“For thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness.” Ezekiel 34:11-12
What a sure and complete confidence we can enjoy in our beloved Savour! In Him, who has declared, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” And again, in another place, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Armed with such a sure and complete confidence, there is no end to the works and efforts which may be accomplished by God’s own people.
This year’s annual 5 Solas Reformation Conference theme was that of Sola Fide, (Faith Alone). This year, with all of its Covid19 fears and challenges, we were forced to make changes as our main speaker, brother Jeremy Walker, (of Maidenbower Baptist Church, Crawley, England), was unable to attend. Myself, and several of the younger men, took up the responsibility of preaching. Though sadly, due to a family tragedy, one of the young men had to drop out at the last moment.
Yet, despite all the problems and challenges, the Lord greatly blessed our gathering together. It was the largest gathering we have had at a 5 Solas Conference. Even though we had to limit attendance to only people within Finland, we easily reached our capacity. When I look back to our first conference and see how far we have come and how much the reformed Church has grown here, it leaves me somewhat speechless. I wonder how it all happened! Truly, the Lord is at work among the Finnish people. I think that this conference has been the best so far, as I had many opportunities to really connect with people. I was able to sit down and spend time with folks. I was able to hear their testimonies, answer their questions, and bow together with them in prayer.
I wish I could tell you all the glorious stories I heard, like how the Lord had delivered a young man from years of slavery to drug addiction and from under the influence of the occult. How the Lord saved him and his wife, saved and transformed them from a life of disobedience and sin to a life lived in the fear of the Lord. Or the story of how a young lady, having grown up within a Christian home, outwardly chaste and modest, and to all appearance, a believer. Yet inwardly, spiritually dead and fearful of the opinions of men rather than that of God. How her eyes were opened to the reality of the cross of Christ, and how she was glorious and wondrously saved— to the shock of all who knew her.
We also had the pleasure of having Paul Washer deliver the opening message of our conference. Paul graciously stepped in at the last minute, and we were able to stream him live. It was a great blessing to hear him open up the Scriptures with such earnestness, and clearly, by the Spirit’s power. I personally, know of one young lady who came to faith through the hearing of the message. Praise God! Paul again graciously “stayed” after his preaching and took some questions and was able to give some council to the enquiring soul. It was a tremendous blessing for everyone involved.
I also had the great pleasure of reconnecting with Roger O. and his family. Roger is a Columbian/Swiss Church planter here, currently seeking to plant a new church in eastern Finland right out next to the Russian border. It is truly pioneering work. There is little to nothing in the way of Church out there. Certainly, the Reformed truths are unheard of. He and I, jokingly agreed that at certain times of the year, you were more likely to meet bears in the forest, than you are people. Roger and his wife, Eva, are alone out there on the far distant edges of Europe.
I am reminded of the words and advice of Hudson Taylor. Hudson Taylor heard that the Canadian missionary Jonathan Goforth was going to an area in northern China. And so, he wrote him a note. He said, ‘Mr. Goforth, we in China Inland Mission have for years been trying to pioneer a work in there. I want you to know something. It is the most anti-Christian area in all of China. If you are going to capture the hearts of those people with the gospel, you need to go forward upon your knees.’ That was sound advice for the Goforth’s, as it is equally true for Roger and his little family, as they bravely pioneer in the wilds of Finland. Beloved, we have a great calling as well. Like Roger and Eva, we too are called to give up our lives, all we are familiar with and comfortable with if He calls us to it. Maybe even travel to far and distant lands in order to preach the glorious Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, plant, and give their lives to the establishment of Biblical Churches. Should you and I beloved, not give ourselves to supporting their efforts in prayer?
One concern that I discovered during the conference, was a few strands and tendrils of Hyper-Calvinism developing among some of our young men. In my preaching, I made some gospel appeals, pointing out that God had so loved the world that He gave His only Son and that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but had eternal life. I said that no one has greater love than this, that a man laid down his life for his friends. I preceded to make much of Christ’s love as seen through the cross, calling sinners to repent and to believe. Afterward, I had a gaggle of young men approach me with troubled and concerned faces. They asked why I didn’t explain God’s hatred of sinners and His coming wrath? They challenged what I said, asking if we should we really call people to repent and believe.
I quickly went through the preaching’s of Jesus, Peter, Stephen, and Paul. Asking them to point where this kind of preaching was used. I pointed out that Christ was labelled the friend of sinners, and rather was the Pharisee’s that had the open distain for sinners. That Paul preached Christ crucified, Peter called upon his hearers to “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ to remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” After a healthy going tug-a-war over the texts, all but one was satisfied. He came back repeatedly to discuss it again and again. In the end, we ran out of time. The day after the conference, I sent him my copy of Iain Murray’s Spurgeon vs the Hyper-Calvinists. Hopefully, that will settle the issue in his mind, and he will lay to rest these dangerous leanings towards the Hyper position.So overall, our little summer conference was a great success. I have already received numerous emails thanking us for all the blessings they received, testifying as to how the Lord has strengthen their faith, challenged their consciences, and caused a reformation and revival in their lives. Tis grand!