What Is The Gospel?

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Gospel means, simply, “good news.” There are numerous so-called gospels in the world proclaiming good news to those who would listen, and these gospels come in any number of forms—from the gospel of wealth and power to the gospel of health and beauty. These gospels, however, do not address the most basic problem that all men and women have—the problem of sin and guilt; that is, spiritual deadness.

Put simply, the Gospel is the good news of Jesus Christ. It is good news because, without it, we stand condemned as sinners before a holy and just God, deserving His wrath. In Isaiah’s vision of the throne room of God, seraphim (angelic beings) cry out continually, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!” Isaiah, overwhelmed in the presence of God, cries out in despair: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” (Isa. 6:3, 5)

Yet, in God’s perfect holiness—and this is the good news—God has, in His good pleasure, made a way for sinners to be reconciled to Himself through His Son Jesus Christ. John 3:16-17 says,

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.

Jesus Christ lived a righteous life and then died a terrible death on a Roman cross for His people. “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isa. 53:6). Thus, Jesus Christ satisfied the holy and just requirements of God. God then raised Him from the dead, vindicating Christ’s work.

Sinners are called to repent and believe the Gospel and to trust in Christ for salvation. Sinners receive this free gift of salvation from God through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone and are thereby counted righteous before God. Romans 10:9-13 states,

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in Him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing His riches on all who call on Him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Having been justified, Christians are called to walk as “living sacrifices” unto Him through the Holy Spirit because they are not their own, but were “bought with a price” (Rom. 12:1; 1 Cor. 6:20). Just as God raised Jesus Christ, so Christians await a resurrection of their own bodies, Christ being the “first fruits” of the new creation (1 Cor. 15:20). Ultimately, this is their hope—that God has begun His work of “making all things new” in the work of Jesus Christ and in the continued sanctification of His saints (Rev. 21:5). They await the new heavens and new earth in which there will be no more sin, pain, or sorrow (Rev. 21:4).

Article adapted from St.Andrew’s Chapel website

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Where Are The Men?

By Conrad Mbewe

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I am on my way to preach at a men’s conference in Vancouver, Canada, and this question is bugging me: “Where are the men?” I am not asking where the men are who are supposed to attend the coming conference because I have no idea what the numbers signing up look like. Rather, I am asking where the men are in the families, in the churches, and in the nation. To be sure, I can see many of the male species in all these spheres but what irks me is that so few of them seem to be rising to the calling that God has given to them as men in society.

The missing men in the world

Look at the family, for instance. Many men are as good as absent. They seem to be content to being served rather than playing their God-given roles of presider, protector, and provider. There is little effort at leading family devotions, home maintenance, and discipling the kids.

In society where men were once dominant, the trend is also fast reversing. Apart from the push from the West to kick women out of the kitchen and put them at par with men in the business world, men seem to see the workplace as a place where you only go to make money. If that is so, then why should men have a bigger share of the workforce cake than women? What’s gender got to do with it? The fact that women are more biologically wired for the role of home making and baby nursing is not a matter for discussion. Do not even go there.

Thus, we now have men who are content to stay at home while their wives go off to work. It is amazing how many jobless and homeless men want to marry. When asked how they will look after their wives, they look at you as if you are asking them a question in rocket science.

Missing men in the church

The same can be observed in the church. Men prefer to simply drop off their wives and children at church and proceed to their recreational or economic activities. Those who make it to church sit back half-asleep and watch young people and women lead worship. Some time ago I wrote a blog post entitled, “Is the Evangelical Church in Africa glorifying God?” I asked questions about some disconcerting issues. My last question was, “Are we glorifying God when we have women preachers while men sit in pews and listen to them? The Bible teaches male headship in both the home and the church…all the way from Eden.”

In that post I went on to say, “The Bible teaches that the work of preaching must be carried out by mature and tested males (1 Tim. 2:11-14). Sadly, the number of women going around as pastors in Africa (while their husbands call themselves bishops or prophets or apostles) has reached epidemic levels. Are we sure God is being glorified by this kick in the face?” One pastor’s wife visiting Zambia soon after I posted the blog post said to me, “Conrad, the problem is the lack of men taking the initiative and providing leadership. My husband wants to use men but as soon as he asks them to do something they disappear into the grass!” This lady is not the only one complaining. You ask most church leaders and they will tell you that even if their membership roll is half male, most of the men in the church will disappear faster than dew in the morning if you attempt to give them any work. They just won’t do it.

The missing male role model

Where is the problem stemming from so that we can try and address it there? It is in the homes. Many men are brought up in homes with absentee fathers. Either they only have a single parent mother or they have a father whose moral example is a total disaster. The only proof of the father’s manhood is his adulterous affairs and fathering of their stepsiblings with other women outside the home. The male children in these homes know nothing about a man’s selfless leadership because they have grown up without one.

The only other time they see a man’s strength is when he turns into a brutish beast and beats up their mother. The strength that God gave him to protect and provide for the weaker vessel is instead abused to beat her into a pulp. What kind of men will come out of such homes? These sons see their dads do absolutely nothing in church except warming their seats. Thus although they themselves may be active in church as young lads, they look forward to their years of “retirement” from Christian service when they also grow up, marry, and have kids. It is a form of fulfilling the Scriptures that say, “The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge” (Jer. 31:29 and Ezek. 18:2). In other words, sons are being condemned to an effeminate lifestyle because of the disastrous example of their fathers.

What does God say about this?

It is clear that we have two genders in every species—male and female. Did the Creator have any reason for making two of each kind? He seems to have had a reason for everything else! In the cultural mandate, both Adam and Eve were to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it” (Gen. 1:28). When the microscope of Scripture goes into the details of their work (2:1ff), it becomes clear that Adam was given charge even before Eve showed up.

“The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, ‘You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat…” (Gen. 2:15-17).

There is no doubt that one vital role that God made man for was that of leadership. When he was about to make the first woman, Eve, God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him” (Gen. 2:18). Eve was made as a helper to Adam.

We can go further. In the 1,500 years in which the Bible was being penned, from Genesis to Revelation, you do not have a single female elder. The Son of God left twelve leaders for the church and not one of them was female. Dare we accuse our Maker of male chauvinism? The reason why humanity is in chaos and death today goes all the way back to Genesis when Adam failed to play the man. God said to him, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife… in pain you shall eat of [the ground] all the days of your life” (Gen. 3:17).

Adam failed to provide spiritual leadership at the most critical juncture in humanity’s history and we are still paying for it today. Sadly, today’s men are making the same blunder. Women are running the affairs of homes, churches, and nations while they sleep in the backseat. This criminal negligence by men must be arrested. Men must come out of the shadows where they are hiding behind women and take up the position that God wired them for. They must set an example to their sons of what a mature man is supposed to be. They must start doing so today!

About Conrad Mbewe

I have a bachelor’s degree in Mining Engineering and a PhD in Missions. I worked in the Zambian copper mines before becoming the first pastor of Kabwata Baptist Church in Lusaka, Zambia, in 1987. KBC is presently overseeing the establishment of about twenty new Reformed Baptist churches in Zambia and other African countries. I also maintain a full itinerant preaching ministry in different countries around the world. I love writing. I am the editor of Reformation Zambia magazine and have maintained a column in at least one weekly national newspaper for the last twenty-five years. I have written about forty booklets in my own country and have three books on the international market—Maintaining Sexual Purity (RSA, 2009), Foundations for the Flock (USA, 2011), Lessons from the Lives of Olive Doke and Paul Kasonga (UK, 2014). I am the principal of the Lusaka Ministerial College and the chancellor of the African Christian University in Zambia. I volunteer with the YMCA, providing vocational training to the many unemployed youths across Africa. I am married to Felistas, and we have been wonderfully blessed with three children plus two foster daughters.

Source: Conradmbewe.com

 

On Making New Year Resolution

Originally posted as “4 Christian Principles For Making New Year’s Resolutions” on Ligonier.com

It seems that every new year, we are caught up in a whirlwind of well-intentioned resolutions. With premeditated bursts of enthusiasm, those closest to us begin to take part in peculiar, and sometimes public activities that even cause neighborhood children to look puzzled. We find ourselves bearing witness to surprising edicts and seemingly self-conscious new year’s manifestos whereupon we are summoned to behold what sweeping changes may come—resolutions for impending dispositions, impossible diets, and impenetrable fortresses of discipline.

The skeptical observer may inquire: “Is all this fervor really necessary?” Moreover, the cynical reader may ask: “Is it even appropriate to make resolutions? After all, shouldn’t we at all times and all seasons seek to live wisely, obediently, and biblically?”

Some may even go so far as to argue that resolutions themselves are not biblical based on the fact that the Word of God itself provides us with a complete and authoritative compilation of God’s resolutions for His people. To manufacture our own list of resolutions, they would argue, is superfluous at best.

These are the sorts of questions I have always considered when it comes to this whole business of making resolutions, and I have a hunch that many of my fellow biblically-informed skeptics also ponder such questions. Nevertheless, the Word of God gives us not only permission to make resolutions, it gives us good reasons for doing so. Various biblical passages seem to provide us with reasons for resolutions and examples of men of God who resolved to live for Him in a particular manner for a particular reason (Dan. 1:8Matt. 1:19Acts 19:211 Cor. 10:14–32Col. 3:12–172 Thess. 1:11). As such, in considering how to glorify God in all that we do in our particular circumstances and callings, we would be wise to resolve to make particular resolutions to assist us in our sanctification. This we do by the power of the Holy Spirit, resting assured that we have been declared righteous by the Father because of the completed righteousness of the Son.

The nineteen-year-old Jonathan Edwards knew his weaknesses and was aware of the destructive nature of his sin, so he resolved to make and keep certain resolutions in his effort to live for God’s glory. He helped pave the way for us all as he prefaced his seventy resolutions with these words:

Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God’s help, I do humbly entreat him by his grace to enable me to keep these resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to his will, for Christ’s sake.

These simple, introductory words of Edwards not only provide us with a glimpse into the mind of one of history’s greatest minds, they provide us with a glorious insight into the heart of a young man whose heart had been humbled and mastered by the Lord God Almighty. We would therefore do well to consider Edwards’ prefatory remarks as we seek to glorify God and enjoy Him forever in our churches, our homes, and our hearts.

Resolving Sensibly

Being sensible,” Edwards begins his preface—we must be sensible, reasonable, in making resolutions. If we set ourselves about the business of hastily making resolutions as the result of our grand illusions of sinless perfection, it is likely that we will not merely fail in our attempt to keep such resolutions, we will likely be less inclined to make any further resolutions for similar desired ends. We must go about making resolutions with genuine prayer and thorough study of God’s Word. Our resolutions must be in accord with the Word of God; therefore, any resolution we make must necessarily allow us to fulfill all our particular callings in life. We must consider all the implications of our resolutions and be careful to make resolutions with others in mind, even if it means implementing new resolutions incrementally over time.

Resolving Dependently

I am unable to do anything without God’s help,” Edwards admits. We must be sensible in grasping the simple truth that every resolution must be made in dependence on God. And while every Christian would respond by saying, “Well, of course we must depend on God for all things,” most Christians have been sold the world’s bill of goods. They think that once they become dependent on God, then they will have immediate strength. They mimic the world’s mantra: “Whatever doesn’t kill me will make me stronger.” While the principle is generally true, such thinking can foster an attitude of proud independence. We must understand that in being able to do all things through Christ who strengthens us means that we must depend on His strength continuously in order to do all things and to keep all our resolutions (Eph. 3:16Col. 1:11). In truth, whatever doesn’t kill us, by God’s conforming grace, makes us weak so that in our weakness we will rely continuously on the strength of our Lord (2 Cor. 12:7–10).

Resolving Humbly

I do humbly entreat him by his grace to enable me to keep these resolutions.” In making resolutions for the glory of God and before the face of God, we must not come into His presence pounding our chests in triumphal arrogance as if God must now love and bless us more because we have made certain resolutions to follow Him more. In reality, the Lord in His providence may choose to allow even more trials to enter our lives; in His unchanging fatherly love for us, He may decide to discipline us even more in order that we might more so detest our sin and delight in Him. We should approach Him in humble reliance on His grace as we seek not merely the blessings but the one who blesses.

Resolving For Christ’s Sake

So far as they are agreeable to his will for Christ’s sake.” We cannot resolve to do anything with a presumptuous attitude before God. The whole matter of making resolutions is not just goal setting so that we might have happier lives. We are called by God to live according to His will, not our own—for Christ’s sake, not our own—for it is not unto us but unto Him that all glory belongs (Ps. 115:1)