“My Love Letter to Nigeria” – Yadah in a breathe taking photos along her message to Nigeria

MY LOVE LETTER TO Nigeria

Nigeria,
If we cant’ stick together because our languages are different, we will learn how to speak one language.

Nigeria,
If the trumpets are blown to show that you harbour thieves,  I Will blow trumpets announcing beautiful Agbani,  the Young Enugu boy Who constructed a small airplane, Ufot Ekong Who broke a foreign country’s 50 year record,  clergy men working tirelessly, I will talk about Yadah (smiles).

Nigeria, 
If they conclude you’re ugly,  I Will tell them of wikki warm springs in Bauchi,  I will scream Obudu cattle ranch into their ears.

Nigeria,
Home of the talented and the skilled, the brave and the strong, beautiful work of art,  designed by nature itself.

Nigeria,
We will raise your flag, peace and unity at the centre Of wealth and natural endowment. Green-white-green. How can the center not hold?
How would we dare waste the labour of our heroes Past ?
Taiwo Akinkunmi’s prophetic effort ?
How would we rip us of the freedom we fought for ?

Nigeria,
We Will learn love and honesty again, so we can grow into a people you’ll be proud to host.
We Will work till you’re prized high,  pray till you’re like heaven,  where God’s Will is done.

We Will learn afresh to value lives,  a virtue that’s never too old.
We’ll learn not to rip you of your greenness, from which the oxygen we breathe is released, but in Wisdom explore all of your bountiful wealth.

Nigeria,
We Will learn the truth again,  for in it we’ll find the way and life itself.
We’ll pick up our MOTTO where we parked it, we We will run with UNITY AND FAITH. We needed it,  so do we now.

Nigeria,
We Will allow the God of creation to direct our noble cause.
His sons are here!!!

Nigeria,
The words of the righteous prevail over you.
I believe in Nigeria.
I love Nigeria.
Nigeria is blessed.

Happy 57th independence Nigeria!!!

cc: yadah
#voiceofJesustonations

See photos below;

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[ARTICLE] “Pastor’s Wife, Please Take Care of Yourself” – Pastor Ifeoma Eze

Pastor Ifeoma EzeI can relate dear Pastor’s wife! I can relate because I too, am a Pastor’s wife!
I know that it is not easy to be a Pastor’s wife. I understand the pressures, sacrifices, difficult choices and hard situations you have been forced to go through all because you don’t want to offend God and you don’t want to be a cog in the wheel of progress in your husband’s ministry.


Yes, I understand!
I know how difficult it is when you are accused for things you know nothing about and how you are blamed when you did all you did with best of intentions.
I know and I understand!

Dear Pastor’s wife, I know how it feels when someone assumes that you are just the Pastor’s wife by sheer luck all because they envy your suceess and blessings, yet they have no idea the prices you paid to get to where you are. They have no idea the many times you have cried, the many times you have travailed and the many times, you held your husband’s head (their Pastor’s head) and prayed that he will not fail or lose focus. They have no idea! They see the pastor so filled with faith on Sunday morning but have no idea what you do to encourage him on Monday morning when all the members are mindful of their businesses.

My dear sister, how can i attempt to mention all you have to go through in just one writeup.
Am i to talk about the expectations placed on your kids who never negotiated to be preacher’s kids. They just found themselves in your home and everyone expects them to be angels and never make mistakes.

All wives would love to spend time talking some sweet nonsense with their husbands but all you ever get to discuss with yours are prayer needs for that member who is sick, bereaved or having a difficult marriage. Most times, your good morning greeting to your husband is replied when he asks if you have called the sister missing in attendance or settled the disput between some members. But no one knows because your recent picture on facebook looked so cute. “She is so lucky” they confess, yet every day you ask for grace to stand and not to fail the God who has called you to be a wife to His Oracle on earth.

Its okay My dear Sister, I will tell you some truths that will help you. Just a few, others will come later.

1. No one can take care of you but you.
2. Without God, you will be finished.
3. Don’t live to please people because you can’t please everyone at the same time.
4. No matter how good you are, some people will still name you as their reason for leaving church. Don’t worry. They would have still left if you were not there. It was never about you!
5. Your husband, the pastor no matter how good he is, will never satisfy all your emotional needs. Find godly ways of making yourself happy.
6. Church members who are nice must never be your close confidants. A Loyal person today might not be a loyal person by tomorrow.
7. Understand your husband more than his spiritual children would. Be there for him.
8. My sweet sister, you are not indispensible, that church and ministry can continue Without you! Ouch! But true!
So be humble, don’t kill yourself with work and take good care of yourself.
9. Don’t wait for permission from anyone to serve your God. Close your ears and serve, don’t only wait to be served.
10. The people who have come to tell you what they said about you are the ones saying it. Don’t fall for their sentiments. Keep your mouth shut!
11. Keep your spiritual life hot!
12. Avoid appearances of evil.

Let me reserve the others for my next letter to you my dear Sister.

Yours faithfully,
Pst Ifeoma Eze
A fellow Pastor’s wife
From Zion Heritage Abuja

 

The article above represents the personal opinion of the writer.

[ARTICLE] Fake Pastors: Jesus is Now the Only True Pastor – By Femi Aribisala

Frustrated by the magnitude of the miracles attending Jesus’ ministry, the chief priests and elders of the Jews challenged him in the temple. They demanded to know by what authority he was doing the things he was doing and who it was who gave him the authority.
 

In his reply, Jesus presents a dichotomy between what is of God and what is of men. He asks them: “The baptism of John – where was it from? From heaven or from men?” (Matthew 21:25).
 

The question is loaded. By implication, Jesus maintains what is of God cannot be of men and what is of men cannot be of God. This dichotomy between God and men finds its most eloquent expression in Jesus’ categorical assertion that: “What is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God.” (Luke 16:15).
 

It is pertinent, therefore, to ask whether the ordination of pastors today is of God or of men.
 

Fake Pastors
The answer is straight-forward: the ordination of pastors today is of men and not of God. It does not come from the commandments or teachings of Jesus. It comes from the writings of Paul.
 

Paul does not say Jesus specifically instructs him to create ministerial positions in the church. Instead, he bases his authority for doing this on a messianic Old Testament scripture. With reference to Psalm 68, he writes: “This is why it says: ‘When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men.’” (Ephesians 4:8).
 

Understanding that this scripture foretells Christ’s resurrection, Paul then says: “(Jesus) himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:11-12).
 

However, on investigation it becomes apparent that Paul’s position misquotes and even distorts the original psalm. The psalmist says: “When you ascended on high, you led captives in your train; you received gifts from men, even from the rebellious – that you, O LORD God, might dwell there.” (Psalm 68:18).
 

Can you see the difference? The psalmist says men gave gifts to the Lord. Paul, in quoting the psalmist, changes this to say the Lord gave gifts to men.
 

Unauthorised Ministerial Posts
Apparently, Paul wanted to create posts in the churches he established so as to bring them more effectively under his control. So he twisted an Old Testament scripture to make it seem as if it was the Lord who authorised it. As a result, there are people today who insist the Lord has called them to be pastors and teachers, not knowing that Jesus does not envisage any of these positions under the New Testament.
 

This is what Jesus says: “I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes.” (Matthew 23:34). Nothing here about pastors and teachers. On his resurrection, he said furthermore: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to everyone.” (Mark 16:15). This means all believers are called to be evangelists, it is not a special calling for a select few.
 

In creating unauthorised posts, which have since spawned many others such as popes, arch-bishops, and right-reverends, Paul enshrined the spirit of the Pharisee in the heart of Christianity, contrary to the teachings of Jesus.
 

Jesus discourages honorific titles and warns that those who exalt themselves will be humbled. He mocks the pomposity of the Pharisees, insisting that we should not follow their example: “Don’t let people do that to you, put you on a pedestal like that. You all have a single Teacher, and you are all classmates.” (Matthew 23:8).
 

This show Jesus permits no differentiation among his followers. We are all equal. The pope is no different from the lay Catholic. The arch-bishop is the classmate of the members of the laity. None of them is greater in status than the other. So how come some classmates are now calling themselves teachers?
 

Nevertheless, Paul tells Timothy: “I was appointed a preacher and an apostle – I am speaking the truth in Christ and not lying – a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.” (1 Timothy 2:7). This cannot be true because Jesus expressly forbids this: “Do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ.” (Matthew 23:10).
 

Moreover, Jesus tells us God, and not men, will be our teacher: “It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me.” (John 6:45).
 

No Contradiction
Jesus says furthermore: “Don’t set people up as experts over your life, letting them tell you what to do. Save that authority for God; let him tell you what to do.” (Matthew 23:9). This means the pastor is not the head of a church. He cannot lord it over members of his congregation. As a matter of fact, pastors are now anachronistic. Jesus says: “There shall be one flock and one pastor.” (John 10:16). This establishes Jesus as the one and only “Good Pastor.” (John 10:11).
 

God the Father is the source of all authority and from him it flows to Jesus, the Son. Does it then flow from Jesus to the pastor, the bishop, or the pope? Certainly not! On his resurrection, Jesus declared to his disciples: “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth.” (Matthew 28:18). The authority remains firmly with Jesus.
 

Jesus says: “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25-28).
 

Strange Doctrine
What are we to conclude from all this? All those who call themselves pastors are not disciples of Jesus. Their authority is not from heaven, but from men. They are fake pastors with Jesus being the only legitimate pastor. David says: “The Lord is my pastor, I have all that I need.” (Psalm 23:1). If Jesus is our pastor, we don’t need fake pastors. Jesus does not outsource his church to pastors. He says: “I will build my church.” (Matthew 16:18).
 

Wittingly or unwittingly, pastors today disobey the voice of Jesus by heeding instead the voice of Paul. Eternal life is not in the words of Paul. Eternal life is in the words of Jesus. (John 6:68-69). Jesus, not Paul, is “the author and finisher of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:2). Therefore, Jesus’ words are the only acceptable basis of church doctrine.
 

The Holy Spirit does not speak on his own authority; he only says what he hears. (John 16:13-15). Not so with pastors. They insist on being answerable to themselves. Jeremiah says: “A horrible and shocking thing has happened in the land: The prophets prophesy lies, the priests rule by their own authority, and my people love it this way. But what will you do in the end?” (Jeremiah 5:30-31).
 

 

About the Author:
Femi Aribisala is a scholar and international affairs expert. He is currently an iconoclastic church pastor in Lagos. He is also a syndicated essayist for a handful publications in Nigeria. faribisala@yahoo.com; http://www.femiaribisala.com

 

The published article represents the personal opinion of the writer only.

[ARTICLE] Gospel Music in Nigeria – Nosa (Part 1)

My dear NAIJA BRETHREN, do you know how much time, effort and money it takes to produce, mix and master then promote one track? No “Gospel” fees from producers or mixing engineers, no financial backing from church (and that’s not the responsibility of the church, it’s not why Christ established the church, It’s not bank of industry). As a musician, your income streams are as follows:

RECORDS SALES (physical media or digital media downloads/streaming), LICENSING (when your product is used on ad campaigns, movies, etc), IN ADDITION, WE HAVE IMAGE RIGHTS TOURS (ticket sales), EVENTS (in Nigerian terms, “ministrations”) ROYALTIES from remarks of your song (if you’re the songwriter), radio airplay, etc.

In Nigeria today, we only have one and half streams. Record sales (half) and events (church organised events). You are not expected to charge when you go to events and 90% of the time, those who don’t charge are not given anything tangible; you release free songs and you don’t gate your events because it’s “gospel music.” I hear people say that it’s ministry so God will provide.

I’ve checked my Bible very well and nowhere are you​ automatically ordained a minister because you are a Christian musician. Christ did not die to make anyone a singer. Singing is not a gift of the Spirit, but you can express these gifts through singing. Music is an unexplainable and very powerful “phenomenon” from heaven. That’s undeniable.

Praise and worship belongs in our homes, hearts and in our churches. Gospel music does not belong in the church. It should be launched out from church. It belongs in the world. It’s​ meant to salt a bitter world. It’s an arrow that should be deployed to the camp of the enemy. It’s a light that should shine in & dominate the darkness that is in entertainment. It requires a strong functioning structure.

In Nigeria the only part​ of the structure that works is production. Songs are churned out like water! But it’s funny how the production part where u spend so much money is not seen as ministry, but the part where it comes to making returns.

Watch out for Gospel Music in Nigeria, Part 2.

This article is a personal opinion of the writer.

[ARTICLE] It Is Not Good for Man To Be Alone (3) – Femi Aribisala

Jesus makes the way whereby sons of men can, once again, become sons of God so they are married not to men or to women but to God.

Early on at the dawn of creation, God proclaimed a widely misunderstood truth: “It is not good that man should be alone.” (Genesis 2:18). Because the upshot of this observation was the separation of woman from man by the creation of Eve and the institution of marriage, many jump to the conclusion that marriage is the answer to man’s aloneness. However, even in marriage, man remains alone.

Alone In Marriage

Marriage does not join husbands and wives together at the hip. Sometimes they are together: sometimes alone. Situations and circumstances inevitably separate husbands and wives. Sometimes their jobs do the separation. Sometimes they are promoted to different stations. Sometimes they travel. Sometimes they visit their friends or they go shopping separately. Quarrels and divorces also bring about separation and aloneness.

We are not always with our loved ones, even if we spend most of the time with them. Man is always alone from man or woman sometime or the other. How can what God says is not good be inevitable?

A scripture often quoted in classical Christian marriage ceremonies says: “What God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Matthew 19:5). But would God himself separate what God has joined together? Most definitely!

By God’s decree, death ultimately separates man from his loved ones. It separates him from his wife and children. The marriage covenant recognises the power of death. The union is simply “till death do us part.” And definitely, death will do us part.

Take a look for a moment at the execution of the will of God in the life of Ezekiel. Out of the blue, God informs him that his wife would die:

“‘Son of man, behold, I take away from you the desire of your eyes with one stroke; yet you shall neither mourn nor weep, nor shall your tears run down. Sigh in silence, make no mourning for the dead; bind your turban on your head, and put your sandals on your feet; do not cover your lips, and do not eat man’s bread of sorrow.’ So I spoke to the people in the morning, and at evening my wife died; and the next morning I did as I was commanded.” (Ezekiel 24:16-18)

The Needful

“One thing is needed,” Jesus says to Martha, “and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:42). What is it that will not be taken away from man or woman? It is God and God alone!

Therefore, it is not good for man to be alone from God. It is very good for man to be married to God. God is a completely different kind of lover. Unlike man, he never leaves; and he never forsakes. He is Immanuel, which means “God with us.” (Matthew 1:23). He is Jehovah Shammah: the God who is always there. (Ezekiel 48:35)

If you are married to Jesus, they can put you in prison, and you will find good company.

They can place you in a barren wilderness, but you will eat the bread of heaven. Your family can ditch you, but you will have a friend who sticks closer than a brother. You may be persecuted, but you are never forsaken. You may be cast down, but you are never destroyed.

Nothing should separate the believer from God’s love. Neither death in the family, nor life in the form of coming into great wealth, nor demonic angels and principalities and powers, nor cares about our situations and circumstances today, nor the fears and anxieties about tomorrow, nor any promotion nor demotion nor anything known or unknown.

In marriage to Christ, even death makes no difference: “For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s. (Romans 14:8). The cross crucifies the believer from the world, which includes members of our family who can be taken away from us without notice and without apology.

Disastrous Marriage

Adam’s big mistake was that he forgot that God is his first love. He preferred Eve to God. This preference proved to be disastrous and it led Adam astray.

God gave specific instructions to Adam about life in the Garden of Eden: “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:16-17). But instead of listening to God, Adam listened to Eve, his wife, and ate the forbidden fruit.

Once Adam allowed another relationship to take pre-eminence over his relationship with God, leading him to disobey God, his intimacy with God was lost. Once he ate the forbidden fruit, he sinned and he became a sinner by nature. As such he died. He died spiritually immediately, and he began to die physically. Because of Adam’s sin, death entered into the human race.

Like begets like. Adam was a son of God. But since he became a sinner before Eve conceived a child, every human being descended from Adam became sons of men instead of sons of God. Adam was created in the image and likeness of God; but Adam’s offspring were born in the image and likeness of Adam:

“When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. He created them male and female and blessed them. And when they were created, he called them “man.” When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image; and he named him Seth.” (Genesis 5:1-3)

Redemption in Christ Jesus

So began the human conundrum whereby man became separate and alone from God. “‘Return, faithless people,’ declares the Lord, ‘for I am your husband.’” (Jeremiah 3:14)

Adam’s blunder was replicated in Abraham. Abraham desperately wanted a son. But instead, God gave himself to Abraham in marriage. He said to him: “I am your shield and your exceedingly great reward.” (Genesis 15:1). But Abraham was not interested in the spiritual at that stage of his life. He wanted someone physical. He wanted an heir; he wanted a son.

Even though God promised him a son, Abraham did not wait for God. Instead, he had Ishmael, a natural child born out of wedlock by his house-help Hagar. Nevertheless, God still finally gave him Isaac, a supernatural son, born when Sarah, his wife, was past menopause and when Abraham’s body was “dead.” In this manner, God juxtaposes Ishmael, Abraham’s natural-born son of man, with Isaac, Abraham’s spiritually-born son of God. Suffice to say here that much of the problems in the world today has come from the descendants of Ishmael.

Nevertheless, there is redemption in Christ Jesus. Jesus makes the way whereby sons of men can, once again, become sons of God so they are married not to men or to women but to God: “To all who received (Jesus), to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God- children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” (John 1:12-13)

The article is a personal opinion of the writer.

Reach him via faribisala@yahoo.com
http://www.femiaribisala.com

[ARTICLE] Unmasking a Biblical truth about Easter


As with Christmas, we find that the popular customs associated with the Easter celebration—rabbits, Easter-egg hunts and sunrise services—have nothing to do with the biblical record of Christ’s life, in this case His rising from the dead.

Where, then, did these practices originate?

The Encyclopaedia Britannica tells us, “As at Christmas, so also at Easter, popular customs reflect many ancient pagan survivals—in this instance, connected with spring fertility rites, such as the symbols of the Easter egg and the Easter hare or rabbit” (15th edition, Macropaedia, Vol. 4, p. 605, “Church Year”).

The word Easter appears once in the King James Version of the Bible, in Acts 12:4, where it is a mistranslation. Reputable scholars and reference works point out that the word Easter in this verse comes from the Greek word pascha, meaning Passover. Modern translations correctly translate this word this word “Passover”—as even the King James Version does in other verses (see Matthew 26:2-19; Mark 14:12; 1 Corinthians 5:7).

Notice what Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words says about the term Easter here: “Pascha … mistranslated ‘Easter’ in Acts 12:4, KJV, denotes the Passover … The term ‘Easter’ is not of Christian origin. It is another form of Astarte, one of the titles of the Chaldean goddess, the queen of heaven. The festival of Pasch [Passover] held by Christians in post-apostolic times was a continuation of the Jewish feast … From this Pasch the pagan festival of ‘Easter’ was quite distinct and was introduced into the apostate Western religion, as part of the attempt to adapt pagan festivals to Christianity” (1985, p. 192, “Easter”).

Easter’s ancient history

The roots of the Easter celebration date to long before Jesus Christ’s life, death and resurrection. Various Easter customs can be traced back to ancient spring celebrations surrounding Astarte, the goddess of spring and fertility. The Bible refers to her as “Ashtoreth the abomination of the Sidonians” (2 Kings 23:13) and, as Vine’s mentions, “the Queen of Heaven,” whose worship God condemned (Jeremiah 7:18; Jeremiah 44:24-28).

Francis Weiser, professor of philosophy at Boston College, provides these facts: “The origin of the Easter egg is based on the fertility lore of the Indo-European races … The Easter bunny had its origin in pre-Christian fertility lore. Hare and rabbit were the most fertile animals our fore-fathers knew, serving as symbols of abundant new life in the spring season” ( Handbook of Christian Feasts and Customs, 1958 , pp. 233, 236). (For more information about these symbols, see “Fertility Symbols: Beneath the Dignity of God” on page 22).

Fertility rites and customs were incorporated into religious practices early in history. After Adam and Eve rejected God in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3), humanity looked for other explanations for life. Forces of nature and seasons that could not be controlled began to be viewed as gods, goddesses and supernatural powers to be worshipped and feared. Man soon created his own gods, contradicting God’s instruction against idolatry (Exodus 20:3-6; Deuteronomy 5:7-10).

“The pagan nations made statues or images to represent the powers they worshiped. Most of these idols were in the form of animals or human beings. But sometimes the idols represented celestial powers, like the sun, moon, and stars; forces of nature, like the sea and the rain; or life forces, like death and truth …

“In time an elaborate system of beliefs in such natural forces was developed into mythology. Each civilization and culture had its own mythological structure, but the structures were often quite similar. The names of the gods may have been different, but their functions and actions were often the same. The most prominent myth to cross cultural lines was that of the fertility cycle. Many pagan cultures believed that the god of fertility died each year during the winter but was reborn each year in the spring. The details differed among cultures, but the main idea was the same” ( Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary, 1995, “Gods, Pagan,” p. 508).

In pagan mythology the sun represented life. The sun supposedly died around the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. (As discussed earlier, the date set for Christmas celebrations is rooted in this myth.) Complementing the rebirth of the sun were spring fertility rites, whose surviving symbols thread their way throughout Easter celebrations.

In addition to rabbits and eggs, another popular Easter custom had pre-Christian origins: “Also popular among Europeans and Americans on Easter is ham, because the pig was considered a symbol of luck in pre-Christian European culture” ( The Encyclopedia of Religion, 1987, p. 558, “Easter”).

Sex rites in ancient cultures

Ancient fertility rites revolved around overt sexual immorality and perversion. Such rites are referred to throughout the Bible under a variety of names and descriptions.

The Babylonian and Assyrian fertility goddess was Ishtar, from which derives the names Astarte and Ashtoreth and very likely the Anglo-Saxon Eostre or Germanic Ostara, goddess of spring, the origin of the word Easter (this also giving us the word east, the direction of the sunrise).

Ishtar symbolized Mother Earth in the natural cycles of fertility on earth. Many myths grew up around this female deity. She was the goddess of love, and the practice of ritual prostitution became widespread in the fertility cult dedicated to her name.

“Temples to Ishtar had many priestesses, or sacred prostitutes, who symbolically acted out the fertility rites of the cycle of nature. Ishtar has been identified with the Phoenician Astarte, the Semitic Ashtoreth, and the Sumerian Inanna. Strong similarities also exist between Ishtar and the Egyptian Isis, the Greek Aphrodite, and the Roman Venus.

“Associated with Ishtar was the young god Tammuz (Ezekiel 8:14), considered both divine and mortal. In Babylonian mythology Tammuz died annually and was reborn year after year, representing the yearly cycle of the seasons and the crops. This pagan belief later was identified with the pagan gods Baal and Anat in Canaan” ( Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary, “Gods, Pagan,” p. 509). It was believed that Ishtar brought about the rebirth or resurrection of Tammuz in the spring, coinciding with the blossoming of nature. (For more details, see “The Resurrection Connection” on page 20).

Throughout the Old Testament, God expressed His anger with His people when they served these false gods (Judges 2:13-14; Judges 10:6-7; 1 Kings 11:5-11; Ezekiel 8:14-18).

Easter was no part of early Church worship

The New Testament does not mention an Easter celebration. Early Christians had nothing to do with Easter. Instead, they kept the Passover, instituted by God centuries earlier at the time of the Exodus (Exodus 12:13-14; Leviticus 23:5). Jesus Christ personally kept this festival (Matthew 26:17-18) and gave it a clearer meaning under the New Covenant with His institution of the symbols of bread and wine for His beaten body and shed blood, signifying His suffering and death on our behalf (Matthew 26:26-29). He is the Lamb of God, offered as the true Passover sacrifice for the sins of the world (John 1:29; 1 Corinthians 5:7).

Jesus told His followers to continue this observance in remembrance of Him and His death (1 Corinthians 11:23-26). Soon, however, pressure to replace Passover with popular Easter customs began to build. This movement was the basis for much contention over the next three centuries.

Notice how The Encyclopaedia Britannica describes this period: “The earliest Christians celebrated the Lord’s Passover at the same time as the Jews, during the night of the first full moon of the first month of spring (Nisan 14-15). By the middle of the 2nd century, most churches had transferred this celebration to the Sunday after the Jewish feast. But certain churches of Asia Minor clung to the older custom, for which they were denounced as ‘judaizing’ (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, Book 5, chapters 23-25). The first ecumenical Council of Nicaea in 325 decreed that all churches should observe the feast together on a Sunday” (15th edition, Macropaedia, Vol. 4, pp. 604-605, “Church Year”).

“After long and fierce controversies over its date (which is governed by the lunar calendar), the date for Easter set by the Council of Nicaea in 325 is the first Sunday after the full moon that follows the spring equinox. Easter became the centre of a fixed liturgical structure of times and festivals in the church year” (ibid., p. 499, “Christianity”).

Pressure against the biblical Passover

Why did Easter replace the Passover?

Though Easter was clearly pagan in origin, Christian leaders of the first two centuries after Christ’s crucifixion employed the same philosophy in establishing the new holiday that they later applied to Christmas. Believing that people are free to select their own times and customs of worship, they went about gradually replacing the biblically commanded Passover with their humanly devised celebration of Easter.

It was easier to draw pagan worshippers into Christianity and maintain their devotion by identifying the time-honored spring resurrection feast of the pagan mystery religions with the resurrection of Christ.

Anti-Jewish prejudice also seems to have been a major factor in the church leaders’ decision to make such changes. According to R.K. Bishop: “The early development of the celebration of Easter and the attendant calendar disputes were largely a result of Christianity’s attempt to emancipate itself from Judaism. Sunday had already replaced the Jewish sabbath early in the second century, and despite efforts in Asia Minor to maintain the Jewish passover date of 14 Nisan for Easter [or, rather, the true Passover] (hence the name Quartodecimans [meaning ‘Fourteeners’]), the Council of Nicaea adopted the annual Sunday following the full moon after the vernal equinox (March 21)” (Walter Elwell, editor, Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, 1984, “Easter”).

Before A.D. 70, Christianity was “regarded by the Roman government and by the people at large as a branch of the Jewish religion” (Jesse Lyman Hurlbut, The Story of the Christian Church, 1954, p. 34). Christianity and Judaism shared the biblical feast days, although Christians observed them with added meanings introduced by Jesus and the apostles.

However, two Jewish revolts against the Roman Empire, in 64-70 and 132-135, led to widespread persecution of Jews and suppression of Jewish religious practices. Jews were even driven from Jerusalem and forbidden to return on pain of death. As pressure mounted, some Christians began to abandon beliefs and practices perceived as being too Jewish. Over time many abandoned their weekly Sabbath day of rest and worship in favor of worship on Sunday, the pagan day of the sun, and abandoned the Passover in favor of Easter to distance themselves from Jews.

The New Catholic Encyclopedia explains: “Originally both observances [Passover and Easter] were allowed, but gradually it was felt incongruous that Christians should celebrate Easter on a Jewish feast, and unity in celebrating the principal Christian feast was called for” (1967, Vol. 5, p. 8, “Easter Controversy”).

Passover-Easter debate

Acceptance of Easter over Passover did not come without resistance. Two religious leaders of the mid-second century—Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna in Asia Minor, and Anicetus, bishop of Rome—debated this very point.

Anicetus argued for Easter while Polycarp, a student of the apostle John, defended observing “the Christian Passover, on the 14th of Nisan, the first month of the Jewish ecclesiastical calendar, regardless of the day of the week” ( Encyclopaedia Britannica, 15th edition, Micropaedia, Vol. 8, p. 94, “Polycarp”).

Polycarp taught observance of the Passover as the early Church had observed it. Eusebius said Polycarp did so because this was the way “he had always observed it with John the disciple of our Lord, and the rest of the apostles, with whom he associated” (Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History, 1995, pp. 210-211). These Christians of the second century were still following the example of Jesus Christ in observing the Passover (compare 1 Corinthians 11:1; 1 Peter 2:21; 1 John 2:6).

Several decades later another church leader in Asia Minor, Polycrates, argued with a new bishop of Rome, Victor, over the same issue. Eusebius wrote of the continuing debate:

“There was a considerable discussion raised about this time, in consequence of a difference of opinion respecting the observance of the paschal [Passover] season. The churches of all Asia, guided by a remoter tradition, supposed that they ought to keep the fourteenth day of the moon for the festival of the Saviour’s passover, in which day the Jews were commanded to kill the paschal lamb …

“The bishops … of Asia, persevering in observing the custom handed down to them from their fathers, were headed by Polycrates. He, indeed, had also set forth the tradition handed down to them, in a letter which he addressed to Victor and the church of Rome. ‘We,’ said he, ‘therefore, observe the genuine day; neither adding thereto nor taking therefrom. For in Asia great lights have fallen asleep, which shall rise again the day of the Lord’s appearing, in which he will come with glory from heaven, and will raise up all the saints …

“Moreover, John, who rested upon the bosom of our Lord;… also Polycarp of Smyrna, both bishop and martyr. Thraseas,… Sagaris,… Papirius; and Melito … All these observed the fourteenth day of the passover according to the gospel, deviating in no respect, but following the rule of faith. Moreover, I, Polycrates, who am the least of all of you, according to the tradition of my relatives, some of whom I have followed. For there were seven, my relatives [who were] bishops, and I am the eighth; and my relatives always observed the day when the people (i.e., the Jews) threw away the leaven.

“I, therefore, brethren, am now sixty-five years in the Lord, who having conferred with the brethren throughout the world, and having studied the whole of the sacred Scriptures, am not at all alarmed at those things with which I am threatened, to intimidate me. For they who are greater than I, have said, ‘we ought to obey God rather than men’ ” (pp. 207-209).

Regrettably, people’s reasoning won out over the directions of God and the example of Jesus Christ and His original disciples.

A new worship theme

As Easter replaced Passover, not only was a new date selected (the Sunday after the spring equinox rather than the biblically directed Nisan 14), but a new theme was introduced. Rather than commemorating Christ’s death as directed by the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 11:26), the new holiday was designed to celebrate His resurrection. This new theme easily accommodated the pagan fertility symbols. It also helped distinguish the Christian community from the Jews, a major goal of church leaders of the time.

Although Christ’s resurrection is an important basis of our hope that we, too, can be resurrected (1 Corinthians 15:17; Romans 5:10), and it was critical for God’s plan of salvation to continue, neither God the Father, Christ nor Scripture has ever explicitly directed us to celebrate this event.

Indeed, the love of God is primarily expressed to all humanity through the crucifixion of Jesus Christ (John 3:16; Hebrews 9:28). His death, through which our sins may be forgiven, is the primary focus of the Passover, not His resurrection. Many precise details of His death and events leading up to and encompassing it were prophesied in the Hebrew Scriptures hundreds of years in advance.

The decision of God the Father to willingly give His only begotten Son—and of Jesus Christ to surrender His life to torture and execution as a sacrifice for the sins of humanity—were far more demanding than the demonstration of God’s power over death through the resurrection.

Mankind’s need for a Savior

There is more to consider. The Bible discusses sin and our need for forgiveness and reconciliation to God (the theme of the biblically commanded Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread) far more often than the subject of the resurrection. Within the King James Version of the Bible, the word sin is used 447 times compared with the word resurrection being used only 41 times. Don’t forget that sin was the cause of Christ’s death. Only by repenting of our sins and being reconciled to God by the death of Christ can we be assured of being resurrected (Acts 2:38; John 5:29; John 11:25).

This is not to minimize the importance of Christ’s resurrection. It, too, is a crucial step in the salvation process (1 Corinthians 15). After being reconciled to God the Father by the death of His Son, ultimately we are saved by Christ’s life as He pleads for us in the role of our High Priest and lives in us through the Holy Spirit, helping us to overcome sin (Romans 5:10; Hebrews 4:14-16; 1 John 2:1; Galatians 2:20). The process of our coming out of sin is pictured in the biblical feast immediately following Passover, the Days of Unleavened Bread, during which Christ’s resurrection occurred.

Again, though, the Bible nowhere instructs Christians to keep a special celebration of Christ’s resurrection, nor is there a biblical record of early Christians doing so. But it is clear that both Jesus Christ and the apostle Paul expected Christ’s followers to commemorate His sacrificial death on our behalf in a special ceremony (Matthew 26:26-28; 1 Corinthians 5:7; 1 Corinthians 11:23-28).

Nonetheless, the celebration of Easter prevailed. Those who remained faithful to Christ’s example of keeping the Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread decreased in number and were persecuted by those favoring Easter.

Although how God views humanly devised changes in the worship He commands will be considered in a later chapter, let’s now examine how the traditions of this holiday fail to match the biblical record.

Sunday morning resurrection?

The choice of a Sunday date for Easter is based on the assumption that Christ rose from the grave early on a Sunday morning. The popular belief is that Christ was crucified on a Friday and rose on a Sunday. But neither of these suppositions is supported by the biblical record.

Matthew 12:38 shows some of the scribes and Pharisees asking Jesus for a sign to prove He was the Messiah. Jesus told them that the only sign He would give was that of the prophet Jonah: “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:40).

But how can we fit “three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” between a Friday-afternoon crucifixion and a Sunday-morning resurrection? The traditional view of the crucifixion and resurrection allows for Jesus to have been entombed for only a day and a half.

Some try to reconcile Christ’s words with their belief in a Friday crucifixion and Sunday resurrection by rationalizing that Christ’s “three days and three nights” statement does not require a literal span of 72 hours. They reason that a part of a day can be reckoned as a whole day. Hence, since Jesus died in the afternoon—around “the ninth hour” after daybreak, or about 3 p.m. (Matthew 27:46-50)—they think the remainder of Friday constituted the first day, Saturday the second and part of Sunday the third.

However, they fail to take into consideration that only two nights—Friday night and Saturday night—are accounted for in this explanation. After all, the Bible is clear that Jesus had already risen before the daylight portion of Sunday (John 20:1). Something is obviously incorrect in this common conclusion regarding when Christ was in the tomb.

Jonah 1:17, to which Christ referred, states specifically that “Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.” We have no reason to think these days and nights were fractional. Nor is there any basis for thinking that Jesus meant only two nights and one day, plus parts of two days, when He foretold the length of time He would be in the grave. Such rationalization undermines the integrity of Jesus’ words.

Was Christ’s sign fulfilled?

If Jesus were in the tomb only from late Friday afternoon to sometime early Sunday morning, then the sign He gave that He was the prophesied Messiah was not fulfilled. The claim of His Messiahship rests on the fulfillment of His words; it’s that serious a matter.

Let us carefully examine the details of those fateful days. Each of the Gospel writers gives an account of the events, but each presents different aspects that need to be correctly synchronized and harmonized to produce a clear sequence and understanding of what happened. We will see that, when each account is considered, the chronological details mesh perfectly.

For instance, John 19:31 preserves a crucial point that provides insight into the other narratives. The preparation day on which Jesus was crucified is described as the day before the Sabbath. But John clarifies it by stating that this approaching Sabbath “was a high day.” This does not refer to the weekly Sabbath (Friday sunset to Saturday sunset) but to the first day of Unleavened Bread, which is one of God’s annual high, or Sabbath, days (Exodus 12:16-17; Leviticus 23:6-7), which could—and usually did—fall on other days of the week.

Some believe that this high day fell that year on the seventh day of the week, making it coincide with the weekly Sabbath, with the preparation day being on Friday. But Luke’s account shows that this was not the case. Notice the sequence of events outlined in Luke 23. Jesus’ moment of death, as well as His hasty burial because of the oncoming Sabbath, is narrated in Luke 23:46-53. Luke 23:54 then states, “That day was the Preparation, and the Sabbath drew near.”

Two Sabbaths mentioned

Many have assumed that it is the weekly Sabbath mentioned here. But that’s incorrect. Instead, it was a Sabbath that occurred on a Thursday, since verse 56 shows that the women, after seeing Christ’s body being laid in the tomb, “returned and prepared spices and fragrant oils” for the final preparation of the body.

Such work would not have been done on a Sabbath day since it would have been considered a Sabbath violation. This is verified by Mark’s account, which states, “Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices [which they would not have purchased on the high-day Sabbath], that they might come and anoint Him” (Mark 16:1).

The women had to wait until this Sabbath was over before they could buy and prepare the spices to be used for anointing Jesus’ body. Then, as Luke 23:56 says, it was after purchasing and preparing the spices and oils on Friday that “they rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment.” This second Sabbath mentioned in the Gospel accounts is the regular weekly Sabbath, observed from Friday sunset through Saturday sunset.

By comparing details in both Gospels—where Mark tells us the women bought spices after the Sabbath and Luke relates that they prepared the spices and then rested on the Sabbath— we can clearly see that two different Sabbaths are mentioned. The first was a “high day” (John 19:31)—the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread—which in that year, A.D. 31, fell on a Thursday. The second was the weekly seventh-day Sabbath.

Sign of the Messiah

After the women rested on the regular weekly Sabbath, they went to Jesus’ tomb early on the first day of the week (Sunday), “while it was still dark” (John 20:1), and found that He had already been resurrected (Matthew 28:1-6; Mark 16:2-6; Luke 24:1-3). When we allow the Scriptures to interpret themselves, all four Gospel accounts accurately harmonize and attest to the validity of Jesus’ promise that He would be in the grave three days and three nights—not just part of that time.

Several Bible translations recognize that more than one Sabbath is discussed in these events. In Matthew 28:1 some Bible versions, including Alfred Marshall’s Parallel New Testament in Greek and English, Ferrar Fenton’s Translation and Green’s Literal Translation, properly translate this phrase as “after the sabbaths.” Young’s Literal Translation and The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (1992, p. 1270) similarly acknowledge that multiple Sabbaths are intended here.

The wording of Mark 16:1-2 is confusing to some because it seems to suggest that the spices were purchased after the weekly Sabbath rather than before it, on Friday. However, this is explained by Luke 23:56, which clearly shows that the women bought the spices before, and not after, the weekly Sabbath, “and they rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment.” Mark did not mention this weekly Sabbath rest in his account, but Luke, who wrote his account of these events later, did.

Some also stumble over Mark 16:9, not taking into account that there is no punctuation indicated in the original Greek. Therefore, to be in harmony with the material presented in the other Gospels, a better translation would be: “Now having risen, early the first day of the week He appeared first to Mary Magdalene … ” These verses are not saying that Jesus rose early on Sunday morning, but that He appeared early on Sunday morning to Mary Magdalene, having already risen some time earlier.

When we consider the details in all four Gospel accounts, the picture is clear. Jesus was crucified and entombed late on Wednesday afternoon, just before a Sabbath began at sunset. However, that was a high-day Sabbath, falling that year on the fifth day of the week, sunset Wednesday to sunset Thursday, rather than the weekly Sabbath from Friday sunset through Saturday sunset. He remained entombed from Wednesday at sunset until Saturday at sunset, having risen from the dead. Thus, when Mary Magdalene came to the tomb on Sunday morning before sunrise, “while it was still dark,” she found the stone rolled away and the tomb empty.

We can be assured that the duration of Christ’s entombment before His resurrection, which He foretold as proof of His Messiahship, was precisely as long as He said it would be—equaling the “three days and three nights [Jonah was] in the belly of the great fish” (Matthew 12:40). Thus, Jesus rose late Saturday afternoon around sunset—not Sunday at sunrise—which was exactly three days and three nights after He was placed in the tomb just before sunset on Wednesday.

Christ’s prophecy of the time He would be in the tomb was fulfilled precisely. Because most people do not understand the biblical high days kept by Jesus Christ and His followers, they fail to understand the chronological details so accurately preserved for us in the Gospels.

A better way

As we have seen, Easter and its customs originated not from the Bible, but in pagan fertility rites. It is a curious mixture of ancient mythological practices and arbitrary dating that obscures and discredits the proof of Jesus Christ’s Messiahship and resurrection.

Having learned the sources and backgrounds of two major religious holidays, one might rightly wonder which days, if any, a Christian should observe. God in His Word shows a better way of life with better days of worship He has appointed for His people.

The article was culled and it is the opinion of the writer