Passages:   1 Kings 17: 17-24

Galatians 1: 11-24

Luke 7: 11-17



We bring you greetings from the Presbyterian University College, Ghana- a University established in 2003 by Presbyterian Church of Ghana. Academically, the University is doing well. It is with joy that we announce that one of our students was adjudged the overall Best Candidate in Registered General Nursing Licensure Examination (Written)-2015 by the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Ghana. All graduating students from all Departments of Nursing in the country’s universities, both public and private, write this national examination before being licensed. A student of PUCG, our student, Ms. Sandra E. Akpobome made distinction in 6 of the courses examined-Medicine and Medical Nursing, Mental Health/Psychiatric Nursing, Obstetric Nursing, Paediatric Nursing, Public Health Nursing, and Surgery and Surgical Nursing. On 1st June 2016 she was given an award by the Nursing and Midwifery Council for this sterling performance. PUCG students have been performing exceptionally well in such national examinations and competitions. In the examinations, PUCG students have been scoring a 100% in most cases and winning the first position in competitions too. The university is open for admissions for 2016/2017 academic year. If you want a head start in life for your wards and children, then your choice should be PUCG.


Today is the 3rd Sunday after Pentecost. We have met here to worship God-praise, adore, and delight ourselves in the presence of our living God. Specifically it is to participate in and witness the commissioning and licensing of nineteen (19) ministerial Probationers.


The theme for today’s sermon is The Power that Raises the Dead.

I want to congratulate the probationers. I know that it has been an uphill task to get to where you are today. It is evident from your faces that all of you are fired up with the zeal for God’s work, ready to go and tear down and scatter the devil’s works.

Reading through the short write up on each one of you, it is clear that you are from different backgrounds with different experiences and of different ages. The question is: why did you decide to come into the ministry in the first place? A job / Respect /Fame/ Power/ No. You are coming into the Ministry, because each one of you strongly believes that you have felt the call of God on your lives to preach the Word and bring glory to His name. For some of you the experience of the call may have been intense, others no so. Some of you may have responded to the call immediately, others not as promptly as they should. Whether you are now joining the ministry, or you have been in the ministry for one year, five years, ten years, twenty years, or fifty, it is the same Living God, Jehovah, Yahweh who has called you into his ministry. The prophet Isaiah in describing his commissioning opened our eyes to a heavenly scene that showed the Majesty, Splendor, Excellence, and Awesome Power of God {Isaiah 6: 1-9}. The Awesome God who called Isaiah is the same God who created the heavens and the earth, and called Moses. It is the same God who led the Israelites through the wilderness, called Elijah,  Jeremiah, and all the prophets and Apostles, it’s the same God who has called you and all of us, both lay and clergy into his service. Praise to his name.

When God calls his people into his service, he also empowers them with the Holy Spirit. In fact, any genuine church and genuine people of God cannot but operate in the power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the heartbeat of the Church and the people of God. The phrase “the Power that Raises the Dead” refers to a function of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is that power that raises the dead. This indicates the immense power that the Church, Christians, you probationers, and all of us have to influence lives and situations positively. Let me ask a question: as a church do we really appreciate the immense power of the Holy Spirit? If we do, do we allow the Holy Spirit to determine the pace of personal affairs, or the affairs of the Church? Our Church has just completed series of elections in some Presbyteries. If you put your ears to the ground, you will question whether we allowed the Holy Spirit to direct us in this exercise. It was campaign and lobbying galore! Have we lost faith in the power of the Holy Spirit that we take such matters into our own hands? Very soon in August, the Church will have another opportunity to manifest the power of the Holy Spirit in elections. I hope that we will really allow the Holy Spirit to take control and guide us in this process in view of certain press conferences and pastoral letter we have been reading. God Help us

We have ample evidence in scripture and our lives, to convince us of the power of the Holy Spirit, but let me draw from today’s readings.

  • The Power that raises the dead-the Holy Spirit restores life and hope in desperate and hopeless situations. In Luke 7: 11-17, Jesus Christ was confronted with a desperate situation. He, his disciples, and a large crowd were heading towards the town of Nain and as they approached the town gate, they met a funeral cortege going to bury the only son of a widow. This was a tragedy for the woman. We do not know whether this widow of Nain had a daughter or not but in a patriarchal society it did not really matter. As a widow, and with her only son dead, her predicament was dire. The death of her only son was an economic catastrophe, because she was a widow. She would have no legal inheritance and would be dependent on charity (Deut. 26; 12) because her economic wellbeing was dependent on the men in her life. With the only son dead, she had died a socioeconomic death. Her whole world had crumbled with the death of her only son. In fact, this was her funeral too. This was a desperate situation indeed. The widow of Zarephath ( 1 Kings 17: 17-24) was in the same situation. Her only son had died. It was ironic that the son should die after they had survived the long drought that had ravaged the country under King Ahab

It is into such desperate situations that our Lord Jesus Christ speaks and restores life and hope. Through Jesus’ intervention, shattered hopes are restored, stability assured, and  shattered dreams for the future are restored.  What was lost was found.

Whatever is dead in our lives, in our relationships, in our worship, in our economic life can be restored to life through the power of Jesus; the power that raises the dead. Jesus can make a difference in the desperate situation in our lives and make us live again.

People are living in situations in this country that are choking the very life out of their bodies. There is high level of indiscipline and insecurity in our Churches and societies taking a heavy toll on every aspect of our lives. There is a widening gap between the rich and the poor. We have an economy, which is putting financial strain on the citizenry, a growing army of unemployed youth who have no hope in a bright future, a devouring government bureaucracy that keeps emptying the public treasury, affluent life style of the rich and powerful. These are stark realities of life. We need the power of the Holy Spirit to break out of these desperate situations. We need Jesus to give us life just as it happened to the sons of the widow of Nain and  widow of Zarephath.  My dear Probationers, you are coming into the ministry at very difficult times. I pray for a double portion of the Holy Spirit to enable you make a difference in people’s lives. You are not immune to these situations. You will experience them too, even more in the church, from parishioners and colleague ministers. You need to dig in, firmly rooted in the power of the Holy Spirit to fulfill your calling. Halleluiah.

  • The Power the raises the death – the Holy Spirit also evokes decisive action in the individual. When the widow of Zarephath brought the lifeless body of her son to the prophet Elijah and was insinuating that he could be the possible cause of her misfortune, Elijah did not waste time in giving excuses or explanations. He knew what to do. “Give me your son.” He took the lifeless body into the upper room, laid him on his (Elijah’s) bed, and prayed loudly. Decisiveness is the mark of a leader. We see this in our Lord Jesus Christ too. When Jesus and his disciples and the crowd met the funeral cortege coming from the Nain in the opposite direction, his action was immediate. To the widow, he said, “Don’t cry” and to the dead body “Young man, I say to you getup”. Jesus moved by compassion knew that he had to act and did so promptly. The Holy Spirit gives us that power to be decisive in our actions. Here I am referring to a leader who is under the anointing of the Power of God. In the power of the Holy Spirit, a leader acts with confidence, is focused, forward looking and dependable. That is why we sing PH 562 –Fa wo kwan hye wo Yefo wo Nyankopon no nsam, na fa wo ho to no so wc wo yaw nyinaa mu …I like the 2nd stanza- “Wo ho na fa to Nyame ne ne tumi no so, enna wo ho beto wo na wadwuma ako so, Enye adwenem haw kwa na wode nya biribiri; koto Onyame sre no, na obeboa wo”. This is what Elijah did. He called upon the Lord with a loud voice and the Lord God heard him and answered his prayer.

What kind of leadership do we offer at our congregational levels, Districts, Presbyteries, place of work, homes, and national levels? Is it a leadership of rancor, divisiveness, self-preservation, or intolerance? Then it is not of the Spirit. What kind of leadership are you Probationers going to offer at your new postings? Are you going to Papa and Mama over everybody? I pray that you are filled with the Holy Spirit so that you can be effective leaders and contribute to building God’s kingdom.

  • The power that raises the death is also compassionate. As Jesus and the disciples approached the town of Nain, they met an unpleasant sight. Nain means “pleasant” but unfortunately, what Jesus met coming out of the town was far from pleasant. It needed his immediate attention. He was moved by compassion to respond to that need. Jesus knows a need when he meets one. No one asked Jesus to raise the widow’s son. There is no mention of faith at all in raising the dead. Jesus was moved by compassion. The Greek word ‘esplagxnisthe’ is the strongest word that could be used, to express the very deep emotion of sympathy that Jesus felt in the face of human suffering. It reminds us of the compassion the Good Samaritan had for the man robbed, stripped, beaten and left half dead on the road( Luke 10:33) and the compassion the Father had for the prodigal son ( Luke 15:20).

The compassion of God does not allow God to passively stand still in the face of death and suffering. So Jesus went the extra mile, Jesus violated Jewish purity laws and gave life. He touched death and transformed it into life. Alleluia. May he touch what is dead in your life and transform it into life.

This compassion of God should be an example for leaders and all of us who have the power of the Holy Spirit. We must be compassionate. The Jewish Philosopher Philo of Alexandria said one should “be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle” One may be breathing but still be dead. One may attend church, but still be dead. We need compassionate people and leaders as demonstrated by our Lord Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. Very soon, this country will have another opportunity to choose her leaders. Christians are praying fervently for peaceful elections and competent leaders. Let us remember that God will not send angels to come and vote on our behalf. We have to queue and vote ourselves. I pray that we vote as the Spirit gives us direction and not as money directs; for compassionate leaders who will listen and do the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Probationers, Agents, lay leaders, and all of us have a role to play in educating our people on the promptings and guidance of the Holy Spirit. We have to show compassion, through companionship, sharing, and prayer.

  • The Power that raises the dead also transforms the lives of those who are spiritually dead. Although death is often understood to mean the end of physical life, Paul in the Galatians passage (1:11-24) draws attention to what can be referred to as spiritual death. This is in reference to a life lived without God. In that passage, Paul had to defend his Apostleship and Gospel, when these were called into question by some Judaizers. These Judaizers were Christians who believed that it was essential for Christians to adopt particular Jewish practices. They had started a smear campaign against Paul, branding him as a second rate apostle with a secondhand gospel. For them Paul was just Johnny-just-come- to the apostolic band. He had not been with Jesus in his earthly ministry, and so had no right to start churches in the name of the Messiah and telling the Gentiles that they do not have to be circumcised or keep the Jewish feasts. Paul’s response to this charge, opens a window into his previous life, which gives a clear manifestation of the transforming power of encounter with Jesus/the power of the Holy Spirit. Paul was a violent persecutor of the Church. Historical records show that he went from house to house dragging Christians away by brute force, attacking and separating families. When they were brought up on charges, he cast his vote for the death sentence (Acts 26:10). Listen to his choice of words “ I persecuted the church of God excessively and wasted it.” Paul was obsessed with destroying the Church. The word he uses for it is”eporthoun” which, is the Greek for sacking a city. Paul’s goal was nothing less than the total extermination of Christianity. He was such a fanatic that no one would have even attempted to change his mind. Paul met the Risen Christ on the road to Damascus and he was radically transformed. Allelluia. The change in Paul was genuine and total. Not only did he stop persecuting Christians, he also started to promote Christianity. He began to preach the very gospel that he once tried to destroy. He risked his life to evangelize and plant Churches in the Gentile cities. He became the prominent and foremost propagator of the Gospel of Christ. The only explanation for this radical transformation is the Power of Jesus that he met on the road to Damascus. Paul made a major statement: His Gospel is from God because he was called into ministry by God’s good pleasure. It was by God’s grace that Jesus Christ revealed himself to him. You are in God’s service because of the grace of God. The power that raises the dead is phenomenal and we need it in our lives.
  • I pray that we experience the Power that raises the dead to transform hopeless and desperate situations in our lives. I pray that we demonstrate that power in our lifestyle. To the probationers, as you experience this power and it continues to abide with you, do not be taken in by the theatrics you see on TV and all around you that suggest manifestations of the power of God. Remember that in all things the praise and thanksgiving should go God. Know and experience the living God and operate in his power and you will be tops. Paul did not depend on any godfather like Peter, James, and John; his was total dependence on God. Do not depend on any godfather but depend on God. Listen to Elijah in verse 20a “O Lord, my God”. By the words “O Lord”, he was fervently reaching out to God and by “my God” he was drawing from his own personal relationship with God, trusting in the power and sufficiency of God. May you have such a personal relationship with God? This personal relationship will have to be deepened through constant increase in knowledge about God and in your horizon. Remember what Paul said-he had to travel out to meditate on his experience. We must do same on regular basis. God bless you.
  • AMEN