Operation Lagos, Day Two is done. If yesterday was an upper. Today brought me back to reality. The questions piled in. And 1 Cor 4:6b set the tone for the day.
TODAY’S LECTURE LINEUP
I gave the first two lectures of the day to finish up the lectures on “Ministry (i.e. what makes up a healthy church?).” First, The Church as a Body (each and every believer is gifted to be productive in the body and every member needs every other member). Second, How to Measure Maturity. I use 2 Peter 1:5-7 (i.e. add to your faith moral excellence, knowledge, etc, if these are yours and are “increasing…”) and Gal 5:22-23, the fruit of the Spirit.”
Then Joel gave his two. The Purpose of Preaching (to bring people into the image of Christ) and Paul’s View of Ministry (Col 1:24-28), “. . . labor and strive to present every man complete in Christ.”
Then I gave the final lecture of the day, The Priority of Biblical Preaching (i.e. “teach the Bible,” that’s the priority).
STICK TO WHAT HAS BEEN WRITTEN
Much of the emphasis in extreme Pentecostal contexts (which Lagos is) are special messages from God either by dreams, visions, or revelations. How are we supposed to handle those claims? We can’t say, “No, you didn’t have that experience.”
When I get up to lecture, my objective goes beyond just communicating what’s in the notes. Knowing what I know, I am always looking for opportunities to correct wrong thinking or point out dangerous beliefs.
In one of my early sessions, God brought 1 Cor 4:6b to mind, “. . . that you may learn not to exceed what is written.” That became my “battle cry” all day. “Stick to what is written.” “Do not go outside of what has been written.” “Stay within the boundaries of the written revelation of God (Scriptures) and you won’t have to worry about being deceived by the enemy.
I also was drawn to Proverbs 9:10, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Also, James 3:1, teachers received stricter judgment. I used all of these to (hopefully) put the “fear of God” in their hearts. I want them to know it is a huge responsibility to open the Bible and teach it. One day, preachers will have to give an account for how they handled that responsibility. I wanted them to really think about that. I hit the theme pretty hard all day.
LIKE A COLD SHOWER
I was excited yesterday about the challenge and potential here in Lagos and Nigeria as a whole. I was asking God how I should respond. Should we put even more effort into Nigeria since Nigeria is key to Africa? Today, God answered, “Not so fast. Know what you would be getting yourself into.”
The first douse of the cold water of reality was the morning prayer time. Last July (here) the prayer times were very LOUD, SHOUTING Nigerian-Pentecostalish. I didn’t see that yesterday. I was encouraged. Well, it was back in force today. Not only was it loud, I mean LOUD, it was unbiblical. They were being told to pray to God to give the Holy Spirit to them. Romans 10:2, zeal without knowledge.
One pastor pulled me aside. We had to go outside to talk, it was so loud. He pleaded with me to correct them regarding this, and I did. I called their attention to their “unbiblical prayer.” I tried to be instructive. I told them that our prayers should be biblical as much as our preaching.
In God’s providence, in God’s perfect timing, just when I was wondering about next steps in Lagos, our seminar organizer handed me a gift; a copy of a book on spiritual warfare he wrote. I glanced through it and it was obvious he approaches spiritual warfare from an extreme Pentecostal position. I have included two examples in the pictures I added today. If he is settled in the position he takes in the book, it will be very difficult for us to work closely together.
The preface of the book on spiritual warfare is the Provost at the seminary I will be visiting Friday. I was hoping to find compatibility doctrinally but apparently, in this area, there is none. He endorsed the book after reading (he said) every word on every page.
And apparent inability to “connect the dots”
Finally, the thing that disappoints me is that most don’t seem to know or care that what we are teaching (in some cases) is opposed to what they teach. They seem to think it is all great. Or are oblivious (I say that respectfully).
A FEW QUESTIONS
This is already pretty long so I’ll only give a couple and leave the rest for tomorrow or even Friday when there are nor sessions.
Q: Can a pastor specialize in a ministry of interest like missions or student work while focusing on the ministry of the Word and prayer (Acts 6:4)? ANS: The ministry of the Word and prayer must be the pastor’s primary focus. They can’t be neglected. If there is anytime left in the week, he can devote it to some other interest. Joel added, “Concentrate on the ministry of the Word and prayer and equip others to do the other ministries.” He gave examples from his own ministry.
Q: Can I set a target for maturing a believer? Jesus took three years to “mature” His disciples. ANS: Growing to maturity or bringing another believer to maturity is a never-ending process. No one will be 100% mature until they reach heaven. Whether you are preaching to the church or working with one person or a small group, you are helping them mature in their faith.
Q: Why is the territory where Paul did his ministry mostly Muslim today? ANS: It just happened. It is not unusual that areas that are strongly Christian turn from it eventually. Consider Europe during then after the Reformation. Consider the United States, where we are heading and where we will probably be in the next 10-20 years. But there are new areas of revival and growth like Korea and even Africa. And there are many reports of Muslims coming to Christ. There are many reasons to be encouraged. Christ promised to build His church and nothing will stop Him from doing that.
Special prayer: By the end of the Q&A session I was light headed and feeling dizzy. I assumed it was because of the heat (92 outside no AC near the pulpit inside). I still think it was. Pray things will be different tomorrow. I am going to ask for a fan near the pulpit.
And keep praying for minds to be impacted for we are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.
By His grace,