Showing posts with label repentance. Show all posts
Showing posts with label repentance. Show all posts

Wednesday, 13 January 2021

Repentance before God or business as usual?

We thank God for bringing us into the New Year 2021. We come in, full of faith in what our God can do and full of hope in the pictures His promises paint to us. Many of us are seeking the Lord’s face to know what He will have us do. At the end of the day, it matters what we come out with as the word from the Lord. This brings us to the issue this discussion is focusing on today – the matter of false prophecies by Christians, especially when they come from respected Church leaders.

Some days ago, I watched with tears in my eyes, a video clip that contains the several prophecies made by many church leaders in December 2019 and January 2020 concerning what year 2020 would hold. Almost all of them were declaring like the Hananiah and other prophets in Jeremiah 28. In Jeremiah 28, while God was warning them through Prophet Jeremiah and intended them to repent from their sins and pass through the humiliation and burden of serving the King of Babylon, these prophets were declaring bogus peace and restoration and telling them that there was no reason to worry. God said that their prophecies only ended up sealing the people’s fate to be exiled from Judah (Jer.27:14-15). Year 2020 was one of the most difficult years the world has ever experienced, but none of these prophets saw it. They declared a year of peace and laughter when there was none. It wasn't.

Furthermore, many Christians for one reason or another, were very interested in what would be the outcome of the United States Presidential Election. The election has come and gone and President Trump lost. All his efforts to get the results overturned proved abortive. Going through the prophecies from some prominent Christian leaders, it shows that many of them got it all wrong. They said that God told them that Trump would win but he ended up losing. Then I ask, who actually spoke to them? This is because, one of the marks of God’s word is that it gets fulfilled against all odds. Many have tried giving reasons why what they prophesied did not come to pass. But none of their reasons suffices. Michael Brown shared a very insightful thought here. Yes, to all the prophets that normally give prophecies, you are either right or wrong. “There are no middle grounds”, he said. Either God speaks to you and it comes to pass or He does not speak to you and hence what you prophesy will not come to pass. He suggested that at the end, there will be need for “serious accountability, reflection and even repentance.” Already, there are two Pastors that have led the train of apologizing to their followers for giving false prophecies. Pastor Jeremiah Johnson had prophesied that President Trump would win a second term election and be returned back to the White House. It didn’t happen. He apologized to his followers and repented of his false prophecy, “I would like to repent for inaccurately prophesying that Donald Trump would win a second term as the President of the United States”. He took full responsibility. Some Christians are against his repentance but it is encouraging to read the comment of the New Testament Scholar, Craig Keener, “Thank you for your integrity. May many follow your model. And God help us with those who are being so hostile”. Kris Valloton issued his own apology and congratulated the President-elect Biden and promised to be praying for him. He said, “I take full responsibility for being wrong. There is no excuse for it. I think it doesn’t make me a false prophet but it does actually create a credibility gap. A lot of people trust me… I want to say I’m sorry”.

Personally, that is a Christian character. To be a Christian does not mean that you may not sin at any time along your journey, but it matters what you do next when you realize you have sinned.

I believe that we need to repent in Nigeria as a church and not carry on with business as usual. We have seen a lot of false prophecies; people gave their monies and sowed seeds without results; expectations were crashed as many waited for some prophecies that did not come to pass; bogus claims failed to yield results; the faith of many of our young people are shaken as they watch with questions in their minds. Unfortunately, even the questions of young people are not given adequate attention and answer. We have a generation of youths that do not believe in our God because there are credibility gaps here and there and all we do in most cases is to keep silence.

This January 2021 as we pray, I feel very strongly that instead of declaring things we did not hear from the throne of God, we should repent and present the Church before the Lord for His fresh visitation. Peradventure, He will remember us and show us mercy, especially to this our beloved country.

God bless you and Happy New Year.

Monday, 26 September 2011

A professing Christian must be a practicing Christian.

“Bear fruit that befits repentance, and do not presume to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father';…” Matt 3:8-9 RSV

Talk is cheap. Anybody can say anything, claim anything and profess anything. All without charge!

When it comes to real Christianity, a professing Christian should be a practicing Christian. What you claim matters. What you profess matters. However, what you practice matters most. That is what actually confirms what you claim and profess whether you are authentic or a liar and a hypocrite.

John the Baptist, in rebuking the Pharisees and the Sadducees, challenged them to prove that they have turned from sin by doing worthy deeds. It’s not enough to come to baptism to show the world that you have repented. It’s not enough to profess to be a Christian. You must bear fruits that show it. You must prove it.

A car sticker once came out with these words, “whether you like it or not, I am born again”. I want to say that this is not in keeping with what we see in the Scriptures. The attitude of I-do-not-care-what-they-say-or-think must be checked to make sure we are not being blinded by arrogance and self conceit.

We must always do self examination. What-they-say, especially if they are saying the truth about us, must give us concern. It must bother us when people around us are pointing to the fact that what we practice is different from what we profess.

If we say we are born again, we must bear fruits that show it. It is not enough to belong to the ‘lineage of Abraham’ or whatever that may mean to anybody. It is not enough to look religious or belong to a popular church or a holier-than-thou group. What we do shows what we believe regardless of what we say. In a world of crashing values and system, those that profess to belong to Christ must live above board and show that they are different. This is the challenge that the Bible poses to us. The world begs to see the difference!

Friday, 22 April 2011

'New Birth' without Repentance?

“19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;” Acts 3:19 (KJV)

There are many things that keep me scared in the church today. As I listen to several preachers and teachers around us both from the pulpit and other media outlets, and then reading the preaching and teachings of the Apostles and several church fathers, I see a world of difference. One wonders why we are having different results from what they experienced. We live in a generation where sin is rarely mentioned and everybody is taught how to appropriate the blessings of God and live comfortable here on earth but no emphasis is made on how to live a life of victory over sin and self, which determines one’s eternal future. Nobody is saying that a Christian should not work hard and live comfortable here on earth as much as God allows him, but comfort should not be pursued at the expense of eternity. An ungodly life with all the wealth and comfort that this world can offer is wasted and doomed as long as the Kingdom of God is concerned. A life that is lived for pleasure and self has no hope and cannot end up in the bossom of the Lord no matter the positions and power it commanded on earth. Just being religious cannot make a soul experience "a time of refreshing from the presence of the Lord".

The Apostles did not frequently use the word ‘born again’. Reading through the epistles, I have not seen anywhere where someone was asked “Are you born again?” But were people getting born again? Sure! Were people’s lives being changed? Sure! Were Christians living in victory over sin and self? Absolutely yes! Now, what is the difference between their preaching and ours today? What was the content of their message that we have abandoned today? I want to share just one of them.

The Apostles vigorously preached against sin and asked people to repent and be converted. As I just opened the Concordance and typed in the word ‘repent’, it came out to be a word that is widely spread through both the Old Testament and the New Testament. (See Acts 2: 38; 3:19; 8:2; 17:30; 26:20). I have asked myself several times, “Is it possible to get born again without repentance?” The answer is NO! But unfortunately, the kind of gospel we preach today seems to tell people that it’s possible to be ‘born again’, experience all the blessings of God without repentance. We invite people to give their lives to Jesus we have not told them Who He is or what He has done to save them. We only present Him as if He is a tool to be used to achieve our dreams. So after preaching about ‘reigning in life’, ‘how to dominate over others’ and ‘how to destroy all our enemies and win in the war over poverty etc’, we then tell them that they cannot experience the blessings except they get ‘born again’. They would walk the aisle and ‘give’ their lives to the Jesus they do not know. They only know Him as the One to help them achieve all the things mentioned to them. Hence you find Christians who confess being ‘born again’ doing all kinds of terrible things in their workplaces so as to make money. You meet Christians who are as hardened as a rock in the Churches who the Word of God does not shake. They speak the language, do the activities and pray all the prayers but their lives are not different from their average countrymen.

As if that is not enough, some pastors make them feel that all they care for is their money and some are even given positions of authority. By doing this, their hearts are deceived that all is well. They are puffed up and they close every door to humbling themselves in repentance to God. Some of them resort to doing everything possible to just make sure they defend and please the pastors thinking that doing so ultimately grants them favour before God. What a great deception! The pastors allow it so because it feeds their relevance and pays their bills.

Indeed, we are in deep trouble and I’m deeply scared! Sin is still sending many to Hell and nobody seems to be shouting on top of his voice for people to hear, “repent and be converted”.

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