Cont from Part 1…
By Rev. C. Bouwman
As I said, we were taught and encouraged by men of big name in today’s Christian North America. It is fitting that we recognize that each one of these men are tools the Lord God is currently using to bring His Word to bear on the lives of many across our continent (and beyond). The fact that some 5000 people (indeed!) came together to hear within a 50 hour span 11 one hour speeches plus two Question & Answer sessions (and four more ‘optional’ talks during lunch and dinner breaks!) testifies to the hunger there is for the Word and the confidence so many have in what these men of God have to say. Most of these men have written numerous books, and in the course of the conference thousands of their books were sold to eager buyers. Yes, these men are a blessing today.
It is my prayer that the Lord will continue to use these men for the growth of His kingdom.
This gratitude does not take anything away from the deep appreciation I have for what the Lord has given us in the Seminary in Hamilton, and for the work that is done on the pulpits of Canadian Reformed Churches across the country and those churches across the continent with whom we have Ecclesiastical Fellowship. In very large part I cannot quibble on what the luminaries at the Conference said, but there were distinctly times when I would have loved them to say more – and I mean by that that I would have loved them to dig deeper into the Scriptures in their exegesis and their way of tying Scripture together and drawing out their implications. My point with this comment is this: let no reader of this Bit to Read conclude that we ought to covet what these men offer over what the Lord has given us in our churches Sunday by Sunday.
We certainly can and must learn from these men of talent and insight, but the simple fact is that the Lord by His grace has given us in our churches an exceedingly rich heritage that we may not trade for something lesser. More, the Lord teaches and encourages us not (as one speaker put it) through the preachers we don’t have but through the preachers we do have. And so it’s necessary to pray for and encourage them.
5000 people in one building can make a lot of noise. Between speeches (or ‘sermons’, as they were sometimes called) we were asked to join in singing, accompanied by an enormous pipe organ of 118 ranks and 6,737 pipes as well as a small ensemble. Such favorite classics as Rejoice, the Lord is King (Hymn 44 in our current Book of Praise), A Mighty Fortress is our God (Hymn 53), Amazing Grace, Jesus Shall Reign (Hymn 45), Praise to the Lord, the Almighty (Hymn 78) brought out excellence of sound that thrilled one’s spine. No, the singing was not fast – but was it ever majestic! The Conference ended with a spontaneous edition of Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus; delightful!
In the course of the conference our attention was drawn to a couple of new efforts on the part of Ligonier Ministries. The one is RefNet, an internet facility whereby one may listen to Biblically faithful speeches and/or music around the clock. This is worth checking out. The second effort,
Reformation Bible College, is an institution of learning where one can obtain a B.A. degree. Its courses can be followed online, for a mere $9 per month. Again, check it out. Both RefNet as well as the Reformation Bible College appear to be worthy media through which one can grow in one’s knowledge of Scripture, reformed doctrine, church history, and what it takes to live for God’s glory in today’s world. As always, one needs to listen and study with care as one “tests the spirits”. But there is no doubting that the bias of these men lies with the Lord and His authority of His Word.
Attending the conference was distinctly worthwhile. It was good to be challenged and encouraged in the gospel, good too to see how others expound the Scriptures, present their material, address the needs of today’s culture, and feed the hungry before them. To be part of the crowd taking in all this instruction – yes, I’m grateful for the opportunity received.
And so there’s catalyst to continue with the work given in my corner of the Lord’s big world.