A BLIND FAITH OR A REASONABLE FAITH?

A very good.

Thoughts Of A Reforming African

True faith is not believing against evidence. Rather, true faith involves trusting in the evidence that God has amply provided in and through His Word. That faith is not without what Calvin called evidences; rather, it is a faith that surrenders to or acquiesces to the evidences. 

– R.C. Sproul, Faith and Reason

In our age today, questions seem to be raised about almost everything. In our Christian walk, we will inevitably face some of these questions. The response given by many evangelicals when some of these questions are posed is, “I don’t know, it’s all faith. I just believe, brother.” After all, they say, “blessed are those who believe without seeing.” Now, if this answer was ever given to me as a response to a question, I would be extremely disappointed. The Christian worldview, after all, is supposed to be the most logically consistent worldview. Why then, are…

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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

 

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

Beware of Raphsody Of Realities

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If you are a believer on any group on whatsapp or use Raphsody of Realities as a devotional guide, you might have read 27th January 2016’s devotional titled “He is Your Strength And Shield”.

The purpose of this post is to warn all who use this devotional or read it online to be very discerning.  I have come to observe the incessant abuse of biblical texts to say what I consider the mind of the author and not the mind of Christ. Scripture has a context and it is pretty heart breaking how preachers take Scriptures out of context to push their own agenda and speak their mind while disregarding the context of Scripture.

I don’t expect everyone to agree with me on this. Some will consider this post as divisive. But considering the number of people who use this devotional, it is the more important to point out the dangers this devotional poses. I must admit there are days the author is spot on with his commentary on Scripture. But most often, he is not faithful to the biblical text. And half-truth is no truth at all.

Now to today’s devotional:

…the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1).

In the Psalm above, David wasn’t asking the Lord for strength. It lacks spiritual wisdom to keep praying and asking the Lord to give you strength when, already, He’s the strength of your life. If the Lord is the strength of your life, you don’t need to ask Him for strength, because if you have Him, you have strength; therefore, no room for weakness in your life.

This commentary is problematic because the interpretation denies the exact reason David acknowledged God as his strength. David is in danger and he turns to the Lord in prayer in His weakness, acknowledging that His source of strength is the Lord. However, the writer is telling us “it lacks spiritual wisdom to keep praying and asking the Lord to give you strength”. What kind of biblical advice is that, which denies human weakness and speaks against importunity in prayer as our Lord commands in Luke 8:1?

Indeed, weakness is a part of human living, the believer not exempted. And to make “no room for weakness in your life” is to live in denial of reality. This devotional seem to suggest strength from the Lord is a giving, you don’t need to ask for it; “If the Lord is the strength of your life, you don’t need to ask Him for strength, because if you have Him, you have strength”. Is that an accurate representation of what David was saying? The point the writer is missing is that, Psalm 27 is actually a prayer. In v4, David says “One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple”. After acknowledging God as his strength, David says he is going to seek after God, enquire in his temple, which obviously includes seeking for the strength he has acknowledged. Further on in v7, David says “Hear, O LORD, when I cry with my voice: have mercy also upon me, and answer me”.

Is David confused if it lacks spiritual wisdom to ask for strength?  In Psalms  61:1-2, this same David prayed that “Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer. From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I”.

If we are to go with Pastor Chris’ assertion of “lack of spiritual wisdom”, then David is guilty. Because throughout the Psalms, we see David repeatedly calling on God either for deliverance or protection.

The devotional continues:

The Apostle Paul, with this understanding, made an extraordinary claim in 2 Corinthians 12:10. He said, “…for when I am weak, then am I strong.” He knew His strength was the Holy Spirit that dwelt in him. No wonder He said, “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13 NKJV).

The Holy Spirit is the source of true strength, and He lives in you. Therefore, never confess weakness. Declare always that you’re strengthened and marvellously helped of the Lord. Romans 8:26 says, “…the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities…”; in other words, His strength is available to you, and for you, when you think you’re at your weakest.

“The Apostle Paul, with this understanding…” What understanding? The understanding that, “In the Psalm above, David wasn’t asking the Lord for strength. It lacks spiritual wisdom to keep praying and asking the Lord to give you strength when, already, He’s the strength of your life. If the Lord is the strength of your life, you don’t need to ask Him for strength, because if you have Him, you have strength; therefore, no room for weakness in your life”

I get the sense the author is saying an understanding of his opening statement or the meaning inherent is the basis by which 2 Corinthians 12:10 was written. I think it will be best to find out the context of 2 Corinthians 12:10 to ascertain if Paul’s words will agree with Oyakhilome’s commentary.

Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

In the above, Paul is speaking about a weakness he had; a thorn in the flesh (v7). He says he “besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from [him](v8). Will we charge Paul of “lack of Spiritual wisdom” for praying thrice for a release of his thorn in the flesh? The Lord’s answer to Paul occasioned 2 Corinthians 12:10: “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me (v9).

Nothing suggests here Paul has ” no room for weakness in his life”. Rather, Paul is glad about his weaknesses. He takes pleasure in them. He is not fighting his weakness. Paul stated the facts about his weakness. He acknowledged it. He didn’t walk about saying “I have no weakness”.
Contrary to Pastor Chris’ proposition that “ never confess weakness, declare always that your’re strengthened and marvellously helped of the Lord”, Paul first acknowledged his weakness. Then he further went on to state the purpose of his weakness: “that the power of Christ may rest upon me”. It is based on this he declared “for when I am weak, then am I strong”

All he is saying is that the power of Christ is manifested in my weakness.

Finally, Christians are not supermen or women. We have no power in ourselves. Our strength comes from God and as believers, we must learn to go to God again and again and again to receive strength. The Bible undoubtedly acknowledges this and any teaching contrary to this must be viewed with suspicion. It is rather lack of spiritual wisdom not to go to God for strength:

Seeing hen that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:14-16).

 

The Resolution Every Christian Should Make in 2016

The Gospel Network

cropped-20150906_152035In just a few days, we will be entering a new year–2016. It is that period of the year, when New Year resolutions are made. Resolutions are good; they give us the opportunity to make adjustments to our lives.

I am convinced you are going to — if you have not started already–write down resolutions for 2016. I will too. I especially desire spiritual growth and maturity; and one of my resolutions will be to read through the Bible–old and new testament–in 2016. Is it something you would want to consider? I think you should.

For the believer, new year resolution is an opportunity to evaluate our lives and see how God glorifying we have been with our lives–time, gifts, opportunities, work, etc.

Socrates, the Greek philosopher said “an unexamined life is not worth living”. Paul said “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or…

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What’s the Big Deal About Christmas? 

As we celebrate Christmas and share in the grace and love that God spread abroad on the first Christmas day, remember that our God still reigns. We at Semper Reformanda wish you and your families a merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year.

The Gospel Network

122111-151 (1)Christmas is here with us again. It is a period of excitement and celebrations filled with decorations, lights, merry making, lots of food and drinks. Families are getting ready, setting up trees, decorating their homes and buying gifts just in time for the celebrations. There are those, who though, will not describe themselves as Christians are equally engaged in a feverish preparation towards the season.

In the midst of all these preparations and excitement, the obvious question any curious observer cannot avoid asking is what is the excitement all about? In our materialistic and consumption-driven society, it is possible to see Christmas as an end of year party; a time to indulge and be merry.  It is therefore important to pause and reflect on the significance of Christmas.

Rather than taking our idea of Christmas from the “retail outlets”, “Hollywood” and “merry making”, we must as a matter of necessity turn…

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