Sound Teaching

Beware of False Prophets

I believe John Calvin has a better commentary on these words of Christ than I could ever pen down.  Therefore, I will let him speak.

“But beware of false prophets (Matthew 7:15).  These words were intended to teach, that the Church would be exposed to various (impostors), and that consequently many would be in danger of falling from the faith, if they were not carefully on their guard. We know what a strong inclination men have towards falsehood, so that they not only have a natural desire to be deceived, but each individual appears to be ingenious in deceiving himself.

Satan, who is a wonderful contriver of delusions, is constantly laying snares to entrap ignorant and heedless persons. (Jesus) therefore warns his disciples that, if they desire to persevere (in the faith), they must prepare themselves to avoid the snares of Satan. It is the will of the Lord, (as has been already said,) that his Church shall be engaged in uninterrupted war in this world. That we may continue to be his disciples to the end, it is not enough that we are merely submissive, and allow ourselves to be governed by his Word. Our faith, which is constantly attacked by Satan, must be prepared to resist.

It is of the greatest consequence, undoubtedly, that we should let ourselves to be directed by good and faithful ministers of Christ: but as false teachers, on the other hand, make their appearance, if we do not carefully watch, and if we are not fortified by perseverance, we shall be easily carried off from the flock. To this purpose also is that saying of Christ: “The sheep hear the voice of the shepherd; and a stranger. They do not follow, but flee from him,” (John 10:3, 5)

Hence too we conclude, that there is no reason why believers should be discouraged or alarmed, when wolves creep into the fold of Christ, when false prophets endeavor to corrupt the purity of the faith by false doctrines. They ought rather to be aroused to keep watch: for it is not without reason that Christ enjoins them to be on their guard. Provided that we are not led astray through our own sluggishness, we shall be able to avoid every kind of snares; and, indeed, without this confidence, we would not have the courage necessary for being on our guard.

Now that we know that the Lord will not fail to perform his promises, whatever may be the attacks of Satan, let us go boldly to the Lord, asking from him the Spirit of wisdom, by whose influences he not only seals on our hearts the belief of his truth, but exposes the tricks and impositions of Satan, that we may not be deceived by them. When Christ says, that they come to us in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves, his meaning is, that they (will seem to be true), if prudence be not exercised in subjecting them to a thorough examination” ~ John Calvin (July 10, 1509 to May 27, 1564)

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My Life as a Christian

May You Have a Blessed and Christ-Centered 2014

Dear follower and reader of Scripture Alone,

Thank you so much for following and reading the blog in 2013. Thank you very much also for you comments. I would like also to thank those who rebloged or shared the blog with other readers. I should confess here: “I write so that God’s truth should be read by many, and when you visit the blog, read it and share it with others, I am always glad.”

My prayer is that God will continue to use the blog to His own glory in 2014. By God’s grace, Scripture Alone will continue to “Give a reason for our faith and contend for this faith to the glory of God.”

Once again, thank you very much for reading and following the blog.

May you have a Blessed 2014 and may Christ and His Word richly dwell in you

New year Card

Image from: http://photo.elsoar.com

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My Life as a Christian

Lecture #2: The Call to the Ministry (Last Session)

In this session, Pastor Spurgeon concludes the lecture, The Call to the Ministry, with the following observation from his personal experience as the head of Pastors College:

“I do not set myself up to judge whether a man shall enter the ministry or not, but my examination merely aims at answering the question whether this institution shall help him, or leave him to his own resources…My heart has always leaned to the kindest side, but duty to the churches has compelled me to judge with sever discrimination. After hearing what the candidate has had to say, having read his testimonials and seen his replies to question, when I have felt convinced that the Lord had not called him, I have been obliged to tell him so.

“Young brethren apply who earnestly desire to enter the ministry, but it is painfully apparent that their main motive is an ambitious desire to shine among men. These men are from a common point of view to be commended for aspiring, but then the pulpit is never to be the ladder by which ambition is to climb.

“Men who since conversion have betrayed great feebleness of mind and are readily led to embrace strange doctrines or to fall into evil company and gross sin, I never can find it in my heart to encourage to enter the ministry, let their professions be what they may. Let them, if truly penitent, keep in the rear ranks. Unstable as water they will not excel.  So, too those who cannot endure hardness, but are for the kid-gloved order, I refer elsewhere. We want soldiers, not fops, earnest laborers, not genteel loiterers.

“I have met ten, twenty, a hundred brethren, who have pleaded that they were sure, quite sure that they were called to the ministry because they had failed in everything else. My answer generally is, “Yes, I see, you have failed in everything else, and therefore you think the Lord has specially endowed you for his service; but I fear you have forgotten that the ministry needs the very best of men; and not those who cannot do anything else.

“We have occasionally had applications at which, perhaps, you would be amazed, from men who are evidently fluent enough, and who answer all our questions very well, except those upon their doctrinal views…I mention it because it illustrates our conviction that men are not called into ministry who have no knowledge and no definite belief. When a young fellow say that they have not made up their minds upon theology, they ought to go back to the Sunday-school until they have. For a man to come shuffling into a college, pretending that he holds his mind open to any form of truth, and that he is eminently receptive, but has not settled in his mind such things as whether God has an election of grace, or whether he loves his people to the end, seems to me to be a perfect monstrosity.”

Here ends, lecture #2.

 

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My Life as a Christian

Pray That Your Character and Ministry Agree

Pastor Spurgeon continues with his lecture entitled, “Minister’s Self-Watch.” For the last two classes, he has lectured on two points namely that a minister or any servant of Christ must be a converted man and have vigorous piety. Today, he concludes the lecture with this final point: a minister or any servant of God should take care THAT HIS PERSONAL CHARACTER AGREES IN ALL RESPECTS WITH HIS MINISTRY. Let’s listen and learn from our professor. Please note that taking notes from the lectures is strictly encouraged although there will be no exams at the end.

“As actions, according to the proverb, speak louder than words, so an ill life effectually drown the voice of the most eloquent ministry…Abhor, brethren, the thought of being clockwork ministers who are not alive by abiding grace within, but are wound up by temporary influences; men who are only ministers for the time being, under the stress of the hour of ministering, but cease to be ministers when they descend the pulpit stairs. True ministers are always ministers.

“It is a horrible thing to be an inconsistent minister…if holiness be wanting, the ambassadors dishonor the country from whence they come, and the prince from whom they come…the life of a preacher should be a magnet to draw men to Christ, and it is sad indeed when it keeps them from him. Sanctity in a minister is a loud call to sinners to repent, and when allied with holy cheerfulness it becomes wondrously attractive.

“You must be a man of God, not after the common manner  of men, but ‘after God’s own heart; and men will strive to be like you, if you be like to God: but when you only stand at the door of virtue, for nothing but to keep sin out, you will draw into the folds of Christ none but such as fear drives in.

“When we say to you, my dear brethren, take care of your life, we mean be careful of even the minute of your character. Avoid little debts, unpunctuality, gossiping, nicknaming, petty quarrels, and all other of those little vices which fill the ointment with flies. The self indulgence which have lowered the repute of many must not be tolerated by us. The familiarities which have laid others under suspicion, we must chastely avoid. The roughness which have rendered some obnoxious, and the fopperies which have made others contemptible, we must put away.

“Even in your recreations, remember that you are ministers. When you are off the parade you are still officers in the army of Christ, and as such demean yourselves. But if the lesser things must be looked after, how careful should  you be in the great matters of morality, honesty, and integrity! Here the minister must not fail. His private life must ever keep good tune with his ministry, or his day will soon set with him, and the sooner he retires the better, for his continuance in his office will only dishonor the cause of God and ruin himself.

“Brethren, the limits of a lecture are reached, and we must adjourn.”

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Christianity and theology

When Success Eludes God’s Children

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to [his] purpose,” boldly declares Romans 8:28 (KJV).

It is good that the verse clarifies that it is not for everyone that all things work together for the good. It is only those who love God and are called by him. Those who are called by God are his children. So, in other words, the verse says that all things work together for the good of Christians.

It is one thing to accept this verse as it is it appears on the pages of Scripture and it is quite another to accept it in real life experience. We are living in the world that exalts success. Everywhere we go, achievements are lifted high and rarely do we hear stories of failure. It is as if failure does not exist. Even in churches we share our victories in Christ and hardly do we share otherwise.

This has led many to believe that Christianity and success are synonyms; however, this is not true. Christians also face failure. However, what differs between Christian and non-Christians is that the former have a comfort that God in all things (including that failure) is working for their own good while the former regards it as a hindrance to their brighter future.

This is not to mean that Christians accept their failure and sit down. Not at all! They work hard to succeed yet at the same time they realize that failure is not out of God’s plan for their life. A very well known American theologian, A.W. Tozer, once wrote that Christians travel an appointed way.  This is true. Everything that happens in our life including failure was already ordained by God even before the foundations of the earth were laid.

Therefore, we should never regard failure as a weird thing in the plan of God for our lives.  Believe you me, God will allow failure to come our way as long as it is part of his plan for our lives.

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Christianity and theology

Work Out Your Salvation

Philippians 2:12, 13 reads:  “Therefore my beloved, as you have always obeyed… work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and work for his good pleasure.”

Do these verses teach that salvation is by works? Not at all! Salvation means more than just regeneration (being born-again) because salvation includes being declared righteous before God on the basis of Christ’s righteousness (justification) and being conformed to the character of Christ (sanctification).

These verses are referring to sanctification.  In sanctification God plays his role and we pray our role too. God gives us the grace to will and work for his good pleasure but it takes us to obey and act.

Consider an example of a drunkard who gets converted. God will give him the grace and power of not going back to getting drunk but it will literary take this person not to touch the bottle and put it on his mouth. It’s absurd to think that because this person is saved whenever he is tempted to get drunk, an invisible hand of God will always push his hand away from the bottle.

This is what it means to work out our salvation. God gives us the grace and power to reject sin but it takes us to take action to avoid or overcome sin in our lives.

 

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My Life as a Christian

Thank You

This is the first post on this blog in this year 2013. A few days ago, we were in 2012 but now the year 2012  is fast becoming history. Oh, how time flies! As we sink deeper and deeper in the year, I would like to take time and thank God for enabling me to write and share His word in 2012. Writing is never always easy; however, by His grace, He enabled me to put ink on paper in the year. Glory to Him alone.

Above all, I thank God the Father for His indescribable gift of Christ. It is because of this Christ that this blog exists. Without Christ, I could not have written whatever has been posted on the blog. Please ascribe all the errors on this blog to me but all the glory belongs to Christ whom without him, I am a dead man in sin and trespasses.

My thanks also should go to the readers of the blog, especially, those who take their time to give me feedback and comments. You will never know how encouraging and motivating your feedback is to me.

I would like also to thank my family and friends for supporting and encouraging me to keep on writing. There were times when the mind went blank not knowing what to write next but you helped me with ideas and topics. There was also time for tough love when I had to share a hard teaching on the blog. Thank you for encouraging me when I was hesitant.  What could I have done without you?

As we look forward to what God will bring us in 2013, I pray that He in His grace will continue to use this blog to glorify himself and that He will increase while all of us decrease for  “God is most glorified in us, when we are most satisfied in him” (John Piper).

May you have a blessed and gracious 2013.

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Uncategorized

The ‘Roots’ of Christ

Some have accused Christians of always trying to paint a good picture of Christ. These people have even gone to the extreme of ‘exposing negative stories’ about Christ which they say Christians have always kept under the carpet.

However, this is a sad accusation because Christianity or the Bible does not hide anything about Christ including those incidents that seem embarrassing. Therefore, God willing, from this week, as we look forward to Christmas, we will dwell on the genealogy or the descendants of Christ whose life stories are not all that beautiful. These include Tamar who seduced her father-in-law,  Judah, to sleep with her, Rehab who was a prostitute, and Manasseh one of the most evil kings of Judah.

When we read and reflect on the life stories of these people, we are amazed at how God could allow such people to be the descendants of Jesus. It only confirms that God’s ways are not indeed our ways.

Furthermore, the stories of some of these descendants assure us that God’s grace is indeed amazing for it transforms sinners into saints.  These stories also show us that God is not limited or controlled by our sinfulness.  We might not be faithful, but He always remains faithful and he can accomplish his good will even through our unfaithfulness.  We might have evil intentions, but he overcomes them with his goodness.

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Uncategorized

Is My Church Turning Into a Club?

“On a dangerous seacoast notorious for shipwrecks, there was a crude little lifesaving station. Actually, the station was merely a hut with only one boat . . . but the few devoted members kept a constant watch over the turbulent sea. With little thought for themselves, they would go out day and night tirelessly searching for those in danger as well as the lost. Many, many lives were saved by this brave band of men who faithfully worked as a team in and out of the lifesaving station. By and by, it became a famous place.

Some of those who had been saved as well as others along the seacoast wanted to become associated with this little station. They were willing to give their time and energy and money in support of its objectives. New boats were purchased. New crews were trained. The station that was once obscure and crude and virtually insignificant began to grow.

Some of its members were unhappy that the hut was so unattractive and poorly equipped. They felt a more comfortable place should be provided. Emergency cots were replaced with lovely furniture. Rough, hand-made equipment was discarded and sophisticated, classy systems were installed. The hut, of course, had to be torn down to make room for all the additional equipment, furniture, systems, and appointments. By its completion, the life-saving station had become a popular gathering place, and its objectives had begun to shift. It was now used as sort of a clubhouse, an attractive building for public gatherings. Saving lives, feeding the hungry, strengthening the fearful, and calming the disturbed rarely occurred by now.

Fewer members were now interested in braving the sea on lifesaving missions, so they hired professional lifeboat crews to do this work. The original goal of the station wasn’t altogether forgotten, however. The lifesaving motifs still prevailed in the club’s decorations. In fact, there was a liturgical lifeboat preserved in the Room of Sweet Memories with soft, indirect lighting, which helped hide the layer of dust upon the once-used vessel.

About this time a large ship was wrecked off the coast and the boat crews brought in loads of cold, wet, half-drowned people. They were dirty, some terribly sick and lonely. Others were black and “different” from the majority of the club members. The beautiful new club suddenly became messy and cluttered. A special committee saw to it that a shower house was immediately built outside and away from the club so victims of shipwreck could be cleaned up before coming inside.

At the next meeting there were strong words and angry feelings, which resulted in a division among the members. Most of the people wanted to stop the club’s lifesaving activities and all involvements with shipwreck victims . . . (“it’s too unpleasant, it’s a hindrance to our social life, it’s opening the door to folks who are not our kind“). As you’d expect, some still insisted upon saving lives, that this was their primary objective—that their only reason for existence was ministering to anyone needing help regardless of their club’s beauty or size or decorations. They were voted down and told if they wanted to save the lives of various kinds of people who were shipwrecked in those waters, they could begin their own lifesaving station down the coast! They did.

As years passed, the new station experienced the same old changes. It evolved into another club . . . and yet another lifesaving station was begun. History continued to repeat itself . . . and if you visit that coast today you’ll find a large number of exclusive, impressive clubs along the shoreline owned and operated by slick professionals who have lost all involvement with the saving of lives.

Shipwrecks still occur in those waters, but now most of the victims are not saved. Every day they drown at sea, and so few seem to care . . . so very few. Do you” (Growing Strong in the Seasons of Life, © 1983 by Charles R. Swindoll).

This parable can also be applied to what is happening in our African churches today. There was a time when all Christians would agree that the Bible is God’s Word and all that it commands us should be obeyed without questioning. Back then, the love for God’s Word was so great. Churches were born to proclaim Christ and the love of God for all. Sin was rebuked and was called what it is, “sin.” But some became unhappy with the status quo. They wanted to change God’s purpose for His Church for the “better.”And now, like that old lifesaving station, many churches have and are shifting away from their God-given vision.  Churches can now choose which passages of Scripture are God’s Word and should be obeyed unquestionably and which passages are not God’s Word hence should be discarded. My heart breeds in grief!

Today, you can go to a church and listen to a whole sermon without hearing the proclamation of Christ in it. Gone are the days when sermons were preached and people were convicted of sin and cried for help from the Savior. Today, when you go to church, members cheer the preacher and throw money at him (kusupa) to preach more what it pleasing to their ears.  It’s heartbreaking!

Gone are those days when church leaders would boldly stand and call a spade, a spade and not a big spoon. But today, some pastors and Christian leaders are afraid to call sin, “sin;” instead, you hear statements like: “No, it’s not sin, that’s how somebody was born, and God loves them the way they are and we can do nothing about it. Don’t judge.” Really?

Like that initial saving station which later turned into a club, we are also guilty of turning our churches into clubs where people can come to learn how to get rich and prosper and become most successful in life with little care about their spiritual lives.  We are guilty of converting the church into a club where people burdened with sin can come and live comfortably as if they are no slaves to sin at all. We have turned the church to a club that aims at entertaining its patrons and never dare disappoint them with the truth of Christ. Oh, Lord have mercy on us!

But we shouldn’t loose hope. In times like these, God has always shown us in Scripture that He always sets apart the remnants who rise and stand up for God’s truth not matter the cost. We should pray, earnestly, for these remnants. God says to the remnants:

 “Preach the Word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort with complete patience and teaching…build yourselves up in your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit; keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by sin” (2 Timothy 4:2;  Jude 20-23).

The remnants care. Do you?

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Christianity and Society

Christian Leadership is Not for New Converts

A couple of years ago, I was privileged to be part of a Christian group that conducted Bible studies every week and also encouraged one another through God’s word. One summer, the group organized a retreat at the lake and we were joined by two other friends who had just been converted to Christianity.

For some reasons, unknown to me, the leadership of our group entrusted these newly converted brothers with some leadership roles at the retreat. This was a great mistake as we will later realize. During the retreat, various teachings were programmed. But trouble came up when it was a turn for a teaching that had to deal courtship and marriage.

Ten minutes into this teaching, the two brothers felt it was not ‘spiritual enough’ so one of them  stood up while the teacher was speaking and told him in the face: “Sorry sir, but as one of the conveners at this retreat, I see that this is not what God wants. We can’t come all the way here to hear about courtship and marriage. God is telling me that we should spend more time in prayer not unnecessary teaching like this one.”

Boy! I couldn’t believe my ears. The brother was very zealous for the Lord but had little knowledge. The speaker was evidently embarrassed.  But thank God that despite being offended by these remarks, the speaker handled it very well  and we continued with our program.

Later as I reflected on this scenario, 1 Timothy 3 came to my mind. In this chapter, Paul discusses qualifications for Christian leaders and one qualification he lays out is that a Christian leader “must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil” (1 Timothy 3:6).

I, strongly, believe that the leadership of our group was wrong in entrusting leadership roles to these newly converted brothers. They were supposed to grow first in the faith as well as learn from other mature Christian leaders before they could provide leadership. I don’t think that someone who’s grown and continues to grow in their faith would regard a Biblical teaching on courtship and marriage as unnecessary and unspiritual.

This is just one of many examples of challenges the church faces as a result of entrusting leadership to new converts. Please get me right, I don’t mean to say that new converts are of no use in God’s Kingdom. This is not what I am saying and meaning. Rather, basing on Scripture I am arguing that new converts should be taught first and enabled to grow in their faith before they can lead.

It saddens my heart to see a person getting converted today and in no time he is pastoring a church. No, this can’t be! What kind of pastorate is this brother going to provide. Also, get me right. I don’t intended to underestimate the gifts and power that God gives out even to new converts. However, these gifts need to be nurtured over a period so that they can be used in a proper way that glorifies God.

In this part of the world, where many Christian leaders hardly make it into seminary, Bible or theological college due to lack of resources and inadequacy of training institutions, I would not argue that every new convert should be trained in such institutions before he leads a church; nevertheless, I would suggest that if one cannot make it into to a training institution, he should learn under a mature and godly Christian leader or leaders for some time before he can venture into leadership of God’s flock.  Timothy never went to seminary but he learnt from his spiritual Father Paul. Even apostle Paul, himself, before he ventured fully into Christian leadership on his own, he partnered with Barnabas and in the process he learnt some lessons of Christian leadership, I believe.

As somebody said, “Every Timothy needs Paul and every Paul needs Timothy” I would like to encourage our mature Christian leaders to identify young people, probably, those who have just been converted to Christianity and train them in Christian leadership. Young people should also be humble enough to sit down under mature and godly men and learn from them how to lead God’s flock in a way that glorifies God.  In this way, the church will never give leadership responsibility to a recent convert who may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil.

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