The Gospel of Things

The Gospel of Things

It is without doubt that God is very interested in meeting our needs. He wants us to be in perfect health, He wants us to be pay our bills, live in nice houses, have very good cars, marry beautiful husbands and wives and have very beautiful kids. He wants us to be able to take the summer holidays of our heart desire, eat whatever we like, be able to afford the latest luxury and generally live very comfortable lives.

Jesus showed this concern, when he asked his disciples in Luke 22:35, “And he said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye anything? And they said, nothing”

In-fact he said, “…Therefore I say unto you, take no thought for your life, what shall eat; nether for the body, what ye shall put on” (Luke 12: 22). So he knows we have the tendency to worry about the things. He knows we need them. They are important.

John praying says “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou may prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers”. I do believe that this prayer includes material prosperity i.e. getting our needs met. We need it. Now, what should be the place or priority of this things in us? How much should they control our lives? Control our prayers? Control what we do when we gather as brethren in fellowship? What’s their priority?

At the Beginning recorded in Genesis 1 – 3, we see the whole human race cut short by disobedience of one man. We also know Man was dead, because God said:

“But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eat thereof thou shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:17)

God couldn’t lie. The day Adam and Eve disobeyed, they died. Though they were alive physically, their spirit man died, and this passed on to every human who came out of them. We all died in Him. Ever since then, man needed Life. He was alive physically, but dead spiritually. The core being of his person was gone. The greatest need of his life, was LIFE. We must understand the priority of Man’s needs. Our needs are not first physical. Our needs are first spiritual. Man needs life. Jesus didn’t come to first satisfy our Physical needs. We were dead, we needed LIFE.

“…: I am come that they may have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10)

“But these are written, that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you might have life through his name” (John 20:31)

He said it categorically, I came to give LIFE. You don’t give life to someone who is living. We were dead before we believed. Note, FIRST life, not money, not cars, not houses. As much as God is willing to give us those things, we must understand the priority. We should ask ourselves did Jesus come to the earth to bless us materially. Do we necessarily need Jesus to be rich and successful? (We discuss this questions and others in the ALETHEIA DISCUSSION group on Whatsapp.) But you necessarily need him to HAVE LIFE, there’s no life outside of Him.

If it takes only God to be rich, the devil shouldn’t be telling Jesus…

“And the devil, taking him up into a high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.” (Luke 4:5)

“And the devil said unto him, all this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. (Luke 4:6)

Notice, that Jesus didn’t say that the devil was lying by this statement. Because he was not. He bought it legally when Adam sinned.

You don’t make the best meals, buy good clothes, and take lots of money to someone in comma. As much as those things are essential for him, what he needs first is life. I wonder why there is just too much emphasis on us living good and rich lives by many of our African Pastors without adequate emphasis on what the scripture teaches. I call this the Gospel of things.

Studying the book of Acts, the emphasis of the early Christians was about Salvation, and after that spiritual growth of the new converts through teaching and prayers. Teaching about who they were in Christ and what Christ had done. Time wasn’t unnecessarily spent on praying in hours, praying that God bless them with cars and good houses or trying to undo what the devil had done. It just wasn’t necessary.

Paul through all his epistles kept charging us believers, to renew our minds. Set our hearts on things above. Though our heavenly father is eager to bless us, but we must understand the priority of things. Paul spent most of his time teaching us about the finished work of Christ and who we were now in Christ and walking in the true heritage of who we are, as SONS OF GOD. Paul encouraged us through out to grow in faith that we might in turn teach others.

In conclusion, let me say, it is God’s desire to bless us, prosper us but we need to understand the priority of things. We shouldn’t spend unnecessary time in addressing our physical needs and leaving behind the Spiritual.

I Call You Blessed
Written by Samson Afolabi

Is God Predictable? 2

Is God Predictable? 2

“No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” Jn1:18.

“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?”Jn14:6-9

So Jesus is saying the search for God ends here! You don’t see me and ask for the Father, that would mean you don’t know who is before you. If you see me, you have seen the Father.

So, Jesus is saying the topic of this article in answering is better rendered as “IS JESUS PREDICTABE?”.

Redemption, the gospel, revealed the personality of God (Rom1:17-18). Hence the apostles were tasked to show God in the face of Christ Jesus. (2Cor4:6)

We see many assertions about God’s immutability, many by the prophets, Christ, and his apostles. These especially in his eternal plan of man’s redemption. It is in something as grave as this that our interest is productively stirred. (This is not an investigation of the sort of whether God will meet your need by your business flourishing or someone giving to you etc.) What do we hold of God on our eternal fate, our dealings with him every day. Can we be rest assured or we might be in for some surprises! This mattered to God himself knowing what man is.

From Genesis to Revelation, it is evident we have a speaking God. A God of promises. And in all these, Jesus is his Word (his logos, reasoning, intent, essence, mind-set, thought) he was communicating. If God has said a thing, he does not rescind on his word. To know if he is predictable is to know what he has said. If we have his word, it is all assuring. Consider these;

“Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.” (Amos 3:7).

So God’s style is to do nothing but speak it first, then fulfil it. All that Christ did in redemption were foretold by the prophets, all! (Luke 24:44-46)

“God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?” Num.23:19.

If God has said it, then he will make it good! God does not lie.

“In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” John 14:2.

His word is his bond, he says things the way they are.

“In hope of eternal life, which GOD, THAT CANNOT LIE, promised before the world began; But HATH IN DUE TIMES MANIFESTED HIS WORD through preaching, which is committed unto me according to the commandment of God our Saviour;” Titus1:2-3. What he promised before the world began, he fulfilled in due times. These form the proofs of his eternal faithfulness, reliability. He did what he said he would do.

God wants to assure our hearts concerning his plan and promises to us.

“For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself,” Heb.6:13. He didn’t want Abraham to be swerved, God swore! The same to us; “Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:” Heb. 6:17-18.

All the promises of God made to the fathers find their fulfilment in Christ, and in him are many exceeding great and precious promises (2Pet.1:4). The apostle wrote “But as God is true, our word toward you was not yea and nay. For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us, even by me and Silvanus and Timotheus, was not yea and nay, but in him was yea. For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.” (2Cor1:18-21) All the promises, all, find their ‘so be it’ in Christ. It’s not Yes and No, it is Yes and So-be-it(Amen).

He told Moses, my name is ‘I am that I am’, ‘I will be what I will be’. He makes self-committed promises. He relied on no one to fulfil his word. Man’s unfaithfulness does not change him. He does what he says he will do.

If he says “their iniquities will I remember no more” (Heb10:17), we say so be it! When he said he is “not counting sins against the world” (2Cor5:19), that “our bodies will be changed like unto his own glorious body” (Phil3:21), that all believers shall have their bodies changed (1Cor15:51-52), those who believe the gospel are saved (Mk16:15-16,Rom10:9-10), that believers will not come to condemnation (Jn5:24), that we will never perish in his hands (Jn10:28-30), that his spirit will be in us forever (Jn14:16), that he is coming to be glorified in all who believed his name (2Thess1:10), that he is not unrighteous to forget our labour of love (Heb6:10), that he hears our prayer and we have our desires of him (1Jn5:14-15), we know he meant just that. For he said if it were not so, he would have told us (Jn14:2). Jesus kept using the words “Verily, verily I say unto you”. He is light, pure. He says what he means, he means what he says.

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” James1:17. No variableness, no shadows. This is our God!

Is God predictable? Its a question of “has God said so?!”

Written by Samuel Agboola

Is God Predictable?

Is God Predictable?

Can we categorically state what God will do before we have it and be confident it will only be such? A friend once said, “do you think someone will write 66 books about himself to you and not want you to know him?” That should suffice but for that in those books we have irreconcilable personality traits of God reported, which could further strengthen the unpredictability of God. One might account that the unpredictability of God is to his glory, at least, he is the all-wise, all-knowing, all-creating, almighty and infinite. This would hold if being predictable implies weakness. The scriptures however did not paint it as such. Another might say, “why be interested in God being predictable or not”. Why? We have to deal with him! And he wants us to know him, trust him.

There are assertions about the reliability of God. Num23: 19  “God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?” It says God is consistent. Psa18: 25-26  “With the merciful thou wilt shew thyself merciful; with an upright man thou wilt shew thyself upright; With the pure thou wilt shew thyself pure; and with the froward thou wilt shew thyself froward.” It says God can be froward, devious, depending on who he is dealing with! That man of integrity said “What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? Job 2:10b Assertions as this and many more have been used in heralding a bipolar God. Conversely, we see God demanding, requiring, instructing men to be reliable and straightforward, as a godly virtue. Hence, the valid unsettling at the thought of an inconsistent God. It is noteworthy that even Job had questions and wished he could ask God in person (Job23:3). Bless, God he came to our rescue. He came in person and all twists straightened out, all doubts dissolved. “God was manifest in the flesh” (1Tim3:16).

Since man fell into sin, he sank into death and darkness (Rom5:12-14, Eph2:1). All men were found in sin and darkened in understanding of God. The revelation of God to mankind had to be progressive, and relayed to men by other men (equally in spiritual death but) used of God. The limitations of the prophets coloured their ministry. Until God came in the flesh and set things straight, the understanding of God suffered clarity. Hence Jesus, and subsequently his apostles, made assertions to straighten how we receive the testimony of God from the scriptures of the prophets.

“No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.”(Jn1:18). He is categorically stating that no prophet before Christ has seen God, only Christ made him plain. He said this just after mentioning Moses’ name. Jesus corrected Moses a number of times (Matt5:38-39, 19:8). He corrected Elijah (Luke 9:54-56). He says, “If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him…he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how say thou then, Shew us the Father?” The writer of Hebrews in comparing the ministry of the prophets and the diverse manners they spoke said Jesus is the clear-cut glaring exact character of God’s personality. (Heb. 1:1-3). He is not the “mercy-version” of God, it pleased the Father that in Christ should dwell the fullness of the Godhead bodily.(Col 1:19, 2:9, Jn16:15). In the pursuit of the knowledge of God, any testimony that is not found in consistency with Christ is to be dropped. It means it is not consistent with God. Moses gave a clause in his writings that when Christ comes, “him shall you hear” in whatsoever he will say (Deut. 18:15,18). On the mount, God said this is the person to listen to, in spite of the presence of the Law and the prophet (Moses and Elijah, Matt17:1-8)

In John16:12-15, Jesus authorised his apostles to deliver his testimony, the things of God he couldn’t say because of the state of men at that time (none was yet raised to eternal life). The apostles of Christ, being so empowered of the Spirit, taught of Christ and being men out of spiritual death, could accurately present the knowledge of God. Paul said they give the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ Jesus, adding elsewhere that this is done with grew plainness of speech (2Cor4:6;3:12). No shadows or diverse manners, as was with the prophets. No parables as when Christ could not expressly communicate to unrenewed men (Matt13:10-15). Christ is the screen in which we see God, none other. The prophets were to witness Christ, and that they did (Jn1:45,5:39). The scriptures, I.e, the writings, the documentation were inspired of God, not the content of what was written. Ignorance, the devil, evil men, rational men, prophets, God all spoke in the bible. God inspired it all to be written down. The records are true, but not everything is the truth of God. Hence skilfulness is expected of a student of God’s word to rightly divide the word of truth which will be the things consistent with the testimony of Christ as clearly stated in the epistles. Jesus in navigating the old testament scriptures stuck to the things concerning him!(Luke24:25-27).

So from the epistles, the words of Jesus recorded in the four gospels, the scriptures of the prophets, we can now investigate with consistency “Is God predictable?”

TO BE CONTINUED…

Written By Samuel Agboola

What Will Your Reaction Be?

What Will Your Reaction Be?

So, Last week I wrote about BREAKING FREE FROM RELIGION. I got some responses from some of my readers,  encouraging me to keep up with the good work as they have been blessed by the write-up. On this premise, I would like to say a big THANK YOU to everyone that dropped a comment and to let you know that every word of encouragement meant a lot to me and the ALETHEIA COMMITTEE. But more importantly would be that we have the right reaction(s) to every of God’s word each time He speaks to us. Interestingly this would be the central theme of our article this week.

Whenever we read the Bible or read a scripture-inspired book or write-up or rather listen to a sermon, it’s important to know that the words spoken to us will only profit us if we make the right reaction(s) to them. Looking through the scripture, different reactions to God’s words played out when it came to people. Some disagreed, some disbelieved, some rejected while some took it up in faith and acted accordingly.

REJECTION
Peter – “Not So Lord!”

“But Peter Said, Not So, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean (ACTS 10:14)”

The Lord was about to extend the preaching of the gospel to the Gentiles, and He wanted to send Peter. He showed Peter a trance while he was waiting for food to be made for him. A sheet was lowered from heaven full of different kinds of “four-footed beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air” and Peter was told to kill and eat. But for Peter those animals were seen as “unclean” and even though it was the Lord who had given him the instruction, his reaction was still NO. In fact, Peter was careful to say “Not So Lord!” to mean that: though you are my Lord but this your word, I won’t take it. (Read the full story in Acts 10: 9 – 16)

A lot of us, still do the same thing today. Even when we know God is telling us to do something, we rather do something else, rejecting and saying “NOT SO LORD!” in our actions. When God tells you “Stop that relationship”, “don’t take that job” yet you go ahead, know just like Peter you are saying “NOT SO LORD!”

UNBELIEF
Mary and Zacharias – “How Can these things be?”

Zacharias was a priest and his wife’s name was Elizabeth. But they had no child because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both well advanced in years (Luke 1:7). One day, while Zacharias was ministering in the temple, an angel appeared to him and told him he was going to have a son, told him the name they were to give to the child and a lot of wonderful things about the child he (Zacharias) was going to have. Then Zacharias said

“How shall I know this? For I am an Old man, and my wife well advanced in years” (Luke 1:18)

He didn’t believe the angel. He was more persuaded of the physical conditions of himself and his wife. He knew that at a certain age, a woman cannot have a child any longer and that was more reasonable to him than God’s word. That made him mute until the child was born. Mary also had a similar encounter, she also said:

“How Can these things be, since I do not know a man” (Luke 1:34)

Sarah also laughed in unbelief when God said she would have a son in a year time (Gen. 18: 11 -15). They all seemed to have logical reasons not to believe God’s word. You know sometimes we also do the same. Even after our Pastors have declared God’s beautiful counsels to us, we still go ahead to esteem more our physical limitations than God’s word. We act in unbelief. We prefer to keep living in fear and worry than to rise up and boldly believe and confess God’s word to us. I act in unbelief sometimes too, am not an exception but it’s not right. We see God as a Compound Capital Fool. We see our problems to be bigger than God and His word. Today, Let our hearts be grounded in the knowledge of how great our God is and the powerful potential of our faith in Him.

ACCEPTANCE
The last section of people I want to talk is those who acted in Faith and stood to take up God’s word. Those who gave the right reaction to God’s word and promise. Abraham, Joshua, and Caleb, Paul, Isaiah. These people, though looked difficult to the mortal man what God requested them to do, yet they rose up, believed in their God and did exploits. (Dan. 11:32)

Abraham

God said “Take now your Son, your only Son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you” (Gen. 22:2)

Abraham Reaction “So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son; and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him” (Gen. 22:3)

One of the things that interested me most was that Abraham didn’t just react rightly by obeying, He rose up early to obey God. Don’t blame God for making him the Father of all Nations. This was his only son of whom he had waited for a long time to have without any hope of having another, he even had to ride 3 days before he could locate this mountain God told him to go to. Yet, he didn’t change his mind. What is your own Isaac, Your Isaac could be your academics, husband, job, or whatever, think about If God says sacrifice it!  Can you? Can you rise up early to terminate it?

One of my heart desires, as always been “Lord I don’t want to just be a hearer of your word, accumulating knowledge but a doer.

Joshua and Caleb is also another example. They were 2 of 12 spies sent by Israel to spy the Promised Land.

“And Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, Let us go at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it” (Numbers 13:30)

“But the Men that went up with him said, we be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we” (Numbers 13:31)

God had told these people the land was for them, He wanted them to go up and take up what He had assigned and allocated them, yet because of what they saw they were terrified. They esteemed their challenges higher than God. Their challenges were more real to them than God’s word. But Joshua and Caleb said, “If God says it, we believe it and that settles it”. What do you also say concerning all of God’s promises to you in the scriptures, do you believe them? Or are you more persuaded of your current challenges than God’s word?

Paul also said “Lord, what would you have me do” (Acts 9:6). Isaiah said, “Here I am, send me Lord”(Isaiah 6:8). You can read the full accounts in the scriptures indicated. When God words, comes to you what would your reactions be?

Yes. What would your reaction be even to this article? Positive, Negative, Discard, Find excuses. The ball is in your court but imagine if for every book we read, every sermon we listen to, every time we read the bible we gave the right reactions, we would be far more blessed than we are right now.

My dear reader, I ask you to ponder on this words, ask the Holy-Spirit to reveal to you where you aren’t responding to His word well enough and also give you the grace to respond positively.

I Call You Blessed
Yours in God’s Vineyard
Samson Afolabi

Break Free from Religion

Break Free from Religion

I remember growing up, I was taught how to pray in our children’s church as it was called. We were actually given a formula on how to pray. Our Teacher’s said when you pray,
1. Start with thanksgiving    
2. Ask for forgiveness of your sins

We had to ask for forgiveness every-time we pray, even if we knew what our sins were or not. The explanation they gave was that there was no way we could live without sin. Now, I know that’s wrong, If we can’t live above sin, why did Jesus die? But that’s a discussion for another day.

Read Romans 6 Selah.

3. Ask God for our needs, petitions and all
4. We should always end with thanks.

All these were backed up with scriptures, a good reference for such a sermon was always “The Lord’s Prayer”, so there was no way I could have questioned that then. Anytime, our teachers asked us to pray, and I used this formula, I was greatly applauded as a good student of prayer.

Things were fine, and I had strongly believed God must have been listening to me because I was using the “Prayer Outline Formula” until I started reading the book of Psalms.I am a lover of the book of Psalms. If an estimate is made, it might end up being my most frequent book of the bible. I noticed that David wasn’t using the formula. What? David, the king, the man after God’s heart, the prophet was bumping into God in prayers (many of the psalms were actually David’s prayers) without thanking and praising him first, then ask for your forgiveness. I had thought that no matter how urgent our need or situation was, one had got to stick with the formula. As a Mathematician, I understand the place of formulas, and I know it takes years of labor of some people to dig it out. And it always works, until proven otherwise. Without the formula, no going anywhere.

That was rude, I thought, for David didn’t just “bump” into God once or twice but almost every-time he prayed. Although there were times when all he did was to thank God and times when he asked for forgiveness. I noticed he prayed as it “flowed from the inside of him” and not as “our formula states”. Then I asked, does he actually know my formula? I have so much respect for David, and I knew he shouldn’t just be “ignoring the formula”. Something was wrong somewhere, I thought.

As I grew, the Holy Spirit taught me, “Prayer wasn’t supposed to be coordinated with a formula”. It should flow freely, directed by your Spirit. If God was my father I shouldn’t be making rituals and observing a formula before talking with him. Even my earthly father, I don’t have to observe rituals before talking with him. Even though we are thousands of kilometers apart now, if I need to speak with him, I will just pick up my phone, call him and tell him my concerns. Maybe I would want to say “Good morning” or “Good afternoon” first, or call him “Baba ooo” (meaning father in Yoruba language) and we would both laugh and I tell him why I called. And when I miss him, or he misses me, we make a video call. If my earthly father being evil could be like that, how much more my father in heaven? (Matt. 7:11)

I also noticed David’s prayers were in the old covenant. If the prayers in the old covenant were this liberal, how much more in the new covenant? God said:

“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16)

He actually not just said this but showed it when he the veil tore in the temple when Jesus died. A stop came to all the rituals to be observed before coming into the most holy place. God is saying come boldly, Come and present your requests, no need for prayer formulas!. Just pray and pray as you are led. Freedom comes when we don’t have to observe a formula in prayers. Enjoy the liberty of the Spirit.

Over-time, I have noticed that just like me a lot of Christians are still caught in the web of Religion; a dogged practice of what we have been taught from child-hood that doesn’t conform in what way ever with the truth, just like in the prayer example I gave above.

Freedom comes when we break the cords of Religion. Anything could become religious. Going to church without the understanding of why we go, why we give, fasting could also become religious,giving etc.  When John the Baptist was given birth to, Zacharias his father was mute because he didn’t believe the prophecy of John’s birth. When he was given birth to, according to the words of the angel, the mother of the baby, Elizabeth requested the child be called John. The family members and neighbors who came for the circumcision said,

Luke 1:59 – 64
So it was, on the eighth day, that they came to circumcise the child; and they would have called him by the name of his father, Zacharias (vs 59)
His mother answered and said, “No; he shall be called John (vs 60)
But they said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who is called by this name” (vs 61)
So they made signs to his father – what he would have him called (vs 62)
And he asked for a writing tablet, and wrote saying, “His name is John”. So they marveled. (Vs 63)
Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, praising God (vs 64)

The Custom was that John be named Zacharias. It was a norm. But God said he is to be called John which was against the custom. Just like Zacharias, a lot of us are caught in the web of religion, doing things the way we do them because that’s the way we’ve been told to them from our childhood, or the way accepted by the society. We oftentimes don’t ask why we do them the way we do them. Zacharias obedience to breaking the cords of Religion brought his freedom from being dumb. I believe the Holy-spirit is trying to paint an example for us from this scenario of how we can also be free if we dared to break the bonds of Religion. One way to do that is to always ask “why”. Why do you do what you do? Why do you have to do what people do?

I have had to ask, this kind of questions, like why should I be married?, why should I have a wedding ceremony, and even why should I have a reception afterward?. Interestingly I found many of my answers in scriptures and I am holding on to them. That’s the true test of spirituality. This would open the eyes of your understanding, and bring freedom your way swiftly from what bounds others. You would also have a good conviction of what you do.

Again let me say Freedom comes when we break the cords of Religion and also add that Christianity is not a Religion it’s a Life.

I Call You Blessed
Written by Samson Afolabi