Wednesday, September 5, 2012

2012 Annual Reformed Conferences – The Last Day

[Pardon this very late blog post on the last day of the conference. When the conference ended, I ran out of energy due to exhaustion]. This was the final day of the conferences and some people expressed great anticipation for what the Lord had in store. The day began with the prayer meeting at 08.45 hours. I attended the family conference stream, though I was occupied with other matters and so, although I heard what the preachers were dealing with, I was not there consistently enough to follow their lines of argument. Hence, the summaries in his blog post were from the notes taken by Chopo Mwanza and Sydney Kombe, our pastoral interns.

Ronald Kalifungwa preaching at the Family Conference
Pastor Ronald Kalifungwa preached on the cost of missions, using Colossians 1:19-24 as a starting point. He explained what filling up what is lacking in the suffering of Christ meant. Ultimately, it pointed to suffering in the establishment of the church on earth. In practice, Pastor Kalifungwa showed that it demanded being willing to (a) lay aside comforts and security, (b) give our wealth for the sake of the gospel, and (c) laying down our lives.

Pastor Kalifungwa also urged us to avoid a triumphalist mentality because preaching the gospel invariably brings suffering. Rather, we are to rejoice in our suffering for the cause of the extension of God’s kingdom.

Voddie Baucham preaching at the Family Conference
Pastor Voddie Baucham preached on the raising a missions-minded family. He expressed concern about the rise of an anti-biblical form of psychology, which was eroding confidence in the Bible and thus leading to biblical illiteracy. The lack of good role models in parenting only exacerbated matters. All this has resulted in ignorance in most parents in biblical child upbringing.

Pastor Baucham then spoke about the two forms of discipline—formative and corrective discipline. The former encouraged good behaviour while the latter discouraged bad behaviour. He spent some time explaining the biblical place of corporal punishment. Ultimately, he encouraged us to use the Bible to instruct children, bearing in mind that they were sinners in desperate need of the gospel. He ended by emphasising the role of fathers as family shepherds, guiding the family to prioritise worship—which is the goal of missions.

The panel that handled the Question and Answer session
In the afternoon there was a Question and Answer session. Pastors Choolwe Mwetwa and Kabwe Kabwe, and “yours truly”, were on the panel while Thandika Chirwa moderated. There was a healthy flow of questions, largely related to the subjects handled during the week, though some questions were of a general nature. I trust that the Lord helped us to think on our feet and to give biblical answers.

In the evening, the meeting was led by Dubeka Milandu. We also heard how the Lord's work was progressing in the Reformed constituency in Namibia and in Australia. Pastor Voddie Baucham closed the conference by preaching on the famous Great Commission passage at the end of Matthews’ Gospel. He commented that he was sitting at the edge of his seat the whole week, fearing that one of the other preachers would use that text for his sermon. Thankfully, no one did and so he felt at liberty to do so. His powerful sermon dealt with:

The Namibian women always add colour to the conference on the last day
(a) The context of the Great Commission: There were eleven disciples instead of twelve. They met on a mountain where Jesus had asked them to meet him. When they met him some doubted. The Bible goes on to state that all authority in heaven and on earth had been given to Jesus. This is quite a statement. This is God as he has never been. This is now the great God-man. Angels worship him.

At this point, Pastor Baucham went on to open up Matthew’s Gospel in such a way that it was a parallel with the major Old Testament themes. It was a fascinating exposition! The greatest news of the Christian Faith is that Jesus did not only die but he has risen from the dead. Thus he was not just a human being. We should not preach Jesus as if he was merely a good teacher. He is God!

Voddie Baucham preaching during the final evening combined meeting
(b) The nature of the Great Commission: It is multi-national and multi-ethnic. All power is given to him and so all men will be given to him. The gospel must go forth not just to people who are just like us. It must go to people who are different from us. The nature of the commission is that it is unapologetically evangelistic. Those who respond to the gospel must be baptised and added to the church. They must give up their old ways and come under the Lordship of Christ.

The nature of our commission is that it speaks about a person who does not just save us from our sins but also from our sinfulness. Progressive sanctification is part of the package of salvation. Cultures are transformed—marriage, family, science, education, architecture, arts, etc.—wherever Christianity goes. It is transforming by its very nature. Yet, it still leaves behind rich variety.

Part of the 1,200 people who attended the conference singing God's praises
(c) The guarantee of our success: Jesus said that he was to be with the church always. He was raised never to die again. There is a man’s body in heaven within the throne of God. The same power that raised Christ from the dead is the same power that is availed to you for this commission. Our mission cannot fail! We may not see much fruit now, but it will not fail. Revelation 5:5ff tells us the end of the story. The elect of God, numbering more than the stars of the sky or the sand of the sea shore, will worship God as a fruit of this Great Commission. Amen!

That was how the 23rd Reformed Family Conference and School of Theology came to an end. Phil Hunt closed the conference by sharing about the Central Africa Baptist College and then later closing in prayer. We were challenged afresh to participate actively in the work of missions as an African church. Pray for us that God will enable us to rise to this challenge. There is a work for Jesus that we need to do while it is still day. Amen!

Phil Hunt sharing about the Bible college he leads and then closing in prayer

1 comment:

  1. Who can doubt that God is at work! My heart used to bleed when I saw crowds amounting to a thousand or more listening attentively to “men of God” who preached messages that were far from the gospel of salvation. In my heart I would say, “If only they could make the “mistake” of inviting a Reformed Baptist preacher to their pulpits to thunder the gospel of Christ, what an impact the message would have.” These “men of God” have such golden opportunities of very large audiences which, in my opinion, they squander.

    Thank God for the growth of the Reformed Conferences and the completion of the new Lusaka Baptist Church building which accommodates over a thousand. The capacity of this venue coupled with the faithful preaching of God’s word is a blessed combination. May the Lord bless these men and keep them. May their ministry bear fruit in our lives and in the lives of sheep that are still lost. May we be wise men and build on the rock, so that when the rain falls, and the floods come, and the winds blow and beat on our house, it will not fall. Thanks again for the updates.