Dear ITEM Partner,
There is the old saying, “How time flies when you are having fun!” (As opposed to the frog’s version: How time’s fun when your having flies. But I digress.) Today went by quickly. Everyone appeared to be back and everyone seemed to be locked in on what was being presented.
TWEAKING THE OBJECTIVE
This is a more theologically educated and unified group, being from the same denomination that requires their pastors to be trained. Since ECWA is very compatible with ITEM theologically, I realized today that the purpose of this week was a little different. The objective is not primarily to persuade but to prepare.
It didn’t really dawn on me until I was in the middle of my last lecture of the day that there was a slightly different set of needs. It seems they know what they are supposed to know but from what Williams said to me on the way home, they might not be as prepared as they need to be to defend the faith they believe. Here is a case in point.
APOSTLES AND PROPHETS TODAY?
Yesterday, I showed them from Eph 2:20; 3:3, 5 that the apostles and prophets were unique to the first century and there are no others like them today. Just to be sure, I asked Williams today if ECWA believes/teaches that. He said they don’t even talk about it. That seems to me to indicate they are not prepared to explain to their congregants what the Bible teaches on this topic and where to find it.
What happens when their church member comments on the apostles and prophets in other churches and ask why their church doesn’t have them?
That realization has given me more urgency to help prepare them to defend the faith they say they believe. Jude 3 says we are to contend earnestly for the faith. To contend, you need to know both what the faith is and where it is taught in Scripture.
Williams said the pastors are excited and “fired up” after the first two days of the conference. But we’ve all had those “mountain top” experiences only to have the fire go out a week later when reality sets back in. One speaker I heard said we go from the “pie in the sky by and by” into the valley of the “dirty now and now.” So, we are talking about a follow up strategy to help keep the fire going.
TODAY’S FOUR LECTURES
Evangelism as a Lifestyle, Keeping the Church Pure (Church Discipline, Matt 18:15ff), The Call and Role of the Pastor, Paul’s Advice to Elders from Acts 20:28-35
Q: What is the Christian man and woman’s way of dressing? Please read Deut 22:5. And what is your stand on a woman wearing trousers (pants)? ANS: The Deut verse says a woman is not supposed to wear a man’s clothing and vis a versa. Question to you. Does the Bible tell us what is the right clothing for each gender? (No) Question: Who decides what a woman or man should wear? (Culture) Question: Do cultures ever change? (Yes) So, its possible that in the past a woman should not wear trousers but today it might be OK. Question: What does the Bible say about how a woman should dress? (Modestly) I’ve seen women in the U.S. who are very modest when they wear trousers and some who are not modest at all. So, follow the culture but always apply it with modesty.
Q: Is it okay for a Christian to be silent when working in a Christian organization when he or she is under paid? (See 1 Cor 15:58) ANS: The context of those verses is the resurrection. And the toiling it is speaking of is not in an organization but out in society, working for the Lord, the kingdom. When it says your work will not be in vain, it is promising that all who come to Christ, in that day, will be resurrected.
Q: If persecution expands the church (Acts 8), can strife between pastors also expand God’s work? (Eph 4:14-16) ANS: The persecution in Acts 8 was coming from the world, from unbelievers. Strife between pastors is not the same thing. Pastors should never strive with each other. They are not competing. But in the case of Barnabas and Paul, God used a disagreement about John Mark to expand His work. Paul didn’t want to take Mark on the second journey. Pau took Silas. Barnabas took Mark. Now there were two teams.
Q: Is it OK for a pastor to teach his church members to take their own revenge on enemies or fight back against fellow Christians? ANS: What does the Bible says about taking revenge? It is God’s responsibility. This ties into the 1 Peter passage: Never return evil for evil. This kind of response can open a door for sharing the gospel (1 Pet 3:15).
Q: In the modern Nigeria, most churches are not interested in sound biblical teaching. They are interested in motivational, not expository. Is there a way to help pastors to preach sound expository message and still be relevant in modern day? ANS: Every sermon needs to be relevant and can be. The preacher is to find the principle in the passage he is preaching from and then see how the principle applies today. Something that makes it a little easier it spending more time preaching from the letters in the New Testament and not preach everything out of the stories. The letters were written to Christians and churches. Spend more time preaching from them.
THURSDAY: BACK TO ABUJA
After the three morning lectures, Williams will drive be back to Abuja. I’ll spend the night then on Friday, fly to Nairobi via Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Sunday, I’ll fly to Madagascar.
FOR THOSE WHO ARE INTERESTED:
THURSDAY’S FINAL THREE LECTURES
- The Pastor’s Preaching Ministry:
This is his #1 role (1 Tim 5:17). To many pastors see what is going on around them and on TV and try to be creative, funny, provocative, or whatever. I will make a strong case for a definition of preaching as follows: Read the text, explain the text from the context, apply the text. And the challenge will be to do so expositorily (verse by verse).
- Biblical Spiritual Warfare:
There is a strong Pentecostal influence here where so called “binding and rebuking” the devil and then casting out demons is taking place week after week, church after church. Eph 6 is the best passage for dealing with this. Believers are told to simply “stand firm” and “resist.” Never attack. I will help them see what the Bible says.
- The History and Theology of the Health and Wealth Gospel:
This is the default not the exception around here. It began in the Pentecostal churches and has spread to the evangelical churches. And started in the cities and has spread to the rural areas. When pastors see churches becoming big and financially successful, they are tempted to think there must be truth behind the message or even if it isn’t true, “it works.” I will be exposing what the Bible says about all of this.
Please continue praying as you have.
By His grace,
A lot of new pictures today. Mostly the local area including block building businesses furnishing cement blocks for all of the new construction.
Bible exposition, Dr. Steve Van Horn, ecwa, EXPOSITION, ITEM, ITEM Ministries, iteministries, ITEMMinistries, Nigeria, Stephen Van Horn, Steve Van Horn, training, Training African pastors, training nigerian pastors