It is always a real blessing to meet people for the first time many thousands of miles away from home, across oceans and cultures, yet knowing immediately that you have so much in common all because of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. That was the case on my recent visit to the north of India. What a joy it was, and what an enormous learning and growth experience for me, the one who was asked to go and teach these precious people.
Where did I go and why?
If the state of Uttar Pradesh was an independent country it would be the fifth most populated nation on earth with almost 224 million people (fitting on the list between Brazil and Indonesia). Just a brief tour when I arrived quickly reveals that the people are very religious. The most recent census confirms that Hinduism dominates, Islam is a strong second, and Christianity (of any and all varieties claiming the name) sits at around 0.2%. People’s greatest need is glaringly obvious, but the task of reaching them with the life-giving Gospel is both massive and ominous from a human perspective. No doubt, this is a challenging place, but praise God, there is tremendous encouragement to be found. Indeed, even though they are a minority there are gospel preaching churches, there are men being trained to take out the truth to their own countrymen, and as we know, God, in his sovereignty, is working.
So, with the five hundredth anniversary of the Reformation looming it was deemed appropriate to organize an event unlike any other they had done before. What I witnessed an epic logistical effort by the church in order to allow this to happen. The result was that it was my privilege to bring ten messages over two very special days on the subject of the Reformation to a group of around two hundred people, including many existing pastors and those training for the ministry who travelled from far and wide. My objective was to show them 2,000 years of Christ's power and then in particular the rediscovery, renewal, and revitalization of truth five centuries ago, all rooted in grasping the absolute and exclusive authority of God’s Word, alongside a true understanding of salvation only by grace, through faith, by Christ, and of course, all to God’s glory. During our time we considered the continuing faithfulness and power of God throughout all of church history leading up to that monumental event in Germany in October 1517. We then proceeded to intermingle the historical narrative of the Reformation with its theology and application as we looked at God working specifically across Europe, but ultimately all over the world. On our third and final day we had more focused time with a smaller group of students delving more deeply into the five Solas of the Reformation, and the doctrines of grace over an additional four sessions.
What a humbling experience it was in that corner of this wonderful nation, among these blessed people. I could not have been made more welcome, and I suspect that I left more challenged and strengthened than they all did.
Soli Deo Gloria – Psalm 115:1