Keeping an open mind to God’s word while we’re engaged in well-meaning doctrinal review is crucial for believers. Although scrutiny can catalyse differences, it doesn’t make it unnecessary. Differences can be healthy by showing us complementarity or safety lines.
Having said the above, in this exercise to ascertain God’s ultimate heart desire for humanity, let’s depend on the Holy Spirit to enlighten us through the scriptures.
What’s God’s ultimate heart desire for humanity?
The answer—is revealed in God’s two-fold purpose for breathing Life (Christ or Light) into Adam and Eve. The two pronged intent is: For humanity to have freedom to worship (talk and walk) with Him as His image bearer and from that vantage, till the ground as its caretaker (Micah 6:8, Ecclesiastes 12:13, Genesis 2:15).
Although Adam and Eve eventually lost God’s image through their disobedient choice (Genesis 3:6) and plunged humankind into darkness, God’s heart desire for humanity to worship Him didn’t change. In due time, His only Son (The Lamb sacrificed from the beginning) was sent as the Light—to light up humanity who lived in darkness and in the shadow of death (Luke 1:79).
However, because it was by choice humankind rejected God’s life freely breathed into our first parent (Adam and Eve), it’s also by choice that we’ll have to receive God’s free gift of life being offered to us in His Son.
But, given humanity’s gross depravity, are we able to choose life? Yes!
That’s what Christ’s atonement did — it tore the veil —making it possible for humankind to turn to the Light through the preaching of the gospel (2 Corinthians 5:19, Matthew 27:51, Romans 3:25, 1 Corinthians 1:21). Therefore, it’s proclaimed, ‘whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life’ (John 3:15).
God’s active desire ab initio was and still is salvation (His life to dwell in humankind Genesis 1:26, 1 John 4:14-15, Romans 10:13). It’s contrary to Calvinist predestination doctrine which portrays God as a trickster — engaged in offering a larger segment of humanity His Light — while He had predetermined by His sovereignty for them never to accept the Light. This blind spot is part of the fundamental error governing Calvinism. The scriptures to show how God have negated the rest of His attributes and used just one — “sovereignty” to act against every other thing He represents is yet to be provided.
True sovereignty of God works within the framework of His other characteristics like love, justice, patience etc. His sovereignty in perfect harmony with the rest of His attributes is displayed in His willingness to save humanity despite we were fallen. Herein, we’re shown godly sovereignty that’s not divorced from who He is. Because God’s sovereignty operates within His attribute of justice, He made the provision of His Lamb from the foundation of the world knowing He’ll never work against His own attributes. So, God’s Lamb is pivotal and inevitable since the Adamic sin that affected all of humanity had to be paid for.
Ironically, John Calvin’s discriminatory interpretation of predestination doesn’t resemble his namesake’s (John, the apostle) inspired scriptures in John chapter 1. Here’s what it says, ‘the Word or Logos was in the beginning with God as God and He created humans and the Word is the light of or for humanity (John 1:1-3, John 1:4). Notice, the Light is not for some predestined people.
‘The mission of the true Light, is to give light to everyone’ (John 1:9). The essence of John the Baptist’s ministry further solidified this truth: “God sent him as a witness to testify concerning the Light, so that through him all (not some) might believe in the Light” (John 1:6-9).
As John the Baptist made good of the ministry of being a witness to the Light, oppositions and distraction arose from the people who wanted to know who he was and his mission. But, he kept his focus on God’s heart desire and stated it repeatedly in an uncomplicated manner: “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world (humanity)” (John 1:29).For all intent and purposes, this clearly speaks of Christ’s general atonement for humanity and not limited atonement for specially predestined people(1 John 2:2, Isaiah 53:6).
Let all who want to praise the glory of God’s grace reflect again and again about His sovereignty alongside all of His other attributes. As we do, hopefully, we’ll eventually acknowledge that there’s no way God’s other characteristics would’ve been dormant for sovereignty to act independently. God is self-sufficient in wisdom and counsels Himself wisely! (Isaiah 40:13).
The Scope of the Light’s Mission
The Light’s mission was to all of humankind and not to any special people (Neither the Israelites nor a certain predestined multitude). Even the Israelites as part of humanity and by genealogy Jesus’s own people also refused to recognise and acknowledge the Light (Him) (John 1:10-11). But, because the Light (The Word) came as a fresh start for humanity, as many as received Him, those who believed in His name He gave the right to become children of God — children born not of natural descent, nor of parental decision but born of God (John 1:12-13, 1 Peter 1:23).
Evidently, God laced the apostolic ministry of John with His heart’s desire for humanity in a way that explained predestination. Pursuant to God’s desire to save all of humanity, John both faithfully and plainly proclaimed the remarkable action God took, ‘Out of His fullness, grace upon grace has been poured out to humanity’ (John 1:16, 4: 42, Titus 2:11, 1 Timothy 4:10). Unlike God’s “law of commandments” given to the Israelites by Moses as their culture, grace and truth (Christ Jesus or the Gospel) is given to humankind as a culture of Light or Redemption (John 1:17).
In Ephesians chapter 1, Paul stated repeatedly that God predestined humankind to redemption. To be holy and blameless through believing the gospel—God’s good pleasure for humankind. A pleasure He determined for humans in Christ from creation. This gospel (The Light—God’s Son) came to reveal His Father to all of humanity. Why? Because no one has ever seen or can see the Father except by seeing His Son (John 1:18).
How can the general atonement of Jesus Christ be entered into?
John stated the answer, “Make straight the way for the Lord” — meaning, believe in the Lord or repent — not from all of our sins but from the sin of rejecting the Light (John 1:23, Mark 1:15, Acts 3:19). Why do we refuse to come to the Light or His atonement? It’s because our hearts and deeds are evil and the devil uses it to blind us (John 3:19, 2 Corinthians 4:4). It has nothing to do with us not being predestined.
How do humanity that love darkness come to the Light? Jesus’s sapid explanation showed both His Father’s role and humankind’s. ‘… God takes the initiative to teach all to come to Christ, and everyone who hears, learn or agree with God accepts Christ (John 6:45). So, verse 45 of John 6 clarifies (John 6:44), ‘before anyone can come to me, they must first listen and agree with my Father’s persuasion’. Those who agree to come to me are those taught or persuaded by God and great will be their peace as spoken by the prophets and I will raise them up at the last day (Isaiah 54:13).
Whilst it’s the church that’s chiefly used by God to persuade humankind, He also directly persuades humans — including babies in their mother’s womb. Patiently, God endures with humanity so all can heed His persuasion! (2 Peter 3:9, 15). God is not devilish to be busy drawing (persuading) people He had predetermined never to accept His persuasion.
It’s clearly stated, ‘God sent the Light to humankind not to condemn us but to give us Light’ (John 3:17). This offer is to everyone everywhere (Mark 16:15). Why? Because He loves humankind (John 3:16). His desire (Predestination) is for everyone to enter into the Light of eternal life in His Son. It’s not a reserved privilege for a few elect, no! Those — few (Multitudes) who respond to God’s persuasion to go to Christ just as Jesus had to agree with God’s predestination to go the cross will be chosen or elected to abide in Christ as a new creation (Matthew 22:14, Luke 22:42, 2 Corinthians 5:17).
Encouraging reason why every human should come to the Light or Christ’ Atonement
While it’s true that when we come to the Light the darkness in our hearts and evil deeds will be exposed to us, we need not be shamed or afraid because Christ made the atonement on the cross on our behalf and resurrected to give humankind life abundantly (John 10:10). If we accept His atonement, its effect doesn’t leave us with our sin, sins and shame (1 John 2:2). He translates us to light and helps us walk in the light (Matthew 5:14, John 8:12, 14:26, Isaiah 30:21, Psalm 32:8, Romans 8:14).
Consequently, the only reason any human will be lost perpetually is the rejection of the Lamb of God and not because they were predestined to damnation (John 3:18, Mark 16:16). It accounts for why the Prophets of old prophesied that Christ is the Messiah and the Apostles vehemently insisted that redemption is found in no one else but Christ Jesus, the light of humankind (Acts 4:12).
The True Gospel
The gospel does not become good news because He’s received. In and of Himself, He’s good news to humanity. That’s why He’s not limited to any socio-political cum religious and ideological enclave. Irrespective of the religion and culture we’re born into, God is daily drawing everyone to Christ, the Light of Humankind.
Through the Church (All those who’ve accepted God’s persuasion to believe in Christ and follow Him), the gospel is being displayed and preached to all humans that God, our Creator, has the welfare of each one of us at heart, to this end: that we should be saved in Christ (Mark 16: 15). This is the theme of the book of Acts. It isn’t a narrative of God conscripting some predestined folks.
God has never been in the business of forcing humanity to worship Him else, the rich young ruler and King Agrippa would’ve been conscripted. They freely and unwisely rejected God’s persuasion (Mark 10: 17-22, Acts 26:27-29).
Jesus himself, John, the apostle and John the Baptist including the other apostles and prophets pointed to this conclusion: everyone is invited to Christ Jesus, why? Because God doesn’t desire for anyone to go to hell (The unavoidable place for those who reject Christ’s atonement).
No human was predestined to go to hell to satisfy God’s cosmic pleasure. Far from it! (Ezekiel 18:23).
It’s important to be aware that the only means by which the human race can “escape” the enslavement of Satan, sins and the law of sin and death is Jesus Christ, God’s Son Acts 4:12, Romans 8:2.
The word “escape” is synonymous with “saved or a believer”—that is, a mortal who’s engaged to God. It’s the highest honour we mortals can get and it happens instantaneously by believing in the once for all time sacrifice of Christ Romans 10:9, 1 Peter 3:18. God is not married to any mortal. Paul, the apostle affirmed this truth when He said, I betrothed you to one Husband 2 Corinthians 11:2. In God, there’s coming a due season when believers will put on immortal body and then will come the everlasting marriage Revelation 19: 6-8. This truth brings us to the controversial doctrine of “once saved, always saved or eternal security” which is sadly gaining extensive traction among Christians.
The doctrine has roots in rigid predestination and new age thoughts. For this reason, it’s worth stating that the birth, crucifixion, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ manifested the reality of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world as the Book of life. Whoever believe in or accepts His sacrifice willingly receives Salvation (Is Saved). It has to be willingly because God is not a dictator although He’s sovereign.
How can totally depraved human ever be willing? This mystery is resolved because before Adam and Eve (Our first parents) fell, God had sacrificed His Lamb (Son) from the foundation of the earth (Verse 8 of Revelation 13KJV). Notice that the phrase: “From the foundation of the earth” is in relation to when the Lamb was slain and not when God determined for some people to be Heaven bound and others to damnation.
God foreknew Satan will use predestination to lie against Him therefore, God’s inspired word to His prophets and apostles as written in the scriptures is, whoever—whoever—whoever accepts Salvation is sealed (given) “not locked” — with the Holy Spirit as a deposit … Ephesians 1:13-14, 2 Corinthians 1:22. This is the new birth wherein believers stand by faith.
In a nutshell, the doctrine of “once saved, always saved” states that, ‘once a person has actually received the gift of Salvation, thereafter, no matter how he or she stray after Satan (Verse 11 & 15 of 1 Timothy 5ESV) and keeps practising sin for which Christ died and rose to sanctify believers unto obedience 1 Peter 1: 2, John 8:12, his/her salvation is secured eternally’. Some of its proponents put a proviso, ‘No one who is actually saved can afterwards go back to practising sin’. This doctrine misconstrue the phrase of verse 8 of Ephesians 2 which says, “our Salvation is the gift of God …” to mean that God gives humankinda gift named salvation because of Christ by grace through faith. This is far from the truth!
The truth is, Christ is the gift God gives to humankind as Salvation by grace through faith. In other words, Christ is the Salvation those who believe receive into their hearts and not some imaginary gift apart from Himself. That’s why He’s our Righteousness 1 Corinthians 1:30. Receiving Christ into our hearts by grace through faith is our Salvation (Regeneration, Engagement and Courtship); of which its culmination is marriage (Salvation to the utmost) Hebrews 7:25, 1 Peter 1:9, 13. Notice that intercession is still being made for the engaged people (Bride) to be saved to the utmost. That’s why Christianity is a lively relationship with the living Triune God. Because it’s a relationship and can be walked away from, believers are admonished to remain or abide (don’t disengage or stop beholding Christ’s face) as His purpose and mission to have us as His wife is being accomplished John 15:4, 2 Corinthians 3:18.
Worthy of note is this: Having difficulties in a Courtship, and walking away from the relationship are two different kettle of fish. Walk away, and there’ll be no marriage! Persevere and love will conquer all!
This picture is illustrative of how believers’ safety is only in their abiding in Christ. To come out of the safety of the car is to expose oneself to the roaring lion—it’s suicidal, no doubt! For this reason, we must abide in Him as the Holy Spirit is driving 1 Peter 5:8, Romans 8:14. Our Salvation journey is more about us being led by the Holy Spirit than we making efforts. The pilgrim journey gets sweeter everyday if and only if we accept to be led by the Holy Spirit.
Christ, our salvation and righteousness makes all whom He indwells to desire His sinless perfect life Philippians 2:13. This doesn’t mean we’ve reached “sinless perfect living” hence the need for repentant lifestyle by reason of use. Nonetheless, the desire to live daily in and as Christ by His motivation differentiates those who’re being saved to the utmost from those who choose to crucify Him the second time, the self-righteous and the wicked Hebrews 6:6.
As a people betrothed to Christ, we’re encouraged to walk in the Holy Spirit—growing from glory to glory in righteousness (Christ) Galatians 5:25, Philippians 3:9-10, 1-8. Living daily from the position and enablement of the Holy Spirit is a new way of life to all believers who, hitherto, wallowed in and were accustomed to disobedience and unfaithfulness since we were dead and had “unrevived minds”. As a result, we need renewing (Pruning) as branches in the Vine John 15:5. Although we’re believers, we can stop the almighty God pruning us by us not presenting/submitting ourselves or abiding in His Son Romans 12:1-2. How can any doctrine that deny this truth be right!?
Some may ask, “What happens to a person who gets engaged to Christ and falls dead the next minute”? Well, the question answers its self—the person was still engaged before departing to await his/her immortal body with which to enter the marriage supper in due time. Unfortunately, the concept of “once saved, always saved” says, “Christ is bound to marry those who disengaged Him while they were clothed with their mortal bodies”. This hypothesis goes against both spiritual and natural principles.
By deliberately or unintentionally misinterpreting the truth in 1 Peter 2:24, the “once saved, always saved” precept subtly saps Christians of the grace to live (submit) to God and resist Satan’s temptations especially in the area(s) of besetting sin(s) that war against our souls 1 Peter 2:11. War against our souls—meaning, wooing us to disengage Christ, court another and live to our flesh Romans 8:12, 2 Corinthians 11:3.
In Matthew 16:24, Jesus emphasised that believers’ willing submission is pivotal because God’s imputed righteousness (Christ), does not enslave anyone engaged to Him rather; all who come to Him become bond servants (followers) of righteousness willingly because of His love towards them. Paul’s point in Romans 16:7 and Philemon 1:9 is not that Christ imprisoned them but a reference that the wicked ruling people unjustly imprisoned him and others because they were faithful to their engagement to Christ, their Lord.
Christ brings His sheep into His Kingdom (Himself) full of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Notice the Holy Spirit doesn’t bring righteousness, peace and joy to anyone instead, all who are in Him enjoy these virtues. They give themselves as slaves to something they enjoy and not enslaved by something they don’t desire. That’s why the law of the spirit of life in Christ produces righteous lifestyle only in believers who thirst and hunger for righteousness Matthew 5:6, Romans 8:13b.
Emphasis! God’s imputed righteousness in believers is Christ’s nature and He doesn’t force Himself out of a believer. As a result, a person who has Christ (saved or redeemed) can decide to stop following or abiding in Him, choose to grieve the Holy Spirit and even blaspheme Him. This is the reason we Christians can still disobey the Holy Spirit to forgive one another and continue murdering one another with hatred 1 John 3:15. No believer who hate and refuse to forgive any other person on earth will be married to Christ (saved to the utmost!) Matthew 6:15.
Scriptures outline factors that make it possible for a Christian to fall away and live unperturbed as an unfaithful fiancée. In the main, it’s looking away from Christ, neglecting the voice of the Holy Spirit and not resisting Satan James 4:7. With this in mind, we’re exhorted and admonished, “Abide in me & I in you. … John 15:4” and don’t grieve the Holy Spirit Ephesians 4:30, James 4:7. Why? The Spirit’s work/fruit is cultivated only in Christ and exhibited via the abiding branches (People of the Way), the Church. While our human kind deeds can attract God’s attention, it’s not the basis upon which God puts His Spirit in us. Christ is the basis and it’s the reason God had to send Peter to philanthropic “Cornelius”. The Cornelius’ of this world need Christ to be saved and saved to the utmost.
When a person receive Salvation, he or she becomes a branch that has all it needs (All of God’s resources) because of the Vine and must abide and bear fruit. Any branch that refuses to abide (stay on bearing fruit) in the Vine is cut off. Those that abide are pruned to continue to bear more fruit John 15:2.
Christ is not only the Righteousness of believers—He is our High Priest, Evangelist, Apostle, Prophet, Shepherd and our God. As our High Priest, He understands our weaknesses having tasted all we can ever experience in our pilgrimage especially the weakness of attempting to look away from Grace and suppose we’re still on the journey. Jesus always looked to or abided in His Father and we’re instructed to look to or abide in Christ Jesus (our road map, destination or destiny). He’s always in front of us and this being the case, our “every weight and besetting sin(s)” is/are always behind us. Against this background, we must set aside (overcome)by not looking back or away from Christ. No one can be looking at Christ and sinning at the same time Hebrews 12:1-2, Philippians 3:13, Luke 9:62. You may have noticed how mere religious environments makes us pious. How much more will we be truly godly by looking to or beholding Christ’s face!
As His disciples, we can fall for any sin we imagine or consider more attractive than the Lamb because it’s with our imagination we look to or look away from things James 1:14. Hence, God inspires us to set our imagination on the perfect sinless blood of His Lamb. It’s the centre of His attraction. From His Blood, we have life and draw life. We live above any sin we don’t relish more than Christ, our bridegroom Colossians 2: 6, 2 Peter 1:3-11. However, the fact we can choose to sin, walk away or refuse to abide in Christ highlights the error of “once saved, ever saved”, and nullifies the prideful doctrine of “sinless perfection”. While a static vehicle will not reach its destiny, a moving vehicle eventually will Hosea 6:3, Philippians 3:12, 1 John 3:3.
As God’s beloved children and bride of Christ, He knows when our love is fading away from Him—when our touch of Him grows cold as if someone else controls our very soul. Although He’s patient with us, it doesn’t mean He’s not hurt seeing us flirting with the Anti-Christ. We may still call on His name and be churchy but it doesn’t stop Him knowing we’ve lost our first love for Him—He feels the emptiness inside of us Matthew 24:12, Revelation 2:5. This is why we’re lovingly and extensively exhorted and admonished in the inerrant scripture (Bible) to keep our imagination on the stature of Christ and we’ll not fulfil the sinful instincts fighting to destroy our souls Philippians 4:8-9.
It’s only when we look away from Christ that sinful instincts prevail over us. Therefore, if we get miserable, guilt ridden, depressed, confused, lose our joy and get offended with Christ because we were overtaken or fell into sin, we need to meditate on the thought below:
Was the dominion we had over the sin that has now overtaken us our own righteousness or was it the one we received as a gift by faith in Christ while we looked to Him? If it is the latter, then, we need to get up quickly! —Repent! And Stop enjoying corruption and rottenness. Pig’s pen is not meant for sheep! Get back to His blood and fix your eyes there. If our hearts (eyes) is not divided but single—centred on Christ, His temple on earth (our whole being – Spirit, soul and body) will be full of His light Luke 11:34.
But, if we choose to remain in the miry clay it’s because we’re enjoying sin and not wanting to abide in Him as a branch or fiancée. If we stay there—taken in by sin’s deceitfulness and our hearts harden, it goes fromfalling into sin—to living, practising or walking in sin (Darkness) Hebrews 3:13. In which case, we may be lured into grabbing the ramshackle doctrine of “once saved, always saved”.
Rightly, as stated by J D. Walt, “The need to convince oneself of their eternal security is itself the greatest sign of eternal insecurity” therefore, He continued “Our greatest need isn’t for a doctrine of eternal security but the graciously granted gift of Divine assurance which comes from the Holy Spirit”. We don’t convince ourselves rather, the Holy Spirit does in each believer’s heart Romans 8:16.
Our journey in and with Christ is one way and onward ever with the good luxury and privilege to run to the throne of grace when we’re becoming short-sighted and weary. The Christian soldier’s onward march is in and towards the God of love, mercy, grace and holiness. He is a consuming fire that burns away sins from all who run to Him for mercy, forgiveness and overcoming grace.
Our engagement to Christ is glorious and described as the hope of glory Colossians 1: 27. So, when comes the glory? At the consummation which is the marriage! Those who have this hope in them purify themselves (Are faithful in courtship) as He was and is 1 John 3:3, 1 Peter 1:14-15. Amen!
Therefore, the decision to abide in Christ or not is our choice. God has done and given Christ’s bride everything she needs to live godly, faithfully, justly, mercifully and humbly in this present life and to finish well (Abide to the end) 2 Timothy 4:7. The Lord’s greatest desire is to see us finish well—keep the faith. I trust and pray that you and I will finish well by His grace that’s working in us and with us. Amen!
Is Satan the devil really as powerful as to cause the kinds of division seen among true Christians today?
Before answering the above question, I guess it is important for us as Christians to remind ourselves of the obvious—that is, we are Christians only because we have Christ in us. Therefore, we all belong to Him.
Doubtless, the devil and his cohorts are powerful but not most powerful! Certainly not powerful enough to take on Christ Jesus the Creator of all things Colossians 1:16.
While the bible described Satan as the strong man, Christ is declared as the stronger man Luke 11:22.
So why has the devil succeeded and is still succeeding in inciting division among believers against the desire of Christ for His Church to live and enjoy unity and peace?
It seems the problem lies with something we Christians have not understood and as such are not obeying. But, what could it be? Don’t be partisan—don’t build camps.
Paul and Barnabas understood this truth. In-spite of their disagreement, they kept on with the gospel without nicknaming it their brand. Because there was absence of this branding of the gospel, when Paul requested for John Mark’s assistance in the gospel, Barnabas did not think Paul was trying to get Mark to switch movement, denomination or camp.
The apostles had a firm grasp of the path Jesus laid for the Church’s unity and peace. Hence, it helped them not to build little or huge camps for themselves.
Though we read of the disagreements in the early church, we see no example of the sort of camps, denominations and movements we have today. Given the grace Paul had for deep and difficult revelations into the Person of Christ as testified by Peter, he could have easily created his own camp, denomination or movement and nicknamed it “Paulinism”. But rather, he exhorted and admonished thus; 1 Corinthians 1:12, 3:4-6, 22, 4:6.
Even where some Christians derailed into dangerous doctrines, the apostle’s approach to correcting them was not to nickname their own gospel. Rather, they confronted the false doctrines headlong—by showing the church via the scriptures and their Christlike lifestyle how the doctrines were wrong. Presently, the church is so deviated from this pattern one would wonder if ever it can be remedied. Here is where faith comes in! All things are possible if we are willing to believe, trust and obey the Omnipotent God.
Well, the bible speaks of the wiles of the devil and states that we’re not ignorant of it. Could it be that we have actually made ourselves ignorant of it?
Let us look at one of his wiles which I strongly believe the church has been for a long time ignorant of and therefore has not attacked it with our Christ given weapons of prayer, wisdom, love and obedience.
The wile I am referring to is the camps we have unwisely built for ourselves, though we have not done this intentionally in all cases. Nevertheless, its effect has achieved the devil’s wishes for us to be divided contrary to our Saviour’s desire for His church to live in unity.
Over the centuries, the Holy Spirit has been revealing clearly that this tragedy of camp building and its divisive effect has to be addressed. But the costs to those who have laboured and invested not just money but their lives to building these camps is enormous. As a result, it’s overwhelming to think about redressing the issue. But, I am persuaded that most of the faithful servants of God who have long joined the Lord will undo the things they did to contribute to the camps we have today if they are given a chance. Pardon my presumption.
So, what will it be for us who remain today, are we going to agree with the Spirit of God and break down these camps or what?
God never builds upon wrong foundation. He always first clears the refuse of lies. His ancient pattern is always to breakdown and build up afresh and anew. Strategic restructuring is never His pattern.
Am I saying we don’t need these nicknames: Multicultural, End time, Reform, Emergent, Pentecostal, Charismatic, Evangelical, Calvinist, Armenian, House church, Baptist, and Methodist etc.? My apologies if I missed out your camp.
It is God’s mind that we should breakdown these camps if we truly want to experience the Lord Jesus’ desire for us to enjoy unity and peace amongst us (the church). For clarity, I am not addressing “unity within our camps and its babies”. It is amply clear that the tactics employed to achieve our tactical “unity” has not and cannot workout unity for His body. Neither can ecumenism.
What I am addressing is the unity of the spirit and peace in the one church that has expression across the different locale.
Now, I am not saying the camps are the cause of disagreements but that they are catalysts for division—actually, the camp is the division. In part 1 of Unity and peace, I did state clearly that disagreement is not division and should not lead to it. However, it is unthinkable to have camps without division.
Love—foundation of the faith, with unity of the spirit in the bond of peace, will carry His church through disagreements. These disagreements arise mainly because we all do not get the true understanding of the person of Christ at the same time. We grow in our knowledge, in our walk in and with Christ at varying paces and God is satisfied with that. If a Christian within a gathering or the whole gathering locale is sinning or in error doctrinally, it should be addressed as such and not from the standpoint of gospel brand.
So, why the bitter divisions? The answer is crystal clear—the camps!
The problem is this; if we must grow our camps then unavoidably we will be partisan, crafty, callous, and egocentric instead Christocentric. But, if we choose Christo-centricity, then, painfully but rewardingly, the camps must need be done away with.
As the body of Christ, here are three vital things to consider deeply if we are honestly desiring our unity and peace.
Firstly, is God actually wanting us to breakdown these ungodly walls (camps, denominations, movements) that have been built knowingly or unknowingly over the centuries?
Secondly, are we prepared to repent and pay the painful price of breaking down the camps our past beloved brothers and sisters and even us now have painstakingly built and relied on for our identity for so long?
And lastly, are we ready to start afresh, learn the things we hopped and skipped over and follow Christ’s pattern relying only on Him, the captain of our salvation, the centre of our unity and the prince of our peace?
What’s your response? It will be helpful to the church.
It is good to know and handle the word of God because it contain His Spirit as a light that gives life (John 8:12, 1:4). However, we can handle His word without its spirit or life and light (2 Corinthians 3:6, Jeremiah 2:8).
This danger is subtle and can creep upon us if we presume our busyness— evangelizing, teaching, and caring for people, active in social networks and blogging as tantamount to having His life in abundance (John 10:10).
Even being consumed with our legitimate means of livelihood can conceal our lack of His ever abundant life beckoning on us.
The truth that God’s word is crucial and ineluctable for humans and the universe is undeniable. By His word, the cosmos was spoken into being, and our life’s origin is from Him.
To us humans, Adam being the first, God spoke not that our life should be rather, He entered man by His breath—that is, His very spirit (Life) took residence in Adam. Hence, man became a living soul. Adam came to know the life inside him as the Word — his God and Creator in whom he lived, moved and had his being (Acts 17:28).
Therefore, in their activities in Eden’s garden, God’s every word became their light and first priority. And it was to be an inheritance to their descendants.
But, with the passing of time, they gave God’s word second place in their daily living through the deception of the serpent, the devil. This meant they departed from His path of light and life into darkness or the broad way — a tragic fall from God’s grace! Hebrews 12:15a. From being a living soul, they became dead souls with fleshly might, which was no match for their enemy, Satan (a fallen angel and his cohorts).
Obviously, the kingdom of darkness gained a boast over man. Suddenly, man who through God’s grace had boldness and dominion over all of His creation had lost His glory. As a result, when God called out to Adam and Eve, they didn’t have boldness to fellowship with Him any more.
Though they still handled or remembered His word to them not to eat from the tree of good and evil, the life and light of His word had been lost. They had no power of life to obey it again. Once God’s word takes second place in man, its life and light goes out.
This should deter us ever looking away from Christ Jesus, THE NEW AND LIVING WAY that gives us boldness to fellowship with God at His throne of grace Hebrews 4:16, 10:19-22. Looking away means relegating Him to second place in our lives.
Jesus hates to be our second love or priority. It is a colossal mistake with hellish consequences.
Making Him our second priority is like knowing and handling the word without the life and light. And without light, gloom and darkness prevail. Hence, man loses direction and the essence of living which is—to praise and worship God daily.
The words of prolific writer, C. S. Lewis captured the fact of human neglect of her duties to God: “Human history is the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy”.
The word “happy” is mankind’s way of describing peace and joy. But, the word of God says to us, peace and joy are founded upon righteousness as a virtue of His kingdom (Romans 14:17). The rejection of the spirit, light and life in His word equates to us robbing ourselves of true happiness. Mankind’s own happiness is transient because it is based on things that are temporal and does fade away.
God destined righteousness, peace and joy (happiness) for man is wrapped up in His Son and in Him alone. His word carries the impact of His life as a light shining on the narrow path for all who will embrace and cling to His Son—herein is real happiness found (Psalm 119:105). His word is destined for first place in us humans and over all things and in all things. It must be so for us to have coherence, escape corruption and enjoy happiness for all eternity.
Jesus’ narrative of the rich man who existed in transient happiness while in his mortal body but ended up in perpetual unhappiness in his immortal state is a warning for mankind and the church to give God’s life and light found in His word first priority while the opportunity remains.
All who have been called into Christ are daily in this battle to “abide in Him” (1 John 2:28) described as “looking unto Jesus” in (Hebrews 12:2) and referenced as ‘your first love or the love you had at first’ in Revelation 2. In other words, to abide in Christ is to look steadilyon Him (keep Him as first love) and not to make Him second priority in our daily living. That is to say, Christ as God’s light and life bound up in the word must not be separated. Handling His word without its light and life will at most, make us moralistic people.
Mistake of the Ephesians Church
What happened to Ephesus church as representing a certain church age in (Revelation 2:2-4) is an admonition for us in the twenty-first century church. They remembered the word, laboured hard, had patience and even fished out false apostles among them yet, Christ’ life and light (first love) that worked within their hearts was faded. This is a thing you and I must guard against in our own lives (Matthew 22:37-39).
Intimate relationship or fellowship with God should always come first and from its backdrop, relationships and all its activities with others.
Adam and Eve experienced the glory of God living in, walking and talking with them in Eden’s garden while He remained first in their everyday living. But as said earlier, painfully, they were eventually defeated in that garden because they demoted God’s word to second place.
God’s infinite wisdom and redemptive purpose was to later hatch, His Word became flesh and dwelt amongst men. And, in the garden of Gethsemane, the Word shed His blood, died and resurrected. Now, He lives not just among us but in us, walking and talking with us as Adam and Eve experienced Him in Eden’s garden. This time, and in this Gethsemane garden (the world), the Man Jesus has defeated the serpent.
Therefore, today, the scriptures exhort and admonish man boldly, ‘Christ in you—the hope of glory’ (Colossians 1:27). Not we working for the gospel but, the spirit, light and life of His word or the gospel working in us and giving out its fruit through us.
Paul the apostle had a good grasp of this. As the gospel (light and life of God’s word) worked in him, he strived to imprint the truth of Gethsemane’s victory into the heart of the church. Nevertheless, he never failed to also remind the church to learn from man’s fall in Eden through Satan’s deception (2 Corinthians 11:3).
For emphasis, Satan’s deception worked only because Adam and Eve forgot their first love. This is why the Holy Spirit is with us, always reminding and helping us not to forget our first love, Christ Jesus. And we are admonished to encourage one another daily to this end (Hebrews 3:13).
So, God is not looking for us to just know the letter of His word or is He seeking to talk “to” us, no, rather, He desires to talk “with” us—herein is life. And, He wants to “walk” with us not just “show” us the way— that is light as found in His word (Christ). He is the Light of the world (John 8:12, Revelation 21:23). Outside Him is gross darkness.
As redeemed and beloved children of God, may we find grace to keep coveting after the spirit, light and life in His scriptures, that is our first love!
A true test of sound biblical understanding and practice of righteousness depends on whether we are enslaved by righteousness or servants to righteousness.
What does it mean to be enslaved by righteousness and what are the symptoms?
To be enslaved by righteousness is to make one’s perceived good conducts (works of righteousness) God. That is, the good conducts as listed in the bible or acceptable ethos within one’s immediate or remote cultural community. The motivation and goal becomes attaining the higher levels of good conduct which in turn becomes the source of happiness and yardstick for obtaining all good things of the present life and entering the life to come. For example, the laws God gave to Israel to help bring them to seek Him became God to them. They elevated His laws above Him and became enslaved by their good deeds. Matthew 12:10-12, Luke 14:2-6.
Symptoms of this doctrinal ailment
Believing righteousness comes by righteous deeds and not the opposite
Believing Salvation is by the works of righteous deeds and not the reverse
Immense fasting not as worship but as a means of overcoming and attaining higher levels of righteousness
Blaming others or things as reasons for looking away, unbelief or sinning
Judging oneself, others and things on the surface or only after the manner of the flesh as opposed to the Spirit
Exploring every available religion peradventure they may give clues for attaining the standard in the area one is falling short
Falling into sin leads to guilt, withdrawal from the bible and fellowship, loss of joy, depression and anger against whoever is assumed to have set the standard so high, be it God or man
The above symptoms are clear and an undeniable alarm that a person or a people are taken captive or enslaved by righteous deeds. That being the case, the deeds, are now forcing the adherers to serve them. The good deeds become a person who punishes the adherers that deviate with guilt, shame and hiding. The deeds or circumstances become their masters or god. The force or threat element is remarkable.
The presence of one or all of the above symptoms in our lives shows we lack sound understanding of the Christian faith, we’re yet to become Christian or we have been deceived or derailed. If this is the case with anyone or a group of people, it is serious and needs immediate redress.
Servants to Righteousness
The remedy to the lethal problem of being enslaved by righteousness is, to be servant(s) to Righteousness. The first important thing to mention is this; there is no force or subtle threat involved at all. In this case, the individual or group of people chooses to be a servant(s) to Righteousness. The choice to be a servant(s) to Righteousness gives good conducts or righteous deeds as part of Its rewards. This kind of relationship between the Master (Righteousness One) and the servant(s) has room to quickly develop into friendship John 15:15. The mutuality moves on guaranteeing even joint inheritance of the Master’s riches. Through this willingly loving relationship, the Master exhorts, corrects, admonishes and trains the servants in righteousness. He wants the servant(s) to be as Him by helping them. The Master expresses His will to the servant(s) without fear that they will reject Him. Also, the servant(s) express their needs, wants, feelings, weaknesses and fears to the Master without fear of rejection. They know their Master will help them overcome as He overcame. Therefore, they give themselves wholly to the Master’s course as soldiers even willing to die for Him as He died for them.
He helps the servant(s) or friend(s) by living in them and through them. This is a special kind of Master and servant(s) relationship. The Servant(s) lives in the same house as their Master not in servants’ quarters. The servant(s) are not in the field slaving out for the Master rather, He is with them all the way through. He even appoints for them the Teacher who teaches them directly and also, teaches them through each of them that they might reach competence in their assigned duties to worship God in spirit and truth as their Master did.
The greatest sign that this relationship is not forced lays in the possibility of the servant(s) or friend(s) to walk away or look away from the Master if they so choose without the Master putting guilt and depression on them. When they look away, obviously they start sinking into the miry clay. The memory of the loving relationship the friend(s) or servant(s) have had with their Master is what they miss so much if they ever walk away. His good deed in them, through them and most of all the feeling of being lonely without His companionship is what persuades them to look again to their Master the Righteous One.
Falling short of good deeds or into sin becomes a reminder to the servant(s) or friend(s) that they are looking away from the Master who is ever standing by and pleading to them to look to Him. His presence carries no condemnation, guilt or dejection nor does it chase away. However, despite His inviting and comforting presence, He empowering them and the privilege to look at Him again, they still retain the power to persistently look away from Him and give their attention to another who is competing with Him for their worship and service.
Who are those in competition with the Righteous One
It is the devil on one side and the self on the other side. Satan and self righteousness enslave—ever give them room and they seize you beyond your imagination. You suddenly will be in need to be rescued. Little wonder the human race is in need of deliverance from the kingdom of darkness to the Kingdom of Light or from bondage to freedom.
We as the human race are individually being persuaded not forced by God to look at Christ Jesus His beloved Son. It is an invitation to be His servants, friends, brothers and sons—joint heirs! We have the choice to look or accept Christ and live in freedom now and for all eternity, or remain with Satan and self righteousness and live enslaved now and for all eternity. The Righteous One (Christ) gives humanity and His people the opportunity to choose. This open choice is what the devil and self never gives because they are tyrants.
Right from the beginning in the Garden of Eden, God’s call to man has been the same and it has never changed. It’s not “keep my laws”—it is, look to Me! Don’t look away!
Deuteronomy 30:19 captures God’s call to man, ‘Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh that you choose life, so that you and your descendants might live’!
Micah 6:8 echoes the same call, ‘ No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God’.
To walk with Him is all God requires from man. It gives humility, right conduct and love for mercy Jude 1:21.
God did not give Adam and Eve laws to keep, He gave them a law which is—look to Me or walk with Me. The alternative was to look away or walk away. They looked away and sank. Peter looked away from Christ, and sinking, he quickly looked to Him again with shouting. Judas looked away from Christ and didn’t care to look at Him again much less shout out to Him. He beckoned on Rehab, she looked, and therefore, her name continues to surface in the list of the godly. Saul looked at Him and became Paul, an envy of all who pursue the grace of God. Unfortunately, King Agrippa refused to look at Him Acts 26:28-29NKJV. No one who looks to the eternal Father will be put to shame.
Even Jesus as a man, survived by looking unto His Father who has appointed that the human race look unto—Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God Hebrews 12:2, 2 Corinthians 4:6, 3:18. From His glory in us His brothers, servants, friends or branches proceeds the fruit of the Spirit (righteous deeds).
John 1:12 says, all who receive or accept Christ, who believe in His name, God gives the right or power to become sons of God. The right or power to grow in the stature of Christ (God’s pattern Son). Not power to crucify Him the second time or to cause Him shame but to glory in Him because of His love for us.
He has blessed (transformed) us with grace and given us privilege by His blood that has sprinkled our conscience to enter the throne of grace and to obtain mercy and grace whenever we are in need Heb 4:16. So, our hidden and shameful lifestyles should be a thing of the past now Eph 2:2. Every hidden thing is now being revealed.
It is wonderful you are reading this write up! God’s love is overtaking this earth. How is this? It is through the revealing of Jesus Christ. Those who sit in darkness are getting to know Christ and those who truly know Him are experiencing a deepening relationship with Him — not religion or churchianity. In this window of opportunity, within the framework of the last days, God wants His children to take ownership of what belongs to them. However, it can only happen through His precious and great promises by which we swim in His divine nature—that is, mortals participating in God’s Image and likeness 2 Pet 1:4.
The revealing of our mundane affairs e.g., How we’ll be the next heavy weight champion is good but that does not bring anyone into the increasing glory or likeness of Christ.
The only thing that does is the beholding of God in the face of Christ. Paul in 2 Cor 3:18 tells us, “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another—for this, comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”
It’s whoever we are beholding and keeping in step with we’re transforming into and that, in an increasing measure. We as the Church and individuals are not transforming into what we’re preaching rather, we’re preaching what we’ve attained in Him. Our knowledge of Him is only in part.
The more we grow in His stature, the more we preach His stature we’ve attained. Note the phrase “unveiled or open face”—not faces in verse 18 of 2 Cor 3. It is not faces because Paul is speaking about the Spirit and not our different faces. The Spirit of God that indwells His children is directing them to gaze upon Christ who is the glory. This is the reason the Holy Spirit is in this last days increasingly giving the saints revelation not of their ambitions but their destinies which is in Christ.
To those who love their lives and ambitions more than the Lordship of Christ and His pre-eminence over ALL things in heaven and on earth, the time to take a stand have come.
As Christians, we must now worship Him whole-heartedly or, we’ll not worship Him at all. The time to use Him as a front to achieve what WE WANT has expired! Increasingly, the knowledge of God’s word is filling His people as the waters cover the sea. Daily interaction with Christ as the Head of His Church and the good Shepherd is knocking out the wrong desire in His true people to seek for a leader.
The hunger for Christ in His people is causing them to earnestly seek to bless and be blessed by others with Christ’ measure and gift in them. This is happening within the context of the gathering of the saints and without.
They’re not seeking ambitious visionaries and religious politicians who want protégés or church as an organisation.
Rom 12:2 addressed to regenerated souls says, “Do not be conformed to the world pattern, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
The world pattern says, “Men can marry men and women can marry women (they’re right), it is the world pattern after all. They say, “You can belong to the occult so long you’re philanthropic and read the bible” and we must seek world peace by subtle union of all faith. Again, they’re right—it is the world pattern.
The mind can only be renewed increasingly by looking and interacting with Jesus and not by behavioural adjustment or moral instructions. Not by planting church or learning leadership strategies. It’s only the mind that looking to Christ that can test and discern. It’s only a renewing mind that test and discern and recognizes that God has what He considers as good, acceptable and perfect.
The good, acceptable and perfect is the likeness of Christ and nothing else. Grace is given to enable us pursue or keep in step with the likeness of Christ but, it is the thing the devil and his cohorts’ fights against the most in our lives as Christians and not our bread and fish.
What the world pattern declares as good is opposite to the likeness of Christ. Their good is evil, not good, acceptable and perfect before God.
It is in the revelation of Christ that the mystery of God will be finished. Dear reader, God is increasingly bringing His people on the earth to a dimension of the stature of the fullness of Christ. On the other hand, Satan is also increasingly growing his stature in those outside Christ, those who are double-minded, lukewarm and those seeking to use Christ to achieve their carefully planned strategy to make a name for themselves.
God is more interested in you and I submitting to the pre-eminence of Christ in our lives more than we “winning souls” and “planting Churches” for ourselves. Paul the Apostle tells us this,” some preach the gospel out of envy, nevertheless they preach.” Phil 1:15. Well, the people who hear the gospel and believe it will be saved but the person preaching out of envy is a tomb painted white.
Jesus was killed because of envy. Search through the bible for envy and you will understand what Paul was saying about those people preaching out of envy.
Looking unto Christ is not a slang! It is not a cool speech for avoiding being labelled legalistic. It is the stay of the faith, the bases for abiding in Christ. His gaze is consistently upon all who His spirit indwells. Our gaze must be on Him too or we sink. None who have ever kept their gaze on Him has ever sunk Ps 125:1. The church receives her greatest persecution when she keeps her eyes ONLY on Christ.
However, she also receives God’s awesome protection, preservation, true conversions, grace and mercy. The beauty of looking to Christ Jesus is this; we don’t just get fish and bread—much more, you and I get changed into a dimension of His inexhaustible glory.
We must remember that before Christ came, people have being getting fish and bread. The almighty God, the Great Father of love have being giving fish and bread to mankind since He created the world. What mankind lost which is imperative to recover is the glory of God in the—INSIDE OF MAN not around man. As a reminder, the great prophets of Old and the righteous ones did not have the Glory of God INSIDE THEM. They had God’s glory around them and with them.
The revelation of Christ who dwells inside of us is what transforms us. Let us keep our eyes on Him and refuse to be seduced and deceived by fish and bread that is common to mankind. Yes, fish and bread is common to all men at varying measure—both sinners and saints. The Spirit of God is interested to bring us to the greatest riches of His glory. Man has being talking about big bang—the true big bang is yet ahead of us. The big bang of the grace that is to be revealed at the appearing of the KING OF GLORY 1 Pet 1:13.
And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming 1 John 2:28.
In Rom 8:18 and 1 Peter 5:1 Paul and Peter, Apostles of Christ exhorts us to set our hope on the glory yet to be revealed. This glory surely will envelop God’s people—the heirs of salvation. Amen