I was asked a very important question and gave a poor answer. “What do you think about Nigeria?”. The question came from an older religious leader
Here’s a better answer:
From what I have seen in Nigeria, the greatest threat to the people, and the most difficult thing to overcome is the influx of Pentecostalism and now Charismatic teaching. It is built upon three lies:
One, Arminian free will works religion, where the will of man reigns supreme and grace is denied. Yes, “grace”, is used in the talk, but any denial of election is salvation by man’s free will and denies grace. Paul says, “That the purpose of God, according to election might stand, not works” [Rom 9:11].
Free will has its place, which is after we’ve been converted and loosed by the gospel, but it has no place before. Salvation by man’s will dethrones God and makes man his own savior, when He says, “It is not of him that wills nor of him that runs, but of God who shows mercy [Rom 9:16].” It makes MAN the deciding factor, enthrones man in worship, and it causes God to leave the building. It is a heresy centuries old, wrapped up in better garments, and accepted by evangelicals the world over, but the Puritans and the Reformers stood against it. Most importantly, the Bible stands against it wholeheartedly. Election is the glory of God [Ex 33:18-19].
(When Pentecostalism first came into being in 1906, it was ridiculed for phony signs and wonders. Now, if you ridicule it, people say that you are divisive and judgmental. So be it. I’m not running for office, but trying desperately to be faithful to souls for God’s glory, no matter the cost. I’d like to see others take up this banner of love. I love people trapped in Pentecostalism, which is why I’m here in Africa, but I hate the doctrine that leads them astray and deludes them.
Secondly, the phony, lying signs and wonders, have given people a misplaced confidence. They believe they are saved because they have seen and felt something. They are willing to change doctrine but not their experience, thus they become more orthodox while holding onto the same lies. The word of God becomes a suggestion book, rather than divine authority. They hold to it and whatever else they want to believe, at the same time. It reminds me of the missionaries to Japan after WWII. They reported that the nice Japanese very politely took Jesus, and then put him on the shelf with the rest of their gods.
Thirdly, I’m greatly distressed by the SUPERSTITION. Once you leave Sola Scriptura, you open yourself up to every lie. It breaks my heart, daily, to see Scripture Alone thrown to the wolves and truth lie slain in the street. I’m emphatic about this because it is the only way to keep the witchcraft out. Once you give in to seeing demons, tongues, dreams and visions, you open yourself up to every delusion in Africa. Everyone’s mother-in-law is a witch, if there’s marital problems. If money is tight, then children in Akwa Ibom are the chief witches and are orphaned, or much worse. If a house has “bad luck” the spirits of the ancestors are called, and some other superstitious cantation is performed by the phony signs and wonders preacher who collects your money… like a fortune teller who tells you what you want to hear, so long as she can drain your resources. It is all a scam and a terrible fraud. Sinners go to the preacher and to “traditional medicine” at the same time. They hallelujah Jesus, and go see the witchdoctor, because the pastors do it too.
The man who questioned me seemed very sincere. He has a burden for his people as an elder, as he’s watched Nigeria change from a country, as I’m told, “Where the stranger was helped and integrity was valued,” to a place where corruption and sex are the carte blanche ambitions of the youth. They’ve learned from their preachers to only help the church – not their aging parents or debilitated roads, etc – and it was heartbreaking to hear him recount how it used to be, and then see how it is now.
You can’t trust many people in Nigeria, not because the politicians are corrupt (though that is true), but because the preachers are the most scandalous humans alive. They’ve not only taken the people’s money, as politicians do, but they’ve robbed their souls of the ability to see God and hear the gospel, SELLING them a manufactured lie that makes the truth seem unprofitable and dangerous.
The GOOD NEWS, however, is that it’s always been this way! The world has always been corrupt since Adam’s rebellion and Cain killed Abel, yet the gospel have never failed to get his man. There is no human on planet earth capable of stopping the advance of the gospel, and no power of demons can stop the preached gospel from overcoming the heart of God’s elect. It will conquer and blow down the kingdom of Satan, and there is nothing holding back it’s power today, just like when Peter preached at Pentecost [Dan 2:44-45].
The remedy for the sinful condition of Nigeria, USA, and everywhere else on planet earth is the gospel preached in the power of the Spirit – not as condemnation to the lost, and definitely not as something they won’t believe because they are so sinful.
Look at Peter preaching in Acts 3. See how he stretched the gospel out GRACIOUSLY to the very murderers of Jesus Christ, saying, “Therefore repent and turn back, so that your sins may be wiped out [vs19].” What could be more gracious? “Repent and turn back”, he says, and your sins are gone! You are not to stay in this condemned place! You’ve done the most evil thing imaginable, and God is ready to forgive. Peter gives them the terms, “Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from among your brothers. You must listen to Him in everything He will say to you [vs22].’” As soon as a man learns Jesus is Lord, he learns everything needed for salvation, and then he learns how to obey Him the rest of his life. Peter then concludes, “God raised up His Servant Jesus and sent Him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your evil ways [vs26].” No one is excluded from this gracious call – not you, me, the Pentecostal false prophet, the witch doctor or the witch.
When I go into Akwa Ibom, I don’t care if the children I preach to are witches. I’ve had some dealings with those practicing the dark arts, but what are they to the gospel, just little children who can do nothing but call on a fake god who is powerless. Yes, if you believe in witchcraft, then it can kill you, but if you do not… and I do not… then I’ll preach to every witch in Africa – at midnight, standing on a tombstone, in a graveyard, during full moon – fearlessly.
They can kill the body by poison or knife attack, but they can do nothing by cursing me or you, if they all joined together for 50 years [1 Kings 18:27-29]. It is meaningless. God sits on the throne in Jesus Christ, and if we believe Sola Scriptura, then we’ll never fail nor stumble. If we’re reconciled to Him who rules demons, then we don’t fear their magic! If He is greater in us than the world is outside of us, then fear gives way to courage, ease, and peace [1 John 4:4].
Often, we don’t speak faithfully because we don’t think God will save. We only look at the costs, rather than what might be gained. Let us truly believe that He WILL save anyone He pleases by the truth He gives us. Let us speak as He opens the door, and God’s elect will be set free all over the world.
Ministering in Nigeria ain’t easy, but God can’t be stopped, so who are we to murmur, complain, or cower? Let us be about our Master’s business and confront sin in the reality of its being.