Who Is On The Lord’s Side?

image

The following is a story which I keep telling whenever the opportunity presents itself. Today, I present a modified version of this untitled story which I did not come up with. Do read on …

The Come One, Come All Church of God was filled to capacity and in fact, overflowing. The occasion was a fundraiser in support of the church expansion project. Apparently, the auditorium of 1,800 seats was not enough for the many souls committed and passionate about worshipping the Lord God Almighty. If the fundraising goes on successfully as elaborately planned, there’ll be enough funds for an extra 419 seats to supplement those already in place.

The divine service was already in session, and the worship leader together with his team and band of music inclined instrumentalists ministered songs that stirred up the hearts of the congregation to lift up their hands and voices unto the heavens. After him came the prayer warriors, then the choir dressed beautifully in their woven Kente clothes. They too ministered a song plus two that saw some in the congregation moved to tears. Next was the preacher man.

The preacher man, who was also the church’s recently posted resident minister, took gentle steps towards the pulpit as the congregation sang in unison the popular hymn, “Lord thy word abideth, and thy footsteps guideth”, while the pianist played in the background. As the auditorium became silent in expectation of the words of the preacher man, the sound of screeching tires found its way  into the auditorium.

Before the preacher man and resident minister could start his first sentence, the doors at the main entrance of the auditorium burst open in a loud manner that caught some people off guard and almost off their seats in panic. As if that was not enough, men dressed in black overalls with hoods and numbering about twenty walked in through the opened entrance. Everyone was shocked, even the most tired of all the congregants who had been dozing off for the greater part of the service were now wide awake.

In a very dramatic manner, the men took up positions within the auditorium without the aid of any usher, who also watched on, rooted to the spot. Nothing was as scary about the men as the black bags that was strapped across their backs and was occasionally prevented from dangling using their hands clothed in black gloves.

The suspense in the air was thick, and as one them, presumably the leader, picked up a microphone and addressed the fear stricken congregation, everyone hoped against all hope with many independent thoughts running in over a 1800 minds.

In an awkwardly soft and calm voice, he said, “Peace be unto you brethren! We are here as followers of the Advanced Repopulation of Heaven and our sole purpose here is see to the immediate transfer of all true believers into heaven. As such, if you’re here today and profess Jesus Christ as Lord & personal Savior, then rejoice and prepare to meet your God any moment from now. However, if you wish to deny Jesus Christ as Lord and are not willing, for reasons best known to you, to take a bullet for him, then please exit the building now.”

While he made this utterance before the congregation, his fellows had already taken out what looked like AK-47s and were busy setting up for what had now been made clear to all. There was going to be a shooting, and only Christians qualified.

There was a seemingly long period of silence lasting about ten to fifteen seconds during which people shifted uncomfortably in their seats while others kept glancing at one another, most especially at the preacher man, who was clearly in shock and was leaning forward for support against the pulpit. It looked like everyone was going to take a bullet for Christ but not all were willing.

One lady slowly pulled her feet out of her high heel shoe and stood with her hands stretched up as if in worship. She was the choir mistress and wife of the assistant pastor. All it took was the click sound of one of the guns to set men and women of God in motion. The choir mistress was first to break into a run followed by a couple of choristers. They were followed by the Asst Pastor holding the hand his wife, some elders of the church, and other familiar faces seen playing active roles in the church regularly. The first to be out of the door were the ushers and many followed after them. Looking on were the men in black who aimed but did not shoot.

After about 15 minutes of commotion, the noise subsided greatly. For now, it was the cries of some babies who had been left behind by their parents or guardians that could be heard. There were far less people left in the auditorium now, including the preacher man. Shoes, bags, and bibles could all be seen on the red carpet aisles.

Many in the church now had their heads bowed and eyes closed, some on their knees, and a few drenched in sweat and tears.

All they heard next was the leader speaking specifically to the preacher man saying, “Sorry to have barged into this service unannounced. The weeds needed clearing, and that has been done. Now you can provide nourishment for the true seedlings as God willed for you to do.”

This he said, as his colleagues packed everything, and walked out the same way they came

Ideally, what is expected of today’s Christan in such a scenario?
Now, picture yourself as a member of the Come One, Come All Church Of God during this fundraiser and ask yourself whether or not you’ll remain in your seat and why you will or will not do so?

In the final verse of the Hymn, Who is on the Lord’s side?, it reads:

MHB  820

Stanza 4

  Chosen to be soldiers
In an alien land,
Chosen, called, and faithful,
For our Captain’s band,
In the service royal
Let us not grow cold;
Let us be right loyal,
Noble, true, and bold.
Master, Thou wilt keep us,
By Thy grace divine,
Always on the Lord’s side,
Savior always  Thine.

D. A.

Advertisements

Jesus, The Worthy Lamb

So I wept much, because no one was found worthy to open and read the scroll or look at it. But one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.”
Revelations 5:4-5

image

There are about a million verses in the Bible all underlying and the stating the fact that everything is working together for our good and encouraging us as well, yet we seem to judge ourselves unworthy because we are still singing the old song which is, “We’re not worthy, today we did this and didn’t do that.”

We keep basing our faith, hope, love trust, believe and worship on our day to day performances which will certainly not help because as far as we’re on this earth there are going to be some good and bad days. Are we not going to worship on those bad days then nor love nor have faith?

As Paul and Barnabas preached the good news in Acts 13:44-50 , it was to the Gentiles joy, but to the Jews it was all blasphemy, envy and the likes of it. The Jews like us know a lot of the scriptures and these should have made more sense to us but we don’t see it that way because we still think there’s something we need to do.

Yet the message is no longer about us and our performance of rituals, but about Jesus, the Messiah who came to die for our sins and called us to himself, that we should believe in him and we will have everlasting life … that we should come to him (that is, we that labor & are heavy laden) and He will give us rest … that our righteousness is Jesus and that this Grace that has appeared to us all will teach us what to do and not do [Titus 2:11-15] and we won’t just do things out of mere rituals but rather based on His worthiness and grace and love which compels us.

image
Worthy is the Lamb

We’ve got to understand that God’s grace is bigger than our failings in this life and the promises in the Bible are true and will be true in our lives because worthy is the lamb. We will not be the tail but the head because worthy is the lamb. We’re going to be all that He has planned for us because worthy is He that has called us to himself. The devil has never and will never be the problem because Jesus the author and finisher of our faith has finished our books and signed it with his blood.

Worthy is the lamb! Worthy is the lamb!! Worthy is the lamb!!! Join me and the heavenly angels and the elders us we sing a new song:

“You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals;

For you were slain, and have redeemed us to God by your blood out of every tribe and tongue

And people and nation, and have made us Kings and priests to our God;

And we shall reign on the earth.”

Worthy is the lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honour and

Glory and blessing!”

Blessing and honour is His and His alone!

Have a MERRY Christmas and remember all things are working together for you and in the right moment you shall reap because He is worthy and He is not a man that he will lie. Jesus alone is worthy.

To God be the glory!

– C. O. N.

Should Parents Let their  Children Believe in Santa Claus? 

The following was originally posted on Reasonable Faith with William Lane Craig.

Question

Dear Dr Craig, 

image

As the Christmas season is upon us, I’d be interested to hear your wisdom regarding Christian families celebrating the Santa Claus tradition. To be more precise, do you think it’s consistent with Christian values to pretend that Santa is real? 

As a parent of two young children this is particularly relevant to me at the moment. On one hand we recognise that as a Christian family, we always want Jesus to be at the centre of the Christmas celebration. We also highly value telling our children the truth in all things. But I also can see a place for fantasy and make believe and see the fun and joy that this can bring to a family. 

While it almost sounds like a trivial issue, living in a post-Christian, highly secularised culture where Santa Claus is almost revered as a sacred childhood tradition, abandoning this tradition could potentially cause quite a lot of friction with our non-Christian family. Then again, it could also have the potential to be a strong witness for the importance of Jesus in our lives. 

Thank you for all the work you do serving Christ through your academic work. I hope you can spare the time to address this not-quite-as-apologetically-relevant question. 

Merry Christmas to you and the Reasonable Faith team! 

Best wishes, 

Dan 
Australia 

—————————————————————-
Dr. Craig responds

I’m glad you’re thinking seriously about this matter, Dan. The decision on the part of Christian parents about what to tell their children about Santa Claus is, I think, potentially very consequential and therefore important. Whatever you decide, your decision needs to be a thoughtful one, not one thoughtlessly taken. 

On the one hand, the replacement of Jesus Christ at Christmas by Santa Claus is a sacrilege. Santa Claus is obviously a sort of God-surrogate: an all-seeing person endowed with miraculous powers, who’s making a list and checking it twice in order to find out if you’ve been naughty or nice. “He knows when you are sleeping; he knows when you’re awake. He knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good, for goodness’ sake!” But never fear: Santa Claus is a kindly old man with a long white beard who never judges that someone has been bad. No matter what you’ve done, he thinks you’re good and delivers the presents. Such a caricature of God is so perverse that one wonders how Christian parents could possibly allow their children to believe in such a being. Christmas, as the word suggests, is supposed to be about Christ, not about this imposter. 

On the other hand, who wants to be an old Scrooge, spoiling all the fun and dampening the festiveness of Christmas? Poems like “The Night before Christmas” are so much fun to read to your children. Isn’t there some way to reach an accommodation? 

I think there is. Saint Nicholas was a historical figure, an early church bishop. We can teach our children about who he was and explain how people like to make-believe that he comes and brings children presents today at Christmas time. Children love to make-believe, and so you can invite them to join in this game of make-believe with you. When you see a Santa at the shopping mall, say, “Look, there’s a man dressed up like Saint Nicholas! People pretend that he is Saint Nicholas. Would you like to tell him what you want for Christmas?” 

Jan and I found that this strategy worked well with our children. Moreover, in Belgium, where they were raised, Saint Nicholas Day is actually a day distinct from Christmas, which helps to preserve the integrity and meaning of Christmas. Saint Nicholas (or Père Noël) brings the children presents around December 5, as I recall, not on Christmas morning. This separation of the days worked beautifully for our family. The tradition of opening gifts on Christmas morning was too strong a tradition to give up, but what we did on Saint Nicholas Day was put out Belgian chocolates for the children which we made-believe were delivered by Saint Nicholas. Then Christmas was the day we celebrated Jesus’ birthday. I’d suggest doing the same. 

I strongly believe that Christian parents should not lie to their children about the existence of a supernatural, all-knowing being who is watching them and holding them morally accountable. Once they find out that you have lied to them about Santa’s existence, how can doubts not also arise that you have been wrong as well in telling them that God exists? Maybe the whole Christmas story is a myth which thinking adults should outgrow. In fact, I’ve heard ignorant atheists actually comparing God to Santa Claus and saying that there is no more evidence of God’s existence than Santa’s. In lying to your children about Santa Claus, you may be setting them up for fall. 

We need therefore to teach our children about the historical credibility of the Gospels and help them to see the stark differences between stories of Santa Claus and the biographies of Jesus of Nazareth. Just as we acquaint them with the historical Saint Nicholas, so we also need to acquaint them with the historical Jesus. In fact, just as we share with them how myths have built up around the historical Saint Nicholas, we can share with them how Christmas myths like the three kings or the drummer boy or Jesus’ being born on December 25 “in the bleak midwinter” have built up round Jesus. They will have a stronger, more durable faith as a result. 

There is one caution, however. You should let your children know that many other children actually do believe in Santa Claus, and that it’s not their job to inform them otherwise. That’s between them and their parents. My daughter said that our policy of telling the children Santa is make-believe led to “some interesting conversations” at school with children who said that Père Noël exists. “No, he doesn’t!” Oops! I find it rather ironic that it was our children who were the free-thinkers and sceptics when it came to Santa Claus. Best to tell your children that while we know Santa is a just a fun, make-believe figure, they shouldn’t upset other parents who haven’t been so honest with their children as we have. 

Comments are welcomed below or forwarded via bstudies.nupsg@gmail.com

THE PROSPERITY GOSPEL

Question: “What does the Bible say about the prosperity gospel?”

image

Answer: In the prosperity gospel, also known as the “Word of Faith,” the believer is told to use God, whereas the truth of biblical Christianity is just the opposite—God uses the believer. Word of Faith or prosperity theology sees the Holy Spirit as a power to be put to use for whatever the believer wills. The Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit is a Person who enables the believer to do God’s will. The prosperity gospel movement closely resembles some of the destructive greed sects that infiltrated the early church. Paul and the other apostles were not accommodating to or conciliatory with the false teachers who propagated such heresy. They identified them as dangerous false teachers and urged Christians to avoid them.

Paul warned Timothy about such men in 1 Timothy 6:5, 9-11. These men of “corrupt mind” supposed godliness was a means of gain and their desire for riches was a trap that brought them “into ruin and destruction” (v. 9). The pursuit of wealth is a dangerous path for Christians and one which God warns about: “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (v. 10). If riches were a reasonable goal for the godly, Jesus would have pursued it. But He did not, preferring instead to have no place to lay His head (Matthew 8:20) and teaching His disciples to do the same. It should also be remembered that the only disciple concerned with wealth was Judas.

Paul said covetousness is idolatry (Ephesians 5:5) and instructed the Ephesians to avoid anyone who brought a message of immorality or covetousness (Ephesians 5:6-7). Prosperity teaching prohibits God from working on His own, meaning that God is not Lord of all because He cannot work until we release Him to do so. Faith, according to the Word of Faith doctrine, is not submissive trust in God; faith is a formula by which we manipulate the spiritual laws that prosperity teachers believe govern the universe. As the name “Word of Faith” implies, this movement teaches that faith is a matter of what we say more than whom we trust or what truths we embrace and affirm in our hearts.

image

A favorite term in the Word of Faith movement is “positive confession.” This refers to the teaching that words themselves have creative power. What you say, Word of Faith teachers claim, determines everything that happens to you. Your confessions, especially the favors you demand of God, must all be stated positively and without wavering. Then God is required to answer (as though man could require anything of God!). Thus, God’s ability to bless us supposedly hangs on our faith. James 4:13-16 clearly contradicts this teaching: “Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” Far from speaking things into existence in the future, we do not even know what tomorrow will bring or even whether we will be alive.

Instead of stressing the importance of wealth, the Bible warns against pursuing it. Believers, especially leaders in the church (1 Timothy 3:3), are to be free from the love of money (Hebrews 13:5). The love of money leads to all kinds of evil (1 Timothy 6:10). Jesus warned, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15). In sharp contrast to the Word of Faith emphasis on gaining money and possessions in this life, Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal” (Matthew 6:19). The irreconcilable contradictions between prosperity teaching and the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is best summed up in the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:24, “You cannot serve both God and money.”
Source ; gotquestions.org

A Godly Experiment

When the Bible says, ”Bad company corrupts good morals”, let’s take a mental experiment and cast our minds to our laundry bags or   laundry baskets.

(Not maths mental, please don’t get scared and go, read on…😃)

Pick your favourite shirt or dress reserved for that dinner next semester, just in case you get a date 😉. Neatly washed and ironed, put it in your laundry bag with your other dirty clothes you hope to wash when you get the time. (Don’t worry, the experiment is still in your mind, don’t give me that ‘seriously?’ 💁 look 😄

Now when you finally get the time to do your washing, or if you take it to the laundry, pick out your dinner dress (or shirt). Now have a look or even better, smell it as a means of gathering results for your experiment …

Are we getting such faces: 😁🙊😏😷?

Relax, 😄, it was only in your mind, now snap out of it to reality 🙇.

Putting that clean dress amongst dirty clothes and zipping that bag represented introducing a godly Holy Spirit filled believer into a world where ideas and thoughts and actions expressed through character are godless and different from your godly way of thinking.

Bad company goes beyond sitting in class or sitting on same bench or sleeping in same room with ‘bad people’. We would have to leave this world if we want to really escape godlessness. But Paul says you can be in this world and not be of the world

The company you keep is determined by the kind of people  you share common views with. They may be a 1000 miles away, but once you agree and give a thumbs up to say gay marriage, it’s a company you keep. If you agree Jesus is the only way, you have a company you keep

That laundry bag represented a sphere of thinking or influence, which may or may not necessarily be influenced by physical contact, though physical contact through media, friends, society and family act as facilitators.

Someone may now ask, so what if I put a dirty dress in a bag full of clean clothes, say your suitcase, will it make the shirt clean? Nope, certainly not. It will still be dirty and not get clean because it needs washing.

“Dirty” (unsaved) people need Jesus … No matter how much they associate with the sphere of thinking of saved moral men.

Finally, in our semester’s quest for godliness

… Let us not be conformed to this world: but let us be transformed by the renewing of our mind, that we may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
Romans 12:2

Amen

Have a great Focus Study and I still have you all in mind

Samuel Ohene (Former BSW Coordinator)

Red Sparkling Wine, Fresh Tasty Bread

“23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

27 So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. 29 For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves.”
1 Corinthians 17:23-29

image

Do this in remembrance of me. You proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
Whoever eats and drinks without discerning the body of Christ drinks judgement on himself, the body, the church. If anyone is hungry, let him eat at home so that when you meet together, it may not result in judgment.

Imagine Jesus Christ preaching love and his disciples exhibiting greed, selfishness and no care for others when they participate in a ceremony meant to proclaim His death. A ceremony meant to proclaim His death; a ceremony meant to show the world what love really is. That, ‘Greater love has no man than this; that he lay down his life for his friends’. Death. To proclaim that this death was actually love. Imagine disregarding in totality the reason for the ceremony and doing something the exact opposite. The greed in wanting more and not caring about the other person is what Paul warned against.

Contemporary times; we no longer break proper bread, in fact, it’s just a wafer and a semblance of a cup of wine so it’s hard to get drunk whilst others go hungry. Truth is, if you bank your hope on the communion, you’ll go home quite disappointed but anyway back to the subject of matter, in these contemporary times, how do we drink of the cup in an unworthy manner?

Simple, it’s the same as before. See, underlying the drunkenness was greed, selfish motives, conceit … Simply put, no love for others.  

You gobble down the wafer and wine solemnly yet in an unworthy manner if you do not recognize the body, which is the church.

Granted, there are other ways of participating in the ceremony in an unworthy manner. But see, Christ didn’t die so that we live individualistic lives. More so he didn’t institute a divine mass ceremony so that we partake of it alone.

He wants us to wait for one another, care about one another, care for one another and partake of the cup together as loved ones and therefore proclaim His death; His ultimate show of love to the world until He comes.

So the next time you join the queue for your wafer and wine, take a moment, pause and think about the person behind you in the queue. Do you recognize him as a part of the body?

Yaa A.

“I Love You”

“I love YOU” – GOD

“I love you but …” – Us

These are not words my lips may have uttered out but I have no doubt that my actions have expressed this on a  number of occasions. If you asked me who I have hated I couldn’t come up with any names yet it doesn’t imply I have loved everyone. I have had to turned down opportunities to show my love to ‘loved ones’. I’ve shied away from such simply because in some cases my interests came first or I just couldn’t care enough to be moved.

How many times have we not professed our love for people yet that love could not stand in the moments it was needed most? 

I once held the opinion that it’s easier to love when you are innocent and unaware of the unfortunate traits of your fellow man. Today, I’ve dropped that thought because the whole beauty of love is that it’s unconditional. For me, when it comes to loving, the unconditionality of that love is very important. For it is the only love that is eternal. If I love you because of A, B or C then it really is A, B or C that I love, not you. And that’s why when A, B or C disconnect with you, my love for you evaporates too. A, B or C could be beauty, sense of humor, possessions, intelligence, fame or even another person.

How many times have you and I not loved others based on one thing or the other and not unconditionally?

Would you still love that friend if she lost her beauty today? What if you found out she was mentally unstable and experienced moments of fit at random times in her life? Would you still love the young man who has been your friend for so long if he found himself in poverty? What if he was now bottom of his class and all fame he had earlier in life had faded ito thin air. Would your love for him do same too? When our love for others is based on the positives they have got or the negatives they haven’t got, such love is feeble.

How difficult is it for us to love people who fall below the standards we have set for ourselves?

The best example of unconditional love is the one expressed by God to us. He knows our past; He knows our struggles, yet He loves us. He’s seen us wrong people; He’s watched us disappoint them, yet He loves us. He needs nothing from us; He’s got more than us all, yet He loves us. In short, He’s high up there in class; we are way down here, yet He loves us.

People say there’s nothing like love at first sight, but they forget that when Christ walked on the this earth, he loved at first sight. He hated no one, rather the things they did and yet he was the only ‘Christian’ in his time.

Have you and I loved the sinner but hated the sin or did we hate both simultaneously?

I have struggled with loving the people of my time but God has not ceased loving man since creation; clever, back-stabbing and treacherous man. And that’s why God is love. If we want to express to our fellow men genuine unconditional love then, is God not the best coach? And if He has made His Spirit available to us and that Spirit dwells in us, does it not make loving others unconditionally a possiblity? Unless you and I understand even the tiniest bit of God’s love for us, it will be impossible to show love to our fellow the unconditional way. For the love of God is so great that if we have truly allowed it into our system, it should be bursting right out simply because it cannot be contained.

Unconditional love does not grow cold ever. It is warm to all. So whether we fall in love or walk in it, all that should matter to us is that we are doing so in [unconditional] love. Let us grow in love till we can say boldly that I love you with no buts, no exceptions.

 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.

1 John 4:7