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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

For how long are we going to provoke God?

The prosperity gospel, or the gospel of the financial seed, has become preeminent in church, alienating the poor and conspiratorially replacing the gospel of fire and brimstone, writes Dennis D. Muhumuza 

In his famous sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” fiery American theologian Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758), pleads with Christians to mend their ways and cease provoking God.

The sermon may be 269 years old, but its relevance is still as immediate as it is powerful, for it is evident there is a desperate need of healing and cleansing from the leprosy of sin that has infiltrated the church today and subjected it to mockery. Avarice has overshadowed the real Gospel as businessmen are busy becoming pastors and ripping off unsuspecting congregants for self aggrandisement.

The prosperity gospel or the gospel of the financial seed, has become preeminent in church, alienating the poor and conspiratorially replacing the gospel of fire and brimstone (Revelation 19: 20) that has long been effective in reminding believers about the ramifications of sin.

The non-believers and hypocrites in church circles are on rampage, using their money and treachery to hook up church girls; others are running after fame and riches at the expense of heeding the holy dictate of seeking the righteousness of Christendom by which these things follow by default (Mathew 6: 33).

It is flabbergasting how drinkers of inequity easily quote scripture to justify their straying: “All have fallen short of the glory of God,” “Let him without sin cast the first stone” as they go on amusing themselves in the amusement park of secularism. It explains the latest trend of sisters in church getting married in a hurry to disguise their pregnancies and quite a number dying while aborting.

The Biblical command of handling our salvation with fear and trembling has been ignored; we are living in the fast lane; indulging; replicating the wickedness of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18, 19), after all God’s grace is sufficient.

One is tempted to believe these are the last days alluded to in 2 Timothy: 3, where greed, hedonism, envy, immorality, pride, disobedience, violence, deceit, recklessness, irreligiousness and all manner of loathsome behaviour had become the only way of life.

Similarly, we have become like the Cretans, who professed to know the Lord when in works they denied Him, “being abominable and disobedient and unto every good work reprobate” (Titus 1: 16). That is right; we should be guilty! For how long is God going to be “dreadfully provoked” as Edwards puts it? For how long are we going to abuse the liberty that God, in his immeasurable goodness, has granted us?

To think that it is alright to sin and repent afterwards is unquestionably delusional because life is so slippery that none can even tell what happens in the next microsecond. The Bible says the Master will arrive incognito and cut the unfaithful servant in pieces; sharing the fate of the disobedient (Luke 12: 35-48).

For as much as God is indescribably merciful, he resents hypocrisy and disobedience. Lot’s wife turned into a pillar of salt for this (Genesis 19:26), while Ananias and his wife Sapphira were struck dead for their financial dishonesty (Acts 5:1-11).

Edwards stresses that we are already condemned. That God holds us over the pitiless pit of hell, looking at us as worthy of nothing but to be cast into the fire, yet His hand upholds us from falling into the fire because of His mercy. Should He then be taken for granted? The Israelites crossed the Red Sea under the cloud of God but later desired evil things and sat down to a feast that turned into an orgy of drinking and sex. But in one day, 23,000 of them fell dead as a warning to us that the Lord must not be put to the test (Corinthians 10: 1-9).

The Bible further says straying after testing the righteousness and goodness of God is synonymous with crucifying once again the Son of God and holding Him up to contempt, thereby becoming like worthless land full of thorns and thistles and whose end is to be burned (Hebrews 5, 6).

Wake up, therefore, from your drunken stupor, says the Bible - and do not go on sinning so that the power of God that is constant in our lives can help us win in the daily war between the body and soul as revealed in Galatians 5: 17. Paul himself became a pugilist, punching his carnal self to bring it under subjection and subjugation so as to win the unfading crown presented to all who finish the race of salvation (1Corrinthians 9: 24-26).

It is time to mature from the elementary doctrine of Christ and graduate from milk to solid food in the word of righteousness by learning to distinguish good from evil. That way, we cease dreadfully provoking God, as Edwards put it.

--Sunday Monitor, October 10, 2010