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Category Archives: Christianity and theology

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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He Abhors Not the Virgin’s Womb

The second hymn on the list is “O Come, All Ye Faithful.” Originally written in Latin by Francis Wadde (1711-1786) but translated into English by Frederick Oakley and William Brooke in 1841. The second verse of the carol goes:

God of God, Light of Light

Lo, he abhors not the Virgin’s womb:

Very God, begotten, not made

Have you ever wondered how it was like for God to freely choose to humble himself and become a baby in a womb? The all-powerful God becoming a helpless baby who is fully dependent on her mother. How incomprehensible this is! Little wonder then that Francis could not also help but marvel as well and say, “See he does not despise his state of being a baby in Mary’s womb.”

Probably, Francis had Philippians 2:6, 7 in mind as he wrote down these lyrics: “Who (Christ), though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.”

Christmas is a really wonder, but it is not a wonder that leaves us confused. Instead, it fills us with gratitude and adoration. So, O, come all you who believe in Christ and let’s us adore him. Adore him not only on December 25 but all the days of our lives.

 
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Posted by on December 22, 2015 in Christianity and theology

 

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…Far as the Curse is Found

It’s Christmas season once again, and the airwaves are filled Christmas hymns and carols. Although not all these hymns and carols are sound, there are some that have deep and sound theological truths. As we approach Christmas I would like us to take some time to reflect on these songs.

The first hymn on the list is Joy to the World which was composed and written by Isaac Watts in the 18th Century and is based on Psalm 98. The third verse goes:

No more let sins and sorrows grow,

nor thorns infest the ground;

he comes to make his blessings flow

far as the curse is found,

far as the curse is found,

far as the curse is found.

What a wonderful truth we have in these lyrics. When sin entered the world through Adam, it brought a curse on human race and the rest of creation (Gen. 3:14-19; Rom. 8:19-22). However, Christ came to reverse the curse so that man could be reconciled with God. He redeemed us from the curse by becoming a curse himself on our behalf (Gal. 3: 13).

Now through him, the curse is removed and we enjoy all heavenly blessings in him (Gal. 3:14; Eph. 1:3). This is why Watts declares that Christ came to make his blessings flow far as the curse is found. In Christ, all those who were once cursed are declared righteous and there is no single part in their life that remains under a curse, for they become a new creation in him.

Oh, what a great message of joy we need to carry to the whole world.

 
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Posted by on December 21, 2015 in Christianity and theology

 

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If They Cannot Believe the Scriptures, They Will Never Believe…

Some months ago, a Ghanaian online newspaper carried an article of a woman who claims that she went to hell where she saw world leaders and celebrities who died some time ago. She claims that Jesus took her to hell and later brought her back to life to warn people so that they should repent and believe in Christ. Her story can be accessed on this link, http://www.reportghananews.com/i-saw-whitney-houston-gadhafi-in-hell-and-they-gave-me-messages-woman-narrates-her-2nd-visit-to-hell/

Now, this is not the first time for me to read or hear stories like these. Dozens of books and movies have been written and produced of people who went either to hell or heaven or both and were sent back by Jesus to share their experience so that people can believe in Christ and escape hell . Whether these stories are real and true is another topic for another day. However, in this post, I would like to highlight this important truth: If people cannot believe in Christ through the preaching of the gospel, they will never believe in him through these stories.

Why am I saying so? Because the Scriptures say so. In Luke 16:19-31, we read a story of a rich man and Lazarus. Both of them died and were buried. Lazarus was carried by angels to the side of Abraham (Paradise/heaven). The rich man went to Hades (hell) where there was torment.

The rich man later made a request to Abraham who was in heaven with Lazarus and said: “I beg you, father (Abraham), to send him (Lazarus) to my father’s house – for I have five brothers – so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment”(v.27).

By this request, the rich man is asking that Lazarus who had died should come back to life and share his experience of hell and heaven to his own people. Lazarus’ experience should act as a warning to unbelievers so that they should believe in Christ or else go to hell when they die.

Abraham responded: “They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them” (v. 29).

“Moses and Prophets” here refers to the books of the Old Testament (see also Luke 24:27) since by the time Jesus was narrating this story, the New Testament had not yet been compiled. In other words, Abraham is saying, “Those people have the Bible, let them believe it.”

The rich man replies: “No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent” (v. 30).

Here now comes an important answer from Abraham. “If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets (Bible), neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead” ( v. 31).

In other words, Abraham is saying, “If they cannot believe the Bible, even if someone should rise from the dead and warn them of hell, they will never believe.”

Friends, this is an important truth for us. Let’s not underrate the sufficiency of Scriptures in our lives. God has given them to make us wise unto salvation through faith in Christ (2 Timothy 3:15). For sure, no single person can be saved without hearing the gospel (Gospel is a synonym for Scripture). Apostle Paul drives this point home in Romans 10:8-17: “But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching…So, faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”

Personal experiences of hell or heaven alone can never save anybody. This is why I am reiterating that the Church should remain faithful in preaching the gospel and never let the so called experiences of hell or heaven take her eyes of the main thing which is the preaching of the Scriptures or the gospel.

 
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Posted by on November 24, 2014 in Christianity and theology

 

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My Thoughts and Prayers for the Persecuted Church

This morning as I thought and prayed for fellow Christians who are being persecuted for their faith in Christ and His word worldwide, especially, in Iraq and Syria I was reminded of the following passages of Scripture:

Revelation 6:9-11: “When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on earth? Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until who were to be killed as they themselves had been.”

Matthew 5: 10-12: “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Matthew 5:44: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”

Romans 12: “Bless those who persecute you; bless them and do not curse them.”

1 Peter 4:16: “If anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?”

1 Peter 5:10: “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

John 16:33: “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Father, may you watch over and protect your Church. May you keep Her faithful and bold even in times of persecution. In Jesus Christ’s name, Amen!

 

Does Every Christian Have a Special Guardian Angel?

I guess you have heard of the notion of guardian angels before. Those who believe in guardian angels state that every Christian has an angel assigned to them by God to care and protect them. This belief is not recent. Church history shows that it dates back so many centuries ago. In fact, some early Church Fathers like Origen and Chrysostom in third and fourth centuries respectively believed and taught about guardian angels.

Those who advocate for the belief in guardian angels cite Matthew 18:10 and Acts 12:15 as their biblical basis. In the first verses of Matthew 18, Jesus speaks to his apostles about humbling themselves like children. Then he later says to them: “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven” (10).

In the first verses of Acts 12 we find Jesus’ disciples praying in the house of Mary (the mother of John Mark) for Peter who has been put in prison by the Jewish religious and government leaders. However, when a girl reports to them that Peter is released from prison and is standing outside the house in which they were in, the disciples disbelieve her and say, “You are out of your mind.” But the girl insists but still they dismiss her and say, “It is his angel!” (15).

Now, do these verses teach that each Christian has a particular guardian angel? I do not believe so. In the case of Matthew 18:10, we should understand the “little ones” and “their angels” in a collective sense rather than individualistic sense. In other words, the verse states that angels who minister to these little ones and can also minister to every believer see the face of God the Father (not a particular angel of a particular little one sees the face of God the Father). In the case of Acts 12:15, we should understand it to mean that the believers thought that at this particular time God had sent this angel to probably encourage them and they referred to this angel as “Peter’s angel” implying an angel that was sent to them for the cause of Peter whom they were praying for.

It is important to guard against the belief of guardian angels because it can easily lead to the worship of angels which is prohibited in Scripture (Rev. 22:8, 9). Herman Bavinck observes, “The problem with the doctrine of guardian angels is that it leads to veneration and worship, a practice apparently referred to in Colossians 2:18.” If a believer is so occupied with the thoughts of a special angel who cares and protects them, they stand in danger of obliterating God in their minds as a sole sustainer and preserver of their lives and instead accredit this sustenance and preservation to an angel.

Having said this, it is important to point out that the Bible does teach that angels do minister to God’s people (but not a particular angel specifically for a particular Christian). Angels are ministering spirits (Heb. 1:14). So, God uses angels to help believers in various ways. For instance we read in Psalms 34:7 and 91:11 that they watch over believers. Angels also intervene is some special ways in some events of God’s people (Isaiah 63:9; Daniel 6:22; Acts 5:19). They also execute judgments against God’s enemies (Genesis 19:1, 13; 2 Kings 19:35; Matthew 13:41).

So, yes God uses his angels to help or minister to his people but God never sets aside or assign a particular angel to a particular Christian. This belief is hardly supported by Scripture and can easily lead to worship of angels which the Bible prohibits. I fully agree with the Belgic Confession Article 12 which clearly states: “He (God) also created the angels good, to be His messengers and to serve His elect (all believers).”

I also agree with John Calvin when he writes:

“But whether individual angels have been assigned to individual believers for their protection, I dare not affirm with confidence… Indeed, those who confine to one angel the care that God takes of each one of us are doing a great injustice both to themselves and to all the members of the church; as if it were an idle promise that we should fight more valiantly with these hosts supporting and protecting us round about!”

 
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Posted by on July 28, 2014 in Christianity and theology

 

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