The bible’s profound declaration is, “God is Love”. Everything God does emanates from Love. Though Adam and Eve’s sin caused us the human race to step out of living, moving and having our essence in God or Love, Love was active to save mankind 1 John 1:29.
It’s only as we receive or know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge that we return to living, moving and having our being in Love or God Ephesians 3:19, 1 John 4:16.
Although Love is latent, He produces actions. Love propelled the plan of redemption because He loved (Wanted Himself) in us. He is not seeking for us to fill-up His lack because He alone is self-sufficient. He is pure and loves mankind sincerely as His children by creation. He is inviting all mankind to return to Him through the sacrificial death and resurrection of His Lamb. Why? Because He loves us John 3:16.
All who accept His invitation (Christ Jesus) are blessed with “eternal life or Love” which has overthrown the “spirit of this age” and are no longer of the world though in the world John 17:14. As a result, while journeying through this world, Love is working in and with Christ’s disciples to possess their being, live and move in Love. The life of Love is curing and protecting those in Christ from the diseases of pride of life, lust of the eyes and lust of the flesh.
God’s love has been shed in the hearts of all His people (the body of Christ or the Church) because it’s only through Christ’s love that we come into the fullness of God — into heaven’s love, peace and wisdom different from that of the world Romans 5:5, John 14:27, James 3:17.
Having been born-again of the Spirit, the community of God’s people are called not to mimic actions of love but to live the life of love (Christ’s divine nature) through God’s great and precious promises 2 Peter 1:4. What are the “great and precious promises”? “I will live my life in my people AND walk amongst them 2 Corinthians 6:16, Matthew 18:20. Those in religion mimicking actions of love end up loving some people and hating others. But those led by the Spirit to living the life of love hates no one. This is the awesomeness of God’s grace at work in those who have relationship with Christ.
God’s life of love is lived through us only as we let Him guide us to understand Love. Whilst it’s possible for all humans to mimic actions of love, wisdom and have worldly peace, only those whom Love dwells in and with can live the life of peace, wisdom and love which is the fruit of the Spirit (Actions motivated by Love) Galatians 5:22. The Pharisees, Sadducees, and Scribes had the doctrine of Love, acted lovingly towards some people but never lived the life of love Matthew 23:1-2 3, 4 and 5. Even Hitler had people he acted lovingly towards. Anything short of God living through us can mean anything but the life of love.
The bible never refers to action(s) as love rather, it’s the Spirit behind the action(s) which accord to God’s word that is referred to as Love. Paul the Apostle clarified this delicate divide when he said, ‘giving away all of our possession and submitting to die in the place of another person can be done yet not in or by Love’ 1 Corinthians 13: 3, 1-2. This is why Paul distinctly referred to the work of the Thessalonian church as “labour of love” 1 Thessalonians 1:3. Not all labour or action is of or done by love.
Many of Jesus’s labours or actions don’t pass our human estimation of what love and politeness is because He lived the life of love led by the Spirit to please His Father first and foremost. Maybe you’re thinking, this is precarious. Yes, it is! However, Romans 8:14 and 1 Corinthians 2:15 explains it well. It’s the true life of love.
As said earlier, although Love is latent, the Spirit makes Love or God manifest in actions. For this reason, Peter exhorted the Church thus, ‘Above all, let Love grow earnestly or deeply in you —towards everyone because Love covers or forgives a multitude of sins’ 1 John 3:23. Notice Peter’s exhortation syncs with the second greatest command of God to His people both in the Old and New Testament Matthew 22:39. The command to love others or one another deeply is given only to those who have God or Christ since no one can love another in the sense God desires without Him or Christ. So, the fulfilment of this command is predicated on the first command to love (Have) God with all of our being (spirit, soul and body) Matthew 22:38, 1 John 4:19, 1 Thessalonians 5:23.
How can we truly love one another earnestly?
When we let Love or Christ fill our soul and motivate us, our love for one another deepens. Then, our “thinking” (covert) and “actions” (overt) towards everyone and especially “people of the household of faith” becomes as Christ (As He is so are we in this world) Galatians 6:10, Matthew 10:42.
It’s important to reiterate that action(s) is/are not what is referred to as love rather, it’s the Person that motivates our action(s). Hence, the life of love is a lifestyle of loving our brothers and forgiving 1 John 4:20-21,Matthew 7:12.
How does Love forgive or cover a multitude of sins?
James the Apostle explained it when he said, “My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back,let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins”. If we’re motivated by Love to reach out to those who don’t have Christ or derailing brothers, love will save them from death by forgiving (covering) their sins. The action of reaching out is not the love. The reaching out can be of self and not love. This is why verse 1 of Galatians 6 said, “you who are spiritual” meaning, you are motivated by love — let meekness govern your reaching out as exhibited in Paul’s speech, “for love’s sake” Philemon 1:8-9.
Christ needs to grow deeply in us because none of us by ourselves can love and forgive sins in the sense God desires without Love being deeply rooted in us. It’s Love that covers or forgives (not overlooks) a multitude of sins. Only Love can forgive sins.
To forgive others so that we can be forgiven is not exactly God’s ideal of forgiveness. This type of forgiveness is self-motivated, cheap, ineffective, full of guile, null and void. Oh! Don’t worry I forgive, I forgive you! Really?! Where is the healing and reconciliation!? Forgiving is something only God can do through us and it has immediate healing and a reconciling effect both on the person forgiveness is flowing out from and the recipient of the forgiveness Matthew 6:15.
The Church (People of grace or power) are admonished, “confess your sins (faults) one to another… ” So that forgiveness, healing and reconciliation flow freely through us for one another to the praise of God James 5:16, 1 John 5:17.
The uniqueness of the church’s purpose and mission is pivoted on and driven by Love. So, we know, the start and end of our Christian life is Love. Every temptation we Christians face is a temptation to step out of love. Therefore, Jesus’ strongest admonition to His sheep is, “abide in me and I in you”. Outside of Love all of our good deeds can be anything but far from love.
God’s heart towards mankind is love (Christ). Those who reject the life of love sentence themselves to the wrath of the second death because, the day of judgement is a day of the revelation of perfected love 1 John 4:17, Romans 8:19. The Church’s purpose is to live the life of love with His many sided wisdom in pursuing her mission of pointing the world to Christ.
Living the life of Love is beautiful with implications summarized thus: Christ by the Holy Spirit will live through us to please His Father just as He did during His earthly ministry and not to please everyone and be loved by everyone. The whole essence of living the life of love is for God’s glory which enhances our well-being now and forever.
Following Christ is a lifestyle of constant warfare. Though it doesn’t sound sweet, it’s the truth. Sometimes, we’re at war with “men on foot” and at other times, with “horses” Jeremiah 12: 5, Ephesians 6:10-18. We can be victorious in both cases. But How?
In Isaiah 40, it was prophesied that those who “wait on the Lord” shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. The Spirit gives the Church the strength to win the battle of “running” and “walking” as she waits on the Lord or live in patience.
Having a robust understanding of the phrase, “wait on the Lord” to mean patience or long-suffering given as the fruit of the Spirit is crucial. It’s more than setting aside time to pray and fast. It’s not a seasonal character but a lifestyle produced in those whom Christ lives in.
Is putting a time frame to our “waiting on the Lord” to do this and do that for us a mechanism that builds our faith (relationship with God) or destroys it? For starters, it’s unwise to confine Almighty God to a time of our choosing. That is not faith. Faith rather trusts God to do for us the best at the best time.
The scriptures declares clearly that our timing and God’s is not the same and His is far better. The intent behind all of God’s timing in relation to His purpose and mission for our lives goes beyond giving us temporal goods to helping us reach the end of our faith — the salvation of our souls.
As disciples, none of us sees the end from the beginning. Therefore, in some ways, we’re all short-sighted. But, as we learn to live our lives in the patient fruit of the Spirit, we’re carried into the end of God’s intentions for us both spiritual and temporal.
While every temporal thing is as grass that wither away, we know, that God’s word and every fruit the Holy Spirit bears in us represents the nature of Christ which abides or remains forever. As Paul the Apostle puts it in 1 Corinthians 13, ‘Love is PATIENT and kind and endures all things.
As disciples of Christ, we need to know that we have His virtue of patience.
It is possible you’re reading this exhortation today because God wants you to stir your heart up to exercise “waiting on Him” as a lifestyle that builds and stabilizes your faith. Selah!
As disciples of Christ, we’re exhorted to be hard-working however, possessing our inheritance is by faith and Patience (Waiting on the Lord) Hebrews 6:12.
This writing was prompted by an article I read a few days ago. It asserted that Suicide is not unpardonable sin and sufficient grounds for hell. This view was defended by purporting that, in spite of Samson’s committing suicide, he still got listed as one of the heroes of faith in Hebrews chapter 11.
Is the basis of this proposition true? The scriptures doesn’t testify to the theory of Samson committing suicide. No person who committed suicide in the bible is listed in Hebrews 11.
Here is the list of those who committed suicide: Saul, king of Israel and his armour bearer 1 Samuel 31:3-6, Ahithophel 2 Samuel 17:23, Zimri 1 Kings 16:18-19 and Judas Matthew 27:5. Add Samson’s name to this list and he will stand out as a sore thumb. His rightful place is in Hebrews 11, among those whose walk with God was amended.
From Genesis to Revelation, the gem is in the standing up again, not in the falling down and staying there or ending it all.
Samson requested strength from God in verse 28 of Judges 16 and verse 29 is an interlude to show that God answered swiftly and Samson swung into action. Then, verse 30 started with a conjunction, making it a continuation of Samson’s request in verse 28. This means that Samson made two request of God.
The first request was for strength with which to avenge the Philistines who were Israel’s rivals. His request was not for power with which to kill himself.
The second request was for God to let him die along with the Philistines. Samson probably felt he had completed his God given assignment as a Judge of the Israelites for twenty years and didn’t want to continue judging Israel as a blind man.
It is doubtful his request of God to let him die can pass as a suicide. God could have decided to preserve his life amid the wreckage regardless of his request to die.
David at one time also requested to die but, it is God’s discretion to answer our prayers one way or the other 1 Kings 19:4. In this case, He kept him alive. In another scenario, Hezekiah requested for extension of his live and got it 2 Kings 20:1-6. Simeon is another example in Luke 2: 28-30. God is sovereign!
If the assertion that Samson committed suicide is upheld and in spite of it, he was mentioned in Hebrews 11 as one of the heroes of faith then, it’ll be an affirmation that suicide is legitimate though appalling. In which case, what we need to be concerned about is the motivation for choosing suicide—whether the motive is right or wrong. This will be a dangerous phenomenon.
My persuasion on the issue of suicide whether it involves a professing Christian or non-Christian is that it should be discussed with lots of genuine love and heartfelt sympathy. The reason to apply gracious love is because it concerns a departed soul and for the sake of the grieving and pain the families and friends will be going through. The departure of any soul always brings mixed feelings of sorrow, pain and joy.
Before continuing, it’s apt to emphasize that Christians are not permitted under any heading to kill anyone intentionally according to (The law of the spirit of life in Christ) New Testament. It’s a serious issue in God’s heart—so much so that he regards hatred as murder.
Therefore, how could it ever be right in God’s sight for anyone to commit suicide? It’s difficult to grasp Ephesians 5:29a.
What exactly was commendable about Samson’s action, bearing in mind that the Philistines were more often than not at war with Israel, whom Samson represented as a Judge Judges 16:31b? Obviously, it was not him killing himself. What was praised is Samson’s faith that resulted in victory for his people Judges 16:30. It’s along these lines that Samson and others were mentioned in Hebrews 11: 17-36. Each of them had extreme rough times and overcame through their unflinching faith. Overcomers are a tested company—not extraordinarily favoured people.
It’s unfortunate that a Christian or anyone for that matter should suffer depression but is a reality. It’s like any other sickness. Servants of God both in the Old and New Testaments and in our time, have suffered depression. Prophets and kings, Paul the apostles, Spurgeon and many others. It needs not end in suicide.
Being a Christian is not the only way but is the greatest and surest protection against depression from leading to suicide.
So, is suicide a sin punishable by hell? In my opinion, Yes! Avoiding suicide at all costs is a safer option by miles.
Does it mean that everyone that has committed suicide has gone to hell? Frankly, I don’t know the answer. What happened between God and each of those individuals’ in their final moment is unknown to us. However, let each person have His conviction Romans 14:23.
The bible clearly state that we Christians don’t know the answer to everything. Put differently, we know in part—as a people who see though dimly. Therefore, unashamedly, we can be relaxed to say we don’t yet know an answer to some matters.
The final arbiter as per the fate of a person who committed suicide will be God’s.
Suicide is a regrettable waste of the precious gift of life–given to us to steward by God.
Whilst it is only fitting to approach these kind of matters with genuine love and deepest sympathy, it doesn’t seem right to provide a cheap biblical reason to console us when we’re grieving over our loved ones who unfortunately reached the dark alley of suicide.
No matter our views, to put forth our comments in the guise of giving the truth “in love” at a time others are grieving the loss of their loved ones especially through suicide, speaks volumes of our understanding and participation in Christ’ nature or virtue of “speaking the truth in love”.
All this said, the most important thing that counts at the end of the day, is for us humans to do whatever we can to help one another not to walk down the staircase of suicide.
Finally, as a reminder to those grieving over bereavement and especially of this kind, be rest assured that God is with you and He is your strength. Whilst there are many miserable comforters, there’s always “The Comforter”, the person of the Holy Spirit! Depend on Him. Shalom!
This excerpt is taken from “Nugget for the needy” written by Mavis duCille of blessed memory.
Let me share an experience with you. Someone had hurt us very badly by slander. Of course, I went to God weeping my heart out. The Lord said to me, so clearly, “Oh, you are so sorry for yourself, that you are not able to see the condition of that poor man. He must be in an awful state to cause him to do such a terrible thing to you.” What I saw then was a poor human being taken captive by demons, and manifesting the evil nature of the demons. Surely the man we knew and loved as a Holy Spirit baptized Christian was definitely a different person from the satanic manifestation which came against us. When “I,” “ME” and “MY” were out of the way, my eyes were opened and I began to see from the Mind of Christ. Then and only then I could pray for him. There I saw myself again; self-pity blinded my eyes so that I could not see the man’s great need. Whenever a person is spiritually bankrupt, God will always use another to pray and activate God’s forces of deliverance. On the other hand, the enemy will do anything to prevent this intercession. Satan very often causes the person in need of prayers to strike at the person who should pray for him/her. If this praying Christian can see beyond self-pity and his own pain through God’s eyes of compassion, then his/her suffering will be nothing compared to the deliverance of the soul in bondage. “If we suffer, we shall also reign with him,” 2 Timothy 2:12. No one can pray for his enemies unless he/she can see “the enemy” from the perspective of God. That day, as soon as my self-pity was rebuked by the Lord, my eyes were opened, and I could see the awful plight of another human being who needed deliverance. Dear ones, we must always be watching for the big “I,” “ME” and “MY” which rise up like mountains, always present to block our vision and cloud our minds from seeing and understanding the needs of those around us. May the Lord help us to prefer one another as brethren, and have compassion on all those who are taken captive by the enemy. We are all in battle against one common foe over whom Jesus Christ has had the victory once and for all, and has lifted us up together with Him so that we too might overcome. Oh, what a glorious day when the prince of this world will find nothing in us, because we continue to cast him out through the grace of God and the power of the Holy Ghost. Hallelujah. “Fight the good fight with all thy might Christ is thy strength and Christ thy light. Lay hold on life and it shall be Thy joy and crown eternally. Run the straight race through God’s good grace, Lift up thy eyes and seek His face. Life with its ways before us lie, Christ is thy truth and Christ thy guide. Faint not nor fear; His arms are near. He changes not for thou art dear. Only believe and thou shalt prove That Christ is all in all to thee.” Maranatha!
The five gifts in Eph 4:11 and those in 1 Cor 12:8-10 & 28 is the person of Christ. 1 Cor 12:4-5 authenticated it by saying, “But the same Spirit”–that is, “the same Lord”. Those who bear the gifts are not the gifts. In verse 7 of 1 Cor 12, the gifts are described as a manifestation of the Spirit (Christ’ life) that bless His body.
The names apostle, prophet, teacher, evangelist and shepherd are descriptive of how the grace of Christ is dense and shaped in the bearers. It’s like saying, “we have Christ but, we’re not Him”.
Rev 21:14 brings a depth of clarity on this meditation. Note what it says, “The foundations of the wall of the city had “names” of the twelve Apostles”. The people bearing the apostleship gift had their own names which were different from the word apostle (an operation of CHRIST IN them). In Rev 21:19-20, we’re given the names of the twelve people bearing the “apostleship of the Lamb” but surprisingly, the names differed from their names in the gospels. They were now called different precious stones. Why?
Well, among other reasons, the gifts are meant to refine and polish the bearers and others Rom 1:5-6—and, in revelation, He (the gift) accomplished the purpose in those that had the gifts.
The difference between the five equipping ministry and the rest of the spiritual gifts lies with their density, functioning and objective as opposed to the personality and influence of the persons bearing the gifts (not titles).
When we read in Acts that apostles, prophets and teachers were sent by the Church to minister—serve (more specifically equip) other saints assembling in different locations, it is simply saying that the grace of God recognized in those brothers will help in the other locations. Not that their personalities, influence, strategy, eloquence, skill etc. were needed. When the 21st century Church wakes up to this truth, we will stop seeing the bearers of the gifts as special or extraordinary. It is the gifts (Christ) that is extraordinarily flowing out from the vessels (gift bearers) like water flows out from a tap.
When we stop our misconceptions about the bearers of these gifts then, we will stop our wrong thinking that the gifts have ceased. These gifts is Christ operating through the Holy Spirit in weak mortals 2 Cor 4:7. By accepting these gifts, we accept for Christ to EQUIP His body as God has ordained. God will equip His body in no other way! It is the same Spirit of Christ that manifested as apostolic, prophetic, teaching, shepherd, evangelist and the other gifts in the lives of believers in the early Church that is still in the Church today. Christ (the gifts) has not ceased!
The philosophy of educated folks with huge influence that sneaked into the gathering of God’s people in the past centuries created misunderstanding of the gifts. Those folks were bent on exerting their influence on the churches to determine how the gathering of saints should operate. They assumed they understood man’s problem and evolving cultural needs better than Christ. They viewed Christ’s commands as archaic. Hence, propound that the churches should move and adapt to the decaying world rather than keep in step with the Holy Spirit.
The promotion that we should gyrate in the spirit but ignore to walk in and with the Holy Spirit is preposterous.
The world system which the churches has practised for a long time as wrongly proposed to her during the course of her history has become the norm in our 21st century church life. Now, God is sweeping away the refuge of lies that has held the churches in spiritual slavery. But, the grand children of those who propounded those evil theologies are throwing their carnal weight (called influence) to intimidate the vessels God is flowing through to ground Babylon (iniquitous religious strong empire). None dare to fight against her with carnal weapons Mark 3:27, Luke 11:22, 2 Cor 10:4.
It is no surprise! Jesus and His disciples suffered the same fate in the hands of the godless spiritual leaders of their day.
If you believe you’re gifted with any of the equipping ministries, then ask yourself this question: Have I genuinely recognized that the gift is Christ’s operation in me, therefore, I am not the gift? If your answer is yes, then ask yourself why you still insist on wearing His operation in you as your designation, title e.g., Pastor—, Evangelist—, Prophet— teacher.
Other stylish names exist e.g., Founder, primate, presiding bishop, general overseer, Reverend, His holiness, Executive/Senior/Junior Pastor (Pastor-Teacher or Preaching Pastor) and more subtle ones like lead elder (first among equals), mentor, life coach etc.
Mainly, the reason Christ is being resisted from operating in His dimensions of apostle, prophet, teacher, evangelist and shepherd among His people is the way the persons He wants to work through have claimed entitlement to His operations (gifts). It’s their vision—they are the visionaries! These people as part of His body are not letting His body to see Christ. All that is being seen is, “Teacher— Apostle— Prophet— Evangelist — Pastor so and so, with all of their personalities or influence (created through crafty religious politicking).
Their influence is not giving the Holy Spirit a chance to reveal Christ to and lead God’s people. This accounts for the shallowness and immaturity of majority of us Christians. After many years and decades of being born again, we remain babies who must wear Christian badges, titles, belong to “a happening” denomination and use the bible for fencing to convince the world we’re of Christ. Selah!
Maybe, it’s the bible language that is confusing those with these gifts (which calls to question if they truly have it). For example, in 1 Cor 9:1-2, Paul said, “Am I not an apostle”. Some hold to that and say, “You see Paul called himself an apostle”. Yes! But, he was referring to the fact the gift of apostleship operated in his life. Again, he said, “If to others I am not an apostle, at least I am to you,” but please note, he finishes that sentence by saying, “the mark of my apostleship is seen in you”. The end of the sentence clarified what Paul was actually saying to them. He was saying the fact that Christ operated in him as an apostle was established by the foundation Christ has built in them through flowing out from him (Paul).
Let’s keep reminding ourselves that every Christian has the Spirit of Christ. That means, all, do have all of the gifts in Him. But, Christ chooses in the dimension He wants to serve through us. We all do not serve from the standpoint of all of the gifts 1 Cor 12:29-30.
It is important to mention that, both the equipping gifts and the other gifts can’t be trained for—that is why they are gifts. While, by laying on of hands, one believer can pass on the spiritual gift(s) to another believer, the equipping gifts of Eph 4:11 can’t. Today, we have many Christians with Eph 4:11 gifts but, the misconceptions about these gifts in the churches is hindering their recognition and benefit to us all.
Sober Reflection for those who believe they have Eph 4:11gifts:
Those who were mentioned in the scriptures as having equipping gifts had a growing lifestyle (In holiness, righteousness, patience, prayers, mercy, endurance, boldness, humility, suffering, power, wisdom, love, knowledge of Christ and grace—etc) even in the face of fiercest battles or troubles. It’s the mark of Christ! When they were pressed beyond their measure, they did not crumble—rather, they grew stronger! Saleh! They knew the demarcation between the Spirit and themselves. They knew how to rely increasingly on the grace (power) of the Holy Spirit for the renewing of their inner self (soul) while their “flesh” (the outer man) was wasting away daily 2 Cor 4:16, Rom 12:1-2.
Those truly with the equipping gifts (known as the fivefold ministry), win Satan and his cohorts through the nature of God worked in them. Their much study of the scriptures, fasting and prayers is to this end—that Christ might increase in them and also, be formed in those they serve! 1 Tim 4:16.