Christianity and theology

Three Things That COVID 19 Reminds Us About God and Life

Coronavirus has almost brought the world to a halt. Boarders and airports have shut down; schools and businesses have also closed down. There is fear and panic in many parts of the world and Malawi is no exception. Now how should we react or think of this disease which the World Health Organization has just declared a pandemic? I would like to point out three things that coronavirus should remind us of:

1. THE IMPACT OF SIN UPON CREATION
The impact of the fall (sin) upon creation is real. When our first parents, Adam and Eve, sinned against God their sin had far more reaching effects than we often like to think. Death, diseases, germs (including coronavirus), and suffering are some of the consequences of the fall. We praise the Lord for man’s creativity and the strides that have been made in science, medicine, and technology. However, these advances can never erase the effects of the fall upon creation. Only Jesus Christ can. This is why Apostle Paul tells us that creation is groaning and waiting for its redemption in Christ (Romans 8:18-25). Indeed, a day is coming when Christ will usher in a new creation that will never be affected by sin, death, coronavirus, or any evil (Revelation 21:1-5).

2. THE BREVITY OF LIFE
Coronavirus should remind us how short our days are here on earth. Within a short period of time the virus has spread across the globe and claimed close to eight thousand lives. It is possible that it will claim more. When this year was beginning no one in Malawi ever imagined that three months down the line we would find ourselves preparing against the virus. By then it was only in Wuhan, China. Many thought it will end there. But now it threatens to claim your life and my life. The brevity of life should cause us to always be ready to meet our maker and judge. The psalmist was very insightful when he observed: “O LORD, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am. Behold you have made my days a few handbreadths…Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath” (Psalm 39:4-6).

3. THE NEED TO TRUST GOD
But all is not dark and bleak. Jesus Christ calls us not to despair. “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also,” (John 14:1-3).

“Let not your hearts be troubled,” Jesus says. But you might ask: how can I be calm in the midst of a pandemic that is killing thousands? Jesus tells us how: by BELIEVING in God which also means believing in Christ for Christ is God.

• BELIEVE that Jesus is in heaven preparing a place for you, dear Christian. He fully knows what sin has done to this world. He doesn’t want us to live in this fallen world forever so he is preparing us a glorious home.

•. BELIEVE that Jesus is coming again to take you home where there is no coronavirus.

Although not mentioned in John 14:1, somewhere the Bible adds:

•. BELIEVE that Jesus Christ has overcome death. Corona virus can only kill the body but it can never separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus. In fact, even though a Christian might die of the virus he/she shall still live (John 11:25).

•. BELIEVE that Jesus Christ is at the right hand of the Father praying for you (Romans 8:34) and nothing will happen to you without him sanctioning it. He is able to keep you and your loved ones safe through the pandemic.

•. BELIEVE that Jesus Christ is the King of kings and the Lord of lords who is in control of all the affairs of the world (Colossians 1:16-17). Even the coronavirus is his virus, and he is making it work for the good of his people (Romans 8:28).

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Christianity and theology

It is Finished: What Christ Accomplished for Us on the Cross

On a Friday like this one about 2000 years ago, Christ was hanged on the cross at about 9 O’clock in the morning (Mark 15:25). From noon to about 3pm, darkness engulfed the land and Christ bore the wrath of God on behalf of his people (Luke 23:44). Theologians call this penal substitution of vicarious atonement. As he who knew no sin became sin for us on that old rugged cross (2 Cor. 5:21), for first time in his life, he experienced a broken fellowship between him and his Father. As one hymn writer once put it, “the Father turned his face away.” And for first time in his life the Son could not call God the Father, “my Father.” The sense of abandonment was so huge that the Son cried out, “My God, My God why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34). Here one of the Christian Creeds, the Apostles creed, summarizes very well what Christ went through and calls it, hell- “He descended into hell.” It was hell that Christ suffered the last three hours of his life. Of course all his earthly life was marked by suffering but this was the climax of it all. And it was all for our sake. What amazing love! “Love so amazing so divine demands my life, my soul, my all.”

Then after paying the full penalty and drinking the cup of suffering to the final dregs and knowing that all was now finished, Jesus cried out, “It is finished.” It is done! Then he voluntarily gave up his life (for no one could take it from him) and said, “Father in your hand I commit my Spirit.” (Luke 23:46). These were the very last words of Christ on the cross!

That phrase, “It is finished,” is very powerful and means everything for every person who is in Christ.

  1.  It is finished: Expiation is done: By that we mean that Christ has taken away the guilt of our sin so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21).
  2. It is finished: Propitiation is done: By that we mean that Christ has fully appeased God’s wrath; therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ (Romans 3:25-26; 8:1))
  3. It is finished: Reconciliation is done: By that we mean we have been reconciled to God and God has removed the enmity that existed between us and him (Col. 1:19-20; Romans 5:10-11).
  4. It is finished: Redemption is done: By that we mean Christ has paid his own life as a ransom to redeem us from the bondage of sin (1 Peter 1:18-19).
    5. It is finished: Conquest is done: By that we mean that Christ has conquered sin, Satan and death (Col. 2:14-15; 1 Cor. 15)

Friends, this is why the cross is everything for a Christian. This is why we ought to always preach Christ and him crucified.

God’s blessings in Christ as you meditate on what Christ has accomplished for us on the cross.

 

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Through the Westminster Shorter Catechism – Q & A 1

The Westminster Shorter Catechism Question one asks: What is the chief end of man? Answer: Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.

The catechism here asks a very important question which I believe every person has considered at some point. Why are we here in this world? Why did God create you and me? The catechism gives two main reasons: first we were created to glorify God and second to enjoy him forever. Let me briefly expound on these two points.

In simpler terms, to glorify God means that we were created to live our lives for God and God alone. Whatever we do in this world we should do it to bring honor and praise to God. This is why Apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 10:31: “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it for the glory of God.” Even in very small details of this life like drinking a glass of water or a cup of tea or coffee we are to do it with the purpose of glorifying God.

As we seek to glorify God we in turn enjoy being creatures of God in this world as one of the great African theologians, St. Augustine of Hippo also noted,  “O God you have made us for yourself and our hearts are restless until they find rest in you.”

I know that the word “enjoy” can sometimes be used sinfully.  However, here the catechism has in mind the real joy that comes as a result of a good relationship with God as we read in Psalm 144:15: “Blessed or Happy are the people whose God is the LORD.”

Friends, when we live our lives for God we quickly realize that there is nothing outside of God that can satisfy or make us happy. The Psalmist was right,  “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever,” (Psalm 73:25-26).

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Through the Westminster Shorter Catechism – Introduction

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Let me begin by welcoming you to  “Through the Westminster Shorter Catechism.” This is a series of posts in which I will take us through the Westminster Shorter Catechism and give a brief commentary to the questions and answers that we find in the catechism.

But before we begin with the commentary,  I thought that it is important to give a brief introduction of the catechism. The Westminster Shorter Catechism was written in 1647 by a gathering of pastors and theologians also known as the Westminster Assembly in England.  The purpose of the catechism was to be a tool for biblical instruction both for churches and families.

Ever since then the catechism has been used by Presbyterian and Reformed churches all over the world. So, what are some of the ways you can use the catechism? Let me suggest two: first use it for personal devotion. Read the questions and answers prayerfully while also checking the Bible to confirm that they are true. Second, use it to shepherd and teach the little hearts of your children. Just a brief personal testimony on this point:

When I was a child, my grandfather bought me the shorter catechism and taught me God’s word from it. I memorized its truths with an innocent zeal of a child. But later in my teenage years I wandered away from the faith. However, the Spirit of God continued to use those truths I stored in my mind and heart to convict me of sin and eventually bring me back to the faith.

Therefore, I would like to encourage parents who have little children to faithfully teach and encourage their little ones to memorize the catechism. Believe you me you will never regret doing it. I can’t agree more with Charles H. Spurgeon who  once observed, “I am persuaded that the use of a good Catechism in all our families will be a great safeguard against the increasing errors of the times.”

So, may he Lord bless you as we go through the catechism together and may he bless your children as you labor to teach them God’s truth.

 

 

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Christ Presbyterian Church is Here!

“Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!” (Psalm 90:17).

In June last year we made announcement that we were coming to Blantyre. We are thankful that the Lord fulfilled our plans. On September 15, 2019 we officially began our church planting efforts with our first Bible study meeting. Up until the end of December we have been studying the book of Ephesians. It has been a great blessing to go through this epistle that has a lot to say about our salvation and walk with Christ.

As a church planter I was greatly encouraged to see the Holy Spirit applying his word to our lives powerfully. One instance that stood out to me was when we were studying chapter 4.  Towards the end of the chapter, Apostle Paul writes: “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (4:31, 32).

These two verses spoke strongly to one of us who was harboring bitterness and anger against a family member. At the end of the Bible study, this person asked us to pray for them to overcome this sin and to be helped to forgive and seek reconciliation. It was very beautiful for us as a God’s family to come together, surround a fellow saint, and pray that God by his grace will help them accomplish what is possible only with the power of the Holy Spirit working through his word. What a blessing!

This is one of the reasons why Christ Presbyterian Church exists. We strongly desire and pray that God will ground and root his people strongly in Christ. When members of a family seek forgiveness and reconciliation due to a conviction wrought about by God’s word, Christ is glorified. It is also a great testimony to the world of the power of God’s word. We pray that God will continue to work in the lives of his people through Christ Presbyterian Church. As the Psalmist prayed, we also pray that the Lord will establish the work of our hands.

This month we have just begun studying the Gospel according to John. We are excited and looking forward to wonderful times as well. If you are in Blantyre,  consider joining us this Sunday and every Sunday from 2pm-4pm.

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Christianity and Society, Sound Teaching

Christ Presbyterian Church coming soon to Blantyre, Malawi

 

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“Neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth…For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building” (1 Corinthians 3:7, 9).

I am excited to begin the work of planting Christ Presbyterian Church (CPC) soon, Lord willing. My family, friends, and I have been praying for this work for so many years and we praise the Lord that he is now establishing it. We will  start with a Bible study in September 2019. We have a few families that will form the core group of our study. We are praying for more to be added.

We also have three pastoral interns that will be joining us. We desire to invest in these young men and prepare them for pastoral ministry in the coming years. One of CPC’s major goals will be  to see more confessional churches planted across Malawi. We trust that the Lord will use these interns to help us accomplish our goal.

Looking ahead the following are major events coming up:

  • June 2019: My family and I attend a church-planting training in Europe.
  • July 2019: We arrive in Malawi.
  • September 2019: Our interns begin their pastoral internship.
  • September 2019: We begin to meet and study the book of Ephesians in our home.

So may we ask you to pray for us. Also if you have friends in Blantyre let them  know that CPC is starting soon. If you would like to know more or attend our Bible study do not hesitate to contact me or visit our website http://www.christchurchmalawi.org

 

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Christianity and Society

The King Who Can Always be Trusted

 

Today, Malawians have voted for the president, members of parliament, and councilors who will lead and govern our country for the next five years. This hopefully brings to an end the campaign period. As this period sinks into the annals of our republic’s history, one thing it has revealed or confirmed is that we all long for something better than what we are currently experiencing. All candidates who campaigned had one common message: making Malawians’ lives better and more satisfying.

Now this should not come as a surprise. It is part of us being created in the image of God. We long for justice because God is just. We desire to see all people treated equally and with dignity irrespective of their tribes or regions they come from because God created all people equal and he is no respecter of persons. We hope to see nothing but truth in government because God is the truth. We hate to see corruption in the government because there is no tiny grain of corruption in God. So when politicians promise us these things, we get excited and hopeful because that is exactly what the image of God in us longs for.

But here is the bad news. No person in this world will be able to satisfy our longing for justice, truth, fairness, dignity etc. Many can promise but none will deliver. This is why we should never look to the arm of flesh to grant what only God in his Son, Jesus Christ, can give. Only Christ can truly satisfy our hunger for justice and truth (Isaiah 55:1-2; Matt. 11:28-30). The great African theologian, St. Augustine was right “O God you have made us for yourself and our hearts are restless until they find rest in you.”

By this I don’t imply that human governments do not matter or that Christians should ignore their civic duties. No! It is God who establishes governments and kingdoms. He calls us to submit, honor, and pray for our leaders (Rom. 13:1-7; 1 Tim. 2:1-3). But God never points us to our leaders as sources of satisfaction or meaning. Instead, he points us to his Son. Therefore, we should not be shocked if it happens that those we have trusted and voted today with the hope of making Malawi better dash our hopes into pieces soon. They are the arm of flesh and as prophet Jeremiah warns us: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the LORD” (17:5).

Thus let’s pray and support the leaders we have voted for as they seek to improve the lives of Malawians, but let’s be careful not to lean on their arm of flesh. There is only one King who can be trusted unreservedly and always, the King Jesus.

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