Christianity and Society

Introduction to DBS Podcast

Note: This is a script of today’s podcast. The audio can be accessed here 

Welcome to Doctrine for Body and Soul (DBS) hosted by Confex Makhalira. Doctrine for Body and Soul is a Christian podcast, which comes out every Mondays and Fridays. On Mondays the podcast brings you devotions for your encouragement in the walk with the Lord, and on Fridays the podcast analyzes current affairs, more especially, those of Africa, from a Biblical perspective. Thank you for joining us today.

Indeed a warm welcome to the very first episode of Doctrine for Body and Soul. Being a new podcast I need to give some introduction.

First, what is Doctrine for Body and Soul all about? As already mentioned at the beginning, this podcast will be made up of two components. The first component is devotional. Every Monday, the Lord willing, I will be bringing you devotions, which are brief exposition of Bible passages, to help us grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The second component is a commentary from a Biblical perspective on issues affecting believers all over the world, more especially, in Africa. Every Friday, the Lord willing, I will be providing a Biblical worldview analysis on current affairs in our world. It is no secret that the world is increasingly becoming so hostile to Christians that often we are faced with the major question: “How should we then live?” In Friday’s podcasts I will be endeavoring to bring God’s Word to bear on various developments, good or bad, around the globe.

We need to remember as the hymn writer once put it, “This is my Father’s World.” Although sometimes evil seems to gain the upper hand, the truth is that our Triune God is still sitting on the throne and is guiding all the affairs of his world and his Church toward one goal which is to glorify himself. This is why Paul reminds us in that beautiful doxology in Romans 11:33 and 36: “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways…For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.”

Indeed all things belong to God. This is why again the Psalmist in Psalm 24 reminds us that the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof. So let’s not lose sight of this important truth. This is our Father’s world. “O let me never forget. That though the wrong seems so strong, God is the ruler yet.”

Second, why this name, Doctrine for Body and Soul? Well, the word “doctrine” is derived from a Greek word which when translated into English means “teaching” while the phrase “body and soul” means the whole man. Often the Bible uses this phrase to refer to man as being both a spiritual and physical being. So Doctrine for Body and Soul podcast is about the Bible’s teaching regarding our spiritual and physical lives. In other words, this podcast is all about what the Scriptures teach us about our spiritual lives as citizens of heaven and also our physical lives as citizens this world.

Third, who is the man behind this podcast? Confex Makhalira is a trained broadcaster and a teacher of the Bible. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Biblical Studies with a minor in Radio Communications from the African Bible College in Lilongwe, Malawi. He is currently in his final year of studies for a Master of Divinity at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Having given this introduction, I would like us to look at this story from Zambia. In his blog post last week, Pastor Conrad Mbewe of Kabwata Baptist Church in Lusaka, Zambia, bemoaned the growing trend among Christians there to skip church on Sundays in order to attend a football or soccer match in which the Zambian National Team is playing. Pastor Mbewe wrote on his blog, Letter from Kabwata “Zambians need to ask themselves a heart-searching question: Could it be that football has become our idol?”…When we spend a whole week anticipating a football match instead of the worship of God on the Lord’s Day and then when the day comes we abandon the worship of God in order to shout and jump and scream in a stadium (or at home in front of a television set)…is this not idolatry?”

Then following this post, this week Pastor Mbewe, has blogged another post with the title, “We have lost the sense of God.” In this post he explains that he has been struggling to understand why Christians would prefer going to watch a football match to going to church. He writes, “After my last blog post in which I addressed the issue of believers abandoning going to church on a Sunday in preference for watching a football match, I tossed and turned most of the night. I kept asking myself how believers could do this. I could not understand how even pastors are now joining in this (practice) with a clear conscience. I mean, how?”

As he continued to think through this Pastor Mbewe came to one conclusion: “We have lost the sense of God.”  He then continues to observe that this loss of sense of God has come about because of the poor view of God, which many Christians have due to poor worship and preaching in Zambian churches. “When it comes to church…there is very little pausing for a moment of silence to prepare the soul to meet with the living God. You have a band that is already playing as people chat. The worship leader starts with jokes to get the atmosphere exciting. The songs are painfully repetitious of next to nothing—“God brought me from here and has taken me there,” over and over again! The preaching is also deliberately calculated to bring people back next week rather than to bring them face to face with the living God. Hence the preacher behaves more like a superstar than a prophet from God. Can such gimmicks surely give us a sense of God?”

And I would add that this problem is not only in Zambia but throughout the continent of Africa and even throughout the world.

Now one important thing we can learn from the observations of Pastor Mbewe is that if we are to develop a solid Biblical worldview, we need to attend churches where people worship God as he has commanded in his word and where the Bible is preached faithfully. A sound church is indispensable for equipping believers who will honor God in all areas of their lives. This then means that Christians who are not attending health churches can never develop a health Biblical worldview. Therefore, we should never underestimate the grace that God gives to his people through the ordinary means of faithful preaching and God-honoring worship. That’s what all Christians need.

 

 

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Uncategorized

A Podcast on the Way…

Dear subscribers, followers, and friends of Scripture Alone.

I would like to let you know that soon this blog will be featuring scripts of my podcast, Doctrine for Body and Soul to be launched shortly, Deo Volente. When that happens, I would like to request that you subscribe to the podcast as you have done to the blog. Eventually, I hope to merge the blog and the podcast into one website.

So, watch this space as the developments unfold…

Thank you for subscribing and following Scripture Alone.

Grace and peace.

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Sound Teaching

The Intercession of Christ

Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them (Hebrews 7:25).

The Westminster Shorter Catechism Question 23 asks: “What offices does Christ execute as our Redeemer?” Answer: “Christ, as our Redeemer, executes the offices of a prophet, of a priest, and of a king, both his estate of humiliation and exaltation.” Then in the following questions and answers the catechism explains that Christ as prophet he reveals God’s will for our salvation. As king he defends and protects us, and as priest he offered himself for the sins of his people and he continually intercedes for them.

In Hebrews 7:25 we perfectly see the office of Christ as priest. We are told that Christ intercedes for his people. But before we can look at these two points, we need to have a right view of Christ’s intercession. How does Christ intercede for his people? I believe John Calvin best answers this question. He says, “We are not to measure this intercession by our carnal judgment, for we must not think of Him as humbly supplicating the Father on bended knee and with outstretched hands. Christ however, is justly said to intercede for us, because He appears continually before the Father.” The intercession of Christ is his continual presence at the right hand of his Father.

Now the author of Hebrews 7:25 tells us two important things about this intercession: it is unfailing (he is able to save to uttermost) and unceasing (he always lives to make intercession). The intercession of ChrisT is unfailing because God the Father can never reject any of Christ’s prayers since Jesus’ prayers are always according to the will of the Father. It is also unceasing because Christ can never grow weary in interceding for his people. We sometimes grow weary in prayer, but that cannot be said of Christ. He lives to make intercession for his people.

So, due to Christ’s unfailing and unceasing intercession, all believers are assured that their faith will not fail. They will remain standing in Christ until the day he will call them to enter into his glory or when he shall come to this world in glory. This is why Paul states that he is confident that the one who has begun good work in us will also bring it to completion (Phil 1:6).

Peter’s life is a good proof  of this truth. On the night that Christ was betrayed, he said to Peter, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”” (Luke 22:31). But Peter promised never to forsake Christ.

It did not take long for Peter to realize that Christ was right. Peter denied Christ three times. Then the Lord looked at him and he was convicted. He went out and wept bitterly probably repenting of his sin. But the story does not end there. Some days later after Christ’s resurrection, Jesus appeared to Peter by the shores of Sea of Tiberias. Christ restored Peter and commanded him, “Feed my sheep,” (John 21). That prayer he prayed for Peter never failed.

The unceasing and unfailing intercession of Christ is the hope for every believer. This is why when Apostle Paul is discussing the intercession of Christ in Romans 8, he also emphatically states that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.

 

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Christianity and theology, Sound Teaching

Biblical Prophets Vs. Today’s Prophets

A couple of days ago, the social media was awash with a prophecy coming from the West Africa, Nigeria in particular. The so-called Prophet TB Joshua predicted the outcome of USA 2016 Elections. He stated that a female candidate would win. This was a reference to Hilary Clinton. However, come early this morning, the “prophecy” has proved to be another false prediction.

Now this is not the first time that prophets in my beautiful and beloved continent have predicted falsely. They are a number of instances that can be cited, but that is beside the point of this post. I am writing mainly to express my concern over some people’s unhealthy fascination with prophets.

Prophets have become so popular in Africa that they are regarded as semi-gods, which is certainly against the Second Commandment. Prophets have also become the elite and one of rich groups of people, monetary wise, at the expense of their poor followers. But this is very different from the picture we see of Biblical prophets both in the Old and New Testament.

The Biblical prophets were often unpopular. Their message was very offensive to those rebelling against God. The Biblical prophets were not crowd-pullers as our “prophets” today. They were not business magnets as the prophets our time. When one was called to be a prophet in the Bible, it often meant putting your life in the harm’s way.

While it was not all glamour and glitter for the Biblical prophets, it’s all a bed of roses for the contemporary “prophets.” The biographies of modern “prophets” stand in sharp contrast to the biographies of Elijah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos, and John the Baptist just to mention a few examples.

Looking at this fact, one thing is certain: the prophets like those in the Bible no longer exist. Without repeating what I have stated again and again, the ultimate fulfiment of the office of Biblical prophets is found in Christ (Hebrews 1:1-2). Jesus Christ is the Prophet par excellence. He is the only prophet we need today. In fact, he is not only the Prophet but also the Priest and King forever.

Now back to the prophecy of TB Joshua. His so-called prophecy should bring to mind Deuteronomy 18:20-22:

But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.’  And if you say in your heart, ‘How may we know the word that the Lord has not spoken?’ when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the word does not come to pass or come true that is a word that the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him.

Now we know how we should respond to TB Joshua and all the so-called prophets.

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Christianity and theology

Happy 499th Reformation Day!

Happy Reformation Day!

Today we celebrate 499 years since the Protestant Reformation began. We need to thank the Lord for his faithfulness and goodness to his church.

As I was reflecting on the Reformation, I thought of the common saying, “ecclesia reformata, semper reformanda (latin for “the church reformed, always reforming”). No doubt this one of the abused sayings in the Church today. Often it has been used to argue that the church needs to keep reforming or changing according to times.

For instance, I heard one arguing for female leadership in the church basing on the phrase. The argument went something like this: the church has been led by male leadership over the centuries, but now it’s time to embrace female leadership because the Church is reformed and always reforming.

What an abuse of this well-meaning phrase. The Church does not reform with times, it reforms with the word. Christ reforms his Church by the work of the Holy Spirit through the Word. Ecclesia reformata, semper reformanda secundum verbum Dei (the church reformed, always reforming according to the Word of God).

When the Old Testament church was deformed, God used the word to reform it (Nehemiah 8). The Pharisees also deformed the Church with their man made rules and Christ used the word to reform it (Matt. 5:17-20). The same thing happened in the 16th Century. God used his Word to Reform his Church. Reformation without the word is not Reformation at all. If the church is reforming without the Word, it is actually deforming.

Happy Reformation with the Word!

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Christianity and Society

Why Churches in Malawi Should Refuse to Endorse Abortion even on the Grounds of Rape or Incest

Recently, the Nyasa Times, one of Malawi’s online news sources, reported that Malawi churches are endorsing abortion here. I am saying Malawi churches because Malawi Council of Churches (MCC), which represents almost all denominations in Malawi has given a green light to the bill that legalizes abortion and is scheduled to be tabled in Malawi Parliament soon.

I already wrote against abortion here. But I am writing again because I believe that Malawi Council of Churches has failed to shine the light of the gospel in a world that is struggling to do what is biblically right in regard to the issue abortion.

The General  Secretary of MCC, Bishop Gilford Matonga, was quoted in the article asserting: “The church opposes abortion on demand; meaning if a woman is pregnant should not just seek abortion at free will. The proposed law gives three grounds on why abortion can be done. One is when she is raped, when her life is threatened by the pregnancy and on incest thus when a family member impregnates a child. But also when there is a malformation of the fetus- no proper development of the child in the womb.” The article then continued to say that MCC has endorsed and thrown its full support behind the bill.

The aim of this post is to critically look from a Biblical perspective the three grounds that MCC is advancing for its endorsement of the abortion bill which are rape, incest, and malformation of the fetus. I will not tackle the issue of therapeutic abortion (when the life of the mother is threatened) because I already discussed that in my previous blog post.

First, the MCC supports abortion of pregnancies due to rape cases. For sure, rape is one of most horrible and heinous sin that can be committed against a woman and ultimately against God himself. I believe human words cannot fully express the pain, shame, and disgrace that the victim of rape undergoes. So my argument does not intended to minimize the impact of violation that rape victims experience.

Having said that I still believe that rape should not justify abortion of the pregnancy that has come out of it because of the following reasons:

  • The Bible prohibits us from taking away the life of anybody including the baby that has been conceived in rape (Exodus 20:13). This is the obvious reason, is it not?
  • Every conceived baby is knitted together in his/her mother’s womb by God (Psalm 139:13) and is fearfully and wonderfully made by God (Psalm 139:14).
  • God is sovereign which means that God works all things according to the counsel of his will (Eph. 1:11) and there is nothing that can take place in this world without him willing it to occur. Now this is very hard to grasp and swallow, especially, in cases where a woman has been violated. However, for us Christians, we can rest assured (not without pain and sorrow) that all things work together for our good although we might not always see the good right away (Romans 8:28).

It is also important to remember that the baby conceived is as “innocent” as the mother carrying him or her. The baby is not the criminal and by God’s grace he/she might grow up to be a great instrument that God uses to advance his kingdom and glory in this world. So I believe the church should encourage Christians who have been raped not to abort the pregnancy rather it should come along and assist them through their trauma.

The words of Stephen Schwartz in his book, The Moral Question of Abortion, are worthy pondering: “Refusal to allow abortion for rape cases is not a failure of compassion…Saying no to the woman is not a lack of compassion for her, but simply calling attention to what abortion really is: murder. Refusal to sanction murder is not lack of compassion” (147).

Before I move to the next ground endorsed for abortion by MCC I should point out here that according to the literature that I have laid my hands on, the percentage of pregnancies that are due to rape is very small and within the single digits. Again, this is not to trivialize the sin or the problem of rape but only to acknowledge that the church will experience fewer cases of women who contemplate abortion because they were raped.

Secondly, MCC has backed abortion of pregnancies due to incest. Incest is a horrible sin and the Bible strongly condemns it in both the Old and New Testaments (Leviticus 18:6-18; Deut. 27:22; 1 Cor. 5:1-5). However, the Bible does not command us to murder babies that are born out of this sin. My reasons against abortion of the pregnancy due to incest are the same as those I have highlighted above namely: it is murder; the baby conceived is fearfully and wonderfully made by God; and as horrible as incest is, we still understand that it occurs not apart from God’s will.

Furthermore we need to consider the story of Jesus Christ. His family tree reveals two acts of incest. Two of his ancestors Lot and his first born daughter committed this sin and through them came the nation of the Moabites from which Ruth came from and through her came king David and ultimately Jesus himself (Gen. 19:30-38; Ruth 4:13-21; ). It’s not just Lot and his daughter but also two more other ancestors, Judah and Tamar. These two also committed incest (Gen. 38:1-30). Yet through their heinous and abhorrent sin, God worked all things according to the counsel of his will to bring the best out of it, Jesus Christ the only Savior of mankind (Matt. 1:2-6). Do you now see why we should believe that in all things God works for the good of his people?

According to the literature that I have read, the percentage of pregnancies that are a result of an incest relationship is also very small. Just as I have already stated, this is not to belittle the sin of incest but to acknowledge that the Church in Malawi and indeed the rest of the world will deal with fewer cases of pregnancy due to incest.

Lastly, MCC has endorsed abortion of pregnancies in which it is feared that the baby will not develop well. My apologies for repeating myself, but the answer to this issue is, again, God’s sovereignty. He is the one who has knitted together the baby with that disability. Any perceived anomaly does not mean that the child will not develop to the full. How many stories have we heard of couples who were told by doctors that their conceived baby will not develop to the full and later the doctors were proven wrong? Doesn’t Job remind us that our lives are in God’s hand from the day we are conceived (Job 12:10) and no single person has the power and the right to decide that because there are fears that a baby might not develop well in the womb, he/she should be killed?

Moreover, we need to remember that all of us are conceived deformed with sin. “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me,” confesses David in Psalm 51:5. It is only through the grace of God that we are brought to the Chief Surgeon, Jesus Christ, who reforms and transforms and makes whole again through the Holy Spirit and the gospel. Can’t we trust God to do the same to the babies who might be deformed physically? Doesn’t he have the power to preserve and sustain their lives?

All in all, abortion is very horrible and no single church in Malawi should endorse a bill that seeks to legalize it. Therefore, without fear of contradiction, I can boldly state here that MCC has missed it. They have failed to be the light and salt of the world as Christ commands his Church to be. However, it is not too late to recant and withdraw the endorsement. My prayer is that MCC will do just that.

 

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