THE COVID-19 SCARE: A Call To Prayer & Repentance

As at the time of writing this article, the count for the COVID-19 virus had hit 245,658 infections with a death toll of 10,048. That’s an alarming statistic for a disease which just seemed to appear on the scene less than three months ago. Some countries especially in the hard-hit areas in Europe have taken measures like closing their borders, quarantining entire regions and even lockdowns in some cases. The effect of the continual spread of this disease on world economies and general life cannot be underestimated. No matter the outcome of this disease, what is clear is that the world will never be the same again. Obviously, the panic button has been pressed, but what should be the reaction from a Christian perspective. In times like these, it is necessary to mute all other voices and find out from the Bible what God has already spoken in His Word concerning similar situations, what He expects from His people and the hope that is available to them when they take solace in the Scripture.

For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, so that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. Romans 15:4 (MKJV)

The Bronze Serpent
In Numbers 21:4 – 9, we see an instance of God’s people in the wilderness. They treated the mercies and provisions of the LORD with contempt, by referring to the heavenly bread as light food. Their complaints and disregard for the Grace of God caused Him to send fiery serpents among them. These snakes killed a number of the Israelites until they repented and prayed to God. He graciously directed Moses to find a solution in the form of the Bronze Serpent (a picture of His Redemption that He was going to do several centuries later at Calvary). What lessons can we learn from this story?
• God punishes SIN, He never turns a blind eye to it
• When we sin, we incur the displeasure and wrath of God upon us
• God is gracious, He is ready to forgive His people when they turn back to Him

The Angel of Destruction
In 2 Samuel 24:1 – 17, much against God’s displeasure, David’s heart is moved to conduct a census of God’s people. God’s judgement of David’s sin immediately fell upon Israel through the mouth of Prophet Gad. Seventy thousand (70,000) men were killed that day from Dan to Beersheba. Just when the angel was about to strike Jerusalem, the LORD stayed his hand and called for a truce, having seen the repentance of David. Again, are there any lessons that we can learn from this story?
• As in the first story, God punishes SIN, He never turns a blind eye to it
• When we sin, we incur the displeasure and wrath of God upon us
• God is gracious, He is ready to forgive His people when they turn back to Him

The Call to Prayer & Repentance
In both passages examined above, we see that God’s judgement against the sin of His people came in the form of plagues. It is obvious that there is so much evil on this earth for the eyes of the LORD to behold. Is the COVID-19 God’s judgement on the earth? I will answer in the negative despite the widespread coverage of the disease. It is perhaps a wake-up call to the Christians and world at large that Jehovah still rules in the affairs of Man.

For so says the high and lofty One who inhabits eternity; whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, even with the contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones. For I will not contend forever, nor will I be always angry; for the spirit should fail before Me, and the souls I have made. (Isaiah 57:15 – 16, MKJV)

He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the sons of Israel. Jehovah is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and rich in mercy. He will not always chasten, nor will He keep His anger forever. He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, so is His mercy toward those who fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. As a father pities his children, Jehovah pities those who fear Him. For He knows our form; He remembers that we are dust. (Psalm 103:7 – 14, MKJV)

If I shut up the heavens, and there is no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send a plague among My people; if My people, who are called by My name, shall humble themselves and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:13 – 14, MKJV)

In both case studies examined earlier, the nation of Israel and David recognized that they had sinned and needed to repent. God is gracious and merciful, His ears are opened to the pleas of the humble. It is time for the true believers to call unto God to heal the land. May this period on the ban on religious gathering be a period where we will come to God and seek His face concerning the current events. What is He up to? What is His divine hand accomplishing in this time. May we not miss our way even as His Holy Spirit. May we come to the point of recognition that Jesus Christ is the only propitiation that pacifies the wrath of God, He is the only way to the Father. SELAH

Come, my people, enter into your rooms and shut your doors around you; hide for a little moment, until the fury has passed by. (Isaiah 26:20 MKJV)

 

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TO WORSHIP OR NOT TO WORSHIP: A Reflection on the Constitution of the Church.

On the night of 15th March, 2020, President Akufo-Addo announced the ban on public gathering in a bid to control the spread of the Corona virus infection in Ghana. This ban includes religious gatherings. What then should be the Christian response? What is the Church, who makes up the Church and is the Church under attack?

Definition of the Church

The term ‘Church’ is one of the most widely used words in everyday life in Ghana, yet it is one of the most misunderstood due to the multiple usages and applications in varied contexts.[1] In one sense, it could refer to a physical structure where people meet to worship, such as any permanent or temporary structure, be it a classroom, residential house, shed or a registered place of worship.  In another sense, it could refer to a particular group of believers who worship together, such as the congregation of Sasaabi Baptist Church. A final sense of definition could even refer to a denomination which has been set apart from other churches due to their unique fundamental doctrinal beliefs, an example is the Methodist Church of Ghana.

In Matt. 16:18, Jesus Christ said He will build His Church, and since then He has been the One who has been adding numbers of people who are being saved daily to this Church as Luke mentioned in Acts 2:27. However, the concept of God calling out a group of people to worship did not begin just in the New Testament. In analyzing the Lord’s command to Moses to “Gather the people to me” in Deut. 4:10, Grudem stated that the Septuagint translated the word for “gather” (Heb. qāhal) with the Greek term ekklēsiazo “to summon an assembly,” a verb that was derived from the New Testament word for church ekklēsia.[2] According to Erickson, the word “church” was a derivative of the Greek word κυριακός (kuriakos), which translates to “belonging to the Lord.” This word is however better understood in the context of the New Testament Greek term ἐκκλησία (ekklēsia).[3]

Where is the Church Now?

In the Old Covenant, the people of God had a temple in which they worshipped their God, now in the New Covenant God lives within His people. (Revelation 21:3). In the New Testament, Apostle Paul gives a three-fold description of the Church, which are

  • the people of God,
  • the Body of Christ and
  • the Temple of the Holy Spirit.[4]

The term “people of God” as used in 2 Cor. 6:16 defines the Church as a people who have been called by God unto Himself, they belong to Him and He belongs to them (Deut. 32:9; Isa 64:2). His second description of the Church is the “Body of Christ” with Jesus Christ as the head of this body as Paul described in Col. 1:18; 2:9-10. As the head, He rules and exercises authority over this body.  His final description of the church is the “temple of the Holy Spirit”. It is a generally accepted fact that the Church was birthed through the Holy Spirit in Acts 2. In 1 Cor. 12:13, Paul spoke about the Holy Spirit as being the One who baptized all believers into the Body of Christ; thus all true believers have a common baptism; not water baptism in any of the various forms practiced by different denominations but by the birth and indwelling of the Holy Spirit as again signified in Eph. 4:5. Again, Paul wrote to the Corinthian church in 1 Cor. 3:16-17 and 2 Cor. 6:19-20:

“Do you not know that you are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God shall destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which you are”… “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit in you, whom you have of God? And you are not your own, for you are bought with a price. Therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s”

 

The Holy Spirit therefore dwells in the church collectively as the Body of Christ and in individual believers. Because the Holy Spirit dwells in the Church, He glorifies it, imparts gifts and some aspects of His nature, usually called “the fruit of the Spirit” in Gal. 5:22-23 to the Church.[5] The Holy Spirit indwelling the Church is also manifested in the transmission of power from God to believers as promised by Jesus in Acts 1:8. The purpose of this power was to transform them into witnesses of the Christ and also to let believers live Christ-like lives while on earth. Another evidence of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is the unity that is exhibited among believers. The unity described here does not denote uniformity but rather a singleness of purpose and actions as depicted in Luke’s description of the Church in Acts 2:34-47.[6] Other manifestations of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the Church is seen in their adherence to conform to the teachings of Christ (Jn. 14:26; 16:13), it is also seen by the presence of the gifts and offices that the Holy Spirit freely and sovereignly distributes for the equipping of the believers and the Church (1 Cor. 12:11, Eph. 4:11 – 13). The purpose of the Church is seen in three key areas, which are its ministry to God, to other believers and lastly to the world. According to Grudem, these then are the purposes of the Church

  • with respect of its ministry to God, the Church is supposed to worship Him,
  • the purpose of the Church to other believers is to nurture them,
  • while the purpose of the Church towards the world is to evangelize to them because of the Mercy of God.[7]

Is the Church Under Attack?

Does the ban on religious gathering constitute an attack on the Church? NO, not even the gates of hell can prevail against the Church that Jesus builds. The Bible (Romans 13:1 – 7, 1 Peter 2:13 – 17) reserves some responsibilities to the State to cater for the wellbeing of the Society, so if the government must ban public worship in order to maintain public health and safety, so be it. This ban should not be misconstrued as an attack on the Church, whether overtly or covertly. Neither should it be regarded in the category of the three Hebrew boys refusing to bow to a foreign god nor Daniel’s refusal to heed the King’s commandment not to pray. It is during these times that believers must sit down to reflect and perceive the Hand of God in directing the affairs of this world and His Church. In Acts 1:8, we see Jesus giving a command the disciples to disperse abroad with the Gospel, it is instructive to note that the disciples had remained in Jerusalem even as at Acts 8:1 (probably 7 years later). It took the Hand of God in a providential persecution to scatter them. Now let us solemnly reflect on these questions

  • What if it is God is closing the buildings that we call churches so that we can go into the world and build His real Church.
  • As an individual, do you believe that you are the temple of God? Is the Holy Spirit at residence and at work within you?
  • Outside your participation in your local church, do you have any personal devotion time where you read your Bible, offer prayer to God and evangelize on your own.
  • Will your Christianity survive if the ban on public worship is prolonged for a year

In the current situation we find ourselves in, let us take note of these points:

  • God is not limited to the four walls of your church building
  • There is a ban on corporate worship but not a ban on private worship
  • Christianity is lived out 24/7 everywhere, not just in our church buildings
  • You are the temple of God, God dwells in you by the presence of the Holy Spirit if you are a Christian.
  • Fellowship with other believers is essential, but a privilege which can be denied Christians at any time.

[1] Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology (Manila: Book House Company, 1995), 1027.

[2]Wayne Grudem. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994.

[3] Erickson, Christian Theology, 1030-1031.

[4] Erickson, Christian Theology, 1035.

[5] Erickson, Christian Theology, 1039.

[6] Erickson, Christian Theology, 1040.

[7] Grudem, Systematic Theology, 1057.

TO WORSHIP OR NOT TO WORSHIP: A Reflection on Civil Obedience.

On the night of 15th March, 2020 when the President of the Republic of Ghana addressed the nation, he said things that many feared but were actually expecting. The number of confirmed cases had risen from two to six and there was the need for the State to implement some tough sanctions to maintain public health and safety since we are not in normal times. Among the various decisions to be implemented, one that has been trending since is the ban of public gathering, especially church meetings. For a country that prides itself as being a ‘Christian’ nation with 70% of the population professing Christianity, it’s strange to have the nation run a full month without any church service.

The obvious question one will ask is whether the State has erred in applying their constitutional mandate or has trespassed against the Laws of God. Both questions can be answered with a big NO. Pertaining to the first question, some Christians have rightly questioned why the State has banned religious gatherings but has allowed people to gather in night clubs and drinking spots. This is a fair question to ask, and perhaps the State may want to revisit this decision by applying the sanctions across board. But does allowing the operation of night clubs invalidate the decision to stop churches from meeting? Another big NO.

1 Timothy 2:2 – 3 (CEV)

Pray for kings and others in power, so that we may live quiet and peaceful lives as we worship and honor God. This kind of prayer is good, and it pleases God our Saviour.

1 Peter 2:13 – 17 (CEV)

The Lord wants you to obey all human authorities, especially the Emperor, who rules over everyone.You must also obey governors, because they are sent by the Emperor to punish criminals and to praise good citizens. God wants you to silence stupid and ignorant people by doing right. You are free, but still you are God’s servants, and you must not use your freedom as an excuse for doing wrong. Respect everyone and show special love for God’s people. Honor God and respect the Emperor.

Romans 13:1 – 5 (CEV)

Obey the rulers who have authority over you. Only God can give authority to anyone, and he puts these rulers in their places of power. People who oppose the authorities are opposing what God has done, and they will be punished.  Rulers are a threat to evil people, not to good people. There is no need to be afraid of the authorities. Just do right, and they will praise you for it. After all, they are God’s servants, and it is their duty to help you. If you do something wrong, you ought to be afraid, because these rulers have the right to punish you. They are God’s servants who punish criminals to show how angry God is. But you should obey the rulers because you know it is the right thing to do, and not just because of God’s anger.

We are not in normal times, and in times like these there is a need that we all need to heed to  one voice for direction. In Romans 13:1 – 5, 1 Timothy 2:1 – 3 and 1 Peter 2:13 – 17, Apostles Paul and Peter took time to educate the believers on their responsibility to the State and civil authorities. A summary of these three passages teaches:

  • Secular leadership is an ordinance of God
  • Secular leadership exists for the well being
  • A true believer prays for the State and its leaders
  • God expects believers to be obedient to civil authorities
  • A believer’s loyalty to God is reflected in how he relates to the State
  • It is God’s Will if believers are punished by the State for wrongdoing

In light of the above, what should be the attitude of the Ghanaian Christian to the ban of public worship.

  • Pray that God will turn the current tide of the disease so that normalcy is restored as soon as practicable.
  • The ban is for a month, within this period, God will not run away from the country. He will still be here for us to worship Him
  • Believers should re-examine what the Church really is. Read more in the next article 
  • Prepare to live in worship to God as if there will never be church buildings to meet in again
  • To act contrary to the directives of the State in this matter is clear hypocrisy, ungodly and a disregard for the teachings of the Bible

Continue reading “TO WORSHIP OR NOT TO WORSHIP: A Reflection on Civil Obedience.”

OF VARIOUS SINS & A GREATER SIN?

{The teachers of the Law and the Pharisees brought in a woman who had been caught committing adultery, and they made her stand before them all. “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. In our Law Moses commanded that such a woman must be stoned to death. Now, what do you say?” They said this to trap Jesus, so that they could accuse him. But he bent over and wrote on the ground with his finger. As they stood there asking him questions, he straightened up and said to them, “Whichever one of you has committed no sin may throw the first stone at her.” Then he bent over again and wrote on the ground. When they heard this, they all left, one by one, the older ones first. Jesus was left alone, with the woman still standing there. He straightened up and said to her, “Where are they? Is there no one left to condemn you?” “No one, sir,” she answered. “Well, then,” Jesus said, “I do not condemn you either. Go, but do not sin again.”} John 8:3-11

It is very easy to understand why even liberal Ghanaian Christians are quick to resist any thought that tries, or will try to legalize homosexuality in Ghana. It is demeaning to the human body and of course rebellion to the laws and nature of God.

My concern as a Christian has been with the hypocritical posture with which we address homosexuality in Ghana. Like the woman caught in the very act of adultery, human nature will dispense justice whether or not they are also guilty of same or similar offence. Likewise, the usual tantrums thrown about by very well meaning Christians and religious leaders about the sin of homosexuality is very similar to those who wanted to stone the woman caught in adultery. Standing in that crowd might have been people who had stolen from others, the self-righteous lied to their partners, extorted money from the poor, engaged in illegal business, etc. All these characters in the crowd were sinners whose lifestyles were in opposition to the laws of God, yet had the impudence to stone a woman caught in adultery.

Likewise it is time that the various clergy associations in Ghana, and those who really mean well hold hands to fight the various evils that have afflicted and continue to afflict Ghana as a nation. Misappropriation of state monies, political and religious corruption, extortion, neglect of the poor and marginalized are sins which directly and constantly reduce the quality of lives of Ghanaians, far more than what two grown up men do in their bedroom, which anyone is yet to come and say that he saw it in the very act.

As selfish as we are, we get worried because we do not want our nation to end up as Sodom & Gomorrah, but can comfortably leave the other sins to fester on. I never wish Ghana joins the league of nations that have openly declared their support of gayism, yet in the very unlikely event that we do, there are greater sins in this country for me to focus my fight on. As Jesus bent down to write and asked them this question “Whichever one of you has committed no sin may throw the first stone at her?”

In concluding, I also ask as I write, whoever has not committed abortion, has not slept with another person other than his/her legally married spouse, has not cheated in an exam, has not bullied his/her way through the system by paying bribe, whoever has not used official resources for personal use; let those people step forward and fight gayism. The last time I checked, what qualifies a person into the kingdom of God is how they treat the Blood and Person of Jesus Christ. Where sin abounds, His grace abounds much more. He is ready and willing to save the liar, just as much as He can save the gay/lesbian.

 

Noble Motherhood: A Virtue On The Verge of Extinction

It has already started on the airwaves, the day when all the virtues of mothers are extolled, Mothers’ Day. It’s become woven into the fabric of our society and so excellent is this idea that even the churches and other religious societies have joined the press in hyping this day. Is it worth it? Do our mothers deserve all these praise? Having grown up in a culture where it is mostly mothers who are responsible for the welfare of children be it in a family or in the case of single parenting, I will be the first to admit that mothers deserve all these praise, if not more. In my own life as a person, I have come to appreciate womanhood /motherhood based on what I’ve witnessed in my maternal family, from my grandmother to my mother and to some mothers in my family. All that I have been, all that I am and all that I will ever be, I give glory to God for giving me the kind of woman she gave me as a mother. Motherhood was a noble profession, and still is. However changing times have come with the changing roles of women in families. I doubt if motherhood can still be noble in the times to come considering what we are seeing today. Women are caught in web of rendering service to their place of work while they are supposed to mothers in their homes. It must be noted that there are several women who have excelled in both ministries. However, there are still some who are struggling to excel in both, they manage to excel at their work place but can rarely function as mothers. Is it for any reason that there is the advent of the employment of house helps and baby sitters to fill in that role of motherhood that some of our career women are gradually abandoning. Any fertile woman can conceive and give birth to a baby, but not any baby-bearer eventually becomes a mother.

Below is a quote from one preacher which I second and believe so much as well. “I am truly sorry for what has happened today in some aspects of the women’s movement where we have lost an admiration for what true womanhood is all about. Somehow we have caused people to believe that motherhood is not as noble as other professions could be. One of the most catastrophic losses of our time is the loss of the glory of womanhood. We’ve made people believe that it is better being out there making money for some corporation other than attending to this call God has bestowed on us. I am not arguing for better of one to the worse of the other, it is about giving dignity to both” Dr. Ravi Zacharias (The Inner Ache of Loneliness II).

Sadly, the majority of such people themselves have benefited so much from this blessed profession, and society is beginning to make them feel guilty to tow the same line of our blessed mothers. The main reason that makes me doubt that motherhood will continue to be noble is the fact that women who until now are thought to be the torchbearers of fidelity in relationships as well as beacons of hope for a world which has sank to the lowest ebb of immorality of all times, are now as guilty as some men who have vowed to cast their seed abroad. I was dumbfounded recently when a police patrol swoop on some prostitutes in Accra revealed that some of them were nursing mothers who left their children in the care of others so that they can indulge in their sin. More so I believe many men who take usual solitary walks through the city might have come the fear-gripping thought that sex is not only no more for sale but could be doled out by some ‘generous’ women. In the garden of Eden, Eve was naked, her eyes opened to her nakedness (after the fall) and God clothed her, in our time the eyes of our ladies have opened to the fact that they are clothed and as such are doing everything possible to unclothe themselves, if this is not the case why all these filth in some of our print media, TVs and even real life situations where women are portrayed as objects of sex. It’s as though it is economically unwise to buy the Playboy magazine since all that you would want to see walks and works with you, only a little dignified. Virginity is not even a virtue now. Sometimes I wonder if there will be any more virgins to be given in marriage to the young men who are now growing up. I believe it is time that the feminists movement around will take on this as a campaign, “NOBILITY & MORALITY AMONG WOMEN”.

Read a quote from another preacher. “In 1920, the women’s suffrage movement gave the American woman the right to vote, an event said to have liberated the modern woman. Yet this landmark also ushered in other forms of ‘liberation’ regarding women. Up to this time, women were said to be the custodians of morality in America. But suddenly, as women gained more freedom, the hems of their skirts began to rise higher and higher. Until 1919, women wore dresses that were so long, they virtually scraped the ground. Now as the new immorality of their time took root, dress codes changed drastically, the new decade became the era of flappers, young women who wore thin, form fitting dresses in an effort to shake off the old Victorian moral codes. This change in dress was so unprecedented and so abrupt, an alarmed fashioned writer for the New York Times declared, ‘The American woman has lifted skirts far beyond any modest limitation’. Another writer warned, ‘if (dresses’ hem) are nine inches off the ground today, there could come a day when our nation becomes so immoral, hems will rise to the knee caps’. These were not the rantings of conservative preachers, but of the unconverted press. What would they think of today’s mini-skirts, revealing dresses and near-nude bathing suits? David Wilkerson (pg4 God’s Plan to Protect His People”.

We love you our mothers. We appreciate all the care and love of God that we have been favoured to see in you. Our only fear is that in some years to come, our children may not feel so proud to praise their mothers as we are doing now. It looks like somehow, somewhere, someone is failing to complete the changeover of the baton. If you love as we have always known, then please leave your kind on earth before you pass away.

Statement of Faith

I believe in the TRINITY; the triune God composed of three persons; God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. All are individual personalities, yet they function as one.

I believe that the BIBLE is the inerrant Word of God, verbally inspired by the Holy Spirit, and holy men of God wrote without any other resource [2nd Peter 1:21].

I believe that Jesus Christ, the son of God, is the creator of the entire universe [John 1:1, Colossians 1:16, Hebrews 1:2].

I believe that God the Son became the incarnate God in the flesh by way of the virgin birth [Galatians 4:4, Matthew 1:23].

I believe that the human race began with Adam, perfect and sinless, but the fall of the whole human race began after his act of disobedience, [Romans 5:12, Romans 3:23].

I believe that God has provided the way back to fellowship with Himself through faith and faith alone in Jesus Christ and his death, his burial of three days and three nights, and his resurrection in power and glory [I Corinthians 15:1-4].

I believe every believer of that gospel is baptized by the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ [I Corinthians 12:13, Ephesians 1:23].

I believe the communion table is the time of reverential contemplation of the finished work of the cross [I Corinthians 11:26].

I believe the true believer will live a life pleasing to God [Titus 2:1, 12, – 13, Galatians 5:22 – 23].

I believe in the RAPTURE; the pre-tribulation calling out of the body of Christ [I Corinthians 15:51-54, I Thessalonians 4:13-17], followed by a seven-year tribulation [Daniel 9:27], and the second coming of Christ to set up the thousand year reign of Christ [Zechariah 14:1-9].

I believe that all unbelievers will be resurrected and shall appear before the great white throne and then sent to their eternal damnation [John 5:28 & 29, Revelation 20:11-15].

statement of faith