The old has become new!

This is to formally notify our readers that this is the new home of our blog, Christianity in Africa whose old URL was http://pentecostalmovent.wordpress.com.  Due to popular demand, more information about the author has been added. We have also added new pages; Ministry Partnership and Photo Gallery.  All these have been done in order for you to enjoy reading this blog. Below are some of the posts that have attracted wide readership on our blog.  We hope to add more pages soon.  Enjoy!

Are you in doubt with the miraculous?

Dr. Jonathan Armstrong & Babatomiwa Moses Owojaiye

If your answer to the question above is yes, then I encourage you to read the testimony of a friend. Dr. Jonathan Armstrong visited Nigeria for the first time in August 2011. We were in Nigeria to facilitate a week seminar at ECWA Theological Seminary, Igbaja. Jonathan’s visit to Nigeria left an indelible mark on his life. Enjoy your reading!

Miracles in Nigeria[1]

By Dr. Jonathan Armstrong

“Do you have a visa? You’d better check on that…”

Three days before I was schedule to board the plane for my flight to Nigeria, my wife Linda brought up the visa question. Up to this point, the only African countries I had visited were Kenya and Tanzania, and for those countries the process is as simple as purchasing a visa at the airport upon entry.

Unsure, Linda did a quick search on her computer and pulled up a website that specifically stated that Nigerian visas cannot be purchased at the airport.

Everything seems so obvious when you’re looking back on it.

Growing anxious, I stayed up that night until the American embassy in Nigeria opened to ask how to apply for a visa. “Even if you were somehow permitted to board the plane,” the woman at the other end of the phone told me frankly, “you’d be arrested upon deplaning here in Nigeria.”

That wasn’t the news I was hoping to hear.

After a lot of panic and prayers and an astonishing series of “God things” that resulted in someone at the Nigerian embassy in Washington DC taking a personal interest in resolving my problem, I boarded a flight to Nigeria only two days later than planned and arrived the night before the seminar was scheduled to begin.

God is good.

My co-leader Moses Owojaiye met me at the airport, and we had the first of many wonderful conversations. Moses is a native Nigerian who recently completed his M.Phil in Nairobi, and the paper he submitted to fulfill that requirement is currently being considered for an award given to the most significant thesis in any discipline submitted at an African University. To share leadership duties with Moses was a great privilege, and his deep insight into the African church was an education in itself for me.

One of the themes of our conversations, however, was the different way miracles are perceived in Africa and in the United States. Here in the West, we tend to think of miracles as “God breaking the laws of nature.” But according to this definition, we can never actually witness a miracle. No matter what phenomenon we experience, it can only inform our understanding of natural laws. A law whose definition encompasses everything that’s observable can never, of course, be broken.

Instead, we hedge our bets. We call them “God things,” those moments when we believe God orchestrated a series of circumstances for a specific purpose. Africans, however, are more willing to take that leap of faith and risk a raised eyebrow. Africans call them “miracles.”

I put the question to Moses. “So, the fact that I was able to get a visa in 48 hours was a miracle?”

“Yes,” he said, smiling, “a big miracle!”

The seminar went even better than we hoped. The group of students and faculty was the largest we’ve ever had, and they were a very timely and disciplined group. After enjoying the president’s hospitality for breakfast, Moses and I would begin lectures at 7:30 every morning. Lectures ran for 5 hours with Moses taking the final hour. The highlight for me was often the group discussion Moses facilitated at the end of the day, focusing on the way the theology of the church fathers spoke to the specific issues facing Africa and African evangelicalism today.

When it came time to return to the USA, I experienced another of those God things I’m learning to call miracles. The journey was scheduled to be the longest single trip of my life—40 hours of travel from Igbaja to my home in Spokane, Washington, by plane and car combined.

The hospitality in Africa was generous and unfailingly kind, but I admit that by the time I boarded my first flight I was already looking forward to a hot shower after the limited electricity and sponge baths of the seminary. When I reached the airport in Lagos, my heart sank as I noticed the long queue of suitcases in front of me stretching all the way to the check-in counter. The flight from the day before had been overbooked and many people had not been able to board, meaning that today’s flight was likely to share a similar fate. Discouraged and growing anxious at the back of the line, an airport official approached me out of the blue and asked a strange question.

“Are you a Christian?”

Surprised, I said, “Yes.”

“Something in my spirit told me you were a Christian,” he said. He then proceeded to tell me that he would like to upgrade my ticket to business class on the flight from Lagos to Frankfurt. Not only would I be able to make my flight, this meant I would be able to recline to sleep on the flight and—best of all—take a hot shower at the first class lounge when I arrived in Germany. It’s funny how grateful you can feel for a few hours of sleep and a shower.

Calling these things miracles may cause some believers to get uncomfortable. The events seem so small and are easily explained away as the generous impulse of a stranger or the random happenstance of life. Some people worry that if we see start seeing God in everything, we’ll lose our sense of responsibility and succumb to a lazy fatalism. Certainly we need to exercise wisdom as well as faith when we interpret the world around us, but let’s not be afraid of claiming an act of unexpected goodness for a God we know to be good.

If these miracles still seem small, let me share with you one last event that truly spoke to my heart. On the last day of the seminar, Dr. J.B. Lawal (the President of ECWA Theological Seminary, Igbaja) rose to address the group and say a few words about the events of the week. After speaking about the historically poor relationship between Africa and the West, he gestured to me and said with incredible grace: “You are one of us… you have seen Christ in us, and we have seen Christ in you.”

Love is always the greatest miracle.

This trip changed me and changed the way I view acts of God. Let’s start calling “God things” what they really are. Let’s start calling them miracles.


[1] Please note that this article has been used with the author’s permission.

The Blood of Jesus Christ: Not Less Significant

The fact that we have being arguing that pleading the blood of Jesus has no biblical support does not mean that Chrits’s blood is less significant. In fact, the role of the blood that our Lord Jesus shed on the Cross is at the very center of our faith and walk with God.  According to Wayne Grudem,

The New Testament frequently connects the blood of Christ with our redemption. For example, Peter says, “You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your fathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot” (1 Peter 1: 18-19).[1]

In other words, the precious blood of Jesus is the price that was paid for the redemption our souls in order for us to access God’s salvation from our hopeless sinful state. Grudem adds that,

The blood of Christ is the clear outward evidence that his life blood was poured out when he died a sacrificial death to pay for our redemption – “the blood of Christ” means his death in its saving aspects. Although we may think that Christ’s blood (as evidence that his life had been given) will have exclusive reference to the removal of our judicial guilt before God – for this is the primary reference – the New Testament authors also attribute to it several other effects.  The effects include the following:

  1. By the blood of Christ our consciences are cleansed –Hebrews 9:14
  2. By the blood of Christ gain bold access to God in worship and prayer – Hebrews 10:19
  3. By the blood of Jesus we are progressively cleansed from our sin – 1John 1:7; Rev. 1:5
  4. We able to conquer the accuser of the brethren through the blood of Christ that was shed on the Cross – Rev. 12: 10-11
  5. We are rescued out of a sinful way of life -1 Peter 1: 18-19.[2]

Above are the things that the Bible tells us the blood of Christ had accomplished for genuine believers in Christ. We do not have to activate it now in order for the blood to start working; it has been working since the very day Jesus Christ died on the Cross.  Scripture’s emphasis on the blood of Christ also shows the clear connection between Christ’s death and the many sacrifices in the Old Testament that involved the pouring out of life blood of the sacrificial animal. These sacrifices all pointed forward to and prefigured the death of Christ.[3]

Conclusion

We can see from our discussion above that the blood of Christ works for the redemption of our souls and for our deliverance from Satan’s kingdom where sin rules and reigns. It is very worrying to hear Christian today plead the blood of Jesus on shoes, cars, and utensil to mention just a few. The role of the blood of Jesus is far deeper than that – it is the very essence of our faith. The precious blood of Christ is what gives us access to God having being ‘jailed’ by Satan through our sinful lives. As important as the blood of Jesus is, it maintains a different but not less significant position in our faith. When it comes to prayer, the Bible teaches us to pray to God in the name of Jesus.  In the words of Grudem, praying in the name of Jesus speaks of his power, authority and personality (Proverbs 22:1; Eccl. 7:1). When Peter commands the lame man, “in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk (Acts 3:6); he is speaking on the authority of Jesus, not on his own authority.[4]   Although the blood of Jesus is not less significant; Christians should understand that it was shed for our salvation not for praying. It is only proper as leaders of the Church to communicate proper, balanced, sound theology. The health of the Church is very important. So, the blood of Jesus is never a substitute for the name of Jesus in prayer; and the former is not a consolidation either. The name of Christ does not need any additional supplements to work – it is the most powerful name on earth!


References

[1]Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Nottingham: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994), 579.

[2]Ibid

[3]Ibid

[4]Ibid, 379.

Praying in the Name or in the Blood of Jesus: The Bible speaks for itself

The uniqueness of the name of Jesus is evident in the fact that the name was given by God himself and sent to his mother through an angel. There is no single place in the word of God whether in principle or in concept that believers are told to pray in the blood of Jesus. Since the Bible is its own best interpreter, may we objectively listen to it as we hear what is says about the name of Jesus in the following scriptures:

  • The name of JESUS is holy and awe-inspiring – Psalm 111: 9

He has paid a full ransom for his people. He has guaranteed his covenant with them forever. What a holy, awe-inspiring name he has!

I. WHAT JESUS TEACHES ABOUT HIS NAME

  • Jesus says “ask anything in my NAME …(not in my blood) – John 14: 13-14

You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. 14 Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!

  • The NAME OF JESUS unlocks any door – John 15:16

You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name.

  • Demons bow to the NAME OF JESUS…(not his blood) – Matthew 7:22

On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.

 

II. WHAT THE DISCIPLES OF CHRIST LEARN ABOUT THE NAME OF JESUS

  • The NAME of Jesus casts out demons …(Not his blood) – Luke 9:49

John said to Jesus, “Master, we saw someone using your name to cast out demons, but we told him to stop because he isn’t in our group.”

 

III. THE APOSTLES AND BELIEVERS OF THE EARLY CHURCH PRAY IN THE NAME OF JESUS

  • The Name of Jesus is above all other name and it has authority over all of God Creation – Philippians. 2: 9-11

Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

  • The name of Jesus does supernatural healing/miracle … (not by pleading his blood)- Acts 16: 16-18

One day as we were going down to the place of prayer, we met a demon-possessed slave girl. She was a fortune-teller who earned a lot of money for her masters. She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, and they have come to tell you how to be saved.”

This went on day after day until Paul got so exasperated that he turned and said to the demon within her, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And instantly it left her.

  • The Apostles of Christ pray and do ministry in the NAME of Jesus – Acts 4:23-31

As soon as they were freed, Peter and John returned to the other believers and told them what the leading priests and elders had said. When they heard the report, all the believers lifted their voices together in prayer to God: “O Sovereign Lord, Creator of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them—you spoke long ago by the Holy Spirit through our ancestor David, your servant, saying, ‘Why were the nations so angry? Why did they waste their time with futile plans? The kings of the earth prepared for battle; the rulers gathered together against the Lord and against his Messiah.’ “In fact, this has happened here in this very city! For Herod Antipas, Pontius Pilate the governor, the Gentiles, and the people of Israel were all united against Jesus, your holy servant, whom you anointed. But everything they did was determined beforehand according to your will.  And now, O Lord, hear their threats, and give us, your servants, great boldness in preaching your word.  Stretch out your hand with healing power; may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” After this prayer, the meeting place shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they preached the word of God with boldness.

  • The NAME of Jesus performs wonders that money cannot  – Acts 3: 1- 6

 Peter and John went to the Temple one afternoon to take part in the three o’clock prayer service. As they approached the Temple, a man lame from birth was being carried in. Each day he was put beside the Temple gate, the one called the Beautiful Gate, so he could beg from the people going into the Temple. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for some money. 4 Peter and John looked at him intently, and Peter said, “Look at us!” The lame man looked at them eagerly, expecting some money. But Peter said, “I don’t have any silver or gold for you. But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!

  • The NAME OF Jesus in the greatest of all names – Acts 4: 12

             There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.

            For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:13

IV. CONCLUSION

It is not only safer to pray in the name of Jesus; it is also biblical. Our Lord Jesus Christ could have taught us to plead his blood while praying but he did not. The name of Jesus is the most powerful name with which we are taught by the word of God to pray. In spite of the persecutions that the early Church went through, they prayed in the name of Jesus. Remember their days were closer to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ than ours, yet they never pleaded his blood in their prayers as we have seen from biblical accounts. Instead, they pray in the name of Jesus!  Let us all learn from the church in Philadelphia. Jesus Christ testifies of the church in Philadelphia thus: “I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.” (Revelation 3: 7-8). Beware of distraction; pray only in the name of JESUS!

References

Christianity in Africa Blog: A Note of Appreciation and Performance in 2011

“Some of your most popular posts were written before 2011. Your writing has staying power! Consider writing about those topics again.”  – WordPress, January 1, 2011.

A Note of Appreciation and Performance in 2011

I wish to take this opportunity to welcome you into the year 2012 and also to thank you for finding time to visit this blog once or more in the course of 2011. Your visits and comments are truly appreciated and have added value to this blog. We look forward to more of your visits and comments in 2012.

According to the annual blog performance report given to me by WordPress today January 1, 2012, this blog in 2011 was visited by people from different countries representing six continents of the world with visitors from the North America and Africa leading. See the distribution below as ranked by WordPress:

North America                                                                      

  • The United States                             88.4%
  • Canada                                                  8.4%
  • Trinidad and Tobago                         1.1%
  • Jamaica                                                0.5%
  • The Bahamas                                      0.4%

Africa

  • Nigeria                                              40.4%
  • Kenya                                                31.3%
  • South Africa                                     13.5%
  • Zimbabwe                                         3.2%
  • Ghana                                                2.5%

Europe

  • The United Kingdom                         45.4%
  • Iceland                                               31.5%
  • Germany                                            3.6%
  • Poland                                                3.3%
  • Netherlands                                       2.3%

Asia

  • India                                                 43.6%
  • Singapore                                          9.6%
  • Philippines                                        7.8%
  • Malaysia                                            6.9%
  • United Arab Emirates                        6.4%

Oceania

  • Australia                                          77.3%
  • New Zealand                                  22.7%

South America

  • Brazil                                              70.6%
  • Argentina                                      11.8%
  • Ecuador                                          5.9%
  • Suriname                                        5.9%

 

My Prayer for you in 2012 and Beyond

May the year 2012 be a year of unprecedented favor, breakthroughs, and grace for you. May the Lord cause his face to shine upon you. May the Lord grant you the will and grace to walk with (and work for) him in a higher dimension and in a deeper relationship. May your life be a true testimony of what it means to be a Christian anytime, anywhere, and everywhere. Remember, it is better to be small in Israel than to be great in Babylon! May the light of the Lord shine in your darkness! May the Lord grant you direction in your confusion and in (your) life. May the Lord grant you success in all your undertakings according to his will for you. May the Lord grant you the desires of your heart according to his will for your life. May the devil and all his marshals fail in all their attempts against your life and family. May you continuously experience the presence of God and may it be well with you. Above all, may you lead a humble life; may you be coachable and obedient to the Master; and may your life bring glory to God in the year 2012 and beyond. I pray all these for you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.