He Is Not Here, But Has Risen

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Luke 24:1-12

The bodily resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ which we celebrate today as resurrection sunday is one of the fundamental tenets of the Christian faith. He died and rose again thus reconciling sinful humanity to the Father through the efficacy of the finished work on Calvary. He died in our place as a ransom for our sins. He appeased God’s wrath for the punishment of our sins. (See Isaiah 53:4-6). His death and resurrection paved the way for everyone who will believe in Him to have a relationship with the father and to have eternal life.

As has been said already, the resurrection is a fundamental tenet of the Christian faith. Without the resurrection of Christ, there will be no Christianity. Paul says “…if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins” (1Corinthians 15:17). That is a very categorical statement. What Paul is saying is that, without the resurrection, we are still sinners living in sin and everything we have believed in the name of Christ is a hoax—if there was no resurrection.

Paul went further to say, “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. These words speaks to us of the import of the resurrection in Christian doctrine. Randy Alcorn, in the book Heaven wrote that

The physical resurrection of Jesus Christ is the cornerstone of redemption…. Indeed, without Christ’s resurrection and what it means–an everlasting future for fully restored human beings…there is no Christianity”.

I will say that, if there is no resurrection, we better pack bag and baggage and walk away from the Christian faith. But thank God He “raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by [death] ( Acts 2:24). This is a wonderful testimony. Death couldn’t hold him captive. “God, His Father, heard His cry; Raised from the dead, He reigns on high”–Isaac Watts

The events leading to the resurrection points to one intriguing fact. The disciples disbelieved Him when He spoke about His resurrection all the while He was with them. John tells us that it was when Christ was raised from the dead that they remembered and believed what He had told them about His resurrection (John 2:22).

When Jesus died, the world of the disciples was shattered. All hope was lost (Luke 24:21). On the first day after the burial, Mary Magdalene, Mary the Mother of James and other women (Matthew 28:1, Mark 16:1, Luke 24:1, 10; John 20:1) went to the tomb to give Jesus’ dead body a befitting burial with spices prepared the previous day (Luke 23:56). The narrative clearly gives us an indication they were not expecting a resurrection either.  When they got to the tomb and didn’t find Jesus, their first thought was not that He had resurrected. Rather, “they were perplexed” (v.4). It was there; the truth of Christ’s resurrection was revealed to them:

Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen (vv.5-6)

These are words of great hope. Christ is alive! Christ didn’t remain in the grave. He rose to give hope to those who will believe in Him for the forgiveness of their sins. Now, when the women told the disciples; they also didn’t believe: “these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them” (v.11). All these ‘disbeliefs’ clearly indicates to us that the resurrection was not expected and couldn’t have been staged or fabricated by the followers of Jesus.

Why will they make up something they didn’t even believe or anticipated? Peter, we are told run to the tomb and and when he saw the tomb empty, he “went home marveling at what had happened.”(v.12).

Today, we have the testimony of Scripture telling us Christ is alive. We have no reason to doubt God’s word. Christ is alive!

Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures … he was buried … he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures (1Corinthians 15:3-4)

Flee From False Teachers

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I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel (Galatians 1:6).

Apostolic Astonishment! Paul is astonished the gospel was being messed with and people buying into the mess. Today, we must express this same astonishment. But no. The masses lack discernment. Anything cladded in Christian jargon gets their attention. They revere false teachers and their false gospels. They are their favourite.

Just as in Paul’s day, many today are walking away from the grace of God to establish their own righteousness by their works.

The gospel is simple: Christ “gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age” (Galatians 1:4). In our day, people are offended to be told they are sinners. “Life is already hard. Don’t complicate it by telling people they are sinners. No one wants to hear such discouraging words” we are told. So in the stead of this basic fact of human existence and Christian doctrine, all manner of self-help, humanistic thoughts are passing for gospel. Paul will further say, “even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:9) .

Admirably, Paul places himself under the same scrutiny he expects the Galatians to have towards teachers. Even if he himself preaches under gospel, he stands accursed—throw him out. There are many so called gospels out there which are no gospels at all. Paul was clear on that: “not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ” (Galatians 1:7).

Anyone who doesn’t preach the true gospel or distorts it is troubling you. They are jeopardizing your soul. From such flee.

A Christian WhatsApp Group Coversation On wealth

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I administer a whatsapp group called Total Life..This afternoon, one group member–I will call Diana (not her real name)  posted some thoughts generating some discussions. She wrote:

God will make you so wealthy this year to confirm His Covenant. His name and intergrity is at stake concerning you this year…Wealth is available for you in every Land. Receive the POWER to take your portion of the Wealth of the Nations….Wealth must produce Health. Eat good food, drink good water, wear good clothes, drive a good car and rest on a good bed…Wealth is a blessing from God. Ask God for Wealth and by His power bring every satanic resistence to your wealth…Any habit or character repelling wealth is broken over your life right now in Jesus name. Amen and Amen…This year any witch, wizard, occult or wicked man or woman that must die for Wealth manifestation dies now in Jesus name. Amen and Amen…From the North, South, West and East Wealth would flow to you now in Jesus name. Amen and Amen

If you know anything about Charismatic and Word of Faith teachings, they believe included in the Christian message is a covenant of wealth, riches and health. And that is clearly seen in the first line of the words aforementioned: “God will make you so wealthy this year to confirm His covenant”. This is what some actually believe as Christianity.  I (Enoch) responded to that message by saying:

“One doesn’t need to be a Christian to be wealthy. The main reason Christ came to die is to save us from sin and eternal punishment. He has no covenant of wealth with anybody. It is a covenant of grace where sinners are made rigtheous through faith and delivered from the bondage of sin to show forth his praise through holy living. If God has a covenant of wealth with us, then all believers who are not wealthy may be doing something wrong. God bestows his common grace on all people. He makes the rain fall on both the rigtheous and wicked. There are principles out there which if both Christian and non-Christian apply, they may have wealth”

In agreement, another group member (I will call John (not his real name) added: Christ did not come to redeem us from financial burdens but procure our salvation from sin. Wealth creation/possession are based on principles and not faith in/through Christ. 

Diana retorted: “Wealth and riches is part of the kingdom … Kingdom riches for kingdom impact. He has the hidden treasures and He give it to His children. Seek Him first and all other things shall be added., Riches inclusive …. We preach Jesus to the hungry when he needs food to concentrate in the first place and you still want to rule out wealth….. Christianity is not poverty my Brothers. I recieve wealth and pass on to my generations to come. In JESUS name. They will dominate in the pyhsical and in the supernatural. Kingdom riches for kingdom impact”

These are some of the well rehearsed cliches of Charismatism and Word of Faith movement. They always claim they want wealth to make impact for the kingdom.

I responded to her last statement saying,”Wealth and riches is what all of us want. It is our natural conditioning. That is why it appeals to us when we attach Christianity to that natural innate desire to make it in life. I want to make a living so if you tell me Christianity will give me money, it will appeal to my natural desires. But does Christianity promise us wealth and riches? If wealth and riches is a Christian message, then the apostles were the most miserable or they didn’t understand the gospel. The Bible actually condemns this attachment of wealth and riches to Christianity. Many of us have not really given thoughtful biblical consideration to this prosperity preaching all around. The Bible describes those who think wealth and riches is Christianity as “…depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain” (1Timothy 6:5)

Clearly, the desire for wealth and riches mimics a love for money which many people will argue. But that is the truth. If you want to be rich so much, you love money. Paul continues: “those who desire to be rich fall into temptation , into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.” (1Timothy 6:9-10)”.

I got a counter response from Diana: “Our God understand Beauty,Wealth ,Riches and as His child I will not be different. Heaven is a display of Riches. Gold. Diamond. Infact we should be rich. Having allowed our position to be taken by the world does not mean it’s the Norm. There are clear principle governing wealth for any believer to part take. Ruling out riches is a trick of the enemy. It’s time we wake up… Our desire is not money. Our desire is the Lord God Almighty..Riches is a bonus we are entitled to

Other group members joined in the conversation with a number of follow up questions. Paul (not his real name) asked;”can a christian be poor?” I must admit I knew the answer which will be given: “it is a choice” but I waited for the question to be answered. I was not wrong when the reply came from Diana. She responded: “Ecc 10: 5-7… It’s a choice and an error…” Seth responded : “That’s a wrong approach to scripture. Which of the Apostles were rich pls?

That’s a good question isn’t it? This idea of Christianity and wealth is so alien to Biblical Christianity  you wonder how people believe it. In answering to the question about the Apostles, Diana laughed—“Hahahahahahahaa. My King is rich. I cant be poor…” Rich (not his real name) showed up with a text—Matthew 6:33 in support of Diana. That triggered a whole line of discussion I will post as Part 2 of this.

 

 

Who Is Jesus Christ?

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In a week away, we will be celebrating Christmas; a day Christians commemorate the birth of Jesus. Christians are divided on whether to celebrate Christmas or not. The debate ranges from whether He was born on 25th December and also of the pagan origins of Christmas. Inspite of these many disagreements , however, one point of agreement between believers is that Jesus did live as a historical figure–He was born. To answer the question who is Jesus Christ? we must admit there are a phletora of opinions about who Jesus is and those opinions can be right or wrong. R.C Sproul, in the The Ligonier Statement on Christology, opens with these words: “Nearly every adult person has formed some opinion of Jesus. These opinions may be superficial, uninformed, or downright heretical. The truth about Jesus, not mere opinion, matters…and it matters eternally”.

Who Is Jesus?

I will here turn to John Chapter One to address the person of Jesus. The book of John as a gospel differs in many ways from the synoptic gospel . John’s gospel relates to us the life, teachings and miracles of Jesus—and people’s response; just as the other gospels. However, John does this with theological depths the other gospels didn’t. As you read through John’s gospel, you continuously see themes of Jesus’ divinity scattered all over the pages of his gospel though at the same time, He was fully human. J.C. Ryle rightly commented:

The Gospel of John… is in many respects very unlike the other three Gospels. It contains many things which they omit. It omits many things which they contain… The things which are peculiar to his Gospel are among the most precious possessions of the Church of Christ. No one of the four Gospel-writers has given us such full statements about the divinity of Christ — about justification by faith — about the offices of Christ — about the work of the Holy Spirit — and about the privileges of believers, believers, as we read in the pages of John. On none of these great subjects, undoubtedly, have Matthew, Mark, and Luke been silent. But in John’s Gospel, they stand out prominently on the surface, so that he who runs may read” [1]

The Testimony Of John’s Gospel About Jesus

He Is God

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God (vv.1-2).

Jesus didn’t begin to exist at a certain period in history. Neither was He created. Christ is eternal. He transcends time and history. John designates Christ as the Word in his opening statements: “In the beginning was the Word…” (vv.1-2). This speaks of the pre-existence of Christ before Creation. “In the beginning [He] was….” Before creation, Christ existed: “…he is before all things…”(Colossians 1:17 see also John 8:56-57). Now, John doesn’t only tell us of the eternal and pre-existence of Christ. He also spoke of the divinity of Christ–Christ is God: “…the Word was God”(v.1). This clearly speaks of the divinity of Christ. He is God. In Christ the words  “Immanuel” (which means, God with us) (Matthew 1:23) is fulfilled. Again in John 8:57, Jesus used the title by which God revealed Himself to Moses in the burning bush–I Am: “before Abraham was, I am.” “”Here Jesus declared Himself to be Yahweh, i.e., the Lord of the OT. [2]

He Is The Second Person Of The Trinity (Son of God).

…and the Word was with God (v.1a).

In John 1:1, we notice Jesus was not alone. The word was with ‘Somebody’ and that person we are told was God. Further, we are told Jesus shares attributes with that person, i.e., He Jesus was God. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” This is the heart of the great historic doctrine of the Trinity [3]. Scripture reveals God to us as One being in three persons; God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit: “Within the one Being that is God, there exists eternally three coequal and coeternal persons, namely, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit”. [4] In Matthew 3:16-17, we see a full revelation of the Trinity when Jesus was baptised. We are told the Holy Spirit descended on Him like a dove with a Voice from heaven saying this is my beloved Son. Clearly, the eternal union of God the Father with God the Son is captured in the words: “He was in the beginning with God” (v.2). In John 17:5, Christ spoke of the glory He had with the Father before the world existed.

He Is The Creator

All things were made through him…(v.3a).

All of Creation owes its existence to Christ: “…without him was not anything made that was made (v. 3b)” He is the King of kings and Lord of Lord’s over all of life. Nothing exists outside of the creative work of Christ: “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities— all things were created through him and for him” (Colossians 1:16). When we trace our path back to the beginning of the Bible, we are told “In the beginning God created…”. Looking at this in light of John’s words, we see Christ as the Creator.

He Is Life And Light Of The World

In him was life and the life was the light of men (v.4).

As the Creator, all lives take their source from Christ. Without Christ, no one has life. Paul says in Acts 17:28 that “In him we live and move and have our being”. This depicts Christ as the Sustainer of all lives. “He upholds the universe by the word of his power” (Hebrews 1:3). Christ is both the natural source of life and the spiritual source. Spiritually, all human beings, without a saving knowledge of Christ are in darkness, that is, living in sin and separated from God. This interprets to mean they are dead without light. But Christ gives life which dispels darkness and brings light into the life of anyone who comes to Him in faith.

In v.10, we are told “He was in the the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him” (v.10). The question is, “Why”?  It is because the world is dead spiritually and separated from God. Paul says in 1Corinthians 2:14 that “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned”. To know Christ and receive Him requires a spiritual work. One has to be regenerated by the spirit to come in faith. When this happens, we are brought into God’s family by faith in Christ: “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (vv.12-13).

He Is The God-Man

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth (v.14).

Core to Christian beliefs is the virgin birth of Christ. He “was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary” Perhaps, done of the most contested doctrine of Christianity is the nature of Christ —his divinity and humanity ‘fused’ together in One person called–hypostatic union (see also Historic Heresies Relating To The Nature of Jesus). Jesus is fully God and fully human. God took on human flesh in Jesus Christ. He became the God-man among His creation: He “dwelt among us”. He became man and lived among His own people (1John 1:1-2).

God walked among humanity in Christ and manifested His glory: “we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son” God’s glory—the radiance of His majesty and power was revealed through Christ. “The Son, the Word–who is eternally with the Father, face to face with him, gazing upon and enjoying the glory that emanates from him– has now become flesh in our fallen world”.[6]

When Jesus was born, we are told “an angel of the Lord appeared to [shepherds watching over their flocks by night], and the glory of the Lord shone around them” (Luke 2:9).

Jesus is superior over all others and the book of Hebrews describes Him as “…the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature”(Hebrews 1:3). In His glory, Christ reveals to us “grace and truth”. His coming to earth was to show us the grace of God towards humanity and lead us into the truth of God’s word.

He Is The Lamb Of God

Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!(v.29).

Here is one of the most important truths to know about Christ. He is the Lamb of God. The Jewish reader will immediately understand what John The Baptist was saying when he described Christ as the Lamb of God. In Old Testament rituals, the Lamb without blemish was used to atone temporarily, for the sins of God’s people (Exodus 12:3, Leviticus 3:7). Now the rituals of the Old Testament pointed to a better sacrifice for sins because as the Hebrew writer will say: “For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (Hebrews 10:4). The efficacy in the blood of bulls and goats was powerless to do away with sin once and for all. But Christ, “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”(John 1:29) offered an acceptable sacrifice to God for the atonement of sin once for all (Hebrews 10:10). Christ is God’s acceptable sacrifice for sin.

He Baptises With The Holy Spirit

So far, our attention has been on the relationship between God the Father and God the Son. But all of God’s revelation of Himself is Trinitarian. So here in John 1, John doesn’t leave us without telling us of the Holy Spirit through the words of John the Baptist: “…He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit” ( John 1:33). Jesus baptises us with the Holy Spirit. This means, when we come to faith in Him, He gives us the gift promised by the Father. Without the Holy Spirit, no one can be a believer (Romans 8:9). And the Holy Spirit joins us in union with the Godhead.

These are not exhaustive statements about Christ. But I believe these are basic stepping stones to an in-depth study of Christology–the doctrine of Christ.

Notes:

  1. J.C. Ryle’s Expository Thoughts on the Gospels (Kindle Edition).
  2. John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible. Notes on John 8:58 (Thomas Nelson, Inc., 2006, Kindle Edition).
  3. John Piper, In The Beginning Was The Word (online article Read here).
  4. James R. White, The Forgotten Trinity, (Bethany House Publishers, 2012, Kindle Edition).
  5. Sinclair B. Ferguson, Child In The Manger (Edinburgh, Banner of Truth, 2016) Pg.35

Work Out Your Own Salvation

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Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, 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 (Philippians 2:12-13).

It appears Paul is admonishing the Philippians to work to earn their salvation: “work out your own salvation”. However, if we interpret Paul’s words in that sense, we will be (i) contradicting the whole body of biblical revelation because salvation is by grace through faith and (ii) contradicting Paul himself because he taught in his epistles that salvation is by faith.

What Does Scripture Teach About Salvation?

Scripture first and foremost teaches that all human beings are naturally sinners because of original sin inherited from Adam and as a result, are separated from God and His glory (Psalm 51:5, Romans 3:23). But God out of love, though humanity is separated from Him as a consequence of sin and bound for eternal destruction, provided a way of rescue to reconcile sinners unto Himself by faith in Jesus Christ:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).

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 2:8-9).

“Sirs, what must I do to be saved ?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”(Acts 16:30-31).

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:1)

These Scriptures (not exhaustive) point us to one truth: Justification by faith. To be saved therefore, a sinner has to repent of their sins and put their trust in Christ Jesus, “whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith”(Rom 3:25). If it is true (and it is) that sinners are saved by faith alone without any self-rigtheousness, then we must put in proper context what Paul means by “work out your own salvation”. He is obviously not writing about earning our salvation by self-effort.

Epistle From Prison.

It is crucial to note the circumstances surrounding Phillipians and the verse under consideration in particular. Paul is in prison and not physically present with the church as its leader. From prison therefeore, he writes to give instructions on numerous topics confronting the Philippian church.

In Chapter 2, Paul exhorts on Christian conduct citing Christ’s example of humility “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, 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. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:5-8)… “… Have this mind among yourselves” This is a message calling on the Philippian church to take a cue from the humility and suffering of Christ.

Note also that our opening verse starts with “Therefore”. This means Paul draws on his previous teaching on Christ’s example and goes on to tell the believers to emulate Christ.

Philippians Was Written To Christians

We must bear in mind the epistles were written to Christians to give instructions on Christian living or conduct. So when Paul wrote “work out your own salvation”, he is writing to people who were already Christians. They were believers. They have salvation. They have trusted Christ by faith and needed instructions on Christian conduct. Paul calls them “my beloved” and he pointed out that they “have always obeyed”.

You can’t call on unbelievers to work out their salvation; a salvation they don’t have. The Philippians no doubt were Christians. And the fruit of their Christianity is that they are living in obedience. The mark of a true Christian is a life of obedience.

Work Out Your Own Salvation

Now if the Philippians were already Christians (and they were), Paul is greatly concerned they will continue in obedience especially because he is no not physically present with them and his imprisonment has opened up the church to infiltration by false teachers. “Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry…”(Philippians 1:15). “Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh” (Philippians 3:2).

Clearly, the infiltration of false teachers in his abscence needed to be addressed. The church was in danger of falling into laxity, complacency, hypocrisy and legalism. Because of this, Paul admonished them to continue in their obedience.

Lets face it. It is human tendency that when a leader is not present or when no one is watching, people naturally fall into laxity in their faith. This is what Paul warns against. The command from Paul is this: Live like Christians. Let the salvation you already possess  manifest in how you conduct your life. “Will and do God’s good pleasure”. Take personal responsibility for your Christian conduct: “your own salvation”.

The Greek. verb rendered “work out” means “to continually work to bring something to fulfillment or completion.” It cannot refer to salvation by works (cf. Ro 3: 21– 24 ; Eph 2: 8 , 9 ), but it does refer to the believer’s responsibility for active pursuit of obedience in the process of sanctification ¹.

“Work out…with fear and trembling” The point here is that of godly reverence: don’t develop a cavalier attitude towards God’s grace. Don’t play slack with the grace of God. Every believer must have a “healthy fear of offending God and a righteous awe and respect for Him (cf. Pr 1: 7 ; 9: 10 ; Is 66: 1 , 2 )².

The charge to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling” can be compared to Peter’s charge also: “Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall”(2Peter 1:10). As believer, there is already a work of grace going on in your lives. God is already at work in you “both to will and to work for his good pleasure”. If you have a desire for the will of God, you didn’t produce that desire. God planted it in you.

The Christian is always called upon to respond to God’s ongoing work of sanctification. God works first and we must cooperate “to be conformed to the image of his Son” (Romans 8:29).

1: THE MACARTHUR STUDY BIBLE Copyright © 2006 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved.

2: ibid

Homowo: Can A Christian Eat Kpoikpoi (Kpekple)?

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Between now and September this year, the Ga tribe in Ghana will celebrate their festival homowo. Though I am not a Ga, I grew up in Osu–which has launched its homowo–and one of the fondest memories of those formative years is the celebration of Homowo, a traditional festival of the Gas which “…recounts the[ir] migration…and reveals their agricultural success in their new settlement. According to Ga oral tradition, a severe famine broke out among the people during their migration to present day Accra. They were inspired by the famine to embark on massive food production exercises which eventually yielded them bumper harvest. Their hunger ended and with great joy they “hooted at hunger” this is the meaning of the word HOMOWO”[1]

Before you proceed further, let me tell you my answer ahead of any explanation. My answer is Yes to whether a Christian can eat Kpoikpoi (Kpekle). While working on this article, I checked with a few friends about their views. One answer made me smile: “pray over it and EAT all you can

Now, as with every festival, there are celebrations and merry making and one of the highlights of this festival is a special food; Kpoikpoi: “…a Ga delicacy that is prepared during their popular festival Homowo. It is a corn food with unique texture and unusual flavour”.[2] It is enjoyed with palmnut soup and when there is a leftover, it can be fried to get a crispy texture.

What necessitated this article was an incident which occured recently at work. In a conversation with a colleague who is Ga, I informed her I will be paying her a visit during this year’s homowo celebration to enjoy Kpoikpoi in her home. Another colleague, a Christian friend, overheard our conversation and with shock in her voice, she exclaimed, “You of all people Enoch, I am surprised you are going to eat that“. Knowing what my friend was driving at, I took her aside and we had a discussion on the subject.

Now before the festival takes off in the different Ga communities, the priest, referred to as Wolomi, together with the paramount chief sprinkle Kpoikpoi to the gods thanking them for a bountiful harvest. After this, the festival is officially opened and every Ga household participating in the celebrations prepare their own Kpokpoi. So the common perception is that Kpoikpoi is pagan which in a certain sense is true because it is solely associated with the festival. No family prepares Kpoikpoi on a normal day. The assertion therefore of my friend was that I was going to eat food offered to idols or gods.

Fortunately, the Bible does explicitly address eating food offered to idols. There are some things the Bible is silent on, but this is not one of them. Paul, responding to a question by the church in Corinth on food offered to idols, wrote saying: “Therefore, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “an idol has no real existence,” and that “there is no God but one.” For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth— as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”— yet for us there is one God, the Father , from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist (1Cor. 8:1-6).

From the aforementioned text, I will attempt to expound why I said Yes, a Christian can eat Kpoikpoi (Kpekple).

Christian Liberty

Christian liberty “can mean that Christians are freed in respect to such activity that is not expressly forbidden in the Bible. Therefore one can feel free to engage in such activity as long as it doesn’t “stumble” or “offend” another Christian” (Rom. 14:12-16).[3]

The Bible, under the Covenant of grace doesn’t expressly forbid the eating of any food. In answering to the question of food offered to idols, Paul begins from a fundamental truth of Christianity. There is only one God. The Christian acknowledges only one true God who has revealed Himself to us through the incarnate God; Jesus Christ: “for us there is one God, the Father , from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist”.

Any other thing that exists by name as god or Lord, “so-called gods in heaven or on earth”, Paul says we know that “an idol has no real existence”. They are simply what they are, idols with no life; “They have mouths, but do not speak; eyes, but do not see. They have ears, but do not hear; noses, but do not smell. They have hands, but do not feel; feet, but do not walk; and they do not make a sound in their throat. Those who make them become like them; so do all who trust in them”. (Ps. 115:5-8).

We are emancipated from what Paul calls “weak and worthless elementary principles of the world”(Gal.3:9). Paul will finally say to the Corinthians: “Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do” (1Cor. 8:8). What food we eat or don’t eat have no effect on our relationship with God. We have the liberty to eat any food. Unless of course on medical grounds. So on the grounds of Christian liberty, I don’t consider it a moral issue or sin if I eat Kpoikpoi.

Boundaries On Christian Liberty

However, the same text that gives me my liberty, again puts what I would call boundaries around my liberty. Simply put, I can’t flaunt that liberty when other believers with a weaker conscience are involved. I can’t take a superior stand and consider myself a better Christian than the person who says no a christian can’t eat kpoikpoi or any other ‘forbidden’ food. That will put me in the category of puff up believers without love (1Cor. 8:1-2). Paul prescribes how we express our liberty when it comes to the eating or not of food offered to idols:

But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will he not be encouraged , if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols? And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble (vv. 9-13).

In exercising my Christian liberty, not only in food, but in everything I have liberty in, my fellow Christian’s conscience is also at stake. If my liberty will harm the conscience of my fellow believer. I better abandon that liberty out of love for my fellow Christian who has a weak conscience. That however doesn’t mean eating Kpoikpoi in itself is wrong or a sin.

Exulting In Christ

Jesus-032-782013Have you been in a situation where someone you admire, respect or look up to makes a statement that takes you by surprise? A statement that makes you think probably success and fame has gotten into their head. Some of the disciples of Jesus might have had that experience.

In John 6, Jesus engages in a conversation with the Jews explaining to them who He is. In v.51, Jesus described Himself as  “…the living bread that came down from heaven” He further went on to say ,  “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.”

This didn’t go down well with the people and they asked, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”(v.52). You will think Jesus will stop so not to offend them more. But no, He pressed on with the truth. From vv.53-59, He further described His flesh as true food and His blood as true drink. That probably broke the Camel’s back. They couldn’t take it, so they voiced it out:  “When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it (v60). Truth divides sometimes and we see this clearly manifested here. We are told “After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him” (v66).

Jesus lost followers because He spoke the truth about who He is. Whenever we speak the truth, we must be ready for a “fall out”. The truth will retain some while dispelling others. To be sure His twelve disciples were not also going to follow “the multitude”, He asked them “Do you want to go away as well?” Peter as usual, responded for the twelve:

Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed , and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”

This is one of the many profound statements recorded in Scripture. In these words, “Lord, to whom shall we go?” Peter proclaims the Lordship of Christ and His exclusivity to eternal life. Beside Christ, there is no life in anyone else (Acts 4:12). Christ is life. He is the origin and ‘sustainer’ of every life; “All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men” (John 1:3-4). Peter’s words reflects the Psalmist’s when He said “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you” (Psalm 73:25). This is total trust and dependence on God. “There is none holy like the LORD: for there is none besides [Him]; there is no rock like our God”(1Samuel 2:2).

In Psalm 16:5-11, the Psalmist reveals to us the profundity of who God is to him. In verse 5, he tells us the Lord is his portion. Christ is the believer’s “portion and inheritance”. In Him we have obtained an inheritance (Ephesians 1:11). Christ has the words of eternal life. It is His word–the Bible– that gives life. He said in John 6:63 that the words He speaks are spirit and life. There is no life outside of Christ. Anyone without Christ is without life. Eternal life cannot be found anywhere but in Christ. He has the words of eternal life. He came to reconcile sinners to Himself.

Who is Christ to you? To Peter and the other disciples, Christ was all their all:

we have believed , and have come to know.

These words holds true for the Christian faith. To exult in Christ, we must come to a point of faith–belief–and acknowledge who Christ is: “the Holy One of God“; the only mediator between God and man. Every believer must come to this point in life when they can proclaim Christ is their all and they have no alternatives. And for the unbeliever, a life without Christ is a life headed for destruction and eternal damnation (John 3:18-19).