Friday, 30 October 2015

Seeing Through The Lenses Of The Bible

I recently visited an optician for a routine check-up. As I sat to read the vision test chart, the poor state of my eyesight became evident. The diagnosis: nearsigthedness. The solution: corrective lenses. So now I wear glasses.

Drawing an analogy, the Word of God is like corrective lens. It aids the believer with an accurate view of life
and of themselves. The Word of God delineates the worldview of the believer and of humanity. It is in the Bible we are made conscious of our depravity. In the Bible we appreciate we have offended and continue to offend a Holy God. Humanity, without faith in Christ, is sinful and alienated from God; dead in sin. In the Bible we are told what we have done wrong and what we need to do to restore our relationship with a Holy God(Genesis 3, Ephesians 2:1-10, John 1:12-13, 3:16,Romans 3:23).

The whole theme of the Bible is about God's plan to restore fallen sinners unto Himself. Under the lenses of the Bible, we see well: "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path."(Psalm 119:105). In an age of self-obsession and numerous self-help strategies, which only deals with the superficial, the Word of God comes as the only trustworthy source of diagnosis of our fallen human condition. Hebrews 4:12-13 gives a proper description of the ability of God's word to reveal our true self to us.

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

When I was growing up, I knew of only the x-ray machine as the only machine that can “look” into the human body. There might have been more. But in my small world, it was the x-ray machine. Today, medical science with sophisticated machines can pick up any ailment hidden anywhere in the body. Apart from medical sciences, there are other equally sophisticated scanning devices in other fields that can pick their targets even through opaque objects.

We are advancing in technology and knowledge. However, these advancements have limitations. You can’t use an MRI scan to detect the sicknesses of our spiritual being. In Jeremiah 17:9, God through the prophet, testifies about the condition of the human heart. This is not referring to the organ that pumps blood and sustains our physical life. He is talking about the state of our whole being. He says: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” No machine, notwithstanding of degree of sophistication can detect the evil and wickedness wedged in our hearts. Only God’s word can. Not leaving us in utter despair of our state, at the very place where God describes the depravity of our hearts, He went on to further tell us, what He alone can do.

I the LORD search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.(Jer 17:10).

That is humbling. The dispositions of our hearts are laid bare before Him. Nowhere to run for cover.

O LORD, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways.  Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.(Ps 139:1-6).

The Psalmist here awes about God’s omniscience: “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.” Nothing, not even our own self can do an accurate diagnosis of the state of our hearts than God can. Through His word, He meticulously searches and reveals the true state of our hearts. Like corrective lenses, the Word leads us in the path of righteousness(Psalm 23:3).  God's Word convicts us, it reproofs, corrects, and trains us in righteousness (2Tim 3:16). God through His Word renews and transform us (Rom 12:1-2). He washes and sanctifies us by His word (John 17:17). Jesus said "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God."(Matthew 4:4).

The Word of God is a lens that will not distort our worldview if faithfully studied, applied and obeyed.

I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you(Ps. 119:11).

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Three Reasons People Believe The Prosperity Gospel

For a greater part of my christian life, my understanding of christianity was shaped by the Charismatic and Word of Faith movement. The idea that God saves us to bless us with material wealth, divine health and a good life is characteristics of the movement. Prosperity, divine health is my portion! I am walking in blessings and divine health! These are but just a few cliches of the movement.

252px-Ghana_Cedi_banknotesFundamentally, the theology of the movement isanthropocentric, oppossed to Christianity been theocentric. In the prosperitygospel, also known as the "Word of Faith," the believer is told touse God, whereas the truth of biblical Christianity is just theopposite"God uses the believer. Word of Faith or prosperity theology seesthe Holy Spirit as a power to be put to use for whatever the believer wills.

About three years ago, I began drifting from the beliefs of charismatism. The drift was precipitated by a number of books I read by CharlesR. Swindoll. One of the titles that made a difference in my life was; "So,You Want To Be Like Christ? Eight Essentials To Get You There". That book disturbed my theology. My drift however, was gradual, at a snail's pace, as I had not fully grasped what was wrong with the prosperity, health and wealth gospel. Many of my friends held to do those beliefs and still do, and not having the requisite knowledge to counteract it, I kept what I had encountered to myself.

During the same period also, I was exposed to ReformedTheology. My world was thrown into complete chaos--positive chaos if there is a phrase like that. All the beliefs I have held before were challenged. All my "heroes" were been described as false teachers. That was too much to take. But gradually, dedicating myself to reading and studying the Bible, the puzzles started falling in place. I haven't fully grasped all there is to the Christian faith, but I have gained some understanding I believe I can share.

Of prosperity and divine health, I have come to three conclusions of what's behind this heresy.

1: A Depraved Mind Deprived Of Truth

1 Timothy 6:3-10

There is no place in the Bible believers are promised prosperity and divine health. To believe God saved us to prosper us is a sign of a depraved mind. The proponents have corrupt minds and corrupt the minds of their followers. They are greedy. They pry on the innocent, using their position of influence to lead people astray. They are robbers who fleece the sheep for selfish gains. They are deprived of truth not understanding the truth of God's word. Anyone who believes and accepts the prosperity and divine health nonsense is clearly guilty of thinking godliness is a means of gain.

The Bible clearly warns the love of money is the root of all evil. Yet, point this out to the proponents of the prosperity gospel and they will in turn inform you "it is the love of money that is evil not money". Very well said, money indeed is not evil, but the love of it. But how can one have money at the root of their theology and yet deny they love money? If you believe in the prosperity gospel, you love money! However you try to look at it, you love money. At the root of your desire for riches, is the love of money. You want to be rich, and you desire that so much, don't you? The diagnosis: you love money.

2: A Low View Of Scripture

To believe Jesus Christ died to make you prosper and successful is a blatant lie. It is a result of under valuing the weight and glory of Holy Scripture. Much of the proof texts used to propagate prosperity and divine health are complete mishandling and distortion of the word of truth. I will examine two popular ones:

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.(2Corinthians 8:9).

(i) "Though he was rich,yet for your sake he became poor"...This in no sense speaks of material prosperity. The riches been spoken about here is the glory He left behind in heaven, putting aside His divinity to live the life of a human being. If we are to interpret the riches here as something earthly, the question we must answer is that, where He came from, i.e. heaven, was there transactions of money which makes Him rich? No, the riches is the glory He laid aside to become human and live amongst us. (Phillipians 2:5-9).

(ii) "so that you by his poverty might become rich" All human beings by virtue of our sins are wretched and separated from God's glory (Rom 3:23). To be separated from God's glory makes us poor and souls deserving of God's wrath. But Jesus stepped in, He descended from His glory to make us who will believe in Him, rich, not in terms of material blessings; but reconciliation unto God and restoration from from our sinful state to live lives glorifying to God.( Eph 1:3-4) When we read riches as material blessings, we under value what God did for the Christian through  His death and resurrection. He died to reconcile sinners to God, not to make sinners rich.

The next popular representing divine health is a little phrase "By his wounds you have been healed" which is pulled from "He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness . By his wounds you have been healed.For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls."(1Peter 2:24-25).

Now, "By his wounds you have been healed" is another blatant abuse of the text to say what it is not saying. That phrase in the context it appears says nothing about physical healing.  The healing in the context is simply forgiveness of sin in Christ. The context is so clear, I wonder how we twist it. Sin is a disease, a disease that separates us from God. And by Jesus' wounds on the cross, we were healed of the disease of sin and brought back into fellowship with God.

3. Disregard For Sound Doctrine

Sound doctrine--rightly dividing the word of truth has been replaced by messages to entertain and stimulate itchy ears. In the last days, we are told "people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths."(1Timothy 4:3-4).

We indeed are living in the days and the descriptions above fits many church folks. What their Pastor or spiritual leader says is the truth and they won't hear anyone else, not even when you point them to the truth as revealed in the Bible. Paul admonishes Timothy to "...flee these things"(1Timothy 6:11). Why will you not flee from that which will lead you "...into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction."(v9).

In conclusion, we must indeed  work and be good stewards of what God blesses us with. We must however not approach God with the false notion of prosperity. God doesn't owe us anything. But if by His Sovereignty and Providence, He gives us riches to enjoy, we must live our days in gratitude and generosity:

As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.(1Timothy 6:17-19).

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Standing Firm In God's Love

But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth(2Thessalonians 2:13).

3051-13In my Bible, the verse above opens with the heading, "Stand firm". This is an indication this portion of the epistle was written to strengthen and encourage the Thessalonians to stand firm in their faith. In 2Thessalonians, Paul addresses the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, a message we seldom hear in our days. In verse two and three, he tackles a false belief amongst the Thessalonians purporting the second coming has already happened:
Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one deceive you in any way...(v1-3).

This was a church enduring persecutions and suffering (2Thes 1:4-5) hence a lie of such magnitude will unsettle them. They might be contemplating; "If the second coming has already occurred, what are we then suffering for?" "Is our faith not in vain?". You will notice Paul addresses specifically, the possibility of losing one's faith and uncertainty that such a lie can produce. He wrote, "we ask you, brothers, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed". Notice also that, some have actually believed the lie of these false teachers. God allowed them to believe a lie because they were unwilling to believe the truth.

The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.(v9-12).

Falsehood has the capacity to lead believers astray and we must at all times guard our hearts against deception. In stabilising their hearts, Paul speaks of a truth--the doctrine of election--which is the reality of every believer: "God chose be saved". The believer is chosen of God; handpicked and set aside to be a recipient of God’s love. Salvation is monergestic--strictly a work of God we contributed nothing to. Christ in John 15:16 tells His disciples "You did not choose me, but I chose you”. Peter in 1Pet 2:9 also wrote that “…you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”

What qualifies a person to be chosen by God? Nothing! We are not saved by meritorious works. We are saved by grace alone through faith alone(Rom 3:20; 28, Eph 2:8-9, Gal 2:16).
We contributed nothing to our salvation. It is all a work of God’s grace. We were sinners seperated from God(Rom 3:23). We were children of wrath (Eph 2:3). But God extended His love towards us and set us apart–sanctified–to Himself by the regenerating power of The Holy Spirit. “Once [we] were not a people, but now [we] are God’s people; once [we]had not received mercy, but now [we] have received mercy.” (1Pet 2:10). A Christian is a Christian “according to the purpose of [God’s] will” (Eph 1:5). God chose us before the foundation of the earth (Eph. 1:4).

As indicated earlier, the Thessalonian church was a suffering church and this portion of the epistle was written to strengthen and encourage them to stand firm in their faith. Believers suffer and face persecution in various forms. But the reality of God's Sovereignty in electing--choosing sinners--unto eternal life must delight every child of God. God before the foundation of the earth, set His love upon us and He called us "Beloved". When God saves us from the present evil world, He saves us with an everlasting love. He doesn't save with a love that fails. He saves us never to perish. Our hearts must be stepped in God's love towards us. Nothing can separate us from His love (Jeremiah 31:3, John 10:27-28, Romans 8:31-38).

If you are a believer, God has chosen--elected--you to be saved. You did nothing deserving of God's choice. This truth must humble and cause us to lift our voice in adoration, just as Paul did in writing to the Thessalonians, "But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you… (2 Thess 2:13).

Friday, 16 October 2015

Here Are Three Reasons You Must Pray For The Unsaved

I belong to a facebook group where different Christian thoughts are shared. Recently, a question was posted which inspired this post. "Will You Pray At All For Someone Who Is Not willing To Submit To Christ?" That's a good question, isn't it? I believe as Christians, we all have experiences of praying for  the salvation of a friend, family member, neighbour etc and it seems the more we pray, and tell them about their need of salvation, their rebellion towards God and Christianity grows. Now, it can indeed get frustrating. So the question whether to continue in prayer for an unwilling, unrepentant sinner is, to be frank, a relevant question. In this post, I seek to answer an emphatic Yes to the question "Will You Pray At All For Someone Who Is Not willing To Submit To Christ?"

Here are my reasons

1: Prayers For The Unsaved Is A Command

In a conversation with His disciples, Jesus commanded them to pray about salvation of souls. "Then he said to his disciples, The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest" (Matthew 9:37-38). In these words, we see embedded the necessity of prayer for souls. Why must we pray for labourers? Because "The harvest is plentiful". In other words, there are many people who have to be saved. In 1Timothy 2:1-4, Paul instructs we engage in prayers for the salvation of souls. We don't possess the ability to save anyone. Salvation is of the Lord therefore we must continually entreat Him in prayer to save sinners. Without prayer, our efforts at reaching people for the Lord will be in vain.

After planting and watering, God is the one who gives the increase. Now, if we look at the preceeding verses of Matthew 9, we will get a perfect picture of why Jesus asked for prayers for labourers to be sent: "When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd."(v36).

Herein is the sad state of the unbeliever; the multitudes-crowd without Christ. They are harassed and helpless under the bondage of sin. They are guilty under the wrath of God. They are without a shepherd.  They have no relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ..."Harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd"...that must break every believers' heart to say a word of prayer for the unsaved. They will not admit it; but our Lord's words are true; they are "Harassed and helpless, like sheep without shepherd". They are lost! Out of compassion, our Lord told His disciples; “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”(v37-38). Don't give up praying for the lost.

2: Only God Can Break The Unwilling Heart Of The Sinner

It must not be lost on us as believers, that our salvation is not a smart choice or good decision we made. We are not smarter than our neighbhour who hasn't yet submitted to the Lordship of Christ. The truth is, we are not Christians because we were willing to give our lives to Christ. Jesus said He chose us, not us (John 15:16). In John 6:44, we are also told "No one can come to [Jesus] unless the Father ... draws him. By our own will we cannot be saved (Ezekiel 36:26, John 1:12-13, Roman 9:18). We are Christians because of God's grace.

Before we came to Christ, we were all people who rebelled against God until grace found us. In Ephesians 2:1-3, Paul describes our spiritual deadness prior to coming to Christ. He compares us to that unwilling sinner we are getting tired praying for. He seems to say, "before you came to Christ, you were just like them"; "And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind."

That was our state. We were equally "following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience". We were no different from the unwilling unbeliever. The difference now is God's intervention. In verse 4 of Ephesians 2, after our former state has been described, we are told what God did with us: "But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved—"
God showed us mercy. God stepped into out rebellion and broke our resistance. Knowing our former state and how merciful God has been to us, we must be patient and continue in prayer for those who seem unwilling to submit to Christ. Their unwillingness can only be broken by the Spirit of God. Don't give up. Keep praying for them. Their unwillingness is indeed a spiritual battle. Satan has blinded them to the truth. That is the more reason we must pray for them. Only God can rip off their spiritual blindness and shine lights into their hearts.

3: Someone Prayed For Your Salvation
You might not be directly aware. But I am confident your salvation is an answer to somebody's prayers. Your friend, your family member, a church in your community, a Pastor, your school chaplain, a missionary...somebody's prayer definitely has a hand in your salvation. An incident in the Bible readily comes to minpicture comes to mind. In Acts 7, Stephen's martydom by stoning is recorded:

Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. And as they were stoning Stephen , he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord , do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.(vs58-60)

See two powerful phrases in the verses here. The first is the record that they laid Stephen's garment at the feet of Saul(v58) and secondly Stephen's prayer in v60, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them". Even at the brink of death Stephen still prays for his murderers. Immediately we step into Chapter 8, Saul's name is mentioned again. He has come into the picture. He must be important to the storyline: "And Saul approved of his execution."(v8). Fast foward to Chapter 9 we meet Saul and his encounter on the road to Damascus. He met the Lord and his life was changed. I am very convinced Paul's conversion has a relationship with Stephen's prayer; "Lord , do not hold this sin against them"

I pray you don't get tired praying for anyone's salvation. Continue in prayer and don't give up.

Monday, 5 October 2015

Christian Suffering Is Biblical

There is a kind of Christian teachings out there that promotes the idea Christians must not suffer. That's a lie. A blatant lie! Christians suffer. Acts 14:22 says through much suffering we must enter the kingdom of God. We are no different from people who are persecuted and some even killed for their faith. Contrary to modern day, twenty first century, watered down, health and wealth, easy believismChristians are in fact no super humans. We get frustrated. We get stressed. We live with unfulfilled dreams and expectations. Our lives are in no way immune from the challenges of this world. We lose love ones. We lose jobs. We get sick.

World events must call many believers to rethink what gospel they have believed. Are you saved to be materially blessed and divinely healthy? You have believed a lie.

A cursory look at the Psalms–a great source of comfort and inspiration for believers—reveals the realities of pain and suffering in a believer’s life. Some of the Psalms contain expressions of David’s personal pain and sorrows: "I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping. My eye wastes away because of grief; it grows weak because of all my foes"(Ps 6:6). "Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?"(Ps 43:5). "Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I"(Ps 61:2). "Consider my affliction and my trouble, and forgive all my sins".(Ps 25:18).

In these words, we see “a man after God’s heart” expressing anguish in different circumstances of his life. David was not an exception. Many other characters in the Bible poured out their hearts in pain and anguish. As believers living in a fallen body in a fallen world, we are not immuned from the pain and suffering present in the world. In fact, suffering is ordained in the sovereign plan of God for the world and in the life of the believer. Job said “man is born to trouble”(Job 5:7). Suffering is the portion of every believer. We must all carry our cross and follow Him.

The biblical authors acknowledged what many today will deny in the name of Faith. They acknowledged the place of suffering in the believer's life. James said "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,"(James 2:1). Paul pointed out that "Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted"(2Timothy 3:12). The Lord Jesus Christ Himself painted no rosy picture of the Christian walk. He told the disciples, "In the world you will have tribulation."(John 16:33).

Suffering teaches us obedience. Writing about the high priestly role of Jesus, the writer of Hebrews tells us that, in His humanity, "Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered."(Hebrews 5:8). No where in the Bible are we guaranteed a life without suffering and pain. You dont even have to open the pages of the Bible to realise the reality of suffering in the world. The bad news, disease, brutal execution of Christians coupled with the suffering of people around us is enough evidence that a suffering proof christianity is a placebo. Paul describes the inescapable realities of suffering in the believers life. "...we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies”(Rom 8:23)

Though we are saved, we are not in possession of the full benefits of our redemption–the glorification of our bodies. We still live with the presence of sin, pain and suffering. We groan in pain in anticipation of our glorification in future. In all of these however, Christianity doesn't spell as gloom. In our suffering, we are not left on our own, we don’t grieve as people who have no hope(1Thess 4:13). We have the blessed Holy Spirit as a comforter and “present help in need”. What a privilege! In our weaknesses and suffering, we can turn to God through faith in Christ Jesus.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.(Heb 4:15-16).

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Pleasing God In A Self Pleasing World

The chief end--purpose, reason of existence -- of man is to glorify self and enjoy self forever"...That of course is wrong, an adulteration by myself of the original "The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever". The adulteration however, is on purpose to sum up our self-obsessed generation. We live in an age preoccupied with self. It is a selfie generation. Everything is about self. Self-esteem, Self-confidence, Self-actualisation. Self is on the ascendancy. The whole fabric of society is woven with selfishness. Many are gods to themselves though they will not say it. They live, eat and breath self. In an online article, Kevin DeYoung aptly captured the self centeredness we carry around in what he calls "The Beatitudes Of The World"

Blessed are the rich, for theirs is the kingdom of pleasure. 
Blessed are those who feel good about themselves, for they shall be confident. 
Blessed are the aggressive, for they shall control the earth. 
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for recognition, for they shall be noticed. 
Blessed are the demanding, for they shall receive what’s coming to them. 
Blessed are the sexually liberated, for they shall be their own gods.Blessed are the scheming, for they shall be called children of the powerful. 
Blessed are those who are praised by the world, for theirs is the kingdom of now.

These words vividly portrays what the human race is: selfish and self centered. It was selfishness; belief in a lie, a promise of independence from God and  "self-exaltation" to deity that plummeted our first parents. They believed they could be like God; “Did God actually say, ‘You  shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”(Genesis 3:1-5).

You will notice that, the first assault from the Serpent was against God's word;"Did God actually say"? Where ever self is dominant, people indulge in sin, attack the word and its authority. The word is twisted, rendered false by misinterpretation, sin is justified and the relevance of God's word called to disrepute.  Why? So we will be able to please self and disregard what God's word says. In Matthew 4, during the encounter between Jesus and Satan, we see the devil consistently attacking the word of God to lure Jesus to disregard God's word and sin. Where ever there is a disregard for God's word, selfishness and sin is the result.

Today, that same voice, which suggested independence from God and the prospect of deity In the garden of Eden is still loud in our generation. Many will have nothing to do with God. He is, to the unbelieving world, non-existent. If He is given attention at all; He exists to cater for our needs, grant our everyday desire; including  approving of our every sin, because He is a God of love. ...J. I. Packer, in his book knowing God, pulls a punch against this distorted love of a Holy God. He wrote; "the God who is love is first and foremost light, and sentimental ideas of his love as an indulgent, benevolent softness, divorced from moral standards and concerns, must therefore be ruled out from the start. God’s love is holy love...God’s love is stern, for it expresses holiness in the lover and seeks holiness for the beloved. Scripture does not allow us to suppose that because God is love we may look to him to confer happiness on people who will not seek holiness, or to shield his loved ones from trouble when he knows that they need trouble to further their sanctification"

Paul, writing to Timothy, saw the assault self will unleash on godliness. In 2Timothy 3:1-5, with prophetic precision, he hinted us on what to see in the last days: "...lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to ...parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.

"...lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God"...That caps it all, doesn't it? Fallen humanity will choose their evil ways above God's holy ways. We love ourselves. Our world today is ruled by subjective morality. The language is, "it is true, because it is what I want". The Prophet Isaiah rightly prophesied  when he wrote "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way..."(Isaiah 53:6).

Now, contrary to the world's  self pleasing lifestyle, Scripture calls believers to a God glorifying, Christ exalting life. We are the light of the world(Matthew 5:16). Christians are people who have been delivered from the world of sin into a world of righteousness and holiness to show forth the praise of God(Colossians 1:13, 1Peter 2:9). Romans 12:2 admonishes us "not [to] be conformed to this world". To be conformed to the world is to imitate, act and think like the world. It is, as James puts it, "friendship with the world". The Christian life is a radical call to separate ourselves from the world-- the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life. Jesus said if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off (Matthew 5:30, Mark 9:43). Jesus is in no way teaching self-mutilation for rigtheousness. He is painting a picture of how radical the call to separate ourselves from sin and self is. The standard for the believer is high. We are called to be perfect as our Father in heaven is. We are called to separate ourselves from the world. We are called to be holy as our Father is Holy.

These however cannot be attained by mere goodwill. We are bound to fail if we attempt to please God in our strength. We first of all must come to a place of total surrender where we look to God for the strength to please Him. While Paul charges us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling, he emphatically told us where the strength to please God and do his will comes from. It is from God Himself; He is the one who works in us both to will and to work for his good pleasure...we are here to please God, and all of our lives must be lived in honour and glory to God who is a rewarder of those who through faith seek him.

To this end God has called us--His Glory! "Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created".(Revelations 4:11)

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Salvation By Grace Alone Through Faith Alone.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast (Ephesians.2:8-9ESV).
In a secular state with about 71% professing Christianity; many grow up in Christian homes with Christian discipline. Raised and groomed "christianly"; the Christian faith appears normal to many. Nothing peculiar! Church attendance is a given. Talk of morality, philanthropy, fighting the social cause---you might be actively engaged. You probably  have grown up believing you are a Christian. But there's a danger here. Growing up in a Christian home, regular church attendance, morality and philanthropy without saving faith in Christ still leaves you in a sinful state separated from God: "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God"(Romans 3:23).

The whole world, without saving faith in Christ, lies dead in sin.(Eph 2). We are broken and sinful--totally depraved and needy of God's grace.The dispositions of our hearts are evil. We tend to believe we are good people. But no, Scripture describes us otherwise:  “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jer 17:9).  If we are indeed dead in sins and our hearts desperately sick, how can we help ourselves? Human pride coupled with false religion suggests to us we can help ourselves. "We don't need God". Though many will not openly confess that, nonetheless they live that everyday. Truth is we can't help ourselves. But self-help sells. There are multitudes of them out there that promises you "your best life now".

However, salvation is strictly a work of God's grace in our hearts. Try as hard as we may, our best efforts in reforming ourselves will only produce "filthy rags" (Isaiah 64:6). Our only hope of salvation is a divine work of grace that makes our hearts pliable to divine truth:

I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules".(Ezekiel 36:25-27).

Here we see the regenerating power of God's grace in our lives. He first removes our "heart of stone"; cold dead to divine truth, disobedient and unyeilding to Him and replaces it with a "heart of flesh"; alive to divine truth, obedient and yeilding to Him. This regenerating power of God's Spirit in our heart leads us to repentance from sin and saving faith in Jesus Christ for remission of sins unto salvation. It is only then you can call yourself a christian and a member of God's family. No one is deserving of God's grace. That's why it is in fact called grace--unmerited, undeserved favour. We contributed nothing to it. It is a gift and rightly so, a gift must be accepted and received.

Now, try answering these questions: Are you a Christian? Is your heart regenerated? Are you born again? Have you come to saving faith putting your trust in Christ for the remission of sins? Be certain with your answer. No self-deception, lest in eternity future you hear Jesus saying to you; "I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’(Matthew 7:23).

Friday, 18 September 2015

Christians: Channels Of Truth And God's Holiness

Christians are children of the Sovereign, Almighty, Most Holy, Most Wise and Infinite God. Creator of the heavens and the earth and all that dwell in it. We are His children He “chose in Christ before the foundation of the world (Eph 1:4). Once upon a time, we were sinners, children of disobedience and separated from God. But Scripture says, “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us”(Rom 5:8). He died to reconcile sinners to God. And by coming to Him through faith, we become His children. We are adopted into the family of God (Jh 1:12-13,Rom 8:14-17).

Apart from being children of God, there are different other descriptions used for the Christian. We are God’s elect. We are His chosen ones. We are His sheep. We are His servants and ambassadors. We are the salt and light of the world. These descriptions presents us with some understanding of our relationship with God. He is a Father, Shepherd, and King. He is Lord and ruler over us and His creation. If this is true of us, then as a Father, Shepherd, King and Lord over our lives; He must have expectations of us. It is said we are the hands and feet of Christ in the world. We are God’s representatives on earth with a mandate to let Him be known to the world. We are saved to show forth God’s glory to the world(Jh 15:16, 1 Pet 2:9, 2Cor 5:20).

As God’s representatives on earth, we have a mandate to make Him known, as already indicated. But if He is God–a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeabled in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth; how can we mere mortal and finite beings represent Him and show forth His glory? How can we be channels by which His truth and holiness will be known?
I will offer two thoughts.

1. Know The Truth.

How can we represent or be channels of what we do not know? It is impossible. It will be an exercise in futility. We must know the truth if we are to represent the truth. Truth is what God has revealed about Himself in Scriptures. “The Word of God, which is contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify… [God]. (WSC 2A).

In Deuteronomy 4:5, Moses clearly indicated the source of the commandments he was giving the children of Israel. They were God’s very words and commands: “See, I have taught you statutes and rules, as the LORD my God commanded me, that you should do them in the land that you are entering to take possession of it”. These “statutes and rules” which are God’s words are to be made known because they are true. Truth is not subjective. Truth is not what other people definite it to be. Truth is what God calls truth through His self-revelation in His word.(Pr 30:5) Jh 14:6, 17:17).
The believer who doesn’t pay attention to the truth of God’s word is going to live a defeated Christian life, tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine. Despite its importance, as humans, the tendency of forgetting the important things of the faith is high. So constantly in Scriptures, God reminds us of the importance of paying heed to His word (Joshua 1:9, Psalms 1 & 119). The reality of our forgetfulness necesscitates constant reminders: “Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. (Deut 4:9). Knowing the truth also has an element of passing the truth on. “Make them known to your children and your children’s children”(Deut 4:9).

2 Live The Truth

Knowing the truth is not enough. We must live the truth:

…be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.(James 1:22-25).

Accumulation of truth is not the desired end for the believer. Living in obedience to God and His word is the desired end of biblical knowledge. I once heard a preacher say the worst sinner is the one whose theology doesn’t reflect in their lives. I agree with him. The highest level indeed of hypocrisy is to preach what we do not practice. God has called us into a life of holiness. He chose us “that we should be holy and blameless before him (Eph 1:4). We are also by the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit being conformed to the image of Christ. (Rom 8:29). Because He is Holy, God calls us unto holiness(Lev 11:44, 1 Pet 1:16). Our manner of life matters to God, because we are His representatives and others see His workings in the world through our lives in our sanctification and holiness.

However, holiness is not only outward. It is also inward; “For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”(Mark 7:21-23). There are people whose outward deeds will, in the eyes of men recommend them to God. But before God, they are “whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness”(Matt 23:27).
That said, it is critical we understand holiness cannot be produced by self-will. We can only be holy when we submit ourselves in obedience to God’s truth enabled by the power of the Holy Spirit. In pursuit of personal holiness, which God has called every believer to, God works and we respond: “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”(Phil 1:12-13).

Holiness doesn’t also spell perfectionism. In our pursuit of holiness, we will fall and stumble sometimes. But we must not relent to keep focus on Christ our righteousness. It is in His rigtheousness we work out our righteousness. Apart from our personal holiness, we are also to be people who care and love others not only in words, but in deeds. We are to extend a hand of care and love to the society we find ourselves. We are to love one another and care for the needs of others. In love, we show the love of God to others. In love, we practice “pure religion”.
These two, I believe are just but a few ways we can be channels of God’s truth and holiness. We must never forget we are instruments and channels through whom God shows forth His truth and holiness to the world. Let us examine our lives and repent where we fall short in representing God’s truth and holiness.

You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.(Matthew 5:14-16).

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Your Body Is The Sanctuary Of God you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own(1Corinthians 6:19).
Many of us practice a level of cleanliness in our homes, offices and environment. We sweep compounds. We mop floors. We remove cobwebs etc. This is because that is where we live. And when we are receiving visitors many of us do a more thorough cleaning. Imagine the President of the land is paying you a visit in your home.

It is said that cleanliness is next to godliness. That is not entirely true, if not entirely false. There are countless number of people who observe marvellous standards of cleanliness and personal hygeine but are far from godliness. That said, if we are believers, we must indeed strive to live lives of excellence which might include personal hygiene and cleanliness of our environment. At least if the earth belongs to our God and all that dwell in it, we must be stewards of it.

When we were moving from our previous accommodation to where we currently live, the landlord came in to inspect the state of his facilities. He was grateful and thanked us for keeping his facilities clean and intact. He continued by saying "most tenants when they leave a facility leave it in a worse and deplorable state". When we first moved into that property, that was going to be our home for the period we will be living there so we kept it as we will keep our own property. How we keep that place gives an indication of the kind of people we are.

Now, God tells believers our body is His sanctuary. It is His temple. It is His dwelling place. When we become born again, when the Holy Spirit regenerates our hearts and quickens our mortal body, He takes residence in us. What this means is that God owns us. We belong to Him. He has control over our body. The huge edifices, cathedrals and temples put up by "human hands" are not God's dwelling. Our body is through the Holy Spirit and the word.

The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man.

If our body belongs to God and His Spirit dwells in us, then God calls us to holiness. He calls us cleanliness and purity. He commands us to stay away from desecrating that temple. If we will take pains to clean our homes and environment, then we must as a command make our body a worthy dwelling place for God. Not necessarily in personal hygiene(though it matters), but in sexual purity and holiness. Since our body is not ours but God's, He must be glorified in us.

...for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body(1Corinthians 6:20).

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Be Fervent In Spirit: Serve The Lord

Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.(Romans 12:11).

Life does get boring sometimes. Suddenly, the things that gives us joy doesn't again. The same thing can happen to a believer in the Christian walk which inadvertently affects our passion for spiritual things. Our hearts get cold. We become slothful--lazy--a state every believer must guard against.

The church is one of the many means God has ordained for our growth; where our faith is sharpened and built up. When we are saved, God places us in a community of believers to be built up and to in turn build others up. The church--an assembly of the called out ones--like the human body has many parts. Each part of the human body has a part to play. The eye can't claim superiority over the legs. Every part of the body has its specific role. No part of the body is insignificant.

In that same comparison, every believer, as a member of the body of Christ has a significant role to play. We are not independent isolated members of the body of Christ. As members of the body of Christ, we all have a part to contribute to its growth. Paul brings this point home in the earlier verses of Romans 12. In verse 4-5, he says

For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another

As members of the body, we are all endowed with gifts and abilities for the building and growth of the body of Christ. In the words of John MacArthur, "The church is a living, breathing organism that functions as life and breath on the basis of the ministry of each member to minister to the others. This is why the church is seen as a body and every one of us as a member of that body. We have a function in harmony and symphony with every other member." We see this further clearly spelt out in vs 6-8.

Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

Despite these rich endowment of gifts each member of the body of Christ has, many believers sit idle without making their gifts benefit the body. They are almost non-existent though they are physically present. Why? Either they have not identified their gifts or think of themselves and their gifts as insignificant or worse still they are simply lazy. Having the knowledge we are all gifted in the body, it is mandatory we take steps to identify our gifts and be actively involved in building the body. Many are actively and passionately involved in other things apart from service to the Lord. Like the third person in the parable of the talents, many believers have buried their gifts and are making no returns on it.

Certainly when the Master returns, they will  hear Him say to them "You wicked and slothful servant!"(Matt 25:26). Not to put our gifts to the benefits of others in the body of Christ is wickedness and slothfulness--laziness.

In Revelations, Christ warns against lukewarmness. God demands of us to be fervent in service to Him. We are to present [ourselves] as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is [our] spiritual worship(Rom 12:1). This imperative cannot be obeyed without making ourselves available as vessels in God's kingdom.

Are you idle and uninvolved in God's kingdom? It is time to get active. Pray that God will help you find your gift to put to use in the building of His kingdom.

Friday, 21 August 2015

The Carnal Mind And The Spiritual Mind.

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are [children] of God.--Romans 8:14
In Romans 8, Paul contrasts a life lived under the dictates of the flesh with a life lived under the influence and control of the Holy Spirit. He argued that, “we[children of God] are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.”(Rom 8:12). To be a debtor to the flesh, is to be under  bondage to sin and controlled by the desires of the flesh.

Living under bondage of the flesh, Paul says leads to death; “For if you live according to the flesh you will die”(vs 13).

In life we are all driven by a specific desire: success, fame, money, power, influence, pleasure etc. But as believers, we should be driven by the glory of God. The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever (WSC).

Where is your desire? (Ps 42: 1-2, Matt 6:33, Phil 3:10, Col 3:1). The difference between those driven by the desires of their flesh and those submitted to the Spirit is simply that, the latter are regenerated, born again and indwelt by the Spirit of God. They are sons–children–of God.

If the Spirit of God lives in you and you are truly converted, there must be a growing evidence of victory over the desires of your  flesh. If there is no evidence of change and transformation in the dispositions of your heart which of course shows in your way of life, then there is a legitimate  reason for your conversion to be questioned. You must be yearning and desiring to please God in all you do.

For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him" (Rom 8:7-9).

There is a Litmus test for who is a child of God! Is yours a mind set on the flesh or a mind set on the Spirit? The best judge is you if indeed you belong to Christ: “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!(2 Cor 13:5).

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Christ Our Living Bread

1 Kings 19:4-8, Ephesians 4:25, John 6:41-51
The Bible draws many analogies from the natural world to teach lessons about spiritual reality. Light, darkness, water, etc. Bread is one of the commonly used analogies from the natural world which speaks to spiritual reality. Jesus indicates in John 6:51 that He is “the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

Bread in the natural signifies food. We eat to to live. We eat to have strength. We eat for nourishment. We eat to satisfy hunger. In the wilderness, after Elijah has run away from Jezebel’s threat for fear of his life, he was constantly supplied with food for his physical nourisment and strength.
And the angel of the LORD came again a second time and touched him and said, “Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you.”And he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mount of God.(1 Kings 19:7-8).
Note vs 8 carefully. Elijah “went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights”. Physically, he was strengthened by food. He was nourished by food. He ate to live in order to continue his assignment. If bread gives nourishment and life to the physical body, the “the living bread” who is Christ gives  the spiritual food we need for spiritual life, strength and nourishment. He is the “living bread” because He gives eternal life to sinners who are separated from God by sin. He reconciles sinners dead in sin to God.(Rom 3:23, 2 Cor 5:19).

Spiritually, without Christ, there is a gulf between us and God. We all deserve eternal damnation. But “the living bread”—Jesus Christ– administers life to all who through faith in Him will come to God to satisfy their spiritual hunger. In Matthew 4:4, Jesus said “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that comes out of the mouth of God. Then in John 1:1, we are told Jesus is the Word incarnate.

Saint Augustine rightly described this spiritual gulf, void and hunger when he said in his Confessions, 
You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless, until they can find rest in you.
Indeed our hearts are restless till they find rest in God. Because God created us for Himself and for His glory. The only satisfaction we will have in life is satisfaction derived from the source of our lives — the Word of God, the Fountain of Living Water, the Living bread, our sin Bearer, our Advocate and the Mediator between God and man.

It is to Jesus we must turn, for without Him, we can do nothing(Jn 15:5). In Him we live and move and have our being(Acts 17:28). We are the sheep of His pasture(Ps. 100:3). We are the branches abiding in the True Vine(Jn 15:4). All other sources of satisfaction are pale in the face of God’s immense provision for satisfaction of our souls.

O! may our hearts be nourished by God’s Word: The Living Bread. Sex won’t do. Alcohol won’t do. Illicit drugs and relationships won’t do. We will find true and lasting satisfaction only if we will turn to God who loves us and came down in human form in the person of Jesus Christ to die to reconcile us to himself. He is the living bread. He is the one with authority given to Him to forgive sins and justify all who will come to Him.

Don’t fill up that void with anything else apart from a lasting, loving relationship with the Living Bread; Jesus the Son of the Living God.

Guide me, O Thou great Redeemer.
Pilgrim through this barren land. I am weak but Thou art mighty. Hold me with Thy powerful hand.
Bread of heaven, bread of heaven.
Feed me till I want no more. Feed me till I want n

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Create In Me A Clean Heart

2 Samuel 11,12. Psalms 51:1-12
We live in a fallen world in a fallen body. A world broken with pain and heartaches. A world inundated with sin. Believers have been separated from sin to righteousness, yet we struggle with sin and fail sometimes if not often. Unbelievers are called unto repentance from their sins. Sin is the root of all our predicaments.

Every now and then a scandal breaks making news headline. Apart from those making the headlines, numerous, equally scandalous, go unnoticed; they occur in “secret places”. However, though removed from the public eye, God sees all that is done in “secret places”. (Ps 139:7,  Heb 4:13)..One of such scandals took place in the palace of an ancient king. The story is narrated in 2 Samuel 11 through to 12. David commits adultery with Bathsheba. She takes seed and in an attempt to cover up, David connives with his army general, Joab, to assassinate Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband. The plot was well executed. Uriah is dead, David marries Bathsheba. Done and dusted! No one knows what has transpired. But wait, though done in secret, the Bible tells us an “Omnipresent eye” was watching:

But the thing that David had done displeased the LORD.(2 Samuel 11:27b).

God, displeased with David’s sin, sends Nathan, a prophet to confront David. After the “charge sheet” has been read out to David; Scripture records “David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” And Nathan said to David, “The LORD also has put away your sin; You shall not die” (2 Samuel 12:13). Fast forward to Psalms 51 and David penned his prayer of repentance on a musical note.

The effects of David’s sin on his relationship with God and himself can be seen in Ps 51:8-12 His joy was gone. He senses a gulf between himself and God. Spiritually, unrepentant sin separates humanity from God. Naturally, the first  reaction many of us take, when we sin, is to hide and pretend. This also, we inherited from our first parents. Their first reaction when they fell was to hide themselves from God:
…the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. (Gen 3:8).
You see, sin has ramifications. Psalms 51 gives us a picture of the weight of sin. Sin is first and foremost against God; an infinitely Holy God: “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.” (vs4). To be bothered about sin in your life is to be bothered about a good cause.

At this point I will offer three suggestions to undergo a “heart cleansing”

1: Acknowledge Your Sins.

Hiding our sin is a great deception. We must bring our sins before God to be healed and forgiven. The first verses of Psalms 51, i.e. vs 1-3 opens with David acknowleding his sin. In 2 Samuel 12:13, we see this same truth. When Nathan confronted David with his sin, he didn’t debate, deny or justify his sin. He admitted to his sins immediately.

In our age of self-esteem and self-aggrandisement; we will do everything to ignore our sins, cover it up with activity; more activity eventually drowning the voice of our conscience. When we mourn over our sins, we are told not to be hard on ourselves. But sin is ubiquitous. In theology, the universal presence of sin is termed Original sin. Ps 51:5 tells us the origin of sin; “I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” Sin is natural with us as a result of the fall.

The whole world, without saving faith in Christ, lies dead in sin.(Eph 2). The dispositions of our hearts are evil. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jer 17:9). When Isaiah encountered the holiness of the Lord, his depravity and sinfulness stared him in the face: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”(6:5).

When Peter encountered Jesus, his sinful nature couldn’t stand the presence of The Holy One. Falling at Jesus’ knees, he exclaimed: “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” (Luke 5:8). Paul, in deep anguish, I believe over indwelling sin, cried out; “[O] Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”(Romans 7:24). The tax collector who showed up in prayer with the self-righteous Pharisee is also worth mentioning. He, “… standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’(Luke 18:13).

2: Repent: Look To Jesus

“God be merciful to me, a sinner”. This prayer, devoid of eloquence and “empty phrases” got God’s attention. Hear Jesus’ commentary. “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified…”(vs14). God hears the prayers of the penitent who looks up to Him in humility and true repentance for forgiveness of their sins: “…a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”(Psalms 51:17).

A renunciation of the presence of sin is probably the worst predicaments that has happened to the human race. Instead of addressing sin as sin; we live in denial, replacing sin with psychological words aimed at drowning and soothing our conscience.

Sin has eternal ramifications and must be treated as such. We  must not live in denial of the presence of sin in our lives. We are all sinners from conception and having inherited the consequence of Adam’s disobedience, Scriptures accuses us and places us distanced from the glory of God (Psalms 51:5, Romans 3:23).

Sinner, will you do the noblest thing of your life by acknowledging your sins? Run to the outstretched arms of the Saviour Jesus for forgiveness and remission of your sins. Come just as you and receive pardon for your sins. (Pro 28:13Matt 11:28-30, Jn 1:12-13).
3: Submit To The Holy Spirit

“Go and sin no more”: I think on two occasions, Jesus pronounced these words to people who have been forgiven of their sins. The woman caught in adultery (Jn 8:11) and the paralysed man who was healed by Jesus (Jn 5:1-14).

When we come to saving faith through the regeneration of the Holy Spirit, God requires from us a life of holiness and separation from sin (Eph 1:4, 1 Pet 1:15-17). We are called out of the world not to be friends with the world–lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and pride of life.

This, left on our own is a daunting task, because as long as we live on this side of eternity, our struggles with the flesh and with sin will continue(Gal 5:17, Matt 26:14).

However, despite the struggles, we are not victims of our flesh. We are not left on our own  to suffer under bondage of sin. God works in us to will and do of His good pleasure, while we, with the help of the Holy Spirit also work out our salvation with fear and trembling. We need not be overcomed by sin once we have been regenerated.

The Holy Spirit renews and gives us strength to be victorious when we submit daily to Him by taking advantage of the means of grace available to us.

Broken and sinful, we all need grace and forgiveness of sin.

Blessed, merciful, Jehovah, Lord, my sin, You have forgiv’n. Now I’m filled with joy eternal, Now I’m satisfied in faith. O my soul, give thanks with praises, Great is God’s blessings we have. Merciful, He loved, redeemed me, Evil dungeon saved me from.~~Presbyterian Church of Ghana hymn 462, Author:Philipp. Friedrich. Hiller 1699-1769. Scripture:Matthew 18 vs. 27

Saturday, 1 August 2015

May The Lord Be With You

The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you.(2 Timothy 4:22).
2 Timothy 4:22 is a benediction. As is common with all the epsitles, the Apostles conlude their letters with a benediction; invoking divine help, blessings and guidance. Here is one common one:
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.(2 Cor. 13:14).
Benedictions are not a mere pronouncement of blessings. Rather, they are pronouncements of blessings based on the truth of God’s word and His providence in our daily, even mundane routines of life. God is not distant. He is not removed from the struggles of our lives. He is “a very present help in trouble.”(Ps 46:1).

Through benedictions, we receive comfort and encouragement in every situation. Our spirits are lifted. It is of great comfort to also note that pronouncement of  benediction is God ordained:
The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the people of Israel: you shall say to them, The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.(Numbers 6:22-26).
There are indeed many promises in the Bible from which we can draw strength and comfort in difficult moments. One of such promises is the promise of the ever abiding presence of God. He has promised He will never leave us nor forsake us. David, in the very popular Psalms 23 said “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” He continued: “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life”.

Whatever dark moments life presents this month, God is able to empower us to override those dark moments. His presence is more than a thousand demons set in array against us. In his presence there is fullness of joy and at His right hand there are pleasures forever more (Ps. 16:11).

Today, as you go through this new month, “May your spirit know the presence of the Lord”.