I have been given this text to read as one of the lessons in a community carol’s night organised by our resident’s association. The first question I asked when I had the text was “what has this got to do with Christmas?
However, reading and pondering the text, it is as relevant as any other account of the birth of Christ in the gospels. If you are familiar with Genesis 3, that is where the fall occurred; sin entered the world and thus all of humankind became sinners.
In Genesis 3 also, God announced his redemptive plan for salvation. In that pronouncement, Christ—the seed of the woman was revealed. The seed of the woman shall bruise Satan’s head, and Satan his heel.” (Genesis 3:15). Theologians call this (v.15) protoevangelium; that is, the first gospel. The bruising of the heel of the seed of the woman paints a picture of the passion of Christ and bruising the head of the Serpent is the victory Christ won over the devil in his Crucifixion (1Corinthians 2:8; Colossians 2:14-15).
The point is that Christ’s incarnation which we celebrate as Christmas was for the purpose of destroying the work of the devil and deliver sinners from bondage (1John 3:8; Hebrews 2:14-15). This is why we celebrate Christmas: the ‘seed of the woman’, prophesied in Genesis 3:15 was born to bring hope to a dark dying world burdened with sin. Of course, we know the date of his birth is only commemorative, but he was born and the importance of the season is that his birth was God’s plan from the beginning by which he will reconcile sinners to God.
Genesis 3:8-15 has everything to do with Christmas. The deliverer from sin and destroyer of Satan’s work was revealed.
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).
Light dispels darkness. Where there is light, darkness cannot be present. Metaphorically, Christ speaks of himself as the light of the world. This points us to the fact that there is darkness in the world. He goes on again to say whoever follows him will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of the world. This also means is anyone not following Christ is in the darkness which is in the world. Again, anyone who follows him has come out of the darkness of the world.
Here we see a contrast between light and darkness.
Now the ” I am the light of the world” is one of a number of “I am” statements by Jesus Christ recorded in John’s gospel. These “I am” statements are not a simple first person pronoun usage; rather, they point us to Christ’s divine identity and his saving relationship with sinners in a fallen world (John 4:26; 6:20; 8:28, 28, 58; 18:5). You may also be familiar with some of these specific metaphorical rendering of the “I am” statements: “I am the bread of life, the door of the sheep, the good shepherd, the resurrection and the life, the way, the truth, and the life and the true vine (John 6:35; 48, 51; 10:7; 11; 14, 11:25; 14:6; 15).
All these words were spoken in various contexts where they addressed specific needs ultimately pointing to our need of a Saviour. “I am the light of the world” is an identification with divinity –Jesus is God— which we can trace back to John’s prologue : “In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it … The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world” (John 1:4-5, 9).
Now if Jesus says he is the light of the world, it means that;
The World Is In Darkness.
Darkness here depicts a world of sin and ignorance; lack of knowledge of God. Darkness contrasting with light is the realm of evil; the kingdom of darkness. The whole world, Jesus said lies in wickedness (1John 5:19). In the beginning, God created a perfect world and he saw that all he made was good (Genesis 1:31). However, this perfect world was plunged into sin when Adam disobeyed God’s command subsequently inflicting the world with sin causing a separation between God and man (Romans 3:23). This darkness is a universal darkness. Every human being is affected by the effects of this dark sinful world. It is called total depravity. We are all badly hurt by the sin problem
Life Without Christ Is A Life of Darkness.
If the world is in darkness, it follows that everyone who enters it enters a world of darkness–filled with sin and ignorance of a knowledge of God. We all enter the world corrupted by a sin nature. Burk Parson in a sermon notes that “we enter the world dead on arrival.” Further, there is a kingdom of darkness ruled by Satan and any person who enters the world is automatically under the bondage of Satan and until they come to faith in Christ, they are doomed for destruction and under Satan’s rule. Paul says this clearly when he described the former world of the believer which is the present world or reality of the unbeliever. They are dead in trespasses and sins. They are following the course of the dark world which is sin and bondage under Satan’s rule (Eph 2:1-3).
If you don’t know Christ and have no relationship with him as your Lord and Saviour, this is your world. You are dead in sin and living in darkness.
Life With Christ Is A Life of Light.
Where light is, darkness gives way. Because Jesus is the light of the world, the darkness of the world must give way. So if a person walking in darkness encounters Christ and comes to saving faith in him; they are rescued from darkness and brought into the light; the light of the world, Christ Jesus. Just as darkness depicts sin and ignorance, light represents righteousness and life. When we come to Christ who is the light of the world, our dark; sinful and ignorant life is illuminated with light, which is the life of men.
All human beings are in bondage to sin until they come to faith in Christ. Are you burdened with sin? Are you heavy laden with guilt? Christ calls you to come into his life. He will forgive you of your sins and bring life into your dark world. Come; Christ calls
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
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.
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.
Genesis is the first book of the Bible. It is also the book of beginnings because it tells us the origins of life and accurately explains the main problem of the world–Sin. From the first two chapters of Genesis, we are told of a Creator ―God― Who created the world and all that dwells in it (Genesis 1:1, 31, 2:26-27). After creation, God saw that everything He had created was good (Genesis 1:31).
But today, in contrast to Genesis 1:31, the world in its current state is not good. It is a world filled with pain, tragedy, wickedness, cruelty and every horror imaginable. How do we reconcile the current state of the world with God’s proclamation that “everything that he had made…was very good”. The answer is that sin entered the world. So;
What Is Sin?
Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God [a].Lev 5:17; Jas 4:17; 1 John 3:4
~Westminster Shorter Catechism Q14
In these words we see what sin is. Sin is breaking God’s law by omission or commission. In modern English, the words, “want of conformity” will read as “inability to conform to the law of God” or “failure to measure up to or obey God’s command”. In Greek, the word hamartia is used in explaining what sin is. Sin is “missing the mark” just like when an archer or bowman misses their target. And rightly so, we are all sinners because we have missed the mark of God’s righteous standard (Romans 3:23).
How did sin enter the perfect world God created one may ask? Again, we turn to the book of origins. In Genesis 2:16-17, we read of a commandment God gave Adam, the first created man, “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die”.
Fast forward to Genesis 3, Adam disobeyed God; he ate of the forbidden tree and by that act of disobedience, sin entered the world. Adam in the garden of Eden was acting as a federal head for all of humankind therefore his fall became the fall of all who will ever walk this earth: “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned”(Romans 5:12).
Except Jesus who lived a perfect life without sin, all humankind inherited the consequences and effects of Adam’s fall; physical and spiritual death. Our nature was badly corrupted and we were alienated from God. The Psalmist said “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Psalm 51:5).
What he means here is that he was born with a sin problem. He inherited sin. We are by ourselves unable to please God: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” (Romans 3:11-12). These words describe the helpless state of humankind without Christ. They are enemies of God, separated from Him and guilty of eternal damnation.
However God didn’t leave sinners to our fate to try to work our way to Him. God made the first move towards reconciling sinful humankind to Himself. If you read Genesis 3 again, we see that though Adam and Eve sinned, God’s mercy was manifested.
Firstly, God proclaimed what theologians refer to as protoevangelium–the first gospel. God announced His plans towards reconciliation. A curse was pronounced and a remedy for that curse was also revealed: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15).
The seed of the woman referred to here is Christ who the Bible speaks of by saying “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil”(1John 3:8). The works of the devil is sin that separated us from God. And it is this, Jesus died to destroy. He took the punishment that belonged to sinners. He died in our place to appease for our sins and reconcile us to the Father. Our sin was imputed to Him. He became our substitutionary atonement (Isaiah 53:5-6, John 1:29).
Secondly, God covered the nakedness (guilt and shame) of Adam and Eve revealing a type of Christ’s imputed righteousness to those who will come to Faith through Jesus Christ (Genesis 3:21). Paul aptly captures this saying, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2Corinthians 5:21).
Christ was murdered on the cross because of the sins of you and I. And He resurrected to give eternal life to all who will come to Him in Faith. This is the essence of what we celebrate as Easter. Christ dying for the sins of the world (John1:29). If you have not come to saving faith through Christ, you are condemned to eternal damnation and an enemy of God. One day, you will have to answer for your sins before a Holy God and nothing you will present will measure up to God’s Holy standard. Your good works outside of Christ are like filthy rags. Repent from your sins and turn to Christ for forgiveness.
There are many so called gospels out there. But many of these miss what the gospel actually is. The Gospel is not God will heal you. The Gospel is not about wealth or your well-being. The Gospel is about our salvation. It is a good news that cancels a bad news of our separation and rebellion towards God in our sins.
Here is a short tract that tells us succinctly what the gospel is. You can download a PDF copy here :Gospel Tract (PDF)
If you need a hard copy for your personal use or outreach, kindly contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
In the previous article, I mentioned the doctrines of grace acronised as TULIP (Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace And Perseverance of the Saints) and further explained with a quote that “Reformed Christians believe that all five of the doctrines of grace are derived directly from the Scripture and that the acronym TULIP accurately describes the Bible’s teaching on soteriology—the doctrine of salvation”¹.
I did an unusual thing by first explaining the last petal in the TULIP; P (Perseverance of the Saints). Today, I will do an explanation of the first ‘petal’ T, which is Total Depravity.
You may have heard a charge of bigotry against Christianity for declaring Jesus is the only way to heaven. People have pressed further to say there are good people living charitable, philanthropic lives and based on that, they can make it to heaven. The sad reality however is that, there are no good people on earth. The Bible condemns all as sinners. In Romans 3:9-10, Paul says “For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one”. Further on in v.23, he says “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. John also puts it this way: “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (John 1:8). Anyone who says they are without sin is living in self-deception. That’s the point of John 1:8.
The origin of our sin is explained by the Bible as springing forth from Adam’s disobedience of God’s command: “…of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”(Genesis 2:17). Adam disobeyed, he ate and the sentence for disobedience; physical and spiritual death was pronounced. In Adam’s fall, all humankind fell and were declared sinners: “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned” (Romans 5:12).
All I have said so far is what Total Depravity is. We are all sinners: “As a result of Adam’s fall, the entire human race is affected; all of Adam’s descendants are spiritually dead in their trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1, 5). Calvinists are quick to point out that this does not mean that all people are as bad as they could be. Rather, this doctrine says that, as a result of man’s fall in Adam, all people are radically depraved from the inside and that their depravity affects every area of their lives”. ²
G.K. Chesterton, quoted in an online article on Original Sin said “Certain new theologians dispute original sin, which is the only part of Christian theology which can really be proved,” (Orthodoxy, chap. 2) ³. You see, what he means here is that the sinfulness of humankind is not difficult to prove. The empirical evidence is all around us. Just look into your heart and life. Sin stares you in the face doesn’t it? On this grounds, no one stands the chance of acquittal from God on their merit. The only means God has provided is through Jesus Christ who offered Himself as a sin sacrifice to appease God’s wrath towards humankind. Come to Him in faith or you will perish in your sins:
I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins. (John 8:24).