Actually, it is longer than that. I come every morning from Kisii town, which is about a half and hour from the church when the road is good. When I arrive, the service is already going strong. They also have an evening service after I am gone. They tell me that in their evening service they discuss what I taught them during the day.
Many people understand English, but many do not, so I speak with a translator. It is either Pastor Joel or Pastor Vincent who translates for me.
There are actually three languages spoken at the conference. When one of the pastors translates for me, he translates into Ekegussi. That is the local language of the Kisii tribe. However, one morning as I was walking down the hill from the road to the church, I could hear that one of the pastors was preaching in Ekegussi, and someone else was translating into yet a third language. I asked Pastor Joel about this.
“He is translating into Swahili. There are people here from outside the area who do not speak Ekegussi.”
I have been doing a series of studies in the book of Ephesians. It is one of the most important parts of Scripture that teaches about life in the church. Many of the teachings of Ephesians are very deep and some are controversial. One of these teachings is the teaching of predestination.
I will not give the entire sermon at this time (nor do you want me to), but only to note that when Paul spoke of predestination, he merely mentions it in passing. He simply lists it as one of the many blessings that we have in Christ. He did not expect it to be a source of controversy, but rather one comfort. He views the fact that God chose us from before the foundation of the world as an indication of the security that we have in Christ.
This is not the same as saying that we have no free will and that our choices do not matter. The fact that the choices that we make have true significance is also true. It is we who determine our path.
How can this be? From our perspective it must be either one or the other that is true, but both cannot be true. Each one is mutually exclusive from the other.
But we view these matters from a perspective where we cannot see the entire truth of these two teachings.
During the entire conference, I am likening our spiritual journey on this earth as a climb up to the summit of a mountain. It is only from a lofty altitude where we begin to have a perspective that can give us understanding.
Paul has seen some of these perspectives. And he is telling us about what he saw on some of the mountains that he had climbed. He had received visions with perspectives that are far higher than we can know. In fact, about some of the things that he was shown, he was not even permitted to tell us.
I told the story to the people of one mountain that I climbed many years ago. The mountain was flanked by two rivers, one flowing in the valley to east of the mountain, and the other to the west. I knew from looking at a map earlier, that these two rivers eventually would come together in a common confluence somewhere to the south and become one.
However, from where I was on the mountain at the beginning, it appeared to me that this could never happen. One of the rivers seemed to be flowing in somewhat of a southerly direction, but the other was veering off far to the west. When I saw this, I felt a great need to get to the point where I could see the point where these two rivers converged.
As I climbed higher, the clouds began to form. I prayed that God would keep the clouds away long enough for me to see where these rivers joined together.
“I need to see them,” I said to the Lord. “It is important for me to see where these two rivers become one.”
Finally, as I topped one of the smaller ridges, in the far distance I could see where the two rives finally flowed together. I could not see the entire journey of each river. I could not see what hills and ridges they first had to flow around, but I could see where they came together. The two more insignificant rivers became one mighty flow.
In our spiritual journey of understanding, we are climbing a mountain that has two rivers flowing next to it, one on each side.
One river is named “Predestination” and the other is named “Free-will.” At the moment, to us it seems impossible for the two to become one.
But Paul has seen it. He has been on the mountain. To him, there was no controversy here. There is only the security of knowing that, if we are in Christ, we are Lord’s.