Four Thoughts To Ponder In A New Month

 calendar-999172_640

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

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

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

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

1. Seek God

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

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

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

2: Make Wise Use Of Time.

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

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

Will you make that your prayer?

3: Death, A Reality of Life

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

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

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

4: Eternity–eternal life or damnation–Beckons.

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

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

For God so loved the world , that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).

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

Work Out Your Own Salvation

bodybuilder-646495__340

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure (Philippians 2:12-13).

It appears Paul is admonishing the Philippians to work to earn their salvation: “work out your own salvation”. However, if we interpret Paul’s words in that sense, we will be (i) contradicting the whole body of biblical revelation because salvation is by grace through faith and (ii) contradicting Paul himself because he taught in his epistles that salvation is by faith.

What Does Scripture Teach About Salvation?

Scripture first and foremost teaches that all human beings are naturally sinners because of original sin inherited from Adam and as a result, are separated from God and His glory (Psalm 51:5, Romans 3:23). But God out of love, though humanity is separated from Him as a consequence of sin and bound for eternal destruction, provided a way of rescue to reconcile sinners unto Himself by faith in Jesus Christ:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).

“Sirs, what must I do to be saved ?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”(Acts 16:30-31).

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:1)

These Scriptures (not exhaustive) point us to one truth: Justification by faith. To be saved therefore, a sinner has to repent of their sins and put their trust in Christ Jesus, “whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith”(Rom 3:25). If it is true (and it is) that sinners are saved by faith alone without any self-rigtheousness, then we must put in proper context what Paul means by “work out your own salvation”. He is obviously not writing about earning our salvation by self-effort.

Epistle From Prison.

It is crucial to note the circumstances surrounding Phillipians and the verse under consideration in particular. Paul is in prison and not physically present with the church as its leader. From prison therefeore, he writes to give instructions on numerous topics confronting the Philippian church.

In Chapter 2, Paul exhorts on Christian conduct citing Christ’s example of humility “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:5-8)… “… Have this mind among yourselves” This is a message calling on the Philippian church to take a cue from the humility and suffering of Christ.

Note also that our opening verse starts with “Therefore”. This means Paul draws on his previous teaching on Christ’s example and goes on to tell the believers to emulate Christ.

Philippians Was Written To Christians

We must bear in mind the epistles were written to Christians to give instructions on Christian living or conduct. So when Paul wrote “work out your own salvation”, he is writing to people who were already Christians. They were believers. They have salvation. They have trusted Christ by faith and needed instructions on Christian conduct. Paul calls them “my beloved” and he pointed out that they “have always obeyed”.

You can’t call on unbelievers to work out their salvation; a salvation they don’t have. The Philippians no doubt were Christians. And the fruit of their Christianity is that they are living in obedience. The mark of a true Christian is a life of obedience.

Work Out Your Own Salvation

Now if the Philippians were already Christians (and they were), Paul is greatly concerned they will continue in obedience especially because he is no not physically present with them and his imprisonment has opened up the church to infiltration by false teachers. “Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry…”(Philippians 1:15). “Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh” (Philippians 3:2).

Clearly, the infiltration of false teachers in his abscence needed to be addressed. The church was in danger of falling into laxity, complacency, hypocrisy and legalism. Because of this, Paul admonished them to continue in their obedience.

Lets face it. It is human tendency that when a leader is not present or when no one is watching, people naturally fall into laxity in their faith. This is what Paul warns against. The command from Paul is this: Live like Christians. Let the salvation you already possess  manifest in how you conduct your life. “Will and do God’s good pleasure”. Take personal responsibility for your Christian conduct: “your own salvation”.

The Greek. verb rendered “work out” means “to continually work to bring something to fulfillment or completion.” It cannot refer to salvation by works (cf. Ro 3: 21– 24 ; Eph 2: 8 , 9 ), but it does refer to the believer’s responsibility for active pursuit of obedience in the process of sanctification ¹.

“Work out…with fear and trembling” The point here is that of godly reverence: don’t develop a cavalier attitude towards God’s grace. Don’t play slack with the grace of God. Every believer must have a “healthy fear of offending God and a righteous awe and respect for Him (cf. Pr 1: 7 ; 9: 10 ; Is 66: 1 , 2 )².

The charge to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling” can be compared to Peter’s charge also: “Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall”(2Peter 1:10). As believer, there is already a work of grace going on in your lives. God is already at work in you “both to will and to work for his good pleasure”. If you have a desire for the will of God, you didn’t produce that desire. God planted it in you.

The Christian is always called upon to respond to God’s ongoing work of sanctification. God works first and we must cooperate “to be conformed to the image of his Son” (Romans 8:29).

1: THE MACARTHUR STUDY BIBLE Copyright © 2006 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved.

2: ibid

But God

sprout-1136131__340

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

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

Dead In Sin

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

Under Satan’s Control

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

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

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

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

But God

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

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

A New Life

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

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

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

“We Know”: Certainty In Our Beliefs

misty-1208267__340

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).

There seem to be the perception among some that being sure and certain about one’s Christian beliefs is a sign of arrogance and lack of humility. Sadly, rather, it appears vagueness about one’s beliefs is considered a sign of humility and virtue. Discernment has given way to credulity and superstition.

In the opening words of Luke’s gospel, there are some instructive words worth examining in this subjective anti-intellectual Christian ageLuke’s gospel is an orderly account of events about the life and earthly ministry of Christ written to Theophilus with an objective in mind: “that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught”(Luke 1:4). Theophilus was the same recipient of the book of Acts: “In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach”(Acts 1:1).

Do you see what’s going on? This is an “orderly account” of events with the aim of giving Theophilus roots in his beliefs: “certainty concerning the things you have been taught”(Luke 1:3-4). 

Do you have certainty in the things you believe? Knowledge solidifies our beliefs. Knowledge gives us certainty concerning the things we believe or have been taught. Knowledge gives us roots; grounding our beliefs! Christianity is not a blind leap into the dark abyss. Christian faith is knowledge driven: “and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). It is not commendable to be “clouds without water”. Zeal without knowledge is spoken against in Scripture (Rom 10:2). 

The Bible calls us unto maturity “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you” (Colossians 2:6-7). “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen” (2Peter 3:18). Paul prayed for the church in Ephesus “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might”(Ephesians 1:17-19). 

The apostles spoke and wrote words of certainty in communicating the gospel. “We know” and many other phrases connoting certainty are common in the New Testament: “we know that for those who love God all things work together for good (Romans 8:28). “And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments” (1John 2:3). “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39). In these words we see certainty that is a result of what “we know” and are “sure” of. 

One of my favourite “we know” statements is in 1John 3:2: “we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is”. Further in v.3, we see the benefit of this certainty: “And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure”. Knowledge leading to certainty in our beliefs has the power to “regulate” our lives. If we know what God requires of us from His word then we are well positioned to obey Him. “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples”(John 8:31b).

Knowledge is desirable in our faith walk. We are not called to put aside reasoning in our pursuit of God. In fact, the opposite is true. The Bible calls us to love Him with the totality of our being including our mind and thinking faculties (Deuteronomy 6:5, Matthew 22:36-37, Mark 13:30).

We live in the most anti-intellectual age of history, and even many Christians believe we can compartmentalize faith as a way of knowing completely separate from sense perception and reason. Yet as Augustine told us centuries ago, how could we receive knowledge from God if it were not accessible to the human mind? Could we say that “Jesus is Lord” without some understanding of what the term Lord means, what the verb is indicates, and who the name Jesus refers to? We can’t believe the gospel without our minds understanding it to a degree. [1]

1:http://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/faith-has-its-reasons/

Homowo: Can A Christian Eat Kpoikpoi (Kpekple)?

512184395

Between now and September this year, the Ga tribe in Ghana will celebrate their festival homowo. Though I am not a Ga, I grew up in Osu–which has launched its homowo–and one of the fondest memories of those formative years is the celebration of Homowo, a traditional festival of the Gas which “…recounts the[ir] migration…and reveals their agricultural success in their new settlement. According to Ga oral tradition, a severe famine broke out among the people during their migration to present day Accra. They were inspired by the famine to embark on massive food production exercises which eventually yielded them bumper harvest. Their hunger ended and with great joy they “hooted at hunger” this is the meaning of the word HOMOWO”[1]

Before you proceed further, let me tell you my answer ahead of any explanation. My answer is Yes to whether a Christian can eat Kpoikpoi (Kpekle). While working on this article, I checked with a few friends about their views. One answer made me smile: “pray over it and EAT all you can

Now, as with every festival, there are celebrations and merry making and one of the highlights of this festival is a special food; Kpoikpoi: “…a Ga delicacy that is prepared during their popular festival Homowo. It is a corn food with unique texture and unusual flavour”.[2] It is enjoyed with palmnut soup and when there is a leftover, it can be fried to get a crispy texture.

What necessitated this article was an incident which occured recently at work. In a conversation with a colleague who is Ga, I informed her I will be paying her a visit during this year’s homowo celebration to enjoy Kpoikpoi in her home. Another colleague, a Christian friend, overheard our conversation and with shock in her voice, she exclaimed, “You of all people Enoch, I am surprised you are going to eat that“. Knowing what my friend was driving at, I took her aside and we had a discussion on the subject.

Now before the festival takes off in the different Ga communities, the priest, referred to as Wolomi, together with the paramount chief sprinkle Kpoikpoi to the gods thanking them for a bountiful harvest. After this, the festival is officially opened and every Ga household participating in the celebrations prepare their own Kpokpoi. So the common perception is that Kpoikpoi is pagan which in a certain sense is true because it is solely associated with the festival. No family prepares Kpoikpoi on a normal day. The assertion therefore of my friend was that I was going to eat food offered to idols or gods.

Fortunately, the Bible does explicitly address eating food offered to idols. There are some things the Bible is silent on, but this is not one of them. Paul, responding to a question by the church in Corinth on food offered to idols, wrote saying: “Therefore, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “an idol has no real existence,” and that “there is no God but one.” For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth— as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”— yet for us there is one God, the Father , from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist (1Cor. 8:1-6).

From the aforementioned text, I will attempt to expound why I said Yes, a Christian can eat Kpoikpoi (Kpekple).

Christian Liberty

Christian liberty “can mean that Christians are freed in respect to such activity that is not expressly forbidden in the Bible. Therefore one can feel free to engage in such activity as long as it doesn’t “stumble” or “offend” another Christian” (Rom. 14:12-16).[3]

The Bible, under the Covenant of grace doesn’t expressly forbid the eating of any food. In answering to the question of food offered to idols, Paul begins from a fundamental truth of Christianity. There is only one God. The Christian acknowledges only one true God who has revealed Himself to us through the incarnate God; Jesus Christ: “for us there is one God, the Father , from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist”.

Any other thing that exists by name as god or Lord, “so-called gods in heaven or on earth”, Paul says we know that “an idol has no real existence”. They are simply what they are, idols with no life; “They have mouths, but do not speak; eyes, but do not see. They have ears, but do not hear; noses, but do not smell. They have hands, but do not feel; feet, but do not walk; and they do not make a sound in their throat. Those who make them become like them; so do all who trust in them”. (Ps. 115:5-8).

We are emancipated from what Paul calls “weak and worthless elementary principles of the world”(Gal.3:9). Paul will finally say to the Corinthians: “Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do” (1Cor. 8:8). What food we eat or don’t eat have no effect on our relationship with God. We have the liberty to eat any food. Unless of course on medical grounds. So on the grounds of Christian liberty, I don’t consider it a moral issue or sin if I eat Kpoikpoi.

Boundaries On Christian Liberty

However, the same text that gives me my liberty, again puts what I would call boundaries around my liberty. Simply put, I can’t flaunt that liberty when other believers with a weaker conscience are involved. I can’t take a superior stand and consider myself a better Christian than the person who says no a christian can’t eat kpoikpoi or any other ‘forbidden’ food. That will put me in the category of puff up believers without love (1Cor. 8:1-2). Paul prescribes how we express our liberty when it comes to the eating or not of food offered to idols:

But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will he not be encouraged , if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols? And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble (vv. 9-13).

In exercising my Christian liberty, not only in food, but in everything I have liberty in, my fellow Christian’s conscience is also at stake. If my liberty will harm the conscience of my fellow believer. I better abandon that liberty out of love for my fellow Christian who has a weak conscience. That however doesn’t mean eating Kpoikpoi in itself is wrong or a sin.

Mourning With Hope.

Mourning with hope. How can mourning be hopeful? But the Bible says exactly that, believers must “sorrow not…as those which have no hope”.

…sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him (1Thessalonians  4:13-14).

Exactly a year ago, my dad, Rev. E.A. Mante died after a short illness. My dad is my hero. I learnt faith and perseverance from him as he endured through his life, a situation  he himself called his cross. His dedication to the Lord’s vineyard was exceptional. There are many things to say of him, but for me personally, he believed in me and the gift of God over my life. While alive, he insisted I attend a seminary to build me up in serving the Lord well.

On the day of his burial also, I experienced something that left a lasting impression on me. While the family took turns to pay their last respect, I understood in a profound sense the scripture that says “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Rev 21:4).

While I stood by my dad’s lifeless body, I was engulfed by this sense of peace which made me smile at him. Dada, as we affectionately call him was a christian who faithfully served the Lord. And that was a comfort to my heart . A comfort that gives me joy, knowing he is with the Lord.

This momentary  joyful experience however didn’t take away the pain of death we experienced as a family. Death is a reality of life, as natural as birth is. Once we are born, we will die. “A time to be born, and a time to die…”(Ecclesiastes 3:2).

Now when someone dies we grieve and it is appropraite because the Bible tells us “…we should weep with them that weep”. (Rom12:12). But as we mourn our loved ones, God doesn’t leave us on our own in inconsolable sorrow.

For the believer, the Bible and our faith regulates how we must mourn the dead. From the text quoted above, we find this phrase “sorrow not, even as others which have no hope”, a phrase I believe teaches us a lot as we mourn our loved ones.

1: Sorrow With Hope

When Paul says “sorrow not, even as others which have no hope”, I believe he teaches a very crucial lesson. Our sorrow and mourning shouldn’t be characterised by despondency and hopelessness. For the believer, death is a departure from this fallen world and body into a far glorious place in eternity removed from the sorrows and pains of this world.

As painful as death is, it is also  transition from this life into the presence of God.  Psalms 116:15 tells us “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints”. Here is a truth so marvellous to ponder over despite the difficulty of the passing of loved ones. In death, God receives His children immediately into His presence of bliss where they will rest from their labour. Our hope is beyond this life. Even in death, we have hopes of an eternal life.

2: Sorrow Without Hope

Because Paul says “sorrow not, even as others which have no hope”, it is clear there are those who sorrow without hope. To these people, death ends it all. There is no hope for an after life. But that is not what the Bible teaches. There is life after death and the Bible’s teaching is explicit on that. For those who don’t believe in Christ, when they die, according to the Bible, they are carried to hell.

Death as stated earlier, is a reality we will all face. The death of another human being simply tells us one day we will all die. But death doesn’t end it all. Death ushers the soul into eternity, either eternal life or eternal damnation. “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment”(Hebrews 9:27).

These two forms of sorrow have two different implications. Those who mourn the dead with hope are those who have a hope of eternal life. However, those who think death ends it all must be ready for the reality of eternal damnation separated from God.

3: Ressurection of The Dead

In the text, Paul again teaches a very important lesson with regards to death: “The Resurrection”. He said “if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him”. In these words is the gospel; the death and resurrection of Christ. If we believe in the death and resurrection of Christ, then in a similar fashion one day there will be a resurrection of all the dead. We will once again see our love ones who have died in the Lord.

Christ died for sinners and if you believe in Him, then your eternal life is guaranteed. If you don’t, the opposite is true. Your eternity separated from the glory of God is also guaranteed. Faith in Christ has a correlation to our eternal destination.

To all whose relatives have died in the Lord, if you are a believer, be encouraged. Don’t let sadness over shadow the joy that your loved one is in a better place and one day, you will be reunited.

Till we meet again, Dada rest in peace.ANTI 20150715_091812

Exulting In Christ

Jesus-032-782013Have you been in a situation where someone you admire, respect or look up to makes a statement that takes you by surprise? A statement that makes you think probably success and fame has gotten into their head. Some of the disciples of Jesus might have had that experience.

In John 6, Jesus engages in a conversation with the Jews explaining to them who He is. In v.51, Jesus described Himself as  “…the living bread that came down from heaven” He further went on to say ,  “If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

This didn’t go down well with the people and they asked, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”(v.52). You will think Jesus will stop so not to offend them more. But no, He pressed on with the truth. From vv.53-59, He further described His flesh as true food and His blood as true drink. That probably broke the Camel’s back. They couldn’t take it, so they voiced it out:  “When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it (v60). Truth divides sometimes and we see this clearly manifested here. We are told “After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him” (v66).

Jesus lost followers because He spoke the truth about who He is. Whenever we speak the truth, we must be ready for a “fall out”. The truth will retain some while dispelling others. To be sure His twelve disciples were not also going to follow “the multitude”, He asked them “Do you want to go away as well?” Peter as usual, responded for the twelve:

Simon Peter answered him, “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.”

This is one of the many profound statements recorded in Scripture. In these 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). Peter’s words reflects the Psalmist’s when He said “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you” (Psalm 73:25). This is total trust and dependence on God. “There is none holy like the LORD: for there is none besides [Him]; there is no rock like our God”(1Samuel 2:2).

In Psalm 16:5-11, the Psalmist reveals to us the profundity of who God is to him. In verse 5, he tells us the Lord is his portion. Christ is the believer’s “portion and inheritance”. In Him we have obtained an inheritance (Ephesians 1:11). Christ has the words of eternal life. It is His word–the Bible– that gives life. He said in John 6:63 that the words He speaks are spirit and life. There is no life outside of Christ. Anyone without Christ is without life. Eternal life cannot be found anywhere but in Christ. He has the words of eternal life. He came to reconcile sinners to Himself.

Who is Christ to you? To Peter and the other disciples, Christ was all their all:

we have believed , and have come to know.

These words holds true for the Christian faith. To exult in Christ, we must come to a point of faith–belief–and acknowledge who Christ is: “the Holy One of God“; the only mediator between God and man. Every believer must come to this point in life when they can proclaim Christ is their all and they have no alternatives. And for the unbeliever, a life without Christ is a life headed for destruction and eternal damnation (John 3:18-19).