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Sunday Sermon: Does God Really Save Us by Faith Alone?

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By Isaac Idahosa

Justification Alone

I think these five solas can be preciously illuminating, both for the crux of the Reformation and for the essence of the Christian gospel itself, which of course was central to the dispute. I say they can be helpful because five prepositional phrases hanging in the air with no clause to modify are not helpful in making clear what the great controversy of the Reformation was about, nor do they clarify the essence of the true Christian gospel.

The clause that allows these modifying prepositional phrases to do their wonderfully clarifying work for the sake of the essence of the gospel and the heart of the Reformation is the clause: We are justified before God . . . or Justification before God is . . .

Only after justification can the five prepositional phrases follow and do their magnificent work to define and protect the gospel from all unbiblical dilution. We are justified by God by grace alone; on the basis of Christ’s blood and righteousness alone; through the means, or instrument, of faith alone; for the ultimate glory of God alone; as taught with final and decisive authority in Scripture alone.” All five phrases serve to modify God’s work of justification — how sinners gain a right standing with God so that he is one hundred percent for us and not against us.

Don’t Substitute with the Solas

If you substitute other clauses besides “We are justified . . .” such as “We are sanctified . . .” or “We will be finally saved at the last judgment . . .” then the meaning of some of these prepositional phrases must be changed in order to be faithful to Scripture. For example:

In justification, faith receives a finished work of Christ performed outside of us and counted as ours — imputed to us.

 

In sanctification, faith receives an ongoing power of Christ that works inside us for practical holiness.

In final salvation at the last judgment, faith is confirmed by the sanctifying fruit it has borne, and we are saved through that fruit and that faith. As Paul says in 2 Thessalonians 2:13, “God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.”

How Are We Ultimately Saved?

Especially as it pertains to final salvation, so many of us live in a fog of confusion. James saw in his day those who were treating “faith alone” as a doctrine that claimed you could be justified by faith which produced no good works. And he vehemently said No to such faith.

Faith without works is dead (James 2:17).

It is like a body with no breath (James 2:26).

It is like an energy with no effect (James 2:20), and no completion (James 2:22).

If there is justifying faith, it has works (James 2:17).

So, he says, “I will show you my faith by my works” (2:18). The works will come from faith.

Paul would affirm all of this because he said in Galatians 5:6, “In Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.” The only kind of faith that counts for justification is the kind that produces love — the kind that bears the fruit of love. The faith which alone justifies is never alone, but always bearing transforming fruit. So, when James says these controversial words, “A person is justified by works and not by faith alone” (James 2:24), I take him to mean not by faith which is alone, but which shows itself by works.

Paul calls this effect or fruit or evidence of faith the “work of faith” (1 Thessalonians 1:3; 2 Thessalonians 1:11) and the “obedience of faith” (Romans 1:5; 16:26). These works of faith, and this obedience of faith, these fruits of the Spirit that come by faith, are necessary for our final salvation. No holiness, no heaven (Hebrews 12:14). So, we should not speak of getting to heaven by faith alone in the same way we are justified by faith alone.

Essential to the Christian life and necessary for final salvation is the killing of sin (Romans 8:13) and the pursuit of holiness (Hebrews 12:14). Mortification of sin, sanctification in holiness. But what makes that possible and pleasing to God? We put sin to death and we pursue holiness from a justified position where God is one hundred percent for us — already — by faith alone.

First Biblical, Then Reformed

So faith alone doesn’t mean the same thing when applied to justification, sanctification, and final salvation. You can see what extraordinary care and precision is called for in order to be faithful to the Scripture when using the five solas. And since “Scripture alone” is our final and decisive authority, being faithful to Scripture is the goal. We aim to be biblical first — and Reformed only if it follows from Scripture.

The five solas provide wonderful clarity about the crux of the Reformation and the heart of the gospel, if the clause that the five prepositional phrases modify is “Justification before God is. . .” Justification before God is by grace alone, with no merited favor whatever; on the basis of Christ alone, with no other sacrifice or righteousness as the foundation; through the means of faith alone, not including any human works whatsoever; to the end that all things lead ultimately to the glory of God alone; as taught with final and decisive authority in the Scriptures alone.

 

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Faith

Opinion: Why I Believe in Celebration of Christmas Despite What I Know About the Origin

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By Rev Enitan Shogbade

So many people have reservations about the proprieties or otherwise of celebrating Christmas, especially on December 25. Some Christian denominations even see those celebrating Christmas as endorsing paganism in another form, but should Christians celebrate Christmas or not?

While there can never be a common agreement on the issue of celebrating Christmas as knowledge and understanding differ, I have decided to pen down for my friends and followers, where I stand about the issue of Christmas.

WHAT I KNOW ABOUT CHRISTMAS

1. I am aware that Jesus was not born on 25th of December.

2. That 25th of December was the day that was used to celebrate the Sun god in ancient Rome.

3. That Constantine was the Christian leader who chose the day for the celebration of the birth of Christ and that even Constantine’s conversion as a Christian was suspected to be false.

4. That the Bible did not command the celebration of Christmas and that the only thing our Lord commanded to be done in his remembrance is the observance of the Holy Communion.

5. That the Word “Christmas” did not even occur in the bible.

6. That the celebration of Christmas has been bastardized and commercialized and that it should not even been associated with a Holy and moral person like our Lord Jesus’ Christ.

7. That the Christmas season promotes sin and immortality all of which the person being celebrated opposed.

These are some of the arguments that the opponents of Christmas celebration based their opposition on and I share in their concerns BUT I STILL BELIEVE IN CELEBRATING CHRISTMAS. Why ?

WHY I BELIEVE IN CELEBRATING CHRISTMAS

1. Though Jesus was not born on 25th December, no one can say accurately when he was born. Those insinuating an October date are only being speculative. And I think it is a divine arrangement that the Godhead kept that day away from mankind because of what it may engender among those who may share the same date with him.(Imagine how those who were born on 25th of December feel compared to those of us who were not).

2. I know of friends whose parents couldn’t give the accurate date of their birth but chose a day close to when their mates were born to celebrate their birthday and still feel special on their chosen dates.

3. That 25th December was once a pagan day to celebrate a pagan god and now chosing to celebrate the King of Kings and Lord of Lords only proves the superiority of our God over idols and proves to us who believe that an idol is nothing according to scriptures 1 Cor 8: 4.

4. I celebrate on 25th because it’s been chosen by Church leaders thousands of years before our time and if it was not divine, it wouldn’t be standing and it would have fiddled out over the years.

5. There is actually no date or months that does not have pagan origin in the past. For example, history teaches that in ILE- IFE, the ancient town in old OYO KINGDOM and in current Osun State of Nigeria, every day of the year but one is used to celebrate the 365 gods of the people and this applies to so many other cultures of the world for the whole world was of paganism until God began to introduce himself to mankind through Abraham after the fall of Adam.

6. I believe in celebrating Christmas even though the bible did not command nor does it forbids such celebration because there are some things the bible leaves to our sound judgement to decide, as it’s not everything the bible dictates. For example, the bible did not ask you to brush your teeth nor did it ask you to take your bath daily but you still do.

7. I celebrate Christmas as commemoration of the birthday of the Lord Jesus Christ because i appreciate that he came into the world on a day to begin the plan of our redemption for if he was not born, he could not have died and if he did not die for us, then we will still remain sinners, condemned to hell fire.

8. I celebrate Christmas because it affords me an opportunity to Minister to the dying world about the reason for the season, as almost everyone everywhere in the world remembers the day because of its association with the person of Jesus Christ.

9. I celebrate Christmas because birthday is an occasion to celebrate the one we love and since I love Jesus and he is my Lord and my friend, I will use the day to celebrate my Lord and Friend and take the advantage of the Holidays to reflect on his mission on earth and my response to him so far.

10. On commercialization and immorality associated with the day, this is the reality of our days and a sign of the end time foretold in the bible and does not in any way invalidate the morality of the celebration but rather a condemnation of those who choose to use the day to commit sins as they celebrate the birth of one whose reason for coming is to destroy sin and be born in every heart.

11. I celebrate because i deduct from scriptures that Jesus doesn’t mind being celebrated as we see in Mark 14 : 3 – 9 & Mark 5 : 29.

12. I believe in Christmas festivity because i realized that Jesus our Lord is not against festivity or social gathering, as he himself honours such with his presence at various feast in his days. Matthew 26 : 17, Luke 5 : 29, John 4: 45, John 5: 1 & John 7 : 2- 14.

13. I believe in celebrating Christmas because it afford me an opportunity to take after Christ who took advantage of such festival to teach, preach and advance the course of the kingdom. So i also celebrate by pointing people to why he came.

14. I join other Christ minded Christians to celebrate the coming of Christ to our world because i realize that the early disciples including the Apostles do join in the celebration of the feast of their days. Acts 18 : 21.

15. I celebrate because rather than restraining me from celebrating, the bible actually encourage me to do so truthfully, rightly and responsibly – 1 Cor 5 :8 & Jude: 12.

I can continue on and on and this is even becoming a long thesis many may not be willing to read so let me stop here on my reasons for believing in the celebration of Christmas.

I have presented my reasons because the bible commanded me so to do 1 Peter 3: 15. That I give reasons for my hope and reasons for my faith in Christ and to put to rest the questions often asked by my friends from other denominations who i will now refer to this write-up henceforth.

However, lets remember the bible says, he that regards a day regards it unto the Lord and he that regards it not, does so also unto the Lord – Romans 14: 6.

It is therefore necessary that we remind ourself of the biblical injunction that we put no stumbling block on each other’s path Romans – 14: 13.

He that believes in celebration of Christmas please celebrate responsibly and he that does not believe should still be himself or herself for we are brothers and sisters in Christ irrespective of our disposition to 25th December.

For those who are like me for the above started reasons or more I say HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO YOU ALL. May Jesus be born in every heart that gets to read this in Jesus Name.

Again, Merry Christmas and Happy Jesus Festival.

I am your Friend in Christ and a Friend of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

Reverend Shogbade is the General Overseer of FOJIA, and writes from Lagos

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Faith

MY ENCOUNTER WITH BISHOP OYEDEPO

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The Abuja based clergy and founder of Shiloh Word Chapel, Prophet Samuel revealed one of the missing links to greatness in life, in a brief chat our correspondent had with him at his Abuja office this morning.
He said many today will not fly to the height they are ordained to reach because they don’t regard the greatness in their chosen area of calling. He emphasized that God put some men and women ahead of us in life to lead us , midwife us so that we can birth the greatness God has deposited inside us. You will miss this pivotal guards if you don’t honour , respect and regard their place in your life, ministry and calling.
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He specifically relayed the visionary encounter with Bishop Oyedepo ( winners chapel) this morning. The clergy said
“Today September 10th, 2021 (Seven days to my birthday, 17th September).
I had a powerful encounter that came by way of vision in the night, in that vision ; papa ( Bishop Oyedepo) was on a dining table with me and he said samuel my son, you need a fresh oil from me and in vision, he said he needed to pour oil on me again,

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In that same vision, Papa Idahosa and Papa Adeboye and some other ministers I couldn’t really recognize too were present. Papa Idahosa was reading a big sized Bible , then Bishop Oyedepo roared in tongues; shortly, he said “ what branch of living faith church do you pastor now”,?
I responded, Papa, you have forgotten that I lead a ministry now called SHILOH WORLD CHAPEL IN ABUJA.
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He said kneel down, and he cried “wings of wisdom to make wealth and global healing rest on you in the order of Elijah and Elisha”
In that same vision, I dropped a huge seed at his feet, he looked and me and he prayed and said “kings shall seek for your counsel, souls shall flood your ministry like sand of the sea,”
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I jumped in gladness and began to give glory to God; and all the press people around were taking pictures. This same encounter happened twice between 5am to 6am today Friday September 10th 2021.
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You see, in whatever field of life you find yourself, until you have a point of reverence, you will not be revered. Your spiritual root is fundamental to how far you will fly in the journey of life, said the clergy.
@prophet_i_o_samuel

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Faith

Fusion Concert: Hope David Set to Thrill Fans

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The bigesst and most colourful gospel concert that always create veritable platform for creativity and elicit tremendous infinite awesomeness as testimonies abound is set to thrill the world with the never-seen-before performances by globally acclaimed ministers.

The explosive concert is well articulated and designed to celebrate African and African-American heritage through gospel music and performances.
Fusion virtual Concert will showcase the best of gospel music and open door to creative and artistic expressions from around the globe.

Yes, as souls will be won and enriched for eternal glory, chains will be broken, lives will be transformed and many more.

Many people will be inspired/uplifted by exceptional artists Iike Joseph Benjamin of the famous TV show Green leaf, Ronke Adesokan, Wumi Abe, the McNatts and others together with the amazing Fusion Mass Choir.

Don’t miss the explosive 9th edition of Fusion Concert on February, it going to be Virtual . 27, 2021
1pm EST, 12 noon CST, 6pm WA, 5pm Uk
On Facebook live: Hope music
YouTube: pastor Hope David music tv

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