On Saturday the 14th October 2017 a good number of believers from ten to twelve evangelical churches met for the annual “God’s Glory Our Joy” conference at Warrington. The conference theme was entitled “Remembering the Reformation”. We were treated to four excellent sessions of ministry and teaching. Our speakers were John Palmer (Leigh), Stephen Murphy (Dundalk), and Chris Hand (Crich). These good men had clearly studied their subjects well, and we who sat and listened were the recipients of some fine ministry indeed!
The conference began with a superb message from John Palmer entitled “The Monk and the Merchant”. Mr Palmer drew our attention to the fact that countless millions are the beneficiaries of Luther’s courageous stance. Almost everyone at that time was in bondage to Roman Catholic teaching and the power of the Popes. Poor sinners were told for example, that without priestly absolution they would go to Hell. Luther could not see how a sinner like himself could ever get to Heaven. It was when God opened his eyes to gospel truth that he was moved to the very depths of his being. Luther could not be silent! When he realised that acceptance with God was a matter of Grace through Faith – when he realised that sinners like himself could come to God by Faith Alone, in Christ Alone, he said “I felt as though I had walked through open doors to Paradise”. This message was most informative and vibrantly delivered! You must listen to this message!
Stephen Murphy gave us two excellent messages. In his first session he dealt with the subject of Luther’s Legacy. What about the Reformation? Mr. Murphy asked “Is it not worth celebrating?” He pointed to the fact that what started out as a personal struggle for Luther spread throughout Europe. As a result almost everything is different today. Our speaker underlined a number of profoundly valuable truths in connection with Luther and the Reformation, for example, Faith buttresses Christ’s righteousness, Faith destroys all self- righteousness, where the Bible speaks the sinner’s conscience is freed. In Roman Catholicism and the priesthood everything to do with man is exalted, the Pope, penance, purgatory, indulgences, all are exalted. In Luther’s message God Alone is exalted! This again was a superb ministry, not only in informing our minds, but in stirring our hearts.
In his second message (the conference sermon) Mr. Murphy focused our attention on Hebrews Ch. 10 vs. 1 – 18. We were shown that “Christ came in our nature – not as it is but as it should be”. Jesus does God’s will in it’s minutest detail. He covered every aspect of our fallenness and sin! “Christ’s priesthood brings in what the promises had promised”. This was a fine exposition of Hebrews Ch. 10 with numerous areas of vital truth being covered as well as helpful application given.
Our good friend Chris Hand took the subject “Losing the Legacy”. He asked the question “are we forgetting the Reformation?” In this message he pointed out a number of areas of concern. “Do we have the qualities which marked our Reformation forefathers?” Do we have their courage, boldness, sanctified common sense? Are our horizons too limited? For Luther, once God saved him everything had to change. Perhaps this is not always the case with us. Perhaps we have not allowed ourselves to be provoked enough, that is, against the sins and amidst the great needs of this present time. Could this be because we ourselves are not being reformed by the truth as we ought? What we need is more of the power of the Life of Christ! Do we enquire into our own souls what influences divert us from God’s pathway? In summary we need to ask “are we provoked not only by the sins of our society, but the sins of our own hearts?” This was a searching, and at times a disturbing (in a good sense) message. “May Holy Provocation be God’s gift to us all”.