The last sessions of Cubao Reformed Baptist Church Pastors’ Conference 2021 was led by Pastor Condrad Mbewe of Kabwata Baptist Church in Lusaka, Zambia, who is also called the Spurgeon of Africa. Continuing on the theme: God’s Servants in Troubled Times, he focuses on how God’s servants should live and minister in Troubled times, especially in the midst of the pandemic. Let me share to you my notes and what I learned from the sessions (please note that the outline and summary below may contain Pastor Condrad’s words and points in verbatim or paraphrased).
God’s servant avoids ungodly company
The trouble that we face today is more on spiritual than physical. Our spiritual condition is more important, though it should not be wholly divorced from the physical, since it affects not only the way we live now but also the way we will live in eternity. In this spiritual pandemic, people who stay close by our side and our company matters. So, the first message focuses on how God’s servant should avoid ungodly company.
But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. 2 Tim 3:1-4
We see a description of the times of difficulty, and Paul says that it is something to be expected since we are in the last days. He is referring to the time where Timothy already lived in not in the time that is yet to come. In the Scriptures, the last days refer to the time between the first and second coming of Christ. During this period, there will be times of difficulty.
Notice that the difficulty about the last days is not about economical crisis but about moral decay and corruption for man will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, etc. (v. 2). They are lovers of pleasures than lovers of God. They have the knowledge of God, but they do not love Him, they love themselves instead. They also have the appearance of godliness (v. 4). So, they may appear to be carrying the Bible daily and preaching the word of God in the pulpit, but their very lives deny its power and have no actual working of the Spirit of God in their lives. They are bereft of the power of God.
Some men think that the epitome of godliness is simply watching and downloading reformed sermons, if you will, but when they talk to their wives and to other people, they have no fragrant of grace nor any conformity to Christ. They are simply spiritually dead professing pastors or Christians. They put on that outward robe of righteousness but when they are alone, the room is close, in front of their computer screen they indulge in their own lust and sins. This is indeed thousand worse than Covid-19. So the question is, “Why do we need to avoid them?”
avoid them because they are contagious
Paul urge Timothy to avoid such people (v. 5). Pastor Condrad cites J.C. Ryle who once said, Remember, that good health is not contagious, disease is. In other words, having company with such people will cause you to be sick not you making them healthy. As God’s servants, we must do our best, in the strength of the LORD to have nothing to do with those people. If we don’t avoid them, it will damage us, lead us to compromise and corrupt us. Indeed, Stubborn sin is a thousand times worse than Covid-19.
This does not mean that we should totally stay away from such people. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 5:9-11 that we should not associate with anyone who bears the name of brother and who is guilty of immorality, greed, idolatry, etc. and we would add to unbelievers with dubious character. It is one thing to be going into their lives to minister to them and preach the gospel; it is another to befriend them and consistently stay with them only to injure us eventually.
Avoid them because they will destroy you
Paul’s exhortation to him in 1 Timothy 4:15-16 can be much appreciated in the negative, fail to persist in this and by so doing you will destroy both yourself and your hearers. You will fail once you stop keeping a close watch on yourself and on the teaching, and this happens through bad company. Remember, bad company corrupts good morals (1 Cor. 15:33). So, we need to understand what it entails in a practical level. We need to keep watch on ourselves, lest we be tempted (Galatians 6:1).
Who are the people closest to you? Do you stay with them because they encourage you to be holy, because they challenge you to be a good Christian husband, father and pastor? Are you keeping people around you who have no other desire but to glorify God? Or are you surrounding yourself with people who are proud, arrogant and lovers of self?
Avoid them because they are heading to destruction
The last point that Pastor Condrad gives us is that we are to avoid them because they are heading to destruction (v. 6-9). They are incapable of self-control. They are incapable of saying no to their passions, lusts and own selves. They hate the truth (v. 8). They claim to be God’s servant, but they pick the truths that only serve their end and not the whole counsel of God. In their denial and hatred of truth, they are heading to destruction (v.9). In the end, when God opens the wardrobe doors and disaster catches up with them, their folly will be exposed and they will face the wrath of God. Don’t identify with them! Avoid them, even if they call you “holier than thou”.
If the LORD has truly saved you, you will be disgusted with those who play the hypocrite game. If you cannot minister to them, stay away from them for the sake of your soul, for the sake of your testimony, for the sake of your ministry and for the sake of the glory of God.
God’s servant aligns with godly company
In the second message, Ptr. Condrad deals with the question “How God’s servants should positively live in such troubled times.” He draws the message from 2 Timothy 3:10-17, with the focus on aligning oneself with those who live a proven track record of true godliness. We want to be with the company of those who pursue spiritual healthiness, fruitfulness and godliness. We must allow them to marinate our souls with their lives marked with genuine godliness. We must identify with those who are good models not with those who simply make claims.
Paul set before Timothy his life as an example since he has followed his teaching, his conduct, his aim in life, his faith, his patience, his love, his steadfastness, his persecutions and sufferings that happened to him (vv. 10-11). Hebrews 13:7 tells us to consider the outcome of our leaders way of life and imitate their faith. We should deliberately and intentionally bask under those people whose lives have gone before us. Let’s make sure to keep their lives before us. Read Christian biography, read lives of those people who have great experience of God’s amazing grace.
Align with them continually
Paul admonished Paul to continue in what he have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom he learned it (v. 14). In view of the world’s moral decay, Timothy must preserve and continue in the faith. So should we, we must sink our roots deeply. When there is spiritual pandemic, that’s the time to dig our roots deeper, to learn from the heroes of faith, and to grow firmly establish in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In the next chapter, Paul charges Timothy in the presence of God and of Jesus Christ to preach the word reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching even if it’s out of season (4:1-2).
Hang on to those from whom you learned the glorious truths of the gospel. Indeed, the best teachers are the godly teachers. If we are going to serve God in a world that is overtaken by spiritual and moral pandemic, we have to sink our roots deeply into the lives of those who walk the path of righteousness.
Align with them faithfully
Pastor Condrad also stressed the importance of the Scriptures as our ultimate companion. Faithfully aligning with good company means that we align with them in so far as they are faithful to the Word of God, the very foundation of our faith, the good Old Book. Timothy has been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make him wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. At the end of the day, it is not mere human that we are following. We follow the lives of those who reflect the truth of the sacred Scriptures (v .15). We abandon those who abandon the good Old Book.
Their lives must be faithfully pointing not to their own but to the LORD Jesus Christ’s. Paul writes to the Church of Corinth to imitate him as he imitates Christ (1 Cor 1:11). Our sure foundation is our acquaintance with the Scriptures in the midst of this spiritual pandemic. True godly company must be based upon our acquaintance with the book of God Himself.
The Scripture will keep us stable in the midst of spiritual pandemic, because it is the very Word of God. Aside from following the role models of those with proven track record of true godliness, make the written Word your number one companion, as you hear from it the voice of the Living Word, your Friend, your eternal Company. As God’s servant in troubled times, you need the Bible, do not move away from this book. Faithfully live the truths contained in it and faithfully expound the truth from it. Make sure we are firmly embedded in the Word of God and in the God of that Word. Make sure you do not miss this foundation that you might truly walk as God’s servant in this spiritually troubled times. We must remain rooted in Scriptures.
At the end of the session, Pastor Noel quoted John Wesley who says, “There is nothing more unchristian than a solitary Christian”. Indeed, we must be connected with the church of God as we faithfully live according to the Word of God.
SOLI DEO GLORIA!
5 thoughts on “God’s Servant and His Company”
Thanks for the great summary. Very well done.
How amazing to be “called the Spurgeon of Africa”.
Only by God’s grace!
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God bless Pastor Conrad. Good message and post about care to who are our friends
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