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Date: 29th July – 5th August
Venue: Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology
Event: 36th GNAAS Congress

KINGDOM BUSINESS: How to build a Ministry that Matters.

Ministering to people’s present needs becomes a powerful corollary to the verbal proclamation of the gospel. The gospel heard, must be the gospel seen.
But exactly how can we create and sustain ministries? Enter Kingdom Business: How to Build a Ministry that Matters. This four-day seminar offers a step-by-step guide to planning, beginning and executing a Bible-based ministry that reaches people with the love and truth of Jesus Christ. It sets the right biblical perspective based on a Kingdom mentality that drives commitment, sustains passion, and fosters excellence in the running of your ministry. It provides practical tutorial with real-life examples drawing from my own experience as well as those of successful lay ministries. Participants will also be exposed to the right use of technology in their ministries. Effective team building, networking, fundraising, organization and evaluation will also be covered. Apart from these practical elements, the seminar will also explore on the cultural and philosophical dimensions of ministry in the 21st Century.

If you dream of starting a ministry to put your God-given talents to the use of His Kingdom, this seminar is for you. If you have started a ministry but don’t quite know how to take it to the next level, there is much that will benefit you too. If you run an established and successful ministry or ministries, then here is a place to share your experience. And yes, if you have no idea whether or not God is calling you to a particular area of ministry, the Kingdom Mindset approach will help you find out.

All Christians are called to minister. The question for each of us, as individuals and ministry teams, is how. Ministry is the business of the Kingdom, and this seminar aims to provide a clear path towards doing it in a way that will affect eternity. Join us at this year’s GNAAS Congress for Kingdom Business: How to Build a Ministry that Matters.

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Books, Press Releeases

Master the Pidgin

An Introductory Grammar of Ghanaian Pidgin English

As a language enthusiast I am keenly interested in what people say and how they say it. Some have called it grammar policing, and I have been accused on occasion of ruining a conversation with tedious, often contextually irrelevant analyses of people’s phraseology. Of course, I plead not guilty. Many times, however, speaking errors in English are brushed aside with a wave of the hand and a dismissive, “It’s not our native language.” But when I corrected a friend’s Pidgin English, he responded indignantly, “Agana, Pidgin no get grammar oo!” “Really?” I thought. It is that assertion, and my interrogation of it, that have eventually culminated in the publishing of this book. And so it is with truest joy that I present to you, Master the Pidgin!

Pidgin English is spoken throughout the West African sub-region. As can be expected, the flavors differ across the sub-region, but with enough commonality to make the different variants mutually intelligible. Ghana’s flavor of Pidgin is spoken across all classes of society, and is celebrated as a great equalizer of Ghanaian society. Pidgin, as it is simply called, is noted for its nonconformity to regular British English. True to its name Pidgin reduces regular English to a much simpler form. Yet achieves this simplification through intriguingly consistent, logical formulae whose by-product is an internal code that is accessible and learnable.

Master the Pidgin teaches you this inner code so you can master Pidgin English. It offers an insightful tour of the grammar and syntax involved in Pidgin as it is spoken — and sometimes written — in Ghana. The book argues by demonstration that Pidgin has predictable form that can be described and classified as well as many “established” languages. This form, or grammar, is should be understood less as a body of “rules,” and more as a guiding framework for understanding how Pidgin works and learning how to speak it with speed, ease, and confidence.

Master the Pidgin, then, is for three groups of people. First, both native and foreign learners will quickly gain a more comprehensive understanding of Pidgin than most phrasebooks afford. By learning how Pidgin works, and not simply what to say, you can more quickly gain a command of the language. Second, language experts and enthusiasts will find a well-thought out perspective on the inner workings of a language whose evolution needs to be taken more seriously and traced more closely. Finally, casual speakers who speak Pidgin English with the notion that they are doing something haphazard or thoughtless will find in this book strong evidence that unlike Kwame once retorted, “Pidgin get grammar” after all.

Together, rather unconsciously; we have created a beauty of a language; this book teaches that language by revealing the marvelous detail of how we did it. Who say Pidgin no get grammar??

Master Pidgin English is now available on Amazon Kindle.

About the Author:

Agana-Nsiire Agana is an author, poet, and essayist born and raised in Ghana. Agana has been active in Ghana’s literary scene since 2004, publishing and performing poetry online and on radio. Agana has published short stories and essays on local and international literary magazines and websites. In 2011 His poem A Bird in Me Heart, was reviewed for Ghana Literary Week, and in 2017 his short story The Message was featured in TheWrongQuarterly, a UK-based literary magazine. A trained theologian, Agana has published numerous articles on theology and philosophy in various journals and magazines. In his spare time a birdwatcher and nature photographer. He can be reached via his website at www.aganansiire.com or by email at agana@aganansiire.com.

 

 

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Speaking Appointments

How to Study Your Bible Effectively
Venue: Prince Emmanuel Seventh-day Adventist Church, Takoradi
Dates: June 13th – 16th 2018


This is a three-part seminar on how to effectively and enjoyably study the Bible. Learn how to approach Bible study, how to discern meaning that lies beneath the surface of the text, learn and apply background and context, and how to utilise helpful tools like like concordances, lexicons, and Bible dictionaries. You do not need to be a theologian, or know Hebrew Aramaic and Greek to be be a good student of the Scriptures. Bible study can be truly rewarding if you approach it the right way. After all, it is in searching the Scriptures that we discover God.


Seminar Audio


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Lectures & Talks

500 YEARS ON, ALUTA CONTINUA


Today marks exactly 500 years since Martin Luther began the Protestant Reformation in 1517. But much of the Christian world now believes that the Reformation has ended. Is it really true that Catholics and Protestants now have a common understand of Salvation by grace through faith? Here is something worth thinking about. In this article we explore the teething problem with this view. The protest lives on, and here is why.


Adapted from a lecture given in commemoration of 500 years of the Protestant Reformation on October 20th 2017 at West Ridge Seventh-day Adventist Church, Takoradi, Ghana



[Greetings and sundry remarks]


Introduction

Speaking about the Reformation today is akin to speaking about a budding taboo… it is not yet generally frowned upon, but it gets people to look at you funny. It makes people uneasy, and others wonder whether you have not heard the new information in town.

Protestant Christianity is beginning to get uneasy about the Reformation. It would appear that an increase in scholastic knowledge in theology and the church history have led to a great deal of skepticism concerning the three – and later five – fundamental tenets of the protest that was began 500 years ago. The current wave of ecumenism is almost so universal that Adventists who insist on desisting from efforts at unifying the churches must endure the second looks of their Protestant fiends.

As I am sure you have heard during the course of this week’s lectures, the ecumenical movement seeks to unify Christians into a body of common fellowship primarily, but also beliefs. These attempts, it is often argued, completely neglect or ignore fundamental differences in the way various denominations understand the Bible. This is not entirely true, however; often ecumenism involves dialogue that reformulates understanding of doctrines in order to achieve the best reconciliation possible. Remaining differences are often dismissed as practically insignificant as far as their capacity to hinder the desired ecumenical goal.

This is exactly the case with respect to one of the fundamental creeds of the Reformation: Sola fide, or “Through faith alone.”


The Three Solas

Throughout the course of the last fifty years ecumenical councils have sought to arrive at common understandings between Roman Catholics and Protestant denominations that answer the questions raised by the early Reformers.

  1. Firstly, is doctrine really to be formulated by scripture alone? (Sola scriptura)
  2. Secondly, is salvation really granted by grace alone? (Sola gracia)
  3. Thirdly, s justification really received through faith alone? (Sola fide)


Probably one of the most prominent instances of such agreements is the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification reached between Roman Catholics and Lutherans in 1999. This agreement has become the basis for bold moves towards extensive consolidation of ecumenical gains over time. So much so that this year the two churches announced their joint intention to work towards a shared communion. If the significance of this move were lost to you, it would be useful to recall that rejection from the table of the Holy Communion is the effective act of excommunication, what we would call removal from fellowship. To share the communion with Lutherans once more, from the perspective of the Catholic Church, is to accept them back into the faith and family of the church.

Through Faith, Alone.

This joint declaration on the doctrine of justification, of course, focuses on the theology of justification, which Protestants have historically understood to be a legal declaration made by God to the effect that a guilty sinner is reckoned righteous on the merits or righteousness of Christ. Of course Protestants see this justification as being the beginning of a process of salvation that goes through life-long sanctification and is crowned in eventual glorification. But importantly, Protestants believe that this justification is only possible through faith. For example, Adventists believe:

In Christ’s life of perfect obedience to God’s will, His suffering, death, and resurrection, God provided the only means of atonement for human sin, so that those who by faith accept this atonement may have eternal life.[1]


Similarly Ellen White writes:


This belief is derived from a systematic understanding of numerous biblical texts and concepts stretching form the Old Testament into the new. But as “justification” is a decidedly Pauline term, we will consider a few texts from his writing

Romans 3:28 – Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.

Galatians 2:16 – Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.

Romans 4:4-5 – Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness,


So justification is clearly understood to be received through faith alone, without any works or personal merit in the sinner. But Protestants understand that this faith is not merely a mental assent alone. There are beings, after all, that mentally assent to the efficacy of Christ’s grace, but who tremble at the thought of Him. Rather, this faith includes an abiding trust that surrenders the sinner continually to the influence of that grace in their lives.


Significantly, this trust leads to sanctification, in which the fruit of faith is good works in obedience to the law of God. However these good works are not understood to confer any salvific advantage to the believer. In other words, in and of themselves they will save the believer. Rather they will be an ongoing witness to his state of renewal and intimacy with God, to whom he has been reconciled in Justification, and is being reconciled, everyday, through sanctification. As the Tyndale New Testament Commentary has put it:

[I]t is important to realize that being ‘put right’ with God [being justified] involves a subsequent total change in our moral behavior (though this of itself could never commend us to God.)[3]

Does the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification indicate that the Catholic Church now sees justification this way too? We must admit that if it does, then the Protest is truly over, and that would be good news, for Luther never set out to begin a revolt against his church, but a reforming of it.

The JDDJ: Grace Alone or Faith Alone?

On the face of it, this seems to be what is achieved by the agreement, which states:





Close inspection of the JDDJ, however, reveals some troubling theological maneuvers. For one thing, the document never once acknowledges that justification is through faith alone. Rather, it cleverly attests that justification is by grace alone.


This is true, for salvation is made possible only because of God’s grace; grace that led Him to offer His son as an propitiation for all who accept His sacrifice. Ephesians 2:8 says unambiguously that it is by grace we are saved, through faith. Indeed Adventist Protestants agree with this, emphasizing in our fundamental beliefs that “In infinite love and mercy God made Christ, who knew no sin, to be sin for us, so that in Him we might be made the righteousness of God.” This love and mercy is none other than the grace of God. Indeed, the Adventist statement of beliefs goes on to affirm that saving faith “is the gift of God’s grace.”[4]

So yes, salvation comes by grace alone. That is the Protestant tenet of sola scriptura, on that it appears that Rome now agrees with Protestants. Yet any student of church history will know that Rome has never had a problem with salvation by grace alone, for she teaches that God dispenses His grace through the church, so that whatever is commanded by the church is an extension of God’s grace to humankind.

By this understanding, the indulgences which Luther so vigorously opposed in His 95 thesis, the Eucharist, papal absolutions, penance and other sacraments are all still valid means to salvation, because they are all made possible by grace. When a person pays an indulgence for the forgiveness of a loved one’s sins, that opportunity is granted by grace. On indulgences, for example, the Roman Catholic Church declares:




So Rome believes that salvation is by grace alone, through faith, but not through faith alone. Rather, justification is by grace through faith, as well as works done by a person, which are allowed or enabled by sacramental grace offered by the Church. In other words, justification is received through faith, as well as works granted by the church through sacraments and service. The hidden result is that faith is effectively transferred from Christ to the church. Clearly, this is not the gospel as understood by Protestants. The Bible teaches plainly that justification is obtained because of God’s grace (sola gracia), and received through faith alone (sola fide), and not through any sort of work whatsoever. No organization can insert itself into the value chain of God’s salvation economy.

Conclusion

In conclusion, I would like to urge us all to take some time this year to truly commemorate the Reformation, and I suggest two ways for doing so. Primarily the history of the Reformation is a history of the return to biblical teaching. To care about the Reformation is not merely to hold in high esteem names like Zwingli, Wycliffe and Luther, but it is to care about the Bible truths they unearthed. I invite you therefore to study the theological foundations of Protestant belief, and particularly their particular expression in the fundamental beliefs of our church. Sola Scriptura, Sola Fide, Sola Gratia, Solus Christus, and Soli Deo Gloria.


Secondly I urge you to make the Reformation true in a personal way. The reason Luther found the truth is because through God’s grace he wrestled with his own sense of sin and guilt, and longed for personal reconciliation with God. This is true of many Reformers, and it should be true of us. These Bible truths should win souls rather than arguments, and particularly your soul.

God is working out a greater Reformation, began right after the fall, but provided for long before it; a reformation of hearts and minds of sinners, and of an entire creation bent under the oppression of sin and death. May we each and all have a part in that great change from darkness into everlasting light, for as Numbers 14:21 assures us, “ but truly, as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord.”


As we sing the faith, it is my prayer that we will sing them boldly everyday and everywhere, even as more and more of the Protestant world begins to look at us funny. Because this faith that we sing of is not outdated or obsolete; it is eternal.

May God bless us all.

Thank you.

_

References:

[1] “Fundamental Beliefs of Seventh-day Adventists, 9. ‘The Life, Death and Resurrection of Christ,’” 2015. The General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists

[2] Ellen G. White, “Faith Does Not Make Void the Law,” Signs of the Times, March24, 1890.

[3] Tyndale NT Commentaries, The Epistle of St. Paul to the Galatians, (Grand Rap- ids: Eerdmans, 1980), 80-81

[4] “Fundamental Beliefs of Seventh-day Adventists, 10. ‘The Experience of Salvation,’” 2015. The General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists

[5] Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1478. Retrieved from http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/_P4G.HTM

[6] Ibid., 1477

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Speaking Appointments
Title: By What Alone? Is the Reformation Really Over?

Recent moves towards reuniting Lutherans and Protestants with Roman  Catholics on points of doctrine threaten to douse the 500 year-old flame of Protestantism. By What Alone? is a lecture addressing the theological foundations of recent ecumenical developments between Lutherans and Protestants on the one hand, and the Roman Catholic Church on the other, with a view to establish a biblically consistent Adventist response.

Venue: West-Ridge SDA Church
Time: 6pm

It will be part of a night of music celebrating 500 years of the Protestant Reformation.

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