Spiritual Gifts – Church Reformation, Part 2.

 

Partners,

Continuing from where we left off last time on the issue of Spiritual gift theme. As you will have remembered the arguments are that spiritually, the international church has misapplied the gifts distribution. Samuel went to Jessie’s house to appoint a king over Israel, but he went ahead of God and was looking on the outward appearance of the sons of Jessie. Each of the ones Samuel chose, was rejected by God because, he was not the one God wanted. Man does not see like God sees. When God told him the difference between man and God in leadership choice, Samuel realised it was God who choose. Like Samuel, the church ignores the Holy Spirit role in gifts distribution, and continue to appoint whomever they feel is fit and proper for office. This is so because the church has fallen, biblical ignorance and spiritual blindness so is wondering around like in a drunken stupor. Even more she is wounded, limping along like a wounded pet. She prays often, but no healing comes, no deliverance, she is ineffective! So she wished and hoped, waiting that change will come eventually. She is aware that we are struggling, and if God should arrive now, she is in trouble as many will be lost. However, change will not come until the right steps are taken to give the Holy Spirt its rightful place and opt for the gifted in areas of the church. People with spiritual vision are praying and hoping for redemption, and freedom from self-propelled men now in charge of the modern church.

 

 

 

The modern church is not at the apostles’ spiritual high level and operating below par at a mere 10 percent standards. At this rate she probably will not recover for the next two to three generations. This so because biblical precepts, on church administration and leadership gifts has been trampled under feet. It is operating under the rule of men, decisions taken by church administrators, based on feelings and vested interest, without biblical consultation, and standards. So because people are operating outside their gifts, or because basic gift identity and leadership training is lacking. Present church leadership does not affect events, which are hallmarks of a good leader. But instead responds only when serious situation develops, and not immediate but several months down the line. By which time it is either too late, and comes after a split. This purely for lack of vision and the spiritually gifted in charge.  The Jamaican saying, “a we run things, things no run we”, is not their motto. Many will attend leadership or pastoral seminars, their weaknesses open up and laid bare before them even to the point of embarrassment, but will return to their home churches and continue the same way as before.

 

 Without vision the people perish! This most sacred, powerful and important institution is being govern by headstrong men, those who are in the wrong gift position, and lacks training in leadership and church administration. The weakness has been blatantly obvious in the worldwide body, but many churches has taken and are taking steps to stop the slide and remedy the situation. Limited progress is visible in Europe and on the continent of Africa, Jamaica and the Caribbean where their boards has called a moratorium on leadership appointments until training is pursued. They are beginning to train the new ministers for office, which has been done for centuries in north and South America, and growth is taken place. However, it too is relative but at least something is happening. Once more even this approach seems imperfect, because very little actual steps are being taken to identify and chose the gifted. Very few conduct a test to identify the gifts among the applicants before training is pursued. If one does not have the gift, even training and appointing will achieve limited success.

 

 

 

The church is in the docks, under indictment for rejecting and undermining the Holy Spirit role in selecting the order of church administration and leadership. Jesus Christ is the prosecuting attorney, His blood becomes the proclamation voice for justice. God the righteous judge and head of the international church court of justice, is presiding. There is no defence! The verdict is issued – the church is declared Guilty of all the charges levelled against her. Guilty of abusing and ignoring the spirits role in gifts distribution and office appointment. Guilty of misapplication and the mismanagement of the church administrative process. But there is a note of caution and advice. The church can change and will change, but not with the present generation of leaders. It has been said, that the most important generation, is the next, and not the present one. The reasons why we have to set systems in order, leave good examples for them to follow. Or the next generation will look back and curse us for not doing the right things.

 

 

 

This abuse is blatant everywhere, but in North America, the Baptist movement is just a case in point. Although the movement have many colleges, universities and institution of learning that prepares and train its leaders for office, it has a tendency to place training before being gift tested. So the system is open to abuse, because anybody who show an interest and may be doing it for the wrong reasons, can be trained without the spirits influence. There is also a segment where many people who are appointed to senior offices, bishops, pastors, etc. are done on the basis of their singing abilities, or have been international known gospel artist. Then there are the others who have become reverend, not because they have been spiritually gifted and trained, has never taken a divinity or theological course, but on the basis that they are talented singers. Unfortunately this trend has spread far beyond the borders of north America but has captivated the interests of many churches internationally, as one just have to be a great singer, to be appointed to a leadership role. As soon as you can hold a note, you are elevated and placed in church governance roles. Are they gifted or are they talented singers and where is the Holy Spirit in these appointments? God help us because singing is not in the gift list Paul identified and listed in (Rom.12, 1 Cor. 12; Eph. 4)? So singing ability should not be the basis on which church leaderships are appointed.

 

The modern church, has rebelled against the Holy Spirit, and is being run by self-propelled, money grabbing, wealth accumulation, ego driven, power hungry despots that leads only to ruin. They have no desire to uplift or advance the church, but for the sound of their own voices, and their personal and self-interest. They preach the get rich gospel, live in big mansions, get about in chauffer driven cars and private jets, forgetting Christ humble status, He said, “fox have holes, birds has nest, but the Son of man has no place to lay His head” (Lk. 9: 58). In the modern church it is money and power that grants influence over many things. Paul’s response, to the present situation would be, “shall I praise you in this? I praise you not! Because you by your personal interest and blinded ambitions has turned God’s church into a den of thieves”.

 

 

 

Cosmetic changes can be seen in many places, but Europe is a problem that either cannot or will not be solved, though training institutions are being set up, this is only a beginning. When the weakness is identified, some think you have personal vendetta, which is miles from the truth. It is definitely about the organisational systems, and the British establishment is reluctant to change and therefore out in the cold. It lacks the vision to take the necessary steps for church development and growth. Digging in its heels, dragging its feet and would appear reluctant to make changes, so out of touch. We come this far and it is too late to change, is their motto. Could this mean that we are in denial? That the present leadership is lacking biblical knowledge, and understanding? Failing to see, is blind to the biblical process of gift identity and leadership training? It’s everyone’s guess and one have no alternative but to conclude that they reject the biblical standards having lost direction as salt lost savour. Could it be that only a few has taken a gift test, and know what their spiritual gifts are, but unwilling to advance their training? That they will recognise they do not belong in a socially rewarding role and not a spiritual one, so are too scared to take a test? Or because just one or at the most two of the leadership recognise that they have the proper leadership gifts for the position they hold? That they lacks appropriate training, and too ashamed to admit it? Maybe because they will lose their public image and therefore loose face? Could this be a lack of knowledge and understanding or could it be a pride thing for many or all of them? Remember, pride goes before a fall. It is clear they still are allowing themselves to be dictated to by a minority of older folks, some even in pastoral roles, probably on the board, who still are claiming, ‘Church of God, or even Christian leaders don’t train, or go to college’ because? ‘The Holy Ghost train them’. This statement is nothing short of lack of biblical knowledge and spiritual vision. With only one of the members of the executive leadership has any theological training, and zero has any training in church leadership and administration, it lacks bite, authority and effectiveness. The lack of skilled, competent and erudite management can be seen in some of its most recent decisions, and smells foul play. It’s almost resemblance to Satan taking up a seat or is standing up like a man in the office of power in the church in England, dictating the pace and blocking progress. Only Satan benefits when there are no adequately biblically trained leadership and gifted people with management skills in church governance to bring about change and carry the organisation forward. They cannot see that without training, even understanding that if this was the way the Holy Spirit operate, they would not be so lacking in capability. Yet, they have so much spirit, ‘Hallelujah’ (not a bad thing) shouting being the high mark of their spiritual capability, but cannot see the obvious failures. How then did we the international church get the Holy Spirit gifts so wrong?

 

 

 

Christ spent 3 ½ years teaching and training his disciples and when they were trained He sent them out two by two, this is biblical. The modern church in appointing men to the office and then train them, may also be doing it backward. Much like putting plaster over a weeping wound, because the damage is already half done. Shutting the gate after the horse has bolted is a waste of time. It should be gift identity first then training. Less than half the British church leadership has gone through spiritual gift testing, or leadership training, and possibly will not pass the gifts test for the office they hold! If the leadership is brave enough to call for a gift test today and to see who qualify to hold the office they are given?  If they pass the test, then see who have taken a training course? How can any leader be in a role and not be able to develop training material to train those whose souls they are watching over? Read again the gifts list of 1 Corinthian 12, and examine carefully why the gifts are given. It is for the unity of the church, the education and equipping of the workers, the body of Christ. If the leaders have no gift, no training how do they train others?

 

 

 

I have travelled extensively and whenever folks from other fields ask where I am from and I told them, their heads bow, they farrow their brows, they drop their heads and look down with disappointment. They have little apart from the doctrine to commend the British church for. They will say that the message is sound but it lacks the trained people to carry or proclaim it. On an airplane across the Atlantic a man told me, ‘you need to train your leaders!’ Why would so many people know about us but not attending our congregations? They are not oblivious to the weaknesses that pervades the leadership! However, over the years whenever I mention this, I am rebuked for critiquing the leadership. If anyone, advise that the entire British leadership resign and they make a new start, you will be side-lined and ignored, even shunned as one who means the church no good. Yet examine for yourselves, who do you think mean the church well, the men who shut their eyes to the blatant weaknesses, age old problems that needed to be rectified, and claiming that all is well? Or is it the man who identify and point out the weaknesses, and try to give biblical advice so they are corrected? When the prophets of Israel points out failings, i.e. Jeremiah, was he not beaten, and shunned, even labelled as the troubler of Israel? Many leaders in Europe that you will speak to, will admit that they see the problem. They will talk about in private, but are too spineless to speak to the broader leadership. Because the one who break ranks, the one who aired it publicly will be classed as a troubler of the church. However, we must think that God wants the church to change, where the Holy Spirit choose the leaders, where the church is ready to accommodate new comers, gifted and trained people who can see it revive and to help it grow.

 

 

 

The modern church still in 2018 needs reformation of its systems and functions, but who will reorganise and bell the cat? We still believe that it is church boards, organisation or institutions of learning (Colleges/Universities), appoints people to positions in the church. That task is solely the Holy Spirit (Rom 12; 1 Cor. 12; Eph. 4). The church has a duty to identify the gifted, train and appoint, but it is so packed with cronyism that God has to intervene, to change things. The modern church is under indictment! Many of us knew of the Great Reformation, even know some of the reformers names. But must be forgiven if we think that the reformation ended when they died. The Reformation, specifically referred to as the Protestant Reformation, was a schism in Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther and continued by John Calvin, Huldrych Zwingli, and other early Protestant Reformers in 16th-century Europe. One might ask why reformation matters, and whether it matters to us this side of modernity. Because it happened approximately 500 years ago, why does anything that old be relevant today! Because this is the age of science and technology where we have knowledge that far surpasses anything in the past, let alone 500 years ago. It is as good as prehistoric! And because it concerned religious creed, and we live in a secular age, surely it is not necessary. Of course, many people still believe in God, but no-one actually thinks that religion is important any more. Yes it may have relevance for us in our personal and private lives, but there is no influence at the level of government or decision-making. Surely what a German monk kicked off in the church 500 years ago cannot possibly be of any significance today.

 

 

 

The fact that The Reformation is old and faith cannot be denied and yet I want to show you now that it is incredibly relevant to us today. Indeed, without this Reformation our modern societies would look extremely different in 2018, and we would certainly not have the freedom and the prosperity that we enjoy. More importantly, without the Reformation, we would still be under a dark and oppressive regime that uses the fear of death and judgment to persuade people into conformity, rather than having free access to a gospel message that sets the individual free from those fears for time and eternity.

 

 

 

Yes reformation is needed too in the British leadership. Just two board members need to stand up, break ranks, and call for reformation. Say enough of this kind of behaviour, and call for an end to unbiblical practices. Shout and let their voices heard across the country, even call a solemn assembly like the prophet Joel, change would come. If they, ask the church to put out a moratorium on leadership appointment and ask the Americans for help in setting up a system. Then do the obvious, gift test the potential leaders, and train them. For at the moment anyone can start a group, and because they set it up, they want to be the leader, and church obliged. So, stating unequivocally, that no new appoint will be made to leadership, until a workable framework is established. Where the spiritually gifted are identified, and the necessary training sought, given or acquired before appointment to office. If “a week is a long time in politics” really when political storm in threatening, and trouble is on the horizon. Think about, ten, twenty, thirty years, that is a long time to try and affect change anywhere let alone in a spiritual organisation. Here only small probably insignificant voices are expressing concerns. We are in the minority, and sometimes it feels like we are alone crying, in the wilderness and shouting for vicissitudes in the British establishment. At the risk of being ostracized, having one’s head spiritually detached, the people must rise up to the challenge. Ask every church leader you know in Britain, to write his ‘gift identity and training’ goal down and give it pride of place on the bookshelf of their lives, where it can be seen often. Or place it on our bedside table where we can see it before we go to bed at night or as we awake in the morning to face the new day. So that we never again, forget!

 

 

 

This is not a goal for now, but for the rest of, our natural lives. It must be, in all good conscience and God given ability, which we will all commit to a gift test in the world church. Some of us has done it already and know where they stand and may not need to do it again, but need training to develop. Others who haven’t should, just to see and determine what our gifts are. Then enter into training to develop our ability, and continue training throughout the life of our ministry. That is the only way that we will know where God wants us. If it turns out you were in the right role all along, after the test, that’s a feather in your cap. Having the gift identified is only the first step though, we need training to effectively administer in the role. What it then means is that we need a preparation regime, so we are fully equipped to effectively function in the office we are appointed to. Further and in addition, make a personal commitment to take a course in theology or divinity, knowledge and wisdom is key. Remember this, not everybody will see or even appreciate your goals. People who lacks spiritual vision and who are unable to seek educational development becomes an enemy. They are Satan’s implants designed to hold back and restrict the performance and growth of the church. They will put obstacles in your way to upset you, put you off, to change your mind, tell you it is not necessary, even tell you, you can’t do it. Some days you will even get sick of seeing your goal list, especially if you have not taken a first step to achieve it. Other days you will be reminded that either you are doing great or maybe you need to pick up the pace a little.

 

 

 

As labourers in God’s vineyard, ask God what is our purpose and find it putting God first, ahead of all other plans or goals. Ask Him to help us identify our gift/s, and what is the training that we need to function effectively and perform it? As since we at one time or another, by watching others perform, come to love or desire a certain gift ministry, but that does not mean that’s where God wants us! God create the blue print, and effected it through the gift of His Son, so He knows where everyone fits in the body of Christ Gifts are none given willy nilly, like office for rent apply within, when I run our you run in, kind of a operation. Without the right foundation a building topple, a block laid out of line will heap of problems for a building inspector. God wrote the blueprint for the church, and is its inspector therefore, is not disorganised, nor did He leave it for church leaders to place people that they think fits an opening. People mostly are drawn to the more demonstrable, i.e. preaching, pastoral, teaching etc. the more in your face gifts role, and even if they don’t qualify, they pursue it. Many when they cannot get a leadership role, will split from their present church and starts something just because they wants to be a leader. Many ‘wannabies’, people starts churches because they want to handle the money, church ownership can be a lucrative business depending on the city you are in. Some even use Paul’s split from Barnabas as a reason to justify their actions. But does God gave sanctions or justification to schisms?

 

 

 

Ministry partners, Britain is currently the un reluctant link for change and reformation in the Church of God family worldwide. Every other country or nation of believers has moved or is moving towards a gifted and trained leadership. Change will not come with the present leadership, because most of us are without the necessary gift for leadership and follow up training regime. However, there is hope for the future, maybe the next or a few generation down the line, but with a new set of leaders, it will happen. I know I will not be around to see it, and many of you reading this may not be around either! Nevertheless, I hope that you make your plans to achieve your goal beginning in 2018, if you are not gift identified and already trained. Or make 2018 the year when you determine that you will start out on the road to get gift tested, get trained and achieve your biblically appointed Holy Spirit influenced goals.

 

Love, Joy, Peace in Jesus,

 

Victor

 

Ministry Partner

 

Advertisements

Spiritual Gifts – Church Reformation, Part 1.

Dear Ministry partners,
This is a long personal from the heart, and presented in a rough draft, but will be presented in a more condensed article format later. Nonetheless it is worth the read and you will find it an eye opener if you have not seen it this way before, but try and find the time to read it. Likewise, I hope that when you read it, you would have already many years ago determine what it is you wanted out of your spirit led life and went for it! If you haven’t yet decided, what are you waiting for? Time waits for no man is an overused cliché, but truth are naturally that way! Whatever is the achievement you want to put on the mantelpiece of your life depends on many factors. Of vital importance though, make shore it is the will of God for you. Likewise and very importantly too, is that time and chances happens to us all.
It is an acceptable fact that if God created the universe and mankind within it, that He knows our bodies, inside out, every bones, every sinews, every vain that circulate blood through us. He knows humanity completely, personally and intimately. He knows our beginning and our ending, because man’s occupation of the earth and allotted time was planned for him from before the beginning of creation. God by planning a Spiritual Kingdom for His Son, drew the blueprint, designed the shape and form, organised the necessary elements, the parts that would make up the building block, then set things in motion by laying the foundation of the world, and institute man that would be the centrepiece of His creation. God planned the activities of man that would culminate in the establishment of the Kingdom for Christ, before the foundations of the world was laid. He knew that for man to fully accomplish his incredible human potential, he needs assistance, as the enemy he would eventually encounter, Satan, is an experience fighter. Mankind on his own does not stand a chance against him, so God pledged him help, the Holy Spirit, as his rescuer, guide and coach, a comforter through his life journey to the Kingdom of His Son, Jesus Christ. God promised “And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days” (Joel 2: 28-29 NIV). Prior to this, Old Testament believers were empowered with the Holy Spirit selectively, now God is promising liberal out pouring. It’s not for the few, but ‘on all people’ for the many believers in Jesus Christ. Jesus repeated this promise of the father to His followers, “On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: ‘Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptised with water, but in a few days you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1: 4-5).
After the reassurance of Christ of the Holy Spirit coming was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost, “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them” (Acts 2: 1-4). The mass gathering of people in Jerusalem from all over the world, saw this strange phenomenon and were amazed, but Peter stood up and address the crowd, in order to put their mind at ease. “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: ‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams’ (Vs: 14-17). However, many if not all faith groups has overlooked or ignored this most important factor in the life of the church making it necessary for reformation. That it is the Holy Spirit who distribute gifts to the Body of Christ! Therefore it is the Holy Spirit order of church leadership and administration that man should follow.
A church ministry research institute done in America, found only 2 percent of church leaders are functioning in their Holy Spirit gifted place of ministry. 98 percent of leaders then are out of simcha with the Holy Spirit. That means that the church internationally is only functioning at approximately 10 percent of its God delegated power, and empowered capacity. The obvious reason why it has no power to carry out the Great Commission of Christ is the Holy Spirit importance is undermined, its directives misunderstood and continuously misapplied.

 

Paul noticed this confusion among the Corinthian saints, (1 Cor. 12), and wrote to correct any ignorance and conception concerning Spiritual Gifts working in the body of Christ. The Corinthians had, as does the modern church a wrong concept as to why Spiritual gifts are given to the church, and how they operate in empowering the body of Christ and to advance the gospel message in the world.
“Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. And verse 3, “Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit”. He went on to explain that there are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work (V. 4-5) and that to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good (V.7). He went on to describe the types of gifts, wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miraculous powers, prophecy, distinguishing between spirits, speaking in different kinds of tongues, interpretation of tongues. (Vs. 8 – 10), and in (V.11) explains that they all are, “the work of one and the same Spirit”, and he, (Holy Spirit), “distributes them to each one, just as he determines”.

Are bible students getting this, it is written in all our bibles, that it is the Holy Spirit that distributes gifts, not our church boards, or seminaries, not the great institutions of learning, universities etc. To Paul the gifts are for to create “Unity and Diversity in the Body” of Christ, not divisions. The misunderstanding that’s permeated the Corinthian church centuries ago still exists today where people elevated certain gifts above others. Paul is clearly saying the Holy Spirit distributed the gifts to the body and none is above another. So no open door policy was left, nor is it down to people to choose their gifts, or for institutions to make people whom they choose gifted. What the institutions are meant to do, is identify people to whom the Holy Spirit distributed the gifts. Then through instruction and training, help to develop and establish them as seasoned and more rounded performer in ministry.
Paul went on (V. 12 – 27), to press home an important point by using the human body as an illustration of unity. “Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ”. It cuts across ethnic, cultural and class barriers, “whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink”. “Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many”. The Holy Spirit would guide the church in making important decisions about appointing the gifted people in their right roles for unity of the body and effectiveness in operations but only when we are careful to obey its leading. Instead of allowing the gifted members to perform certain task, as with the human body, the modern church is packed, infiltrated with self-interest serving people where everybody wants to lead, manage churches, board members, pastor, teacher whether appointed by God or not. As if mirroring the experience of Moses when Aaron and Miriam, rebelled and challenges him for the leadership of Israel. “Has the Lord spoken only through Moses?” they asked. “Hasn’t he also spoken through us?” (Num. 12: 2). The Lord heard their groaning’s and they suffered the consequences of their actions, they were punished, which is happening to today’s churches. It is powerless and weak, because the modern church has failed to submit to God’s order of church leadership and governance, has open the door for that Satanic influences. He hasn’t crept into the church, we open the gates and clearly invited him in. Humanity has inadvertently become Satan’s tools, because of our general attitude of rebellion against God’s authority. This defiance permeated the modern church, where we rebelled against God’s order, of Holy Spirit gifted, ordained and appointed leadership which displays ingratitude but also a rejection of God’s authority.
Now deliberate and reflect carefully, before reacting, around ‘what is the most important God designed organisation in the world’. I make no apology for saying, that it is the body of Christ, bar none! So, why then would we, the international church organisations, the supposed body, treat it with such disdain and disrespect? Read Pauls letter to the Corinthians ‘Over’ and ‘Again’. Then check your lexicons, try different translation, bible dictionaries and commentaries and see if you get the message? Study for text revelation, ask God for text illumination, of the truths therein and not rely on our own ideas. The understanding will come, we will be enlightened why the church internationally is not performing to its ultimate spirit intended maximum potential. The church is s spiritual organisation, is it not? Just as He knows the human physical body, He knows the church, the spiritual body. He knows that if it was up to man to distribute the gifts he would distribute the more desirable gifts to his friends. So as He placed the eye in the head, the feet at the bottom and the hands in the middle, etc., He knows why they are there. Likewise with the spiritual body, He knows why He distributed the gifts, and dictated how, why and where they should operate in the body. Why then do we ignore the spirits delegated modus operandi and instead employ secular terms and conditions to operate and govern the body of Christ?

The church is operating at only 10 percent of its God given Holy Spirit empowered capacity, because of the existence of unqualified leadership that are not Holy Spirit gifted. It means that 98 percent of people in the church leadership internationally, are in the wrong roles. This does not mean that people in leadership are without qualifications in their own secular right. Really, what it means and without any qualifications is that, the gifts the spirit distributes to individuals are ignored by many organisations, and people are instead given or appointed to a role in the church that the spirit did not determined for them. “All these (gifts) are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines”. This means that if the appointed officers’ gifts does not fit the position they inhabit, they are only occupying space.

It means that the church is misplaced because gifts that are distributed for its proper functions are misplaced by organisations! This then resulted in too many people ‘though they mean well’ are given, or appointed to the wrong leadership roles. The road to hell is packed with good intentions, so good intentions are not enough! Saran is the author of this international spiritual blindness and confusion that now enveloped and permeated the church? Church organisations, boards of governance, international management authority will be held accountable. Surely God wants the gospel to be preached effectively, so that humanity can be saved into the Kingdom of His Son. Only Satan, the archenemy of man who is against Gods plan for man. Surely Satan does not wants Gods plan to be accomplish in the church and the world. So he masquerade himself, as an angel of light took up key positions in the churches to block the progress. He is responsible for producing mediocre, ineffective, unlearned leaders in the seat of power, people who cannot interpret the Scriptures and convey the message so people hear, understand and be saved.
The worldwide church, the multiple organisations, that comprised the body of Christ internationally, (or supposedly do), and the myriads of institutions of learning, needs reformation and should face impeachment for its failings. They are to be blamed as they have rebelled against the order of the Holy Spirit. Would Paul and should we the members of Christ body appoint or sanction “wrong” gifted, some novice but privileged to church leadership positions? The biblically ignorant and spiritual babes, who don’t know their gifts, has never taken a gift test, so don’t know where God wants them, never taken any kind of training, not even the minimum course for a pastoral role, a diploma course in theology or divinity, has become leaders! So if one is placed in the wrong roles, has no biblical training, neither experience in leadership, how in all good conscience can he be made overseer in the body of Christ. He is a blind leader of the blind, as they know no better and because the people likes it so. Someone once said that, “no one can lead someone further than he has gone himself”. Really, how can we lead someone where we ourselves has never been? American pastor, public speaker and author, John C. Maxwell once said, “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way”. The truth of this statement is so blatantly obvious, even spiritually blind people can understand it. How then can a leader in the body of Christ, and spiritually sited people cannot see it? How can a leader train others, if he himself does not have the gift, has no prior training or experience? Can anyone now see why the church has no teeth, struggling and has limited effect in the world?
The instruction of Paul to the Corinthians are that the gifted are to teach others to do the work of ministry. “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up” (Eph. 4: 11-12). So that the principal purpose for which all of the spiritual gifts are distributed among the members is to build up the Body of Christ, the church. Paul reminded the saints in Rome, (Romans 12:4-6), that we are all one body in Christ and that each of the members of a body belong to the other members, even though they have different functions. How many present leaders, apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors etc. are known today who have the gift, been trained and have the ability then to train others? How many do not have the gift to preach or ‘prophesy’, to interpret and prepare homilies, or lessons from the Scriptures? Not able to develop training materials for the church on biblical doctrine or even write a proper discourse or lecture? Humility goes out the window for many, because the role of the spirit gift distribution is downplayed, in many cases none acknowledged. Anyone who shows an interest, is in the right place or apply for the role is appointed, without question, even on the basis of friendship, buddyism and personal preference. For many wannabies it is not about spiritual qualification but about the power and prestige, the status and honours those upfront roles yields. Going back to the bible and Paul’s instruction, is the first steps in reforming the process, because it is the Holy Spirit that appoints by giving or distributed the gifts for ministry, not church boards. We forget as well, that those most obvious roles, the much sought after leadership roles are ‘servant leadership’ roles, not Lordship ones! Pauls advice to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 12) must always be at the forefront of our minds when we pursue an office.

The church then has an important task of submitting to the spirits directives and gift test its membership, identify the spiritually gifted in a certain field before training and appointment. Those up for appointment should in turn do a deep soul searching, and ask ourselves the question, is this my gift or where God wants me? Ask God, and seek the Holy Spirit guidance, then ask the church to do a gift search analysis. Many ask their friends, as sometimes members of the church can see our gifts before we do. Once we determine our gifts, we should not run ahead and start leading or preaching. Again after gift identity, training for personal development should be the obvious response, then there should be an internship or probationary period before taking up the most important office on earth. Nonetheless those already appointed should ascertain that they are in their gifted roles, then get ourselves into training to get the necessary improvement and so we can effectively perform in the office. If you are called on by your board to serve, ask them questions, and if you feel unqualified, refuse it. Better the refusal early when you are ill prepared for office, than to take it and find yourself struggling, and have to resign in shame. However, to the shame of many no matter how ill-equipped and badly they perform will not see the need for reformation. If they help you to identify your gift, it’s a start, then ask them are they willing to foot the bill for your training. If they refused, then don’t take the office, you will become part of the problem not the solution.

Too many people, many ministry leaders are in the wrong roles and are too ego driven to admit it. The taste of the office is so alluring to many that even when they recognise their limitations will still assume the office to their own shame. For the Holy Spirit will not indict the board only but you also for taken it when you know you do not qualify.
The Holy Spirit in distributing, gifts had no problem with one who has secular disciplines, has a PHD, is a scientist, an engineer, and philosopher or have a world of experience in any field. These skills are important in their own rights and in some organisations used to compliment and is enhanced by the Holy Spirit to help the church in numerous ways. However, secular disciplines are not enough to be appointed to the most important offices in the church. Christ body or church leadership should only be through the Holy Spirit gifts and follow up training should be nothing less than in biblical matters. Paul’s instruction is that church leadership should be based only on biblical themes, scriptural knowledge, and spiritual maturity, not on manmade systems. Understanding hermeneutics is key in leadership, because church leaders need that skill to interpret the Scriptures, the biblical literature and its message which was not originally written in English.

If we do not have the gifts from God, apostles, prophets, evangelist, pastors, teachers etc. distributed solely by and through the Holy Spirit, why are we in those roles? Undoubtedly we will stumble along, possibly some get by, but by and large our performance in the pulpit will lack effectiveness and credibility. This is how and where many church leaders are today, just getting along, but barely getting by. We are not being honest to ourselves, and to the church of God. If we are appointed to a role, and we know we are not qualify for it we should refuse it. We should be able to see our limitations and admit it, and only humility does that.
Many organisations create and develop leaders to accomplish their organisational goals. If someone in a job and they notice any shortfall they may have, they send them on training courses, so they can better perform their task. Some secular organisations are able to see a certain potential in others, and know where their strengths are, so they are given further opportunities. Though the majority of churches operates like this, by appointing leaders, then train and develop them in those roles, it has very limited success. The church is very different, and should not operate like secular organisations. As it is the Holy Spirit determines and distributes the gifts in their various office or mode of operation in the body of Christ. The gifts are not given by church organisations, committees or boards, but by the Holy Spirit! The body of Christ then has the duty of identifying the spiritually gifted, acknowledge them, and then train people in how to fulfil their gifted roles effectively. Church leaders cannot effectively perform in the office we are given, if we are not spiritually appointed and then train to deliver effectively. It is like trying to force square pegs in a round holes, it will not happen!

Church boards have the power to appoint leaders to offices, give license and credentials based on their constitution, but if the appointment is not on biblical principles they are just adding numbers. The international church needs to get back to the bible. From Paul’s message to the Corinthians, we acknowledge that church authority do not distribute Spiritual gifts to its members, God does through His Holy Spirit! So what is this most important role of church organisations as opposed to secular ones? Simply this, they are to identify the gifted members, open up training opportunity, facilitate or encourage training, then appoint. It is not appoint then train, it the other way round, Identify (gifts) – Train –Appoint! After understanding Paul’s encouragement to the Corinthians, there should be a whole pile of soul searching and resignation from leadership and church boards, going on right now.
But ego gets in the way, many leaders lacks humility, don’t know or will admit their limitations but see the appointment to office as a progression, i.e. first a Deacon, then an evangelist, then a pastor, so they will not resign. The question then is, who develop this model, is it even biblical? Where in the bible can it be found? Not thinking or even aware that we are already rejected, and cannot see that we are not performing, because self stands in the way. Some people genuinely think they are in the right role, but why? The research done in America reveals that too many people are appointed to the wrong positions, primarily because of limited availability and years of service. Church leadership should not be about convenience or whose face fits ‘buddyism’, it a Holy Spirit determined and gift distribution, God directed role. The church identify, facilitate training then appointed to office and effectiveness will be seen and felt. And even after training is ascertained, no leader should take up this awesome responsibility of the most important organisation in the world, the body of Christ, but instead do a period of internship, under a seasoned campaigner or under guidance of a more experienced elder!

PART 2 NEXT TIME.

Fasting by God’s Design

How meaningful is our yearly fasting before God and does it make us ready for supper? As the world of Christianity prepare for one of the most important ceremonies in its yearly calendar, taking the ‘Lord Supper’, many are undoubtedly engaging in or planning a series of fasting meetings, as it were, ‘to make ourselves ready’ or ‘worthy’ to take the supper. This because many interprets Paul’s message to the Corinthians, (1 Cor. 11), who were taking the Lords supper in an ‘unworthy’ manner, to mean spiritual inadequacy, corruption and ungodliness. The unworthy manner Paul clearly addresses was a lack of respect, visible by their haste to eat, not waiting for others, gluttonous behaviour, not eating at home but looking for a belly full, even getting drunk on the wine’, and as such not recognising the solemnity of the ceremony and the important symbolism it represents.

Firstly, if it was about holiness, then no man is holy to take the supper. Secondly, no man knows the time or hour of the Lords return, He may come as a thief in the night, if we are not already prepared, and we will not have any notice to prepare. Visionary interpreters and preachers have warned that this type of yearly exercise of rigorous fasting before supper, is not in line with Scripture, because if we are not already ready and prepared to take the supper, then we are not ready for the Lords imminent but sudden return. So the supper is not about being ‘unworthy’ in the sense of being sinful to take it, but ‘unworthy’ in the sense of not recognising the significance of what the symbols ‘unleavened bread and wine’ of the Lord’s supper represents, Christ death, His blood shed for humanity’s sins, being our Passover Lamb.

Israel’s by God’s Design

Israel in mourning the destruction of the Temple, went on a series of fasting, but was it fasting for God’s benefits or theirs?

‘Ask all the people of the land and the priests, ‘When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months for the past seventy years, was it really for me that you fasted?’ (Zech. 7:5 NIV)

In the fourth year of King Darius’ rule, a delegation is sent to the Prophet Zechariah in Jerusalem) by the Jews who remained in Babylonia. They enquired Zechariah whether they should continue fasting and mourning the destruction of the first Temple since the Jewish people had returned to the Land of Israel and had begun rebuilding the Holy Temple. Is it appropriate to continue to fast and mourn over the destruction of the Temple, as they have been doing annually for decades?  The prophet’s response is clear. In God’s eyes, fasting and other external signs of mourning have no value if not complemented with sincere repentance and principled behaviour (V. 9-10). This answer was directed to the inhabitants of the Land of Israel, as well. The Jews in this period made the physical return to the Land of Israel, but their actions needed to match the spirituality and morality required of the inhabitants of the Promised Land. Israel made sacrifices to return to the land but it was their actions that carry the most spiritual significance for the world.

I will submit that if the world, both Jew and gentile truly desire to know the will of God in doubtful matters, we must not only consult his word and gifted interpreters, but seek his direction by fervent prayer and fasting. As those who would know God’s mind should consult with God’s ministers and, in doubtful cases, such as ‘Lord Supper and fasting’ should seek advice of those whose spiritual giftedness make it their business to search for the truth in the Scriptures. The Jews seemed to question whether they ought to continue their fasts, seeing that the city and temple were likely to be finished soon. The first answer to their inquiry is a sharp reproof of hypocrisy. These fasts were not acceptable to God, unless observed in a better manner, and to better purposes. There fasts was the form of duty, but no life, or soul, or power in their prayers. Holy callisthenics are to be done to God, looking to His word as a rule thumb, and His glory as our goal, seeking to please God and obtain His favour.

However, self-gratification was at the centre of all Israel’s actions, and so it seems for us in modern Christendom. For God it was not enough to sacrifice or weep on fasting days. Rather they should have searched the Scriptures and enquire of the prophets message, that they might have seen what was the ground of God’s controversy with their fathers. Whether Jew or gentile are in prosperity or adversity, we must be called upon to leave our sins, and to do our duty of representing God in all season, living holy lives. The season of Lord Supper should not find us napping, that we have to arrange special fasting to get us ready for the day. If you find yourselves in this situation I suggest you take a serious look on what Paul meant by ‘unworthy’ in his advice to the Corinthians.

What is the Gold on the Mantelpiece of our Lives?

The Gold on the Mantelpiece of Life

As the first month of 2018 draws to a close, let us take some time out of our busy schedule to do a little reflection together. This may be one, not the most but, may be one of the most important decisions you ever made. January is the first month of the year in the Julian and Gregorian calendars and the first month to have the length of 31 days. The first day of the month is celebrated as New Year’s Day, partying and much fanfare welcomes the day. It is, on average, the coldest month of the year within most of the Northern Hemisphere (Europe etc.) and the warmest month of the year within most of the Southern Hemisphere (Australia etc.). In the Southern hemisphere, January is the seasonal equivalent of July in the Northern hemisphere and vice versa. Ancient Roman observances during this month.

Originally the Roman year had 10 named months Martius ‘March’, Aprilis ‘April’, Maius ‘May’, Junius ‘June’, Quintilis ‘July’, Sextilis ‘August’, September ‘September’, October ‘October’, November ‘November’, December ‘December’, and probably two unnamed months in the dead of winter when not much happened in agriculture. The year began with Martius ‘March’. Numa Pompilius, the second king of Rome circa 700 BC, added the two months Januarius mensis ‘month of Janus’ or ‘January’ and Februarius mensis ‘month of Februa’ or ‘February’.  Pompilius also moved the beginning of the year from Marius to Januarius and changed the number of days in several months to be odd, a lucky number. After Februarius there was occasionally an additional month of Intercalaris ‘inter-calendar’. This is the origin of the leap-year day being in February. However, in 46 BC, Julius Caesar reformed the Roman calendar (hence the Julian calendar) changing the number of days in many months and removing Intercalaris.

Many ethnic groups then add meanings and symbolism to months, listen to daily horoscope readings because their future lies with the movement and interpretations of the starts. This may sound familiar but it is worth repeating, that whatever the month you were born in, ‘that life is what we make it’. Your future does not depend on the month you were born in, or your star signs, it is about the purpose for which you were born. You were placed here by God’s design not a lunar eclipse. The most fun part of our life experience and purpose on earth is having a target to aim at.

Got you? What direction did you think this was taken? Arguments or discussions about the meaning of months, and how they affect your life? No, not even close my friends. So, then, It’s not so much about months, the beginning of months or even making January, or New Year’s resolutions. As for whether we know it consciously planned it, or unconsciously drift towards it, we all aim for something in life, to have a firm foundation. Parents want their children to do better than they, and sometimes they set the foundation for their kids. We planned for and work towards a good education, that will land us a good paying job, get married to build a house to have loads of money or even loosely, just maybe to achieve anything or something special. Because, we all need to aim our lives in a meaningful direction, our relationship with Christ should be at the forefront of our goals. Yes, some of us have these more certain tangible goals, like may be seeking God first, ‘But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well’ (Matt. 6. 33). What is the Gold on the Mantelpiece of our Lives? Putting Christ first is the first step to upgrading our spiritual status! Then winning at least one person to Jesus Christ, should be part of our life’s plan. Or for those who have the ministry call and spiritually gifted, a course for personal educational training and development. Which is professionally equipping oneself for excellence rather than below par and mediocre ministry performance.

Then again, maybe some of us have been thinking about starting a new Neighbourhood Bible study or even starting a new church. Possibly then 2018 could be the year when that we embark on that new initiative, possibly begin a new career, for some even retirement, some writing a book, singing a new song or just a commitment to living healthy. This should not be a goal for the year starting January 2018 only. I would not put it past some of our more ambitious folks to consider, even take steps to run for public office, no biblical objection and none from me. In fact, the more Christians entering in public office, it is the better and more emphatic our personal and response services would be. So what that everybody’s goals are different? It is healthy even a good and positive thing to have one or two golds. This is life achievement go0al, given pride of place on the mantelpiece. Often we see people embarked on a course of action because they want a constructive self-disciplined program to pursue.

Again for emphasis, we all need a purpose for being, something to live for, something to get out of bed, aim and shoot our life arrows at, that something that will make life a bit more interesting. Having a purpose increases our zest, our enthusiasm and passion for life and it can be infectious. We welcome the break of each day and greet each moment with joy and anticipation. Alternatively, if we just drift, having nothing to aim at, to hope for, and to work toward leaves us, the body of Christ internationally a bit flaccid, our energy sapped by life’s circumstances and we remain sometimes hopeless and depressed.

 

Christian worldview?

Dear Friends,

2018 has come like a thief in the night, it wasn’t long ago that we were welcoming in 2017 with much fanfare and fireworks, but it fizzled out with little more than a whimper. Oh pray tell, where did the time go?

I am not sure if any, some or all of you has ever been faced with the question of ‘what is a worldview? Let alone a ‘Christian worldview?

It in a wider sense, can be considered ‘a particular philosophy of life or conception of the world’.  So that a ‘Christian world view revolves around the battle of good and evil. Synonyms attached: beliefs · credo · faith · convictions · ideology · ideas · thinking · notions · theories · doctrine · tenets · values · principles · ethics · attitude · line · view · viewpoint · outlook · world view · school of thought etc.

Some dictionary defines it the following ways:

‘A comprehensive conception or apprehension of the world especially from a specific standpoint’ – Merriam-Webster.

‘A particular philosophy of life or conception of the world… i.e.

‘I have broadened my worldview by experiencing a whole new culture’ – Oxford English Dictionary

‘A comprehensive, esp. personal, philosophy or conception of the world and of human life’ – Collins English Dictionary.

What they are concluding together is that a ‘worldview’ denotes an all-inclusive conception of the world from a specific standpoint. So that a ‘Christian worldview’, can be interpreted as a comprehensive conception of the world from a Christian standpoint. A person’s worldview is his ‘big picture’, a harmony of all his/her beliefs about the world. It is our way of understanding reality as opposed to concepts. So our worldview is the basis for making daily decisions and is therefore extremely important to us.

For example a bowl of grapes sitting on a table is seen by several people. And a botanist looking at the grapes classifies as is. An artist sees a still-life and draws it. A grocer sees an asset and catalogues it. A child sees lunch and eats it. How we look at any situation is influenced by how we look at the world at large. Every worldview, Christian and non-Christian, deals with at least these three questions:

1) Where did mankind come from? (Where did we originate and why are we here?)

2) What is wrong with the world? (Where did this decay come from?)

3) How can it be fixed? (Who will fix it?)

 

Of the many dominant worldviews in modern times, humanism, atheism, naturalism, etc. naturalism which answers the three questions like this: 1) Humanity are the product of random acts of nature with no real purpose. 2) Man do not respect nature as he should. 3) Mankind can save the world through ecology and conservation. So that a naturalistic worldview generates many related philosophies such as moral relativism, existentialism, pragmatism, and utopianism.

Of greater impact on our world, and on man himself is the Christian worldview, as it answers the three questions biblically, therefore authoritatively: 1) Humankind are the unique creation of God, designed to govern the universe and have communion with Him (Genesis 1:27-28; 2:15). 2) Adam and Eve the first humans sinned against God and subjected the whole human family to a curse (Genesis 3). 3) God Himself has redeemed the world through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ (Genesis 3:15; Luke 19:10), and greater still is the hope for mankind, God will one day restore His creation to its former perfect state (Isaiah 65:17-25). Therefore, a Christian worldview leads mankind to believe in moral principles, miracles, human self-worth, and the possibility of redemption through Christ.

Therefore, it is important to remember that a worldview is comprehensive. It affects every area of life, from money to morality, from politics to art. True Christianity is more than a set of dogmas to repeat at church gatherings. Christianity as was practiced by Christ and taught by the apostles in the Biblical text, is itself a worldview. The Scriptures never differentiates between a ‘religious’ and a ‘secular’ life; the Bible presumed that the Christian life is the only life there is. Jesus Christ proclaimed Himself ‘the way, the truth, and the life’ (John 14:6) and, in following Him leaves no alternative path to redemption and salvation, that is humanity’s worldview!

Does God love us, Humankind?

Love is one of the most used, yet one of the most misused and abused word in human language. How often have we used it, say it, sing it, think it, and even write about it? Yet it widely remains either misunderstood or misapplied. How often have you heard “I love you” from someone who ends up hurting you the most? So what is love? Paul gave the folks in Corinth (1Cor. 13), a great lesson on what true love is. He gave love, its true definition in human terms, but also how it is applied in the great scheme of things less they have any doubt. But read this, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: he sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Saviour of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. Considering how humanity treat each other, how life means nothing, this is hard to take in, isn’t it? On top of that consider the estimated 4 ½ million babies aborted each year. The world rage war against Hitler, and we join in condemning him for his death chambers, yet the womb has become death camp for millions in the name of modernity. When will we start loving the loveless, the helpless those with the greatest needs among us?

The greatest expression of God’s love is communicated to us in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”. Romans 5:8 proclaims the same message: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us”. Clearly, from these verses it is God’s greatest desire that we join Him in His eternal kingdom. He has made the way possible by paying the price for our sins. He loves us because He chose to as an act of His will. Love forgives. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). So, the concept of God loving people is prevalent throughout the Bible. Most famously, it appears in John 3:16, which assures us that God loves the world to the highest degree, and gave his only Son, the greatest gift, that id humanity believes in him we will have eternal life. But what exactly does this divine love consist of? The answer might very well be found in the original language of the Bible, Hebrew.

Love in Old Testament

In Deuteronomy, we find a seemingly very strange commandment: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all of your soul and with all of your might” (Deut. 6:5). But wait. How can you force yourself to have a feeling? However, the Biblical “love” that is portrayed in this verse is very different from the “love” that we find in romance novels and Hollywood movies. The Hebrew word for love in this verse is ‘ahav’. This word does not refer to passionate or amorous love. The word ‘ahav’ at its most basic level refers to loyalty. Loving God means being faithful to Him alone. Israel in the commandments was commanded to love God only, and whenever they strayed and served some unknown god, they were severely punished for their unfaithfulness.

Engage in Biblical Study

So, what does it mean that God is love? Love is an attribute of God. Love is a core aspect of God’s character, His Person. God’s love is in no sense in conflict with His holiness, righteousness, justice, or even His wrath. All of God’s attributes are in perfect harmony. Everything God does is loving, just as everything He does is just and right. God is the perfect example of true love. Amazingly, God has given those who receive His Son Jesus as their personal Savior the ability to love as He does, through the power of the Holy Spirit (John 1:12; 1 John 3:1, 23-24). The message that we derived from these teachings are that the Bible is not concerned with subjective inner feelings, but with objective outward actions. Do you yearn to be loyal to a loving God? “Today, if you hear his voice do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion” (Hebrews 3: 7, 15; Psalm 95: 1-7). Additionally, if you are thirsty for the insider’s perspective into the Biblical message, or to broaden your concept on love, now is the time to become active in a Biblical study.

Life’s Timeless Treasures

Live for today

My fellow citizens, my countrymen and women, brothers and sisters, males and females, children, lend me your ears. I was young and now I am old, and I am privileged to learn, life experiences have taught me that the past cannot be changed. We look back and we wonder about what might have been if we had done things differently, take another road. But things happen the way they did because they deliver you sound on this side. Things happened the way they did, and just maybe God was working in your favour. Use this opportunity to thank God for taking us here, for just maybe if we had taken another road, we would not be here today. We can look back if we may, but not desirous of going back there. Life goes on, it moves forward, so we must appreciate the past for what it was, a life shaper and live in the now.

Other’s opinions is not our Reality

I have learned that we should never let people’s opinions of us define our reality, who we are and what we will become. It must be our utility, what we do and say that defines us. Yet despite this knowledge, this powerful reality, we still allow others dictum to define us. “The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts” (Prov. 16: 8; 26: 22). Why are we so hung up with what people say about us though? If people love each other, if we love as God loves, would we spread evil things about others, critique, cut them behind their backs? Every person has experienced the hurt of gossip at some point in our lives. And most if not all are guilty of this negative activity. Whether when we speak we did not mean direct mischief, always the result of chinwag is broken trust and wounded spirits. “The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit” (Prov. 15: 4). Jabber can be defined as information about the behaviour or personal life of people we know, often about our friends, without the full truth revealed or known. In His Words God warns that we stay away from people who gossip and to guard our words when we speak about others!

Tame the Tongue

But its hard thing to tame the tongue. “Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell” (James 3: 5-7). Scripture also uses the word (slander) or defamation which means making a false spoken statement damaging to a person’s reputation. We do this with such ease that it becomes part of us. Yet slander can destroy someone’s reputation, their marriage, job, prosperity, and even wreck families. The tongue has the power to kill and give life, and we must be careful with how we use our words. “You who practise deceit, your tongue plots destruction; it is like a sharpened razor” (Psa. 52: 2). The Bible tells us what words we should speak and which we should not. If we are struggling with gossip or know someone who gossips a lot, study the sections of the Bible that advised on gossip and choose to help put a stop to it. The best thing though is if you hear them, stop them, and tell them you don’t want them to assassinate the brother/sister you love. Why should it matter what people say? Gossip is damaging to the teller as well as the one who hears it. You start to see them in a negative light and their image is tainted forever. However, as bad as it may be, we should never allow what is said of us to shape us, nor determine our future?

Same journey, different experiences

Woody Allen said, “Men learn to love the woman they are attracted to. Women learn to become attracted to the man they fall in love with”. That every man and woman Journeys toward a goal in their life’s but with different experiences and see things from different perspectives. There are some things we both, males and females share, but a man and woman cannot understand why the opposite sex cannot see things the same way. ‘Men are from Mars, women are from Venus’ is a phrase we often use to explain the differences between us. So many spend time trying to change each other either to their point of view or to what the other should be. Barbara Streisand asked, “Why does a woman work ten years to change a man, then complain he’s not the man she married?” I suppose this may require an answer, but not necessarily so, we all want something unique to us. Yet the truth is as someone once remarked, “Behind every great man, there is a great woman”. Many men become great because of the help and support of his woman. A man was made to need a woman and vice versa, we cannot live without each other.

Don’t give up – Don’t give in – Don’t go under – Don’t let go!

Things always get better with time, if we are patient to wait. I am old enough to know. The judgements we pass on others are a confession and testament of our own character, our own weaknesses and failures. So tame the tongue, we should make the effort to say good things about other people. For life is simple, but we complicate it by our many business concerns and dabbling in other people’s affairs? So get a grip, maybe some needs a suitcase to go.

Likewise, overthinking matters will lead to stress and sadness, but remember the power of positive thinking. As positive thoughts create positive experiences, live in the celebration mood and rent a room on Positive Avenue.

We must learn the lessons of life well, we cannot please everyone, nor should we try to, so we must please ourselves. And we should make the effort not to value people on the basis of their material wealth, the strength of their bank account because if we do, it is a testimony to our spiritual bankruptcy. When we die, we cannot take wealth with us, money may preserve life, getting the best doctors, medication etc. but when we go it cannot buy life back. Comfort and joy that comes from money, that wealth and goal do not last, only what is done for Christ will last, He is forever. True happiness is from within, not from without, material things are momentary, but love, joy and peace are contagious, but hate kills,

Remember that goes around comes around, whatever you do to others will return to you, whether love or hate.  Nobody said the race of life would be easy, and you only fail if you quit the race. Get up brothers and sisters – Stand up and take your rightful place in the world. “You will be twice defeated in the race of life” (Marcus Garvey) if you fail to see. Don’t give up – Don’t give in – Don’t go under – Don’t let go!

 Faith vs Reason

Certain philosophers argue that faith without reason is blind therefore worthless and irrational, and can not be substantiated by reasoned arguments. Many Christians view that kind of philosophy as an enemy of the faith and view the rationality arguments as in conflict with their faith, separated by some unbridgeable gap between the two sides. Christians hold the view that there is no compatibility between the two concepts, as where one starts the other stops. However, and in fact, faith and reason work together effortlessly, it’s what some in Christian theology refers to as apologetics,  which aims to present historical, reasoned and evidential basis for the defence of the Christian faith, and aid Christ followers know and love the creator.

As faith is defines as a belief in inspiration, revelation or authority, for Christian that authority is God as revealed in the Scriptures. Though the word faith sometimes denotes a belief that is held with the absence of rationality or proof, or a belief that is held in spite of or against rationality or proof, it can also refer to belief based on a degree of evidential certification.  To put them into some kind of categorisation of views regarding the relationship between faith and reason, on the one side is ‘Rationalism’ which argues that truth should be determine by reason and factual analysis, rather than faith, dogma, tradition or religious teachings. However, on the opposite side, is ‘Fideism, which maintains that faith is necessary, and that beliefs may be held without any evidence or reason and even in conflicts with evidence and reason. For many Christians, true faith and correct reason are good companions, when argues properly. However, though God called Israel to reason, ‘Come now, let us settle the matter,’ says the Lord. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool’ (Isaiah 1: 18), many genuine Christians identify a conflict between reason and faith. However, Christians are to have a strong reason for what they believe, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (1Peter 3:15). Therefore, Christian theologians must take up the challenge to demonstrate to sceptics that belief in God as revealed in the Scriptures is rational, warranted, and plausibly defendable.

The teachings of the scripture are, people should have faith, to believe in God, and Christians are expected to have confidence in Him alone and not lean on man,  “This is what the Lord says: ‘Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the Lord” (Jer. 17: 5). The scriptures further exhorts, “For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed – a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith” (Romans 1:17). There is no alternative in this; Christians are encouraged to have faith in God irrespective of whether Gods words in the bible make rational sense to us.

So are people, or Christians expected to live by reason or by faith in God alone? Should Christians trust his intelligence, depends on rational deductions, and so discard the teachings of the Scriptures that do not make perfect sense to him? Alternatively, should he accept the teachings of Bible without respect to reason or rationality, even if it does not make any sense?

The ostensible struggle between faith and reason distresses many Christians, but when they are viewed in the biblical context correctly, such superficial conflict evaporates. “The Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus and tested him by asking him to show them a sign from heaven. He replied, ‘When evening comes, you say, “It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,” and in the morning, “Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.” You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.’ Jesus then left them and went away” (Matt 16: 1-4).

Jesus responded to this use of observation and reasoning in verse 3b: “You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky.” In other words, you know how to use your eyes and your minds to draw right conclusions when it comes to the natural world. In other words, he approves of their use of experiential reflection and rational discussion.

In fact, it’s precisely this approval that makes the following disapproval valid. He says in verse 3c, “But you cannot interpret the signs of the times.” And when he says, “You cannot,” he does not mean you don’t have the sensory and rational capacities to do what needs to be done. He just showed them that they do in fact have the sensory and rational capacities to do what needs to be done. They are very adept at observation and deliberation when it comes to getting along in this world. Why then can’t they use those same faculties to interpret the signs of the times? The answer is given in verse 4: “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” What does this mean? What does being adulterous have to do with their inability to use their eyes and their minds to interpret the signs that is, to recognize Jesus for who he is.

Mark Twain once defined faith as ‘believing what you know aren’t so’. Perhaps this is what many people have in mind when they think of the word faith. Indeed some people seem to pride themselves in their belief in the irrational thinking that such ‘faith’ is very pious. “Why do I believe in the Bible? Well, I guess I just have faith’. But is this what the Bible means when it uses the word faith? Not at all. The Bible does not promote a belief in the irrational or any type of unwarranted “blind faith.” Some people have said, “Faith takes over where reason leaves off.” Taken this way, rationality is seen as a bridge that reaches only partway across a great chasm; faith is needed to complete the bridge and reach the other side. People who take this view would say that Christianity cannot be proven, that reason leads us most of the way to God and then we must make a “leap of faith” in order to say that Jesus is Lord. This is a very common view among Christians. But this is not what God’s Word teaches about faith.

The Bible itself tells us what faith is. Hebrews 11:1 tells us that faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. So biblical faith is not blind but is strongly warranted confidence. The phrase “hoped for” does not imply a mere wishful thinking as in “I sure hope the weather is nice next week.” Rather, the Greek word (ελπιζω) indicates a confident expectation: the kind of confidence we have when we have a good reason to believe something. Biblically, faith is having confidence in something you have not experienced with your senses. Biblical faith is not “blind”; it’s not the act of “believing without a reason.” Just the opposite; biblical faith is the act of believing in something unseen for which we do have a good reason. For example, when we believe that God will keep a promise, this constitutes faith because we cannot “see” it and yet we have a good reason for it: God has demonstrated that He keeps His promises.

As many people have misunderstandings of faith, they also have misunderstandings of reason. Reason is a tool that God has given us that allows us to draw conclusions and inferences from other information, such as the information He has given us in His Word. Reason is an essential part of Christianity; God tells us to reason (Isaiah 1:18) as the apostle Paul did (Acts 17:17). In fact, I could not know that I am saved apart from using reason. The Bible tells us that “if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). I have genuinely acknowledged that Jesus is Lord, and I believe that God raised Him from the dead. Therefore, I am saved. I must use logical reasoning to draw this conclusion. This is perfectly appropriate and is the kind of reasoning God expects us to use. We are to reason from the principles of God’s Word.

People misuse reason when they frame their worldview apart from God’s Word. This can involve either treating reason as its own ultimate standard (in other words, a replacement for God’s Word) or tossing it aside as irrelevant to faith. Neither of these positions is biblical. We are never to attempt to reason in opposition to the Word of God. That is to say we are not to treat God’s Word as a mere hypothesis that is subject to our fallible understanding of the universe. This, after all, was Eve’s mistake. She attempted to use her mind and senses to Judge God’s Word (Genesis 3:6). This was sinful and irrational; she was trying to use a fallible standard to judge an infallible one. We are never to “reason” in such an absurd, sinful way. Instead, we are supposed to reason from God’s Word, taking it as our ultimate unquestionable starting point. Any alternative is arbitrary and self-refuting.4 Reason is not a substitute for God; rather, it is a gift from God. On the other hand, we are not to reject reason. God is rational,5 and so we should be, too (Ephesians 5:1). We are commanded to seek wisdom and understanding (Proverbs 4:5, 7). God wants us to use the mind He has given us. But He wants us to use our minds properly, in a way that is honouring to Him.

Biblical faith and biblical reasoning actually work very well together. In fact, faith is a prerequisite for reason. In order to reason about anything we must have faith that there are laws of logic, which correctly prescribe the correct chain of reasoning. Since laws of logic cannot be observed with the senses, our confidence in them is a type of faith. For the Christian, it is a reasonable, justified faith. The Christian would expect to find a standard of reasoning that reflects the thinking of the biblical God; that’s what laws of logic are.6 On the other hand, the unbeliever cannot account for laws of logic with his or her own worldview. Since laws of logic are necessary for reasoning, and since the Christian faith is the only faith system that can make sense of them,8 it follows that the Christian faith is the logical foundation for all reasoning (Proverbs 1:7; Colossians 2:3). This isn’t to say, of course, that non-Christians cannot reason. Rather, it simply means they are being inconsistent when they reason; they are borrowing from a worldview contrary to the one they profess.

Since reason would be impossible without laws of logic, which stem from the Christian faith, we have a very good reason for our faith: without our faith we could not reason. Even unbelievers (inconsistently) rely upon Christian principles, such as logic, whenever they reason about anything. So the Christian has a good reason for his or her faith. In fact, the Christian faith system makes reason possible. Although reasoning from the Scriptures is an important part of the Christian’s life, reason alone is not sufficient to lead us to Christ. After the fall of Adam, human beings no longer possessed the ability to correctly understand spiritual matters (1 Corinthians 2:14). It is our nature to distort the truth (2 Peter 3:16). So we need the help of the Holy Spirit even to understand and accept the fact that Jesus is Lord (1 Corinthians 12:3). This explains why it is impossible to “reason someone into heaven.” Salvation is accomplished by God’s grace received through faith in Christ alone (Ephesians 2:8; Romans 3:24; Titus 3:5). Ultimately, the Holy Spirit convinces people and enables them to receive Christ (John 16:8–15). Some may ask, “Why then should we do apologetics? Why should we try to reason with people if it is the Holy Spirit who will ultimately convince them?”

First, God tells us to. We are to be ready at all times to give a good reason for our faith (1 Peter 3:15). So it is our duty as followers of Christ to preach the gospel (2 Timothy 4:2) and reason with unbelievers (Acts 17:17). Second, God can bless our discussions with unbelievers and use them as part of the process by which He brings people to Himself (Romans 10:13–14). Although Christ alone accomplishes salvation, God has given us the privilege of telling others about this good news and making a reasoned defence of it.

Reasoning is a crucial part of defending the faith. But we must always keep in mind that conversion is up to God alone. It is not our job to “convince” the unbeliever—nor can we. It is our job to make a good case; it is the Holy Spirit’s prerogative alone to bring repentance.

One Christian may plant a seed, and another water it, but God alone brings the increase (1 Corinthians 3:6–7). Nevertheless, the New Testament speaks of the use of our minds everywhere in the process of Christian conversion and growth and obedience. For example, at least ten times in the book of Acts, Luke says that Paul’s strategy was to “reason” with people in his effort to convert them and build them up (Acts 17:2, 4, 17; 18:4, 19; 19:8, 9; 20:7, 9; 24:25). And Paul said to the Corinthians that he would rather speak five words with his mind to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue (1 Corinthians 14:19). He said to the Ephesians, “When you read this, you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ” (Ephesians 3:4). In other words, engaging the mind in the highly intellectual task of reading and construing Paul’s language is a pathway into the mystery God has given him to reveal.

And perhaps most helpful of all is the word to Timothy about the relationship of reason and divine illumination. In 2 Timothy 2:7, he says, “Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.” So many people swerve off the road to one side of this verse or the other. Some stress “think over what I say.” They emphasize the indispensable role of reason and thinking. And they often minimize the supernatural role of God in making the mind able to see and embrace the truth. Others stress the second half of the verse: “And the Lord will give you understanding in everything.” They emphasize the futility of reason without God’s illumining work. “The Lord will give you understanding.”

But Paul will not be divided this way. He says: not either-or, but both-and. “Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.” The willingness of God to give us understanding is the ground of our thinking, not the substitute for our thinking. “Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding.” There is no reason to think that a person who thinks without prayerful trust in God’s gift of understanding will get it. And there is no reason to think that a person who waits for God’s gift of understanding without thinking about his word will get it either.

Paul commands us to think about what he says. Use your mind. Engage your reasoning powers when you hear the word of God. Jesus warned what happens if we don’t and what blessing may come if we do. In the parable of the soils, he said concerning the seed sown on the path: “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart.” Understanding with the mind is not optional. Our lives hang on it. And concerning the seed sown on good soil, he says, “This is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty” (Matthew 13:23).

It is true that, as Paul says in Romans 10:17, “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” But Jesus says that hearing without understanding produces nothing. When we hear the word of God, Paul says, we must “think over” what we hear. Otherwise, we will fall under the indictment of Jesus: “Hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand” (Matthew 13:13).

So, even though our natural minds are depraved and darkened and foolish, nevertheless, the New Testament demands that we use them in coming to faith and leading people to faith and in the process of Christian growth and obedience. There is no way to awaken faith or strengthen faith that evades right thinking. Before we ponder how that can be, in view of how corrupt we are, we turn briefly from the focus on reason to consider the nature of faith.

The only kind of faith that matters in the end is saving faith — the faith that unites us to Christ so that his righteousness is counted as ours in justification, and his power flows into us for sanctification. In other words, I am not interested in faith in general — the faith of other religions that is not faith in Christ, or the faith of science in the validity of its first principles, or the faith of children in their parents, or any other kind of faith that is not in Christ. I am only interested in the faith that obtains eternal life. The faith that saves. The faith that justifies (Romans 3:28; Galatians 2:16) and sanctifies (Acts 26:18; 1 Peter 4:11).

To get at the nature of that faith, it is helpful to ponder why faith alone justifies. Why not love, or some other virtuous disposition? Here’s the way J. Gresham Machen answers this question in his 1925 book, What Is Faith?

The true reason why faith is given such an exclusive place by the New Testament, so far as the attainment of salvation is concerned, over against love and over against everything else in man . . . is that faith means receiving something, not doing something or even being something. To say, therefore, that our faith saves us means that we do not save ourselves even in slightest measure, but that God saves us. (173, emphasis added). In other words, we are justified by faith alone, and not by love, because God intends to make it clear that he does the decisive saving outside of us and that the person and work of Christ are the sole ground of our acceptance with God. A hundred years earlier Andrew Fuller (the main rope-holder for William Carey in England) gave the same explanation.

Thus it is that justification is ascribed to faith, because it is by faith that we receive Christ; and thus it is by faith only, and not by any other grace. Faith is peculiarly a receiving grace which none other is. Were we said to be justified by repentance, by love, or by any other grace, it would convey to us the idea of something good in us being the consideration on which the blessing was bestowed; but justification by faith conveys no such idea. So, what sets faith apart from other graces and virtues is that it is “a peculiarly receiving grace.” That’s why Paul says in Ephesians 2:8, “By grace you have been saved through faith.” Grace from God correlates with faith in us. And the reason is that grace is God’s free giving and faith is our helpless receiving. When God justifies us by faith alone, he has respect not to faith as virtue but faith as a receiving of Christ. So it is the same as saying that not our virtue but Christ’s virtue is the ground of our justification.

Now the key question is: What does faith receive in order to be justifying faith? The answer, of course, is that faith receives Jesus Christ. “Believe on the Lord Jesus and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). “To all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12). Faith saves because it receives Christ.

But we must make clear what this actually means because there are so many people who say they have received Christ and believed on Christ, who give little or no evidence that they are spiritually alive. They are unresponsive to the spiritual beauty of Jesus. They are unmoved by the glory of Christ. They don’t have the spirit of the apostle Paul when he said, “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:8). This is not their spirit, yet they say they have received Christ.

One way to describe this problem is to say that when these people “receive Christ,” they do not receive him as supremely valuable. They receive him simply as sin-forgiver (because they love being guilt-free), and as rescuer-from-hell (because they love being pain-free), and as healer (because they love being disease-free), and as protector (because they love being safe), and as prosperity-giver (because they love being wealthy), and as Creator (because they want a personal universe), and as Lord of history (because they want order and purpose); but they don’t receive him as supremely and personally valuable for who he is. They don’t receive him as he really is — more glorious, more beautiful, more wonderful, more satisfying, than everything else in the universe. They don’t prize him or treasure him or cherish him or delight in him.

Or to say it another way, they “receive Christ” in a way that requires no change in human nature. You don’t have to be born again to love being guilt-free and pain-free and disease-free and safe and wealthy. All natural men without any spiritual life love these things. But to embrace Jesus as your supreme treasure requires a new nature. No one does this naturally. You must be born again (John 3:3). You must be a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15). You must be made spiritually alive (Ephesians 2:1–4).

Therefore, saving faith is a receiving of Christ for who he really is and what he really is, namely, more glorious, more wonderful, more satisfying, and therefore more valuable than anything thing in the universe. Saving faith says, “I receive you as my Savior, my Lord, my supreme Treasure; and I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” Which is why Jesus said, “Therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33). And again, “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:37). And again, “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field” (Matthew 13:44).

The infinite glory of Jesus makes him infinitely valuable and infinitely satisfying. Saving faith receives this Christ. Not that we experience the fullness of joy now, or the climax of satisfaction in this life, but we taste it (Psalm 34:8) and we know where it is found (John 6:35) and we “press on to make it [our] own, because Christ Jesus has made [us] his own” (Philippians 3:12).

This brings us now to the relationship between faith and reason as we have described them here. What we have seen concerning the nature of saving faith determines what will be a sufficient and reasonable ground for such faith. Saving faith cannot rest only on the ground of raw facts, facts like Christ lived a perfect life, and Jesus is the Messiah, and Christ died for sinners, Christ is God, and Christ rose from the dead etc. The devil believes all those facts and tremble.

The nature of saving faith demands more than facts as a ground, not less, but more. We have seen that saving faith is not the mere receiving of facts. It is the receiving of Christ as infinitely glorious, wondrously beautiful, and supremely valuable. Therefore, the ground of such faith must be the spiritual sight of such glory and beauty and value. This sight is not separate from the narration of historical gospel facts. We must tell the old, old story. But the sight of Christ’s divine glory in the gospel is not identical with seeing the facts of the gospel. Therefore, human reason, the use of the mind to explain and defend the facts of the gospel plays an indispensable, but not the decisive, role in the awakening and establishing of saving faith. We must tell the story and get the gospel facts and the doctrine right. But the decisive ground of saving faith is the glory of Christ seen in the gospel.

The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:4–6)

The gospel is the “gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God’ (v: 4). This is what must be seen for saving faith to respond to the gospel and receive Christ for who he really is infinitely glorious. Jonathan Edwards commented on this text to the same effect. He said, ‘Nothing can be more evident then, that a saving belief of the gospel is here spoken of . . . as arising from the mind’ being enlightened to behold the divine glory of the things it exhibits’. In other words, the ground of saving faith is the glory of Christ seen in the gospel.

This divine glory is really and objectively there in the gospel. Otherwise, Paul would not speak of the god of this world blinding the minds of unbelievers. If something is not really there, you don’t need to be blind to miss it. But if it is really there, you must be blind to miss it. Therefore, the “light of the gospel of the glory of Christ” is really there. It is a self-authenticating divine glory. Jonathan Edwards calls it an “ineffable, distinguishing, evidential excellency in the gospel.”

The sight of this “distinguishing, evidential excellency’, the glory of Christ in the gospel is not seen in a vision or a dream or a whispered word from the Holy Spirit. It is seen in the biblical story of Christ as the inspired apostle preaches the gospel of Christ. (V:5) “What we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus; sake.” Here is the place of reason. Paul uses his mind to proclaim, explain, defend, and confirm the facts of the gospel. He argues that Jesus is the Christ, that he rose from the dead, and that he died for our sins. He does the sort of thing we read in the book of Romans and Galatians and Ephesians and Colossians. He reasons with facts and arguments and sets Christ forth. Therefore, we know that the sight of the self-authenticating glory of Christ is not separate from the rational presentation and demonstration of the truth of the gospel. That is indispensable.

However, this indispensable use of reason in proclaiming the gospel is not the decisive and unshakable ground of saving faith. That ground is the “light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” And seeing this unshakably compelling and authentic light is a gift of God. This is the point of verse 6: “God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

In verse 4, we could not see this “light of the gospel of the glory of Christ who is the image of God” because we were blinded by the god of this world. No amount of reasoning or historical argument could produce spiritual sight in the blind. Nevertheless, the rational proclamation of the gospel in verse 5 is indispensable.

But now the decisive change happens in verse 6. God, who speaks and causes light to happen, opens our blind eyes, and amazingly the gospel of Christ crucified and risen (and rationally set forth in preaching and teaching) is now radiant with “ineffable, distinguishing, evidential excellency” — with the glory of God in the face of Christ. The glory of Christ seen in the gospel is the decisive ground of saving faith because saving faith is the receiving of Christ as infinitely glorious and supremely valuable. It cannot be grounded on anything less.

This basis of faith is a rational foundation and the conviction that flows from it is a sensible conviction. It goes beyond what mere reasoning upon the facts can produce, but it is itself reasonable. Jonathan Edwards explains, “By a reasonable conviction, I mean, a conviction founded on real evidence, or upon that which is a good reason, or just ground of conviction. Nothing is more reasonable than that saving faith, as the receiving of Christ as infinitely glorious, must be grounded on the spiritual sight of his divine glory.

The reason this understanding of the relationship between faith and reason is so important is that the great mass of ordinary people cannot come to an unshakable conviction about the truth of Christianity any other way. If our only confidence rests on rational historical argumentation, we will only know probabilities, but no spiritual certainty. But the apostle John said, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13). And what should burden us on this issue is not only how to commend and defend Christianity to intellectuals, but how to proclaim it among a thousand unreached peoples around the world who cannot wait for generations of education. This is what drove Peter and the other apostles and is what drives me on today. This is why Christ came, He only want to produce the kind of Christian who are fearless, offering the loss of everything, ready to endure the worst hardships for Christ, trampling the devil underfoot, counting everything dung for Christ’s sake, and when death comes in this cause calling it gain.

We have minds and must exercise our reason in the proclamation and explanation and confirmation of the gospel. We must contend for the faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 3). We must be ready, like Paul, to go to prison “for the defence and confirmation of the gospel” (Phil 1:7). That is essential, but, as we use all our renewed mental powers for Christ, we must pray with Paul that the Holy Spirit would empower the preaching of the gospel. That God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness’, would shine in the hearts of our hearers to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” Then more Christians would be created and with confidence join with Paul in saying, ‘I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Phil 3: 8).

The Seven Social Sins

Many of us are used to hearing sermons on ‘spiritual sins’ focussed on us from the pulpit, but not so much on evils that lurk within the social fabric of society. Of course, the need for the message of ethical values are great in modern cultures and must be preached in and out of season and with the aim of directing us to live closer to Christ. Preachers not preaching about social ills are deserting the message of human worth and value, and unresponsiveness and disregard often do much more harm than absolute odium, a deletion of care for all. Too often, we neglect to permit ourselves to be esteemed by our families and friends our support group, the people who truly love and who add meaning, and who actually matters in our lives. More often than not, we are blinded by our own self-interest, pursuing others who are rich and wealthy, they look up to, and want to love us, the kind of people that are more interested in their bank balances, that do not even care or add value to our lives. This is actually a worthless endeavor, a fruitless chase, a waste of time pursuing a friendship with the rich, those who do not have our interest at heart. While those who truly love us, who daily demonstrate that love by being there for us, recognizing our humanity, in good times and in bad. They have to stand by and watch us making a fool of ourselves, literally pleading with the rich to be our friends! The time will come and now is when we stop pursuing those with no ethical or social values, who do not care about our human value or worth and care for those who daily demonstrate their love. It is time for us to love our fellow man, while allowing ourselves to be loved despite the mounting socials ills.

Taken from a sermon, ‘The Seven Social Sins’ preached in London, on March 20, 1925, F. L. Donaldson highlighted the following:

  • Wealth without work.
  • Pleasure without conscience.
  • Knowledge without character.
  • Commerce without morality.
  • Science without humanity.
  • Worship without sacrifice.
  • Politics without principle.

Humankind is so caught up in his own self-importance, that he forgot to care for others, human life now below that of an animal. He endeavors daily to save the planet, spending millions to save endangered species, but humanity we will not care for.  Ethnic cleansing, famine, and wars destroying sections of the world while we spend billions developing nuclear weapons, enough already in existence than can destroy the world several times over. Scientist declared that a child is not a human until it’s born, so he gave women godlike powers to terminate a pregnancy whenever she wants, so 4 ¼ million babies are aborted yearly in the name of progress. In the name of empowering women, if the child will stop her education and career, she has the right to end its life! When and in whose book, does a career becomes more important than human life? Get rich quick, get-going while the going is good, forget about social ills. Is this not a world going backward?

We find in Stoic philosophy, “What a despicable thing a human being is if he does not rise above human affairs! All the time that we are struggling with our passions, what is so wonderful about our achievement, even if we prevail? We are outdoing monsters: why should we be conceited because we are not as bad as the worst people? I cannot see why anyone who is more robust than the others in a hospital should be pleased with himself: strength is quite different from good health. Have you broken free from moral vices? Your face does not have a feigned expression, your speech is not designed to please somebody else, nor are your feelings concealed, nor do you harbor greed, which denies itself what it has taken from others, nor luxury, which squanders money shamefully only to recoup it even more shamefully, nor ambition, which will bring you honors only by dishonorable means? You have not yet achieved anything: you have broken free from many things, but not yet from yourself. The virtue to which we aspire is marvelous not because freedom from evil is in itself wonderful, but because it releases the mind, prepares it for knowledge of the celestial, and makes it worthy to enter into a partnership with god”. Socrates and the Stoics 7h – Seneca, Naturales Quaestiones Book I, praefatio 1-7

The Apostle Paul, met some of these Greek philosophers, “A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to debate with him. Some of them asked, ‘What is this babbler trying to say?’ Others remarked, ‘He seems to be advocating foreign gods.’ They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection.Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, ‘May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we would like to know what they mean”. (All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas) (Acts 17: 18-21).

Epicurean philosophers originally taught that the supreme good is happiness, but not mere momentary pleasure or temporary gratification. The Epicureans, named after their founder Epicurus (341-270 B.C.), they believed the chief end of living was a pleasure. They believed in numerous gods who had no influence over the affairs of man and did not believe in the immortality of the soul. However, by the time of Paul, this philosophy disintegrated into a more sensual system of thought. The Stoic philosophers, on the other hand, taught that people should live in harmony with nature, recognize their own self-sufficiency and independence, and suppress their desires. The Stoics, founded by Zeno (c. 300 B.C.), believed that God was the world’s soul which indwelt all things, God was in all men, all men were brothers. That living in harmony with nature brought happiness. Many Stoics were men of high moral principle, and that human affairs were governed by fate. At its best, Stoicism had some admirable qualities, but like Epicureanism, by the time of Paul it to had deteriorated into a system of pride.

Though the world often confuses vanity and pride, they definitely are not the same things, as one can have pride without being conceited.  One can have pride, which is a healthy opinion of others and us. However, there is a kind of pride that can be elevated to a dangerous level it becomes vain, narcissistic when we become self-absorbed, and think negatively of others and even what we want others to think of us. John gave this advice about what is in the world, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives for ever” (1John 2: 15-17).

Each of us when we were young, we have a personal ambition of sorts, some want to be doctors, lawyers, pilots, engineers or do creative things, and among a number of disciplines to pursue. Yet we all have to fight holding on to our dreams, fight for the opportunities that are out there, hold on to that pride, that ambition that burns within you, never let go. Not many have the ambition to sit back and enjoy life in paradise without effort, to be pleased with his/her-self, without actually achieving something. However, for many, the focus is not on self but on others, for to them a successful life is wrapped up in serving others in their communities. For many recognizing human values, pursuing and fighting for social equality, being there for someone in need, helping to lift or carry a heavy load is what life is all about. Let us examine ourselves with the ‘seven social sins’ and see where we fall. How many of us in society today, that can stand and say, I am as sinful as the most errant among us when it comes to being my brothers keeper, but with God’s help I can be as good as the best among us in combating social ills?

 

 

If you Judge – You are playing God!

If you are like me, you are inclining to judge yourself more punitively than others ever will. Though they do not know that when they judge you, that they are second in line. But also they judged you with an air of self-righteousness, ‘that could never happen to me’, how could he do that? When in fact they have done worst, that is if night becomes day, and all hidden secrets revealed, becomes open truths. They are going against the advice of Scripture too, ‘Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way as you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. ‘Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,” when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye (Matt 7: 1-5). This advice came from Christ lips to His followers, Christians, and the advice is not to judge hypocritically or self-righteously as can be seen from the context. Christ expressed similar thoughts further up in chapter 23: 13 – 39. To obey Christ command according to this text we must first evaluate a person’s character, whether he is a ‘dog, or a false prophet, or whether his/her life shows fruit. Repeatedly in the Scriptures Christians are exhorted to evaluate each other carefully and choose between good and evil people and things and those who masquerade as angels of light (2Cor. 11: 14).

Many of us have become experts, masters of the art in judging others, you aren’t even readily aware, when they do it to you or someone you know, not until it later register when you have time to reflect. Moreover, you think, my God, did he just do that or why did he say that? Since judging others means that we are having or displaying an overly critical point of view, and we are taking the place of God, He hates it not only because it is wrong, but because we are taking His place which no man is in the position to do. The problem of leaky lips, betraying confidence, being overly critical of others, taking a spiritually superior position is particularly rife among modern leaders. We walk around with that aura of authority, oh look at us, we have never commit a fault, we are blameless from birth, but when we hear something, instead of speaking to them in confidence, help them to overcome their weakness, praying for them, we pass judgement, we condemn rather than heal, because we become little gods. So much so that many are reluctant, church members will not approach their leaders about a personal culpability. Wow, so scary of their leaders has so many become that they prefer to transfer membership to another congregation. ‘Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective’ (James 5: 16).  Anyone, but especially leaders who leak a personal issue that someone reveal to him in confidence, an issue that will cause embarrassment if passed on betray the trust of members of their congregations or others who confide in them in. A leader with a leaky lip needs to be disrobed because he has let his parishioners and his church community down.

People do tend to get upset about others who challenge their own personal behaviour, and so many are reluctant to approach them. If you see it or hear it, address it, but if you cannot address it directly, speak with someone who can, and only with a view to heal. Even so whatever way you try, whether they work or not you can pray for their healing, do not do anything that will destroy them. The alternative is not to judge them or leak such information to anyone else because it will never stop until everyone knows, and the church splits. God is not the author of divisions! These types of problems, of the ‘unguarded lips’ kind, exist only because we have biblically ungifted, untrained, unprofessional leaders, managing churches. Many who have never taken a course in leadership or church management, but placed in a role that does not suit them, they do not know how to handle it. Therefore, when are told or hear something indirectly, they quickly pass judgement only because they want to be seen as being with it, that is not setting a good example that is not leadership. Scripture makes it very clear that there is one supreme Judge of all, the Lord God and that He alone has the authority to determine right and wrong motives and behaviours. Many Old Testament passages corroborate to the truth of God as Judge:

‘God is a just judge, and God is angry with the wicked every day’ (Psalm 7:11). ‘He shall judge the world in righteousness, and he shall administer judgments for the people in uprightness’ (Psalm 9:8). ‘Let the heavens declare His righteousness, for God himself is Judge. Selah’ (Psalm 50:6). ‘For the Lord is our Judge, the Lord is our Lawgiver, the Lord is our King; He will save us’ (Isaiah 33:22).

Did Jesus advise his followers not to judge others? What about making general comments about is right or wrong in others? In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus spoke a lot against people passing judgement on others. It is clear from reading the wider context that Jesus was commenting on people who make it a point of practice of making personal judgments against others, when their own lifestyle and behaviour was questionable even extremely compromised than the people they were passing judgement on. However, reading in context, the wider application, the object of Jesus’ comments may not be easily detectable. Jesus was very clear about those in the religious establishment in Israel who came in for fierce criticism. Jesus target the hypocrisy of the Jewish religious institutions of His day, Jesus had the authority to judge them, not man.

The Father has committed authority and judgment to the His Son. Jesus confirmed His authority before He ascended to heaven after His Resurrection (Matt. 28:18). ‘For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son’ (John 5:22). ‘I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in me should not abide in darkness. And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day’ (John 12:46–48). ‘Because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead’ (Acts 17:31). These scriptures among many others clearly prove, very clear that one day Jesus will rightly judge all humanity based on each individual’s faith in, or rejection of the Son of God. For a world filled with people who believe in moral relativism and for many practicing Christians who exercise virtue on the basis they can earn morality will be filled with dread and anxiety on the day of the Lord. Jesus Christ is the righteous Judge of the universe and He has made a judgment about salvation, as Peter declares,  Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved’ (Acts 4: 12).  Humankind will have no time to debate whether the judgment is right or wrong because God the arbiter has decreed His justice through His Son, Christ.

Now reflect on the notion of judging as it relates to believers and nonbelievers. Obviously, the approaches are different when dealing with them, but the goal is appeasement. Nonbelievers need to know Christ and be reconciled to Him, and believers need to mature in Christ and be reconciled to each other. There scriptures show that Jesus was very displeased about the conduct of hypocrites than probably anything else that He faced. Therefore, His warning against judging others was primarily aimed at those who thought they were superior to others. In other words, get your own house in order before you criticize others. We all have sinned and fall short of Gods glory.

Stop beating up on yourself, when you are judged, you are a work in progress, which means that you get there a little at a time not all at the same time or pace, we are not all ‘speedy Gonzales’. The songwriter ask on behalf of all who are being judged, ‘please be patient with me, God is not through with me yet… when God get through with me, I shall come forth as pure gold’. Never throw in the towel, because someone belittle you, put you down, do not ever quit. Winners never quit, and quitters never win, ‘we are more than conquerors in Christ. Countless numbers of Christians wants to quit, feel they have to abandon, their walk with Christ because of a leaky heartless, unforgiving congregation. Many others are under pressure to quit because of a minor infraction and because of someone in the group are looking mockingly in our direction, telling us it is time to. Yep we want to hide when we are judged when seemingly things get tough and because of being aware of our culpabilities but which remain unobserved from the masses only because they are ineffectual.

When we make our mistakes, we feel embarrassed, we let ourselves down, and it is between God and us, no human judge, no one else. No matter how many times we falter and fail, fall flat on our backs, pick up, stand up and start again, we can bounce back from anything Satan throw at us and inspire the many unrighteous judging. It is not what people say about us that should determine who we are; shape our future or what we should become. We should not look back on our past mistakes, but move forward from them with confidence, as God for help in times of faintness. ‘Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame’ (Isa. 50: 7). God’s servant will be honoured in time, but he must endure the cutting, hypocritical judging with self-assured determination to face up to his detractors. So that we increase self-assurance and replace fear of, with victory upon victory, and our strength, well, we will act no less courageously than those judges whose affluences have previously opens corridors of opportunities. For however, strong hypocritical judgers may appear, underlying they display deficiency only by the means to demonstrate the complete magnitude of their injustice ignorance. Remember that even a poisonous serpent is safe to handle in the cold climate, when it is lethargic. However, be aware that its venom is still present, though sedentary. In the same way be on the alert for noxious tongue, though they seem snoozing, sociable and gentle the virulence is still there and has the ability to distribute discomfort.