TCC III: Conrad Mbewe on “The Power of the Holy Spirit and the Miracle of Conversion”

Tim Brister —  May 4, 2007 — 5 Comments

Described by World Magazine as Africa ‘s Charles Spurgeon, Conrad Mbewe is a man of God characterized by his love for preaching, writing and controversy. Twenty years ago, he gave up a successful career as a mining engineer to follow God’s call on his life. Having faithfully served as Senior Pastor of the Kabwata Baptist Church in Lusaka , Zambia for the last twenty years, his ministry has flourished and his congregation has grown numerically and spiritually. Mr. Mbewe and his wife have three children, while fostering several other young people in their home. Mr. Mbewe is the author of The Holy Spirit: His Person and Work and is a contributor to The Founders Journal. Mbewe is currently serving with Heartcry Missionary Society.

[Note: Voddie Baucham was scheduled to speak this morning for sessions 3 and 4 but was not able to make it to the conference. Conrad Mbewe is speaking in his stead.]

Who is Conrad Mbewe?

Some information about Conrad:

Text: Ephesians 1:15-2:10

When speaking about the miracle of conversion, we are not speaking so much of the final act of repentance and faith, but the entire process of conversion. This begins with regeneration and ends with our response at conversion (turning from our sin and clinging to the cross). It is conversion in totality preachers of the gospel are looking for as we have many individuals coming before us hearing the gospel. Surely you are looking for something and praying daily that God would bring them to Himself. What it is, indeed, is a miracle.

It is turning men and women from blindness to sight, bondage to freedom, sin to holiness and from enmity against God to a true love for God. That is what our calling is even today in the 21st century as preachers of the gospel. We are not to entertain or inform human beings, but to see this profound miracle take place in their lives. Surely by now you should know that it is an impossible calling, to be taken by human strength.

In Ephesians 2:5, the apostle Paul speaks of the contrast that God made us alive in Christ even when we were dead in our transgressions. No wonder Paul immediately posits that by grace you have been saved by faith! It is the sovereign work of God. It is God’s power to save.

Ours is the most important subject. It is important because we are in the field day in and day out looking for the growth of the seed that is being planted. You and I know that a lot of so-called converts today cannot be described in the words that we have just seen in Acts 26. We cannot speak of a lot of people who fill the pews in our church who have moved from blindness to sight, bondage to freedom, sin to holiness and from enmity against God to a true love for God. When you put any kind of test before them, the wind blows them away like chaff. Surely something is seriously wrong. The Church of the Lord Jesus, instead of helping people toward heaven, is pushing them to hell in heavenly wing chairs. This must stop!

How are we to address this? One of the ways is acquisition of biblical knowledge. What does the Bible say about conversion? The passage here clearly shows that we are what we are because of the power of God. We are not products of mere mortal persuasion. We are not products of mere civilization. We are not products of mere instruction. We are products of the supernatural power of the omnipotent Creator of the universe. He has invaded our human souls to make us what we are today. It is this knowledge that Paul is concerned every Christian should possess. In order to have it, Paul is praying for them.

Paul keeps asking and praying that their eyes might be enlightened so that might know . . .. It is a knowledge that can only be given by God Himself. So Paul is continually pressing his knees in hope and praying that God may open their eyes. But one of the contents of that knowledge is power- the incredibly great power of us to believe. The apostle Paul is saying that as Christians you need to recognize that God has used his mighty strength to make you what you are today. He likens it very quickly to the power God used to raise Jesus from the dead.

I am asking- Do we recognize that every Christian is a product of omnipotence with God Himself doing things the way he did 2000 years ago when he raised his Son from the dead? We are losing sight of an ever present God working in our midst. Science has landed us with an absentee God. The result is that our ministries are blind to the fact that God must work for there to be true eternal fruit.

There is one verse that gives us the contrast and it is Ephesians 2:5. Paul uses the strongest picture to show the challenge that lies before us- we are dealing with death. While we have a pulse, we bring the best of the doctors to reverse a situation that may result in death. But when the doctor says it is over and he is dead, we must visit the graveyard to bury the remains of that individual. Things brings us absolute hopeless.

As for you, you were dead. Dead! The non-Christian is not just stubborn. The non-Christian is dead, spiritually speaking. The apostle Paul is saying that death is a threefold enslavement. First, it is an enslavement to the world, to the mindset of the world. It is also enslavement to the arch-enemy of God, the devil. In all our computer age, we can’t lose sight of the fact that there is a real, personal devil who enslaves human beings. The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers that they may not see the glory of God in the face of Christ.

Paul moves on to the realm of the flesh. We are born with the fallen nature- the propensity to evil, which is also an enslavement. You can change only if you can see a leopard getting rid of its spots. The heart of a man is despartely wicked; who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9). Jesus said, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander; these are what make a man unclean” (Matthew 15:18-20). This is what we are on the inside. This dark, midnight, pitch black heart is the backdrop for the gospel ministry. When you and I go out into the world, we must realize that this is what we are up against. What the apostle Paul said to the Romans is that the sinful mind is hostile to God (Romans 8:5-8). You might say, “At least they come to church, sing our hymns, kids come to church, say grace before their meals. How can you speak of hostility then?” Speak to them of the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Remind them that the center of their lives is to be the Lord Jesus and Him alone and you will soon discover that they will be hissing at you. This is because at the center of their lives is themselves and who they are interested in. They cannot pay their dues one or two hours in church and be allowed to live the rest of the week for themselves.

The bottom line is this: spiritual death! That is the bottom line, and the situation in which we find humanity. What is worse is the fact that human beings are not even aware of it. In fact, they are extremely upset when you show them this reality. At least they will listen to the doctor when he gives the prognosis. But when the preacher says, “You are dead!”, they will drag you out of town. Ephesians 4:17-19 speaks to the human ignorance of the mind and the hardening of the hearts. This is what puts the non-Christians state beyond hope. There is no hope outside of Christ. It is the fact that they are ignorant. They will argue against what is clearly the state until they find themselves in the lake of fire and still cursing the God of whom they have sinned for their entire lives.

Let us learn from this this basic fact. If you are Christian today, you are a product of God. It is not because of your cleverness. It is not because of your Christian upbringing. It is not because of the eloquence of the one who preached when you became a Christian or the ambiance present when you became a Christian. It is because of God and Him alone that you are a Christian! We must become convinced of this because if not, we will put a wrong emphasis in the wrong place. Unless you are born from above, you are spiritually ignorant. The words slipping from Nicodemus’ mouth speaks to his ignorance. This is the point. Flesh gives birth to flesh. It is the Spirit alone who gives birth to Spirit. Every preacher must recognize this- there is nothing that I can do in my own strength to bring one single soul across the gates of heaven and into the presence of God. All my eloquence and education and everything else to my name means nothing. It is absolutely impossible. At a funeral, sure you can have just the right kind of music coming through the organ, all the eloquence you can muster, all the education, but see if you can walk outside a cemetery with a living corpse. Doesn’t he know it is impossible?

The sooner we realize this as preachers, the better it is for us. We see that we are absolutely impotent for the salvation of souls. Any individuals that we are going to produce without the power of God will land in hell in the end, however religious they may end up being. If they come out in terms of their true colors before they die it is better because without the power of God the Holy Spirit, there is nothing we can do. The abortions are ours because we have no power to give life to the dead. The miscarrages are ours, and that should not surprise us. When one single souls tells us that one day, under the ministry of God’s Word, God made the supernatural change in their lives, throughout their lives going from strength to strength until he enters into glory, that should amaze us because we know from whence it came.

May God help us to see that we are ourselves were dead and others were dead also. What that will do for us is make us extremely humble as far as the work of ministry is concerned, because each time we go to minister, God says to us, “Can these bones live?” In our hearts, we will say, “Lord, you know?” For with us it is impossible, and the only reason why I speak is because you have called me to prophesy. It is like a fire burning in my bones. I must speak out of the glories of my God and King and the triumphs of His grace.

It will also keep us humble. When God does a work of grace, we will not be going around strutting like peacocks. Even when men and women have showered us with praises, in our heart of hearts those praises are going through us to the One who rightly deserves them, God Himself.

Because we were all dead. Every one of us.

Is that the faith you presently have? Are your eyes seeing the sophisticated, educated, computer-wise, wealthy American as dead? Are we still believing our Bibles? If we are, then why are our prayer meetings so empty in our churches? Why? Is it because we honestly believe that it is in the pastor’s eloquence, the buildings, the music or the education that we will have success? Do we really believe that we are in the graveyard of this world the only way the dead will rise is when we call upon His name to do so? Is it possible that the reason why our prayer meetings are empty is because our people see the self-confidence in us as preachers? It is the self-confidence they see in the local engineer in the shop to fix whatever needs to be fixed. The must see us as the end of ourselves, clearly at the mercy of God, pleading for them prayerfully like Paul prayed for the Ephesians. God is calling me to raise the dead. Who will come alongside us?

God help us see praying churches. Amen.

END

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  • http://www.tydna.com/ Andy Thompson

    I pray that everything is alright with Baucham.

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Yeah. He just had a scheduling conflict and was not able to make it. I think he is in CA right now or something like that.

  • http://www.lanbaptist.org Zach Terry

    Thanks for providing links to more of Conrad’s materials. I thought as I listened to him that it would be great to hear his ministry to his local Church. Personally, I am impacted more by a Pastor/Theologian than by a Professor/Theologian or an Itinerate Preacher/Theologian. He has effectively communicated his doctrine to ordinary folk, not just other teachers. We would all do well to look more closely at his life and ministry.

  • http://www.timmybrister.com Timmy Brister

    Zach,

    Conrad was the surprise of the conference for me. His messages, and moreso his ministry (which you pointed out) is amazing, and I look forward to following his ministry in the future. It’s unbelievable what God is doing through his church in Zambia and stands as much of an indictment as it does an encouragement.

    Thanks for the comment brother. I’m sorry that I did not get to speak with you more at the conference. I even saw you guys at Ricatoni’s Friday at lunch. We need to make up for lost time . . .

    May the Lord bless your life and ministry,

    Timmy

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