The Lord’s Prayer Is Not Outmoded – Part 4

In this manner, therefore, pray: …Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:9-10)

In 1 Timothy 2:4, we learn that it is God’s will that everyone be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. However, we read from the Scriptures that there will be those who will refuse to love the truth and thus not be saved (2 Thessalonians 2: 9-12) and will suffer eternal damnation in everlasting fire (Matthew 25:31-46, Rev 20:11-15). Similarly, it is God’s will that the sick be healed (Matthew 8:17, 1 Peter 2:24; James 5:15; Exodus 23:25). But if we should fail to accept God as our Healer and refuse to appropriate by faith the blessing of healing He has given us in Christ, we could needlessly die should we fall sick (see 2 Chronicles 16:12-13). And this has sadly been the fate of many. From this, the Bible makes it clear that God’s will for our lives (families, cities or nations) isn’t always going to be done just because it is His will. We must desire His will and want it enough to engage Him to see it come to pass. And this is something we must do daily. This is because God did not create us as automatons but as beings with the freedom and power to choose (Deuteronomy 30:19) and He does not violate our will. Being born again does not cause you to lose the freedom and power to choose. Therefore, as long as we live, we will daily have to make the choice to follow God’s will, our will or the devil’s.  So, Jesus taught us to pray for God’s will to be done.

We find the early church resorting to the will of God when they encountered a difficult situation. In Acts 21:4, the Bible says, “After looking up the disciples, we stayed there seven days; and they kept telling Paul through [the] Spirit not to set foot in Jerusalem”. In this verse, the Holy Spirit admonished Paul not to set foot in Jerusalem through the disciples. However, Paul had earlier resolved to go to Jerusalem and will not be persuaded to do otherwise. Now, the Spirit of God is not the author of confusion, and He does not contradict Himself. Therefore, when we read that “Paul had resolved in [the] spirit to go to Jerusalem” (Acts 19:21), it couldn’t have possibly been the Holy Spirit telling him to do so but he rather resolving in his spirit to do so. Again, the Prophet Agabus came and told Paul of what hardship awaited him should he go to Jerusalem, although Agabus missed out on some of the details (Acts 21:10-11; 27-40). When those with Paul heard what the Prophet said, they begged Paul not to go to Jerusalem but Paul firmly refused (Acts 21:10-13). So they said “The will of the Lord be done” (Acts 21:14). And this is exactly what Jesus taught us to pray.

Not only are we to pray for God’s will to be done, but we have also been commanded in the New Testament to always invoke the will of God in our conversation and manner of living. James 4:13-15 says, “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that”. Again, the Bible teaches us that we should be transformed by renewing our minds so that we can know what the will of God is (Romans 12:2), for it is foolishness not to understand the will of God (Ephesians 5:17). How much more foolish will it be if we refuse to dwell in God’s will? Therefore, Jesus has shown us the way of wisdom: “In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven…thy will be done one earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:9-10).

Kwadwo Omari, PhD
February 3, 2019.

 

IMPORTANT: If you do not know the Lord Jesus as your personal Saviour, this is the time to surrender your life to God, and accept Jesus as your Saviour. This is the way to eternal life and salvation from hell and eternal torments when this life is over. You can pray this prayer sincerely from your heart to receive Jesus as your Saviour: “I come to you God in Jesus name and surrender my life unto you. I repent of my sins and I ask that You forgive me of all my sins. I confess with my mouth that Jesus is Lord, and I believe with my heart that God has raised Jesus from the dead. I thank you God for saving me, in Jesus name, Amen”. If you sincerely prayed this prayer, be assured that you are saved, for the Bible says that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved (Romans 10:13, Romans 10:10, Acts 16:31). Find a Bible believing church to attend so that you can be discipled to grow in the ways of God. You can also email me (kwadwo.omari@gmail.com) and I will be happy to grow together with you in Christ.

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The Lord’s Prayer is not Outmoded – Part 3

In this manner, therefore, pray: …Thy Kingdom Come…(Matthew 6:9-10)

Jesus didn’t die on the cross so that we will only be spiritually translated into His kingdom (Colossians 1:13) while we continue to live on this earth with satan being the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4) and the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2). To suggest this is all there is to the kingdom of God, which was promised to come, is to only tell a part of the truth, which in turn leads to error. Rather, Jesus after His death and resurrection revealed that there is soon coming a time when He will physically return to this very earth as a King to literally establish His Kingdom on this very earth for a thousand years (read Revelation 20). At that time, satan would be bound for a thousand years so that he can no longer deceive the nations (Revelation 20:1-3). And Jesus and His faithful saints, resurrected and those who will experience no death,  will rule this very earth with a rod of iron for a thousand years (Revelation 20:4-6; Revelation 2:26-27).

After the thousand years is over, the Scriptures teach that God will literally fulfill His promise recorded in 2 Corinthians 6:16 to dwell and walk among His people in His coming kingdom. Not just God dwelling among Christians through His Spirit indwelling us, but He literally walking among His people face to face in His coming kingdom which He will establish on a new earth. This what the Scriptures say, “When the thousand years are completed… Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death… I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple… and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life… There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him; they will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads (Revelation 20:7; Revelation 21:1-4, 22,27; Rev 22:3-4).

At present, the resurrection of the dead hasn’t happened yet. Consequently, Jesus hasn’t returned to the earth to literally establish His kingdom on the earth, and satan still remains the god of this world. In addition, the earth since creation has not passed away, the seas still exist, sinners and the unrighteous do abound, and death hasn’t ceased on the earth. Therefore, to suggest that there is no kingdom of God to come with the death and resurrection of Jesus is to err. On the contrary, we find the apostles in their epistles teaching us to look for and hasten the coming of God’s kingdom and also teaching us to declare for God’s kingdom to come.  In 2 Peter 3, while Peter taught on the coming of  the coming of the Lord, He warned thus, “looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:12-13). The Scriptures teach that the coming of the Lord is associated with the coming of His Kingdom (see Revelation 20-22, 2 Peter 3). Even so, to look for and hasten the coming of the Lord thorough righteous and holy living (2 Peter 3:11) is to look for and hasten the coming of the kingdom of God.  In Revelation 22, we are told that the Holy Spirit Himself calls forth for the Lord and thereby His kingdom to come, and the bride of Christ does likewise. Those who hear the revelation/testimony of Jesus are also commanded to do same: “The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come” (Revelation 22:17). We find John the Apostle declaring the same thing, “Even so Come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20). And Paul did same when He said Maranatha – Our Lord, come! (1 Corinthians 16:22).

To call forth for the Lord and thus His kingdom to come is to talk to God, not man. To talk to God is to pray.  In this way, we see the apostles simply obeying Jesus, and praying for His kingdom to come, the Holy Spirit also calling on the bride of Christ to do likewise, just as Jesus taught in the Lord’s prayer. We have every obligation to do same in obedience to Jesus and the Spirit of God.

To be continued…

Kwadwo Omari, PhD
January 28, 2019.

The Lord’s Prayer Is Not Outmoded – Part 2

In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name… (Matthew 6:9-10)

Jesus taught us to call God our Heavenly Father and hallow His name when we pray. Calling God Father is is not an exclusive Old Testament privilege. On the contrary, it is foundational in Christianity. We read in John 1:12 concerning believers in Jesus that “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name”. If we are children or offspring of God, then God is certainly our Father. Romans 8:15 also adds that “For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” Thus, when we call God our Father in the new covenant, we simply acknowledge the relationship Jesus has brought us into by His death and resurrection. We have been made children and members of the household of God (Ephesians 2:19; Romans 8:29).

God declares of Himself that “Heaven is my throne”(Isaiah 66:1)”. This has not changed with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (e.g. see Revelation chapters 4-5, 15-22). The Hebrew word translated throne  is “kicce”, which also refers to a seat of honour, royal dignity, authority, and power. Even so when we call God our Heavenly Father, we acknowledge Him as our Father who is King, and has all power and authority, and is honored above all. None of these has changed with the coming of the New Testament. Jesus also invoked the name “your Heavenly Father” when He showed us God’s great care for us and His power to give us His Holy Spirit, every good gift, and supply all our needs (see Matthew 7:11; Luke 11:13, Matthew 6:8, Matthew 6:24-33). So we can see that when Paul wrote “God shall supply all your needs”(Philippians 4:19), he, by the Holy Spirit, iterated what Jesus showed us about God when He revealed Him to us as our Heavenly Father (cf. Matthew 11:27).

Jesus also taught us to declare to our Heavenly Father that “hallowed be Your name”. When we hallow (Greek: hagiazo) the name of God, we acknowledge and honor His name as holy and venerable. This is also to glorify the name of God. Hallowing or glorifying God’s name did not end with the old covenant. In the book of Revelation, written years after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we read that Christians who will be victorious in the end times and will not receive the mark of the beast will glorify the name of God in heaven: Then I saw another sign in heaven…And I saw something like a sea of glass mixed with fire, and those who had been victorious over the beast and his image and the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, holding harps of God. And they sang the song of Moses, the bond-servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying “Great and marvelous are Your works, O Lord God, the Almighty;….Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy….(Revelation 15:1-4). There is nothing more New Testament than being part of the overcomers in the last days who will hallow the name of God in heaven. The names of God are not just His titles. They are expressions or attributes  of His character and Himself. Therefore when we hallow the names of God we simply worship Him; calling Him holy, honoring Him, and venerating Him. This is what goes on before the throne of God in heaven (Rev 4:8-10) and this is what New Testament Christians do (Revelation 19:10; Revelation 22:9; Revelation 15:1-4).

Again the Bible says in Philemon 6: “That the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus”. Even so, as believers in Jesus Christ, when we hallow the name of our Heavenly Father and call Him Jehovah Rophe, we honour and acknowledge Him as our Healer, and also acknowledge the covenant and blessing of healing He has given us in the New Testament (1 Peter 2:24; Isaiah 53:4-5). When we do so, our faith becomes effective and we are able to walk in healing and health (cf. Philemon 6-8). And we are blessed in the same manner when we hallow His name and acknowledge Him as Jehovah Shalom – the God of Peace (Romans 15:33; Romans 16:20), Jehovah Tsidkenu – God our Righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21; Isaiah 53:10-12), Jehovah M’Kadesh – God our Sanctifier (Ephesians 4:24; 1 Peter 2:9; 2 Cor 6 14:-7:1), and Jehovah Jireh – God our provider (Philippians 4:19).

Kwadwo Omari, PhD
January 15, 2019.

 

IMPORTANT: If you do not know the Lord Jesus as your personal Saviour, this is the time to surrender your life to God, and accept Jesus as your Saviour. This is the way to eternal life and salvation from hell and eternal torments when this life is over. You can pray this prayer sincerely from your heart to receive Jesus as your Saviour: “I come to you God in Jesus name and surrender my life unto you. I repent of my sins and I ask that You forgive me of all my sins. I confess with my mouth that Jesus is Lord, and I believe with my heart that God has raised Jesus from the dead. I thank you God for saving me, in Jesus name, Amen”. If you sincerely prayed this prayer, be assured that you are saved, for the Bible says that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved (Romans 10:13, Romans 10:10, Acts 16:31). Find a Bible believing church to attend so that you can be discipled to grow in the ways of God. You can also email me (kwadwo.omari@gmail.com) and I will be happy to grow together with you in Christ.

The Lord’s Prayer Is Not Outmoded – Part 1

Early on in Jesus’ Ministry, at the time He gave the sermon on the mount, He took the initiative and taught His disciples how to pray (Matthew 6:9-13). This prayer has popularly been called the Lord’s prayer.  Later in Jesus’ ministry, when He was asked to teach on how to pray, He repeated words from the Lord’s prayer, instructing His disciples to pray in that manner (Luke 11:1-4). The fact that we see Jesus repeat the same words on two different occasions, to show how we ought to pray, should convey the importance of the Lord’s prayer to us. However, some view the very words Jesus spoke in the Lord’s prayer as outmoded and not relevant for the New Testament. They only find the Lord’s prayer as being useful as a pattern of prayer, with the very words themselves being needless or unscriptural under the New Testament. But the very reasons given to support such claims are not supported by the New Testament.

One of the reasons that may be given given to support such claims is that Jesus taught on this prayer before His death and resurrection, and this makes it an Old Testament Prayer. But to say so, and treat the words of Jesus and the Gospels as Old Testament, is to ignore the truth that Jesus before His death and resurrection taught on the New Covenant He was bringing us. Consequently, the apostles took what Jesus taught and ran with it after His death and resurrection, using the teachings of Jesus as the foundation for their teachings and epistles. In Hebrews, the Bible says “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds (Hebrews 1:1-2). This verse teaches that God in these last days has spoken to us by His Son, Jesus, and we find the words and teachings of Jesus primarily recorded in the Gospels. Thus, we find Paul testifying that Jesus Christ is the foundation that has already been laid for the Christian faith, not himself or the early apostles (1 Corinthians 3:11) and Jesus also testifying of Himself that His words and teachings constitute the foundation upon which we must build, not the writings or epistles of the apostles (Matthew 7:24-27). The Scriptures, after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, affirmed this truth when it literally said of the early apostles that they preached Jesus Christ (Acts 5:42). Paul, who later joined the apostles, also affirmed concerning Himself and those he worked with that they also preached Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 1:23; 1 Corinthians 2:2; Philippians 3:7-17).

So we see from the Scriptures that Paul and the other apostles did not reinvent the wheel. They did not go around neglecting and contradicting Jesus and His teachings. On the contrary, Jesus and His teachings were the foundation upon which they built their ministries and wrote their epistles. As the Scriptures say, “if the foundation be destroyed what can the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:3). In the same way, if we neglect the words and teachings of Jesus given to us as our foundation, how do we hope to come to an accurate knowledge of the truth, and of the new covenant He has brought us?  Without understanding the words and teachings of Jesus, we cannot properly understand the epistles, which are built on Jesus and His words.

In subsequent posts, the various lines of the prayer Jesus taught will be discussed. And we will see how the words Jesus told us to pray constitute truths the apostles re-echoed and taught in their epistles, as well as prayers they prayed or encouraged the church to pray.

To be continued.

Kwadwo Omari, PhD
January 7, 2019.

 

IMPORTANT: If you do not know the Lord Jesus as your personal Saviour, this is the time to surrender your life to God, and accept Jesus as your Saviour. This is the way to eternal life and salvation from hell and eternal torments when this life is over. You can pray this prayer sincerely from your heart to receive Jesus as your Saviour: “I come to you God in Jesus name and surrender my life unto you. I repent of my sins and I ask that You forgive me of all my sins. I confess with my mouth that Jesus is Lord, and I believe with my heart that God has raised Jesus from the dead. I thank you God for saving me, in Jesus name, Amen”. If you sincerely prayed this prayer, be assured that you are saved, for the Bible says that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved (Romans 10:13, Romans 10:10, Acts 16:31). Find a Bible believing church to attend so that you can be discipled to grow in the ways of God. You can also email me (kwadwo.omari@gmail.com) and I will be happy to grow together with you in Christ.

 

A key to Overcoming in 2019 and Beyond

Hebrews 12: 2 says “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God”. In this verse we are shown how Jesus was able to endure the painful death on the cross. He looked to the joy that He was to inherit after enduring the cross, and that became the fuel that urged him to overcome: “who for the joy set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame” (Hebrews 12:2). We are now being called upon to look unto Jesus and do what He did, so that we may not loose heart but be able to overcome jus as He did: “Consider Him who endured… so that you will not grow weary and lose heart (Hebrews 12:3). If we are also going to overcome in this world and accomplish all that God has purposed for us, we can only do it by keeping our minds and hearts always fixed on the promises of God. This is how Jesus, from whom faith comes, overcame – and this is how the faith He gives us work (cf. Heb 12:2).

Concerning this truth, the Scriptures have a lot to say. Hebrews 11:6 says “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him”. When we come to God, He expects us not to only believe in His existence, but that He REWARDS those that diligently seek Him. Our knowledge of God as a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him must be an integral part of our faith in Him. Without this, we have not known God as He expects us to know Him and our faith is not as it’s supposed to be. Colossians 3:23-24 emphasizes this same truth “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. In other words, as workers of the Lord, the reward of the inheritance we have been promised to receive from the Lord should spur us on to work whole heartedly for the Lord. We are to keep our hearts and minds on God’s promised rewards to help us work heartily for Him. 2 Corinthians 7:1 adds this “Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God”. Here also, we learn that the promises God has given us of dwelling among us, welcoming us, being our God and Father, and receiving us as His sons and daughters (see 2 Corinthians 6:17-18) must cause us to dissociate ourselves from sin and filth, and should cause us to walk in holiness and in the fear of God continually. Again, we are told that it is by the promises God has given us by which we become partakers of His divine nature: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust (2 Peter 1:4). As we feed more and more on His promises, we become more and more like Him (cf. Romans 12:2, 2 Corinthians 3:18). We also find Paul advising Timothy in the same way: This command I entrust to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you fight the good fight, (1 Timothy 1:18). The prophetic words God gives us, which includes His promises to us, are not merely to make us feel or look good. These are words we must keep our minds on to enable us fight the good fight of faith.

So, we can see that the promises of God are indispensable in the Christian walk. God’s promises are meant to create in us hope, i.e. confident expectation that do not disappoint, which must drive us to faith and action to inherit those promises. His words of promise contain the power for us to live as He expects us to live (Ecclesiastes 8:4a, 2 Peter 1:4). They are also weapons He has given to those who love and diligently seek Him to fight and overcome in this world. May we not trivialize the promises of God and make them clichés of no value in our lives. Let’s saturate our minds and hearts with them. For by them, we shall overcome, just as Jesus did (Hebrews 12:2-3).

Kwadwo Omari, PhD
January 1, 2019.

Enemies of the Cross of Christ

In Philippians 3:18-19, the Bible says, “For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction…who set their minds on earthly things”. God is love, and the cross of Christ is the ultimate expression of God’s love to us (John 15:13; Romans 5:7-8; Romans 8:32). Therefore, to set yourself as an enemy of the cross of Christ is to set yourself as enemy of who God is. This is to oppose God’s purposes and fight His will. This is to be a stumbling block and an offence to God. For those who set themselves to be stumbling blocks to any of God’s little ones, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea (Mathew 18:6). How much more terrible will it be for those who set themselves as offence to the Lord Himself?

One would think that it must only take a denial of Jesus or involvement in gross acts of evil to be an enemy of the cross of Christ. However, the Scriptures teach that those who become the enemies of the Cross of Christ are those who set their minds on earthly things (Philippians 3:18-19). This was the same sin Peter got into when he attempted to stop Jesus from going to the cross: “But He (Jesus) turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block (offence) to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s (Matthew 16:23)”.

As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he (cf. Proverbs 23:7). Again, we are transformed according to what we set our minds on (cf. Romans 12:2), and into the image of the things we behold (2 Corinthians 3:12-18). Even so, when we do not set our minds on God’s interests but on earthly things, we are transformed into the very image of the things we mind and inevitably pursue the things that are contrary to Christ. When we set our minds on earthly things, our stomach and appetites would become our god and our glory will be in our shame (cf. Philippians 3:18-19). In this way, we fail to be transformed into the image of Christ, which is our ultimate calling (Romans 8:29-20, Philippians 3:7-14) and become enemies of the cross of Christ. The end of such is destruction (Philippians 3:18-19).

Because we have died with Jesus and have been resurrected with Him through faith (Galatians 2:20, Romans 6:3-4, Colossians 3:1), the Bible gives this admonition: Set your mind and keep focused habitually on the things above [the heavenly things], not on things that are on the earth [which have only temporal value] (Colossians 3:2)”.  This is not an option but a command.  And obedience to this command is the way we save ourselves from becoming enemies of the cross of Christ to being those who look unto Jesus and seek first His kingdom and righteousness (Hebrews 12:2; Matthew 6:33).

Kwadwo Omari, PhD
Dec 16, 2018.

What Is Worship?

It is without a doubt that music is valuable in worship. However, the presence or absence of music does not define worship. Neither is the tempo of music the determinant of worship. In Romans 12:1, the Bible defines what worship is supposed to entail: “Therefore I urge you, brothers, on account of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God, which is your spiritual service of worship” (Romans 12:1).  In this verse we are given three main components of worship. According to the Bible, these components constitute our spiritual service or act of worship (Romans 12:1). We may have the best music but if these components of worship are missing we deviate from what the Bible calls worship, and our music counts for nothing.

The first component of worship, according to Romans 12:1, is to offer your body as a living sacrifice to God. This speaks of a life totally surrendered to God.  2 Corinthians 5:15 says “And He (Christ) died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf”. When this becomes the life we live, we cease from living for ourselves and become consumed with obedience unto God. God’s footsteps become our path way (cf. Psalm 85:13), and His Word and will become what we live for. We crucify our flesh, deny ourselves, take up our cross daily and follow Him (Luke 9:23).  This is the life Paul spoke of when he said “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Galatians 2:20). True worship begins with a life totally surrendered to God and lived for Him alone.

The second component of worship is to ensure that our sacrifice to God is holy. To be holy is to be set apart and separated unto God. Regarding this, the Scriptures gives this solemn admonition: Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols?… Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,” says the Lord. “And do not touch what is unclean; And I will welcome you (2 Corinthians 6:14-17). If we are going to be true worshippers of God, then God requires that we be set apart for Him by pursuing righteousness (cf. 2 Tim 2:22). As the Bile says, fresh water and salt water cannot come from the same spring (cf. James 3:11). Even so, we cannot live a double standard life and claim to be worshippers of God. We cannot offer our bodies unto God in songs of adoration and worship on Sundays and offer those same bodies with songs that feed our bodies lust and worldliness on other days. We cannot decide to live uprightly only when we meet with other believers and live like the world does when we are outside church. The Bible teaches that when we don’t separate ourselves from worldliness and sin we defile and contaminate our bodies and spirits (2 Corinthians 7:1). In this way, we make the sacrifice of ourselves unto God filthy and our worship of no account, irrespective of how well our music may sound.

The third component of worship is to offer our bodies as a sacrifice that pleases God. “But without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). Therefore, if we are going to present our bodies to God in a way that pleases Him, then we must be people who live by faith.  To have faith is simply to believe God, and therefore act on His Word; it is not one or the other but both (James 2). This is to trust God that He is who He says He is, and He will do what He says He will do. Faith is obedience unto God and is how we show our love for Him (John 14:15; Romans 1:5). Having faith is how we are commanded to live in this body; “…the life I now live in the body, I live by faith… (Galatians 2:20), and this is how Jesus practically lives in us while we cease to live (Galatians 2:20). The Bible says that whoever does not believe God has made him out to be a liar (1 John 5:10), and whatever is not from faith is sin (Romans 14:23). Therefore, to attempt to worship God while living in unbelief is to attempt to worship God while sinning. My brothers and sisters, these things ought not to be (cf. James 3:10). For our worship is suposed to please God but when we shrink back from faith God has no pleasure in us (Hebrews 10:38).

Therefore, seeing that we are not called to a song service but to worship God, let us devote ourselves to worship God according to how the Bible teaches us to worship. Let us present our bodies to God as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing unto God. This is our spiritual service of worship.

-Kwadwo Omari, PhD
© December 11, 2018.

The Severity of God

In Romans 11:22 we are told to “Behold then the kindness and severity of God”. We are ultimately deceived when we only know the kindness of God, and so are we equally deceived when we only know the severity of God. God is perfect in His nature, and He is both perfectly kind and perfectly severe. He does not need the help of any one to be kind, neither does He need the devil to help Him be severe. According to the Bible, which side of God we will ultimately experience is totally dependent on us: “Quite right, they were broken off for their unbelief, but you stand by your faith. Do not be conceited, but fear;  for if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you, either. Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God’s kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off. And they also, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in…” (Romans 11:20-23). Here we are told that faith and obedience bring us into the experience of God’s kindness, whereas unbelief and disobedience towards God make us objects of His severity and wrath (see also Roman 1:18-32; Psalm 18:25-26). To have faith in God and be obedient to Him does not mean you never sin; for the Bible says we all stumble in many ways (James 3:2). Rather the faithful and obedient responds to God’s goodness when they err and repent – for the goodness of God leads men to repentance (Romans 2:4). But the unbelieving and disobedient rejects God’s kindness and discipline by their refusal to repent, and thereby choose to make a practice of sin (Romans 1:18-32; Romans 2:5,8-9). This includes unrepentant sinners as well as Christians, who choose to embrace sin and refuse to turn away from them (Matthew 7:21-23; Galatians 5:19-21).

In Revelation this is what Jesus says He will do to those accept to live in sin and not repent: “I gave her time to repent, and she does not want to repent of her immorality. Behold, I will throw her on a bed (of sickness or suffering), and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her deeds. And I will kill her children… and all the churches will know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts; and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds (Revelation 2:21-23). This is not an old Testament Scripture. Neither is it an attack on God’s people by the devil. This is a message Jesus, after His death and resurrection, gave to His church in Thyatira about what He was going to do to the unrepentant both outside and inside His church. He said He will Himself throw them on the bed of affliction and into distress and great trouble, and “kill their children” – a phrase that must be Scripturally understood”. In Ezekiel 18: 19-20, God says “Yet you ask, ‘Why does the son not share the guilt of his father?’ Since the son has done what is just and right and has been careful to keep all my decrees, he will surely live. The one who sins is the one who will die. The child will not share the guilt of the parent, nor will the parent share the guilt of the child. The righteousness of the righteous will be credited to them, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against them”. Therefore, when  Jesus says He will kill the children of the unrepentant, He is not saying the innocent and blameless offspring of unrepentant parents will be punished with death. Rather, the children of the unrepentant who are visited with vengeance are those who follow the example of those who rebel against God (e.g. John 8:44). Even so, if the Lord will Himself take away the blameless from this earth, a reason for doing so is to save them from evil and calamity (see Isiah 57:1).

Again, this is what God tells us He Himself will do to the unrepentant: But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. God “will repay each person according to what they have done… But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For God does not show favoritism (Romans 2:5-11). Ultimately, we are warned that God will cast into eternal lake of fire everyone who makes a practice of sin and chooses not to turn away from it (see Revelation 20:13-15; Matthew 25:31-46). God’s severity in destroying Sodom and Gomorrah with fire has been given us as an example of His severity to be revealed in these last days towards the unrepentant: “In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire” (Jude 1:7; see also 2 Peter 2:6).

Therefore, seeing both the kindness and severity of God, may we not be foolish to presume on His kindness, and indulge in sin without repentance. Let us fear God and turn away from evil. Let us be wise and heed the words of Jesus:  “But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear the One who, after you have been killed, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear Him (Luke 12:5)! For it is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10:31).

Kwadwo Omari, PhD
© November 18, 2018

God’s Discipline Versus Satan’s Oppression – Part 2

As we mature in God He holds us to a higher standard (e.g. James 3:1, Hebrews 6:4-8), and His discipline for us may be uniquely different from what immature Christians go through. In 2 Corinthians 12:7, Paul recounts a unique discipline He received from the Lord: Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me– to keep me from exalting myself! Some have claimed that this thorn in the flesh was sickness sent from God on Paul. But neither Paul nor the Bible said any such thing. Rather Paul told us what this thorn in the flesh was. He said it was a messenger of satan assigned to harass him. First all, messengers of satan do not dwell with God in heaven (Psalm 5:4). Therefore, this thorn in Paul’s flesh, the messenger of satan, was not something that came down from heaven. Neither was it sickness or calamity created by God in heaven and sent down on Paul since messengers of satan do not reside with God in heaven. Rather by Paul’s own admission, a messenger of satan was permitted by God to oppose or harass him to keep him from being proud. If Paul would have never gotten proud on account of the surpassing revelations he received, God will not have allowed the devil’s messenger to oppose him. But once Paul had this messenger of satan fighting him, and his only way to deal with it was to rely on God’s grace (2 Corinthians 12:8-9), he was kept from being proud. From here we can learn a very important lesson. When we choose to walk with God in obedience, He doesn’t send sicknesses and calamities on us to keep us humble. He has already given us His covenant of victory over every calamity and healing over every sickness through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Psalm 91, 3 John 1:2, Romans 8:37, 1 Peter 2:24, 1 John 5:4). However, when there is any tendency for us to walk outside His will, He may permit the devil to oppose us so that we may look to His grace alone to survive, and thus be kept in His will.

God is a good God (Nahum 1:7) and His discipline is surely for our good (Hebrews 12:10) because He cares for us affectionately (1 Peter 5:7). In this way, God distinguishes His discipline from the oppression or opposition of the devil, which is meant to achieve these three things: kill, steal and destroy (John 10:10). And among the many things the devil may use to kill, steal and destroy the Bible categorically lists sicknesses, death, and poverty as oppositions of the devil we should never tolerate and accept by choosing to abide in Christ and staying in His will all the time (2 Corinthians 8:9; 3 John 1:2; Acts 10:38; Hebrews 2:14-15; Psalm 103:3). When we move out of God’s will and walk in disobedience, we give permission to the devil to afflict us with sicknesses, and the things that steal, kill and destroy.  This is not God disciplining us with sicknesses and likes, but we giving the devil access to do his work in our lives by our decision to live in sin without repenting (e.g. 1 Corinthians 11:29-30). Repentance, and faith in God is the solution to such opposition from the devil: Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy (Proverbs 28:13).

As for the devil, the Bible says “Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world (1 Peter 5:8-9). The devil does not need to go and ask for permission from God to attack the Christian. He is already moving around as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. Even so, it is not God’s responsibility to resist him, but ours to resist him firm in faith (1 Peter 5:9) because Jesus has already accomplished the victory for us through His death and resurrection (Colossians 2:13-15; 1 John 5:4; John 16:33). If it were not possible for us to resist the devil, God wouldn’t have told us to resist him.  Even so, the devil can never afflict us with the things that steal, kill and destroy unless we give him access through sin (1 Corinthians 1:29-30; 1 Corinthians 5:1-5; Luke 11:24-26) and unbelief (Romans 14:23; Matthew 17:18-19). Therefore, in our walk with God, when we are faced with sicknesses, death, and poverty, let us not make  the mistake of thinking that it is God ‘blessing’ us with these things that bring theft, death and destruction to discipline or humble us. Rather, let us examine our lives to see where we have failed to resist the devil, thus opening the door to him, and let us be quick to close that door through repentance and getting back in faith. Under the new covenant, the devil cannot go and ask permission from God to afflict us with sicknesses and be successful if we have faith and are walking in righteousness. This is because God has already given us His covenant of health and healing through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:24; Acts 9:34; 3 John 1:2). And God will not undo the death of Jesus and its benefits, nor break His covenant on account of the devil because it is impossible for God to lie (Psalm 89:34; Hebrews 6:18; Numbers 23:19). However, when we indulge in sin and unbelief – for anything not out of faith is sin (Romans 14:23) – we refuse to resist the devil, and we give him open access to afflict us.

For those Christians who purpose in their heart to continue in sin, rejoicing and glorying in their sin without the need to repent, the Lord takes the unusual step of delivering them to satan for the destruction of their flesh so that their spirit can be saved (see 1 Corinthians 5:1-5).  In such situations, the Lord permits the devil to severely afflict such individuals even unto death so that they may see the depravity they have fallen into and repent lest they die in their sin and go to hell. This is not God’s way of dealing with every believer who sins, since He has already made provision for us to repent and receive His forgiveness when we sin (1 John 1:9). But those who may otherwise have never repented do go through such experiences (see 1 Corinthians 5:1-5). This is also the Lord’s mercy and discipline.

Kwadwo Omari, PhD
© November 18 2018

God’s Discipline Versus satan’s Oppression – Part 1.

Hebrews 12: 5-6 says “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor faint when you are reproved by Him; For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, And He scourges every son whom He receives”.  Therefore, if you believe that you are loved by God, and indeed He surely loves you, then be ready to experience His discipline. For those who do not experience God’s discipline are deemed illegitimate children by God (Hebrews 12:8).

What does God’s discipline look like? The Scriptures teach that, God’s discipline produces circumstances, which we have to endure: “It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? (Hebrews 12:7). The things we are to endure, for discipline’s sake, are described by the Scriptures as many kinds of fiery trials (see 1 Peter 4:12, 1 Peter 1:6-7; James 1:2-4). Again, God’s discipline is also described as something which can cause you to faint and loose heart if you don’t stand in faith and obedience (cf. Hebrews 12:5, Hebrews 3:12-19), and also as something that does not seem pleasant when we are going through  but yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness in the end (Hebrews 12:11). By now, you may have realized that some of the fiery ordeal you are experiencing has got nothing to do with the devil, but with God merely treating you as one of His own. Even so, why do we have to experience the discipline of God?

The Bible has this to say: “…for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness (Hebrews 12:7-10). And without this holiness no one shall ever see God (Hebrews 12:14). Being born again is not the end of our lives but the beginning of our lives in Christ. It is through the discipline of the Lord that we are made mature, perfect and complete, lacking nothing (see James 1:2-4; Romans 5:3-5). All of God’s discipline is training for us, that we may fulfill our ultimate calling of being conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29; Hebrews 12:11).

In 1 Corinthians 10, the Bible gives the journey of the children of Israel through the wilderness as how God deals with His children. 1 Corinthians 10:11 says “Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come”. Through this journey we are given a template for the Lord’s discipline. The Lord promised the Israelites deliverance from Egypt into the promised land, but they were faced with the red sea in front of them, and Pharaoh and his army pursing to kill and enslave them not long after they had left Egypt. While the people responded in fear and complained bitterly against Moses, Moses responded in faith: “But Moses said to the people, “Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the Lord which He will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see them again forever. The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent (Exodus 14:13-14).” And surely, God glorified His name by parting the red sea so that the people of Israel walked on dry ground, while the enemies of Israel drowned when they attempted to do same (Exodus 14:13-28). Again, while the Lord had promised them a land flowing with milk and honey, they were brought to a place in their journey where the very water they needed to drink to survive was bitter, and they again grumbled against Moses (Exodus 15:22-24). Again, Moses cried to the Lord, and the water was made sweet (Exodus 15:25). By these examples, we learn that from the place where God gives us His promises to the place where we actually inherit the promises, we go through a wilderness, where we experience the opposite of what God said (Rick Joyner). This is a place where our faith is tested. This is the place where we build faith and patience so that we can inherit the promises of God: “so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises” (Hebrews 6:12).

The greatest hindrance to being trained by the discipline of God and receiving His promise is walking in unbelief when those contrary situations to His Word and promises show up (see Hebrews 3:18-19). The purpose of God’s discipline is not so that we accept and succumb to the circumstances that are contrary to His Word and promises but that we exercise our faith to ensure that the very events of our lives change and line up with the Word and promises of God. This is how our faith is strengthened so that we have confidence and boldness at the appearing of our Lord (1 Peter 1:6-7).

To be continued…

Kwadwo Omari, PhD
© November 18, 2018.