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

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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.

The Believers’ Hope

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John 14

Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me (v.1).

What could have caused Jesus to say this to his disciples? From the previous chapters, Jesus had hinted about his death and as you enter Chapter 14, the questions which followed from the disciples reveals a kind of anxiety and fear building up in their hearts.

Simon Peter said…, “Lord, where are you going?”(Jn.13:36)

Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way? (Jn 14:5).

Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” (Jn. 14:8).

These disciples have walked with Jesus for about three years and suddenly he has started talking about his death and departure. They had hopes of a Messiah who will deliver them from Roman oppression (Luke 24:21). They were not expectant of a dying Messiah. They were fraught with fear. Their hopes dashed. Jesus, knowing all things, certainly picked up the fear and anxiety in their hearts and addressed it:

Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid (v.27c)

In this discourse with the disciples, there are some lessons we can draw. John 14 contains gospel promises we can draw on to calm our anxious hearts.

Faith In God (v.1)

What Jesus proposed to deal with their anxieties is faith. As believers, the answer to our troubled and anxious heart is faith in God and in Christ. These disciples were troubled and had no clue what was going on. But Christ calls them to put their trust in God and in him. Everything is under control he assures them. Faith is trust and Christ calls them to trust God and trust him.

When we trust God, we can be certain that he has everything under control and knows what’s best for us. What we must note also is that, faith in God must necessarily be faith in Christ or it is no faith. Christ, is, exclusively, the only way to the Father and he explicitly stated that: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (v. 6). We can’t bypass Christ to God. We can’t have faith in God when it is not rooted in Christ.

A Hope of eternal life (vv.2-3).

Christ assures the disciples he goes to prepare a place for them and will return for them. Here we see a certainty of Christ’s second coming. He will come for his own. Our world is overwhelmed with disease, sickness, natural disasters and many injustices. But for our hope in Christ and a life beyond this transient life; our hearts will faint. But Christ’s promises can soothe our hearts. Christ’s word is a guarantee. He will come for his own.

The world may mock our belief in the here after. In fact they did in the first century church. They mocked that where is his coming? He has gone for long. Will he come after all? The apostle Peter answers that question in 2Peter 3:1-10. Though Christ tarries in the eyes of humankind, he will come with the reward of eternal life (1Thes. 4:13–5:1, Rev. 21:4). Paul tells us if in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all people, most to be pitied (1Cor.15:19). We are pilgrims on this earth and look forward to a city whose builder is God (Heb. 11:13-16).

The Promised Holy Spirit (vv.16;26).

Knowing the void and vaccum his departure will create in the disciples life, he promised not to leave them as orphans (v.18) and that a Helper; Comforter in the authorised version will be sent. This promise of the Holy Spirit will come to teach the disciples all things. This is instructive. Though this promise is specific to the disciples in the sense of writing of Scripture; it extends to us in the sense that the Holy Spirit will illuminate for us the truth of God’s word. Such blessedness to have the Spirit of God to teach us.

The Holy Spirit is the guarantee of our salvation. He seals our salvation never to lose it. Related to the promise of the Holy Spirit is  also the promise of Christ’s peace: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”(v.27). The peace Christ gives is not what the world gives. It is peace that calms our hearts in the midst of storms. It is a peace that assures us that whatever we encounter in this life, Christ will never leave us or forsake us. It is peace of reconciliation to God (Rom. 5:1)

Assurance of Answered Prayer (vv. 13-14).

Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it. 

When we pray, God hears us. Nothing can be so assuring than this. In prayer, we have an audience with the Creator of the whole universe. In fact, he is “our Father”. Christ assures his disciples, and by extension, us, of answered prayer. However, this assurance is not simply what we desire. But it is what we desire which glorifies God: “that the Father may be glorified”. James tells us “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions” (James 4:3).

Here is the difference: Prayer God answers is prayer that glorifies him. He doesn’t grant our every wish in prayer but only that which glorifies him. And the only way to know what glorifies God is the knowing and keeping of his word: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15).

Be encouraged. When we call on God, he hears us.

Obedience To God’s Word (v.15)

If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 

God’s word, as David says, is a lamp to his feet and a light to his path (Ps.119:105). This is equally true of us. Obedience to God’s word is a prove of our love for God. And no one who obeys God’s word will lack joy. God’s word will keep us from sin. God’s word will direct our conscience. God’s word will give us hope when in trouble. Our obedience to God is paramount.  There is no hope for the one who doesn’t keep God’s word.

Finally,

We Are Labourers In God’s Kingdom (v.12)

Christ promises the disciples they will do greater works in his name. This greater works is more of their spreading of the gospel. Indeed, their work is what has spread Christianity to the nations. We also have a privilege and joy to be part of this great work of seeing people come to the Kingdom.

Amen.

 

 

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.

Belief Doesn’t Defy Logic: A Response To Pst. Otabil

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At the just ended Greater works conference, an annual conference of the ICGC, a Charismatic church in Ghana; one of the speakers–Matthew Ashimolowow  is reported to have called for a special offering for people to sow seeds of different amounts based on what they expect to experience in their life.

Millionaire status
$5,000.00
Seed of a thousand times more $1000.00
Seed of completion
$520
24hour miracle
$240
100% life improvement
$100
Seed of perfection
$70

*$1=Ghs4.3

This triggered an outcry on social media. The General overseer of ICGC, Pastor Mensah Otabil is reported to have responded in a sermon to his congregation saying:

Beliefs goes beyond logic. Logic will tell you what is probable or things being equal. Logic will tell you that if you have a thousand cedis in your account, then you can spend thousand cedis because that is logical. Beliefs will tell you that if you have five loafs of bread you don’t feed five people.

Concluding, he said “Belief defies logic; stretch your faith”

Now statements like this–“Beliefs defies logic”— gives Christianity and Christians a bad name. It suggests our faith is illogical and irrational. In the name of faith we are being told continuously to fossilise our minds. But as rational beings created in the image of a rationaI God; it will be irrational not to relate with this God in a rational manner. God makes sense and belief in him makes sense. God is a God of order and those who believe in him must do so in a manner consistent with how he has revealed himself in Scripture.

In this short article, I’ll attempt to give a reasoned response to Otabils defense of the infamous seed sowing at the just ended Greater works conference. Before I present my thoughts; let’s first define a few terms. Among many definitions, I will use what’s relevant to the discussion:

Belief: “conviction of the truth of some statement or the reality of some being or phenomenon especially when based on examination of evidence”

Logic: Logic is the science of deriving truth through the analysis of facts either directly (deductively) or indirectly (inductively).

From these definitions, I will argue  that Christian belief is logical. I will explain. You see, Christianity is not a collection of irrational thoughts stringed together for people to believe.  Christianity presents propositions rooted in historical evidence to be  examined so one can arrive at a logical conclusion of their veracity. We see this clearly evidenced in the opening words of Luke’s gospel.

Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, 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 1:1-4).

Luke’s words point us to the fact that Christian beliefs are coherent, logical and can be examined. Why did Luke write? so his recepient will come to a certainty–a conviction—of Christian beliefs. These beliefs are rooted in history and eye witness reports. They are not fables that can’t be examined. The apostle Peter tells us “For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty” (2Pet. 1:16ff).

The point is that, Christianity is not a blind leap into the abyss. It is faith based on historical evidence and in a God who is. Christian faith makes logical and rational sense. Paul consistently “reasoned from the Scriptures” (Acts 17:3). The problem with the so called special offering is that; they are not biblically consistent. It is a clear case of merchandising the gospel. Again, what’s the basis for the said categorisation? The only justification will be texts taken out of context to defend this lie. We see this clearly where Jesus’ multiplication of bread is cited in defence. Of course, Jesus is God and it is logical that God can work a miracle and multipy five loaves and two fishes to feed 5000.

Unfortunately it is such anti-logical approach to Christianity that makes people suspend their reasoning to believe in every nonsense shrouded in Christian jargon. And as I write this, many are defending this error, saying, “it is what you believe that works for you”. Well, Christian belief is not subjective belief for everyone to believe what they want to believe. Christian truth is rooted in biblical truth. There’s no biblical justification for the so called seed sowing that took place. It is false Christianity; a lie and fraud. A friend aptly describes the situation:

We are teaching people that they don’t have to follow the natural principles of work and earning. Even the Bible teaches that if you don’t work don’t eat. Paying $ 5000 to become a millionaire is called lottery, it has no place in Christianity — Kwesi Sena