This is a counsel.
A lot has been said about the necessity of the coming together of believers. This article tries to look into what we should be doing when we meet up in our fellowship periods. What should our church times consist mainly of? We try to answer this question by looking at what the fellowship of the early church in ACTS consisted of.
“These all continued with one accord in Prayer and Supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren” Acts 1:14
“And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.” Acts 2:42
“And being let go, they went to their own company, and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said unto them” (Acts 4:23)
“And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy- Ghost, and they spoke the word of God with boldness” (Acts 4:31)
“And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed(shared) all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles” (Acts 14:27)
“So when they were dismissed, they came to Antioch: and when they gathered the multitude (the church) together, they delivered the epistle:” (Acts 15:30)
Before I continue sharing more and more bible verses, we notice a particular trend in this verses above, every-time they met, it was to encourage themselves in faith. They prayed, they shared testimonies of what God was doing through them, they leant scriptures. There was no time for peripherals or unnecessary jokes or time wasting activities. It was about scriptures being taught and prayers of edification made. We can say simply that their focus was on SPIRITUAL GROWTH, so they could declare the word with boldness.
“And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.” (Acts 20:7)
Paul preached and taught. When we realise there is so much to be learnt in scriptures, we would stop inviting comedians and unnecessary people to grace our church-pulpit. There is so much to learn and share to boost our faith when we fellowship with other believers that we shouldn’t waste time on ephemerals. Paul counselled here:
“And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:” (Hebrews 10:24)
“Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much as more, as you see the day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:25)
Paul says, when you gather exhort one another. The Amplified bible says “encourage one another”. When we gather, the purpose of our gather should be for edification. Our spirit man built, edified through prayers and teaching of the word.
“We continue to pray night and day most earnestly that we may see you face to face, and may complete whatever may be imperfect and lacking in your faith” (1 Thess. 3:10)
I believe what Paul meant here was to teach them again from scriptures what he believes was needed for their faith to grow. He anticipated to teach them whenever they met again. I believe this should be the heart desire of every Pastor. Everyone that has people to watch under them. Again here He said:
“For I Long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end you may be established;” (Romans 1:11)
For every of Paul’s gathering with the church, his focus was always for their growth spiritually. Whenever I read through Paul’s epistles to Titus, Timothy I see how Paul keeps repeating that they should teach their members which I believe would have to be done when they met. There would hardly be any time left for unnecessary activities.
Beloved, there is so much to know. Learning from the finished work of Christ, New creation realities, our responsibilities in Christ , His future coming, the person of the holy-ghost, our disposition to the world, and many other faith question we should know to get our minds renewed, that our fellowship times should be used wisely for teaching and for Prayers geared towards our spiritual growth.
We Always Win
Written by Samson Afolabi
This week I will like to bring us to awareness of something I believe is quite important for us to have at the back of our minds as Christians. The lesson is simple, and it is we should have a world perspective of Christianity. What do I mean? I mean God has the whole world in mind. He is interested in the affairs of the whole world, and most especially he wants the whole world saved.
“Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” 1 Timothy 2:4
Yes. All men means all men. All men every-where in the world. Every men in all nations in the seven continents of the world. See here also
“And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the father” (Philippians 2:11)
All through the scriptures, both from the old and new testaments, especially in the book of Psalms we see phrases such as “clap your hands all ye people (Ps. 47:1)”, “Praise him all peoples (Ps. 117:1)” and many similar phrases. If it says all nations, it means all countries, all nations. He wants all people to declare his praise. We must also have this destination in mind. We have been called to save all nations. God isn’t just interested in Nigeria, or some streets in Africa, he is interested in everyone around the world.
Every tongue means every person from all nations of the earth. Nigeria, Ghana, Jamaica, Germany, India, Malaysia and everyone. We are to start from our streets, neighbours, friends, but we must know that getting the whole world saved is our destination. Jesus speaking with the apostles about the great commission gave this same insight, he told them start from Jerusalem then to Judea and then to the ends of the world. Simply interpreted, start from your friends, neighbours, streets, states and then to the ends of the world.
“And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” Luke 24:47
Now, as His ambassadors here on Earth, we should have the same mind set, so that we can walk in agreement with God. See this:
“Can two walk together except they agree” (Amos 3:3)
Having a world perspective of our mission starts first about having a concern for happenings to other Christians in many other countries of the earth. We must know that God is not just working things in our environments alone, he is at work in every country. We should learn to pray for missions work all around the world.
I presently attend International Baptist Church, and what a beauty to see people from different nations, backgrounds, cultural beliefs and ways of life come gather in a room in unity in the name of Jesus. We must learn that as a Christian, we are a part of a body. A part of a whole. And the body comprises of all Christians on earth.
Brethren, Christianity is a world issue, a global issue. And we should see it as such.
I Call You Blessed
Written by Samson Afolabi
Edited by Omotayo Abraham
The church that is at Babylon, elected together with you, salutes you; and so does Marcus my son. [1Pet 5:13] KJV
Do you remember Babylon? The same Babylon of the Chaldeans.
Oh Babylon, the Babylon that besieged Jerusalem, took from her choice vessels and retrained the mighty men of Judah so that they should speak its language and serve her gods. Do you remember the Babylon that imprisoned men of prayer? The same Babylon that gave the servant of God, Daniel to lions that they may have his flesh for their fill. The Babylon that erected idols high unto the sky and threw men who didn’t bow into the fiery furnace. Yes, the same Babylon. It is spoken of here as a city within which there was a church. Is it not amazing that the mustard seed of God dropped in Babylon (through the captivity of Israel) blossomed into a tree large enough to house vessels of grace? For she now had in her a church. This is the way we (Christians) must we see ourselves. We are in the world but not of the world. This is what the three Hebrew chaps (Daniel, Shedrach, Meshach and Abednego) knew and it served as the seed that later established the church in Babylon. We must indeed converse in this world and yet ensure through grace that the world does not dwells in us. We would live in it but it won’t find space in us.
If there could be a church in Babylon, it means that grace can keep a man no matter the adversity of opposition and the darkness of sin. For a church to survive in the land, we who are saints in such a dark world must be encouraged in the strength of God to keep his church. We shall live in this Babylon as signs of the answers to the prayer of our master (Jesus Christ) – I pray not that thou should take them out of the world but that thou should keep them from the evil one (John 17:15). We have no excuse, for we are the church in Babylon (World).
The church in Babylon? Does not this exclude me from the many activities of this sinful land? While the Chaldeans may sin their way through life, I must remain holy, separate as the chaste virgin of my beloved. I cannot walk as they walk, I cannot talk as they do. The way they live must not excite and lure me into worldliness. I am called to holiness and glory; purity and blessedness. I must be the remnant of God in this Babylon. I must be her church. I must abide in Christ while Babylon despises and laughs at such things as I hold dear. I must remember who I am – the church in Babylon.
The church in Babylon? Does not this speak of my great responsibility unto this land. I am her church, sanctified that she may be? I have entered into the covenant of life as a sign that she can enter. I am a testimony, given concerning the great intentions of God towards Babylon. For it is the Lord’s desire that she also may enter into his courts and call upon his name. God wills also that she be redeemed and transformed into his church as saints – redeemed, justified and sanctified. For he has paid the price for them even as he made the sacrifice for we all. Shall we forget this great task? Rather, let us be reminded. Let us seek the lost. Let us carry them in intercession. Let us also be their priest no matter how imperfect we seem. Let us rise and fight for them. Let us stand between the living and dead and weep until the dead become alive. For Jesus died for them also. As the church in Babylon deemed it fit to die that through her sacrifice Babylon may call upon the Lord. May I be the Daniel who will purpose in his heart (Daniel 1:8), the Meshach who fears not man but honours God, the Shedrach that has the Holy Ghost as a companion in fire and the Abednego who shall love not his life unto death. May I arise and be the church in this Babylon of the world.
The church in Babylon? What does this really mean? Is it not a picture of Christ in this dying world? Is it not the picture of the Son of God lying in a manger, living among the poor, dinning with sinners, dying for the lost, interceding for the saints and resurrecting for thy justification? Is this not a message for the child of God to follow in the steps of our Saviour – to live as he did?
Written by Alao Rotimi
Before writing about this topic, I needed to ask myself one question – ‘’Am I really qualified to talk about marriage when I myself am not married?’ But then I remembered Paul, and I was encouraged. Paul himself was also not married, yet some of the most profound lessons on marriage and relationships that we know today were taught by him.
As a young boy, I had many curious questions on marriage: Why would I want to get married? What does God say about marriage? Why wedding receptions are even something that we do? My list of interesting questions goes on. After much investigation and meditation, I’ve decided to share with you my thoughts on the topic. Please note that my goal is not to explain marriage fully, but rather I aim to simply share my insights with you. I pray that as you read may you be blessed.
A QUICK NOTE ABOUT MARRIAGE
Throughout the scriptures, we see one common thread: “God is always reaching out to man”. It is not always that man really seeks God, but that God has always been the one extending an open invitation to man.
“In the Beginning was the Word, and the word was with God, and the word was God (John 1:1)”
“And the Word was Made flesh, and dwelt among us… (John 1:14)”
The word that was with God and that was God at the beginning became flesh and lived among us. God came to man. God couldn’t have been closer. People saw him, touched him and ate with him. They lived everyday life with him. God couldn’t have been closer. God, quite literally, lived with man. 1 John 1:1 also agrees with this. Even when Adam sinned at the garden, it was still God who first spoke to Adam. Adam hid himself, but God came to Him. What a show of love, right after he sinned.(Read Genesis 3: 1 -13 (emphasis on vs. 9)). In another example, it was God who first spoke to Cain after he killed his brother. Throughout the Bible, there are so many stories that remind us that God always tries to reveal himself to us, more than we try to seek him.
“That is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting people’s sin against them (But Cancelling them)… (2 Cor. 5:19)”
Notice the above verse, it was God who was reconciling the world. He came first, Not Man!
In a bid to come to man, God often illustrates his kingdom to us using simple representations that are relatable to man. Let me exemplify:
Water. The Mystery of Eternal life can be illustrated in water. When someone is thirsty and he drinks water, he can then be satisfied and no longer be thirsty. In the same way, when we drink of ‘eternal life’ the deepest trenches of our soul can be satisfied and no longer empty. This secret was coded in water so that we can understand and be continuously reminded about it.
Read the discussion between Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well at John 4: 6 – 14. (Emphasis is on vs. 14)
“But whoever drinks the water that I give him will never be thirsty again. But the water that I give him will become in him a spring of water (satisfying his thirst for God) welling up (continually flowing, bubbling within him) to eternal life” (John 4:14)
Musical Notes: “Do-Re-Mi-Fa-So-La-ti-Do’-Re’-Mi’-…. God is the “Beginning and the Ending” (Rev. 1:8). For a long time, I knew this, I said it, but I couldn’t just understand it. Until my eyes were open to understand it through the musical notes. Notice the second Do’ (it is the ending of a pitch and at the same time the beginning of another higher pitch). So when it is ending, it is actually beginning, and this time on a higher note. God is also like that.
Often-times we arrive at junctions when we feel our lives are finished. We feel hopeless. We feel like giving up. What we don’t know is that God is ending a phase of our lives in order to begin a new phase on an even higher pitch. He can successfully and beautifully finish that academic phase for you, and start a higher one. He can end that job for you, and start a bigger one. He can end your single-hood and start a bright marriage for you. He is the Beginning and Ending at the same time. He is not just there at the beginning and at the end. It is Him, Himself that is the beginning and the ending. He is the doorway to the end and at the same-time the entrance to the beginning. He is both the exit and the entrance. If you need anything to begin or end in your life, seek him.
Most importantly, He is the exit out of this old and decaying World and the entrance into the New World (which is without sickness and death), and only through him can we get into that World. That’s why we preach Jesus and what He did (His death and Resurrection).
The Human Body: Maybe, up till now we might not have understood the importance of the unity of the church, if the Holy-Spirit had not through Paul compare the church with the Human Body. He says that some part of the church are the eyes, some are the hands, and others are the feet of the body. In this illustration we understand that as the church, we need one another to fulfil God’s divine purpose for us.
Now back to our discussion about Marriage., According to scriptures, the purpose ofmarriage is to represent the union between the Church and Christ. In order to fully understand relationships and marriage, we must understand the love between Christ and His Bride, the church. This simple illustration tells us that.
1. Marriage is between two Christian believers I don’t think an unbeliever can play either the role of Christ or the role of the Church in this model. . He/she doesn’t even know God yet, so how can he/she understand this union? In-fact, it’s not even for a believer with an immature faith. And never think that you can save an unbeliever by getting married to him/her. Marriage is not an evangelism voyage. An unbeliever and a believer don’t agree on the fundamental fabric of their being, therefore they will not walk in sync together.
“Can two walk together except they agree” (Amos 3:3)
Sisters, a moral man is not automatically a man of God. He is either a Christian or not. I always make a joke that if you get married to an unbeliever, be ready to have the Devil as your father-in-Law. He can come into your house at any time and disturb you as he likes.
2. Marriage is a Holy-Spirit directed activity. I think in this area , we haven’t learned. I see too many people hurrying to get married for no good reason. Perhaps maybe because culture presents marriage as a sort of achievement so everyone is hurrying to get their ‘medal’
3. One Church, One Christ means One Man and One woman. Anything apart from this is not Christian Marriage.
Marriage is a Ministry. It is a Calling. It is not a joke. Your Marriage is supposed to deliver a message. Marriage is not just for you to have a sex partner. Being in a relationship or being engaged is not to have someone to cuddle around on the streets. Oftentimes I see young people like myself wanting to get married and they don’t even understand these things, and I ask “why do you want to get married?” Just because your friends are getting into relationships, doesn’t mean you are matured enough to start one.
If many people who get married understand this truth deeply, we won’t have the issues of divorce or irresponsibility or break-ups as rampant as it is today. Both parties will understand that Jesus can never break-up from the Church. Jesus will always show His church care, love and affection. I have often said that Christian brothers are supposed to be the most loving and caring because we have experienced and understand God’s love more than un–believers.
We won’t have issues with love, respect and submission in marriage if we understand well enough the relationship between Christ and the Church. Paul continually uses this fact.
“For the Husband is the head of the Wife even as (just as) Christ is the head of the Church and He is the saviour of the body” (Eph. 5:23)
“Husbands, love your wives (seek the highest good for her and surround her with a caring, unselfish love) just as Christ loved the church, and gave himself for her” (Eph. 5:25 AMP)
“For no one ever hated his own body, but (instead) he nourishes and protects and cherishes it, just as Christ does the Church” (Eph. 5:29 AMP)
Notice: The comparison in this facet of marriage has always been “even as” or “just like” Christ and the Church. My simple advice for anyone planning to get into a relationship or marriage is that you should take time to study well enough the union between Christ and the Church because marriage is meant to show s this secret to everyone, both to unbelievers and believers.
Don’t Forget, the purpose of marriage is to show the union between the Church and Christ. It is a day-to-day illustration of display of the beautiful union between the Church and Christ played out by the lives of two believers.
Written by Samson Afolabi
Last Week, we considered the church under the descriptions,
- The Church is the House of God
- The Church as a Body
- The Church is God’s senate on earth.
This week we continue under 2 other descriptions. I pray you are blessed as you read.
- The Church is the Bride of Christ.
Even though I see various imperfection in church today, this is why I don’t speak disregard or disrespect it. I know that it’s the bride of Christ and if I respect the Man, I must respect his Wife. Whatever imperfections the Queen has, as long as she is the queen, she is respected adequately as being the bride of the king.
“For the Husband is head of the wife, as Christ is head of the Church, Himself being the Saviour of the body (Eph. 5:23 AMP)”
“Husbands, love your wives [seek the highest good for her and surround her with a caring, unselfish love], just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her (Eph. 5:25 AMP)”
“For no one ever hated his own body, but [instead] he nourishes and protects and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church (Eph. 5:29 AMP)”
Never, think God has given up on the Church. She is His bride. He will forever keep nourishing her with truth and showing his love and grace to her. He will never give up. He will always go after her whenever she wanders away. I am not trying to encourage Christians to be childish but God’s stance about the church needs to be known. Only careless and wicked Men, will be cruel and uncaring to their wives. And I know my saviour is not like that, in fact He died for her, and no greater love can anyone show to his friends than to die for His friends. (Brothers, I hope we are learning how to love our wives, just a hint, learn from Christ and his Church).
The Bible says that He is preparing her for Himself not for me or you. He has the standard not you. He is the judge not you. Many of us are too keen in trying to make other people perfect. While it is good to ensure we hear people to avoid error spreading across through the body we must learn to see their words or what they do through God’s lens.
“So that [in turn] He might present the Church to Himself in glorious splendour, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy[ set apart for God] and blameless. (Eph. 5: 27 AMP)”
In fact, He calls it “My Church” and not your Church or your Pastor’s Church.
“And I say unto you, that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church;and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18)
And let us not make the mistake that the above verse is saying that God wanted to build the Church upon Peter. No, it was saying that the church will be born out of “the truth” in Peter’s statement in the earlier verses.
5. The Church is the pillar and ground of Truth.
“But if I tarry long, that you may know how you ought to behave yourself in the house of God which is the Church of the Living God, the Pillar and ground of the truth (1 Tim. 3:15)”
The above subtopic really got me thinking and asking a lot of questions. The Church came out of the truth that “Jesus is the Son of God and was made manifest in the flesh, died and resurrected the third day and lives forever more and through him we have redemption”. And upon this truth is the church built (Matt. 16:18, 1 Tim 3:16). This explanation was made after the above verse in 1 Tim 3:15 was stated. But asides the fact that the church was born out of truth, the Church itself is the Pillar and Ground of THE TRUTH.
A building cannot exist without the pillar and foundation. And if the foundation and pillars were not strong enough, the building my easily crumble.
Now, Jesus is THE TRUTH (John 14:6). And the bible says the church is the Pillar and Foundation of THE TRUTH. So without the church, the body of Christ is not complete. Without the Church, Christ cannot save the world. Without the Church, Christ can’t claim Lordship over the earth. Without the Church, Christ cannot be known, Without the Church, Christ will “practically” be out of existence. Now I understand why the devil is waging war so seriously against the church,why the devil is promoting “lukewarmness” and laziness and shallow understanding in the church, why we prefer to joke rather than seek to know who we are why we have more church buildings than true disciples.
The Church’s importance is great to the advancement of the kingdom. The church is the basis and stand of Christ on earth. We are His voice. This is not to make us feel over important. It is not that Christ needs us more than we need him., It is to show us that we have huge role to play in establishing God’s reign and rule over the affairs of Men. You and I are important. We can’t continue to be babies. We must continue to keep seeking and allow God’s kingdom work with, in and through us, till the kingdoms of this world become that of our God and of His Christ.
Finally, friends, I encourage us to cultivate the habit of studying the scriptures and meditating in it, because as we nurture ourselves individually, the body (the Church) is also growing corporately. Your growth affects the entire Church. It’s a disadvantage for us (the Church) if you choose to remain ignorant and spiritually immature. It is our duty to support ourselves as Christians and together achieve God’s purpose of establishing the Church. Important also is that we are saved to save others. Remember that you are being taught by the Holy Spirit and by other people so that when you grow-up, you can teach others.
Christ Reigns! We Win!
Written by Samson Afolabi