Time is really different in Nicaragua, which is one of the things that really got under my skin when I starting visiting the country in 2008. If you say something is supposed to start at 9:00am, people will arrive sometime between 9:30am and 10:00am. So in the eight years I traveled to Nicaragua, I have never seen a Nicaraguan person arrive early, to anything…ever. That was until this particular morning.
The Pastor’s Conference was set to begin at 9:00am, which in Nicaragua time meant 9:30am at best. And then it happened; the first two pastors arrived at 7:15am! By 8:30am every pastor was accounted for and eagerly awaiting for the teaching to begin. The pastors were early and hungry for the Word of God! One pastor had traveled 19 hours by bus (540 kilometers) for this one day of teaching.
All 27 pastors were locked and loaded, so I began our study of Soteriology (the study of salvation) at 9:00am sharp. I used Romans 8:28-30 as the foundation of God’s side of salvation. We began in Ezekiel 36-37 to see how salvation is a supernatural work of God, that He does first and foremost for His name sake and glory, rather than first and foremost for our good. Therefore the gospel is radically God-centered, not man-centered, which is why God deserves all praise and glory for our salvation.
Next we explored God’s unbreakable chain from Romans 8 (foreknowledge-predestination-calling-justification-glorification), and worked through each word, link-by-link, before seeing how the whole chain linked together to compete the promise “all things work together for good for those who love God.”
These pastors had not been exposed to a God-centered view of salvation, so at first they were very skeptical about concepts such as foreknowledge, unconditional election, and predestination. However, as they began to see that the Bible presents all these concepts as positive (ensuring the most people are saved) and God-honoring (ensuring that God gets the most glory), they began to see the beauty of God’s unbreakable chain.
As we wrapped up the day, these men left with a deeper understanding of their own salvation, and the salvation they preach to their people week-in and week-out. They left humbled under the truth that God had chosen them before the foundation of the world, and they left praising God for His glorious grace. The also left more passionate about sharing the Gospel with as many people as possible, because the same God who had called them to fish, is the same God who guarantees them a catch!