THE HEART OF THE CHRISTIAN FAITH
By: Deji Yesufu
Many years ago, I visited the Mass Communication Department of my alma mater, Ahmadu Bello University, and someone shared a basic idea behind newspaper publications. It is this: grab the attention of your readers. Publishers do this through headlines, pictures and most importantly, writing your report so that the first paragraph grabs the attention of your readers. This is why a good blog either begins with a captivating headline or an interesting thought. This is why, although I will be writing about an essential gospel theme, I want to introduce it with a rather gripping story. Some people might be uncomfortable with this narration; I’ll however request you bear with me as it is very important I state it this way so as to prosecute my theme well.
Skit-making is the newest venture Nigerians have entered into now. While most of these skits are not helpful, I found one that is a little different. This gentleman is called upon to solve a problem. He comes in with a camera and mic, and after a little discussion, he resolves deep-rooted family issues. Thankfully most of the problems are sorted. This particular one, though, was not resolved. A 33-year-old lady had invited this man to resolve a problem in her home. This woman is in an incestuous relationship with her father. She’s his only child. They have been sleeping together since she was 14, a few years after her mother died. Now, the man wants to get married to another woman, so he can have a child to keep his name. The lady will have none of it. As far as she is concerned, her father is both her lover and husband and cannot marry someone else. Incidentally, I am presently reading Leviticus in my personal Bible reading and the words that God gave Israel not to behave like the nations – with their despicable sexual perversions come to mind (Leviticus 18). Perhaps I should worsen the narrative by saying that the father, in this story, is a committed Deacon of a church. As I said, this particular problem remained unresolved by the time the skit ended.
This story and others like it, remind the Christian minister of the awesome responsibility of gospel preaching. When we speak about the problem with Nigeria, we forget quickly that at its root is a moral bankruptcy that cannot be compared even with the Leftist madness of the West. Ours is a situation where religious profession combines with the most obscene sinful practices. It is the reason why, while many people in the West can be open and honest about who they are, we dare not. The depth of the sins we practice here is unimaginable. And the story is the same for those within the church as well as those outside of it. How can this matter be resolved? Gospel preaching.
This Sunday, 16th July, 2023, at Providence Reformed Baptist Church, Ibadan, we will be doing a review of all that we have been teaching since December last year.
In the final weeks of December 2022, I started a series of topics on the foundations of the Christian faith. Using the book that comes by the same name and written by Roger Weil, I have been trying to help my listeners appreciate the heart of the Christian Faith. We began by examining Jesus’ discussion with Nicodemus in John 3, where I taught on the topic “YOU MUST BE BORN-AGAIN” for five weeks. I had those sermons recorded but lost them when I purchased a new phone. This is why all my sermons are now stored on Audiomack.
So that after examining the foundation of the Christian Faith for seven months, I have come to the healthy conclusion that there are essentially two things that must happen to an individual if they will be useful Christians on earth and redeemed souls in heaven. These two are: 1. God must save a sinner by his sovereign grace. 2. That the Bible must govern the life of the redeemed. Every other thing we do in church; any other battle we fight as Christians; any association we enter as saints; etc, must have these two themes at its heart.
The doctrine of God saving sinners sovereignly makes our church distinctively reformed. It is the only way to explain the words of Jesus to Nicodemus: “…Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.” (John 3:5-7). Our Lord is saying that there is no religion, except God himself takes the initiative of starting it. The man who is born of the Spirit comes to spiritual life via the supernatural and sovereign work of God. It must all start with God. This is the reason why any genuine work of God must be premised on what God is doing and not the works of men, which undoubtedly will be an operation in the flesh. I’m always glad that God gave our local church the name “PROVIDENCE”. Nothing describes the sovereign works of God better.
After the man is born from above, the rule of that man’s life must now become scripture – the Bible. Now, this is where all the problems begin because men will forever bring different interpretations to biblical texts – leading inevitably to different denominations. I think that denominational positions are not necessarily harmful, as long as the denomination remains biblical. The problem arises when a denomination claims to be obeying the Bible but in actual fact not doing so. Men of good conscience must rise up at that time and oppose such actions. It is the reason why reformed people hold the position that reformation never ceases. We continue to hold all our actions and beliefs in the light of scripture. No man is Lord of Christ’s church. Jesus rules the church by his word. And these words of God in the Bible rule both the church and the people in the church. The whole process of bringing men to faith in Christ, and teaching them God’s word to grow spiritually, is what Christian living is all about. Conversion and a commitment to a sufficient scripture are the heart of the Christian Faith.
I do sincerely hope that we use the story of the incestuous relationship I narrated above to understand the gospel need of our day. While Nigeria faces economic challenges, there is a deeper need that we have. It is moral bankruptcy that has enveloped our youths, families, and institutions. Genuine gospel preaching will birth repentance in the heart of the sinner and cause conversion to occur. After which one hopes that the church such people join turns out to be gospel churches at heart.
Providence Reformed Baptist Church, Ibadan, is labouring to be that kind of church and we will love to have you in our membership.