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The Intercession of Christ

Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them (Hebrews 7:25).

The Westminster Shorter Catechism Question 23 asks: “What offices does Christ execute as our Redeemer?” Answer: “Christ, as our Redeemer, executes the offices of a prophet, of a priest, and of a king, both his estate of humiliation and exaltation.” Then in the following questions and answers the catechism explains that Christ as prophet he reveals God’s will for our salvation. As king he defends and protects us, and as priest he offered himself for the sins of his people and he continually intercedes for them.

In Hebrews 7:25 we perfectly see the office of Christ as priest. We are told that Christ intercedes for his people. But before we can look at these two points, we need to have a right view of Christ’s intercession. How does Christ intercede for his people? I believe John Calvin best answers this question. He says, “We are not to measure this intercession by our carnal judgment, for we must not think of Him as humbly supplicating the Father on bended knee and with outstretched hands. Christ however, is justly said to intercede for us, because He appears continually before the Father.” The intercession of Christ is his continual presence at the right hand of his Father.

Now the author of Hebrews 7:25 tells us two important things about this intercession: it is unfailing (he is able to save to uttermost) and unceasing (he always lives to make intercession). The intercession of ChrisT is unfailing because God the Father can never reject any of Christ’s prayers since Jesus’ prayers are always according to the will of the Father. It is also unceasing because Christ can never grow weary in interceding for his people. We sometimes grow weary in prayer, but that cannot be said of Christ. He lives to make intercession for his people.

So, due to Christ’s unfailing and unceasing intercession, all believers are assured that their faith will not fail. They will remain standing in Christ until the day he will call them to enter into his glory or when he shall come to this world in glory. This is why Paul states that he is confident that the one who has begun good work in us will also bring it to completion (Phil 1:6).

Peter’s life is a good proof  of this truth. On the night that Christ was betrayed, he said to Peter, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”” (Luke 22:31). But Peter promised never to forsake Christ.

It did not take long for Peter to realize that Christ was right. Peter denied Christ three times. Then the Lord looked at him and he was convicted. He went out and wept bitterly probably repenting of his sin. But the story does not end there. Some days later after Christ’s resurrection, Jesus appeared to Peter by the shores of Sea of Tiberias. Christ restored Peter and commanded him, “Feed my sheep,” (John 21). That prayer he prayed for Peter never failed.

The unceasing and unfailing intercession of Christ is the hope for every believer. This is why when Apostle Paul is discussing the intercession of Christ in Romans 8, he also emphatically states that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.

 

 
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Posted by on November 28, 2016 in Sound Teaching

 

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Biblical Prophets Vs. Today’s Prophets

A couple of days ago, the social media was awash with a prophecy coming from the West Africa, Nigeria in particular. The so-called Prophet TB Joshua predicted the outcome of USA 2016 Elections. He stated that a female candidate would win. This was a reference to Hilary Clinton. However, come early this morning, the “prophecy” has proved to be another false prediction.

Now this is not the first time that prophets in my beautiful and beloved continent have predicted falsely. They are a number of instances that can be cited, but that is beside the point of this post. I am writing mainly to express my concern over some people’s unhealthy fascination with prophets.

Prophets have become so popular in Africa that they are regarded as semi-gods, which is certainly against the Second Commandment. Prophets have also become the elite and one of rich groups of people, monetary wise, at the expense of their poor followers. But this is very different from the picture we see of Biblical prophets both in the Old and New Testament.

The Biblical prophets were often unpopular. Their message was very offensive to those rebelling against God. The Biblical prophets were not crowd-pullers as our “prophets” today. They were not business magnets as the prophets our time. When one was called to be a prophet in the Bible, it often meant putting your life in the harm’s way.

While it was not all glamour and glitter for the Biblical prophets, it’s all a bed of roses for the contemporary “prophets.” The biographies of modern “prophets” stand in sharp contrast to the biographies of Elijah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos, and John the Baptist just to mention a few examples.

Looking at this fact, one thing is certain: the prophets like those in the Bible no longer exist. Without repeating what I have stated again and again, the ultimate fulfiment of the office of Biblical prophets is found in Christ (Hebrews 1:1-2). Jesus Christ is the Prophet par excellence. He is the only prophet we need today. In fact, he is not only the Prophet but also the Priest and King forever.

Now back to the prophecy of TB Joshua. His so-called prophecy should bring to mind Deuteronomy 18:20-22:

But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.’  And if you say in your heart, ‘How may we know the word that the Lord has not spoken?’ when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the word does not come to pass or come true that is a word that the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him.

Now we know how we should respond to TB Joshua and all the so-called prophets.

 
 

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Happy 499th Reformation Day!

Happy Reformation Day!

Today we celebrate 499 years since the Protestant Reformation began. We need to thank the Lord for his faithfulness and goodness to his church.

As I was reflecting on the Reformation, I thought of the common saying, “ecclesia reformata, semper reformanda (latin for “the church reformed, always reforming”). No doubt this one of the abused sayings in the Church today. Often it has been used to argue that the church needs to keep reforming or changing according to times.

For instance, I heard one arguing for female leadership in the church basing on the phrase. The argument went something like this: the church has been led by male leadership over the centuries, but now it’s time to embrace female leadership because the Church is reformed and always reforming.

What an abuse of this well-meaning phrase. The Church does not reform with times, it reforms with the word. Christ reforms his Church by the work of the Holy Spirit through the Word. Ecclesia reformata, semper reformanda secundum verbum Dei (the church reformed, always reforming according to the Word of God).

When the Old Testament church was deformed, God used the word to reform it (Nehemiah 8). The Pharisees also deformed the Church with their man made rules and Christ used the word to reform it (Matt. 5:17-20). The same thing happened in the 16th Century. God used his Word to Reform his Church. Reformation without the word is not Reformation at all. If the church is reforming without the Word, it is actually deforming.

Happy Reformation with the Word!

 
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Posted by on October 31, 2016 in Christianity and theology

 

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Why Churches in Malawi Should Refuse to Endorse Abortion even on the Grounds of Rape or Incest

Recently, the Nyasa Times, one of Malawi’s online news sources, reported that Malawi churches are endorsing abortion here. I am saying Malawi churches because Malawi Council of Churches (MCC), which represents almost all denominations in Malawi has given a green light to the bill that legalizes abortion and is scheduled to be tabled in Malawi Parliament soon.

I already wrote against abortion here. But I am writing again because I believe that Malawi Council of Churches has failed to shine the light of the gospel in a world that is struggling to do what is biblically right in regard to the issue abortion.

The General  Secretary of MCC, Bishop Gilford Matonga, was quoted in the article asserting: “The church opposes abortion on demand; meaning if a woman is pregnant should not just seek abortion at free will. The proposed law gives three grounds on why abortion can be done. One is when she is raped, when her life is threatened by the pregnancy and on incest thus when a family member impregnates a child. But also when there is a malformation of the fetus- no proper development of the child in the womb.” The article then continued to say that MCC has endorsed and thrown its full support behind the bill.

The aim of this post is to critically look from a Biblical perspective the three grounds that MCC is advancing for its endorsement of the abortion bill which are rape, incest, and malformation of the fetus. I will not tackle the issue of therapeutic abortion (when the life of the mother is threatened) because I already discussed that in my previous blog post.

First, the MCC supports abortion of pregnancies due to rape cases. For sure, rape is one of most horrible and heinous sin that can be committed against a woman and ultimately against God himself. I believe human words cannot fully express the pain, shame, and disgrace that the victim of rape undergoes. So my argument does not intended to minimize the impact of violation that rape victims experience.

Having said that I still believe that rape should not justify abortion of the pregnancy that has come out of it because of the following reasons:

  • The Bible prohibits us from taking away the life of anybody including the baby that has been conceived in rape (Exodus 20:13). This is the obvious reason, is it not?
  • Every conceived baby is knitted together in his/her mother’s womb by God (Psalm 139:13) and is fearfully and wonderfully made by God (Psalm 139:14).
  • God is sovereign which means that God works all things according to the counsel of his will (Eph. 1:11) and there is nothing that can take place in this world without him willing it to occur. Now this is very hard to grasp and swallow, especially, in cases where a woman has been violated. However, for us Christians, we can rest assured (not without pain and sorrow) that all things work together for our good although we might not always see the good right away (Romans 8:28).

It is also important to remember that the baby conceived is as “innocent” as the mother carrying him or her. The baby is not the criminal and by God’s grace he/she might grow up to be a great instrument that God uses to advance his kingdom and glory in this world. So I believe the church should encourage Christians who have been raped not to abort the pregnancy rather it should come along and assist them through their trauma.

The words of Stephen Schwartz in his book, The Moral Question of Abortion, are worthy pondering: “Refusal to allow abortion for rape cases is not a failure of compassion…Saying no to the woman is not a lack of compassion for her, but simply calling attention to what abortion really is: murder. Refusal to sanction murder is not lack of compassion” (147).

Before I move to the next ground endorsed for abortion by MCC I should point out here that according to the literature that I have laid my hands on, the percentage of pregnancies that are due to rape is very small and within the single digits. Again, this is not to trivialize the sin or the problem of rape but only to acknowledge that the church will experience fewer cases of women who contemplate abortion because they were raped.

Secondly, MCC has backed abortion of pregnancies due to incest. Incest is a horrible sin and the Bible strongly condemns it in both the Old and New Testaments (Leviticus 18:6-18; Deut. 27:22; 1 Cor. 5:1-5). However, the Bible does not command us to murder babies that are born out of this sin. My reasons against abortion of the pregnancy due to incest are the same as those I have highlighted above namely: it is murder; the baby conceived is fearfully and wonderfully made by God; and as horrible as incest is, we still understand that it occurs not apart from God’s will.

Furthermore we need to consider the story of Jesus Christ. His family tree reveals two acts of incest. Two of his ancestors Lot and his first born daughter committed this sin and through them came the nation of the Moabites from which Ruth came from and through her came king David and ultimately Jesus himself (Gen. 19:30-38; Ruth 4:13-21; ). It’s not just Lot and his daughter but also two more other ancestors, Judah and Tamar. These two also committed incest (Gen. 38:1-30). Yet through their heinous and abhorrent sin, God worked all things according to the counsel of his will to bring the best out of it, Jesus Christ the only Savior of mankind (Matt. 1:2-6). Do you now see why we should believe that in all things God works for the good of his people?

According to the literature that I have read, the percentage of pregnancies that are a result of an incest relationship is also very small. Just as I have already stated, this is not to belittle the sin of incest but to acknowledge that the Church in Malawi and indeed the rest of the world will deal with fewer cases of pregnancy due to incest.

Lastly, MCC has endorsed abortion of pregnancies in which it is feared that the baby will not develop well. My apologies for repeating myself, but the answer to this issue is, again, God’s sovereignty. He is the one who has knitted together the baby with that disability. Any perceived anomaly does not mean that the child will not develop to the full. How many stories have we heard of couples who were told by doctors that their conceived baby will not develop to the full and later the doctors were proven wrong? Doesn’t Job remind us that our lives are in God’s hand from the day we are conceived (Job 12:10) and no single person has the power and the right to decide that because there are fears that a baby might not develop well in the womb, he/she should be killed?

Moreover, we need to remember that all of us are conceived deformed with sin. “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me,” confesses David in Psalm 51:5. It is only through the grace of God that we are brought to the Chief Surgeon, Jesus Christ, who reforms and transforms and makes whole again through the Holy Spirit and the gospel. Can’t we trust God to do the same to the babies who might be deformed physically? Doesn’t he have the power to preserve and sustain their lives?

All in all, abortion is very horrible and no single church in Malawi should endorse a bill that seeks to legalize it. Therefore, without fear of contradiction, I can boldly state here that MCC has missed it. They have failed to be the light and salt of the world as Christ commands his Church to be. However, it is not too late to recant and withdraw the endorsement. My prayer is that MCC will do just that.

 

 
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Posted by on August 17, 2016 in Christianity and Society

 

Preach the Whole Counsel of God

I have been reading Charles Bridges’ The Christian Ministry and this quote which he also borrows from another preacher by the name of Bishop Horsley touched and blessed my heart and thought of sharing it with you:

Pray earnestly to God to assist the ministration of the word, by secret influence of the Holy Spirit in the minds of your hearers: and nothing doubting that your prayers are heard, however, mean and illiterate the congregation may be, in which you exercise your sacred functions, fear not to set before them the whole counsel of God. Open the whole of your message without reservation, that every one of you may have confidence to say, when he shall be called upon to give an account of his stewardship – “Lord, I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have not concealed thy lovingkindness and truth from the great congregation.”

This is my prayer for myself and all my brothers who have been called by God to preach the gospel.

 
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Posted by on May 27, 2016 in Sound Teaching

 

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The Power of the Gospel

“Our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit, and with full conviction” ~ 1 Thessalonians 1:5

What does Paul mean when he says “the gospel came not only in word but also in power.” Some have said that the word “power” here refers to miracles since the preaching of the apostles in the First Century and at the beginning of Christianity was accompanied by miracles and wonders as a means of authenticating their true apostleship. This is very possible.

However, I also believe that Paul is talking of a special power that a Christian or a person who hears God’s word experiences as the Holy Spirit is applying the word. I believe it is the special power, which among others things brings conviction of sin and also assurance of salvation.

It is the power that Cleopas and his friend experienced when Christ spoke the word of God to them. Do you remember their words regarding their experience as they heard the word of God from Jesus in Luke 24:32? “And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?” I believe it is this power that the apostle is speaking of in this verse.

It is also the power that we read of when Paul preached to Felix in Acts 24. In Acts 24:25 we read that when Felix heard the gospel being preached to him, he trembled.

All of us who have sat under the preaching of the gospel have experienced this power. But sadly, some like Felix when they hear God’s word, they  tremble but still harden their hearts and don’t believe. But others like  Cleopas and his friend believe and surrender to the power of God’s word.

Which of these two examples describes you well, my friend?  Is it the one of Felix who after he heard the gospel said to Paul, “Go away for the present. When I get an opportunity I will summon you.” Or that of Cleopas and his friend who believed the word of God and returned to the other disciples of Jesus to share what Christ had done and said to them?

 
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Posted by on April 12, 2016 in Sound Teaching

 

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Fear Not!

Fear no no noFear is one of the greatest enemies of our  faith and Satan uses it to trouble our souls.  He often creates the worst possible scenarios in our minds to cause anxiety and panic. “What will I do if God should bring me into such and such affliction?” What if I lose my loved one or all my property and money?” What if…?”

However the  LORD in his word reminds us again and again to resist fear.  Charles Spurgeon observes  “FEAR not” is a plant, which grows very plentifully in God’s garden. If you look through the lily beds of Scripture you will continually find, by the side of other flowers, the sweet, “Fear nots” peering out from doctrines and precepts even as violets look up from their hiding among places of green leaves.”

Yet despite Christ’s assurance and encouragement  that we do not succumb to fear, this enemy of our faith continues  to trouble us. Are there some things we need to do in order  to win the battle?   Reading through William Gurnall’s The Christian in Complete Armour  one finds  three great Scriptural truths that will help us overcome this foe.

First, we should remember that every event in our life is the product of God’s providence. The Westminster Shorter Catechism defines God’s providence as,  “His most holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing all his creatures, and all their actions,” (Q & A 11). No single  Christian falls into poverty, sickness, persecution or any hardship apart from the wisdom and care of our Father (Matt. 10:29)

Secondly, God has promised to never forsake us.” I will never leave you nor forsake you,” (Hebrews 13:5). There is something special about this verse which is hardly noticed in the English translation.  In the original Greek the verse contains five negatives for emphasis and literal translation would lead:  ” I will not, not  leave  you;  not, no never forsake you.” But since in  English language two negatives would destroy each other only single negation is used. If God has such emphasized we must believe his promise without any reservations.

Lastly but not least, God in his wisdom conceals the comforts he intends to give us during our trials until we have actually experienced them. Gurnall’s own words say it better:   “God his wisdom conceals the comforts he intends to give you at various stages of your life, so that he may encourage your heart to full dependence upon his promises now. Thus, to try the metal of Abraham’s faith, he let him go on, until his hand was stretched forth to slay Isaac, and then he came to his rescue” (Gen. 22).

So, be of good cheer and fear not but in everything through prayer in Christ’s name bring your fears to the throne of grace where we find strength and comfort.

 
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Posted by on February 24, 2016 in My Life as a Christian