*all scriptures are quoted from the KJV except otherwise stated.
“There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;” (Eph. 4:4)
Recently, I was re-reading the account of the first pentecost after the death and resurrection of Christ. The account gave details about the infilling of the Holy Spirit received by the disciples, fulfilment of the prophecy of Joel, the boldness of Peter in preaching to those present and the resulting multitudes who came to receive Christ through Peter’s message that day.
In this account, there is a very important verse in Acts 2, which I believe was pivotal to what we read today in Acts 2, and it is the first verse of this chapter:
“And the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.”
I believe the phrase “ONE ACCORD” really describes the state of how God’s people (the Church) is to be. Everyone comes to fellowship together in unity irrespective of their background, life experiences, self worth, achievements and without any wall of division or segmentation in their hearts. The Holy Spirit through Paul wrote to the Ephesians saying:
“Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father, who is over all and in all and living through all” (Eph. 4: 3 – 6 NLT)
Notice the first statement…”Make every effort!” I believe the Holy Spirit knows strongly the importance of brethren dwelling together in unity and as such, encourages us strongly to make sure that this is seen and witnessed amongst us. So today, I want to encourage you, make every effort to keep the Church of God united in the Spirit! Note that the Church is not limited to your local assembly but believers round the world. It is One body of Christ! One Church!
Scriptures again and again tell us of the importance of this unity. In the description of the Church given in 1 Peter 2:5, the Church is described as a spiritual house.
“Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 2: 5)
Jesus speaking said:
“And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand” (Mark 3:25)
I believe this explains the weakness we see in the Church today. There is so much division amidst ourselves, along denominational lines, ethnic lines etc. One person is saying I am of this group, while the other says I am of that group. One says I know better, the other says, No! I have more resources than you, so I’m better, causing so much strife and contention within a house which is supposed to stand together in one accord. It is One Faith! One body! One Father of all!
Paul writing to the Corinthians on the issue of strifes and contentions wrote:
“For you are still controlled by your sinful nature. You are jealous of one another and quarrel with each other. Doesn’t that prove you are controlled by your sinful nature? Aren’t you living like people of the world? When one of you says “I am a follower of Paul” and another says “I follow Apollos” aren’t you acting just like people of the world? After all, who is Apollos? Who is Paul? We are only God’s servants through whom you believed the Good News. Each of us did the work the Lord gave us.” (1 Cor. 3 : 3 – 5 NLT)
Paul again writes:
“Some of you are saying, “I am a follower of Paul.”Others are saying, “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Peter,” or “I follow only Christ”. Has Christ been divided into factions? Was I, Paul, crucified for you? Were any of you baptized in the name of Paul? Of course not!
(1 Cor. 1:12 – 13 NLT)
In other instances, scriptures describe the Church as a body which needs each part to function perfectly. The eyes are not greater than the hand, neither is the head better than the stomach. All parts need each other to function. The eyes can’t walk on its own, it needs the legs for that, and of course while in motion the legs need the eyes so it doesn’t fall into a ditch. None less, none greater.
“The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit” (1 Cor. 12: 12 – 13 NLT)
“All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it” (1 Cor. 12: 27 NLT)
Today, I encourage you to strive to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Don’t seek exaltation for one part of the body over another. Strife and contentions weaken the body, don’t do it!
Pray this with me:
“As a believer,
I will make every effort to keep myself united with my brethren,
As a part of the Spiritual house that Christ is building,
I will not be part of strife or contentions that weaken it.
As a part of the body of Christ,
I will contribute my part to its growth and functioning,
Without thinking I’m better or lesser than the other parts,
All this by His grace.
It is one faith, We have one body and one Father over all,
Who is Lord of all. Amen”
Thanks for reading.
I Call You Blessed
I had the privilege of visiting a senior residence a few weeks ago. I was there with a friend, my friend is a close pal of the old folks there, so they invited us to have coffee and cake with them. In all the time we spent with them, which they enjoyed, I couldn’t help but notice how slow they moved and how their hands would tremble as they tried to grip the coffee cups and eat the small pieces of cake we shared. I kept looking at how much strength was available in me and how little strength and coordination they had in their bones.
Even long after I left the residence, I kept thinking about this. Then I remembered;
“I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night comes, when no man can work” (John 9:4)
Yes. There is a “night season”. After the glorious/beautiful day comes the dark night. There’s a time of having full strength, and there is a time when the strength will fade. The night season doesn’t have to be a difficult time or a time full of problems/troubles. But it means, a time when those opportunities that come our way are no longer there. A time when those things that we are proficient in and able to do, we will not be able to do any longer.
When I was a student at the University of Ibadan, in my little capacity then I tried being a blessing to those around me and served in my student fellowship. You will agree with me that now it is more difficult to reach those same classmates to bless them. It’s because there is a night season over that phase of my life and the relationships I had.
Brethren, the night comes, and because of that, we need to know how to discern the times and maximize the opportunities God brings our way by knowing what God’s will is in every season.
“Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is” (Eph. 5:16 – 17)
Notice this phrase from the scripture above “Understanding what the will of the Lord is”.I believe this is very key. 1 Kings 5, gives an account of how Solomon started building a temple for God. David, his father, had fought a lot of wars during his time as king. When Solomon became king, God gave him peace with all his neighbours. He didn’t make light of that opportunity, he discerned that the season was a time to build and he set out to do it immediately. He didn’t use that period to play around because he knew the night season would come.
The bible also tells us about the story of Joseph; he was able to discern that there was going to be seven years of plenty and abundance, followed by another seven years of lack and famine. Because he could discern the times and know God’s will, he was able to save the whole Egypt and was promoted to second in command in Egypt. Imagine, if the initial season of plenty was squandered and spent with a lackadaisical attitude, what would have been done in the night season (the next seven years) that followed.
The Bible also talks about the children of Issachar; because they could understand the times and Season, they had their brethren under their control. They were in charge. When we can learn to discern the times and seasons, we can distinguish ourselves for positions of responsibility.
“And of the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do; the heads of them were two hundred; and all their brethren were at their commandment” (1 Chron. 12:32)
I have a habit of seeking to know God’s will for the year on my birthday. My last 2 birthdays, the Lord told me, “I am putting you strategically in positions so as for you to be able to help and bless people”. When resources and special opportunities started coming my way, I knew exactly what God’s intention about them was and made sure to be a blessing to people. My knowledge of God’s will for that season, helped me to make use of the opportunities according to God’s will.
As believers, God has given us His spirit by which we can be led and discern His next move. We are His children and qualify to hear His voice and be led by Him. Today, I encourage you to learn to make maximum use of the opportunities that God brings your way by discerning properly God’s will per time.
I Call You Blessed
As we learnt in “The Man Christ Jesus; The Message”, the whole message of the scriptures points back to Christ. And so that must mean every promise given is a picture of Christ.
We see God make promises to people in the old testament. Each promise in the old testament speaks of the promise to send the Messiah; Jesus Christ. And in turn, the fulfilment of every promise spoke of the fulfilment of even the prophecies concerning the Messiah. For example, Genesis 21:1 says:
“The Lord visited Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did to Sarah as he had promised.”
The fulfilment of God’s promise to Abraham and Sarah to give them a child, even in their old age, was a picture of the faithfulness of God to keep His word regardless of the hopelessness of the natural situation. (Genesis 17; 16 -21 and 18:9-15).
In the old testament, we see numerous examples of God keeping His promises to His people – and because of this they could have faith for the Messiah – even though they did not physically see Him. The whole of Hebrews 11 gives us numerous examples of faith actions in the old testament that were counted as righteousness and belief for the Messiah. And it shows that the faith which we act out – in obedience to God’s word and instructions, speaks of the faith which we have for His promises of salvation and redemption – That Christ is indeed all He promises to be.
In the new testament, Christ has come. The promise of a Saviour is fulfilled. The man Christ Jesus is THE promise of God fulfilled as well as the fulfilment of every promise. In Christ – in the fulfilment of the promise of a saviour, there are manifold promises which cascade unto all those who believe.
Ephesians 1:3 says;
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,”
These promises are all fulfilled IN CHRIST. God has blessed us IN CHRIST. In our belief that Jesus is indeed our saviour, we have access to a host of spiritual blessings which we did not previously have access to. In Christ our spirit is saved and we have access once again to the blessings God intended for us to have – the Holy Spirit, promises of peace, healing, grace upon grace, favour, righteousness before the Father, redemption from our fallen state, and so much more.
Perhaps the most important is the promise of forgiveness of sins. Jeremiah prophesied saying:
“And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, says the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more” (Jer. 31:34)
God was saying their sins He will remember no more! But we know that this was only a promise fulfilled in Christ Jesus. The book of Hebrews explains that before Christ’s sacrifice, there was still a remembrance of sin despite the sacrifice of bulls and goats being offered.
“But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.” (Heb. 10: 2-3)
But talking about the sacrifice of Christ, He says:
“But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; from henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. For by one offering he has perfected forever them that are sanctified.” (Heb. 10: 12 – 14)
Hallelujah! He offered one sacrifice for sins for ever! Now, God doesn’t remember our sins because of the man Christ Jesus. Because of His sacrifice for sins.
Every promise of God is redemptive. Redeeming us to what He initially planned and predestined us to be (Ephesians 2:10).This is why Christ is the fulfilment of every promise because He is our Redeemer – the same way Boaz was a kinsman redeemer to Ruth – restoring to her what she had lost, Christ is our redeemer, restoring to us all that the devil aimed to kill, steal and destroy in our lives. Jesus Christ was the perfect sacrifice, paying fully for our sin which separated us from God, and allowed us to be righteous once again in the eyes of the Father. He makes us new creatures.
2 Corinthians 5:17 says;
“Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new”
So everything that would be Christs’ – as the son of God, would be ours IN CHRIST. Every promise to the people of God would be ours IN CHRIST. Because in Him we are once again God’s people.
Jeremiah also prophesied:
“For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (Jer. 31:33 ESV)
Peter, writing to the gentiles (to us), informs us that this promise has been fulfilled in Christ:
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a consecrated nation, a[special] people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies [the wonderful deeds and virtues and perfections] of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvellous light.”(1 Pet. 2:9 AMP)
“Once you were not a people [at all], but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” (1 Pet. 2:10 AMP)
In fact, we are not just His people, we are Sons of God. Glory!
“Beloved, now are we the sons of God…”(1 John 3:2 KJV)
Scripture goes further to state something that is mind-blowing;
“For all the promises of God in him are yes, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us” (2 Cor. 1: 20 KJV)
The message translation of the bible states it like this:
“Whatever God has promised gets stamped with the Yes of Jesus. In him, this is what we preach and pray, the great Amen, God’s Yes and our Yes together, gloriously evident” (2 Cor. 1: 20 – 21)
The version above calls Christ Jesus, the great Amen. Amen means so shall it be or let it be so or I strongly agree. We can look into Christ and find God saying “yes” to us who believe for all His promises. All of God’s promises are fulfilled in Christ. This should be a joy and rejoicing of heart for us! He is the Yes and Amen to all of God’s promises to us who believe. Have you looked through the Old Covenant, and seen any of God’s promise to us His people? 1 Cor. 1: 20 says we should rejoice, it is fulfilled in the Man Christ Jesus.
***Special thanks to Wuraola Fanimokun for helping out to co-write and edit this article***
OUR FAITH PROFESSION
Last time, I shared about forgiving and forbearing one another especially in our local assemblies. This week let’s look at something a bit different but definitely towards equipping us for the work of the ministry. Three scriptures, Heb. 3:1, Heb. 4:14, Heb. 10:23.
Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; (Heb. 3:1)
Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. (Heb. 4:14)
Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised) (Heb. 10:23)
Notice in all the verses above, the scriptures are bringing us to keep the profession of our faith. Heb. 3:1 tells us we have a faith profession, we have a High Priest over this profession, this High Priest is Jesus Christ. Google defines the word profession as a paid occupation especially one that involves prolonged training and a formal qualification. (Synonyms are career, occupation etc.). It also defines Profession as an act of declaring that one has a particular feeling or quality, especially when this is not the case (Synonyms are declaration, affirmation etc.)
I want us to see the use of the word profession in the above verses beyond the verbal declaration but as an occupation, as the first definition explains. Our Faith Profession. The Christian faith is a profession not a hobby or what we do to relax or feel good in the midst of our peers. No! It is a profession, our life depends on it. It is that serious. In fact it is our calling. We were called to this profession. We were called to live the faith life. Our life depends on it. It’s our major pre-occupation. Heb. 4:14 and Heb. 10:23 tell us how we handle our faith profession, it says we should HOLD FAST.
In the first definition provided it explains that a profession requires PROLONGED TRAINING and A FORMAL QUALIFICATION. In the faith profession, our qualification is our salvation, that’s where we receive the calling into this noble profession, our PROLONGED TRAINING is to search scriptures. Heb. 3:1 and Heb. 4:14 tells us how we get better; by considering Christ Jesus. We search scriptures to get better.
“You search and keep on searching and examining the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and yet it is those [very Scriptures] that testify about me; (John 5:39 AMP)
We search the scriptures not because they qualify us for eternal life but to learn more about Jesus but to learn more about Jesus to be able to better testify of Him (Philemon 1:6). As we search and know more of Him, we get better at our faith profession and we can be more like Him. The church is a bible school to learn and get better at our faith profession. We need to get serious, we have a job to do.
Philemon 1:6 also says something similar. It says we will get better in professing our faith as we continue to learn of all the good things Christ has worked in us.
“That the sharing (communication) of our faith may become effective by the acknowledgment of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus” (Philemon 1:6)
It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings to search out a matter. (Prov. 25:2)
And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father, to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen (Rev. 1:6)
God qualified us as a King to search out Christ in the scriptures. Our honour is in searching out Christ in scriptures. That’s the honour code of our profession. Brethren we have a job to do. We are not to be tossed around by every wind of doctrine. Let’s spend time in fellowship with the Spirit, in listening, to be taught scriptures. We as believers should take care so we do not become lazy. That’s not accepted in this profession. We search out Christ in the scriptures and follow him accordingly.
See this also;
Who also hath made us able ministers of the New Testament, not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter kills, but the spirit gives life (2 Cor. 3:6)
He did not just make your pastor a minister of the new covenant, he made you and me, a minister of the new covenant. And we are to;
Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. (2 Timothy 4:2)
The scriptures even encourage us further that the mysteries of the kingdom HAVE BEEN given to us to know. (Luke 8:10, 1 Cor. 2: 10 – 14)
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written the just shall live by faith (Rom. 1: 16 – 17)
As we search the scriptures, one thing we see more and more is the righteousness of God. We keep unravelling this free gift of righteousness that we have received. We discover that God is righteous in saving the sinner as long as he comes through Christ, we see more and more that God is righteous in keeping the saint saved eternally. We see that God’s way of making people right with Him begins and ends in faith in Christ. And we move from faith to faith as we progress and get better at our profession.
Are you dutiful in your faith profession?
Written by Samson Afolabi
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