I remember when I had just gained admission into the University of Ibadan, I was so excited. One of the reasons why I was happy was because I was finally going to be free from having to keep the home rules and regulations of my parents. I was going to be living in the hostel without my parents having to dictate to me when I had to return home, what to eat or what to wear etc. To me, I was now mature and free to make my own decisions without any interference. Am sure a lot of people can relate with this feeling. Young people often feel wise in their own thinking, they feel they are mature enough to start making what they think is the right decisions for themselves, to them being dependent on people for guidance is being in bondage.
Our society also believes that at the age of 18, young people are now mature enough to make their own decisions. Our society believes that maturity is being independent and not having to receive instructions from anyone. That maturity is about being free, independent etc. is a belief that has sent a lot of young people on a life-long spree of making erroneous decisions. A lot of people have been thrown into a living hell, which could have been avoided If only they had wise people to instruct them. I would like to share with us, what the scriptures define as maturity. The scriptures seem to express maturity has being consciously dependent, even though you don’t have to be.
“Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go” (John 21:18 NIV)
In this scripture, I see the definition of maturity. I see that maturity is conscious dependence, not independence. A mature man, even though he is grown, he chooses to submit to receive instructions to be led. Jesus demonstrated this all through his life, at Gethsemane even though He had come to the place where he could stand against God’s will, but instead He chose to submit.
“Saying Father, If you be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42)
“Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?” (Matt. 26: 53 – 54 NIV)
After this He earned Himself the position of the firstborn among many brethren, He simply became the most mature Christian ever. When riches abound, maturity is being able to be told and led on how to spend it and not being proud and arrogant. When you are in a high and mighty position, maturity is being able to submit yourself to receive counsel from those whom the Lord has placed above you.
The measure of how mature you are, is a measure of how humble you are, and humility is power under control. When it seems you are in charge that is the time you need to surround yourself more with spiritual advisers, to lead you. That is the time to depend more on the holy-spirit to lead you in making decisions. To be mature is to be able to fully depend and rely on the teachings and instructions of Wisdom.
I Call You Blessed
I like the scriptures for one reason, it is fair to everyone.
It describes the response and acts of both those who were for and against its central author, God. The Bible in describing Goliath, called him a Champion (1 Sam. 17:4), even though he was against God’s people, the bible described him accurately. He was a Champion. He was killed by “small” David.
Gideon, was to lead God’s people to war, but in the initial phase, he was hiding (Judges 6:11) from the Midianites. He was fearful, yet the bible didn’t hide this. Jehoshaphat was also scared, even though he was a leader (2 Chron. 20:3 – 4). Peter denied Christ, it was recorded. When God’s people were afraid or lived in unbelief, the bible recorded it. David, although called a Man after God’s own heart, committed adultery, the bible didn’t try to talk it away, it was recorded.
Paul, formerly called Saul, who wrote a large part of the New Testament, was killing Christians in his early years. In-fact he was really passionate about this, the bible was dutiful to record this, it wasn’t removed.
You know, all these seeming weaknesses and mistakes of God’s people were recorded not just to their shame but to testify of God’s ability to work hope out of the ashes. To wrought great things through weak and ordinary people like you and me. It is to the honour of His name and ability to work courage and strength out of weakness, fear and being timid. Gideon led the army, Jehoshaphat won the war through praise, David acknowledged and confronted his mistake, Peter preached and got 3,000 people saved, Saul became Paul, a powerful apostle of the gospel.
Ezekiel 37 shows us how far God’s ability can go in regeneration, turning a valley of dry bones without life to a valley filled with an exceeding great army.
“The hand of the Lord came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones” (Ezekiel 37:1)”
So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army. (Ezekiel 37:10)
The bible promises that glory will be revealed in us;
“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18)
You may look at your life now and think, how will God’s glory be revealed in me? Let me inform you, that God is an expert in working strength out of weakness, joy and rejoicing out of pain and suffering, boldness out of fear and timidity, wisdom out of foolishness, life out of death, through the breath and working of the spirit.
What then should we do? Believe, agree and obey the leadings and promptings of the holy-spirit in you.
I Call You Blessed
I heard a pastor say, if salvation was just a ticket to heaven then once we had accepted Christ as our Savior, we would instantly be taken up to heaven to be with God forever. And this is so true! The fact that a person believes in Christ, receives Salvation and gets eternal life all while remaining here on earth is testament to the fact that there is so much more for us to experience of God here on earth. And so if eternal life – what we get in the exchange of Salvation, is not simply a ticket to heaven or an escape from hell, then what is it?
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Eternal life is a gift from God to all those who believe. It is our union with Christ, which allows us to escape the righteous judgement of God for our shortcomings and instead live in His fullness for eternity. And since it is a gift from God then it must be something which He owns and gives to us or purchased for us. In this case it is both. God possesses eternal life and Jesus purchased it on the cross for all who will believe in Him.
So eternal life is a gift, a very precious and expensive gift which the whole Bible speaks of, but if we don’t know what exactly the gift we’ve been given is, then we either take it for granted, ignore it or don’t fully maximise it.
So what does this gift of eternal life really give us?
In John 17:3 Jesus defines eternal life in His prayer, for all disciples, to God the Father:
And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.
Eternal life gives us a relationship with God the Father and Christ the Son. It is the reconciliation of us with the Father. What sin destroyed at the beginning with Adam and Eve, the gift of eternal life restores through Christ when we believe.
It has always been God’s intention to have an intimate relationship with us forever. He designed us for this. God wants us to live out of our relationship with Him- the way Jesus did. He is willing to share His thoughts, heart and ways (wisdom) with us. This is what He has given us as a gift through Christ – unfettered access to Himself. It is what we see Jesus live out of – oneness with the Father; fruitfulness, effectiveness, peace and so much more.
Why were God the Father and Jesus Christ so bent on restoring this relationship?
Well like any good relationship which is going to last the test of time, eternity in this case, this relationship is founded on unconditional love – love that does not require any virtue or goodness or righteousness.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
Romans 5: 6 – 8
6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.
7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—
8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
While we were still sinners – fallen, Christ died for us and made this gift of eternal life, of a restored relationship with God, available to us. God wants us to know Him, not because He needs His ego satisfied, but because He loves us and has no desire to withhold Himself from us, plus, we actually need Him!
He created us in His image and likeness for His glory – to display His awesomeness, but how do we do that when we don’t know how awesome He is? when we don’t recognize His goodness or His faithfulness or the beauty of Christ’s love towards us in His perfect work of redemption on the cross?
If we believe in the finished work of Christ, if we claim to be His followers then we must get to know Him. This takes time- He is just that big, it takes effort, conscious and intentional steps to learn about Him and spend time with Him. No relationship grows or thrives when one person has a passive attitude towards it. We are commanded to love God with everything – heart, mind, strength, soul, and we can only love Him well the more we know Him.
So how can we get to know God and Jesus Christ more? here are my most practical examples:
- Making room for God in my life – intentionally setting a time and if possible a place to meet with God daily – I do this with a journal so I can write down whatever is on my heart and whatever I hear Him say
- Talking to him like a friend – respectfully still, but I bare my heart to Him, the same way I would to a dear friend, and ask for His help / instruction
- Study the word – what was God’s heart behind the things written? – asking the Holy Spirit for understanding when doing this is key!
- Coming to God in humility – understanding that He loves me perfectly just as I am not because of anything I do.
- Thanking Him for all things at all times! A thankful attitude helps you see His beauty in everything and everyone.
- Praying Paul’s prayers for believers in Ephesians 1 and 3 and Colossians 1 over myself. (you can also pray Philemon 1:4-6, Hebrews 13, 1 Thessalonians 1 and 3).
- Fellowship with other, more mature believers – asking them questions and being inspired by how they love God.
- Remembering all that Christ is for me and has done for me, what He makes available for me and what He promises to give me.
God is so loving, He doesn’t force us into loving Him but He makes all of Himself available if we want to know Him. And if we believe that Jesus is risen from the dead and so we have eternal life, we must get to know Him for who He actually is – not our idea of who He is or whatever society has told us He is like.
Jesus stands at the door of our hearts and knocks waiting for us to let Him in so He can fellowship with us. He died and rose again so we can know the only true God, and Him as Christ. And it’s all for our benefit – that our joy may be full!
May we not abuse or ignore this act of love, may we grow in our knowledge of God and Jesus Christ His son.
Today, we consider the last and final part of our series on Understanding Salvation, we consider the body. But first I would like to share a scripture;
“His glory is great in your salvation: honour and majesty have you laid upon him (Psalm 21:5)”
This scripture shows us the beauty of man at the completion of God’s salvation plan. His glory is great, honour and majesty are upon him. I believe God has this picture of Man in mind in this work of salvation. I also believe that the work of salvation is to restore Man back to God’s original plan and intent. What then should be our reaction? Appreciate Him for the salvation of our spirit, agree and work with Him on the salvation of our souls and believe what He says about the salvation of our body.
Just as we earlier established, Man is a spirit, has a soul and lives in a body. His body gives him the ability to relate and communicate with the physical world. He needs his body to relate with the earth. As such his body is an important part of him just as his soul and spirit are. As we earlier stated the salvation of the spirit is done, the salvation of the soul is ongoing, but the salvation of the body as we have it now is a promise. It’s yet to be done.
From the beginning (Gen. 1 – 3), the body was without sickness and disease. We saw that sickness and disease came after the fall of Man. I believe that sickness is a manifestation of the death we acquired from Adam. In fact, plants, where most of our drugs come from today, were initially given for food not drugs or medicine.
Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food” (Gen. 1: 29 NIV)
Paul describing God’s salvation plan in 1 Cor. 15:35 – 58, says our perishable bodies will be raised as imperishable. Our mortal bodies will be given immortality. He further says, our bodies although sown in dishonour will be raised in glory, sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body but is raised a spiritual body. And then we will have fully conquered death in all three segments of Man, then the saying that has been written will come true:
“Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15: 54 – 56)
What a glory our bodies will inherit when it is renewed. Right now, we do not have the words to describe this, but we know that when we meet Him (Jesus), we shall be like Him (1 John 3:2). Our bodies will no longer be subject to death, or be weak or be frail as it presently is. And that is why, even as a believer you can be sick. It does not imply that the salvation of the spirit is not done or that of the soul is not on going. But it is worthy of note that, God doesn’t tempt or discipline us with sickness and disease.
But, before the salvation of the soul is achieved, the Lord has redeemed us from sicknesses and diseases (death). In fact, he wants us to be in perfect health (3 John 1:2). Read my article on “What does God say about your health” here. or through the link(https://wordofaletheia.org/fellowship/what-does-god-say-about-your-health/) .Peter, through the holy-spirit writes:
“Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes you were healed” (1 Pet. 2: 24)
“But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed (Isaiah 53:5)
He bought our health with His blood. He paid for our sicknesses and weaknesses. Notice he didn’t say, we would be healed, he says we were already healed (Past tense). If you believe this, you will see the manifestation of this in your body.
What then should we do? Scriptures help us understand that our bodies are the temple of the Most High, to be kept holy and sacred for Him. (1 Cor. 6:19). It was bought with a price, when we were redeemed. I believe this includes not using our bodies for sinful purposes; fornication, adultery etc. I also believe that this includes keeping our bodies clean and healthy. Being dirty, eating unhealthy or being lackadaisical about our health is not a godly habit. God instructed the priest to keep the tabernacle clean. If God was to dwell there, it was to be kept clean and healthy, as it is often said that “Cleanliness is next to godliness”.
In Conclusion, God’s salvation plan for Man brings glory to Man. It restores Man back to God’s original intent and makes Man to be like God in spirit, soul and body.
Remember to contact me, if you have any questions about any of the Parts 1, 2 and 3.
I Call You Blessed
Written by Samson Afolabi
ULast time, we discussed the fall of man (Gen. 1 – 3), how Man’s spirit died and this in-turn corrupted his soul and transferred death to his body. This week, we consider the salvation of the soul. As we established in the previous article, Man is a spirit, he has a soul and lives in a body.
Before we begin it is important to explain what exactly the soul pertains to. The soul is the seat of Man’s intellect; the mind, it’s the place where he makes decisions. Scripture refers to the soul in a number of ways as we will explore today but it is clear that the soul is precious to God and the breath of God makes Man a “living soul”. The soul encompasses the essence of Man, i.e. it is our very being, and it can be living or dead as expressed in the state of our body. Scriptures often refer to the soul using the words heart, mind, emotions, will.
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (Prov. 4:23 NIV)
Everything you do, flows from it. Yes! Everything! So if the soul, or let me say the mind is sound, correct, pure the actions produced from a person, would be sound, correct and pure. And if Man needs to be saved, not only does his spirit need to be regenerated, his corrupted mind needs to be renewed. Let’s see how Man was in the beginning.
“And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;” vs 21
“And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.” Vs 22
“And Adam said, this is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Vs 23
In Gen. 2:21 – 23 above, we see the state of mind of Man before the fall. He was so in tune with God that even though he was asleep when God took the rib, and formed woman, immediately he saw her, he knew. Adam had a sound mind. He didn’t take eve to be one of the animals. There was no fear, nor worry in his mind. Fast-forward to after the fall, here is scripture’s description of Man:
“And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5)
We can rightly conclude that at the fall Man inherited the nature of the devil, his soul – was now contrary to God’s nature. His mind was corrupted. He was no longer capable of producing godly thoughts. Even much later scripture says:
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” (Jer. 17:9)
The heart is desperately wicked. And yes, we see several acts of wickedness by men in scriptures, starting from Cain killing his brother, to many actions of jealousy- leading to death, greed, pride, discontentment, lies, lawlessness and several others. Even today, our society is full of crime and violence which are manifestations of the wicked and corrupt state of the heart of man.
Man became a corrupt program, behaving in the direct opposite of God’s intended purpose. There is an adage that says “the day a mad man knows he is mad, that’s the day he gets healed”. I think God applied this adage first. He introduced the Law; the Law was intended to act as a Mirror; Keeping instructions and demanding strict obedience which Man could not keep because of his weak state, so Man could see that he was sick and needed help in the coming of Christ.
Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for men stealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; (1 Tim. 1: 9 – 10)
Unlike the salvation of the spirit, the salvation of the soul doesn’t happen at once, it’s a continuous and deliberate activity. In-fact, I believe everything about the Christian walk is geared towards this; the restoring of the soul by the renewal of the mind.
“But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul” (Heb. 10:39)
The use of the word “saving” indicates that the salvation of the soul is continuous. Changing us from who we were to who God wants us to be. You know, if you change the mind, you change the person.
That you put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that you put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. (Eph. 4: 22 – 24)
And be not conformed to this world: but be you transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God (Romans 12:2)
As we engage in spiritual activities, listening to sermons, meditating on scriptures, praying (in tongues), our mind is being renewed, restored, refreshed. We become a new person. We take on the new nature of our spirit. Continuous fellowship with the spirit, makes our soul inherit the nature of the spirit. Our soul can then learn love (the nature of God). We can love the brethren, our families and most importantly love the Lord. Our soul then produces godly fruit through this fellowship manifesting in love, peace, joy, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance etc. (Eph. 5: 22 – 23). And then it can be said of us
“God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7)
“Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace be multiplied” (1 Pet. 1:2)
I believe the scripture above describes both the salvation of the spirit (sanctification of the spirit) and the salvation of the soul (unto obedience). We were saved unto obedience. Obedience is key to the renewal of our minds. We must be ready to obey every word of the scriptures. As we do so we strengthen our walk with the spirit. If we must renew our minds, we must study the scriptures carefully, understand it thoroughly and obey it completely.
Next time, we’ll consider the salvation of the body.
Be a doer.
I Call You Blessed