Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Church Is Heaven's Embassy In The World

What’s an embassy, what is the Church, and how are the two similar? According to the Merriam-Webster’s Learner’s Dictionary, an embassy is a body of diplomatic representatives; specifically: one headed by an ambassador. An embassy represents its government in another country. According to the Bible, the Church is the Body of Christ-sinners who have placed their faith in Jesus for salvation, thus making them citizens of heaven. Christians are therefore, sojourners on earth; our home is heaven, and the apostle Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians 5:20, we are Christ’s ambassadors (authorized representatives) here on earth.

Hence, both entities are established to represent higher powers (their governments). If one desires to know something about another country, one could go to that country’s closest embassy to find out, or ask any of the diplomatic representatives of that country they encounter. In the same way, individuals who’d like to know about God and heaven could contact the Church or Christians. As Christians, we should present our home and Lord in a way that makes people outside the Church hungry for what we have, and how they could also know our Lord in a personal way. It is our responsibility as citizens to introduce others to our Lord!

Some of the individuals who have never traveled outside their country of origin probably have very little knowledge about the importance of Embassies. They don’t care much about the role embassies play in international matters. Having been born and raised in Ghana, and currently living in the United States of America, I know a bit about the functions of embassies.

When considering relocating to another country, one can’t just up and move there without encountering an embassy. Every country has requirements for immigration from other countries. In order for me to gain access to the US, I had to go the US Embassy in Ghana, present the required documentation (quite extensive) for processing, and then be interviewed. On approval, I was issued a visa, permitting me to enter the US. That embassy was representing the government of the United States: protecting its interests, enforcing its laws even outside its shores, and making sure it is seen in the best possible light.       

Similarly, Christians are representing their Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, here on earth! As the Church-heaven’s embassy, we should present the whole counsel of God to the world. We’re all ambassadors, and should maintain that status twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week! We can show folks outside the Church how to become fellow-citizens of our incredible country, whose designer and builder is God Almighty (see Hebrews 11:10). Armed with the information we share, those interested in becoming citizens will be directed to place faith in Jesus Christ, and can then look forward to their new home, where no one will ever shed another tear or experience sickness or death. We can also show them how they can contribute to the efficient running of the embassy by faithfully using their God-given talents and abilities.

An Embassy doesn’t run independent of the homeland; communication is ongoing whether there are problems or not. Likewise, the Church needs to be in constant communication with the Father, “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17 NIV), because without Him we can do nothing (see John 15:5). Lines of communication are always open; there are no busy signals or voicemail messages. In fact, he is always with us and knows our needs before we even realize them.

Another role embassies play is looking out for the welfare of their citizens in the countries where they are based. Their citizens call on them when they run into trouble. Likewise, the Body of Christ supports one another, whatever the need. We pray for each other, encourage each other from the Scriptures, and meet social and financial needs as much as is possible.

Embassies and their ambassadors show travelers how to obtain visas to the countries they represent. The time is coming when it will be too late to obtain a visa into heaven, so let us (the Church), get serious in our efforts to show the world how to obtain a visa into heaven—call on Jesus!                                                                                       

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

God's Appeal

Our God is love, just, and faithful, and does not play favorites. As much as He longs for every soul to be saved, there are consequences for the unsaved. God will not change the rules for people who have not believed in the name of His dear Son Jesus. The Romans 6:23 pronouncement applies equally to all who do not believe—“The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23 NIV), no matter who commits the sin. The end of the rich unbeliever is the same as the poor unbeliever. Likewise, the end of the unbelieving man is the same as the end of the unbelieving woman. Of course, God could make everyone believe in His Son, but He has given man the ability and the freedom to make choices. He wants man to love and obey Him by choice, and not by force.

Since God longs so much to save the sinner, He has made us, His children, ambassadors to a sinful, dying world. Through us, He is appealing to the world to repent and come to salvation in Jesus Christ (see 2 Corinthians 5:20). Synonyms for appeal include plead, petition, request, call, and demand. It is almost as if God were begging people to come to salvation. Why would He go to the extent of begging? Well, because He knows what the end will be for unbelievers—judgment—and He yearns to see them escape that judgment. The apostle Paul says, “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men” (2 Corinthians 5:11 KJV).

So, what is our charge as Christian ambassadors? Our charge is to let the world know that Jesus saves, and that He is making all things new in Christ Jesus who has already paid the penalty for our sins. We need to take His word to every corner of the globe. 

Man sinned, but God did not wait for man’s apology. (In fact, I don’t think man ever apologized.) Rather, God took the initiative to bridge the gap (the result of man’s sin) between Him and man. What else can man possibly expect God to do? There is nothing left for God to do. The only acceptable restitution for sin has been made by Christ’s sacrifice. So let us passionately win souls for God. Our responsibility is to sow the seed, water it conscientiously with prayer, godly living, and follow up contacts when possible, and allow God to make it grow. Our responsibility is not to force, shame, or scare men to believe, but to reason with them and persuade them.

Time is running out. The Lord is coming back soon. It could be too late for many. Let us take our charge seriously, starting today! 

Tuesday, January 17, 2017


Wrath can properly be referred to as anger, fury, or rage. The title of this article is stating that God was furious about something, but now not anymore, because something has changed. What was He furious about? We can sum up the reason in one word—sin, which is defined as lawlessness in 1 John 3:4. By the way, all mankind is guilty of sin (See Romans 3:23). If we are still a bunch of sinners, why is He no longer furious? Usually, going from a furious to a non-furious state is an indication that either the source of irritation or whatever brought on the fury has been removed or dealt with in some way, like punishment.

God is holy. He hates sin! Yet God loves the sinner, and the only way He can establish a loving, ongoing relationship with the sinner is to separate the sinner from his or her sins. In order to accomplish that, He put into motion plans He had before the foundation of the world. God came to earth in the person of His Son Jesus, lived among us, and died in our place. So Jesus, who was sinless, was punished on our behalf. His blood washed away our sins, and therefore, God’s wrath was satisfied. The condition for restoration of fellowship with us was met. Hallelujah!  

Although God’s wrath is satisfied, it is not an automatic cover for everyone. Each individual must want forgiveness and ask for it. After all, not everyone will admit to being a sinner or to having done anything wrong. So then, people who believe what the Bible says about humans must agree with God in that regard (confess their sins), and ask God for forgiveness because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. Anyone who takes this step is forgiven. The new believer’s fellowship with God is restored in this life and continues into eternity. It is made evident through the gift of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. This of course is the beginning of a new way of life. The Bible calls it adoption. God becomes our Father, and rather than being His enemies, we become His children. Others who have been adopted through the same process are our brothers and sisters in Christ. This family bond is universal. Together we form the Church, the body of Christ, where Christ is the Head.

Indeed, God’s wrath is satisfied. We should rejoice over this truth! God has gone from being angry and being compelled to punish us with eternal separation (See Romans 6:23), to calling us His children. After giving up His Son for us, He says there is nothing else He won’t do for us. Wow, such love! In addition, He is preparing a place in heaven for us. He says we will live in mansions. Jesus told His disciples, “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:2-3 KJV2013).

We need to put an effort into maintaining our restored relationship, nurturing it to blossom. How do we do that? Although we don’t know it all yet, we can safely allow two basic rules to guide our lives, and those rules are: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39 NIV84). If we love God, we will seek to obey and please Him in all that we do, and if we love our neighbors, we’ll seek their welfare in all situations.

In addition, we need to read the Bible and allow it to guide our walk. We need to communicate with God through prayer. We need to encourage sisters and brothers and be encouraged by them by sharing fellowship with other believers. Next, we start to look for opportunities to share the gospel with those who haven’t heard it, or don’t understand it. There are many such in our neighborhoods, at our jobs, and everywhere we go.

God’s wrath is satisfied, yes, and He has reconciled us to Himself through the death of His Son! May God help us to take the responsibility that comes with reconciliation seriously, and look expectantly for His return.   

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Your Invitation Has An Expiration Date

An invitation is a written or verbal request inviting someone to go somewhere or to do something. Have you ever been invited to a wedding or a bridal shower? Do you remember that your invitation had an RSVP date? What the invitation really meant was your presence at the event would be appreciated, but you have to respond by the stated date. Otherwise it will be assumed that you were uninterested or unavailable, and you’d not be included in the count.

Here’s another example. Manufacturers are in business to make money, and their target market is the public. After all, if we don’t buy their products, what will they do with them, and how would they earn a living? It is common knowledge that competition is fierce among manufacturers, so many of them use all kinds of advertisements to draw sales away from their competitors.
One of the strategies they use is price reduction—commonly known as sales. Another one is the provision of coupons. What’s interesting about both strategies is that both are dated: they have expiration dates, forcing the buyer to purchase products by the specified dates. If products are not purchased by the expiration dates, the discounts no longer apply and one has to pay full price for the products in question.

I don’t know about you, but I feel like I’ve thrown money away when I let a coupon expire. Still, I misplace them all the time, or forget that I even have them. In other words, I don’t treat coupons as if they are as valuable as I say they are. The fortunate thing in this situation is that the products will probably still be available, whether or not there’s a sale or coupon; I just have to pay a bit more.
God loves us and would like us to respond to Him. Although we are unaware of a specific date, God’s invitation into a relationship with Him also has a time limit.  That date is not readily available as one might see on coupons, but I can assure you, your invitation to come to God expires when you die, or when Jesus returns to earth, whichever comes first; the Bible says so. God knows when, but we don’t, which is why each person needs to take this invitation seriously and treat it with urgency. It is better to have the assurance now that God has a place for you in heaven, rather than get to the end only to find that your name is not on the list. What a disappointment and loss that would be!

Having explained time limits, let me explain God’s invitation again. Through the disobedience of Adam and Eve, our first parents, sin was passed on to us. That sin caused a separation between God and man. In order to restore that relationship, Jesus died to pay the price for our sin. God’s love through the death of His Son, Jesus, is enough to cover every single person, but each person has to choose what they want. God will not force salvation on anyone, neither is He going to wait forever while people toil with the idea of loving God or something else. People have to take responsibility for their sins and make plans for their eternal future. Living now without faith in Jesus means living in eternity later without God: in other words, living in hell. Using the word hell is not a scare tactics; it is the truth, and should be addressed as such. Sugar-coating it or calling it by any other name won’t change what it is. Jesus’ invitation to you is, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me” (John 14:6 NLT).

How will you respond to this invitation? Time is running out every day that passes. You probably don’t have as much time as you think. This is God’s assurance when you repent and put your faith in Jesus, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has become a child of God” (1 John 5:1 NLT), and “I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13 NLT). Respond to this invitation before it’s too late for you! 

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Jesus' Second Advent--Are You Ready?

Any time we talk of something being second, we imply there’s a first. So before we talk about Jesus’ Second Advent, let’s talk about His First Advent. His First Advent was His birth, widely known and celebrated as Christmas.

Both First and Second Advents were prophesied (see Genesis 3:15, Luke 1:26-33, Luke 2:25-32, Matthew 25:41, Revelation 20:14). The first was fulfilled years ago when Jesus was born; the second is yet to be, but will surely happen, because God said so, and He is faithful; nothing He’s ever said has failed! When Jesus was born, an angel announced the birth to shepherds who were watching their flocks. The angel said to them, “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! (Luke 2:10-11).  Later, wise men from the East came inquiring about the whereabouts of Jesus, because they had seen His star as it rose and had come to worship Him (see Matthew 2:1-2).

Since the celebration of Christmas began, December 25 has been the date to celebrate.  We’re all aware of the fanfare that accompanies it: parties, gift-exchanges, card-exchanges, and family get-togethers. All kinds of programs, performances, and movies are put out for public entertainment during the season. Some people take weeks to months to prepare for Christmas, doing things like shopping for gifts and buying and sending out greeting cards and invitation cards to events. The reason we’re able to prepare so well for Christmas is that we know exactly when Christmas is going to be, no matter where we are in the world—December 25 is the day!

How about the Second Advent? Like the first, it was prophesied, but unlike the first, there isn’t  an exact date to look forward to or prepare for; it could be any day now! When Jesus’ disciples specifically asked when His return would be, all He gave them were signs to watch out for, but not a specific date (see Matthew 24:1-36, especially 36). In fact, the Bible compares the suddenness of His appearing to the flood in Noah’s time. It says, “When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah’s day. In those days before the flood, the people were enjoying banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat. People didn’t realize what was going to happen until the flood came and swept them away” (Matthew 24:37-39 NLT). Our preparation for the Second Advent will not be anything like our preparation for Christmas.

Currently, different people prepare differently for Christmas, but there is only one way for anyone to prepare for Jesus’ Second Advent—one has to be born again (see John 3:3).
What does it mean to be born again? Jesus explained that truth to Nicodemus, a puzzled Jewish religious leader who could not figure out how being born again would be possible after a person is out of the mother’s womb. Jesus explained, “No one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit…everyone who believes in him (Jesus) will have eternal life. For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:5-16 NLT).  

As you read this article, if you’ve never believed in Jesus, please stop now and do that. Consider this as your invitation to have a personal relationship with God by believing in Jesus. Jesus says, “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends” (Revelation 3:20 NLT). If you don’t, you’ll only have yourself to blame for not gaining access into heaven. But why should you go to hell when you don’t have to?
Depending on how people plan to celebrate, preparing for Christmas can be very costly—by way of money, time, and physical and emotional energy. But preparing for the Second Advent will cost absolutely nothing. Instead, you gain peace of mind from the assurance that God has forgiven your sin and will never hold you accountable for it, because Jesus paid for it by dying on the cross. The Bible makes this assurance very clear, “There is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death” (Romans 8:1-2 NLT). Also, the Bible says, “I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God (Jesus), so that you may know you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13 NLT). This clearly means those who don’t believe in Jesus don’t have eternal life. 
Where do you stand: do you or do you not have eternal life?

If you would like to go to heaven after this life, prepare now! Jesus is coming back soon, and once He shows up, it will be too late to express faith in Him. Physical death before the Second Advent without being born again places you in the same category as those alive without being born again when He appears. Jesus’ Second Advent won’t be for salvation; it’s going to be for judgment. Those who have ignored Him will wish for death, or anything else that could hide them from God’s anger, but will not find it (see Revelations 6:15-17). Prepare now so you can escape judgment and condemnation. This could be your last chance!