RNTV Returns June 2024

By: Deji Yesufu

When the Reformed Naija TV team was dissolved in February, Pastor Enyinna Okorafor, associate minister at Crown Reformed Assembly (Ogba, Lagos), told me that disagreement and splits appear to be written in the DNA of Reformed people. When he made that statement, he was referring to the history of the Reformation itself. In 1531, Ulrich Zwingli led a group of Protestant men to war against a Catholic city somewhere around Zurich. The Protestant forces were routed and Zwingli, their Chaplain, was killed in battle. At the time of his death, Zwingli was the second biggest name in Protestant circles in Europe, only next to Martin Luther. Luther and Zwingli were supposed to have teamed up, but Luther would not work with Zwingli because of a disagreement over the nature of the presence of Christ in the Lord’s Supper.

It is said that at a particular conference that was held to bring the two reformers together, they were said to have agreed on every point of doctrine except that little point on the Lord’s Supper. Zwingli felt that it was not so much a thing that should divide brothers; Luther thought otherwise. Some believe that if the association had materialized between these two magisterial reformers, Zwingli might have lived longer. It is differences like these (the Wesley brothers and George Whitefield doctrinal disagreement quickly come to mind) that Pastor Enyinna was referring to when he talked about the reformed DNA. In this essay, I would not bore readers with what might have caused for the original RNTV team to dissolve. I think it will suffice to say that brothers had differences which they could not work out, and we would not be the first to have such issues.

The RNTV was birth as I interacted with individuals on social media over doctrinal matters. Just as the invention of the printing press took the reformation to a new height because the reformers’ doctrines could easily sail through Europe via publishing; similarly, a new reformation is building up in our world with the coming of the internet. Brothers and sisters in the faith are using the avenue of social media to link up and share comradeship in similar beliefs. Religion has gone to the dogs in our clime and when you find people who love the Lord and his gospel, you want to latch on to them in friendship. As these relationships build, you also discover many false brethren. People who claim to share some beliefs in the reformers’ doctrines but who reject some fundamental truths. Peter Uka, Dr Motunrayo Adetola, and I teamed up as we came together to oppose one of such fellows who discountenanced the truth of the Trinity. When we were through with that project, we set up RNTV as an apologetic channel to refute false doctrines generally. Apologetics is tough and one of the dangers with it is that the very sword we use on heretics could very easily be turned on brothers. This is what I believe happened when the Alistair Begg controversy arose; we were simply divided in opinion over the subject and we could not continue to work together. I should say, for those who care to know, that even though Uka and Adetola have left RNTV, we still maintain our friendship and cordiality, and you should not be surprised to see these men return to the program someday.

Another thing that might have caused the temporary shutdown of the RNTV was the development of my thinking about the matter of the local church. Something very unique happened to me (long before the Alistair Begg controversy) that changed my perspective completely on how apologetics should be done online. In 2021, Christian Books Worldwide sent me six books as part of their effort to equip ministers in Africa with the gospel. One of the books in that set was one titled “Pastors and Teachers” written by Derek Prime. The beauty of books is that some literature comes to you as a lifeline: a kind of “equal to” in your life and ministry. We had just constituted Providence Reformed Baptist Church Ibadan and I needed some counsel on how to pastor a church in the reformed tradition. Derek Prime said it all and left nothing out. If you are interested in pastoral ministry, find that book and read it. It was after the Alistair Begg’s controversy broke in February 2024 that I learnt that Begg had been assistant pastor to Derek Prime.

Begg was working at the church Prime was ministering in when John MacArthur went to Scotland and met Begg; then recommended Begg to Parkview Church as a pastor – because Parkview was looking for a minister at the time. I have since followed a lot of Begg preaching and learnt that Derek Prime is Alistair Begg’s immediate example in ministry. I think I understood the spirit of Alistair Begg’s sermon on “Compassion or Condemnation” better than many because I had drunk heavily into Derek Prime’s spirit through his book. Now, what did I learn really from Prime and Begg? It is not necessarily anything new. I think what I might have taken from these two men is that reformed Christian ministry can be done in a less pugilist manner. There is a place for contending for the faith; but if all we do is fight, we would soon realize we can not distinguish brothers from enemies. The Nigerian Christian community needs both: we need apologists to point out errors, and we need ministers to point us to the truth. It is this spirit that I hope we will be bringing to the new version of the RNTV that will be unveiled this June.

We will try to have at least one broadcast every month. Because I am yet to get a hand around the matter of internet for live broadcast, our videos would be recorded and edited, before it is published on the various RNTV channels on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. Our first guest would be Pastor Samuel Emdiong. Emediong is an associate of Pastor Aniekan Ekpo – the minister at Christ’s Reformed Baptist Church Rumuoadara, Portharcourt, Rivers State. He is an individual that I worked with on a project recently, and I find him to be brilliant – someone who has something to add to reformed thinking in Nigeria. After him, there would be many other such interviews and discussions.

On a final note, one thing that shocked me while listening to Alistair Begg and reading Derek Prime is something I have already written about: “the religion of the local church”. Jesus Christ is the Lord of the church, but our Lord does not contend with men over the leadership of the church. When men become lord and master of the flock of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit moves aside. It means that whatever the people in that local church may be learning will be something that is coming from that man, not from the Holy Spirit. If the Spirit is the Person teaching God’s people in the church, we will all learn one doctrine. Disagreements creep in when the doctrines of men begin to intermeddle with the doctrines of Christ. The result is that you find local churches that bear the name reformed, but who have since left the spirit of the reformation behind them. They are men working things in the flesh of their arms, rather than working along the Holy Spirit and what he is doing in the churches.

The blessing of the person of Jesus Christ is this: our Lord would use the minimum mention of his name, doctrine, and Spirit, to save the elect. It is the reason people are being saved in white garment churches, Charismatic churches, Roman Catholic churches, and even among Muslims. Despite this blessedness, God’s supreme desire is that God’s people will find pastors who will lead the flock of Christ just as Christ would lead them himself. You know when Christ is leading a church by the fruit that that church bears – it shows in their religion, what they do prevalently. The vision of the RNTV has not changed: we desire to help local churches find the Person of Christ and have his doctrine taught to them so that the religion that exhumes from such fellowship reflects the person of Jesus Christ – not a foreign thing.

My hope and prayer are that the newly invented RNTV reflects this spirit: I desire that people will watch our videos and go away with a commitment to love Jesus Christ, obey him, and love the people Christ sends us to serve. When we do this, disagreements will still arise. This time, however, I hope it will be better resolved. Watch out for our next broadcast on RNTV as we return with a bang and with grace at heart.

Thank you for reading.

Deji Yesufu is the Pastor of Providence Reformed Baptist Church Ibadan. He is also the author of HUMANITY.

Posted by Deji Yesufu

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