Bill Mounce with East Mountain


Two weekends ago, East Mountain had the privilege of hosting Bill Mounce, a world-renowned New Testament scholar, author, and Bible translator. Bill was a part of the ESV and NIV 2011 Bible translations. Bill spends most of his time these days running, a website dedicated to training and equipping Christians at all levels. East Mountain utilizes Biblical Training’s resources in our pastoral training programs. Biblical Training supplies the content, and East Mountain provides the facilitators, the community, and the support network. Read below to hear about our weekend with Bill.


Bill with Micah and me at the East Mountain braai

On Friday, Bill visited with a cohort of Stellenbosch theology students. The students had the opportunity to dialogue with Bill about their research and his ministry experiences. One PhD student asked Bill about the importance of Biblical Languages for preaching. Bill's response, after decades of pastoral ministry: "I don't know how you stand up there and say 'Thus says the LORD' without being absolutely sure what the text means. And I don't know how you know that without the languages."


Theology students listening to Bill talk about the importance of Biblical Languages.

On Saturday, Bill lectured on Titus 2:11-16. We asked him to speak about the importance of theological studies for practical ministry. He chose to talk about the relationship of justification and sanctification, saying that so much of one’s ministry is dependent upon how one sees the relationship between justification and sanctification. Bill uses the imagery of Matthew’s gospel (7:12-13) in relation to these terms. Justification is the gate entered; sanctification is the path followed.

Here’s Titus 2:11-16 in the NIV and ESV


After the morning lecture, we shared a relaxing lunch. One of the cornerstones of our ministry here at East Mountain is that we are intentional about spending time together and getting to know one another. We view sharing meals as an important activity which facilitates deep conversations and true community.


In the afternoon, we continued discussing the converging worlds of theological reflection and practical ministry with a panel discussion on how the church can and should address the country’s biggest needs. In addition to Bill, our panel consisted of Bryan and Gabe. Bryan is an influential church leader in Cape Town. Gabe is the lead visionary for East Mountain, overseeing strategic involvement and local partnerships.


Bill, Bryan, and Gabe

The rich discussion impressed on me the importance of the work we are doing. There is a deep need for greater Biblical literacy, more theological training, and, especially, discipleship of church leaders. Paul sent out Titus and Timothy as apostolic delegates with his full authority to address the situations in Crete and Ephesus, to restore order to the churches, and set up healthy, Biblical processes for dealing with current and future issues. In the same way, God, through His Spirit and His church, is calling pastors to lead their congregations in a way that motivates believers to preach the gospel, to love their neighbors, and to work towards reconciliation and peace (2 Cor 5).

In post-apartheid South Africa, there is no shortage of need for what Paul calls the ministry of reconciliation. As I learned in our discussion, even reconciliation is a loaded term in South Africa. The chasms of inequality  and mistrust run so deep, only gospel-preaching paired with gospel-living can begin to bring healing.



Would you join us praying for the Church to rise up in addressing the needs of South Africa?

Would you pray for God to be glorified through the advance of His Kingdom here and now?

Thank you for being a part of what God is doing in South Africa through East Mountain.

Why South Africa?

Living in America, it often feels like Christianity is in its decline. In 1910, 93% of all Christians in the world lived in Europe or the Americas. Today, that number is 63%.For our society, the significance and beauty of the gospel has faded in an age of material wealth and busy schedules.

In reality, the gospel is not dying out or fading - it’s just that its center has shifted dramatically.


Today, 1 in 4 Christians live in sub-Saharan Africa. In the last century, Christianity has spread more rapidly there than any other region of the world - it has seen a 60-fold increase in the number of believers! Many people ask us: Why South Africa?

Our answer: the gospel is spreading like wildfire in South Africa. That creates a huge need for Biblical education, pastoral training, and church support.


Today, you and I have more than 516 million brothers and sisters in sub-Saharan Africa, hungry to know God, eager to understand His word.

Our brothers and sisters need us. As people come to faith by the thousands, theological education and Bible study opportunities remain scarce.

In Tanzania, we met pastors who came to Christ, and less than a year later, had dozens gathering in their home, looking to them for spiritual leadership and teaching. Untrained, unsure of themselves, they pray God will help them; they shared of nights lying awake, wishing God would send someone to support and teach them.


In Rwanda, we saw the shadows left by the light of this revival. We met a “pastor” who had an obsession with building his personal wealth - the gospel he preached was not the truth, and he preyed on his congregation’s generosity. The people in his church didn’t know better -- no one ever gave them a theological foundation or taught them to read the Bible. Desperate physical needs abounded in his congregation, unmet, while the pastor’s house grew larger, his clothes ever more extravagant.

In Uganda, we asked our host pastor: “What is your church’s biggest need?” His answer: “Bible teaching! A class so that anyone could learn to read the Bible for themselves. We need more leaders; my congregation is hungry to learn! You have theological degrees from an American university ... could you teach them?”

You can imagine our delighted response. Jack had more fun that month than perhaps any other on our year-long journey.


I loved teaching community health classes, weaving together Scripture and topics in family wellness, working to empower African women. The month passed too quickly, and we still find that our hearts yearn for those days.


Why South Africa? Where there is a need, God provides. The faithful in Africa have been praying that God would send them teachers. And to our surprise, sometimes the Spirit whispers that WE are how God will answer their prayers.

We have heard the call of the Lord yet again: “Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?”

We know our answer - but we can’t do it alone.

Would you consider answering the call with us? We are 30% funded, and praying that God would provide more partners to join us in this exciting ministry.

We are passionate about equipping our brothers and sisters for the work of ministry. We know God has wonderful things planned for His church in South Africa. Would you join us?

Prophecy Then & Now


I post this to contribute to the ongoing musings and discussions happening on our squad related to the outpouring of the indwelling Spirit.  This is not meant to be the authoritative answer by any means. These are thoughts compiled by one scholar who has devoted his life to studying the Bible and encouraging the church and scholarly community with his findings.

What follows is a list of characteristics that generally apply to most (but not all) prophets. Prophets pray (Abraham), praise (Mariam) and preach (Amos), but so do lots of other people who are not called prophets. What makes them so special?

These characteristics, compiled by John Goldingay of Fuller Theological Seminary, distinguish prophets from other leaders, and can be thought of as familial traits or resemblance shared by family members.

Disclaimer: No one prophet applies to all of these characteristics. No one characteristic applies to all people labeled as prophets. Characteristics of one prophet may not be a necessary component of prophetic ministry as a whole. Goldingay's 9 Facets of a Prophet / Prophetic Ministry1. A prophet shares God's nightmares and dreams.

They can see things that other people cannot see (i.e. Isa 1, Elisha & God's armies)

A prophet looks at the present in light of the past and in light of the future as well as the future in light of the present. Decimation is not the last word.

Prophets in the OT were invited into God's "cabinet," His heavenly court, to be a part of the decision making process of the gods. (Gen 1 & Job 1 are two examples of this "heavenly cabinet". 1 Kings 22 is a prime example of a prophet being a part of the process. Abraham's pleading for Sodom & Gomorrah in Gen 18 is another.

A prophet brings bad news (nightmares) more than good news (dreams), about 2/3 bad and 1/3 good.

2. A prophet speaks like a poet and behaves like an actor.

The books are most written in poetic style, in verse, and contain a lot of indirect communication. They are full of hyperbole and imagery, simile and metaphor (1 Kings 13 & 22).

Receiving a word from a prophet does not make life less complicated (or easier). Its like hearing a parable from Jesus. We should expect Christian prophets to speak in pictures.

Prophets speak in rhyme. Prophets can dance. They got rhythm.

God may leave us initially puzzled. God speaks in pictures & images for 2 reasons: 1- that deep truths about God can't be put in straightforward language that speaks only to the rational mind (they are not simply easily understood and comprehended) they require images that have the capacity to reach the whole person (deep truths about god speak to the whole person, not just the rational mind) and


2- that we don't want to receive God's truth. But, pictures and images can get past our defenses and break through our resistance.

Prophecy speaks to our will, our imagination and our insight.

3. A prophet is somebody who confronts the confident with rebuke and the downcast with hope.

They minister directly with the people of their day, they speak to their own people and the struggles they are dealing with. They don't speak much about "the Messiah."

The first two thirds of Ezekiel is mostly rebuke, but the final third of Ezekiel is about restoration. First Isaiah (1-39) is mostly rebuke. Second Isaiah (40-55) is mostly hope. A true prophet knows what time it is, an speaks accordingly.

4. A prophet is someone who speaks mostly to the people of God.

They are not social reformers though they do have a vision of what things should like. They remind the people of their commitment to God. They do speak to the world/nations, but primarily to the people of God. Prophets today will call the church to be people of God instead of an imitation of the world.

5. A prophet is someone who is not a part of the establish societal/ruling/political structure.

They are independent of institutional pressures of church and state, not on the payroll of gods people. they speak using objectionable language an that says something about who they are speaking to as well as the prophets themselves.

6. A prophet is a scary person who mediates the things of a scary God.

Prophetic ministry today should reduce the domestication of God that characterizes us as evangelicals and charismatics.

7. A prophet intercedes with boldness and praises with freedom.


They are mediators who mediate in BOTH directions as members of God's cabinet, they take part in cabinet discussions on behalf of the people of God advocating for them (prayer). They also proclaim the cabinet's decisions to the people (preaching). Amos 7&8. Both activities, the preaching and the prayer, have the same aim, which is for God's positive purposes to be fulfilled and God's negative purposes to be abandoned. (Abraham in Gen 20). Prophets pray & preach, as well as praise!

8. A prophet is someone who speaks and ministers in a way that reflect the personalities of the individual and their time.

God speaks by their "hand." Some humanness comes out in the delivery of Hod's message. God uses them as who they are to bring the message they can bring. Jeremiah speaks differently than Isaiah who speaks differently than Ezekiel, etc.

It does not bypass the person or their personality.

9. A prophet is certain to fail, in some way or another.

God sent prophets to call His people out from their apostasy and back into right relationship with Him. Almost none of them succeed. Ironically Jonah was the most successful prophet. However, God is ever hopeful, and no "failure" discourages Him.

Prophets are not infallible - they make mistakes (i.e. Elijah, Hannaniah, Jeremiah in ch 15, they may not achieve the purpose for which God sent them.

So, what's the point? God stays ever faithful and ever hopeful. Prophets are a means of God's grace. A prophet should prophesy because God called him/her. He or she must be obedient and faithful, because God is. Closing Thoughts

I would encourage you to listen to the first 45 min of this lecture where Goldingay explains these 9 facets/familial traits. If you are interested, you might as well listen to the entire course. If you want to read more on the topic of the Holy Spirit and prophecy check out Walter Brueggeman's The Prophetic Imagination, Gordon Fee's God's Empowering Presence. Probably the best commentary on 1 Corinthians is by Gordon Fee, the chief NT editor for the NIV.

After understanding how prophets ministered in the OT, we can begin to draw conclusions about what the gift of prophecy and prophetic ministry should look like today. Stay tuned for a post later this month on some of my thoughts on that matter.

(The pictures were taken and edited by Loren when Jack & Jake team preached in Uganda.)