Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.
May 5, 2022 – National Day of Prayer “This kind cannot come out by anything but prayer.” –Mark 9:29 We live in a wicked and perverse generation under the righteous judgement of God (Rom :18-32). The signs are everywhere. We go out weekly to the UofSC-Columbia campus to preach the Gospel, and we are surrounded each week by Antifa-Trans opposition. Over almost 50 years we have legally murdered over 60 million pre-born image bearers. A tyrannical and corrupt government seeks to control our lives. Crime, murder, sex-trafficking, porn, suicide, divorce, national and personal debt, and drug addiction deaths are all at astronomical highs. Our national motto should be: “there is no fear before their eyes” (Rom 3:18). In the Gospel of Mark, the Only Begotten Son of God is confronted by a man whose only begotten son is demon-possessed. The demon has sought to kill the son since the son was a little boy. The dad is distraught because the disciples are unable to heal the boy. In Mark 6:7-13 our Lord gives them authority and power over demons and to heal the sick. Yet, their efforts yield nothing. The disciples ask the Lord the reason they could not cast out the demon. The Lord Jesus tells them, “This kind cannot come out by anything but prayer.” He is talking about fervent and persevering prayer. This is fervent prayer where the real you meets the real God! We are a nation in far worse shape than this son who was demon-possessed. Spiritually and morally, we are not ON the cliff, but have already gone OVER the cliff under the wrath of God. Our situation is past desperate. Why? We are in this place as a nation because the Church has not committed itself to fervent, united, persevering prayer seeking the face of God until we truly experience His forgiveness and Manifest Presence (2 Chr 7:14; Is 64:7). We must be fervently, corporately, and sacrificially seeking His face, not His hand of blessing or some feel good experience. He is saying to us as our Lord Jesus said to this man with the demonized son, “Bring him here to Me” (Mt 17:17). We must bring the Church and our nation before our Lord in brokenness and repentance and faith that He is able to bring revival even in this desperate time. As our Lord said to the Church at Ephesus, “you have lost your first love. Therefore, remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first . . .” (Rev 2:4-5). The circumstances in our nation in 1857 were equally desperate. Jeremiah Lanphier called the Church in New York City near Hell’s Kitchen to an hour of united, fervent prayer beginning on September 23, 1857. This was the beginning of the great Prayer Revival of 1857-1859, when from Charleston to Seattle, businesses across the nation closed daily for prayer from Noon until 1pm. J. Edwin Orr estimated over one million were truly converted in our nation during the Civil War due to this Prayer Revival. Will you join me in fasting, fervent, united prayer for revival in Christ’s Church in America on May 5, our National Day of Prayer? Then form a group and meet weekly for united, fervent revival prayer. Without revival in Christ’s Church in America we are doomed. Soli Deo Gloria!
Alleluia: Christ, the Passover Lamb, sacrificed for us, is risen!
In most African countries, three festivals are important. These are Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and Easter. Amongst the three, Christianity derives its power and meaning from Easter. This is commonly referred to as “Pascha.” That is the Christian understanding of the Passover, which is clearly understood as Christ being the paschal lamb who had been sacrificed for our sins. Originally that was only Easter Sunday, however, it was modified especially during the fourth century to “triduum” of a three-day celebration of Friday -Saturday -Sunday. This is the commemoration of the climax of Christ’s atoning work from his death to resurrection. Between the death of Christ and his Ascension into heaven, is the important event of his glorious Resurrection. The Resurrection of Christ, a central doctrine of Christianity, is because Jesus Christ rose from the dead on the third day after His Crucifixion and that through his conquering of death all believers will subsequently share in his victory over sin, death, and the devil. During Easter Sunday, the celebrative seasonal salutation is “He has risen as he said” and the reply is”, alleluia.” The greeting gives the celebrative redemptive meaning of Christ to humanity in the fallen world. Apart from that, Easter is a very central theme for differentiating Christianity from other religions, especially in relation to soteriology as follows: First, Easter is a reminder of the agape love of God to the lost humanity in sin. This he demonstrated through the incarnation. The act of God whereby he took to himself a human nature and identified with us as a perfect firstborn. During Easter, as a Pastor, I remind the church that if Jesus had not been a man, he could not have died in our place and paid the penalty due to us. In Uganda, the word mostly used for Easter is “Pascha.” Christ is the Passover lamb, sacrificed for us as mentioned above. The climax of the penalty for us is the death and burial of our Lord, then the resurrection ….So, God thought of us as going through everything that Christ went through because he was our representative. Therefore, Easter is the celebration of that grace offered to the Church for the penalty of sin being paid by Christ. When our Lord and Savior obeyed, we are thought of as having obeyed. According to Romans 5:19, he became our righteous and the source therein (1Cor.1:30; Phil. 3:9). This deeply portrayed the uniqueness of Jesus Christ which illustrates his vocation, mission, and ministry as the appointed firstborn of many. Second, Easter is a reminder that He rose from the tomb and triumphed over death. This is the evangelism power that turns the sinners to repent. The heartbroken disciples of a crucified Lord into being the courageous witnesses and martyrs of the early Ugandan church and the Christians today. This fact of the resurrection of Christ separates his followers from other religions and turns them into the community of the resurrection. This gave power to Christians during the persecution of Idi Amin Dada. He imprisoned them, flogged them, killed them. But their conviction was that “on the third, he rose again,” therefore, they could endure the shame. The Resurrection of Jesus from the dead is the very cornerstone of Christianity. Third, Easter reminds all Christians about the third, which has in most countries become the day of worship. As J. I. Packer asks, “suppose that Jesus, having died on the cross, had stayed dead…. Would it matter? The most direct answer would be that Christianity would be like other world religions. “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile, and you are still in your sins” (1 Cor. 15:17). Also, there would be no hope for our future: no rising from dead, remaining dead for eternity. But Easter reminds us of the point of his rising. The rising of Jesus from the dead, therefore, gives me assurance that Jesus is the Son of God (Rom. 1:4). It vindicated his righteousness (john 16:10); it demonstrated victory over death (Acts 2:24), guarantees our salvation, we are indeed forgiven and justified (1Cor. 15:17; Romans 4:25). I am affirmed of the reality of resurrection life now (Rom.6:4). Therefore, “the resurrection of Christ is the chief article of our faith, and without it the hope of eternal life fails.” The Calvin understanding of the utter importance of resurrection which marks the centrality of Easter as seen in the Book of Acts of the Apostles, we see two simple and incontrovertible facts: First, the Christian society was gathered by preaching; Second, the substance of the preaching was the resurrection of Jesus Christ ... The apostolic church is thus a result of Easter. Without the Resurrection of Christ, our faith and hope would all have been in vain. During challenges confronting the church, we can hope on the Resurrection of Christ, in that because He lives so also shall we live. Through the crucifixion of Jesus on Golgotha, sin was wiped out and death overpowered; through his Resurrection, virtue was restored, and life was raised up, to facilitate God’s power and effectiveness in us. Indeed, through the death and Resurrection of Christ, we find our flawless salvation. (Konyi John Aluwe)
You can love him, or you can hate him, but you can’t ignore him. That is the feeling that takes over as we read about the life, work, and teaching of one of the greatest reformers of the 16th century – the one and only Martin Luther.
His work is immense (theological tracts and books, sermon compilations, commentaries, etc.) and the number of studies on Luther is seemingly endless. It would be a futile attempt to list the various ideas and accomplishments of this German reformer, for this article is far too short.
However, I’d love us to spend a minute to pause and think about Luther the man and how his failures and shortcomings emphasize one of his central teachings. One of the turning points in Luther’s life was the moment he understood the meaning of one brief sentence: “The righteous shall live by faith”. All men are sinners and no amount of good works, thoughts, words, efforts can change that. The only thing that brings salvation to lost sinners is God’s grace demonstrated through the death on the cross of Jesus Christ. Everyone who by faith receives this grace, is saved and reconciled to God. What a glorious truth! And we still need to hold to this truth with both hands because we are mere humans.
Luther’s life is full of courageous, confident, even hero-like episodes: the Diet of Worms, hiding in the tower at Wartburg castle, smuggling nuns out of nunnery (yes, it’s true), and so many more. He was ready to fight and die for what he thought to be right according to the Scriptures. No compromises!
And yet, Luther was a sinner. His loud and bombastic nature spills out in his writings. He could get arrogant and verbally abusive towards his opponents (Luther’s “Table talks” contains some juicy descriptions of pope and Turks). Luther’s strong view on the sacraments lead him to call people with a different view “not true Christians” (poor Zwingli was considered to be evil fanatic). Period. It is no secret that towards the end of his remarkable life Luther was attacking the Jews in a very nasty manner. You can’t deny his antisemitism. Luther’s volcanic personality would make us cringle today.
We should not try to hide these ugly expressions of sin in Luther’s life only because he is our hero. Equally, we shouldn’t reject Luther or his work as useless only because he was a sinner.
Luther had his flaws – some bigger than others. And yet, he knew that the reality of sin in his life doesn’t cancel the work of Christ. No, Luther was not teaching cheap grace and yet he had clear confidence about the security he has though Christ. At the end of the day Luther was a man who understood that there is nothing we can bring before God. His last words ondeath bed summarize this attitude: “We are beggars: this is true.”
As we pause to reconsider our Protestant heritage let’s not close our eyes to the sins of our “fore-fathers”. And let it not nullify the Gospel truths they were ready to fight and die for. Let us follow Luther in standing for what the Bible teaches even at the risk of trials and tribulations. Let us rely on God’s grace both in salvation and Christian living. And maybe we need to add a bit of Luther’s humble volcanism to the way we engage with our culture and society around us. Soli Deo Gloria!