A peep into life in Africa, through the eyes of an African Reformed Baptist pastor.

Water, water, water, everywhere. What else do you expect? I am a Baptist, and I live in the land of the mighty Victoria Falls!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Zambian Reformed Conferences--Third Day


Yesterday, I missed the morning meetings again. So, I will limit myself to the combined afternoon and evening meetings. I trust those of you who would have loved to be with us will find the limited summaries helpful in catching up with what the Lord did among us yesterday.

In the afternoon, we had an informal business meeting where we primarily considered the commencement of an annual national (and regional) missions conference. The discussions were handled in a way that enabled everyone to feel free to express themselves. In the end, the general feeling was that instead of increasing the number of conferences per year, we should maintain the current one annual feast (i.e. the Annual Family Conference and School of Theology). However, every alternate year we should have a theme related to missions. We also heard brief reports from about five Reformed Baptist churches that had commenced in the country since August last year.

Thandika Chirwa leading worship during the evening meeting
After this, we had a prayer meeting and dinner. Then we went into an evening meeting. Misheck Daka shared about the Zambian Reformed Baptist Building Trust Fund, which was instituted in 1997 as a revolving loan facility to help Reformed Baptist churches in Zambia to put up church buildings. He stated that the Fund had almost doubled from US$45,000 to US$83,000. There were sixteen Reformed Baptist churches that were subscribing regularly and he urged more churches to participate in this. He also urged those churches that had received loans to be faithful in repaying them so that others would profit from this facility.

Misheck Daka presenting on the Zambian Reformed Baptist Building Trust Fund
Peter Mukalula shared about the Zambian Baptist Historical Society, which was established a few years ago to preserve the history of Baptists in Zambia. He talked about the society’s project to raise K150,000 (about US$30,000) in order to restore the first Baptist church building, which was opened in 1916, and to put a new gravestone on the grave of the first indigenous Baptist leader, Paul Kasonga, who died in 1954. He urged those in attendance to consider joining the society so that they can actively participate in these and other ventures.

After these two presentations, Thabiti Anyabwile gave his third message on “Finding Assurance”. He began by quoting the “beliefs” of a bishop in a church in the USA who denied all the major tenets of the Christian Faith. He then went on to state that what we think about God determines how we live before God. Thabiti then took us through a three point exposition of 1 John 1:5-2:2.

Peter Mukalula presenting on the Zambian Baptist Historical Society
1. Assurance comes when we accept the true nature of God, that God is light (1 John 1:5-2:2). The source of this message is Jesus, the Son of God. This is why Christianity is distinct from all other religions on the planet. The channel of the message is that of hearing and speaking. The content of this message is that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. It is not primarily a message about man but a message about God. By light John means that God is absolutely holy, pure, etc. This is both bad and good news. It is bad news for those who die in their sins because it means he must punish them forever. It is good news for those who believe in him because it means he is absolutely trustworthy. 2 Cor. 4:6 and 2 Peter 1:19 speak about how the light from God becomes light in our hearts. It is as the Holy Spirit miraculously makes the things of Jesus very real to us. This is done as we meditate on the gospel of Christ until the message out there becomes a message in our hearts.

Thabiti Anyabwile preaching on "Finding Assurance" from 1 John
2. Assurance comes when we avoid three fatal deceptions. The first deception to avoid is that of making a false profession (1 John 1:6). It is those who lie and do not live by the truth. The second deception to avoid is that of self-deception (1 John 1:8). This especially happens when a person denies his own sin and sinfulness. The third deception to avoid is that of self-righteousness (1 John 1:10). Such people call God a liar to justify themselves.

3. Assurance comes when we attend to three promises of assurance. The first is that the blood of Christ cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7). “Oh the bliss of this glorious thought!” The second promise is that God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). Grace has come to us when in our sins we flee to Christ. The third promise is that Jesus will speak for us when we sin (1 John 1:1-2). We have a lawyer, an advocate, and a counsel in Jesus Christ. He is the righteous one. God is satisfied in Jesus because of his righteousness. He is the elder brother who stands in the way of God’s wrath and turns it away from us.

Attendance at the evening meeting on the second day
I end this report by saying that assurance of salvation is an important part of our peace of mind and our effectiveness as Christians in this life. Being falsely assured also has very serious eternal consequences. Hence, these messages by Thabiti are worth listening to again and again.

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