Kenyan-born Pastor Christian Lwanda was among the speakers at the final Together for the Gospel conference, where he urged pastors and ministry leaders not to rely on outside forces, no matter how well equipped, to do God's work.
Lwanda, who's an associate pastor at the Evangelical Community Church of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, preached on the last day of the TG4 conference, which brought together church leaders from 62 countries and every state in the U.S., and encouraged them to "persist in the Word."
If pastors are "going to have confidence in God’s Word to do God’s work," they need to “persist in the Word, preach the Word, and be prepared by the Word to stand before the Judge" of their ministries.
“Persist in the Word because the Word is the only place where sinful humans can be shown their desperate, hopeless state before our Holy God and their need for salvation, which can be found only in faith in Christ Jesus,” Lwanda declared.
“Right there, you have the necessity of Scripture. Only in the Bible, are we shown a Holy God who made man in His own image, but man rebelled against God, bringing upon himself the just and holy eternal wrath of God. … But ‘God demonstrates His love in this, that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us,’” he added, quoting Romans 5:8.
Earlier in the sermon, Lwanda quoted 2 Timothy 3:14, where the Apostle Paul encourages Timothy to stand firm in the Scripture even though he was among “false teachers who deny, twist the Word, reject the pattern of sound doctrine that comes from the Word.”
“Timothy is to persist in this Word because it is the only Word that saves; it is from God. … And therefore, carries God's own authority, such that to disobey the Word is to disobey God,” Lwanda said.
“It is from God, which means it's inerrant. God is without error. What He breathes out in His Word is without error. It is from God, and Scripture says it is ‘profitable.’ Talk about an understatement!"
The Bible is made not just for the congregation, but also for pastors, Lwanda stressed, adding that "we don't need to rely on something else to do the work of God other than the Word of God.”
To illustrate his point, Lwanda recounted that when he was a high school rugby player in Nairobi, Kenya, the team he played on was well-equipped, with the best shoes and clean jerseys. At one point, they played against a team from the Western part of the country and their players had tattered shoes and looked like a team that would be easy to beat.
Although he immediately assumed his team would win the game, he soon realized the other team was going to win because, despite their ripped shoes, they were skilled players.
“After one tackle that left me seeing stars and all my ancestors, I realized my shoes are not going to help me here. I had put my confidence in the wrong thing to win the game," Lwanda recounted.
"In the same way, it is so easy for you and I to put our confidence in something other than the Word of God to do the work of God. It is so easy for us to put our confidence in our wisdom, in our ability to navigate complex issues, in our personal strength or charisma, in our ability to drop truth bombs in 240 characters or less."
Lwanda said that pastors have a reason to praise God because of their ability to “come to Him like little children" so that "His Word could do His work in our hearts as pastors.”
“Oh, how we need His Word to do His work in our own hearts as pastors if we are going to love, listen, bear with the sheep — even the sheep that are biting us,” he said.
“It is God's Word that not only equips and matures us, it is God's Word that equips and matures the Church. … It is God's Word that carries God's power to do God's work,” he added, referring to Romans 1:16 and Isaiah 55:11 about the power of the Gospel in relation to salvation and how, when preached, it is never void.
Lwanda described the Bible as “sufficient to unite divided Christians in any culture [and to] navigate complex cultural issues in any culture.”
“The Word of God is sufficient to sustain you and I, brother pastors, in any challenge of pastoral ministry,” Lwanda added. “So how are we doing, persisting in the Word, brother pastors?”
“Scripture says Timothy was well acquainted with the Word. Are we well acquainted with the Word? Or are we better acquainted with blogs and social media? In the words of Jeremiah 1, God is watching over His Word to perform it. So when we persist in the Word, we get a front-row seat in watching God perform His Word."
Pastors have the ability to join God as He performs His Word through them, which can have massive implications on how they do mission work, Lwanda added.
“I beg of you, as someone from the global South, … please do not spend your church's money sending and supporting missionaries who believe in something other than the Word of God to do the work of God,” Lwanda urged.
“Please send us people who are confident that it is the Word of God that will call the elect of God and build the Church of God, and raise indigenous pastors until they know in their bones that it is the Word that will do the work."
Pastors should make sure that they preach the Word of God because God is watching, Lwanda warned, reiterating Timothy as an example, noting that "God will produce fruit."
“If Timothy is going to be a faithful preacher, he has to rightly handle the Word of God. Because his primary audience is God. And then Paul counsels him on how to do this: 'When in season and out of season, when the conditions favor biblical preaching and when the conditions do not favor biblical teaching.'
“Paul tells him, people will not endure sound teaching because they prefer ‘heaping teachers upon themselves who will tell them what is necessary and relevant.’ Interestingly, the focus here is not on the false teacher, but on the false churches who hire and pay as many false teachers as they can to tickle their ears all the way to Hell."
Lwanda concluded his sermon with a prayer for all the pastors in the audience.
“Holy Father, would You grant us confidence in Your ability to use Your Word to do Your work, so much so that we would doggedly persist in the Word, boldly preach the Word, slowly be prepared by the Word to confidently stand and be rewarded by You the Living Word, in Jesus Name we pray, amen.”