A big thanks to our friend Kofi for the following review of #Aber13 – sorry we’ve posted it so late!
It’s become something of a summer tradition. On the second week of August every year, a couple dozen friends and I board a coach from London Victoria and make a near-seven hour journey to mid-Wales for a week to attend the Aberystwyth Conference.
It never fails to be a deeply encouraging time as we gather around God’s Word, hearing it preached, singing its truths (a lot!) and fellowshipping with believers from all over – and yet this was probably the best one I’ve been to. Here’s why.
Encouraged to take Christ to our world
The main speaker for this year was Alistair Begg, minister at Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio and the voice behind the popular Truth for Life radio ministry. His theme for our mornings together was With Christ in the School of Evangelism and Discipleship, walking us through four scenes in Christ’s ministry and pointing out the lessons we could learn from the Lord Jesus. It was refreshing to catch something of Pastor Alistair’s infectious passion for the Gospel in his addresses and to be conscious of the responsibility to go and take the Gospel into our world.
That same note closed out the conference on the Friday night as Ian Parry reminded us that each and every one of us have been sent in the same way that the Father sent Christ. I definitely left Aber further encouraged to press on with sharing Christ with the world I find myself in week in, week out, one person at a time.
Encountering our great God
The highlight of my visits to Aber every year are the extratime morning sessions every morning from Tuesday from Friday as we take a theme and examine it from the Bible. The theme this year was Behold Our God – and my, did we have an opportunity to do that this year!
The very first seminar was on the doctrine of the Trinity with David Searight from Cor Deo. In an hour, the Trinity went from the black and white of theology books (as helpful and true as they are) to the colour of everyday life as we saw how Trinity makes sense not just of how Jesus can be God and man or Father, Son and Spirit at the same time but even impacts our relationship with others, how we view salvation and how we live the Christian life. Talk about throwing a grenade into life as usual!
On the Thursday morning, we were privileged to have Vaughan Roberts from St Ebbe’s, Oxford with us as he walked us through the Bible’s teaching on the Cross. As he taught on the depth of our sin, the holiness of God and His grace in sending his Son to die for us, thus defeating sin when it kept defeating us, I kept scribbling in my notes, “What a Saviour!”
To top it all off, we got to spend some time thinking about how we are actually members of God’s family on Friday with Stuart Olyott and by the end of that time, I simply walked away thinking, “God is indeed good – from start to finish!”
Edifying by singing about the truth
One of my highlights of going to Aber every year is the singing! Even though I couldn’t sing to save my own life, there is something about singing the truth with a few hundred other likeminded people that does good things for the soul.
I sadly lost my brother a few months earlier and one of the things that has helped me through the period has been singing Christ-centered songs, especially older songs. Getting to do that for an entire week was worth the cost of the conference in itself. Whether it was in the main conference sessions or in extratime, Aber can pretty much certainly guarantee heartfelt, Gospel-powered singing!
(Small idea: an Aber Conference live album would be nice!)
Established in the Gospel
Of course, offering all of those things are good but without the connecting thread of the Good News, it’s easy for that to become just going through the motions. Thankfully, the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ was never too far from the conference addresses. From the first night as Bernard Lewis walked us through how we have shown what true love looks like in the Cross through Iain Campbell’s two addresses from Romans 7 and Galatians 2 and right up to Vaughan Robert’s stirring message on the life of faith, the Gospel was continually sounded out to all who would hear it – to both the unbeliever who had never trusted Jesus and the believer to whom He is so precious, we were constantly presented with the good news and that made a sweet conference just that bit greater!
All in all, the Aberystwyth Conference outdid itself again this year – and so if you haven’t been, what are you really waiting for? Come along next year – should be a great time as usual!