cold, dark Friday night in November isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Yet even seasoned veterans of the Borders conference were pleasantly surprised at the number of people turning up this year. In his opening remarks, Iain Murray informed us that two places were particularly well represented – Scotland and Darlington (although there was a later, controversial claim that an even larger delegation was present from Stockton!)
The promising programme this year contained one highly cryptic title – ‘Two men and an island’. As Mr Murray delivered his engaging historical paper on the Saturday morning, we discovered that the island was Madeira and the two men, Robert Kalley and William Hewitson, were missionaries there. In the mid-nineteenth century they preached that God is ‘friendly-minded toward sinners’, and many were wonderfully converted, amidst considerable persecution.
This segment of church history nicely complemented the talks of the other two speakers. Alasdair I. MacLeod addressed the theme of mission. His first session was theological, rooting the church’s mission in the great event of Pentecost. He helpfully demonstrated from Acts 2 characteristics of Spirit-driven mission – its emphasis on preaching; the prominence of Scripture; the centrality of Christ; and importance of the church.
His second session was practical. Our missionary endeavours must be absolutely exclusive with reference to Christ (he is the only way to God) and yet utterly inclusive with reference to people (we preach the gospel to anyone and everyone).
Geoff Thomas addressed preaching. His exposition of 1Timothy 4:12 was outstanding as he applied it to preaching in speech, life, love, faith and purity.
There were memorable gems: ‘You stand in the pulpit before a gathering of men and women, and they are all going to live on as long as God himself’. It was an inspiring note on which to conclude the conference.