May 30, 2008

Weekly Round-Up: Mormonism in Africa, the Lord's Resistance Army, African Christianity, and Biblical Reflection

Here's this week's round-up:

1) Carrie A. Moore, "LDS Beliefs Help, but Attitude Toward Native Worship Affects, Church Growth in Africa" in the Mormon Times. A news report on a Mormon History Association meeting where well-known religious historian Phillip Jenkins spoke. He talked about both the success and challenges of Mormonism in Africa. Here is a saddening projection made by Jenkins:
Present LDS membership is about 270,000 in Africa, and 25,000 others are converts to the Community of Christ (formerly the RLDS Church). Jenkins predicted African Latter-day Saints will number between 3 million and 4 million in the next quarter century.
2) "Children stolen, forced into firefights" on WorldNetDaily. Check out this informative introductory piece on Joseph Kony, the Lord's Resistance Army, and children soldiers in Uganda.

3) Richard J. Gehman, Makumbuko blog. A while back I reviewed Gehman's book Who Are The Living-Dead? A Theology of Death, Life After Death and the Living-Dead. An American missionary and evangelical scholar, Gehman served for years with the Africa Inland Mission at Scott Theological College in Kenya. He was also editor of the Africa Journal of Evangelical Theology. He does an excellent job relating biblical truth to an African context. So the moment I heard that he had begun a new blog, I subscribed to it. So should you.

4) Sam Storms, "Taking every Thought Captive for Christ (2 Cor. 10.4-6)" on the Enjoying God Ministries blog. In light of the loud voices of militant atheism heard all around us, Storms provides an edifying biblical reflection on defending our faith.

May 28, 2008

What Does Christ Gospel Church Teach? Wrap-Up

What does Christ Gospel Church teach? Over the last several weeks, I have done my best to answer this question. We have come a long way, analyzing Reverend Berniece R. Hicks' teaching on Scripture, mankind, God, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the good news. Hopefully we can now more clearly understand the basic beliefs of CGC. As a result, I pray that individuals will effectively assess and address the differences that exist between our beliefs and what is taught by CGC.

Since CGC has a global presence, including affiliate churches in half a dozen African countries and shortwave broadcasts to many others, evangelical Christians must respond to Hicks' claims with the truth revealed by God in Scripture. Lord willing, the Africa Center for Apologetics Research will be established in East Africa to defend our faith against error and corruption.

Here are the previous posts in this series:

May 26, 2008

Visiting Missionaries in Uganda

[Video - Missionary Doug Wicks on Cults and Challenges in Uganda]

What must my family do to move half way around the world to start the Africa Center for Apologetics Research? And how should we prepare to make this transition? One of the main priorities on our trip to Uganda last month was to explore what it will take to live and serve our Lord in East Africa. To work through the details, my wife and I visited four very different American missionary families with young children who have transitioned to serving in Uganda. Not only did we have a wonderful time of Christian fellowship, but we learned a great deal from these families as well.

Doug Wicks is a missionary with Wycliffe Bible Translators in Uganda, and his family graciously invited us over for dinner. During our time in their home, we asked them a lot of questions about ministry expenses and living in Uganda. Doug was also very helpful in telling us more about local life in rural areas and villages. The Wicks family has an incredible zeal to bring God's Word to Ugandans in their own languages.

Brian Kelly, John Divito, and Paul CardenWe also met with the Kelly family, who was both friendly and flexible. Pastor Brian Kelly leads Calvary Chapel Kampala, where I was able to speak on biblical discernment during their Wednesday evening service. After the church meeting, he took us out to eat at a nice Indian restaurant. He told us a lot about ministry in Uganda, especially church life. Later in the week, we met in the Kelly's home to talk about living expenses and gained some great practical advice for when we move over. After spending time with them, I can see why God has richly blessed their work.

Divitos and SchimkesAdditionally, we spent a couple of evenings with the Schimke family. Kurt Schimke is a Presbyterian who serves at African Bible University. He stays busy, teaching church history, ethics, several New Testament courses, and direct evangelism outreach. Interestingly, our families are very similar, with children in the same order and almost the same age (well, at least before our youngest came along)! The Schimkes were an invaluable resource in understanding family expenses, reassessing our budget and financial goals, as well as what to expect when living in Kampala. They understand the need to develop African church leaders and are working toward fostering biblical knowledge and spiritual growth among students. I thank God that He has brought the Schimke family to Uganda.

SheltonsAt the same time, the Shelton family stood out in their hospitality and encouragement. The Sheltons are Southern Baptist missionaries with the International Missionary Board. They allowed us to stay in their home throughout our time in Uganda. They helped to coordinate our trip, keeping everything as productive as possible. They always kept themselves available if we needed them for anything. What else can I say? We would not have accomplished half of what we did without the Shelton family (and their two cute daughters made sure that we did not miss home too much!).

These missionary families truly made our recent trip to Uganda memorable. They also allowed us to more fully understand the specifics of what it will take to move our family to East Africa. As a result, we now have concrete plans and are able to move ahead to the final stages of preparation. While we have had to make some changes since returning (the weak value of the dollar globally and rising costs have forced us to modify our budget), we are much better equipped to begin serving Christ in Uganda. Lord willing, we will start soon!

(Previous posts on our recent mission trip: Advancing Biblical Discernment in Uganda, The Challenge of Islam in Uganda, Developing the Center in Uganda, Cults Targeting College Students in Uganda)

May 23, 2008

Weekly Round-Up: Ahmadiyya Muslims, Ugandan Anglicans, a Reformed Podcast, and the Dollar's Impact on Missions

Here's this week's round-up:

1) "Ahmadiyya Muslims to mark 100 years" in the New Vision newspaper (Uganda). Have you ever heard of Ahmadiyya Islam? Many Muslims around the world would not consider it true Islam, but it is very active internationally and has a presence in Uganda. At the end of this month, the Ahmadiyya Muslim community will be celebrating their 100th year of existence in Kampala, the nation's capital.

2) "Anglican Men's Weekend" on This site now has videos of Ugandan Anglican leaders speaking at a men's conference. If you are not familiar with Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi, you should be.

3) "Christ the Center: Doctrine for Life" on the Castle Church web site. I was recently made aware of this podcast and have already become a big fan. Their regular discussions are very informative. What is its purpose? "Christ the Center: Doctrine for Life is an audio program centered on Christian reformed theology. In each episode a group of informed panelists discuss important issues and stimulate listeners to critical thinking and a better understanding of reformed doctrine designed to yield godly living."

4) J. Shaw, "The Effect of the Dollar on the American Missionary Sending 'Enterprise'" in the Lausanne World Pulse (May 2008). While many Christians may not realize it, the weakening of the dollar really impacts international mission work. This article helps to explain what a weak dollar means for missionaries and mission agencies. And if you want to see the relative worth of the dollar in Uganda over the last several months, check out Yahoo! Finance.

May 21, 2008

Christ Gospel Church on the Good News: Part Two

(Christ Gospel Church is an international sect with affiliate churches in half a dozen African countries and shortwave broadcasts to many others. You can read the previous posts in this series here: What Does Christ Gospel Church Teach?, Christ Gospel Church on Scripture, Christ Gospel Church on Mankind, Christ Gospel Church on God, Christ Gospel Church on the Lord Jesus Christ: Part One and Part Two, Christ Gospel Church on the Good News: Part One)

V. The Good News

This week, we continue studying CGC's teaching on the Good News. After looking at mankind's need, we are now ready to understand the degrees of reward. When taken together, their gospel message becomes clear.

The Degrees of Reward

God has commanded that believers grow in Grace and Knowledge of the LORD Jesus Christ (I Peter 2:1,2; II Peter 3:18). God's Word commands that the believer grow unto the measure of the Stature of the Fullness of Jesus Christ or unto full spiritual maturity (Ephesians 4:13,14).[1]
Precious Gem In The TabernacleFor Hicks, salvation is the first step in the Christian life, not the sum of the Christian life. Christians are to live a life devoted to God. "God gives us His Gift of Salvation through Jesus Christ so that we can have a New Heart created in us; thus our New Heart can perform the good works of His Master Plan and Purposive Will."[2] Hicks points to Ephesians 4:11-13 to show the goal for followers of Christ: "In his letter to the church at Ephesus, the Apostle Paul set forth the possibility of growth to full maturity in the Spiritual Stature of Christ, which every believer is called to press toward."[3] She reveals how believers are to achieve this goal with the following insight: "Nowhere in Scripture do we find such a precious gem of truth or such a complete picture of the measure of the stature of Christ, which Paul relates in Ephesians 4:13, then in the Old Testament Tabernacle."[4] Consequently, one discovers the stature of Jesus Christ through the detailed blueprint of the Old Testament Tabernacle.

Achieving the spiritual stature of Christ enables one to be a member of Christ's bride. This objective is accomplished through one's works and is distinct from salvation. "According to the Scriptures, man's Salvation is a gift. . . . But the Prize of being in Christ's Bride comes by personal choice and by spiritual growth unto the measure of the Stature of the Fullness of Christ."[5] Later, Hicks is even more explicit: "The Bible tells us that the Bride made herself ready, which speaks of her works. Salvation is a Gift to all believers from God, and, therefore, does not consist of works. . . . The reward of being in the Bride, however, is a result of Works."[6] Therefore, "Not every Christian is going to be in the Bride. In the natural realm there are more people at a wedding than the bride and the bridegroom. There are the best man, the bridesmaids, the guests, and many others. In like manner, the Wedding Supper of the Lamb will have more than just the Bride and Jesus, the Bridegroom."[7]

Degrees Of Reward For Spiritual GrowthAs a result, the works that a Christian accomplishes in their present life will determine what they will obtain at the final judgement. When speaking of 1 Corinthians 15:41-42, Hicks compares the glory of the sun, moon, and stars with the resurrection glory of believers:
In Eternity, the first group of Christians will shine as small stars of Glory. The second group will shine with brighter Glory, as the brighter stars. The third group will have gained a sufficient measure of the LORD Jesus Christ's Spiritual Stature to shine with a still brighter Glory, like the moon; and the fourth group will be those who have grown into the measure of the Fullness of Christ's Spiritual Stature. They will be spiritually mature and will shine with the brightest Glory, like the sun, because their wills will have been joined in Marriage Union to Jesus Christ's Will. It is the fourth class of Christians who will be in Christ's Bride because they will possess the highest degree of Glory - the Glory of the Sun.[8]
Therefore, believers earn their future eternal abiding place with God.

Christians will also receive a particular type of clothing based upon their works. "The Book of Revelation describes three distinct kinds of Clothing worn by saints at the resurrection: White Robes, White Raiment, and White Linen. This spiritual apparel is exceedingly important because the believer's eternal abiding place will be determined by the Garment or Garments he wears on Resurrection Morning."[9] The bottom groups of glory (both those of the star glory and the brighter star glory) will receive white robes and dwell in the New Heavens. "[T]he ones who wear White Robes never will leave Heaven; they will stay there forever and ever and serve God day and night. God will dwell among them by His Omnipresence in the same way that He dwells in the world today."[10] Those of the moon glory will receive white raiment and rule over the New Earth. "The New City will not be the dwelling place of the White Raiment group. . . . This group grew in Spiritual Stature to such a degree that they will be entrusted with Christ's Governmental Ruling and Reigning Power on the New Earth."[11] The New City [New Jerusalem] is for those in white linen, those of the sun glory, the bride of Christ. "Only the Bride of Jesus Christ, the New Jerusalem, will be able to give Christ's Sun-Glory Light to the New Earth because she is the only one who will be joined in perfect Marriage Relationship with Jesus Christ Who is the Lamb of the New City and the Light of the world."[12] Therefore, the New Heavens, the New Earth, and the New City are three stages of achievement for believers to gain. Clearly, the goal for those who belong to CGC is to become a member of the bride of Christ.

[1]Articles of Faith, 5.
[2]Hicks, Believe, Repent, and Accept God's Gift of Salvation, 51.
[3]B. R. Hicks, Growing in God, 1989 ed. (Jeffersonville, IN: Christ Gospel Press, 1989), 3. Ephesians 4:13 is an oft-quoted key text in Hicks' beliefs and writings.
[4]B. R. Hicks, Precious Gem in the Tabernacle (Jeffersonville, IN: Christ Gospel Press, 1961), 9. This book contains Hicks' exposition of the Old Testament Tabernacle as it relates to believers' spiritual growth.
[5]B. R. Hicks, Degrees of Reward for Spiritual Growth, 2002 ed. (Jeffersonville, IN: Christ Gospel Press, 2002), 4. Emphasis in original.
[6]Ibid, 44-45. Emphasis in original.
[7]Hicks, Growing in God, 11.
[8]Hicks, Degrees of Reward for Spiritual Growth, 22-23.
[9]Ibid, 33.
[10]Ibid, 38.
[11]Ibid, 42.
[12]Ibid, 44. Emphasis in original.

May 19, 2008

Cults Targeting College Students in Uganda

[Video - Campus Ministry Leader Vincent Langariti on Cults Targeting College Students in Uganda]

I love campus ministry. It was through a campus ministry that I heard the gospel of Jesus Christ for the first time. It was through a campus ministry that I committed my life to Christ. It was through a campus ministry that I was discipled and began serving the Lord.

Unfortunately, Christian ministries are not the only religious organizations on college campuses seeking to draw students. Around the world, many cults and false spiritualities focus on colleges and universities. This is certainly true in Uganda.

Why? In many ways, it makes a lot of practical sense. College is often the first extended period of time when the students are away from their parents, figuring out the world for themselves. Additionally, if you want to impact a culture, then you target its students. Those who are well educated will most likely become the future political and business leaders of society. If you want to grow as a religious movement, then having those in power as members can help tremendously.

FOCUS UgandaAs a result, campus ministries are regularly at the forefront of defending Christianity against error. While I was in Uganda last month, I tried to get in touch with as many campus leaders as I could. One of the most encouraging and supportive men I met with was Vincent Langariti, the General Secretary of InterVarsity Fellowship (known as FOCUS Uganda).

John Divito and Vincent LangaritiVincent was very generous with his time, helping us understand the challenge of cults and false teaching on campuses throughout Uganda. He was also excited to hear about our apologetics ministry, wanting to work with us to reach out to college students. Because of our common vision, we are already looking at how we can come together to foster biblical discernment among students.

After spending an afternoon with Vincent, I was amazed at how richly God is blessing ACFAR in Uganda. And my family is not even there yet! I have come back more committed than ever to serve our Lord in East Africa. I look forward to seeing what Christ will continue to accomplish for His glory. I also pray that many people will support our efforts and join with us as we seek to defend God's truth.

(Previous posts on our recent mission trip: Advancing Biblical Discernment in Uganda, The Challenge of Islam in Uganda, Developing the Center in Uganda)

May 16, 2008

Weekly Round-Up: Witchdoctors, Buddhism in Uganda, the Importance of Apologetics, and Islamic Shirk

Here's this week's round-up:

1) Phoebe Mutetsi, "Conversations with a pseudo witchdoctor" in the Daily Monitor newspaper (Uganda). Here is a fascinating and troubling interview with a former African witchdoctor. Traditional "healers" like these continue to be popular throughout Uganda and beyond.

2) Florence Baingana, "Heaven and Hell?" in the Sunday Monitor newspaper (Uganda). Buddhism in Uganda? You'd better believe it! And this article looks as if it is promoting Soka Gakkai Buddhism.

3) "The Case for Theology and Apologetics" on the White Horse Inn radio show. While I mentioned this show in last week's round-up, they continued their discussion of the importance of theology and apologetics for a second week. You'll want to download this program in MP3 as well.

4) James White, "Shirk: A Basic Definition and Introduction" on the Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog. Islam is growing rapidly around the world, and especially in East Africa. With this in mind, we should all become more familiar with its teachings. James White has posted a helpful video clip introducing us to what Muslims mean by shirk.

May 14, 2008

Christ Gospel Church on the Good News: Part One

(Christ Gospel Church is an international sect with affiliate churches in half a dozen African countries and shortwave broadcasts to many others. You can read the previous posts in this series here: What Does Christ Gospel Church Teach?, Christ Gospel Church on Scripture, Christ Gospel Church on Mankind, Christ Gospel Church on God, Christ Gospel Church on the Lord Jesus Christ: Part One and Part Two)

V. The Good News

As one can already see, CGC extends hope for mankind. Several of CGC's articles of faith are dedicated to this important aspect of their beliefs. Through understanding mankind's need as well as the degrees of reward, their understanding of the gospel message is made clear.

A. The Need of Mankind

Believe, Repent, and Accept God's Gift of Salvation
All human beings are born sinners. Sin entered the world through the disobedience of mankind. Before they sinned, these disobedient creatures were known as Adam-male and Adam-female (Genesis 5:2; Romans 5:12).

Every person is a sinner by birth and by deed (Romans 3:23; Romans 3:10; Isaiah 53:6; Ecclesiastes 7:20; Psalm 51:5; Psalm 58:3). Because God says in His Word that the penalty for sin is eternal Death in Hell and the Lake of Fire (Romans 6:23; Revelation 20:12-15), all men are in need of a Saviour and the experience of Salvation through the shed Blood of Jesus Christ, God's spotless Lamb (Hebrews 9:22; Matthew 26:28; John 3:17,18).

Salvation is received through confession and repentance of one's sins (Romans 19:8,9) and through believing on the LORD Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8). Salvation is not earned by man's good works; it is a Gift from God, which man receives by having faith in the shed Blood of the LORD Jesus Christ, Who died in man's place on Calvary's Cross (Titus 2:11; 3:5-7).

The evidence of Salvation is the outward demonstration of the inward Working of God's Grace in the heart, which produces a separated, godly, holy life (Titus 2:12). [1]
While God covered Adam-male and Adam-female with his glory, he gave them the ability to choose whether or not to follow him. Hicks states, "Present man, Adam-male and Adam-female, had to decide either to obey or disobey God's Will, which came to them wrapped up, as it were, in His Word."[2] Following the serpent's deceit in the garden, mankind once again chose to follow Lucifer, which brought error and death.[3] This corrupt state continues in all humanity. "Upon acceptance of the Serpent's corrupted will, Adam-male and Adam-female became totally depraved in their threefold beings. This same depraved condition has been passed on to every human being."[4] Hicks summarizes the death of man since the fall: "Death is a true witness of man's threefold being. The Scriptures prove that a sinner's being separates in a threefold manner at Death. The body goes to the grave; the soul goes to Hell; and the spirit is left to roam in a state of unrest after having ascended to God."[5] Every human being is a sinner whose soul deserves to go to hell.

Hicks teaches that there are three tests of mankind. "In each period or age of existence, God has tested the spirits and souls of mankind with Light. First, they were tested as Seeds in the spiritual realm in Eternity-Past; then, they were tested as Seeds in Present Time in a perfect body in the Garden of Eden. Now, in Present Time, . . . man is tested a third time, and this time his test is in both the spiritual realm and the natural realm."[6] Individuals have failed one or two of the previous tests, but their choice regarding the third and final test will ultimately determine their eternal destiny.

The only way for humanity to escape damnation in the lake of fire is to be saved through Jesus' atonement. Hicks lays out three necessary steps for salvation: "First, a person must believe there is a God; second, he must repent of his sin; and, third, he must accept the Gift of Salvation that the LORD God so freely bestows on those who believe on Him and repent of their sin."[7] This provision of salvation is seen as a transaction. "We are saved by taking the necessary steps toward Salvation, in obedience to the Word of God. Once we have done our part, God certainly will do His Part. God plainly declares in His Word that every soul who trusts in His Son is forgiven, saved, and becomes a possessor of Eternal Life."[8]

After being saved, Christians are to continue to grow in their faith. "God's Infallible Word continues to generate faith in our heart so that we can continue progressing in our believing in our Saviour, Jesus Christ. God's Word encourages us to persevere to the end of life's journey with a strong, steadfast faith in Jesus Christ."[9] The Christian life should be one marked by holiness and devotion to God. And until Jesus' returns, at death a true believer only faces a twofold separation. "At Death, the threefold being of a believer, both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament Dispensations, was and is separated in a twofold way. The spirit and the soul of the Old Testament believer went to Paradise, while the spirit and soul of the New Testament believer goes immediately into heaven."[10]

[1]Articles of Faith, 4-5.
[2]Hicks, Confirming Our Faith in what the Bible Teaches about Mankind, 128.
[3]Ibid, 128-136.
[4]Ibid, 144-145.
[5]Ibid, 55.
[6]Ibid, 150.
[7]B. R. Hicks, Believe, Repent, and Accept God's Gift of Salvation (Jeffersonville, IN: Christ Gospel Press, 1997), 44.
[8]Ibid, 68.
[9]Ibid, 69.
[10]Hicks, Confirming Our Faith in what the Bible Teaches about Mankind, 55.

May 12, 2008

Developing the Center in Uganda

[Video - Dr. Solomon Nkesiga from KEST on Cults in Uganda]

False teaching and cults are rampant across East Africa. The need for a wide-ranging, biblical response is obvious, but what is the best approach to such an enormous challenge? Since my first trip to Uganda, God has made it clear that equipping African Christians for discernment and defending the faith requires strong partnerships with nationals who are committed to the same vision.

By returning to Uganda last month, the Lord enabled us to take major steps toward building a strong ministry partnership between ACFAR and the Kampala Evangelical School of Theology (KEST).

KESTThere are at least five strong reasons why working with KEST is strategic:
  • It’s indigenous—a seminary by Africans and for Africans.
  • It’s nondenominational—its students include Anglicans, Baptists, Pentecostals, and others.
  • It’s highly respected—KEST has had a twenty-year association with John Stott’s Langham Partnership, and the national leaders and missionaries we’ve met have consistently spoken well of KEST.
  • It’s strategically located right in the heart of Uganda’s capital city, close to Makerere University, one of Africa’s oldest and most prestigious institutions of higher learning.
  • It’s committed to combating error.
John Divito and Solomon NkesigaKEST is led by Dr. Solomon Nkesiga, a pastor and educator with extensive experience in East and Southern Africa. We’ve spent much time with Solomon, gaining valuable insights on the spiritual situation in Uganda and mapping strategies for making ACFAR a reality. Not only has our time together been encouraging and productive, but I’ve come to deeply respect him as a man of God.

As our partnership with KEST begins, ACFAR will develop:
1) A quarterly research bulletin for pastors, featuring practical articles on discernment and the defense of the faith
2) An extensive web site devoted to news, research, and analysis of new and controversial religious groups in East Africa
3) Training seminars and conferences for pastors, seminary and Bible students, Christian workers, and lay believers
4) Resources for mass distribution in English and local languages, including tracts, pamphlets, books, and audio and video material
African Christian leaders are clamoring for us to begin, but one last step remains: raising our remaining support. Will you pray with us as we seek to begin this unique ministry as soon as our Lord provides?

(Previous posts on our recent mission trip: Advancing Biblical Discernment in Uganda, The Challenge of Islam in Uganda)

May 9, 2008

Weekly Round-Up: False Faith Healers, Islam in Uganda, Scientology in Africa, and the Importance of Apologetics

Grace Kashemeire1) Michael Mubangizi, "Can prayers replace ARVs?" and "I lied that Pastor Imelda's prayers cured my AIDS!" in the Weekly Observer newspaper (Uganda). Both of these articles show the havoc that faith healers are causing throughout Uganda. They are taking advantage of people dying from AIDS who are desperately looking for help. The second article is especially saddening, with a woman being used to help a faith healer fool others.

2) Berna Namata, "Organization of Islamic Conference coming to Uganda" in the New Times newspaper (Rwanda). On Monday I mentioned the rapid growth of Islam in Uganda, but this news report is another example of the continuing success of Islam in East Africa. I pray that Christians will answer and evangelize the Muslims around them!

3) “The Essence of Source” in International Scientology News, Issue 37 (2008), pp. 8-17. While this article is not available online, it is important to recognize Scientology's growing involvement in Africa. This official publication reports on efforts to disseminate the doctrines of L. Ron Hubbard throughout the continent via targeted donations of a collection of books and recorded lectures called “The Basics.” According to the unsigned article, Dianetics and assorted companion works by Hubbard are already available in every public library in Uganda, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Angola, Chad, and Sierra Leone (with South Africa well on its way).

4) "The Case for Theology and Apologetics" on the White Horse Inn radio show. I am a weekly listener of the White Horse Inn and really enjoy the show. This week's discussion of the importance of theology and apologetics was particularly edifying. Download the show in MP3 and give it a listen.

May 7, 2008

Christ Gospel Church on the Lord Jesus Christ: Part Two

(Christ Gospel Church is an international sect with affiliate churches in half a dozen African countries and shortwave broadcasts to many others. You can read the previous posts in this series here: What Does Christ Gospel Church Teach?, Christ Gospel Church on Scripture, Christ Gospel Church on Mankind, Christ Gospel Church on God, Christ Gospel Church on the Lord Jesus Christ: Part One)

IV. The Lord Jesus Christ

This week, we continue examining CGC's teaching on Jesus Christ. After looking at the beginning of Jesus and the relationship of Jesus and the Word, we now turn to the history of the Lord Jesus Christ.

C. The History of Jesus

Throughout the history of this creation, God has been working out his plan to bring Jesus into the world. This plan begins with Adam-female and the promise God gave to her after the Fall. "When the Bible speaks about Jesus' being the Seed of Woman, it refers is [sic] to the Seed of Promise of the Saviour's Humanity, the Promise given to Adam-female."[1] This promise continued from Adam-female all of the way to Abraham. In Abraham, God's plan took another step forward. "To Abraham, God gave another Seed, the Promise of the Divine Seed of the Christ. Abraham, then, had two Seeds: the Seed of Promise of the Saviour's Humanity and the Seed of Promise of His Divinity."[2] Both of these seeds were carried through Abraham's descendents until King David. "Jesus' Humanity Seed and Christ's Divine Seed were passed along together until they finally reached King David, in whose loins they became divided into two separate streams of revelation, The Humanity Seed . . . traveled down through the lineage of Nathan. The Divine Seed of Christ . . . traveled down through the lineage of Solomon."[3]

The division of these seeds continued until the time came for the Messiah to come to earth. Joseph held the divine seed. "Joseph, to whom the Virgin Mary was espoused, was of the lineage of Solomon. . . . Although he possessed the Divine Seed of Promise, Joseph could not pass it through His natural, physical loins because the Messiah was ordained to be born of a Virgin."[4] Mary had the humanity seed. "Mary, as a descendent of Nathan, carried the Humble Seed of Promise of the Redeemer's Humanity. Not until she became espoused or engaged to Joseph did she receive the Divine Seed of Promise of the Christ."[5] Through the engagement of Joseph and Mary, Mary possessed both seeds. At God's appointed time, the two seeds were united. "The Seeds did not become one in her womb until the Glory Cloud of the Holy Ghost overshadowed her as she started testifying to Elizabeth about the Promise the Angel had given her. At that moment, the Divine Seed of the Christ from the Father joined itself to the Humanity Seed that Mary carried."[6]

Consequently, Jesus Christ was born. However, a valid question arises: if the Word of God was joined to Jesus when he was originally begotten, then how does this joining relate to the union of the divine seed with the humanity seed? Hicks' answer seems ambiguous. When considering the titles of Jesus, she separates the titles "Son of God" and "Son of Man," maintaining, "The title Son of God refers to the divine generation of Jesus. In Eternity-Past, before any other thing was brought forth, God brought forth the divine Spirit and Soul of His Only Begotten Son. . . . The title Son of Man pertains to the human generation of Jesus. God prepared, in the Virgin Mary's womb, a Human Body in which His Begotten Son could dwell."[7] Nevertheless, Hicks does not appear to discuss how these two generations of Jesus are related.

In his earthly ministry, Jesus' humanity and divinity were united yet also remained distinct. This distinction is seen through Jesus having two wills. "During all the days of His Life, Jesus kept His human Will in subjection to the Divine Will of the Christ that was within Him."[8] He also had two kinds of blood:
As the Divine Son of God, Jesus had Pure, Holy, Spiritual Blood. But in order to redeem us from sin, Jesus had to take on the part of flesh that was kept alive with natural, physical blood. It took natural blood to sustain Jesus' natural life in a Body of Flesh. Yet, natural blood alone could not have redeemed us. It took the natural blood and the Spiritual Blood of Jesus Christ to make atonement for our souls.[9]
A complete and permanent union of Jesus and the Christ did not come until after his resurrection.

At the same time, Jesus' death on the cross also has tremendous importance. Hicks states, "God manifested His infinite, sacrificial Love in giving His Son for the world. God magnified His Love in the deed of giving His Son for us and to us. God gave Jesus Christ to be a propitiation for our sins."[10] Hicks explains what happened to Jesus when he died: "Jesus' Body went to the grave, and His Spirit went into the Hands of the Father. Jesus' Soul went down to Hell and Death."[11] However, the Christ in Jesus did not leave Jesus to face this death alone. "[W]hen the time came for Jesus the Man to die as a sacrifice for sin, Christ willingly chose to maintain His joining by going to the Cross and by going down into Hell and Death with Jesus. Thus, it is proper to say that Christ, as well as Jesus, died for our sins."[12] Not only did the Christ remain joined with Jesus, but the Holy Ghost and the Father were also with Jesus during this time.[13] Therefore, "The entire Godhead (Father, Word, and Holy Ghost) was joined to the Son Jesus in the Promise and Performance of man's redemption."[14] Through Jesus' death, descent to hell, and resurrection, God's plan for the redemption of mankind was completed.

[1]Hicks, Confirming Our Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, 41.
[2]Ibid. Emphasis in original.
[3]Ibid, 43.
[6]Ibid, 44.
[7]Ibid, 47. Emphasis in original.
[8]Ibid, 51.
[9]Ibid, 52-53.
[10]Hicks, Confirming Our Faith in God, 73.
[11]Ibid, 64.
[12]Hicks, Confirming Our Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, 51.
[13]Hicks, Confirming Our Faith in God, 48-49.
[14]Ibid, 49.

May 5, 2008

The Challenge of Islam in Uganda

[Video - The Gaddafi National Mosque in Uganda]

How great a force is Islam in Uganda?

Gaddafi National Mosque In April we toured the newly dedicated Gaddafi National Mosque. Financed by Libyan leader Muammar Al-Gaddafi and built atop one of Kampala’s highest hills, it’s by far the largest mosque in sub-Saharan Africa, visible from nearly every point in the city. (While in Uganda for the March 19 dedication ceremony, Gadaffi also created a scandal by declaring the Bible a fraud.)

Gaddafi Mosque DomeThe mosque is simply immense. My house could nearly fit inside its main dome. I couldn’t take a good picture of the interior—it was far too large. And it’s obvious that Gaddafi spared no expense. Our guide described various construction materials imported from Egypt, Morocco, and other countries.

My heart was saddened as I gazed across the vast carpet of the main hall. Ornately decorated, it directs all who enter to kneel and pray to Allah while facing Mecca. Gaddafi Mosque CarpetThere were thousands upon thousands of places to pray, and I imagined the mosque filling with people prostrating themselves to a god who cannot save them.

Perhaps what grieved me most was looking up to see a poster announcing that "Islam the destiny of humanity ... the religion of humanity." The Gaddafi mosque is a powerful symbol of Islam in Uganda. Islam is gaining ground, and the latest statistics indicate that Muslims now make up almost 20% of the population. Especially challenging is the financial factor; it’s well known in Uganda that a university student who converts to Islam can virtually count on having his or her tuition paid.Gaddafi Mosque Poster In a country where poverty and unemployment are widespread and young women often look to "sugar daddies" to underwrite their education, Islam offers an alternative means to pursuing a more prosperous future.

With this in mind, consider the long-term challenge that Islam poses for Christians in Uganda. Churches in East Africa need help in confronting the spread of Islam with compassion and courage. Lord willing, the Africa Center for Apologetics Research will enable pastors and lay believers to understand, answer, and effectively evangelize the Muslims around them.

Join us as we work to defend God’s truth in Africa. Thankfully, we’re not left to ourselves to tackle this problem; our Lord will be with us!

(Previous posts on our recent mission trip: Advancing Biblical Discernment in Uganda)

May 2, 2008

Weekly Round-Up: Uganda Ministry, James White and Islam, Christian Counterfeits, and the Lausanne Movement

Here's this week's round-up:

1) John Divito, "Advancing Biblical Discernment in Uganda" on the ACFAR Blog. OK, OK, so I am shamelessly promoting our ministry. But this was my first blog post since returning from Uganda. I hope that you will be as encouraged as we are when seeing the many ways God blessed us. At the same time, don't forget to look for several more reflections in upcoming weeks. Let's face it: defending the faith in East Africa has never been more important!

ACFAR Blog RSS Feed2) Abraham Piper, "What Is RSS? A Step-by-Step Guide to Google Reader" on the DesiringGod blog. Do you want to save time while surfing the Internet and reading blogs? Do you not know how to subscribe to a blog? Do you have no idea what a "RSS feed" is? Do you wonder what that funny looking orange square is? Then you must read Abraham Piper's introduction to RSS. Once you've read it and are ready to get started, subscribe to our blog at this address:

3) "An Interview with James White" on the Grace to You web site. Not only has James White had a major influence on my spiritual growth and development, but he has recently focused his ministry to critically interact with Muslims. Given the rapid growth of Islam throughout Africa (more about Islam in Uganda on Monday!), you should definitely listen to this four-part interview.

4) Jeff Downs, "A Biblical Approach to Christian Counterfeits" on the Resource Index web site. You'll need to scroll down to the bottom of Jeff's page to find the audio files, but make sure to download these files as they are added. I only wish that more Sunday School classes were taught on this vital issue!

5) Samuel Escobar, "Building a Solid Theological Foundation for Mission Policy and Praxis" in the Lausanne World Pulse (May 2008). A look at the beginning and continued relevance of the Lausanne Movement. Escobar provides a helpful summary of both the insights and challenges faced today in global missions.