“What a joy to worship together again”; this was the overwhelming feeling as the 31st Scottish Reformed Conference gathered in Hamilton after two years of lockdown. The speakers this year were Dr. Joel Beeke, president, and professor of systematic theology at Puritan Reformed Seminary and pastor of Heritage Reformed Congregation in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Rev. Rupert Bentley Taylor, who has served as a pastor for over 30 years and is currently a Trustee of, and Theological Advisor to, the Christian Institute.
Turning to Matthew 27 and Hebrews 12, Dr. Beeke highlighted the wonderful truth that God’s people will never be abandoned by God because Jesus was forsaken on our behalf on the cross; what’s more, Jesus understands our emotional darkness, our agony, our loneliness, and despair. That Christ died as our sacrifice, satisfaction and substitute is one of the great truths of the Bible, a truth that sustains and strengthens us especially during the difficult times of life. Dr. Beeke also noted that ‘Jesus forsaken’ is a model for every Christian as Christ shows us how to cope with pain and affliction. Christians are to ‘look unto Him’, look at the affliction of Christ and remember the purpose behind it. Hebrews 12:3 encourages us to ‘consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.’ A summary of Dr. Beeke’s teaching would be ‘Consider Christ’; Consider His Passion, Consider His Power, Consider His Presence, Consider His Patience and Perseverance, Consider His Prayers, Consider His Promises, and Consider the Plan of Christ. The affliction of the cross would ultimately bring spiritual healing and joy, reminding every believer that even in pain and forsakenness God can be glorified. The puritan John Trapp put it this way, “He who rides to be crowned will not weary of a few rainy days”.
Rupert Bentley-Taylor took us to the Old Testament book of Jeremiah and gave an uplifting overview of chapters 27 and 28 dealing with how to live during a time of crisis. Every generation is faced with the choice of believing the truth or believing lies; the people of God had the choice of listening to Jeremiah or the many false prophets around them; we are no different today, we too hear many voices demanding to be heard. Rev. Bentley-Taylor encouraged us to remember that God speaks with the voice of truth and His truth, ultimate and eternal truth, is guaranteed by His character. Though the truth of God is often unwelcome, submitting to it is the way of blessing, turning from it brings the sorrows of judgement. Popularity does not determine truth and lies do not change reality; the false prophets of old were credible, confident, pleasing, and clever but they turned people away from God and judgement came upon
them. Both speakers called upon Christians to have confidence in God’s Word; heaven and earth will pass away but the Word of God shall remain; our words will be easily and quickly forgotten but God’s Word will speak to all people for all time.