Rev. Korankye Ankrah Erred About Denkyira-Boasi

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Image Courtesy Starfm online

About a month ago, the nation woke up in shock of the gruesome murder of a Captain of the Ghana Armed forces, Captain Mahama, who was mistaken to be an armed robber. Following this, a number of arrests were made of those involved in this heinous crime. He was subsequently posthumously promoted to the rank of a major.

Yesterday, I read a media report on Star Fm of the words of a clergy man, Rev. Korankye Ankrah necessitating this post. In the article, various statements were attributed to the Reverend who describes himself as an ‘Apostle General.

Speaking during a 30-day prayer and fasting event at Cedar Mountain Chapel Assemblies of God Church, East Legon, Rev. Sam Korankye Ankrah pronounced no youth will go past 33 years in the town – the age of Maj. Mahama when he was murdered in cold blood.

Rev. Ankrah, who serves as the Apostle General of the Royal House Chapel International, a church in Ghana with more than 30,000 members, also prophesied that there will be no leader in the town, having killed a commander of an army.

However, Rev. Ankrah, who is the first vice president of the Ghana Pentecostal and Charismatic Council, said the people of Denkyira-Obuasi can atone for their sins with a three-day special fasting led by men of God.

These words if indeed uttered by a minister of the gospel must be condemned. They are not words befitting a minister of the gospel. Reverend Ankrah erred in those words and his error cuts to the root of the gospel. Among many errors, I will address three.

Pronouncement of Curses

Among many definitions, a curse is defined as the expression of a wish that misfortune, evil, doom etc., befall a person, group, etc. We see the above definition clearly fitting the words of the Rev.. He pronounced a curse:

no youth will go past 33 years in the town – the age of Maj. Mahama when he was murdered in cold blood”

there will be no leader in the town, having killed a commander of an army.

What authority has Rev. Ankrah to determine the lifespan of those individuals? Only God has that authority and hence the minister is playing God by pronouncing a limit on the lives of the youths of Denkyira-Boasi.  No doubt, the people involved in the murder of Major Mahama have committed a sinful act.  They have broken the constitution of the land which upholds the dignity of all human life. Hence, the laws of the land must deal with their breach of the law as stipulated by Scripture (Romans 13:1-4). Not only have they broken the nation’s constitution. Most importantly, they have broken God’s command: “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13 ESV).

Their crime however doesn’t justify a curse from a minister of the gospel.  What the perpetrators of this crime need, just as any sinner needs, is the mercy of God and his forgiveness; not curses from a minister of the gospel. The Bible doesn’t teach Christians to curse: “From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so” (James 3:10). How can a minister of the gospel preach the blessings of God and pronounce curses on people at the same time, how? (James 3:9).

Fasting To Atone For Sins.

What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Oh! precious is the flow
That makes me white as snow;
No other fount I know,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus

–Robert Lowry

All human beings are sinners separated from God by virtue of our sins. The people of Denkyira-Boasi who were involved in this heinous crime are sinners acting out their natural inclination—sinning. They acted out what is in their heart just as every sinner (Jer. 17:9, Eph. 2:1-3).

Now, though separated from God by sin, God has not left sinners to their fate. Rather, he has provided for his own self an acceptable sacrifice by which sins are atoned for. He sent Jesus Christ to come and die to atone for the sins of humankind so whoever believes in him would be saved and their sins forgiven when they put their trust in Christ. However, the Rev. is asking sinners to do something they cannot do—atone for their sins.

the people of Denkyira-Obuasi can atone for their sins with a three-day special fasting led by men of God

This is a departure from essential Christian beliefs and it is troubling.  Sinners cannot atone for their sins by any act of theirs. Christ’s death on the cross is what atones for sins. And sinners are cleansed by faith in that finished work on Calvary. Nobody atones for their sins in Christian theology. Sinners, however heinous their crime must look to Christ alone and his finished work on the cross for the forgiveness of their sins. (1John 2:1-2, Romans 5:7-9, 11; Hebrews 1:3). It is futile therefore to call on sinners to establish their own righteousness by their works.

Human Mediators

The Rev. didn’t only call for fasting to atone for sins. He called for that fasting to be led by men of God (whatever that phrase mens). In effect, the people involved in Major Mahama’s murder need human intermediaries to go to God to plead their forgiveness. The Bible doesn’t teach this. Christ has been put forward by God as the propitiation for sins. He is the only mediator between God and sinners.

For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time (1Tim 2:5-6).

Rev. Korankye Ankrah is the General overseer of Royal House Chapel International, a Charismatic church in the nation’s capital, Accra and also the  the first vice president of the Ghana Pentecostal and Charismatic Council. His words therefore carry influence and such utterances as those he made are a serious breach of the truth of the gospel of Christ.

Faith And Conduct

Amos 5:21-24

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Among six key themes (from ESV Global Study Bible) of the book of Amos, two stands out for me.

1. Justice and righteousness in the treatment of other people are the key evidences of a right relationship to the Lord.
2. Religious observances in the absence of social justice are disgusting to God.¹

I find these two key themes present in the verses that follow. God says;

I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the peace offerings of your fattened animals, I will not look upon them. Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen (Amos 5:21-23).

Today, many profess faith but their profession contradicts their conduct. Should that be the case? Where profession of faith and conduct contradicts, there is a justification to question what one professes. Could it be possible that God has rejected many gatherings supposedly assembled in the name of God and yet we are unaware? Could it be that God has turned his ears away from our worship and considers many a congregations singing noise yet they haven’t discerned it?

How would we know if our worship is acceptable to God? I believe the answer is in the next verse: “But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” (Amos 5:24). Where our life is not marked by justice and righteousness—a right treatment of one another and right conduct; our salvation may be questionable. Our Lord commands us to love one another and to not love the world (1Jn. 2:9-17). Paul says “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers , and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing (1cor. 13:1-2).

You see, our faith and conduct are insperable. If we have faith, it must show in our conduct: “But be n doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves”!(Jam. 1:22).

Notes:
1. Introductory notes on Amos from The ESV Global Study Bible (Wheaton, Illinois:Crossway, 2012 ) Kindle edition

 

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)

Eternal Life: God’s Gift

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For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23).

At the end of every month, I draw a salary from my employer for work done. That salary is my wages. I have earned it because I worked for it. My employer is not doing me a favour by paying me a salary. My salary is my reward for my service.

However, should I not be an employee of an organisation or provided a service, yet, I draw a remuneration from that organisation, it ceases to be something I deserve. It simply becomes a favour or a gift.

Nobody deserves a gift. It is given solely by the discretion of the giver.

There is, as we have seen, a clear distinction between wages and a gift. Scripture tells us death is the wages we receive for sin. It means that we deserve death. It is our wages. It is what is due us for sinning. We don’t die simply because we are human beings. Death was introduced into the human race because of sin. In the garden of Eden, our first parents disobeyed God and brought death, the consequences of their disobedience, upon the human race.

What this means is that every human being that walks the surface of the earth is a sinner deserving to die. We sin everyday reaping the wages for sin—death; not only physical death—but spiritual death separating sinners from God now and eternally.

But in contrast to what we deserve, that is, death, God extended a gift towards us. A gift which we don’t deserve and have not worked for. Instead of death, God has extended life to us freely. He sent Christ to come and die to reverse the effect of separation between sinners and God. Christ’s death was a gift to the world to be reconciled to God now and eternally. In Christ Jesus, God has made a way of escape from the death we deserve.

God has offered us a gift of salvation through Christ which if we receive in faith, reconciles us to Himself and gives us eternal life.

Unconditional Election: Salvation Is Unmeritorious

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Election refers to God’s choosing whom to save. It is unconditional in that there is no condition man must meet before God chooses to save him… we are not saying that final salvation is unconditional. It is not. We must meet the condition of faith, for example, in Christ in order to inherit eternal life. But faith is not a condition for election. Just the reverse. Election is a condition for faith. [1]

Probably the most commonly used word in Ghana, among Christians and non-Christians alike is the word grace. Ask someone “how are you?” and you are likely to hear a response “By the grace of God I am fine”. No doubt, it is a word we love to use. A Christian going for a job interview will believe that “by the grace of God, he will get the job rather than the other candidates. A business woman bidding for a contract, will believe that by the grace of God she will win the bid. And a young Christian who has just applied for admission to a university will believe that by the grace of God he or she will gain admission. Clearly, in our everyday use of grace, we do acknowledge we get something from God we do not deserve. If you ask any Christian what grace is, you are sure to get an answer “God’s unmerited favour”. And indeed that is what grace is. It is God’s favour and mercy we contributed nothing towards.

Now far more important than favour over another candidate in a job interview or contract bid or admission to an institution; grace is the determining factor in the salvation of sinners. Without grace, no soul will be saved. Paul says, in a very popular scripture that “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God” (Eph 2:8). Paul tells us we are saved by grace and this grace is accessed through faith. Also grace is a gift of God. To know what we are saved from, it would be helpful to take Paul’s words in its full context. Beginning from the opening verses of Eph 2, Paul describes the state of the Ephesian believers prior to their regeneration. They were dead in trespasses and sin (v.1). Not only them, but this is true of every believer today. We were previously dead in sin. Furthermore, this is also true of every unbeliever. The former state of the believer is the present reality of the unbeliever; they are dead in sin. 

This throws us back to the previous article in this series—Total Depravity: We Are All Sinners. If naturally, the unbeliever is dead in sin, it simply means they will remain dead in sin. Corpse don’t have life, neither can they give themselves life. So for a sinner to come to salvation which is life, a power beyond them will have to intervene. This power, so to speak, is the Holy Spirit who convicts sinners to come to salvation. Without this conviction of sin unto repentance, no sinner will be saved. As Paul says in 1Corinthians 2:14, “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”. The natural person here is anyone who has not come to the knowledge of salvation. And before any one will come to the appreciation of spiritual things, that is, things pertaining to God and salvation, they have to be first regenerated –be born again.

Regeneration is solely a work of God which He does on a sinner. God makes a sinner’s heart come alive and then He gives them the gift of faith to believe. Reformed Theology affirms from Scripture that those the Lord regenerates are those He has chosen and predestined unto eternal life. These chosen and predestined ones are called God’s elect: “Those of mankind that are predestinated unto life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to His eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of His will, hath chosen in Christ unto everlasting glory, out of His mere free grace and love, without any foresight of faith or good works, or perseverance in either of them, or any other thing in the creature, as conditions, or causes moving Him thereunto; and all to the praise of His glorious grace” (WCF 1.5).

Unconditional election is biblical. Surprisingly, some Christians do ignore the fact that there are a group of people called God’s elect. Speaking about election, Paul says of Jacob and Esau; “though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad— in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” As it is written , “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” (Romans 9:11-13). The only reason to explain the choosing of Jacob over Esau as Paul says is “that God’s purpose of election might continue”. God’s elect were chosen before the foundation of the world and that’s what unconditional election is about (Ephesians 1:3-6).

1. Five Points Towards A Deeper Experience Of God’s Grace, by John Piper (Christian Focus Publications, 2013, kindle edition).

Four Thoughts To Ponder In A New Month

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It seems like yesterday when we entered the year 2016 and so soon September is here with us. That was fast.

Now thank we all our God
with heart and hands and voices,
who wondrous things has done,
in whom his world rejoices;
who from our mothers’ arms
has blessed us on our way
with countless gifts of love,
and still is ours today.¹

You made resolutions when we entered 2016,didn’t you? You may pause to ask “How well have I fared with my resolutions?”A new month presents us with an opportunity to make amends in particular areas of our lives. It was the Apostle Paul who wrote “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?— unless indeed you fail to meet the test!” (2Corinthians 13:5). Self-examination and evaluation is crucial in this life and the life after here.  At the end of our lives this side of eternity, we will be called to account before God. Our life here therefore matters for eternity.

As we go through this new month, let us glean a few lessons from Ecclesiastes 12:1-7 which I trust will be valuable.

1. Seek God

Remember your Creator in the days of your youth…”(v.1a)

There are those who will do everything else but commit their lives to live and obey God. They don’t seek Him. Don’t be one of them. The days of your youth as used here by Solomon I believe indicates the days of strength, wellness and ability. Comfort and “good days” have the ability to blind us to spiritual realities  and we must guard against this. Jesus tells us to “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33).

Solomon contrasts “the good days of strength (the days of your youth)” with the evil day when you have lost your strength: “…before the evil days come…” (Ecclesiastes 12:1a). There is a correlation between how we live our lives and what place God has in our lives in moments of prosperity, good health and comfort. The tendency to forget there is a creator is high. Thus, Solomon’s call to “Remember your Creator ”is appropriate as we go through the rest of the year.

2: Make Wise Use Of Time.

“…before  the evil days come and the years draw near”(v.1b).

A transition from from youthful strength, opportunities and abilities will be gone one day. These won’t always be available. This obviously includes opportunity to live in submission and obedience to God. It is said that, “time waits for no man” and it is true. J. Oswald Sanders in his book,  Spiritual Leadership, wrote that “Each moment of the day is a gift from God that deserves care, for by any measure, our time is short and the work is great. Minutes and hours wisely used translate into an abundant life—  living a God pleasing life”. We will be held accountable for how we lived our lives and what we spent our time on.“Look carefully then”, Paul said “how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil”.(Eph 5:15-16). Moses prayed: “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom”(Ps. 90:12KJV).

Will you make that your prayer?

3: Death, A Reality of Life

“…man is going to his eternal home, and the mourners go about the streets— before the silver cord is snapped , or the golden bowl is broken, or the pitcher is shattered
at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern, and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it” (vv.5-7)

We see death clearly spoken of here. Death is inevitable. We will all die, because “… it is appointed unto men once to die….” (Hebrews 9: 27). Death is a reality of life. Not only is death a reality, death points us to the brevity of life.“All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls” (1Peter 1:24). Once we are born, we will die. Scripture tells us there is  “A time to be born, and a time to die….” (Ecclesiastes 3:2). Every passing month and year brings us closer to the end of our days here on earth. We don’t get a notification when death will knock at our door. Death will not wait for you to accomplish your projects, dreams and desires. You are not too busy to die. You don’t have the luxury of postponing your death.

Have you considered the state of your soul? “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts”(Hebrews 3:15).

4: Eternity–eternal life or damnation–Beckons.

“…man is going to his eternal home… and the spirit returns to God who gave it (vv5-7).

There is an eternal home for all of us. Either we will have eternal life or eternal damnation. As we begin a new month, and as you consider all that has been said in the previous points, bear in mind our life here is only temporal. Eternity awaits all of us and whether we will be in heaven or hell depends on what we do with God’s offer of eternal life. We are all sinners and until we come to faith in Christ, we are eternally separated from God. Don’t just embrace a new month, embrace also God’s gift of eternal life through faith in 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).

1:http://www.hymnary.org/text/now_thank_we_all_our_god

But God

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And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

Paul here contrasts the life of the Ephesian believers when they were unbelievers with their lives when they became believers.

Dead In Sin

Prior to conversion, the Ephesians were dead in sin. They were unregenerated, unbelievers and sinners born in sin. This is not only true of the believers in Ephesus. It is true of everyone today who is a believer. Previously, you were dead in sin and naturally couldn’t obey God. This is also the current state of every unbeliever. You are a sinner dead in sin who needs life from God: “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins”(v1).

Under Satan’s Control

Because the Ephesians were dead in sin prior to conversion, they were by nature under Satan’s dominion. They live to do the bidding of the “prince of the power of the air”(v2). This was not only true of the Ephesian believers. It was true also of the apostle Paul who wrote the letter. See how he uses inclusive language: “we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind”(v3).

Further, this is equally true of any one who has not tasted of the salvation of God. You are in bondage to Satan. You are a child of disobedience. You are under the wrath of God and if you don’t repent, God’s full wrath would be poured on you one day: “because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed”(Rom 2:5).

From vv 1-3, we see the hopeless state of every sinner. He is dead in sin. That is, he has not got the ability in himself to respond to God: “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day”(John 6:44).

In fact, if left on her own, the sinner would not come to God. She needs help from outside herself. To be dead in sin is comparable to a corpse. A corpse cannot give life to itself can it?

But God

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved (vv4-5).

“But God”. This juxtaposes God’s ability with our  inability: what we couldn’t do with what God did in our  regeneration. Out of our despondent, desperate, hopeless situation as sinners, hope sprung from God. From v4 onwards, we see the love and mercy of God at display towards the sinner

A New Life

When God intervenes in our deadness, He gives us eternal life. Not only life in this world, but in the world to come. The sinner who once had no hope is now given hope in this life because he is now united with Christ and reconciled to God: “raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus”(v5). We are seated in the heavenly places. We are citizens of heaven. We have hope now and hope in the life to come. God has purposed  to show us “in the coming ages…the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus “(v7).

This new life is not a result of anything good or meritorious work in us. It is a new life that springs from the love, mercy and grace–unmerited favour– of God:”For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God” (v8-9).

Would you lay hold of this new life by Faith in Christ? “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).