Sunday, January 29, 2012

Yielded to Righteousness

Passage Romans 6:19-23

Prayer

Righteous Father, Master of my life, as I once yielded my members to impurity and greater and greater iniquity, so now I yield them to you for righteousness and sanctification.
Thank you for setting me free from sin and making me your slave, your rich slave, because the return I get is sanctification and its result, eternal life.
Thank you for your free gift of eternal life in Christ Jesus, my Lord.
In the name of Jesus I thank you for your wonderful grace and all your gifts.
Amen.

A Slave of Righteousness

I'm a Slave of righteousness

Passage Romans 6:12-18

Prayer

ALMIGHTY Father, Master of my life, help me to yield myself to you as one who has been brought from death to life. Help me yield my members to you as instruments of righteousness.
Let not sin reign in my body, making me obey its passions. Let sin have no dominion over me, since I am not under law but grace.
I praise you, God, that whereas I was once a slave of sin, I became obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which I have committed.
Thank you for setting me free from sin that I might become a slave of righteousness.
In the name of Jesus I thank you for your wonderful grace and all your gifts.
Amen.

Free From Sin

Free from sin

Passage Romans 6:6-11

Prayer

Holy Father, in whom I am alive, thank you that my old self was crucified with Christ so that my sinful body might be destroyed, and that I might no longer be a slave to sin.
Thank you for freeing me from sin through my dying with Jesus. Death can never touch Jesus again. He lives his life unto you. Likewise help me to consider myself dead to sin and alive to you in him!
Help me to believe, and live out the fact, that sin and death can never touch me either, since I joined Jesus in his dying through my baptism into him.
In Jesus' name.
Amen.

Alive in Christ

Passage Romans 6:1-5
Prayer
Father, God of grace,Shall I continue in sin that grace may abound? Never, never, never! May I never presume that being under grace is a license to sin.
How can I live in sin when, through baptism into Christ, I have died to sin? If I have been baptized into his death, should I not walk in newness of life, even as Christ did when he was raised from the dead by your glory?
If I have died with Christ, I will also live with him.
Thank you for the confidence and hope your promise gives me. In Jesus' name.
Amen.

The Righteous Reign of Grace

The Righteous Reign of Grace

Passage Romans 5:18-24

Prayer
Good Father, bestower of eternal life,How amazing that, even though one man's disobedience leads to condemnation, the obedience of Jesus acquits us, makes us righteous and leads to life!
Thank you that, whereas law increased the trespass, your grace abounded all the more! Sin reigned in death, but your grace reigned through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Thank you, Father in heaven. Thank you, thank you, thank you! In the name of Jesus, our Savior and Justifier, I offer this thanks and praise for your wonderful grace.
Amen.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Christianity is more than a name!


 Acts 19:1-41
If you call the tail of a cow a leg, how many legs does a cow have? Someone will very promptly say, “Five of course!” But the question is, “How many legs does a cow use to walk?” This will make you realize that a cow still has four legs despite the claim of ‘five legs, including its tail! Calling a tail of a cow a leg doesn’t make it one. Calling a non-believer a Christian doesn’t make him one, either! To take a name is to take a claim. Therefore to say that you are saved because you attend church every Sunday mornings doesn’t make you one. That you were brought up in a Christian home and you were baptized as an infant doesn’t make one a Christian.
You must realize that, if you call yourself a Christian you are claiming to be a follower or a disciple of Jesus Christ. You are saying that you want everyone to know that you are a Christian and you are not ashamed to be one – in fact to the contrary you are telling everyone that you are one by not just words but by your character and lifestyle, mind and heart, your family and your friends. All that you are and have defines you as one owned by Christ. The Bible constantly urges us to live up to the name of Christ who we profess to believe and trust, Christ whom we depend on and live for. We are constantly urged never to forget that we are Christ’s ambassadors, witnesses, workmen and slaves in all the aspects of our lives – whether we eat or drink. It is the Name of Christ that is written in our foreheads. The name that Christians represent is not just a mere name in word i.e. J-e-s-u-s. There must be a reality of knowing the Person – Jesus Christ who is the Saviour sent of God to save sinners.
What I am here to tell you today in my 20th sermon from Acts, is that it is not enough to be called a Christian – you must actually and indeed be a Christian because you need more than a name. You must see that the Bible does not say anything of non-practicing Christians because there is no such a thing as a non-practicing Christians. In this chapter we meet various people – some genuine Christians believers called the Disciples of Christ, willing to die for Him. But we also see fake ‘Christians’ who more than anything need the gospel that they may believe in Christ and be saved and have an eternal inheritance in the glory of God.
In the first place, Christianity is not just a name because; when you believe you receive the Holy Spirit
You realize that the condition of sin is such that it leaves its slave completely unable to do anything to free himself from its yoke of bondage. One who is a captive of sin is bound so much that he would spend his time like Demetrius and company serving idols like Artemis or Diana, who filled up the great city of Ephesus with idols. The devil makes a captive of sinners so that they would be willing to spend all their resources to build an idol called Diana such a magnificent temple as the temple, the  seventh wonder of the world, which was so highly venerated that they could not allow Alexander the Great to have his name inscribed on it even on a promise of a great reward.
Without the Holy Spirit working in one’s life, he remains in utter darkness, without hope and without God. Without the Holy Spirit one remains ignorant of Christ. He remains deficient of the salvation that comes from Him. It when one receives the Spirit of God that he is animated and activated as to conduct himself as a Christian. The Lord Himself explained that there was the need for the Holy Spirit so that when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. (John 16:8-11).
But when the Holy Spirit comes into a sinner’s heart, he shows him the terribleness of his sins so that the sinner loathes and hates the sins so much as to try to leave them. The Holy Spirit points the sinner to Christ having regenerated them. When the Holy Spirit works in the heart of a person as to produce repentance, we call it regeneration or being born again. This precedes the conversion itself, otherwise where will a helpless sinner get the courage and strength to go to Christ? How can a dead sinner call upon the Name of the Lord without the help of the Spirit of God? How can one who is an enemy of God go to God without a mediator? It is only until the Spirit of God comes that one’s mind is turned from its focus in sin and sinful habits to turn to the Living God. It is until one has had the Holy Spirit open the eyes of understanding that he becomes aware of the danger of sin, fully comprehends the glories of heaven. This is what happened to the 12 disciples who confessed that "No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit."  
But when they heard of the Holy Spirit they believed and trusted in Christ so that they soon began to utter the mysteries of heaven on earth. A mini-Pentecost in Ephesus was the result – that is the last step in the spread of the gospel – Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the world (Acts 1:8). Acts reports of four baptisms or comings of the Spirit in Acts 2 for Jews in Jerusalem; then for the Samaritans in chapter 8; chapter 10 records of the Gentiles in Caesarea and 19 of those who were ignorant of the gospel, being disciples of John in Ephesus. The reason why they spoke in tongues was to mark the work of evangelizing or discipling those who have inadequate knowledge of Christ but are subsequently instructed in the truths of the gospel so as to believe. Speaking in tongues is not normative for all Christians, but was a sign to the unbelievers because writing to the church in Corinth from Ephesus, Paul told them, Thus tongues are a sign not for believers but for unbelievers, while prophecy is a sign not for unbelievers but for believers.”(1 Corinthians 14:22).
In this particular case both tongue-speaking; prophesying and miracles were there to authenticate the work of Apostle Paul as a messenger of Paul. In the context of this passage, Paul told them tongue-speaking was childish in terms of thinking – it was only there for the infant church! Thank God that the church of Christ is no longer in the infant stage, it is past the foundation of the Apostles and prophets. We have the full revelation in the Word of God so that there remains no more room for new tongues and prophecy except the tongues in the Bible. Prophecy in this case was simply uttering praises to the Lord having received it from Him because prophecy is speaking from God. This is the same as preaching, as long as the preacher speaks not from the words of men but the Word of God, so that in effect the Holy Spirit would help hearers to receive it not as the word of men but as it indeed is – the Word of God, the manner in which the church in Thessalonica received it.
If anyone thinks that he is missing out on spiritual gifts, let him know that we have the perfect revelation in the Son of God. We have the genuine apostles and prophets of Christ leave us the true testimony of Christ so that we do not have to depend on subjective dreams of men to guide us. So do not trust anyone who comes to you in the name of he saw a vision – whether a Muiru or Dr. Owuor do not believe them – tell them all you need is the Word of God which is sufficient guide for your faith and your conduct. In a nutshell I am saying that all revelatory gifts have ceased, (As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away – 1Cor.13:8). The gifts that we have are such as love, faith, hope that remain (1Cor. 13:13).
The same question is for you as well, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" How do you know that you have the Spirit of God? If you were challenged by sorcerers and magicians and demons, would you have the Spirit of God within you? You would know that you have the Holy Spirit, not by the gifts you have of the Spirit but by the fruit of the Spirit that you bear. Look at the way these were of the submissive and humble spirit as to listen and believe what the apostle preached? Notice that the repentance of those who were initially sorcerers – they were willing to do away with their wicked literature worthy thousands (v.19). The Holy Spirit makes one to abhor sin and to love righteousness. The Holy Spirit makes one hate the things of the world of the flesh and of the enticements of the devil to love Christ and God and His People.  The Holy Spirit makes one’s perspective completely different so that all that thrills His heart is Jesus. He makes a person desire heaven so as to look unto Christ because he has been raised with Him. He makes one want to live only for Christ.
When they believed, they were baptized in the Name of Christ. Have you been baptized in the Name of Christ – have you identified with Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour? Have identified with the church of Christ, His people? Was rebaptism necessary for the disciples in Ephesus? It was mandatory because they were initially baptized to repentance, not to Christ. They were supposed to be baptized as believers in order to show their new commitment was in the Lord Jesus Christ. They had to be baptized to show that they had changed masters. They had to be baptized to show that they belonged to the community of God called out to light the light of the gospel wherever they lived and worked. This is because Christianity is not just a name – it is more than a name it is the Way of life! The Holy Spirit of God dwells permanently in believers because those who at any point do not have the Spirit of Christ do not belong to Him (Rom 8:9).
In the second place Christianity is not just a name because; Christ completely transforms you
When Christ came on earth the immortal putting on the mortality, our transformation to put on immortality began. God incarnating to be a man with a human body, with various sets  of its limitations, the Bible records that He came with a fullness of two things – Grace & Truth because these are the two basic ingredients that man needs. The devil came with deception, falsehood and untruths and took away grace from our first parents. So when Jesus came as the Word and became flesh, He dwelt among us, and for us who have believed Him have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth … And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. (John 1:14-17)
These two ingredients, when wrought in our hearts they produce a permanent transformation. The transformation is such that it affects the heart, the way of thinking, the desires and conduct of one who has met with the Lord. The Lifestyle of a Christian is not defined by feelings or contemporary issues or even the needs of the moment. It is not determined by the philosophy of the day – whether of the stoics or Epicureans, it is guided by the revealed word of the Lord – the Bible. It is solely dependent on the Master by His providence to guide and provide.
You notice in this passage we have Paul who was formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent (1 Timothy 1:13). But now having received mercy and grace, he became the preacher of righteousness and peace with God through the Jesus Christ. We also notice that he is the one pointing people to believe in Christ with such vigor that he is consumed into it so that nothing else matters. Therefore, the Bible records that he entered into the synagogue and spent three solid months talking boldly of nothing else other than ‘speaking boldly reasoning and persuading them of the Kingdom of God’. And when the Jews became stubborn and refused to hear the message of the Kingdom of God, he withdrew and took the disciples who were willing to learn so that he reasoned with them daily in the hall of Tyrannus for two years! As a result all the residents of Asia heard the Word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks. Talk of zeal! But this is what Jesus Christ requires of those who are called by His name. This is a person who had an encounter with the Living God otherwise his transformation cannot be explained.
For this reason when the twelve disciples that Paul met in Ephesus were convinced that John the Baptist himself preached repentance; that he told people to believe in the One who was to come after him, that is Jesus for them to be saved they accepted the Way of life by announcing it to the people that they had publically embraced Jesus to be their Saviour. Then they were baptized in the Name of Jesus as their Lord. You notice their faith was unto the Lord Jesus. This marked a great change in their lives from within because at the same time the Holy Spirit came upon them as well!  May the Lord grant everyone here to believe into the Lord Jesus Christ and to be united with Him in death symbolized by baptism and remain in communion with Him and His people by remembering Him in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. May our delight be in Christ so that nothing else matters except Jesus. If we have been baptized into Him, then we are to bear fruit worthy of repentance so that we will be willing to submit to Him in our daily walk with Him. We are also to willingly and eagerly submit to the authorities that He has appointed to keep us focused on the Way.
We meet with Timothy and Erastus who were preachers of the gospel by serving as helpers of Paul – not by serving him personally but because he was an apostle of the Lord. They were willing to be sent to Macedonia (to collect the offering for helping Jerusalem church?). This is where Timothy had just come with the report of the pathetic condition of the Ephesian church. Therefore Paul wrote the letter of 1st Corinthian and sent it by their hands (1Cor.16:10) so that this time round Erastus was left there (2Tim. 4:20). You remember that Erastus was the Ephesus city treasurer (Rom. 16:23). He had left such a high flying job to serve the heavenly Lord. Where duty calls or danger be never wanting there! You must be willing to obey the trumpet call to duty of service to the Lord who gave His life for you.  Apollos who was initially ignorant but now an apt teacher and preacher of the gospel was in Corinth. He kept on preaching the gospel. It is in the line of duty that we see Gaius and Aristarchus being dragged into the theater with all sorts of accusations against them together with Paul. The point is that they were there with their courage rising with danger and did not deny their master before men – their Master also did not deny them before the Father and the angels in heaven.
Our responsibility as believers is developing a lifestyle that makes everyone that we relate with that it is Christ who is of first importance in our lives. We are to engage in activities that extol in the Lord. We are to talk in a manner that reveals the Lord. The places we go should reflect that we have the Lord Jesus in our hearts. For example we saw Aquila and his wife Priscilla willing to open up their house to Paul and most likely to support him in the ministry of the gospel. Would you be willing to open up your house to ministers of the gospel so that you may be their comfort? But still it is more than that it is using your home, your resources, your time to make Christians and non-believers see the love of Christ in you so that they may be attracted to Him. Some will say that, “I am not sure I want to lose my privacy…” this means that your privacy is more important to you more than the Lord because He has told us in His word that we are to show Christian love and hospitality to our brethren. Purpose to make your home an evangelism center. But if you do not want use your home then look for a person known to you and seek to constantly bring them the gospel say by inviting the person for coffee in town every month and you follow him through. Get books and Christian messages either on video or audio and request them to listen. Why buy someone flowers for valentine that will be thrown away as soon as you part? Why not a good Christian book?
Finally, Christianity is more than a name because, God is at work powerfully
Christianity is not just a name because God is at work so powerfully that it is has been not just standing for two millenniums but progressing at a terrific speed. Kings and peasants have been converted; governors and magistrates have been brought to the faith. White and blacks have been subdued to believe in Christ. God is at work showing His power. He displays His manifold wisdom and power by His church so that His power is manifested. There are a number of summary statements in Acts that show the manner in which God is at work to establish His church because Christianity is more than a name – God is involved. So He says:
1)     And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith. (Acts 6:7)
2)     But the word of God increased and multiplied. (Acts 12:24)
3)     And the word of the Lord was spreading throughout the whole region. (Acts 13:49)
4)     So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily. (Acts 19:20)

Luke describes the growth of the church by pointing to the powerful influence of the gospel in the lives of people. He conveys that the church increased numerically and that the believers applied the message of the gospel in their lives to their lifestyle the Lord strengthened their faith as they became more obedient to God’s word and lived godly lives.
What does it mean, to proclaim the kingdom of God (v.8)? This means to announce the word of the Lord (gospel). It appears that where there is demonic opposition, Christianity is described as the kingdom of God and God shows His mighty power to show that He is the one reigning and so miracles are worked. In this case He worked them by the hand of Paul (which also served to show that he was the messenger of Christ). Therefore God is the miracle worker not Paul. Imagine the astounding miracles that God did by the hand of Paul! Luke, a doctor, records that the healing miracles were extra-ordinary – no one could deny.
Paul’s ministry in Ephesus was marked by a constant opposition. first of all, there was the inadequate knowledge of the gospel both by Apollos, the twelve men and the city residents. They were ignorant of the Paraklete – the Helper/Comforter. But when Paul, Priscilla and Aquila did their part there was victory for the part of the Kingdom of God. This is because the word of God is increasing, spreading and multiplying so as to prevail mightily. Then there was conflict with the Jews in the synagogue (8-10). The Lord gave him boldness and courage so as to stay there for three months (no other place he took so long in the synagogue. Even when he was ejected from the Synagogue, he had disciples to take away with who had believed – Epenetus might be one of the initial contact persons in Ephesus was converted. Then he went to the Tyrannus Hall where God helped to speak by arguing or reasoning very persuasively. He discussed with the disciples with the disciples for two years.  This produced the knowledge of the Word of the Lord among all the residents of Asia both Jews and Greeks.
Then there is the opposition from the silversmiths led by Demetrius. This was no little disturbance – meaning that it was a great uproar. The business community of Ephesus was the first to discern that Christianity which they called the Way was more than a name. It was transforming the lives of people who became Christians – they correctly noted that if enough people became Christians, the worship of Artemis would suffer and the clients who bought the silver shrines, which their ugali, would be adversely affected. Demetrius first appealed to the economic threat that Christianity posed to them because he said that from this business they had made their wealth (v.25). He had also made his research well because he said it was not only in Ephesus but in almost all of Asia that Paul had persuaded and turned ‘away’ many people against idol worship. But that was not all because he also appealed to the religion that their great god Artemis may be counted as nothing and she may even be deposed from her magnificence. They were rightly worried of these issues that they did even fear the wrath of the Romans, who could not tolerate riots.
It is good news that God is at work all over the world. But you notice that he uses means – men. Here He used the civil authority just as in Corinth with Gallio. The Lord used the town clerk to bring sobriety to this  community bent to do evil. Paul, Timothy, Erastus, Aquilla , Priscilla, Apollos, you are the means God uses. You are the means placed to turn things around so that the culture of this city and this country and the world is changed. Have you ever wondered why there is so much corruption in the country? Is it not because either Christians are turning a blind eye or are also as corrupt? Why is it that there is no much Christian influence in your place of work and yet you are there? Look if you are Christian then you must live it in every place in every way.
Lastly there was the conflict with the prevailing demonic practice of paganism magic and worship. In Ephesus the devil was celebrated by the presence of one of the wonders of the ancient world – the temple of Artemis. Where the devil is at work you find a lot of spiriticism so that people are under demonic attack. There are numerous bizarre sicknesses and there are many false healers who are not serving God but the devil and their bellies. The sons of a Jewish Priest called Sceva come to the picture under this category. They invoke the name of Jesus because to them – Christianity is nothing more than a name, it is like magic – its all about uttering the right name like abracadabra and there will be effect pap! And in Nairobi there are so many who use the name of Jesus like a magic word – it is wrong. Sons of Sceva were completely mistaken and the one to deal with them was the demon possessed man himself – imagine one man gave seven men a thorough beating so that their wounds took quiet along time to heal! God is at work to show that Christianity is not just a name and so the effect is that the incidence, just like Ananias and Saphirah, produced fear so that all the residents of Ephesus – Jews and Greeks came to know of it and the name of the Lord Jesus was extolled – Jesus is the Lord, to the glory of the Father!
God is mightily working to bring good to these people and so by the hand of Paul, He was doing extra-ordinary miracles so that even filthy handkerchiefs and aprons that touched Paul’s skin were carried away to the sick and as soon as the handkerchiefs touched the sick, they were healed! By the way these were not the people’s handkerchiefs, they were Paul’s because clearly it is God who is at work. Paul did not even attempt to repeat this in another place. Yet we see preachers who use this as normative and so use handkerchief to heal. There are those who are making a lot of money by selling handkerchiefs to the sick – I attended a meeting where people were asked to buy handkerchiefs for at least 200/= and the higher you gave for it, the greater a disease you will be healed! Let us not be cheated by those whose gods are their bellies because they have loved money more than their own souls that they will exploit the sick and the poor by twisting the truth.
Because God has saved us by His Son, we ought to be willing to make our plans and goals conforming to His will this is what we see here Paul was planning to go to Rome through Macedonia and Achaia and then to Jerusalem and this was ‘if God wills’. To attempt great things for God we are to depend on the Lord completely for Him to accomplish great things with us. But do you have any plans conforming to the spread of the gospel? What goals do you want to achieve for the gospel expansion this year?  We live in a country so ignorant of the gospel, would you be willing to present the gospel whenever the opportunities present? If you will be effective in the work of ministry then you ought to have definite plans that will make the gospel propagation happen. Would make plans to know the gospel as well as to live it so that you will not be as ignorant as the Ephesian disciples?
The purpose of this series is to make you see how God graciously saves so that you may also put your trust in Christ. It is also my prayer that you may be provoked as to think of how you can be a more effective witness of Christ as you interact with people, so that you always look at yourself as the one sent by the Lord with the gospel to the people that you interact with daily by day. May the Lord help us to be found faithful so that our lives reflect the faith that we profess in word and in deed. May the Lord help us to be taken up by the gospel that we have believed because Christianity is not just a name – it is the way of living.
How can Christianity be just a name, when God by His Son works so mightily to transform a person from being dead in the trespasses to becoming a new creature? How can it be a mere name when the Son of the Living God Himself came to bring life everlasting to those who put their trust and confidence in Him? How can it be just a name when the Holy Spirit removes that terrible heart of stone to implant the heart of flesh that responds to spiritually discerned and eternal things? How can it be a mere a name to be a Christian when the collaboration of the Triune God, the thrice holy God comes to dwell with a hitherto sinner to adopt him to His Sonship, to belong to the abiding city – the city of glory?

Acquitted!

Passage Romans 5:12-17

Prayer

Great and awesome Father, Creator of good and righter of wrongs, You created a good and wonderful environment for mankind. But for our first mother and father it was not enough.
Sin came into the world through them, and death through sin, and so death spread to all, because all sinned.Your free gift was not like the trespass. It was greater!
If many died through one man's trespass, how much more will your grace abound! How much more will that free gift abound for the masses of mankind in the grace of that one man Jesus Christ!
Thank you that in him we receive all the more abundantly from your grace! How grateful we are for receiving the free gift of righteousness to reign in our lives!
Thank you, Father in heaven. In the name of Jesus, our Savior and Justifier, I offer this thanks and praise for your wonderful grace. Amen.

My Need

My Need

Passage Romans 5:6-11


Prayer

My Father, gracious God,Thank you, that while we were helpless, Christ our Savior died for the ungodly. You showed your love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ your Son died for us.
Since therefore we are justified by Christ's blood, much more shall we be saved by him from your wrath! For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to you by the death of your Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life!
Let His life be lived in my life and the life of every one of your people! Not only so, but I now find so much joy in you as my God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received our reconciliation.
Thank you for your free and wonderful gift! Thank you for being my God and my Father in heaven!
By the authority of Christ and in his name I pray.
Amen.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

PARTNERING IN THE GOSPEL


 And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, "Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people." And he stayed a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them (9-11).
Why do you come to church every Sunday? Is it just to fill up your week? When people are becoming members, one of the questions that we ask is, ‘what work are you going to be involved in the church?’ This is because one of the responsibilities of the members of any church is to use one’s spiritual gift(s) in order to edify the whole church in accordance to the word of God (Rm. 12:6; 1Cor. 12:7). Many think that the church is run by pastors and members are there only to support the pastors to do this as they themselves are nothing more than consumers! But the truth of the matter is that the pastors are there to support the members in the work of ministry by training them, and equipping them for the work of ministry (4:12). When the Lord saved you and invested the riches of His grace in you, He created you in Christ Jesus for good works, which He had prepared beforehand you particularly so that you should walk in them as His workman. (Ephesians 2:10)
The point that I would like to make is this, what is your role in the furtherance of the gospel? What are you doing so that God may be glorified, His kingdom built, the church strengthened, and people profited? What you’re your priorities in life? Is it owning a prime property so that you can leave a decent life for your children? In that case then you live for your children. Or is it obtaining a PhD in your area of specialization? In that case your ambition is to go the highest one can go in education.
While talking to one young man, 26years old to be precise, who has done his first year at work after graduating from the university, he told me, “my ambition is not to work hard so that I can buy a nice car, build a four bedroom house, marry, have three children, invest in real estate and leave a decent inheritance for them and then retire and die. No my ambition is to be of greatest profit to the kingdom of God in service to God and his people. And don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to be a pastor or anything like that, but to serve the Lord in all I do so that I may be able to say of my family, ‘as for me and my family we will serve the Lord’ even when on the verge of death like Joshua being convinced that my family will serve Christ and His church, with me and in my absence.
The question for us to consider this morning is how we can be partners in the gospel propagation? Whether we are secretaries or business people, drivers or CEOs, hustlers or students, wherever we live and work, is not the issue is that we all are supposed to be in a close partnership to spread the supremacy of Christ in our spheres of influence – our families and relatives, friends and colleagues.  The lessons for us from this passage are very clear, believers are partners in the gospel and so each one of us ought not to be content in being an observer in the kingdom of God and for those who are not yet there, they are called upon to consider the examples of these people that we read and how blessed of the Lord they were.

Therefore notice then in the first place that, partnership in the gospel is a process that begins with believing in Christ.
For a man to be in a business partnership with another, he must have a great measure of trust in the person. For one to be about the Heavenly Father’s business he must be commit his life to His Son Jesus Christ because the Father’s business require a character of Christ – one that has had his sins dealt with. Trust and confidence in Christ is the beginning of the process of being involved in this partnership.
In this passage we read of a ruler of the synagogue in Corinth called Crispus who, together with his entire household, believed in the Lord and was baptized (v.8) and so became part of those called out by the Lord to be His own people for His use in Corinth. His entire household refers to his wife, sons and daughters, closer relatives and servants living in his house. This is the way Luke uses the word in this book. It does appear that Crispus’ other name is Gaius because he gave his house to host the new community of believers and the brethren so that Paul records that he is host in Romans 16:23.
But Crispus was not even the first convert in Corinth, for we read in 1 Corinthians 16:15 that “… you know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and that they have devoted themselves to the service of the saints.” Stephanas was also converted with his family and they were a great example in commitment and devotion to the service of other brethren. But the beginning is being converted so that one puts his trust and faith in Christ. The household of Chloe (a woman) seem to have been so interested in the church in Corinth that they reported to Paul what divisive politics were going on as Paul wrote in 1Cor. 1:11. But they were as well converted.
Then we know of Sosthenes, who succeeded Stephanas as the synagogue ruler as another one who became a Christian and so a member of the church in Corinth. Then there are other members of the church such as Erastus the city treasurer and Quarters who are referred to as brothers (Rom. 16:23). We know of Fortunatus, Achaicus and Tertius (Who transcribed for Paul the letter to the Romans) from Romans 16:22.
Clearly, partnership in the gospel starts with one acknowledging his sinful condition as well as accepting and trusting Jesus Christ as the one and only able to save him from sins. It is then marked by a resolve to repent of the sins, and to turn away from these sins to Christ as his way of living. It is also marked by one identifying oneself with the people of Christ (the Christians as those who would help to remain focused and accountable to Christ walking towards eternity doing the will of Christ. This is what I mean is the beginning of the end. This is the reason why the church in Corinth had people who can be known now. Those who believe in Christ become part of His community on earth so that they can serve Him.

Secondly, Partnership in the gospel is marked by the willingness to give time for the gospel
The greatest work in the partnership in the work of the Lord is giving and making time for making Christ known by proclaiming the gospel through active witness in life and deed and in Word. In this passage we read of a good number of people are so actively involved in the gospel that it is evident that this is their first priority in being members of the church. We read of Paul, Silas and Timothy as those fully devoted their time to it as a team. Then of Aquila and his wife, Priscilla and Apollos.
Paul arrived in Corinth in 50AD, with a deliberate intention of winning the lost for Christ. Although he did not have money, nowhere to live and almost knew no one, but he was set to do one thing – to witness and proclaim Jesus Christ as the Saviour both for Jews and for Gentiles! Although he got discouraged at some point, for this was the reason why the Lord had to appear to him personally to give him promises and assurances to strengthen him for ministry. The Lord told him, "Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people." And he stayed a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them. It is not so easy to be kicked out every now and then in every city and carry on as if nothing happened because he was not a Stoic philosopher. Sometimes, pastors are encouraged and many times they are discouraged and it is for you to encourage them as one brother encouraged me this last week.
This encouragement that the Lord gave Paul is the same for all of us when we are engaged in the work of ministry – that the Lord has the people that will save because He appointed them for life, way before even laying the foundation of the world. This is what we read in Ephesians that, He chose us in him (Christ) before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love He predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, (Ephesians 1:4-5). It is God who saves and so we read that it those who are appointed for eternal life who believe (13:48). It is the Lord who opened the heart of Lydia (16:14). It is Him who saves by His grace, it is Him who makes sure that those He chose for salvation are predestined and are called into the salvation by the gospel proclamation at the appointed time and by those He has sent. At the same time the same He justifies and  sanctifies by His Spirit and the same are glorified (Romans 8:29-30). What an assurance! 
Your salvation is not an afterthought; it was well planned and from the beginning to the end and all you need to do is take seriously the promise that Christ is willing and able to save you to the uttermost if you will put trust in Him. And the question I ask you is, Why Not! Why not believe? Why not ask him forgiveness of sins, why not request Him for mercy if He is so willing?
Paul gave his time also to teaching and strengthening the disciples and so in Corinth we read that he was occupied with the Word testifying to the Jews (v.5). He stayed for 18 months in Corinth teaching the word of God among them (v.11) and so the leading Jews in the synagogue were persuaded so as to be converted and so the synagogue was losing the most influential people until they became jealous. He travelled to different places with the first interest being to meet with the church (as in Caesarea) and then he went to report all that had happened in the second missionary journey in Antioch (v.22). He then began the third missionary journey (23ff), starting with strengthening all the disciples from place to place like Galatia, Phrygia, etc.
Silas and Timothy on the other hand were willing to spend their time and their strength together to reach out more people geographically. The last time we heard about them is when they were left in Berea, amid a torrent of problems that prompted the sending away of Paul to Athens. While they were in Macedonia, they did the work of ministry that Paul could not do. Brethren, you need to realize that there is the work of ministry that I as a pastor, I am not able to do, but you can do it very comfortably. For example, how can I ever meet those in your offices or your colleagues at school? How can I ever get to know your neighbors? And why do I even need to know them when you are there anyway? It is your responsibility to reach out with the gospel as you carry on with your work like Aquila and Priscilla.
When Paul arrived in Corinth he heard of this Jewish couple, Aquila of Pontus and his wife Priscilla, who apart from having national and spiritual ties, there was also a professional or business tie. They had been deported from Rome for being Jews and Christians for that matter because someone had reported to Caesar that one called Chrestus (misspelling of Christus (Christ), according to Tertullian) was causing disturbance or riots.
And when he requested to stay with them they promptly agreed. It is clear that this couple were people willing to spend and be spent in work of making Christ known in that that  they were as much willing and eager to propagate the gospel. Even when Paul left Corinth, he went with them to Syria and Ephesus, where he left them to carry on with the work because there was much need there. While there they invited Apollos and when they saw some deficiency in his preaching took him aside (probably to their house to explain things more clearly to them (v.26).)
Apollos, a native of Alexandria (Africa), who travelled to Ephesus, not for business or anything else but for spreading the word of God is recorded as a man who was not only willing and eager but also gifted and up to the task of spreading the gospel. He was an eloquent man, competent in the Scriptures.  He had been instructed in the way of the Lord. And being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus. He spoke boldly in the synagogue. He was qualified in every way except for only one flaw – he only knew of the baptism of John.
May the Lord help us, who have the truth to have the sort of zeal and boldness that Apollos had that we may do exploits for the Lord. You notice that with the little he knew, he expressed it so that he greatly helped those who through grace had believed, for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus. (Acts 18:27-28). This is what everyone has been called to do, in his own way. As a result of the ministries of these different people, there were many converts throughout Achaia for he writes the second letter to the Corinthians, To the church of God that is at Corinth, with all the saints who are in the whole of Achaia: (2Cor.1:1).

In the third place, partnering in the gospel is proved by willingness to give financially.
The other day I heard a reformed Baptist pastor say that Baptists are baptized with their hands up holding their wallets and purses. That is, the last thing to be converted to Christianity among the Baptists is their money! Well, I do not know how true it is but there might be some bit of truth in it, that we Baptists are not willing to commit our property to the Lord and so it is reported that tent-making is most common among the Baptists.
Paul had to work with his own hands in order to support the work of ministry until Silas and Timothy came from Macedonia. The statement shows that Paul was pressed in the spirit – he was under constraints (probably financially constrained) to testify to the Jews.
 Should a pastor have tent-making work and not be dependent on the support of the Christians. YES, if the Christians are unable to support him because of their condition, so that there would be no hindrance to the spread of the gospel. In this case then the minister will enjoy the full blessings and the church will only enjoy the blessings of his ministry but not of being partners in the work – because they are only consumers. This explains why a minister of the gospel is supposed to be completely freed by the church from providing for himself so as to devote Himself fully to the work of ministry.
Otherwise NO, because even in the Old Testament the Priests were to be provided by other people in order to be fully devoted to the work the Lord gave them. In cases where the pastors have to provide for themselves, a lot of time that could have been used for ministry is taken up in tent-making. In the New Testament, the Lord very clearly instructed His disciples when He was sending them out in Matthew 10:9-10, “Acquire no gold nor silver nor copper for your belts, no bag for your journey, nor two tunics nor sandals nor a staff, for the laborer deserves his food.” The laborer deserves his wages. (Luke 10:7)
Although Paul believed in tent-making, his priority was not to make money but to provide for himself so as not to put a burden on people who had not even become Christians. This is why I believe it is wrong for preachers to ask people in a crusade to give money or for those who preach in buses to ask for offerings – because their churches ought to support them. So although Paul was a tent-maker himself, inspired by the Holy Spirit, he wrote in 1Corinthians 9:14, “In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.” And again, “For the Scripture says, "You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain," and, "The laborer deserves his wages" (1Timothy 5:18). We read that the apostles in Jerusalem church devoted themselves fully to the work of ministry of prayer and of the word (Acts 6:2,4), setting the example for full time ministry that is free from material pressure.
Thankfully Silas and Timothy arrive from Macedonia and brought the support from there so that Paul was able to carry on with the work unhindered. He wrote back to them,
 And when I was with you and was in need, I did not burden anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia supplied my need. So I refrained and will refrain from burdening you in any way (2 Corinthians 11:9).
And again to the church in Philippi, he thanked them saying,
Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble. And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. (Philippians 4:14-15)

Finally, partnership in the gospel is confirmed by the willingness to suffer for it
Here we read of people of different trade who rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name of Christ. (Acts 5:41). This ought to be our attitude because it is our first ambition to please the Lord – not men. Throughout the book of Acts and through all the centuries, Christians have always born the brunt of the enemies of Christ. They have been reviled and mistreated, they have been abused and killed as Paul writes of his own experiences,
but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything. (2 Corinthians 6:4-10)
Are you willing to go through all these for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ? Are you not better off as the things are where you only worry over your own problems? But you see the point is that your own faith is tested by the fire of trial. And you know that, “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith--more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire--may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:6-7).
What sort of people do we find in this passage? Some are fulltime ministers like Paul who have had to endure beatings in every city. But if even the Apostle of the Sovereign master himself was not spared, why should you expect to be treated differently? If this same world of sin rejected its only Saviour how can you hope for anything else? Paul was mistreated in almost all the towns including the Jews of Corinth, until he had to shake his garments to pronounce to them that as the watchman to warn them of the impeding danger; their blood was upon them like it is in Ezekiel 33:4. Thankfully here he got the support the Lord who was not going to let anyone harm him and of the government, because Gallio refused to listen to the petition from the Jews by telling them that he was not going to listen to religious issues in a civil court. It is a shame that even now we have brethren taking each other to court when the civil courts, know that they are there not to determine such issues.
Sosthenes bore the wrath of the mob because he had converted from being the ruler of the synagogue to become a Christian. We should not be ashamed of the Lord or to defend His worthy course. We also notice that Aquila and Priscilla had been deported from Rome, probably because of their faith. If we are not willing to suffer for the Lord, then we are not worthy Him.
That we are not willing to bear any cost of following the Lord whether of time, finances or of suffering, is a great mark against the genuineness of the faith that you profess. One who has been saved from the perdition of sin, one who has tasted the Lord is good, would be willing to go and sell everything he has to invest in the things of eternity. One who has known the goodness of the Lord will be willing to spend and to be spent on the course of Christ.
Any encounter with Christ will make one not to be silent because it is such a remarkable thing that you cannot keep it to yourself. For this reason, the disciples even when they were threatened by the Sanhedrin kept on saying that they could not keep quiet. Those who have come to the living hope will not keep it to themselves, they will share it with others because there is enough room for you and for many others in all time. Do you know that those who are not in Christ are in the way that leads to destruction? There should be the desire and will to call many others who in the way that leads to destruction because we are genuinely concerned about their welfare.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Justified by Faith

Justified by Faith

Passage Romans 3:27-31

Prayer
O Father, just and justifier,All praise is due you, Father. Our boasting is totally excluded. Our justification is not by our works, but through our faith in you.
So I am convinced just as Paul that a person is justified only by faith and not by works of the law.You are God not only of the Jews but of all other nations also.
You are the one God, the only God, the God of all people everywhere. On the basis of whether people put their trust in you instead of themselves you justify people from every nation and race. What a wonderful God!
Thank you for putting faith in my heart and accepting me. In the name of Jesus we ask all this and lay claim to the grace which you have so generously extended.
Amen.

Righteousness Revealed apart from the Law

Righteousness Revealed

Passage Romans 3:21-26

Prayer

Righteous Father, the just and justifier of those who believe. Thank you that your righteousness has been manifested to us. You made this happen apart from the law, although the law and the prophets bear witness to it. All the Old Testament point to to your righteousness through faith in Christ Jesus for all who trust in him.
How just you are in making no distinction between people on this matter, since every person has sinned and falls short of your glory.
Thank you for justifying us by your grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, whom you put forward as an expiation by his blood, so we can receive it by faith.
Praise be to you, O holy God, for showing us how righteous you really are in that Jesus Christ, your Son bore the penalty for our sins on the cross.
In your divine forbearance you have passed over former sins, but now you have made provision for forgiveness-the righteousness of your Son, Jesus Christ, in whom we place our faith.
In the name of Jesus we ask all these promises and lay claim to the grace which you have so generously extended. Amen.

None Righteous

None righteous, not even one!

Passage Romans 2:25-3:20

Prayer

My Father, holy God, allow me to bear the marks of your covenant in my heart and my mind. May I be a spiritual descendant of Abraham.
Let my praise be not from men but from you! Help me understand that all human beings are under the power of sin, as it is written, \"None is righteous, no not one!\"
I ask forgiveness for all my sins by reason of your perfect expiation put forth in Christ Jesus. Clothe me with his righteousness, not my own.
Having nothing to claim for myself, I put my trust in him.Grant me the will and grace to obey your wondrous law from heart, so that you'd be glorified in every way in my life.
In the name of Jesus, the all-sufficient sacrifice for sin and my holy intercessor, I pray.
Amen.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Christ the All- sufficient Sacrifice

Christ is our All-sufficient sacrifice

Passage Romans 2:12-24

Prayer

Holy Father, merciful God,Write the requirements of! your will upon my heart. May I live in such a way that my conscience will bear witness that I have striven to live for you, on that day when you judge the secrets of men's heart by Christ Jesus. Help me to be sincere and to have integrity.
When I teach others, let me first teach myself. If I teach against stealing, don't let me take what is not mine. If I teach against adultery, don't let me lust. If I teach abhorrence of idols, keep me from covetousness, which is idolatry.
May I never cause your name to be blasphemed because someone looks at me and sees that my life belies my commitment to you.
In the name of Jesus, the all-sufficient sacrifice for sin and my holy intercessor, I pray. Amen.

GOD COMMANDS EVERYONE EVERYWHERE TO REPENT




The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead." Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked. But others said, "We will hear you again about this." So Paul went out from their midst. But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them. Acts 17:16-34

What have you done with your sins? Do you find the gospel to be offensive to you? May be it is Christ who is obnoxious to you? Or maybe it is not you, it is your brother or your friend who sneers at you when you present the gospel to him. Or it might your colleagues at work or at school – they do not understand you, as they say, because you are ever talking about sin and Jesus. Maybe you have recoiled at witnessing because you have been insulted in the past. Maybe some accusations have been leveled at you. But the solution is not to be coward because of these things – instead you are to be more resolute about bringing them out of such a terrible condition of sin to the influence of Christ by His gospel. This indifference and apathy to Christ – the only Saviour is supposed to trouble us, so that  we take the gospel of Christ to them.
It is obvious that the worldly wise- the clever people are the last to see their foolishness and the last willing to heed the gospel because many are wise in their own eyes (not according to the knowledge of God). They do not think that they have any need – they think that they know everything. They are not willing to have anyone tell them either of their sin or of the Saviour. They think that you are the one who is mistaken by your constant talking about Christ. Nonetheless, we are to be willing to face them as Paul here in Athens did. but how would you know them? They sneer at the gospel and mock those who proclaim it to them as they told Paul that he was a babbler!
This is the one of the best models of evangelism to the unbelieving academics of the world. Gordon Keddie points out that this was their home-ground, in their meeting and in their mode of discussion. It is very clear that if evangelism was to be confined only in churches and by only those called to the ministry, Christianity would be very stagnant. We are called to go like Paul to the synagogues, to market places, beside the river, the market places, streets, cafes, shops, offices, homes, Areopagus etc and by so doing, there will be more disciples brought to salvation.
We moving at neck-breaking speed because today we come to Athens, a modern city with a great appetite for learning, there are universities and the philosophers. They have monuments and fountains – modern in every way. Whenever you go to a city the very first thing you will notice is the monuments and artistic work. Paul assumed that the Athenian philosophers had very little knowledge of the bible and so in his speech he taught his audience the doctrines of God and creation, the doctrine of man and sin – for man is God’s offspring and he concluded with the doctrine of judgment and the resurrection.

1.    It should trouble us when people do not repent

Paul arrived in Athens from Berea and as he waited for Silas and Timothy to come he took a walk around the city and he saw something so different from other places – there were many idols erected to be worshipped by the city residents. So the Bible records that he was troubled, or was provoked within him. This is not something that he could ignore – he had to do something, otherwise he could not have peace within himself.
It is provoking that people do not worship God as ultimate. An evil city full of idols shows a great disregard for God – God cannot share His glory with anyone because sharing His glory is lowering Him to the level of His creation – this is insulting to Him. God must be worshipped as God, the Creator. The distinction between Him and His creation must be as clear as daylight. Paul well knew this, because he wrote to the Romans, For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.”(Romans 1:21-25)
So, first of all Paul went to the synagogue and reasoned with Jews and Gentile proselytes (the command of the Lord was always to go to the lost sheep of Israel, because at least they knew a bit of God from the Scriptures). He held those who purported to know the word of God responsible for the state of the city of idolatry. He reasoned with them constantly, every day because they did not seem to be troubled by their own condition of sin leave alone the condition of others. This dose he extended to the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers who were so oblivious of their condition that when he tried to rouse them from their slumber, they sneered at him as a babbler!
But even the Greek Athenians had no excuse for their abominable practices and so Paul had come to get them from their stupor. They had no excuse because what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. (Romans 1:19-20). No one has an excuse for confusing God with His creation. This is because the general revelation is very clear that God the Creator is the One in control based on what He has done in creation and providence as well as in salvation. Those who serve stones and elements and yet they depend on God to give them sustenance instead of their idols will be harshly judged by God for spurning Him who created them in order to serve His creation. His attributes, His eternal power and His divine nature is knowledge that is innate in every person. Therefore, no one will be excused.
It is troubling because sin IS harmful to people. I am sure it troubles you that people will kill one another even without being provoked like it happened in the post election period of 2008. It is shocking that women would fill Koinange Street and River Road to sell themselves to the highest bidder to their own peril. It is still shocking that corruption is so deeply engraved into our society and integrity is looked down upon. This has continued to hurt the economic progress of the nation. All evil and wickedness of the 21st century is very conspicuous in our ‘civilized’ society and yet the gospel is preached every day. There are now churches in every corner of the street and yet there are thousands and millions who are still in pitch darkness of sin. It is sad that so many people would not abandon their terrible ways to come to the Saviour and be cleansed from all unrighteousness. It is shocking that the truth which is as obvious as a day to us who are saved is not attractive to them.
We live at a time when many do not want to be identified as a religious – but they are into secular religion. They have things that are so dear to them that they will do anything for them. Take for example sport – many would spend a lot of money to have DSTV among others, they will can go many nights without sleep watching FA, or Premier leagues and will even kill those of the opposing camp – they are fanatics of soccer! There are those who will do anything to own the property that they want. They will sacrifice their time to own land and houses and cars. All people are religious in one sort or another – their objects of worship might be sport, or possession, hobbies, pleasures, superstition, spiritualism etc. These are the things you are to identify in your own life and ask if you have become a captive to them. You are also to identify them when you talk with people so that you can know what has caught their hearts and you go for it with the power of the gospel and release them from this captivity.
We should be troubled that our education system from nursery to the university do not seem to venerate God. Therefore it produces scholars who are eager to worship anything else other than God Himself. Many of the scholars would call themselves ‘men of all religions’. They are pantheists as the Athenians were – they worshipped all gods even those who they did not know. This shows that they sought to cover their ignorance of gods not known to exist, on the assumption that if they did turn out to exist, they could claim to have made an effort to worship them! These people were clever! Paul used this as the basic point of contact without approving their pantheist religion. “What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you.” He pointed to them the real One who is worthy of worship instead of their hopeless gods that would lead them to their destruction. We should be keen to look out for the needs of people – in their emptiness and vacuum. They identify their condition as with a gap and your job is to tell them that this is true because they lack peace with God because they are without Christ, without hope and with no God. They lack peace because peace is only for those who have been justified by faith; those who have now no condemnation because they are in Christ Jesus. This vacuum and gap can only be filled by Christ.
We are to be very conscious of the need in which every human being lives – it is the need for the Saviour. We are called to be those who very carefully assess the need in people’s lives and address it in the context of their lives, not by our human wisdom but reasoning with them with the gospel. The Athenians are concerned about gods whether known or unknown and so Paul presented to them the Creator God, who made the world and everything in it and the one who will judge the world in righteousness. Paul was concerned that these people in all their knowledge they did not know their Creator – it is great sin that in all their great knowledge they did not worship God who created them as their God.
I pray that this sermon may cause you to be provoked by the sins of your son and of your daughter. Let it be your trouble that your colleagues enjoy violence, glory at phonographic pictures and movies. Let it be your portion of provocation that the matatu drivers play x-rated videos. May you be provoked when you walk through the streets and find explicit magazines and billboards? Because then this way you will do something – because whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. (James 4:17)
If there is one thing that should trouble us more than anything else is that people are not concerned about their state of sin. Yet one thing that God will not admit in heaven is one who is in sin. God is very clear - Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). No one will be admitted in the presence of God with sin. And so the first thing that God is interested about you is what have you done with your sins? Have repented and given them up to Christ?
The Bible is very clear that the one thing that the Lord requires is that sin is completely dealt with in our lives. This means that first you are to admit you have sins. It is only one who has admitted that he has sin who will seek mercy and pardon from God – the tax collector beseeched God, “be merciful to me, the sinner” and he was justified. The dying thief besought Jesus with the words that he was on the cross because he deserved it being a criminal but requested Christ to remember him and that same day he was in paradise with the Lord. Paul said that he was the chief of sinners and later he records that he has fought the fight and has won the race because he had his sins forgiven.

2.     We must seek to proclaim the Gospel for people to repent

Paul had been a great scholar of the law himself – born in Tarsus, reared and educated in Jerusalem under Gamaliel and so was at home here because he was well acquainted with Stoic philosophy, which was taught in the university at Tarsus. But when he met these scholars, he did not present to them philosophy – because it cannot address the great need of sin that everyone has. He knew that human wisdom cannot bring anyone to salvation. Therefore, he brought the gospel of Jesus Christ. In very clever way Paul preached Christ to them.
It is the gospel that people need to be brought out of sin. The gospel is about the love of God in sending His Son to a sinful world. But it must start with God because the Bible, which is God’s special revelation to man opens with God (as One Being who has ultimate control). He proclaimed (with divine authority) the monotheist religion in which the ultimate God, who is the Creator of the universe, is glorified as God. The true God is the Living one who stands in contrast to the Stoic religion of many gods of silver, gold or stone because He created all these elements, so that even people are His offspring. He is a very orderly Creator who created and sustains it – such that he does not need any human effort in His part – it is the people who need Him to provide for them as Paul had earlier on told the people in Lystra (14:15-17). This is because God rules all and cannot be restricted at all by anything or anyone. He rules the universe in providence so that he determines who stays where and what they shall eat and drink. He is far greater than all human inventions and nations. This same God is the giver of life – this is the one that these people need not useless idols that are not gods at all!
The gospel is about Christ through whom God can be sought. They ought to seek Him with all their strength to benefit from Him because it is in Him where there is life for we came from Him and there can be no meaning to life without Him. Notice how Paul in a very wise way quoted their poets to make sure that they agreed with him! Seek Him may be like groping in the dark if it is not done as He has prescribed. In the past they have been in ignorance – this is why they worshipped in the ignorance of their minds, but now to obtain from Him a place must be done in repentance. Times of ignorance are past and God will hold everyone accountable for their sinfulness. The gospel seek is about calling people to come to know God through His appointed Son Jesus Christ.
The gospel is also about judgment to come. This is because in the days of ignorance are past; because he has fixed a day to judge all who have ever lived in the world in righteousness and so punish all sin. All who have worshipped other things are without excuse now because they have heard the gospel truth – they will either be vindicated by their being found to be righteous or will be forgiven by trusting in the Son Jesus whom is the good news of the world.
God has not only fixed a day of judgment but He has also appointed the Judge who is a man – so Jesus is both the Saviour and the Judge. He has completely given assurance of this man who will be the judge by raising Him from the dead – you realize that Greek philosophy would not tolerate to hear that there would be a resurrection of the body! But there cannot be any good news where resurrection by Jesus Christ is forgotten. The very basis of the gospel is the resurrection from the dead. That which is of first importance is that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve (1 Corinthians 15:3-5) and many more others.
The crown of the gospel is about the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ from the dead. The resurrection of Christ is the vindication of Christ and the salvation of men. The resurrection of Christ was the guarantee of the grace of God that makes sinners saints. We have the boldness to preach because Christ whom we proclaim is raise from the dead. The gospel is that there is the resurrection from the dead for all who are in Christ. This is because if Christ has not been raised from the dead, then our preaching is in vain, our faith is in vain and we misrepresent God (1Cor.15:14, 15). Christ is at the centre of the gospel – and the gospel is that Christ is raised from the dead because if Christ was not actually raised from the dead all live in the futility of their sins. So the Bible is very clear that, in fact Christ has been raised from the dead (1Cor. 15:20).
May I beseech you – let your own sin prick, and provoke and trouble you until you commit it to Jesus Christ – who calls all: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”(Matthew 11:28). A rest of conscience is found when sins are repented, and a pardon of sin obtained. Let your thoughts that are ungodly, your desires that are to gratify the flesh, the pleasure of sin and all that makes you do sin be something to provoke you so as to go to Christ. May it be an inward provocation – let it be that your heart is troubled by your sins because that is where all sins dwell. May you found no rest when you have sin within you, but find rest and peace in Christ?
For us who have been believed Christ and have come to salvation, the work is to always seek for the opportunities to be witnesses of Christ. It does not matter how much sneer and contempt we may face. It does not matter what social class these people may belong. It does not matter that they may possess all education there is – the greatest need for them is to be offloaded of the burden of sin. And clearly there is no one else other than Christ who can be able to forgive them their sins, so that it rolls away. This burden of sin can only be offloaded from those who are willing to repent their sins.
So many times you find that we are not very eager to tell people to repent. But this was what John the Baptist preached –"Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."  (Matt 3:2). This is what Jesus Himself preached – unless you repent you will likewise perish; and again and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel." (Mark 1:15). This is what Jesus sent the disciples to proclaim - "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:38).
It is evidently clear that any other message will not bring people into the kingdom of God. From the book of Revelation, the picture of what will happen at the close of age is that those who will not repent of their sins of among others, murders, sorceries, sexual immorality, thefts were scorched by the fierce heat, and they cursed the name of God who had power over these plagues. For they did not repent and give him glory. (Revelation 16:9)

3.     We should expect God to cause people to repent

Why did Paul preach the gospel to the Athenians and to the Bereans and to the Thessalonians and to the Philippians etc. why did he preach the gospel both privately – from home to home and in public? Why did he preach in prison and in homes and in synagogues and in Areopagus? Why I am standing here preaching? Why I have I told you that you would be provoked so much that you preach the gospel of Jesus Christ as the Saviour? The assurance for preaching is that Christ will be with us always. The encouragement is that just as God told Paul not to be afraid but to keep on speaking because He was with Him and no one would attack Him since He had many people in Corinth so are we expected.
If any person is saved it is because God has caused them to believe and repent. It is God who justifies, even more he choose those He will bring to salvation before the foundation of the world. These are the same ones that He calls to salvation by the preaching of the gospel. These same ones He justifies and in due time will glorify them. And it is very clear that based on what Jesus said in John 6:65, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father." (John 6:65)
Paul knew all this and so he constantly reasoned with the Jews and the devout persons in the synagogue and marketplaces every day. He knew that his efforts were not in vain and so he accepted to stand before the Areopagus even after being called a babbler! It was for this reason that he did the time in prison and even died for this cause – because he expected God to save. You might not see the results of the labour of bringing the gospel to the people that you meet but still keep on with the expectation that God to cause people to repent. Why else would he accept to be mocked as they did if it was not going to bringing any profit to the kingdom of God? Paul had a great sense of bringing glory to God and so he was willing to suffer all things for the course of Christ. He lived for Christ and his life did not matter – he had lost his own life for Christ. He did not count himself as anything except for God to be honored by all people.
But this is exactly what happened when he preached repentance toward God and faith in Christ. As much as many doubted yet many people believed. We read that, some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them. We know by name two of the people who believed because it appears that they were prominent people. But there were many more who believed from this gathering in Athens. What a joy it was that despite all the sneering and jeering and mocking and contempt meted on Paul still people believed – not because of Paul but because of God who saves.
When we share the gospel we should expect God to save them. Were it not for the great expectation that the Lord will bring those who hear the gospel to faith there would be no reason for preaching. If it were not that that the Lord has promised to cause people to believe and come to the knowledge of salvation, the preaching would be in futility. But as it is sharing of the gospel has been yielding much fruit all over the world, whether in private or public. You can be saved by believing the gospel message as we have done and have had our lives transformed. Your children may be changed by a constant hearing of the Word. Therefore, make it your priority to bring to them the Word of God.
Christians believe that God has fixed a definite day of judgment because this is what the Word of God has said again and again, to judge all people everywhere every time. Yes, a time is coming soon when the Lord will judge all people in righteousness through the Lord Jesus Christ because He is the Son of Man who will judge both the living and the dead by His righteousness. People may sneer at this but God is very clear that He will soon bring us all before Him and we will all account for what we did on earth. It is not being to a voluntary exercise so that you choose to attend or not to attend – everyone – young and old will stand before the judgment seat and will either be acquitted or condemned. God will either justify you or reject you. Those who will be accepted by God will go to everlasting life, to be in the presence of God forever. These are those who will be found to have repented pf their sins and this is the joy of only one who has trusted in Christ Jesus. But those who will be found with their own sins will be condemned to an everlasting judgment of death, away from God’s presence forever.
The hope of Christian life is that there will be the resurrection from the dead just like it happened to our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the firstfruits from among the dead. Christians do not fear death because Jesus has taken away its sting. All those who have trusted in Christ, those who have repented of their sins and have been saved have the eternal joy that they shall be with the Lord forever.