The Springs Reformed Church hosted its fourth annual Colorado Springs Reformation Day Conference from October 28-30, 2011. The Colorado church is affiliated with the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America (RPCNA), sometimes referred to as “the Covenanters” due to its association with the Scottish branch of the Reformation. The denomination consists of nearly 100 congregations in North America and Japan.
The theme of the conference was “But for the Grace of God” with speaker Dr. Cornelis P. Venema, President and Professor of Doctrinal Studies at Mid-America Reformed Seminary. Dr. Venema essentially followed the presentation of his book, But for the Grace of God, which was recently printed in a revised form by Reformed Fellowship.
“I gave five presentations (two in sermonic form on Sunday) on the so-called ‘five points of Calvinism’ or ‘TULIP,’” he said. “The presentations aimed to show that these are not particular points held by some sect within the church, but basic gospel themes that a biblical and evangelical Christian ought to affirm.”
Dr. Venema stressed particular aspects of each teaching. In his first address, he spoke from Romans 3:9-20 and Ephesians 2:1-10 on “Pervasive Depravity: God Saves Sinners.” His second address, based on Ephesians 1:1-14 and Romans 8:28-30, was on “Unconditional Election: God Saves His People.” The third address, “Particular Redemption: God Saves His People,” was based on John 10:11-21.
The two Sunday sermons focused on God’s grace. From John 3:1-8, he preached on “Efficacious Grace: God Effectually Saves His People.” And from Romans 8:28-39, he spoke about “Persevering Grace: God Preserves His People.”
Between 150-250 people attended the conference from a variety of Reformed and Presbyterian churches in the Pike’s Peak region, including RPCNA, OPC, URC, CRC, and RCUS. Dr. Venema also preached at an ecumenical worship service on Sunday.
“Though the conference lectures were good, the preaching was superb, bringing home to our hearts and lives the vital and living relevance of these truths that we hold so dear,” said Rev. David Reese (Springs Reformation Church). “As we have each year…we also had a joint-NAPARC Thanksgiving Reformation Day Service, in which ministers and elders from the RPCNA, the URCNA, and the OPC took leadership roles, and the congregation was made up of members from various NAPARC congregations…as well as many others from various non-Reformed churches in the area.”
In a special breakout session on Saturday afternoon, Dr. Venema addressed “Children at the Lord’s Table?: Assessing the Case for Paedocommunion,” briefly summarizing the argument in his book of the same title.
On Friday evening, youth from junior high through college age had the opportunity to ask Dr. Venema questions.
“One unique aspect of the conference was meeting with a group of young people after the Friday evening session, answering their questions on a wide range of topics of interest to young Christians in our contemporary culture,” Dr. Venema said. “The questions were keen, and the discussion was a weekend highlight.”
Rev. Reese also hosted a sermon discussion time with Dr. Venema for students of high school age after the Sunday morning worship service.
“Dr. Venema’s illustrations and explanations of Irresistible Grace were greatly helpful to our covenant youth,” he said. “Our youth interact with their various broadly evangelical friends who all have dramatic testimonies of conversion, while many of our youth have grown up in the arms of the Church, not knowing a particular day of, or, dramatic conversion. He explained, using the illustration of one’s birth certificate, that we don’t look at the birth certificate to prove that one has been born (again!), but that they are currently alive and well!”
Rev. Reese hopes the annual conference encourages more fellowship among area NAPARC congregations and spreads the truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Next year’s conference is scheduled for October 26-28, 2012, with Dr. Joseph Pipa (Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary). The conference is free, features a discounted bookstore, Saturday lunch, and child care. Check out http://www.csrdc.wordpress.com for more information.
The above article by Glenda Mathes appeared on page 14 of the December 7, 2011 issue of Christian Renewal.