CHRIST IS RISEN! HE IS RISEN INDEED ALLELUIA!
My dear viewers, listeners, and readers, as we celebrate Easter 2018, I am enormously pleased to share with you, THE GOOD NEWS OF SALVATION.
Friends, the greatest event ever, on earth is the death and resurrection of Christ. Like apostle Paul reminded the Corinthian Church of the gospel he preached to them, which they believed, so do we today: “that Christ died for our sins, … that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve … to more than five hundred brothers at one time, …to James, then to all the apostles and later to Paul himself.(1Corinthians 15:3-7 ESV)
Beloved brothers and sisters, “Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1Co 15:21-22 ESV) Paul asserts that “if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.” (1Co 15:14 ESV)
Beloved Gambians and all God’s people, it is not just enough to know that Jesus Christ died and was resurrected; furthermore, we need to act on this knowledge by believing. The purpose of His death and resurrection is not to show another divine wonder but to bring salvation to us in this sinful world once we believe.
My dear people, when Jesus resurrected he could have gone straight to the Father, but the omniscient God thought it wise to appear to his disciples and manifest himself to them. When Mary Magdalene recognized Jesus Christ, she cried in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”). Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” (John 20:16-17 ESV). So Mary broke the news to the disciple, “I have seen the Lord” then she gave them His message. (John 20:18).
Friends, Jesus appeared to both men and women after his resurrection to prove that he has conquered death and have fulfilled Scripture. Does that ring a bell? Irrespective of sex, everyone is accountable for his/her own salvation, which is offered free for those who believe. Jesus has paid the price for our sins; he completed the assignment on the cross. On the cross he declared “it is finished!” That is, I have accomplished the task. After his resurrection he sends the message to His disciples, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God”, He also appeared to them to confirm His resurrection. The significance of His appearance can be clearly seen in the episode of Thomas, one of the twelve apostles, who was not present at the initial appearance of Jesus. Thomas’ reaction to the news of Jesus’ resurrection must have shocked his colleagues; he asserts, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.” (John 20:25 ESV). In response Jesus, appeared to the disciples when Thomas was there; and said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” (John 20:27 ESV).
Fellow Gambians, and all God’s people, the moment Thomas recognized the risen Jesus, he replied, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus did not mince words in responding to Thomas, He said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29 ESV)
My dear viewers, listeners, and readers: is any of you doubting this message of salvation as Thomas did? or do you know a friend, relative, or neighbor or workmate in such position? Let us engage ourselves with Jesus’ response, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
Friends, God loves you. This is why he sent His only begotten son so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have ever lasting life. Without Christ we cannot receive salvation. (John 3:16) He affirms that He is the Way the Truth and the Life, and that no one comes to the father except by him. (John 14:6)
People of God, my burning heart’s desire and prayer is that all today’s viewers, listeners and readers of this message will believe and be saved. Like Paul described the Israelites in Romans 10:3, some of us being ignorant of God’s righteousness and going about to establish our own righteousness, have not submitted ourselves to the Righteousness of God.
It is by God’s grace through faith that we are saved. Once we believe we are being declared righteous, and the Holy Spirit will be bestowed upon us which will guide us to live a worthy and sober life that pleases God.
Friends, if we allow the Holy Spirit to rule our hearts, even our interests will be like-minded with God’s, our desires will match with what God wants for us and as we grow and be filled with the Holy Spirit we will be able to conquer our sinful nature, glorifying God with our lives.
Imagine most of us and our leaders being filled with the Holy Spirit; I assure you, our nation will enjoy absolute peace and prosperity. Many will depend on us for aid rather than the other way round, as we will be working in harmony with each other and with great wisdom from the Creator of Heaven and Earth.
Friends, the time for action is now, accomplishment might not happen overnight, but the journey starts now.
Beloved servants of God, the 2018 Easter Festival comes at a time when the Gambia needs to pursue its reforms with unity and love of all players irrespective of political affiliation, tribe or region; we need to put the interest of the nation above personal and group interest. We need God in our lives to be able to overcome our sinful nature. This is not a matter of religion or sect. We need God in our lives. Let us share the good news to as many people as we have the opportunity.
May the Risen Lord strengthen us, as we continue to live by faith, and grant us the grace to secure ETERNAL LIFE.
ALLELUIA! CHRIST IS RISEN, HE IS RISEN INDEED. ALLELUIA!
On behalf of all Anglican Christians in The Gambia, Senegal and the Islands of Cape Verde, I wish the Head of state, the Government and people of our beloved nation, The Gambia; our ecumenical partners in mission, our brothers and sisters in the Muslim fraternity, and all well-wishers, a very Happy Easter.
Your friend and Bishop
+ James The Gambia