Saturday, January 31, 2015

William Cowper (1731 – 1800)

William Cowper, was an English poet who changed the direction of poetry by writing primarily about the scenes of everyday life.  William’s mother died when he was six and his father sent him away to a boarding school.  At this school he suffered abuse that would have a profound effect upon his life.  In 1752, not yet a Christian, William suffered the first of four paralyzing bouts with depression.  He was 21.  This struggle with depression and despair would become the theme of his life.  He wrote this about the struggle he was going through:  
“(I was struck) with such a dejection of spirits, as none but they who have felt the same, can have the least conception of. Day and night I was upon the rack, lying down in horror, and rising up in despair. I presently lost all relish for those studies, to which before I had been closely attached; the classics had no longer any charms for me; I had need of something more salutary than amusement, but I had not one to direct me where to find it.” 
In 1756 the woman he loved was forbidden by her father from marrying William.  He never saw her again.  In 1759, upon being appointed to be Clerk of Journals in Parliament, he suffered a complete breakdown and tried three times to commit suicide.  He was committed to an asylum. 1763 he attempted suicide again and was committed to St. Albans Insane Asylum where a man by the name of Dr. Nathaniel Cotton led William to the Lord.  
In 1768, John Newton, who had formed a close friendship with William asked William to help him put together a hymnal.  It was for this hymnal that John Newton wrote “Amazing Grace”.  William Cowper contributed 68 songs, among them “There is a Fountain Filled with Blood” and “God Moves in a Mysterious Way”.   Both are my favourites, because although William had serious struggles with not only depression but assurance of faith after his conversion. Yet the content of these hymns, tells so obviously that he had true assurance. Part of the problem he had, which in my own opinion was a guised blessing, was his tender conscience. He hated and abhorred sin. He could not stand a speck of sin and for this reason lived scared of sin. This composition could not afford him assurance. I would wish that more were like him. It is far better to lack assurance because of the hatred of sin than to be flippant about sin with assurance. Yet for those of tender consciences, they should not only fix their eyes on the horrendousness of sin, but they also ought to behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. As long as we are under the sun, with mortal flesh, we must contend with sin. Our hope is that being aided by the Holy Spirit, we shall triumph over sin and its guilt. We shall not be forever shackled by the remaining indwelling sin – our victory is in Christ who has made a public spectacle of sin on the cross. He has paid it all and has declared that “It is finished!”
In 1786, William entered his fourth bout of depression and tried again, unsuccessfully, to commit suicide.  He published his last poem in 1799, The Castaway, and dies, apparently in complete despair, in 1800.   

God Moves in a Mysterious Way   
God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm. 

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sovereign will. 

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head. 
Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face. 

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower. 

Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.  

William Cowper

Friday, January 30, 2015


Mark 12:13-17
And they sent to him some of the Pharisees and some of the Herodians, to trap him in his talk. And they came and said to him, "Teacher, we know that you are true and do not care about anyone's opinion. For you are not swayed by appearances, but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? Should we pay them, or should we not?" But, knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, "Why put me to the test? Bring me a denarius and let me look at it." And they brought one. And he said to them, "Whose likeness and inscription is this?" They said to him, "Caesar's." Jesus said to them, "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." And they marveled at him.    
God is the supreme, sovereign that all must obey, worship and serve. God does not depend on our service. He has existed for eternity without the universe. Therefore do not think that God depends on the counsel of men. No one can direct Him in His ways or purposes.
Being sovereign He has put a demand on all people, that they must serve and worship Him as God. This is because every human being bears His image, just as the denarii bore the image and inscription of Caesar. When God created man, He made them in His image. Being in His image means that they especially belong to Him and ought to show allegiance and commitment to Him.
 And to God the things that are God’s” – The coin bore the image of Caesar and thus it belonged to him. Giving him what was his was not wrong. However, some things do not belong to Caesar. Just as the coin bore the image of a man; all men bear the image of God.
Jesus is saying, “Give Caesar his money, because it bears his image. It is his! But, your devotion belongs to God, because you bear His image. You are His!
Every human being in this world was created in “the image of God”, Gen. 1:26-27. Thus, He owns us and He has the right to demand that we yield ourselves up to His will for our lives. Even if you are not saved, the Lord owns you by right of creation. Therefore you ought to glorify Him as God. If you don’t glorify God as your Creator, then you will replace Him with His creation! And in this you will incur His wrath sooner or later. If you are saved, He owns you by right of creation and by right of redemption, 1 Cor. 6:19-20. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
Just as Caesar has the right to demand what is his, God has the right to demand what belongs to Him. Every human has an obligation to give God their worship, their obedience, their praise, their love and their gratitude. We owe Him that for being Who He is and for all that He gives to us. (i.e. life, air, water, food, shelter, family, etc.) Christians are particularly called to live this life with utmost gratitude.
You bear the image of God! That image you bear is a symbol of divine ownership. God has the right to tell you what to believe and how to live – and His demand on you is whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to His glory. God has the right to demand your obedience and submission. He has the right to demand that you receive and believe His Son as your Savior!
According to Rom. 13:4, the state has the “power of the sword”. When we fail to obey the state, there will be consequences, such as imprisonment and death. When we fail to obey the Lord there are also consequences. There is Hell for the unbeliever and chastisement for the believer.
Jesus is telling those men, and us, that we have an obligation to honor the rule of the state, but we have a higher obligation to commit our lives to the Lord and obey Him and His Word. Yielding to the state is our earthly duty. Yielding to the Lord is our eternal duty!
(Ill. Are you truly saved today? Have you yielded your life and will to Jesus Christ? Have you bowed before Him and confessed Him as Lord and Savior and received Him into your life? Have you believed the Gospel?
Are you yielded to His authority? Or, do you do as you please, working Him in when you feel like it? Do you live as one “owned” by the Lord or do you serve as your own master?
 If you are not saved, you need to come to Jesus and He will save you. If you are not surrendered, and many, if not most, are not, then you need to get before Him and yield to His will for your life.)
Conclusion: When they heard the Lord’s answer, “they marveled at Him”. Literally, they stood there with their chins on the chests. They came to trap Him, but He turned the tables on them and He trapped them. They could not argue with what He had said to them. They simply left just as they had left in the previous episode. They left without Christ, without God, without hope for their poor souls. Leaving and closing the door for Christ is so easy – many have done it and you have done it so many times. Will you leave without Christ again today? To marvel at His words is not faith. To leave without Christ in your heart is not faith. And you need faith to be saved.
 I do not what you to simply leave today without Christ. I want you to examine your heart and see where you stand with the Lord today. Do you trust Jesus for salvation? If not, come to Him now! Have you yielded the totality of your life to the control and dominion of the Lord? If not, come to Him now! Are you truly giving to God the things that are God’s?

Wednesday, January 28, 2015


And they sent to him some of the Pharisees and some of the Herodians, to trap him in his talk. And they came and said to him, "Teacher, we know that you are true and do not care about anyone's opinion. For you are not swayed by appearances, but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? Should we pay them, or should we not?" But, knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, "Why put me to the test? Bring me a denarius and let me look at it." And they brought one. And he said to them, "Whose likeness and inscription is this?" They said to him, "Caesar's." Jesus said to them, "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." And they marveled at him.
Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? Should we pay them, or should we not? This is the question they wanted an answer. This was a seemingly innocent question that was so tricky, because it was politically loaded.
First, it demanded a, ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. Clearly any other answer could appear to be evading the matter. 
Secondly, whatever answer provided, Jesus was going to be between a rock and a hard place. For if Jesus answered, ‘Yes, by all means pay taxes to Caesar’ He would be setting himself against every ordinary Jew. For paying taxes was resented, because it was the mark of the Roman occupation, as well as an evidence of their slavery to Rome. The Zealots, had refused to pay and were regarded as the heroes. Jesus had a Zealot in his company (Simon the Zealot!)
But on the other hand, if the Lord said, ‘No, you must never pay a mite to the Caesar’ then they would charge him with treason to the Romans authorities be rid of him! The Pharisees and the Herodians had effectively planted the trap, or so they thought. "No way he can escape" so they thought. While they were in this state of glee, the Lord read through their hearts and minds – hypocrisy was written all over them!
How do you like that phrase, “But, He knowing …?” These men thought they would pull a fast one over on Jesus. They thought they could outwit Him and trap Him in His words. They never realized that He could see  through them as through a transparent glass, exactly what they were. He could see the very condition of their hearts. He knew they were nothing more than “hypocrites”. Did you know that He knows your heart as well? Jesus knows everything there is about you. He knows if you are saved. He knows if you are just playing church. He knows if you are just playing a part so others will think well of you. He knows where you truly stand with God! He knows you, Heb. 4:13.
He responded, “Why put me to the test? Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.” Nothing is hidden from the Lord, even the currency in the pocket! This question and the demand for a coin was directed to the questioning party. The word the Lord used for ‘put to test’ could also be translated 'tempt' is ‘peirazo’ which means to try or ensnare or trap. This is the same thing that Satan had done earlier on with Jesus. They were Satan’s agent, for they were doing devil’s bidding! However, Jesus responded with Scriptures and confounded them just as He had confounded the devil.
One denarii was about a day’s wage for a common worker. Let’s assume it is about a thousand Kenya Shilling. The Lord then asked them, whose image and inscription does it bear? They quickly responded that it had the image of Caesar. Remember Caesar is the title and the man reigning as emperor at the time was Tiberius. One side of the coin had his portrait  with the words, Tiberius Caesar Augustus Son of the Divine Augustus and the reverse side had his inscription seated on a throne, wearing a crown of diadem and dressed as a high priest. This side was written, Pontif Maxim or Highest Priest.
He was claiming both political and religious authority. Here was a human government that was laying a claim on the Kingdom of God. Caesar wanted to be regarded as God! When it comes to the Christian and government, there are four basic attitudes:
a)      God alone is our authority – There have been people who would totally separate themselves from all worldly associations and go off to live apart from the world, from sinners and from human government. The monks in the ancient monastic systems come to mind here. These are like the proverbial ostrich that buried its head on the sand. They disregard the reality of the human government.
b)      The state alone is our authority – This is the view of secularism like the Herodians. In this view that state is the sole authority in a person’s life. This is the most dangerous of the four. Many civil and political entities think that only the government, with its constitution is supreme. How far from the truth! This is a deliberate attempt at suppressing the reality of God. Many governments support atheism.
c)       God and the state are both authorities, but the state is dominant – People who hold this view pay God lip service, but believe the word of the state has more authority than the Word of God. This is the view of most politicians, even 'Christian' politicians.
d)      God and state are both authorities, but God is supreme – This is the biblical view. This was the view articulated by Jesus in these verses. Those who hold this view obey the state as long the demands of the state do not violate the clear teachings of God. When God and the state are in opposition, God is the final authority. When the state stands in opposition to the Word of God, (i.e. When we are commanded to perform an immoral act; go against our conscience; stand against the clear Word of God, etc.) - we have a clear duty to oppose the state and obey the Lord, regardless of the personal costs. This is what Peter said to the Sanhedrin, "We shall obey God rather than men!" (Acts 4:18-20)
Is there anything we can do NOT to pay taxes? How can things work so that you don’t have to pay Value Added Tax, Pay As You Earn, Duty, etc.? This may so much interest you, because tax is in a sense an evil that you would want to avoid! But the passage before us gives the most clear answer that you ought not to be thinking in that way. The Lord said, “Yes, pay taxes!” It is in your best interest to pay tax because your Master and Saviour has said so.
Your allegiance is first of all to God and as long as you live. However, the Lord expect you to be subject, for His sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme or to governors as sent by Him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Honour everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the emperor (1Peter 2:13-17). Even if under the most draconian government and you are wondering if it is God’s will, then know for sure that all human institutions, whether emperor, governor, president, chief, captain, prefect, inter alia, all are sent by God. This passage clearly says that this is the will of God.
This is what the Lord has given as instruction for His people:
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honour to whom honour is owed. Rom 13:1-7
It is the duty of every citizen and especially of Christian to be law abiding. This is because 
(1) all authorities are instituted by God. They exist by the will of God, they have His mandate and blessing. Therefore acts of rebellion against the state are to be regarded as rebellion against God who appointed them. 
(2) all authorities are for your welfare. God has put authorities in place for two purposes – to punish evil and to reward the good. It is the high time that Christians regarded all authorities as God’s servant for good. 
(3) be in subjection for the sake of your own conscience. How can your regenerated conscience allow you to take glee in wickedness and rebellion?

 For this reasons, you are to pay taxes to the government, faithfully as one who is paying to God! Pay to all what is due – whether taxes, subjection, honour, revenue etc. Remember also that this is the way of funding the government operations. Do you want good roads, and healthcare, and police protection and order in the society? You have to pay taxes get these services. After all the government mints or produces money – give it back to them, you will not need it the heaven where you are going.
With this in mind, let every good citizen, especially Christians show their godliness by paying taxes and filing their annual returns ASAP. Thank God that for Kenyans the closing date is at the end of April! I was shocked by one of the assistant commissioners at Kenya Revenue Authority two years ago when he said that pastors and churches are the most notorious when it comes to tax evasion in Kenya. Pastors for one don't even pay PAYE! We have to be careful not to preach water and drink wine! You have to remit all your taxes promptily in view of what your Master, the Lord has said. After all He paid taxes when he got the denarii from the mouth of the fish, so you have no excuse. If Christ is your Lord Lord, then you will follow Him duly, closely and faster this year by paying your taxes, won't you?

Monday, January 19, 2015


And they sent to him some of the Pharisees and some of the Herodians, to trap him in his talk. And they came and said to him, "Teacher, we know that you are true and do not care about anyone's opinion. For you are not swayed by appearances, but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? Should we pay them, or should we not?" But, knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, "Why put me to the test? Bring me a denarius and let me look at it." And they brought one. And he said to them, "Whose likeness and inscription is this?" They said to him, "Caesar's." Jesus said to them, "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." And they marveled at him.

What do the Scriptures principally teach? The Scriptures principally teach what man is to believe concerning God and what duty God requires of man. In the passage before us, our Lord and Master, Saviour and Friend, is pressing upon us a duty that we all must not abdicate. God has pressed upon us both duty to Him and duty to man. You don’t have to be a Christian to do it! God requires everyone to render duty to Him as the Creator, and the benefactor. The Lord also requires everyone man everywhere to render duty to his fellow men.
Things are heating up in Jerusalem to the climax. Jesus has offended the religious powers and they are out to get Him, Mark 11:18. They want Him dead, so they come to Him in an effort to lay a trap for Him. They want Jesus to make a verbal misstep that they can use to their advantage. The text before us today is the first in a series of attacks launched by the enemies of the Lord Jesus. Their goal in all of these attacks is to either discredit Him with the people or to have a reason to accuse Him before the state. They are out to get Jesus and they do not care how they accomplish their goal.

There is no question that Jesus unites people – either in love or in opposition. Here are the religious hypocrites, the Pharisees, united with the secular and compromising Herodians. They were gathered together against the Lord Jesus. But we must always bear in mind that it was ‘…to do whatever the hand and plan of God had predestined to take place.’
The nations rage against the Lord and His anointed (Psalm 2:1-2). There can’t be any union between the marvellous Kingdom of God that is holy and the kingdom of darkness which is full of sin, iniquity and transgression. Remember that Jesus had come into Jerusalem as the Messiah King prophesied in the Old Testament. This is the last week before His death. It is the Passover week. He had then gone to cleanse the temple, by driving out the traders and the money changers. The religious authorities had been so provoked that they had all ganged up together to deal with Jesus accordingly. They had even formed a coalition with the Herodians and were set on laying their hands on Him. They were now negotiating with Judas to betray Jesus.
At this point, Mark records by the guidance of the Holy Spirit that the Pharisees have come to ‘trap Him in His talk’; they had come to entangle Him and bring Him to ruin. And so in their flattery, pretence and wickedness they said, "Teacher, we know that you are true and do not care about anyone's opinion. For you are not swayed by appearances, but truly teach the way of God.
Their mouths were full of hypocrisy, the venom of asp is upon their lips. However, they spoke the truth in their human cunning. These were all masters of human deception and flattery. They spoke in forked tongues, pointing out of the integrity, impartiality, faithfulness and unparalleled teaching ability of Jesus. However, the problem was that as they admitted, they knew this to be true, they knew that the Lord did not care about their duplicity in speaking! But it was for this very reason that they were trapping Him, so that they can be rid of one who so exposed their folly. I suppose they were still harbouring bitterness having been left speechless, helpless and guilty with their inability to answer honestly the question of about the baptism of John the Baptist. The parable of the tenants had left their ego balloon pricked and wasting away! It is at this point they wage a new onslaught against Jesus in this passage.
If you are a child of God, then do not expect a different treatment. The world is united in opposition against you. The world loves sin and so sin is baked every moment. This is abhorrent to every believer. This is the reason you had to restrain yourself so many time as you came. Many times it is subtle – especially in this country. They look at Christians in derision, they laugh at the gospel, they scoff at the truth, they mock Christ and they suppress the truth denying God. This world is alienated from God and as the Lord has said it is held captive by the force of the devil, in some sense. It is for this reason that it groans awaiting its redemption. Look at your work place – how many times have chosen to keep quiet instead of objecting at some immorality and sin being committed. In school, how many times do you have to shut your ears. Many times I have to shut my eyes so that I do not see iniquity. It is a broken world. Thank God it is not our home.
This means that you have a duty to be very vigilante so that you are not corrupted by the wickedness of this world. It means that you have to put in place measures that will not make you too comfortable in this world. You have to stop nursing dreams that would make you a child of this world more than a child of God. Do not be conformed to the patterns of this world, rather be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
In responding to the worldliness the Lord shows three ways to respond to this world:
a)       Exposure (v. 15b– Jesus knew their hearts. He knew they were nothing but hypocrites. He knew they had no respect for Him or for His ministry. In fact, Jesus knew that they hated Him and wanted Him dead. Knowing their intentions, He confronts them publically. He says, “Why tempt ye me?” The question is, “If you really believe all the things you just say, why do you feel like you have to put me to the test?” the hypocrisy of these men is clearly revealed in Luke 20:20. With that one, simple question, Jesus exposes the hypocrisy of their hearts. He also exposes the words as nothing more than insincere flattery.
b)      Example (v. 15c-16) – To answer their question, Jesus asked for a “penny”. This was the Roman coin known as the “denarius”. As I mentioned earlier, it was a day’s pay for the common worker in those days. The world, though blind understands examples and illustrations. The Lord used them a lot. We also should use examples as He did in responding to the world.

c)       Exhortation (v. 17) – Jesus answers their question in this verse, but not in the way they expected. Though there were only two possible answers in their minds: God and Rome. Jesus showed them that there were actually three answers. 

Every human being as a duty to others. This is why the Lord stated,
 “Give everyone who begs from you … and as you wish, that others that others would do to you, do so to them.” Luke 6:31. 
Apostle Peter says,
Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. 
 1 Peter 4:8-11.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

There is God - responding to an atheist.

In response to this article on The Star:

Logic and reason protect us from miracle healers

Thank you much Mr. Karuga for taking time to write this article. I couldn't agree with you more about the need for reason and logic with regard to miracles. The Bible is very explicit that miracles accomplished their place in authenticating the message of the Old Testament Scriptures. On the other hand signs, miracles and wonders were used by Jesus Himself to show that His identity and work of is that of Christ. Right now miracles are used by those who want to exploit their hearers by deception and cunning. The devil also performs miracles to draw people away from the truth and from their own reason. Miracles appeal to sensuality - the eyes, and the felt needs. Instead of depending on what you can see, depend on what is absolutely true and trustworthy - this is what God, the author of both creation and providence (the preserving and governing all things according to His eternal purpose) has revealed in the Bible. The Bible is God's self-authenticating truth.

However, I want to beseech you NOT to act against your own conscience, logic and reason in being an atheist. If you think there is no God, then you should also think that you don't exist, for God created you. Do you believe that someone made the phone that you use? Of course you do. Do you know this person? May be not. Does the fact that you do not know  the technician who made your cellphone make the person non-existent? Of course not. 

You are hindered from believing in the existence of God by your own eyes and logic! Your logic has failed you at the very point where you need it! If you met with God today, all unbelief will stop and atheism will be discarded. God has met with many. Remember that there are so many things that you haven't seen or experienced personally but still hold that they are there. I'm sure you believe that you have an appendix - you have never seen it, but you accept, acknowledge and believe that it is right there by your intestines! 

What evidence do I have that there is God? 
1) You and I and all we see and do not see! We were made, created by God. Let no one purporting to be a scientist contradict this, for scientists have no evidence to the contrary. Science cannot explain everything... first of all we all understand science as the study of material universe. This means that to appeal to science to  make any statement about non-material entity like God, is the same as expecting milk to stream out of a rock. As a very complex being, with such processes that has taken centuries to explain, you just need to know that you are not a product of some bang, or some genetic mutation - these tends to always be destructive in nature. If you want to prove it you go with a grenade at a metal junkyard, release the pin and see, if the metal pieces will join together to produce a lovely car that you can drive away...the bang will leave chaos. On the other hand mutation, ask any self-respecting scientist, he will admit that, they are never progressive. Genetic mutation is always retrogressive.

2) God does not play dice with the universe. (I'm quoting a renown scientist, Albert Einstein). God does not depend on His creation in any way. This is why some wish away Him as atheists do. But He is there making sure that everything works according to His definite plan. He has sent the world His truth, His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, but the world has again and again said that they are interested. He has also sent judgment again and again. But what is the most important is that He has patiently, graciously offered the Way by which you may be reconciled with Him - you believe in Jesus Christ. Historical, undeniable Jesus Christ - there are those who saw Him, when He was upon this earth. There are millions of people, your own contemporaries, including, yours truly, who have experienced His saving mercy and grace and are convinced by evidence of truth and experience that there is God, who we should worship and serve. 

3) Because of your soul. You have an eternal soul, that could be lost or gained. God places the value of your soul as greater than all the wealth of the whole world combined (God knows because He created it). You have a conscience, that bears witness that you are denying the undeniable. You are suppressing and rejecting the truth. The truth of God is that what can be known about God is plain to you, because God has shown it you. 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 He has made. So you are without excuse. You know God, but you refuse to honor Him as God or give thanks to Him... please stop exchanging the glory of of the immortal God with logic and reason. Logic and reason find their fulfilment in acknowledging the Creator, receiving His way of salvation and having the most blessed fellowship with Him. Will you?

We could engage further if you so wish.

Passing the Baton (Part 2)

You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. 
2Ti 2:1-2.

NT Discipling
Jesus Christ (Luke 6:12-16)
In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God. And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles: Simon, whom he named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot, and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

v  Prayerfully
Christ, being fully divine has unlimited knowledge, wisdom and power. However, He went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God. (v.12). Identifying the disciples to carry out the divine task of making disciples for His kingdom as well as becoming the sons and daughters of His heavenly Father required direct and constant communication with the Father all night. Now especially when He was selecting men who will carry out the gospel mandate, as His own representatives and ambassadors, He spent ‘all night’ and ‘continued in prayer to God’. The men to be chosen for the task were men upon whom the Lord put the future of Christianity. Therefore a nightlong vigil was much needful not for Him, but for the disciples to understand that this was a great task ahead. The disciples needed the expected grace to perform the messengers and spokesmen of Christ.
If you are going to fulfill the mandates of the great commission of Matthew 28:18-20, then you must be a prayerful man as your Master did. You have to be prayerful, being yourself finite and limited in knowledge, wisdom and power. Yes – pray for wisdom in leading and discipling these men and women that you bring to the knowledge of Christ. They are being called to die to the world and to the flesh. They are being to called to put on a new person after the image of Christ. They are being called to a life of submission and service to Christ to willingly take up the task with uttermost diligence. If Jesus Christ spent the whole night in prayer, how much more should we spend? MUCH MORE!

v  Carefully selected
Christ very carefully called His disciples (all the followers) and from them He carefully chose the twelve and designated them Apostles (v.13). Identifying the disciples was something that the Lord did with uttermost carefulness. But much more carefulness was necessary to appoint the twelve apostles. Therefore when we are choosing those who you will disciple, uttermost diligence is required. Christ commanded those where to follow Him that they will be involved in disciple-making venture – no longer fishermen, but menfishers! Such are those who have been found by the saving mercy and grace of Christ. Disciple-making disciples are those who have benefited from the grace of God. Only Christians are called and have been commanded by the grace of Christ to follow Him – those who are saved. Because we have also been commanded to make disciples by the same Lord, then it is obvious that the Lord will bring those to be discipled!
Those who Christ summons are those who Himself wants (Mark 3:13) this shows His sovereignty in salvation and sanctification. It is only by the will of God that anyone becomes a disciple of Jesus and that anyone receives discipleship training in Christ. As Paul instructed Timothy to entrust spiritual truth to faithful men, whom should reproduce to make others who would reproduce others for the furtherance of the church. Unfaithful men are all over the place – but have nothing to do with them in entrusting them the pearls of the kingdom to the swines.

v  Purposeful association  
Before choosing them, mark records that “Jesus withdrew with His disciples to the sea… and later He took them up the mountain and called to Him those whom he desired, and they came to Him.” (Mark 3:7, 13) After choosing them, He came down with them and stood on the level place (Luke 6:17). When He calmed the storm in Luke 8:22, He had gotten into a boat with His disciples. It was only to the disciples that it was given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but others only in parables, so that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand. (Luke 8:10)
It may sound harsh, but there is no way a disciple maker can achieve purposeful association without a high level exclusivity. This intentionality was so conspicuous in the discipleship method of Christ that even from among the twelve, there was the special three – Simon Peter, James and John. These He took to the mount of transfigurations (Luke 9:28) and to Gethsemane (Matt. 26:37) of these Peter was the leader from this verse as He alone is mentioned by name and later on it is Peter who was specifically told to tend His sheep (John 21:16,17) so that Jesus most of the house resided in his house and even called it His home! (Mk. 2:29-35). I appreciate that sometimes it may have been He called Peter representing every other apostle, but we still have to acknowledge that Peter is always named the first and so I am only acknowledging this priority.

v  Powerful proclamation
Jesus wanted to make disciples who can also make other disciples by His authority. When He chose the twelve, Mark recorded that it was so that they might be with Him and he might send them out to preach and have authority to cast out demons. (Mark 3:14,15).
Later He sent them out to preach – the seventy two (Luke 10:1-20). And he also sent out the twelve (Matt. 10:1-11:1). Note that He instructed them on the future mission and gave them specific and achievable instructions:
¾     “Don’t go to the Samaritans & Gentiles – only to the lost sheep of Israel” (5-6)
¾     The message is: “The kingdom of heaven is at hand” (7)
¾     What to be done is – to heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast our demons” (8)
¾     Warning – do not sell the message (9-10)
¾     Do not seek to provide for yourselves – everything is taken care of, from the Master’s kitty (11-15)
¾     What to expect: persecutions! (16-23)
¾     Conclusion:  a disciple is not above his master (24)
Disciples must be trained not to sit on the throne of their Master, the Lord Jesus Christ and this must be taught be example from the teachers who are themselves the zenith of humility.
He didn’t go with the twelve, when He sent them out! They had to learn without Him.

What is the effect of these four principles that Jesus had in the lives of the disciples?
Notice this at Acts 4:13
Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.
Being with Jesus leaves the disciple, completely transformed. Spend time with Christ, whether in prayer, in His word, and in His service and this will leave and an obvious and permanent ministry of you. No true believer of Christ is unschooled, for Jesus is the Prophet who teaches His disciples God’s truth. The Christian education continues all the way to eternity. But having been with Jesus calls you to speak out for Him, in this world of sin and sinners, with the aim that they also will come under His lordship. You faithfully represent Jesus Christ by constantly gathering disciples for Him through discipleship. This is what is faithfully passing on the baton.

Questions for you from 2 Timothy 2:1-2:
1)      Do you have someone that you can truly call your child?
2)      Where is your strength in the work of discipleship?
3)      What have you heard?
4)      From whom have you heard?
5)      Are they faithful men?
6)      How sure are you that they have only and only followed the Word and proclaimed the true gospel?
7)      Who have you had as witnesses?
8)      How do you yourself watch against being in error?
9)      How do you identify those to disciple?

10)  What mechanism do you put in place to make sure that other faithful and godly people are trained and left to train more faithful ones?

Monday, January 12, 2015

Passing On The Baton (Part 1)

You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. 2Timothy 2:1-2

 Christ has called every true Christian to the indispensable task of making disciples. Every disciple of Christ must be a disciple-making-disciple. The greatest question for you is are you making any disciple(s) in your ministry? Here Paul is instructing his disciple Timothy whom he called, “my child” on what he is to do. Of priority is not to be greatest missionary in the whole world or pastor of the largest church in the world – but to make disciples.

First he was to operate under the strength of the grace of the Lord Christ Jesus.
Then he was to remember what he had seen and heard from Paul and be well-conversant with these wonderful truths himself.
Then he is to look for faithful men, because they are scarcely few. Once he found them, Timothy was commit this same body of truths to them by teaching and instructing them to both know and do (obey). They must possess two qualities – be faithful (saved, and committed to Christ just like Timothy) and be able to teach others also.
He is also to follow through to make sure that the chain does not end there. Yes, Timothy is told make sure that the men he appoints will be committed to the same truths without adding or subtracting from them. This group must also be committed to passing on the baton to another generation, and on it went until today I am here to write this for you to read. This is basic tactic is what has travelled through the centuries, from all sorts of culture and time, so that today we have Christians from every nation, every race, every tongue and every people. Talk about the power of the gospel.
Jesus the greatest disciple-maker utilized four reproducible principles in His ministry, which remain equally relevant today. They are:
v  Prayerful meditations
v  Careful selection
v  Purposeful association and
v  Powerful proclamation

OT Example
Moses instituted a discipling process in the Old Testament between fathers and sons (and even grandsons) that would ensure godly leadership in the home and society for God’s people, both then and the future. Wherever a need exists to discern God’s will in the affairs of men – in the world or home – the clearly prescribed principle is to develop leadership through making disciples. E.g. Moses did not leave Israel without a leader – he discipled, trained and left Joshua… with the result that, “the Lord exalted Joshua in the sight of al Israel; so that they revered him, just as they had revered Moses all the days of his life.” (Joshua 4:14; Cf. Ex. 24:13; 33; 11; Num. 11:28)
For more examples of the explication of this principle, there is Elijah training Elisha (1Kings 19:19-21; 2Kings 2:3; 3:11) and in the lives of Jeremiah and Baruch (Jer. 36:26; 43:3). More generally Samuel had a school of prophets under his oversight (1Sam. 10:5-10; 19:20-24).
In this manner of relationships, leadership was passed on from one leader to the next until God had accomplished his purposes through them to meet the need of His people.
Listen to Michael Wilkins, in his book, Following the Master: discipleship in the Steps of Jesus
Master-disciple relationships behind the perpetuation and dissemination of the wisdom tradition would be found in informal father-son relationships, in training of elders for making judicial decisions in the city gate, in the wisdom orientation of advisers in the court, and within certain groups who specialized in wisdom and were involved with the recording of wisdom sayings.

Discipling is the heartbeat of wise counsel – Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” Prov. 27:17