Friday, August 26, 2011

The 4th Day at the Zambian Annual Reformed Conference

For the sake of this blog post, I attended the Reformed School of Theology track yesterday. Both Voddie and Jono continued their ministries with verve.

Voddie Baucham
“Pastor Zulu” (as Voddie Baucham prefers to be called here in Zambia) preached to us on biblical manhood and womanhood from Ephesians 5. He argued against the modern tendency of teaching men and women their responsibilities using only imperatives without emphasising the indicatives. He bemoaned the fact that in his part of the world they are no longer raising women. They are raising men who are able to have children.

Voddie Baucham and Jonathan Sims having fellowship during break time
“Pastor Zulu” took us to Genesis 2, where Adam was told to work and keep the garden before the Fall. He said that work was part of being a man. Work only became difficult after the Fall. Man was made as an image bearer of God. God said that it was not good for man to be alone. That was how he made Eve. Whereas there are some men and women that are gifted for singleness, it is not the norm. The triune God has made man a social creature—as men, women, and children. Notice the three-some-ness here.

In Genesis 2:24, man had a family of origin and a family of choice. He left the one, only to establish the other. Later, he still had a responsibility to look after his family of origin (his parents) in their old age (1 Timothy 5). We are expected to continue that pattern.

Pastor Kayombo and Kasote Singogo consulting on some Kingdom issues
With that background in place, Pastor Zulu took us back to Ephesians where he showed us the imperative, the analogy, and the indicative. The imperative for husbands is “love your wife”. The analogy is “as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her”. The crescendos of the first section of the book of Ephesians are the basis for the imperatives being taught here. The sexual union of a man and his wife is a picture of the spiritual union that will be experienced between the church and her Lord. This rules out adultery, abuse, polygamy, abstinence in the marriage relationship, homosexuality, bestiality, etc. So, all these depend on having a theology that is sound and biblical.

So, “Pastor Zulu” asserted, when you are having problems loving your wife, you are having a worship problem. You do not adore Christ; that is the problem. Thus, you need to repent. Once you restore your relationship with your Lord, it will cause you to restore your relationship with your wife because the latter is a picture of the former.

Anita Weis, sandwiched between two ladies with children studying in Australia
What about the woman? “Pastor Zulu” said that she is a suitable helper to her husband. Her priority must be her home. Whatever she does, her home must not be neglected. She must also maintain her relationship with God, just as Eve was responsible to God in obeying his law. The wife must submit to her husband. In fact, all human submission to God is seen in their submission to God’s human agency.

A woman who has a problem submitting to her husband is a woman who has problems submitting to God. A husband will never be worthy of being submitted to because he is a wretched sinner. So, submission must not be based on worthiness but on God’s created order. A wife’s submission is an expression of her faith in God. It must not be conditional. The only condition is if her husband commands what God forbids or forbids what God commands.

Kettie Mwila busy selling books to conference attendees in the bookshop
“Pastor Zulu” listed some arguments against this teaching. One was that of “mutual submission”, another was that we are now simply brothers and sisters in Christ (Gal 3:28), and yet another was that submission was a result of the Fall and Christ had redeemed us from it. He answered each of them in his characteristic apologetics way.

Jonathan Sims
Pastor Jono took us to that wonderful passage about God’s love for his people in Micah 7:18ff to show us the cross-centred life. In Micah, he said, God reveals the fact that Israel would be overrun and then be restored. How does this relate to the cross of Christ? Zachariah applied Micah to the Lord Jesus Christ. So, the cross is the fulfilment of the promises of God to Abraham and his children.

Some international attendees enjoying refreshments during break time
Pastor Jono emphasised that in this passage we see God’s heart. Micah asked a number of questions. The first was: “Who is a God like our God?” (7:18). In other words, “What makes Jehovah unique among the gods?” The answer was, our God pardons iniquity.

God had a controversy with Israel. They were guilty of idolatry and witchcraft. Humanly speaking, God ought to have abandoned them. Yet God decides to pardon them of their sin. Yes, they were going to be chastened but ultimately God was going to pardon them. No other God had provided love and righteousness. Our God delights in forgiving sin.

Thandika Chirwa leading the singing in the Reformed School of Theology
Micah then contemplated the atonement. “He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depth of the sea” (v.19). Richard Sibbes says, “There is more mercy in Christ than there is sin in us.” Jono emphasised the word “again”. It shows God heart. He has compassion on us again, and again. He subdues the sins of his people and pardons them. There is no God like this.

Finally, brother Jono asked, “Why does God allow an atonement?” Micah’s answer was that it was because of his immutability. He was faithful to his promises to our spiritual forefathers in Christ (see v.20). Matthew Henry called this the Ancient Charter.

Jerran Phiri leading worship during the evening combined meeting
Evening Meeting
The evening meeting began with a few presentations prior to the preaching of God’s Word. The first was Paul Mumba who spoke about the Zambian Baptist Historical Society. Then Bruce Button spoke about the Sovereign Grace Theological Seminary. Both of them ended with challenges to us about how we can be involved in these institutions. Nathan Nyirenda, one of Zambia’s most accomplished gospel music artists, then sang a solo: “Jesus keep me near the cross.”

Crossway Publications in the USA had donated 900 ESV Study Bibles, which were given out to almost every person who attended the conference. “Pastor Zulu’s” church paid for shipment. So, we took the opportunity to have a group photo where we were holding up the Bibles we had received. It was truly a great gesture of partnership in the gospel.

A congregational photo in the evening meeting (with ESV Study Bibles)
Voddie Baucham
“Pastor Zulu” then proceeded to preach from Ephesians 2:11ff. He argued that the second half of the second chapter shows the importance of the church and our being members of it. In it Paul addresses the issue of racism and prejudice. It is interesting that in dealing with this issue, the apostle Paul does not address the oppressors but the oppressed. He destroys any inferiority complex in the Gentiles who are in the church.

“Pastor Zulu” stated that if you suffer from a spiritual inferiority complex then you undervalue what Christ has done for you. Paul wanted the Gentiles to remember who they were (v.11-13). It is only in realising your former circumstances that you will appreciate your current circumstances in Christ. The Jews were glad to see the Gentiles worshipping Jehovah, but they did not want them in the place where they themselves worshipped him. They were to remain in the outer court. Paul was saying that they were no longer to be in the outer court. The blood of Christ brought them near. This is the highest status that anyone can have before men and God. Don’t undervalue that!

"Pastor Zulu" preaching during the evening combined meeting
Secondly, if you suffer from a spiritual inferiority complex then you make light what God has done for them—i.e. the Jews (v.14-18). The Jews also needed to be saved (see Romans 2:17ff). What they had in their ethnicity, culture, and religion was not enough. Their problem was a sin problem and so they needed the blood of Christ to save them.

Thirdly, if you suffer from a spiritual inferiority complex then you are accusing God of using some inferior materials in building his church (see v.19-22). Paul here uses construction language. That which is being built is a holy temple. As with any painting, the excellence of the painter is what dignifies materials that he uses. Remember, that the builder is God himself. Thus a chief will sit next to a slave and worship the Lord singing, “In the cross, in the cross, be my glory ever…” This will be even more evident when we are all gathered with the Saviour in eternity. At that point what will matter will not be ethnicity but only the cross. This is what the cross-centred life is all about.

As we streamed out of the Lusaka Baptist Church auditorium, it was evident that skin colour, ethnicity, nationality were overshadowed by the power of the cross. Yes, we had come from different tribes and nations across the world but we were all one in Christ. We went home at the end of the day sensing once again that God has been good to us.

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