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Which Jesus have you received? February 9, 2010

Posted by Henry in Contending for the Faith.
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You have heard the “message”, responded to the altar call and you have said the sinner’s prayer. After repeating the prayer the pastor tells you to thank God you are saved. But which message have you heard and which Jesus have you received and invited into your heart? Is it the Jesus who had to go to hell and fight Satan there, who Satan bound with chains and dragged down in to hell so that he had to overcome the battle there in order that he could gain redemption? Is it the Jesus who was so rich that he had his own Rolls Royce car, big house and fancy clothes? The one who could not perceive that Judas was stealing from “the bag” for three years because there was so much money in it? Is it the Jesus that was no different to ordinary men because anyone other man could have taken his place in order to perform the work of redemption? Is it the Jesus they say wasn’t God and that He didn’t claim to be God? These are just some of the striking claims made about the Jesus that is promoted in Word of Faith circles. A close examination of scriptures however will reveal who the true Jesus is and show that the aforementioned claims are false.

 Scripture says in Acts 4:12 that there is no other name under heaven by which men can be saved except the name of Jesus. But who is this Jesus? In order to know Him we need to look at the scriptures (the Bible) which speaks of Him. Jesus was spoken of by the Prophets of old and whose coming was fulfilled when he was born over 2000 years ago, of the virgin Mary (Matt 1:22-23). He was later crucified on the cross at Calvary and ascended into heaven to sit on the right hand of the Father and who shall return again to take His saints to be with Him. This was the redemptive work that God purposed before the foundation of the world (Rev 13:8). So much for the false claim that anyone else could have performed the redemptive work of Christ. When Jesus was on the cross He said, “It is finished” (John 19:30), meaning the work He came to fulfil was finished. How then can a supposed minister of Christ claim that actually He had to enter hell in order to fight with Satan and win in order to redeem Himself and mankind? Jesus committed no sin so why would He need to redeem Himself (2 Cor 1:25)?

  Jesus is the heir of all things, and was before the world and the world was made by Him. But Jesus, though He was rich became poor that through His poverty we might become rich (2 Cor 8:9). This is another point of confusion amongst the WOF crowd. Jesus most certainly did not come so that we would become physically rich but spiritually rich in heavenly things. Hence, Jesus in His own life on earth did not have these displays of wealth as WOF ministers claim. In Matt 8:20 Jesus made it clear that He didn’t even have anywhere to lay His. Again in regards to the claim there was so much money in “the bag”, we see from scripture that this is a complete fabrication because Jesus did not even have money to pay the tribute. He then sent Peter to go and catch a fish and the coin that was to be found in the fish’s mouth was to be used to pay the tribute (Matt 17:27). Imagine Jesus was able to perceive that a fish in the sea, the first one that Peter would catch, would have a coin in its mouth yet He couldn’t perceive that Judas was stealing from the bag? This is obviously one way in which they deny His divinity.  

  The book of John and chapter 1 explains fully who Jesus was and testifies of his divinity. Here we read that, “1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…….14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us”. This is Jesus the Christ, the saviour of the world who was both man as much as he was God. This is the Jesus whom you should believe for your salvation and not a fabric of someone’s imagination.

Are Denominations Important? January 14, 2010

Posted by Henry in Denominations.
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There are many different Christian denominations across the globe today, be it Baptist, Methodist, Apostolic or Oneness Pentecostals, Reformed, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventist, just to name a few. The interesting thing to note however is that none of these names existed during the early birthing and consequent growth of the Church. So why then do we have so many different denominations today and are denominations important?

Certainly for some people denominations are important to them because they feel that theirs is the “true church”. In my own experiences when having discussions with members of denominations such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventist and Oneness Pentecostals, they all are of the view that their own denomination is the true church and consequently everyone else is on the wrong path. The Jehovah’s Witnesses have made claims suggesting that they are the Elect and the 144,000 who will be saved. A closer look at scripture will show however that in actual fact the 144,000 mentioned in the Bible constitutes 12,000 men of each of the 12 tribes of Israel who did not “defile themselves with women” (Rev 7: 4 – 8, 14:1 – 4). It is clear to see then that these 144,000 are not Jehovah’s Witnesses.

In contrast the Seventh Day Adventist say they are the true church because they have kept the Biblical Sabbath which they claim is Saturday (the seventh day) and that those who attend Sunday church do so in direct opposition and disobedience to God. They ignore the fact that the calendar we now use was instituted by Pope Gregory the Great, hence the Gregorian calendar. As such it would be very difficult to ascertain whether the seventh day as we know it today coincides with the seventh day God instituted as the Sabbath from the time of creation. The key point that the Seventh Day Adventists seems to have missed however is that God set aside the 7th day as a day of REST, what ever that day is or was. God did not say that we should attend church services on the Sabbath but to REST and do no work in it. The other point to note though is whether New Testament Christians are obliged to observe the Sabbath since Jesus fulfilled the Law thereby abolishing it, which also included the Sabbath. In any event Romans 14:5-9 has this to say:

One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it.

The Oneness Pentecostals on the other hand believe that one should be baptised in Jesus name only, as opposed to Jesus’ instruction in Matt 28:19-20 where he told the disciples to go out and teach all nations baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. The Oneness Pentecostals however uses Acts 2:38 as one of the central pillars of their faith. This is what they use to support their claim that one should be baptised in Jesus name only because Peter said so. But who is Peter? Do we obey Peter or do we obey Christ? Notwithstanding, it is doubtless whether what Peter said was meant to be a baptismal formula since Jesus already gave us the baptismal formula that we should use. Peter was more concerned with telling the Jews of their need to be baptised in the name of the very Man whom they had crucified. After all scripture tells us there is no other name under heaven by which men can be saved except Jesus.

The points highlighted above, although not exhaustive, do demonstrate some of the ways in which denominations do differ on points of doctrine. It may be argued that some of these points are not “foundational” to the gospel but the question should be asked, why do denominations differ on points of doctrine and beliefs? I believe the answer to this question lies in the fact that Bible tells us that heresies will creep into the church over time. This can be the only explanation for why there are so many different denominations, each with their own “brand” of Christianity, which differ in some way from another. It is interesting to note however that even from the early days, the Church was being divided up into denominations and Paul had to deal with this very issue in the Corinthian church (1 Cor 1:10-13):

10 Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 11 For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. 12 Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. 13 Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?

Instead of being haughty and puffed up about this denomination or that, we need to heed the words of Paul here and get back to the “basics” of Scripture. As Paul makes it clear, Christ is not divided, therefore no divisions should be found amongst us and we all should be speaking the same thing and be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgement. It is my prayer that we who call ourselves the true church should heed Paul’s admonition.

What does it mean to be a Christian? January 12, 2010

Posted by Henry in Matters of the Faith.
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A common definition of a Christian is: a follower of Christ. But is that all there is to it? In looking at this definition one could argue that Christ was simply a philosopher who existed over 2000 years ago and that His followers are simply adherents to His teachings thus ranking Christianity as just one amongst many religions from which anyone can choose. Indeed some see Christianity as little more than a “moral code” expressed in allegory, denying the existence of God and His Son Jesus Christ. It is easy to see how such a distorted view might come about if one does not know exactly what Christianity is all about and especially given that some religious figures have claimed over the years that “all paths” lead to God. But do they really?

Scripture (the Bible) tells us that Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, came into the world as the Messiah, first to the Jew and then to the Gentiles (Rom 1:16). Jesus came to deliver the “Good News” which is the Gospel unto salvation. Jesus said He came to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10). But salvation from what some might ask? To answer this question we need to go back to the beginning.

In the beginning (see the Genesis account) God created the world and everything in it and He made man (Adam and Eve) and gave him dominion over everything on the earth. God set Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and everything God created was good. But sin entered the world as a result of Adam’s disobedience in eating the fruit of the tree that was forbidden to him to eat of.  God warned Adam that the day he ate of the fruit of the forbidden tree he would surely die (Gen 3:3), and since that time man has been at enmity with God because of sin. Man no longer had the communion with God he enjoyed in the Garden and he was now separated and condemned to eternal death because of his sin. Adam did not die physically as it were, but he died spiritually. But the “story” did not end there because God purposed even before the foundation of the world (Rev 13:8, 1 Pet 1:18-20) to save mankind from his sins so that man can inherit eternal Life.

Scripture tells us that we are all sinners who have come short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23). Scripture also tells us that “it is appointed unto man once to die but after that comes the judgement (Heb 9:27).” It is for this reason that we need to be saved. To be saved means to be restored to a state where we can again have full fellowship and communion with God like Adam and Eve did before the fall, and indeed to be saved from eternal damnation. Salvation can be found in no other than Jesus Christ however. Jesus said, “I am the way the truth and the life, no man cometh unto the Father, but by me (John 14:6).” Jesus is the Lamb of God who was made a living sacrifice to take upon Himself the sins of the world. Heb 9:28 says, “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” This was the plan God had put in place to redeem mankind from their sins and to reconcile mankind to Himself. Jesus was prophesied of by the Prophets of old, was born of the virgin Mary by immaculate conception, He was crucified at Calvary and on the third day he rose and he later returned to sit on the right hand of the Father. This really is the Gospel, the Good News of salvation, the reason for every Christian to rejoice as he awaits the blessed hope of Jesus Chrst returning to claim the saints (the Church) to Himself!!

For God so love the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosover believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting Life (John 3:16)

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Rom 5:8)

We had become as disobedient children, full of sin and all deceivableness, but in spite of this God loved us so much that He made a way for us to be saved, otherwise we would have been dead in our sins. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live (John 11:25).” Jesus came in order to establish the Kingdom of God on earth and all that we need to do to inherit this Kingdom is to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. In Christ’s Kingdom we surrender our lives to Him as His subjects, submitting to His governance, will and purpose as outlined in His Word and through the power of the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit of God that enables us to believe in Christ Jesus and to repent of our sins and seek salvation in Him. When we come to faith in Christ therefore, we must be born again, born of water and of the Spirit (John 3:5). This is the “secret” to becoming a Christian.

Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David. (Isa 55:1-3)

Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. (Isa 55:6-7)

In spite of the provisions that God has made, freely given to us all without money and without price, however, there are those who still believe that God doesn’t really exist. But the scriptures say, “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.” The Bible is not simply a story, a moral tale based in allegory. God truly does exist and His Word given to us in the form of the Bible is where we will learn of Him and find Life (John 5:39)! Moreover Jesus said, “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life (John 6:63).” These very words are what is written in the Bible and handed down to us today. Christianity is therefore unlike any other religion. It is not a path among many to God but the ONLY path. In this respect God is not an idea created to establish social or moral norms, neither is God simply a “gnosis”. But God, the creator of Heaven and Earth is real, and He lives. Jesus came into the world to testify of Him and to become a Christian is to believe and have faith in Jesus Christ even without having seen.

Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. (John 20:29)

Do you dare to believe in the Lord Jesus in order to receive salvation? For this is the way of the Christian

The Kingdom of Heaven September 18, 2009

Posted by Henry in Matters of the Faith.
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Many people may have heard this faithful saying, that “the Kingdom of Heaven is at Hand”, especially being preached from street corners and in market places but few would even bother to pay attention to what they might perceive as fanatical drivel, much less to believe or accept it. Instead many people mistakenly think that these preachers are simply deluded mad men or women or religious fanatics especially when in our day we have bold adverts being posted on the sides of buses saying, “There is probably no God, so quit worrying and enjoy your life”. But I have news for you friends, “repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand”! Yes, John the Baptist uttered these very words over some 2000 years or so ago now and no doubt many people thought he was crazy then because he was not a man who wore smart apparel and esteemed in society but rather a dishevelled man dressed in animal skins and lived on the edge of (polite) society. Many must have wondered what on earth is this “lunatic” talking about! But still many believed on his message and were baptised by him.

We should note here that the “Kingdom of God” and the “Kingdom of Heaven” are synonymous. The first mention of the Kingdom (for ease of reference) in the New Testament is in Matt 3:1-3:

1 In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, 2 And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. 3 For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.

In the passage John did not say plainly what the Kingdom is precisely but he left no doubt as to the significance or importance of it, if we look further along in the passage. The key point here to note though is that we should repent of our sins because of the Kingdom.

We see in the passage where John baptised all those who repented of their sins because they wanted to “partake” of this talked about “Kingdom.” But at this point the Kingdom had not yet (fully) come so this baptism was in a sense a prelude to the future Kingdom which John hinted at in verse 11, which was to be established by Jesus Christ. The interesting thing to note here though from verse 7 is that pursuing the Kingdom also represented a “fleeing from the wrath to come”. Though it is not spelt out here we can conclude therefore that the Kingdom of Heaven represented “salvation” for all men who would actively seek “it” through repentance and turning away from sin, and which is evidenced by “good fruit”. We also get a sense from verses 10 & 12 that the Kingdom is governed by a Righteous Ruler (Jesus Christ) who will separate (Judge) those who have attained to the Kingdom (i.e. produces good fruit) from those who don’t.

Jesus made it clear to us that the Kingdom of Heaven should be our primary goal in this life – it is of paramount importance. In Matt 6:33 Jesus implored us not to seek after worldly things or to worry about food, raiment etc but rather to “seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.”

The Kingdom of Heaven is important to us because the Bible says in Heb 9:27:

“And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:”

There will come a time at the end of the age when God will judge the world. Those who are His children will inherit eternal life but those who are not will be cast out into eternal damnation. The Kingdom of Heaven is therefore the only path to salvation and Jesus Christ is the only “Gateway” into this Kingdom. For He said in John 14:6:

“I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

Do you want to enter into this Kingdom? If so you need to enter by way of Christ.