Last Saturday night I preached in Spanish for the first time ever! It was such a wonderful milestone for me. I was so excited afterwards. I mean, I did not read my sermon notes in spanish and every once in a while look up. No, I preached a message from the Bible all in Spanish. I maybe just looked down at my notes once or twice the entire time. It was great. I spoke at a church youth meeting at a church in Managua that a friend of mine invited me to. I spoke for about 45 minutes. I still can hardly believe that I did it. I mean, I know I said some words wrong, but I didn’t have any long pauses. I didn’t get stuck in the middle of a sentence. I was able to articulate truth from God’s Word and that is what it is all about. There were about 35 youth and young adults who were there.
I spoke about what it means to say that “God is faithful”…the idea that God is indeed faithful, but faithfulness has to be according to something. I used the illustration of marriage and how faithfulness is determined in marriage in accordance with the vows and the covenant that was made before God and before witnesses. These vows serve as the parameters for knowing how we are to remain in faithfulness and thereby remain under the blessings and promises that a marriage brings. That in the same way, God is faithful according to His Word, and His Word is what serves as the parameters for us to know how to remain in His faithfulness and thereby receive the blessings of that faithfulness. I shared that we as Christians can only “claim” those things which are found promised in His Word, and nothing else. The prosperity gospel(name it and claim it) is pretty rampant here in Nicaragua, so I know that what I was saying was a direct attack against such heresy, and all I did was use Scripture to back up everything that I said.
As often has been the case, once again what I have learned about God, faith, hope, truth, etc from the Lord calling Susana home to Heaven was used in my sermon to communicate Biblical truth. I shared about how when Susana was sick with cancer that we heard from several people telling us that we simply had to lay our hands on Susana and declare that she was healed in the name of Jesus. I shared with them that within the parameters of God’s faithfulness to His Word, that He nowhere gives the believer the promise that their children or loved ones are never going to die early. On the contrary, He shows us according to His faithful parameters that this world is under a curse because of sin, and with that curse comes all sorts of disease, suffering, and death, including children’s cancer. But that within the parameters of His Word we are also told of Christ our Redeemer who has come to free us from the curse that leads to eternal death. His redemption is for our eternal souls and our new glorified body that we will one day receive, but not for our corrupted bodies here on this earth. Because this is given in His Word as His parameters, I have no right to “claim” physical healing on my sick child. I can ask God to heal. I can beg God. I can pray morning, noon, and night, but I don’t have any Scriptural basis to “claim” her healing. But what I do have Scriptural basis to “claim” is the fact that she is in Heaven with Jesus. I can “claim” the promise that those who have trusted in Christ alone will not die, but have eternal life. These are things that I can “claim” with joy because these are within the parameters of what God has set in His Word. God is faithful. And His faithfulness is unending…but His faithfulness has been set by parameters according to His Word. And we cannot just claim anything simply because we are Christians.
Anyway, that’s what I shared about. I had some good feedback afterwards and the youth leader shared that what I spoke about really spoke to his heart and helped him understand a better context for his own suffering. I thank the Lord that I was able to glorify God through sharing about Susana and the promises of resurrected life and hope in Christ that we can “claim”. And I use that word “claim” lightly because the truth is that it is all a total gift of grace, but nonetheless we can be sure because His Word has given us such a sure promise. So, praise God that He is still using Susana to make an impact for His glory. Not that the whole message was about Susana (just my last closing example), but praise God that He uses all things for His glory.
Then, yesterday I met with a pastor who I have been getting to know. I heard him speak a message on Sunday and he said some things that seemed contrary to Scripture concerning the idea of being able to lose your salvation (another big belief in many of the churches here in Nicaragua). So, I met with him and had a three hour theology discussion on his front porch…all in spanish. It was awesome. I was able to show him so many places in Scripture that give indication that a person that is truly saved and regenerated cannot ever “lose” their salvation. The Scripture references that he was giving me I was able to show him how these simply indicated that the person who did not “guard” their salvation and did not “remain” or “persevere” does not mean that they lost their salvation, but rather it is an indication that they were never truly saved to begin with. It was awesome. Every Scripture that he mentioned, I was able to show him the context of the Scripture and explain, using other Scriptures, how it did not signify that a person could be saved and then lose their salvation. We had a great time talking about it, and he told me that what I said made a lot of sense and that he was going to really think about it and study it some more. So, praise God for the opportunity to share the Word of God and try to bring clearer understanding of the truth that He has revealed to us.
I only hope that opportunities to teach, preach, and share on front porches continues to grow. Please keep us in your prayers.