Mr. Watterson is a post-graduate student in the University of Limerick and a member of the Limerick Reformed Fellowship.
For this year’s BRF conference we were magnificently hosted in Hebron Hall, a grand old conference center just outside Cardiff, and conveniently near to the airport. The general opinion of the eighty-some attendees was very much in hearty approval of the facilities. Besides the delicious food, en-suite bathrooms, comfortable mattresses, and sporting facilities, the venue was also well-situated for day-trips to historical places such as Bath in England, Caerphilly Castle, and Tintern Abbey. Some also took trips to Cardiff, and some others even went white-water rafting. Other activities included tennis, football (soccer), basketball, volleyball, swimming, ping-pong, pool, snooker, and, for the less physically active, a board-game, a psychiatric game, a Sicilian game, and a zoological game. These activities, along with mealtimes, helped people to “break the ice” and get to know each other better.
Once again, many tongues and tribes were represented at this British conference, including people from: Italy, Germany, Ã‰ire, Northern Ireland, Wales, England, Scotland, Spain, Portugal, France, and even America and China. The catholicity of the church was greatly manifested and celebrated, and the communion of the saints was greatly enjoyed and practiced. There was sweet fellowship in common confession of the truth, and in mutual edification and encouragement to love God more in thought, word, and deed. This was especially felt in the reverent singing of the God-breathed Psalms together, and in our other regular prayers together.
On the morning of the Lord’s Day, after everyone had arrived the previous day, Prof. Herman Hanko preached on II Corinthians 7:1. He powerfully and practically expounded the truth about our certain, yet difficult, sanctification, especially in its relation to the unconditional covenant of God. The same afternoon, a colloquium on baptism was held, chaired by Prof. Hanko. The discussion focused predominantly on children in the covenant of God, and the conditions for a valid baptism in lieu of the myriad of complicated experiences that have become commonplace in the professing church world of today. Prof. David Engelsma brought us the Word of God in the evening from John 10:34-36. He thoroughly explained how Scripture is utterly unbreakable, directing us to the absolutely certain foundation upon which all the speeches that would follow were to be built.
The first conference address was given by Prof. Engelsma under the title, “The Reformed World and Life View.” The speech explained how the Reformed believer sees the world, from its beginning to its end. A case was argued for the Antichrist to be an enemy of everything supernatural, and, in this vein, the Reformed world-view was contrasted with that of atheistic materialism represented by the views of the infamous misotheist Richard Dawkins. While the misdirected dreams of postmillennialism were denied and refuted, believers were exhorted to be in the world, yet living as spiritually separate people. This particular speech led to many eschatological questions afterwards, but always underpinned with the certain knowledge of the absolute reign of Christ over all of history and all things for the good of His people.
On Tuesday, there were two speeches: Prof. Hanko on the organic development of sin, and Prof. Engelsma on postmodernism. The development of sin was explained as man’s progressively greater manifestation of his total depravity, as an acorn growing into an oak tree. This development was traced through Scripture’s history, and through Scripture’s teaching about the time until the end. A somewhat more complicated speech was heard in the evening, as Prof. Engelsma outlined the sheer absurdity and yet deceptive power of postmodernism. Denying the authority of Scripture, ungodly men invent their own authorities, create their own world-views (attempting to take the place of the only Creator), in order to live as they please. Whereas modernism gloried in individual “freedom” (i.e., freedom from the authority of God’s Word), postmodernism is totalitarian, and will not tolerate the intolerant Christians!
These heavy but very worthwhile topics were followed the next day with a special, and much appreciated, lecture from the Trinitarian Bible Society on God’s preservation of the text of Scripture.
“The Reformed Believer and Money” was the title of the fourth conference address, given by Prof. Hanko. The relationship of the things of this world to the elect and to the reprobate was contrasted. All that is not consecrated unto the Lord is an accursed thing, and believers were exhorted to use all the good creation of God in the service of the kingdom of Christ. The error of asceticism was strongly condemned, as was all the abuse of God’s creation.
In the second to last speech, Prof. Engelsma spoke about what he called “The Sexual Revolution.” The positive truth about the institution of marriage was first set forward, against the backdrop of a world that is rampant with divorce and remarriage, and a world that exerts great efforts to promote all manner of fornication and eliminate any possible undesired consequences—and it will not stop at murder, even the murder of defenseless children still in the womb. The rise of homosexuality was also considered, especially with regard to its forceful agenda to enact legislation to outlaw those who stand for the biblical truth about marriage. Again the recurring theme was that as this wicked world manifests its wickedness more and more, the saints will also face an increasing intensity of persecution.
The final lecture (by Prof. Hanko) dealt with the rise of Antichrist, and the development of a one-world government under Satan’s man. This development was traced through biblical history to the present time, in which we can identify various movements, philosophies, and organizations aiming for this goal. There was Babel, at which time God smote the ungodly kingdom and scattered the tribes by the confusion of languages. God will not allow a one-world government to develop before the appointed time, because every one of His elect must first be brought to repentance. We can see typical pictures of this kingdom also in the Old Testament, most notably, Babylon. A case was made for the contention that this present time may be in the little season and the end of the millennium (that symbolic number for the time between Christ’s ascension and second coming), in which Satan is loosed, so that he may deceive the nations once more, to bring them into a one-world government under him.
Much more than all this was said in these speeches, and, Lord willing, there will be a book published to contain it all, but these are included to give readers a taste of what the speeches and the BRF conference were like. This is in the hope that many will purchase the book and benefit greatly from it, and also consider coming to the next BRF conference to be as edified and strengthened by it as I have been. The audio and videos of the conference speeches will also (DV) be available online from the British Reformed Fellowship website (www.britishreformedfellowship. org.uk), which is soon to be revamped.
The next BRF conference is being planned (DV) for 2012 in Ireland, with the same gifted speakers, around the end of July and beginning of August as usual. The topic for the conference will be “Ye Are My Witnesses,” concerning how a Christian must be a witness in whatever situation that God has appointed for us. If it pleases the Lord to grant the means to travel, do consider attending this spiritually enriching conference. It is a very great encouragement to spend the week with like-minded believers, mutually edifying one another—especially for those who come from nations in which the Reformed faith is scarcely to be found in these last days.
“Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding” (Prov. 3:13). We are exhorted in Scripture to grow in the knowledge and grace of Jesus Christ, and the BRF conference is an excellent aid to this growth in finding wisdom and understanding, so that we would love God more and eschew evil, as the world around us waxes worse and worse. This year’s conference was a testament to the inestimable blessing of being granted the grace to take heed to the “more sure word of prophecy” (the Holy Scriptures), until the day dawns.