The Son Of God Is Not Called Jesus Christ. He is called Yeshua Hamashiach—Owusu Bempah

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A video has been making the rounds with Rev. Owusu Bempah of Glorious Word Power Ministry International purporting “that the real son of God is called Yeshua Hamashiach reiterating that Jesus Christ was an impostor. “The son of God” he said, “is not called Jesus Christ. He is called Yeshua Hamashiach.” The video and transcript can be viewed here.

Now, his statement doesn’t deserve a response because it is not an issue at least at the level of Christian scholarlship. It is simply a case of ignorance. But considering that he is a so called Reverend and the number of controversies he stirs in this country, it is right to put the issue in its right place.

In the first place, the name “Yeshua” is the English transliteration of the Hebrew word ישוע. Now unless one has the ability to read Hebrew, that word is meaningless. Yeshua in Hebrew simply means “Saviour” and the Greek transliteration is “Iesous” from which we have Jesus—the English transliteration. So unless you are reading the New Testament in Hebrew, there is no point for a Hebrew word —ישוע–Yeshua in an English Bible especially so when the New Testament was originally written in Greek.

He went on further to say that “The name Jesus Christ was given by Constantine”. This is incredibly ludicrous.  Yeshua Hamashiach, again is another transliteration from Hebrew to English. In English it means “Jesus The Messiah” which is English transliteration of the Greek Iesous Cristos; also a transliteration of the Hebrew Yeshua Hamashiach. Mashiach means “anointed”. John recorded this in Christ’s discourse with the woman at the well:

The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he. (John 4:25-26).

He continued Jesus Christ is not the name of the son of God. There was this man who came called Nero who was killing the followers of Jesus Christians who were not even called Christians but Nazarenes.  He could feed them to lions and other dangerous animals but their numbers increased.

There’s some truth in the above. Historically, it is true there was a man named Nero who persecuted Christians. An online article “Who Was Nero?” captures something about Nero worth considering:

Nero took the throne approximately two decades after Christ was crucified. Although still in its infancy, Christianity was spreading rapidly during this time. In fact, approximately fourteen of the New Testament’s twenty-seven books were written in whole or in part during Nero’s emperorship. Also during Nero’s reign the apostle Paul was confined to house arrest in Rome (AD 60—63), where he wrote Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon. Nero was the “Caesar” to whom Paul appealed for justice during his trial in Caesarea (Acts 25:10–12).²

Rev. Owusu Bempah in his statement also claims Christians were called Nazarenes. That is also false. The name Christians—believer and follower of Christ — was first used in Acts 11:26. The word is another Greek-English transliteration meaning follower of Christ: Christos; a Christian, i.e. Follower of Christ — Christian. ³

Before the name Christians (Acts 11:26), The followers of Christ were called People of the Way (Acts 9:2). Remember Christ said he is the way, the truth and the life ( John 14:6).  There are men on pulpits who don’t know what they believe. However, these men are drawing crowds and leading people astray. These things could have easily been cleared if Owusu Bempah had spent some time reading around. We live in sad times as a Church in this nation. I pray God gives us discerment and raises preachers who will only preach the truth and not engage in “irreverent babble, [which] will lead people into more and more ungodliness” (2Timothy 2:16).

Notes

1:https://mobile.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/Jesus-Christ-not-the-son-of-God-he-was-an-impostor-Owusu-Bempah-597752?video=1

2:https://www.gotquestions.org/who-was-Nero.html

3: http://biblehub.com/greek/5546.htm

 

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Evangelist Prays Over ‘Bloody’ River: Christianity or Superstition?

 

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Much of what we call Christianity in this country is superstition carried over from animistic beliefs garnished with biblical jargon. For instance, many will explain every sickness or death as having an evil spirit behind it. In Ghana, nobody gets sick or dies of natural causes. Every sickness, death or misfortune ought to be explained ‘spiritually’. Either somebody in your family is “doing you”(an expression that means one is being  manipulated spiritually in the dark world by another) or a work colleague, business partner, family or friend is behind a misfortune of another.

Professing Christians have become obsessed with the devil to the point of making God appear powerless and out of control. I am tempted to believe the God of these so called believers is not the God of the Bible. Christians are counselled against  visiting their hometowns because family members will harm them spiritually. Others are instructed not to remit their relatives—even parents.

When I hear these things, I ask what happened to the sovereignty of God over his creation that Christians believe or must believe?

And all these, sadly, comes from Christian pulpits and churches. Preachers have become purveyors of fear instead of preachers of the love and grace of God which forgives sin through faith in Christ Jesus. Social media seem to have heightened our superstition.

On Saturday 7th October, there was a reported case of a river in the New Juaben municipality turning red like blood. This incident, according to a chief in the community was a result of a chemical pollution in the river. The Ghana Police’s preliminary investigations also corroborated the chief’s assertion. Below is an excerpt from a news item carried on Citifm.

Our preliminary investigations show that, it was not blood, but rather some unscrupulous persons might have poured some chemicals into it upstream and that was what was flowing downstream.

However, as usual, superstition came into play. Residents of the town are said to have been superstitious about the incident. What is troubling however is a Christian minister of the gospel joining in the superstition chants. A news item on GhanaWeb, “Lawrence Tetteh exorcises ‘bloody river’ of demons” reads as below:

The Founder of World Miracle Outreach, Dr Lawrence Tetteh has visited the New Juaben municipality in the Eastern Region to exorcise the ‘blood red’ Nsukwa River of any evil spirits after the water body suddenly changed colour on Saturday, 7 October.

The evangelist prayed for blessings for the townsfolk and asked for God’s intervention for “Koforidua to live in peace”.

During the prayer session, he said: “…We cast every demon, we say Koforidua shall be peaceful. There will not be bloodshed; there will not be anything evil, the people of Koforidua will be blessed”.

He added: “As we see this thing in the river; the river is looking like blood, whatever it is and wherever it comes from we bless it in Jesus’ name, Amen!”

This is sad and nothing close to Christianity. Dear Christian friend, let’s put our thinking caps on and be a little more discerning—it is a biblical charge. A social media commentator’s words will aptly conclude this short post.

Instead of switching on our brains and acting like intelligent humans, we dance around like heathen and call on God to do for us what we must do for ourselves.

Kofi Bentil

Accurate Reading And Interpretation of The Bible

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Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth (2Timothy 2:15).

Paul writes to young Timothy his protegé instructing him on several doctrinal issues in his role as a pastor and particularly in this verse, Timothy is instructed on “rightly handling the word of truth”. Though a pastoral letter, the charge nonetheless holds true for every believer. We are all called upon to engage in a right handling of the word of truth. If the Bible is the word of God and it is, then you and I have a responsibility not to misinterpret God’s word. You don’t want your words to be misinterpreted to mean what you didn’t mean, do you? Why would you go as far as misinterpreting God’s word?

In different instances, I have engaged in disagreements over how a biblical text was handled and I have met with words as “That’s your opinion” “I  have my own opinion”. “That’s how you choose to interpret the text, I choose to interpret it differently”. You probably might have heard similar words spoken to you or you might have spoken those words yourself to someone who disagreed with you on a biblical text. In a world of subjectivity, this might sound appealing.

The problem however is that the bible is not left to our subjective interpretation and “opinionising”. The Bible has an objective meaning in its context. Though it is God’s word, it is written in human language and all the rules of reading, comprehension and interpretation of literature or any written document applies. The Bible is God’s word but it is a book and must be read as a book.

Do Your Best

Though it is a book, yet the Bible is the sacred word of God and we must handle it accurately and not misinterpret it. If you wouldn’t want your own words misinterpreted and given meaning you didn’t intend, it must follow then that if no human being will tolerate a misinterpretation of their words, I doubt God will tolerate same. The phrase “Do your best” gives a picture of effort, preparation and diligence.

Prior to vs 15 of 2Timothy, Paul had drawn certain analogies from the life of a soldier, athlete and farmer. These analogies help us understand well the phrase “Do your best”. The soldier seeks to please his superiors, the athlete competes according to the rules and a farmer works hard. The Christian must do same in their lives and especially the handling of God’s word. She must seek to please God in all she does and especially in the handling of God’s word. And must, as it were, live according to the “rules” that govern Christian living. And finally work hard–not be lax in Christian conduct. The phrase “Do Your Best”, in the Greek–Spoudaźo[1], speaks of zeal or being zealous. To “Do your best” therefore speaks of zeal in presenting ourselves as one approved–that is people who please God. And one of the many ways in pleasing God is handling His word accurately.

Rightly Handling The Word

Suppose you are to engage the services of any professional, what will be your standard for selection? For example, if you are to engage the services of a tailor/seamstress ( fashion designer), would you engage one who cuts clothes indiscriminately without precision and accuracy? Would you engage an architect whose drawings are inaccurate. And who would live in a house that tilts to its side? I doubt if anyone would. But if these are important, why do people leave their lives and eternal destiny into the hands of people who “wrongly handle the word of truth” and teach their followers same? “Rightly  handling the word of truth” speaks of accuracy, precision, exactness and straightness. “Precision and accuracy are required in biblical interpretation, beyond all other enterprises, because the interpreter is handling God’s Word. Anything less is shameful”[2].

The question I will try and answer now is, “how can we handle the word of truth with accuracy and precision?” I will offer some points here.

Read Your Bible

First and foremost you must read the Bible if you will come any close to rightly handling the word of truth. Many believers don’t know what the Bible teaches simply because they don’t read it. They believe the Bible is God’s word, but they can’t even tell of the last time they read the Bible. Writing about why people don’t study their Bible, R.C. Sproul in his book Knowing Scripture nailed it to one reason–laziness: “We fail in our duty to study God’s Word not so much because it is difficult to understand, not so much because it is dull and boring, but because it is work. Our problem is not a lack of intelligence or a lack of passion. Our problem is that we are lazy” [3]

Read It Orderly:

“…it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught”(Luke 1:3-4)

Luke tells us something about his gospel account which is true of every book of the Bible. The Bible is an “orderly account” of events. It is not a disorderly, haphazard, magical words appearing on a paper.

Study Your Bible

Reading and studying are two different things. “There is a great deal of difference between reading and studying. Reading is something we can do in a leisurely way, something that can be done strictly for entertainment in a casual manner. But study suggests labor, serious and diligent work“[4].

There is a level of seriousness that comes with studying that is not required of reading. Again we turn to Luke’s gospel. He said to Theophilus:

…having followed all things closely.

This statement indicates an attention to detail and facts concerning gospel truth. This same disposition of mind is required in studying the Bible. Luke poured over– examined, investigated, scrutinised, paid attention, analysed and engaged–the facts of what was handed over by the eye witnesses of Christ’s life, i.e. the apostles (Luke 1:2). As believers, our regenerated  minds have been empowered with the capacity to “spiritually discern” God’s word in contrast to the unregenerated  man who can’t discern  or receive spiritual things. So dear believer, do just that! Engage the text! Take note of phrases, meaning of words, figurative expressions, grammatical  constructions and pray the Holy Spirit to illuminate your mind.

Present Yourself To God As one Approved

As believers we need to grow in sanctification and mature in holiness. Our effort in cooperation with the Spirit of God towards sanctification as believers is not what secures our salvation, yet it is necessary for our spiritual growth and usefulness. See the result or the objective Luke hoped to achieve with his orderly presentation of his gospel to Theophilus: “that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught”.

This is important for us Bible readers. An orderly presentation of truth brings clarity. It gives roots to faith. It solidifies ones beliefs. Paul tells Timothy something similar to the impact Luke hopes his gospel would have on Theophilus (2Timothy 3:14-15).

When we rightly handle the word, it makes us wise in our faith walk and saves us from error of false teachers: But avoid irreverent babble , for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some.”(2Timothy 2:16- 18).

Basic Tools Of Hermeneutics

To rightly handle the word of truth we need tools to help us. At this point I will share three basic tools of hermeneutics.  Hermeneutics “…is the study of the principles and methods of interpreting the text of the Bible…The purpose of biblical hermeneutics is to help us to know how to properly interpret, understand, and apply the Bible”[5].

Analogy Of Faith

This rule holds that Scripture is its own interpreter: “Sacra Scriptura sui interpres“. What this teaches basically is that no interpretation of a Scripture or Scriptures must contradict any other Scripture. Since God doesn’t contradict Himself, we must expect His word to also be in harmony as a whole. Biblical interpretation therefore must be approached with the whole body of biblical revelation in mind. When we interpret a Scripture, we must be sure that our interpretation agrees with other Scriptures rather than contradict. Where a Scripture is contradicting another, we must solve the contradiction or throw away our interpretation.

Literal Translation

It has been said already that the Bible is a book and as such must be read as a book. When we are told to read the Bible literally, what is being spoken of here is that we must  “…interpret the Bible literally… as literature. That is, the natural meaning of a passage is to be interpreted according to the normal rules of grammar, speech, syntax and context”[6]. So the next time you approach the Bible, take notice of the words you are reading

Genre Analysis

Bible is a Greek word biblio which means book. So the Bible is a book. It is not only a book but a book made up of different collection of books of different genres. The genres of the Bible includes historical narratives, wisdom literature, Psalms, Letters (epistles), Gospel, Prophetic writings,  Apocalyptic writings and each of these  genre must be identified and read with the rules governing a particular genre. Now genre analysis involves the study of figures of speech and style, literary devices and any other literature forms. This tool goes hand in hand with literal translation. So in genre analysis, we consider the literary style of every particular genre and how to interpret it.

There are many other tools of hermeneutics. But these three are basic and a good foundation for further reading.

Notes

1: Study notes on 2Timothy 2:15, ESV Study Bible, ©2008, Crossway, Wheaton, Illinois

2: Study notes on 2Timothy 2:15, THE MACARTHUR STUDY BIBLE Copyright © 2006 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE (kindle edition)

3: Sproul, R.C Knowing Scripture, © 2009, InterVarsity Press[kindle edition]

4: ibid

5: http://www.gotquestions.org/Biblical-hermeneutics.html

6: Sproul, R.C Knowing Scripture, © 2009, InterVarsity Press[kindle edition]

PepperDem Ministries, Feminists and The Bible

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PepperdemMinistries , a feminist group has been making the rounds on social media recently. They have addressed a plethora of issues within an admirable short period. In this article, I will want to respond to one of their numerous issues— what I call a misinterpretation of biblical texts in pushing their ideologies. I will do this by focusing on two of their posts.

Firstly this;

I do not subscribe to the bible because quite honestly, in it’s entirety, it doesn’t preach a lot of the values that i do in its entirety. It also doesn’t center around facts, and i am not superstitious. However, I would like to know why the following verse is never read in full. I mean since y’all are always on about context and that. You tend to hear pastors hammer on verse 22, but what about the rest of it? So hear (sic) it goes. Ephisians (sic) 5:21-32 21 Submit to ONE ANOTHER out of reverence for Christ.

Denial of Biblical Authority.

I may be wrong to say this for the whole group. But at least that a member says “I do not subscribe to the bible” gives cause for concern. The concern is that, any post with a biblical text may be tainted by this ‘non-subscription’ to the Bible. What this means is that the Bible holds no authority for any view it expresses against the feminist agenda. Again, this member holds herself high above the Scriptures; which means that, her values are higher than what the Bible preaches. She goes further to question the factuality of the Bible and calls it superstitious. Right from the word go, the authority of the Bible is shut out in this discourse. Meanwhile, other members of the group look into the Bible for their case. What are we to make of this? Does the group believe in the Bible or this is an isolated case of a member who doesn’t believe in the bible?

Now, despite the fact that this member doesn’t subscribe to biblical authority, she throws a challenge to what could perhaps be described as a pet scripture against male headship of a family. She asks for the context of Ephesians 5:21-32. And I take that challenge.

So here is Ephesians 5:21 “submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” and Ephesians 5:22 “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22).

There appears to be a call for mutual submission here, which, if true, fuels the Feminists agenda. But will mutual submission between husband and wife be a proper interpretation in both texts? No, it won’t be. Without hesitation; as a married Christian man, I will state emphatically that husbands are not called to submit to wives (in the same sense the word is used in vv. 21-22). Husbands are only called to love their wives. And wives called to submit to their husbands.

In Ephesians 5:21, Paul is not speaking of submission in the same sense he is speaking of it in v.22. Verse 21 is not speaking to a ‘husband and wife’s’ union but rather to the whole body of believers; whereas v.22 is speaking specifically to the union between husband and wife. Ephesians 5, if we pay attention, is dealing with various human relationships in the church. Verses 1-21 address the first of such relationship the Ephesians had—they were Christians. Paul therefore outlines general relational conduct amongst them as believers. Paul opens chapter 5 saying:

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (v.1).

“Therefore” in v.1 is a conjunctive adverb connecting an idea Paul was addressing from the previous chapter. Let’s back up to Ephesians 4 to understand Paul. I will dwell on Ephesians 4:31-32 since it is sufficient to explain what Paul is saying in Eph 5:21. Paul wrote; Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

An analysis of the verses above will be helpful.

Note the phrases: “put away from you“, “Be kind to one another” “forgiving one another“, Christ forgave you“. Who is Paul addressing? He is addressing the general Christian body in Ephesus and instructing them to live in mutual respect and love towards one another (of course that includes husband and wife). Remember in Ephesians 5:1 Paul addresses all of the Ephesian Christians to “walk in love”

Let’s now enter Ephesians 5:19-21 and we see this same idea of mutual respect and love (not limited to husband and wife) among believers: “19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” You see the same phrase “one another” repeating here? and it has nothing to do with “husband and wife”. It is a call for mutual respect, love and care among all Christians in general.

Now from v.22: “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord” through to Ephesians 6:1-9, Paul begins to address specific requirements in specific relationships: Husband and wife (vv.22–33), Children with Parents (Eph. 6:1-3), Father with children (6:4), Servants with Masters (6:5-8) and Masters with their servants (Eph. 6:9). The submission in v.22 is different from v.21 in the sense that it calls specifically to the wife to submit to the husband. What is she submitting to? She is to submit to the headship and leadership of the man as the head of the home. The verses that follow clarifies that: For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body , and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands” (23-24).

The marital union for the Christian is analogous to the relationship between Christ and his bride—the church. And wives are called to submit to their husbands as they submit to Christ. Christian husbands also have their enormous task to fulfil in loving their wives as Christ loved the church. That’s an enormous responsibility. Indeed, as sinners, men will abuse this responsibility purposed to make them cherish their wives. And of course, wives may find submission difficult because of the effects of sin. That however doesn’t “rewrite the script”. The husband is the head of the family just as Christ is the head of the church– his bride. This is a biblical mandate and rejecting it is rejecting biblical authority which our dear sister (I hope she doesn’t scream don’t call me your sister) has done. She doesn’t subscribe to the Bible. To her, the Bible doesn’t deal with facts; the Bible is superstitious.

Dear Christian wife, will you take your theology from someone who rejects biblical authority and places herself over and above the Bible? You must not be in competition with your husband over equality. He is the head of your home just as Christ is the head of the church. Does that mean oppression? No. Biblical Manhood is not oppressive but protective.

Secondly, this, and I will base the rest of the article here.

SOLOMON. Dude continues to carry the title for “wise”; man to have graced this earth. But he is also the greatest “man-whore”; to have lived among humans … Solomon gets to be still favoured by God in his whorish behaviour. He didn’t have to repent his ways. He didn’t even have to feel remorseful … Let me throw you a challenge. Reflect on all the Bible characters we have discussed so far: 1. David: Murderer and Adulterer 2. Jacob: Pure evil thief, impersonator, dubious and diabolical creep. 3. Samson: Gullible idiot 5. Adam: Complacent, Pitiful irresponsible caretaker. Dear daughter of Eve, let me throw you a challenge today. Sit down and match up your flaws against that of these men listed here. Sit down from across the list, pour yourself a glass of wine and drink up to your flaws. I can assure you, you are a saint by all standards! I am on a mission to normalise flawed women, because women are also human and they deserve Second chances in life.

Human Depravity

There is something common we share with the biblical characters. What we read of these male characters is just what all of us are –sinners. Apart from Jesus Christ, who lived a perfect life to die to save sinners who come to him in faith, the Bible, without exception, judges all human beings as sinners separated from the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). The heart (of men and women), the bible tells us “is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jer 17:9). If at any point in our lives we compare ourselves to the biblical characters and reckon we are better than them, we slip into the sin of self-righteousness (Luke 18:9-14).

Sit down and match up your flaws against that of these men … pour yourself a glass of wine and drink up to your flaws.

Drink up to your flaws?

Pepperdem is advising women to celebrate their flaws— after all, they are unlike the men mentioned in the Bible: “you are a saint by all standards” No! Woman with flaws, you are not a saint by all standards. You are wretched by the only standard that matters: God’s standard of holiness: “None is righteous, no, not one” (Rom. 3:11). The Bible doesn’t teach us to celebrate our flaws. Neither does it call us to compare ourselves with ourselves and be complacent in our rot. Rather, the Bible calls men and women unto repentance (Acts 17:30; Titus 2:11-12).

Missing God’s Grace In The Biblical Narrative

This statement, “Solomon gets to be still favoured by God in his whorish behaviour” is simply an affront to God and his grace. It misses the whole point of God’s grace in Scripture. Pepperdem is playing God and choosing to determine who gets favoured and who doesn’t. Solomon doesn’t deserve God’s favour is what I get from this statement. Now, despite what we read of these sinful personalities, their biography is without editing and embellishment to present them as perfect. You see, the Bible is the story of a Holy God reaching out to sinful –fallen– humanity. Right from the garden of Eden, when Adam disobeyed God; a plan of salvation was set in place. (Genesis 3:15). What God had to work with was sinful humanity.

The Messiah came into our human history through Mary and the genealogy of Christ traces him through the line of all these wretched souls — David, Solomon, Jacob, Tamah, Rahab and the list continues. This is the story of the Bible; God working with imperfect human beings to accomplish his purpose. We must note that God didn’t normalise their sins. God was displeased with David’s sin for instance (2Sam 11:27; 12; Ps. 51). Not only that, David’s sin attracted God’s discipline and punishment. It is wrong to say this of Solomon; “He didn’t have to repent his ways. He didn’t even have to feel remorseful” when indeed, God punished him (1Kings 11:9-11; 11:14).

Finally,

Look To Christ For Your Second Chance, Not Men.

What exactly do the daughters of Eve want a second chance for? I suppose a second chance for their flaws. Whatever it may be, they should look to Christ for that second chance. A woman caught in adultery was brought to Christ. He dismissed her accusers and got a second chance. Christ encountered a woman battered by broken relationships. She has lived with five men when she encountered Christ. She got a second chance (John 4). Ultimately, even Eve got a second chance together with her Adam. God clothed their nakedness (Gen. 3:21).

I will end by saying I am not against empowering women. However, when the Bible is to be used for any such agenda, we must be faithful to sound biblical interpretation.

A False Pursuit Of Christ

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During the week, I refuted a statement by a friend that Christianity promises riches to believers. And his basis was;

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich (2Cor. 8:9).

I tried explaining the true context of the text to him but his mind was made up. There are many today, who like my friend, hold this same kind of belief. To them Christianity promises everything in the world. And to these people, coming to Christ is premised on such false notions of Christianity. This false form of Christianity is pervasive in our country Ghana and indeed across the world.

Sadly, many, if not the majority, have bought into this perverse and watered down gospel which promises anything from a life of health, prosperity and comfort in the name of Christianity. People put up a pursuit of “things” as a pursuit of Christ. But they are wrong. Coming to Christ because of a false gospel produces false converts.  In the gospel of John, we are introduced to the first miracle Jesus did at a wedding in Chapter 2. Then as the narration concludes, we are told that

Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man (vv. 23-25).

There are a number of lessons we can draw from the text.

1 Superficial Faith Cannot Save

…many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing (v.23).

Why we come to Jesus is very important. Some come to Jesus for the wrong reasons. They want a breakthrough, a miracle, a healing…We see in the text that the people came because of the signs and miracles they saw Jesus perform. However, Jesus being God and omniscient, saw beyond their facade. He saw their hearts; the shallowness and insincerity of their faith. The only reason we must come to Christ is for our sins to be forgiven and reconciled to God. Any other thing apart from this will be a wrong reason.

What did Jesus say? “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God” (Matt. 6:33a). We would all have to examine ourselves to ascertain the state of our heart. Are you a genuine seeker of Christ? Is your pursuit after Jesus and the Kingdom of God?

Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.(John 6:27).

2: Jesus Knows Our Heart

But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man (John 2:24-25).

You might have heard Jesus can give you a healing, a breakthrough, a miracle. Yes, you may truly have a need and you have been made to believe Jesus has the answers to your problem. Yes he does have the answers. However, your heart seeks after only what you can receive. But not a heart willing and ready to submit to Christ’s Lordship. We can be hypocritical with people. We can have double standards. We can deceive people with our piety and religious fervency. But before God, we are bare and naked. We can’t hide our true self. We can’t hide our motives. We can’t hide our intentions. He sees beyond all that: “And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”(Hebrews 4:13).

Just like in the garden of Eden, Adam and Eve hid themselves from God covering themselves with fig leaves (Genesis 3:7). Ironically, the loincloths didn’t cover up their shame. Is your heart sincere? What are you hiding from God while you seek His blessing? It is time to unmask and come face to face with the reality of your sinful life. Come because you need forgiveness of sins and you will not be cast out.

3. Salvation Is What You Need.

Whatever prompted you to seek Jesus is not greater than your need for salvation. Every problem is just symptomatic of humanity’s sin problem. We live in a fallen world in a fallen body. Our need for fulfilment, breakthroughs, miracles e.t.c are all a yearning for a void in our hearts to be filled. Augustine said it rightly; “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee”.

What we need is Christ Himself: the bread of life, Nothing else will satisfy your famished soul. Money won’t. Healing from a disease won’t. Temporal solutions cannot be applied to an eternal problem. Your need is rooted in a far more higher need; the redemption of your soul, reconciliation to God and standing justified before God. If you are coming to Christ for anything apart from these, you are trifling with your soul. It is not surprising that in the next Chapter immediately following John 2:23-25, we read of Jesus’ interaction with Nicodemus. What Jesus told him is of great significance here:

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3).

Are you born again? That’s what you must be pursuing Christ for if you have no relationship with him.

Finding Purpose In Life.

question-mark-1829459_1920Why am I here? What’s the purpose of my existence? These are legitimate questions. Not surprising, there are no shortage of literature on the subject—both Christian and secular. If you enter most Christian bookshops, the most popular titles on the shelves are those offering one motivation or the other on how to succeed in life, find your purpose, gain financial independence, become the best of your self or live your best life now. These titles are popular because the human heart craves for meaning and purpose in life. Indeed, there is purpose and meaning for our existence. We are not on earth by a cosmic accident or chance. There is a reason for our existence. No life is without a purpose.

Succinctly, the Westminster Shorter Catechism summarises this purpose as “to glorify God and enjoy Him forever”  (WSC Q&A1). We were created by God and the only meaning we can find is in Him. St. Augustine, in his confessions said “You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless, until they can find rest in you.” Unfortunately, many pursue what they call meaning and purpose differently from “glorifying God and enjoying him forever”. They seek rest for their restless hearts in different places — places which can’t satisfy. On the contrary, believers finds their life in Christ.

Jesus, at a point in His ministry, lost some disciples because He had said things which the Bible says they found as “hard saying”(John 6:60). These hard sayings made them walk away. Truly, there are many who will not accept truth and will walk away. When they walked away, Jesus turned to the remaining and asked “Do you want to go away as well?” (John 6:67). Simon Peter, speaking for the twelve responded,

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 (John 6:68).

Every believer must come to this point of acknowledging the all sufficiency of Christ for our life. In the 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).

In Psalms 73:25, David declared words similar to Peter’s: “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you”. This is a picture of a life which owes its existence and meaning to God. In praise, after God answered her prayer and she bore Samuel, Hannah similarly declared: “There is none holy like the LORD: for there is none besides [Him]; there is no rock like our God”(1Samuel 2:2)

To Peter and the other disciples, Christ was their sufficiency: “we have believed , and have come to know…” he said. What have they believed? That Christ is the Holy One of God. Most importantly, the believer must come to a point of faith and acknowledgement of the centrality of Christ to who they are — “The Holy One of God”; the only mediator between God and man; The one from whom we derive our existence and meaning!

A Most Often Misquoted Text: Matthew 6:33

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1: But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you (Matt. 6:33 ESV)

2: But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all other things will be added to you (Matt. 6:33 ESV)

Compare 1 and 2. Do you see any difference? One is what Jesus actually said. Two is what people often say Jesus said. Jesus never said “all other things” shall be added unto you. If you are still not convinced; cross- check other translations. Most people I have encountered often quote Matt 6:33 as “all other things shall be added unto you” leading to a wrong interpretation and a wrong application.

Of course, if it is “all other things“, then we have the liberty to slot in all we desire eg good health, material wealth, marriage, visa to travel, a fat bank account etc. And that’s what those who quote “all other things” often do. But that is wrong.

What Jesus did say is “all these things shall be added unto you.” This is specific and has a context. It is not left open for us to put in everything we so desire. Vv. 25-31 of Matthew 6 reveals the context of “these things” and what Jesus was speaking about:

Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear

Firstly, “food, drink and clothing” are the ‘these things’ Jesus was talking about. In other words, God is able to take care of us and provide for us the very basic things all human beings (believer and unbeliever) need. Secondly, because God is able to take care of our basic needs; so we don’t need to be anxious over these things. Christ draws a strong analogy from the birds of the air and flower of the fields to drive home his command against anxiety: “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?(v.26)

“Are you not of more value than they?” This should shatter our every proclivity towards worrying about life. God has guaranteed to take care of us. Unfortunately, if you worry and live in anxiety over the basics of life; you are just behaving like an unbeliever. They worry and chase these things as if “these things” are their very life and existence. But for the believer, God knows we need these basic things and we ought not worry and be anxious over them: “For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all (v.32). Christ then point us away from a lesser good–food, drink, clothing– to a greater good; seeking the Kingdom of God first. “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness” (v.33). First things first. Take care of my kingdom and I will take care of you: “all these things shall be added unto you”. Our basic needs for life is guaranteed by God and we need not worry and be anxious in life.

Matthew 6:33 therefore is a command against anxiety and not a promise for us to seek God’s kingdom for material gains (c.f. 1Tim 6:5).

— Originally posted on The Gospel Network as Misquoting Jesus.