In each period in the life of the church, the church has gone through abuses and excesses. Years after the descension of the Holy Spirit, the apostles became contented with living in Jerusalem (where the church was a bit famous and therefore, remunerative) than be His witnesses in Jerusalem (city), Judea (province), Samaria (region) and extremities of the earth (world). They later corrected that with the appointment of deacons.
The biggest source of internal problems the church has ever faced has been on doctrinal issues (polemics). Methinks the problem remains until today. If we can recall; The Apostle, Nicene, and Athanasian creeds were all to solve heresies on theological controversies and expose the orthodoxy that the faithful should memorize and live with.
The marriage between the church and the state brought about worldly or unbelieving popes (Julian the Apostate) and Constantine directing the church that itself promoted simony. The strength of the papacy was broken with the advent of Christianity of the cloisters generally called monasticism. More so, because of the papal schism it was easy for monasticism to prevail and introduce pilgrimages.
Then the church as if waking up from slumber, plunged itself into another excess called crusades. They fought seven crusades starting from 1096A.D -1254 A.D. They had five main motives; economic (to gain trade and extend their boundaries); political (to contain Islamic permeation into Asia Minor and Palestine), social (to give the people new outlets where they could vent out their frustrations), cultural (to satisfy the spirit of adventure and curiosity) and religious (to unite the Western and Eastern churches).
Remember, after the early church divided into two: the West and the East, the crusades united them back in what would later be called the Roman Catholic Church. The latter’s excesses then provoked a monk called Martin Luther to write his 95 points. The advent of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses, took the church into a new era called Protestantism, which will divide to Lutherans Protestants and Reformed churches. At this point there is a group called Anabaptists which will break up but will stay on their own to break down to five other groups Montanuts, Novatians, Donatians, Anigenses and Waldensians . While on the other hand, the Lutheran Protestants will break up to Anglican or Church of England. They in turn will break up into two groups; Wesleyans or Methodists and Evangelicals who in turn will break up to Pentecostalism that seems a melting pot of Catholicism, Lutheran Protestants and Reformed Churches because almost each of these groups has a Pentecostal wing. A word of caution; despite the fact that these other movements break away it does not mean the former dies out or does no more exist.
Consequently, my concern will be the excesses that still exist in the Modern Day Church. That will include all church groups and denominations today.
1) Person and preaching of the Pastor, Priest, Chaplain Etc
a) Preaching against the word:
When you hear anyone preaching against the word of God as being insufficient or inadequate, know that he/she is fake. The Bible confirms the scriptures as sufficient and adequate (2 Tim 3:16; Mk 13:31; Rev 22:18). Or worst still, when he teaches you to do the opposite of what the Bible teaches, know that he is a false prophet (Deut 13: 1-15).
b) False and fake tiles:
It amazes me how someone who has one church can call himself bishop. The word bishop /ĕpiskŏpŏs/ means overseer (I Tim 3:2; Titus 1:7; I pet. 2:25). It was a term used on any church leader who had more than one church under their supervision.
Another abused title is Reverend. This title is obtained after ordination by taking 90 credit hours of Masters of Divinity classes or by longevity and proof of ministry. Nowadays, people confer on their friends with no ministry and no academics at all. Some people feel that no one should be called reverend because only God should be reverend while others feel that though they call the man reverend they do not worship him.
Another term is father. Some denominations interpret literally Jesus’ usage of the term father/patēr/ (Mt. 23:9) which means someone who gave birth to you. Being a former Roman Catholic (RC) member when we used to call the priest father it was not like he gave birth to us (spiritually) but one who oversees us as some sort of a guardian, tutor or custodian. I believe it is the context in which the RC uses it. Instead, this term is more misused among Pentecostals more than the RC. What the leader says stands and they literally believe he holds their lives in his hands. They call him from daddy, to Papa.
The worst one is to see someone take the title of doctor, which could be obtained by honorary bestowment or through academic achievements. The honorary is when you could not get it through academics but have established yourself as an authority in your field. In that case, organizations and institutions could give it to you. The academics, is when you take about 36 credit hours after your Masters and you defend a Thesis. Sadly, church leaders with no education and no mastery or accomplishments call themselves Doctors.
However, there is a difference between doctor of philosophy (PhD holder) and a medical doctor. For a medical doctor to have that academic qualification they would have to defend their specialization Thesis. You could be a medical doctor without being qualified for the position of an academic doctor. Ask your pastors where they studied or what they accomplished to earn the doctorate. Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s. (Mt 22:21). Thank God, church leaders have not yet started to take the professor title. This one comes with publications and teaching in the university level. If you do not merit a title, do not take it. It is stealing! It is robbery. There is begging that is stealing but there is no stealing which is begging.
b) Prophesies in respecter of persons.
When you hear a preacher who prophesies and nothing happens just be careful. He might not be a false prophet but do not take him serious (Deut 18:15-22; Jer. 28:9). I was attending a church and the visiting preacher was making prophecies about the new building the church was going to build. He was not the first. After him came three other preachers who prophesied that “that building was going to be built this year”. I said it was not going to happen especially because they were using Bible dates that had to do with Israel directly to base their prophecies. Folks, four years after, that same building is uncompleted. They were prophesying according to what the people wanted to hear. They knew and know that the people wanted to hear that they would complete their building. Each year, I reminded two or three brothers of that church that I was still waiting for their prophecies to be accomplished. Even the lies of a fortuneteller would be medicine for the desperate sick. The question is; should Christians be that desperate for an answer? There is a fruit of the spirit called patience, which is needed at all times to overcome the hardships of today.
Go into our churches, or show me any clear-cut prophecy of foretelling or forth telling that was fulfilled in modern times if not of those perfunctory prophecies of “thus says the Lord; my people I will bless you. I have heard your cries. I am with you”. These are all things that the Bible says. In that case, we do not need any prophet per se to tell us. If there is going to be prophecy it should be what we did not know ( fore telling) or let it come as mere exhortations (forth telling) which could be received through reading the word anyway. The people are abused with false and fake prophecies.
I am not saying there are no more true prophecies. I was visiting a church for the first time and the pastor’s wife came to the back of the church, on a Sunday morning, with the church filled with people and said to me; “you are a preacher aren’t you?”. “What makes you think so”? I asked. “The Spirit was just ministering to me that this is a man of God” she continued. That was my first time in that church and I was looking for a new church closer to my new residence. That is a prophetess! We have very few of them today. Take time to differentiate between God’s prophetess/prophet from soothsayers, diviners, fortunetellers, levitationists, chiromancists, pyromancists, cartomancists, necromancers, ventriloquists and geomancers. While the prophets and prophetesses are inspired by God the latter are inspired by the devil, evil spirits or demons.
Have you heard preachers say we all are rich? Then the Christians will answer Amen! Is that the reality? Is everybody in your church rich? Is it not even naturally impossible (there will always be the gap between the have and haves not) and biblically unfounded too because we will always have the poor with us (Mt. 26:11)? They will tell you give this amount and at the end of the year, God will mete it with this amount. Some have given all they had yet their stomachs have joined their backs. Everyone should avoid these two conditions: looking poor and being poor. At least avoid the latter. And you can only avoid that by respecting God’s principles of giving.
c) Claims experience and expertise as key
I moved to Downtown Atlanta to do missionary work. I visited four colleges around introducing myself to their head of religious movements: “I am a new missionary from Cameroon to the US. I will like to work with you guys in student ministries. I mean if you don’t have a place in existing groups I can start mine. All I need is your go ahead” I told them. All of them told me “our campuses are saturated with preachers that we do not need another one”. Yet, I have never heard or seen homosexuality invade a campus, as was the case of these campuses. They were and are a show window of Romans 1:26-27.
When a servant of God tells you, we have been here for long and do not need another church or servant of God, please run. Jesus himself said that the harvest is ripe but the laborers are few. He even told the disciples to pray so that God would send more laborers (Mt. 9:37-38). That means, we always need churches and preachers. When you hear your pastor, or you suspect your pastor fighting with other preachers as I hear that, some pastors in Washington do not talk among themselves. Then they are not fit to preach or offer any sacrifice if we practice Mt. 5:23-24. In addition, only false prophets join the world to fight another servant of God (I Kings 22:8-28, II Chr. 18:7-27).So please look for a better church.
One thing common is that sin is dominating that group and they are afraid to be dislodged from their comfort zones. Most Christians in the West are comfort addicted while those in the developing countries are sufferings addicted. Each of the extremes is not good for humanity you know. You smile don’t you? For real!
The reason is simple, if a preacher does not preach that the people will be rich and will not have problems he may end up only with the wife and kids if he has any. If a preacher preaches on sin then he is minimizing the atoning power and despising the grace of God the spoiled Christians will tell him. If grace means our lives should not be transformed, then it is not worth saying we are Christians because to be a Christian means you want to live like Christ.
Recently a couple was paraded over the TV for credit card frauds and fake businesses. I have personally visited that church and seen where they came from. It would seem the church is emitting darkness rather than light. Are you a Christian? Can anyone desire to copy your example? It would seem difficult nowadays to differentiate between a Christian and a non-Christian. On November 17, 2004, on Fox 5 News, there were about 7 or 8 news items. Four concerned crimes committed by Christians. It is true we are not perfect. Nonetheless, there should be a difference in moral standings between the little christs and those who are not. On that night there were court appearances of the wife of the Youth Pastor who colluded with her deacon boyfriend to kill him. A youth leader who molested 42 kids. A woman who killed her 86 year old mother with a hammer. Two kids from Christian homes who attempted to kill their classmates by poisoning them with a cake baked with glue and bleach. Where is the church leading the world? Did you know in some churches you take an exam to be a member. I have taken an exam when I intended to join a church. Thank God I passed. No one even knew where I lived.
A young man walked into a church in Marietta GA to confess his sins. After a hymn, the pastor approached him and asked; “which family do you belong”? He turned and looked round in all bewilderment a backslidden soul coming back as a prodigal son could display. So far, everybody was white he said to himself. He informed him he was just from Africa and was looking for a church to see if he could come back to God. The pastor holding him on the shoulder, pulled him up, then gradually taking him by the hand towards the door and pointed with his left hand “if you go down the street there you will find a church that will accept you” he said to him. “This church is a family church and you must be a member of this family,” he explained. Surely, he was elucidating for the sake of Christ and the love he had for the brother. What do you think? Do you laugh or you feel sorry? I am in between. Come Lord Jesus!
d) Destroys other servants of God
During a transfer ceremony of a bishop, the journalist asked him if he had any enemies. He told them he had none. And the journalist said: “I heard you were always in loggerheads with other ministers. What happened to them”? He replied” I have finished with all of them. That is why if I die today I will have none”. Everyone knows why he had no more enemies because all those who quarreled with him have died. I have not been able to solve this enigma if one servant of God can kill another by using orthodox or unorthodox means. Here I cannot form an opinion yet. I have heard but have not seen. Therefore, I am still reserved.
Sometimes, churches have destroyed others with false accusations, slanders or even hiring hit men to finish with the other side. If you know and have heard your preacher does that leave that group. At times, some of them would even set the other preacher up like that case in I Kings 13:11-34. Let me present a small table of good shepherds versus bad shepherds (preachers) Ezek. 34
Bad Shepherds versus Good Shepherds
Feed the flock
Enrich themselves with the wealth of the flock
Abandon those that need care
Do not search those who left nor the lost
Bless them with his wealth
Take care of those that need help
Seek the flock whereever they are
Defend the flock
Know their sheep
GIVES HIS LIFE FOR HIS SHEEP
A) Area of giving.
Giving is important to God and his work. He stresses it with the institution of tithes and offerings of sacrifices and libations. It is very important for the Christian to know that they must give obligatorily their tithes and facultatively their offerings to God. I take for granted and would not seek to prove the validity of tithes.
However, the abuse and excess is at the point where I heard a preacher say “ he will pray for God to burst holes in a Christian’s pockets if they don’t give to God”. You smile don’t you? I laughed too. Since when has he become the tailor? Firstly, it is wrong to force people to give because God loves a cheerful giver (2 Cor. 9:7). God did not appreciate the sacrifice of Cain simply because it was not with the right mind. There is begging, which is stealing, but there is no stealing which is begging. When we use gimmicks to obtain money from people it is stealing, extortion, or robbery by spiritual means.
In 1990, I witnessed a scene I may never forget. It was offering time (blessing time) as they say it. Therefore, the basket was placed in front of the church. Each person came forward, singing and dancing to give to God. The pastor has been standing just close by supervising each giver. After three people put their money, the pastor stopped the singing and exclaimed. Who put this five francs! As if he did not believe anyone would give God five francs. Who put this five francs? He asked emphatically. Come and take it. No one came forward. So the pastor called a sister out and said to her “come and take your five francs. I did not know he stood there to see who was giving what until that incident. God cannot be mocked”. The befuddled sister, walked as a fowl beaten overnight by the rain, giggling and lethargically minimizing her steps to the front of the altar as if tons of iron were tied to her legs. Her face wore an invisible frontlet called shame. The disenchanted Christians shrugged their shoulders with their heads struggling to visit the east and west cardinal points as she pulled out her “God” rejected five francs. My spirit was in my heart, words dried out of my mouth and the scripture paraded an imaginary film board I had made as I waited for the incident to be over. Afterwards I confronted the pastor with this question: “was this sister giving to you or to God. If we say the people are giving to God then let God reject their offerings and not the pastor”. Without waiting for my introduction, my shadow made the last bend as I walked and pondered in solitude if pastors are now God. Thank God, he receives any offering cheerfully and rightfully given.
In some churches nowadays, you are treated according to the amount of money you give to the church. They say you should write your name on the envelope. To determine who is a regular member they check your tithes and offerings contributed.
It is erroneous to ask the Christian to give with Credit cards or what they don’t have. In other words, you are asking them to go borrow to give God. I am confident God would not have asked Abraham to give him a daughter when he knows very well Abraham has no daughter. God does not give us trials or temptations we cannot bear (1 Cor. 10:13). I have heard preachers say that God asked the children of Israel to borrow from the Egyptians. The borrowing was for the children of Israel to keep for themselves and not for God or Moses (Ex. 11:2). One other instant where a man of God asked a needy to borrow was the case of Elisha and the widow (2 Kings 4:3). However, she too was to borrow pots from neighbors for the multiplication of oil then when she has in abundance she could sell and pay her neighbors. It was not for Elisha!
On the contrary, when people nowadays borrow, they do that for the preacher or the church and instead get poor. I lack words to describe some of the diehards from churches whose main philosophy is prosperity. In those milieus, I have seen the poorest of persons that heaven or hell has ever produced. In those places too, I have seen the rich (not richest) heaven or hell has even produced too.
Sometimes when they borrow, they start to run away from church and even their borrowers. Their freedom is gone and their peace runs into hiding. Why would anyone borrow to give God when God does not lack silver nor gold (Ps 50:12)? To whom amongst them has God complained he was hungry? God had asked the Israelites to bring into the storehouse not for himself but for the servant of God because no one should muzzle the mouth of the ox that treads the corn (Deut 25:4; Prov 12:10). Since those who minister upon the temple must feed on the temple (1 Cor 9:9; I Tim 5:18). As such, a minister, benefits from what the Christians give him and the Christians must abundantly, cheerfully and willfully give too. It is however, not godly for anyone to go borrow to give to the church or worst still for a student to tithe his or her tuition which was given by the parents.
Let us say that the parents took the money and paid directly. What would that child tithe? You cannot tithe on income that is not yours. The student can tithe on their pocket allowance. They can be generous on their pocket allowance but not with their rents. Preachers have asked students to give their rents and tuitions to “God” and they ended up not going to school. Preachers have influenced Christians to giving their rents and they ended up being evicted.
In that case, the emphasis should be that though I do not have, I am not contempt with my situation but that does not determine my joy for what shall it profit me if I shall gain the whole world and lose my soul ( Mk 8;36)?
B) Anointing and healing,
This rubric seems a very rampant and abused one because he that has the power or anointing has the greatest of members and that brings you a huge turnover from tithes and offerings. I have watched Tele- preachers sell crosses and pieces of cloth. One even sent a brother a cross to always keep underneath his pillow because that was his guarding angel for a donation of $25. To continue this practice they support it with situations like that of Elisha when the waters were polluted and the ground barren (2Kings 2:19-22), Peter’s Shadow (Acts 5:5) and Paul’s handkerchiefs healed the sick (Acts 19:11-12).
A famous journalist in Cameroon attended a preaching session of a visiting preacher from Nigeria in Hilton Hotel. The man of God asked him to come out for blessing and promised him one million CFA at the end of the year if he gave 100,000CFA. The journalist came forward and the man of God prayed for him but he kept standing on his feet while others were falling sideways, backwards and somersaulting. To make him fell the power of God, he gave him a Manga Ongene heading that left him sprawling on the floor like a woman struggling to escape from her rapist. He woke up with a large horn like that of a Briketrie hegoat. When he invited me for an interview, as a king’s historian, narrated his ordeal in first person singular. I told him to keep watching if he will make one million by the end of the year. His wish and dream have remained in the very shadow of his he-goat horn.
Let me make some explanations right quick. In the case of Elisha, it was spontaneous. He had ten miracles and non was the same. He did not start to sell salt to the sick and possessed. Did he? He did not start to sell water in bottles for the sick and possessed did he? In the case of Peter, he did not tell the people to wait for him or only pay into his conference for “power” but they waited for him on his path so that when he passes his shadow will fall on them. As for Paul, people took his sweat handkerchiefs to place on their sick. It was not Paul selling them. It was not his disciples selling them and giving him the money. Is it not written “freely you have receive freely you should give”? (Mt. 10:8). Where does all this selling of healing products come from? Can anyone show me where is it written that healing products from a man of God should be sold?
Worst still the people themselves encourage the game and as such ministers hurry to the underworld for powers so that their churches will “grow”. Nowadays, when someone falls people say that church has powers. I have explained that in my book (Practical Christianity Commentary on Elijah. In the Old Testament, people fell headlong or prostrated themselves before God. There is no case in the Bible where the people fell backwards in the Old Testament. If you see any please let me know. The reason is because God was revealing himself to humankind and that requires worship when man finds out. In the New Testament, people fell both forward and backward because God has revealed himself and his mission, the challenge takes the form of encounters. As such, those that recognized him as God worshipped him and those that did not fell backwards because they had demons and evil spirits that prevented them from doing do.
However, the common denominator in all this falling is that each time someone fell in the Bible be it forward or backwards their life changed. The non-believer becomes a believer and the possessed were set free. If it as in the O T that a barren woman fell, she would get up and become fertile. If a palsy patient fell in the days of Jesus, he will rise up completely well (Mt. 17:14).
With the modern church, people fall to make a show of it, get up but still remain the same. Barren women fall under the “anointing” and still get up more barren than they were. Impotent men fall headlong to no change. Criminals fall and leave the church only to rob an 84-year-old widow. Do you see the difference? I am not saying people should not fall.
Let me speak like Paul (II Cor 11:16-33) for a moment lest you think I don’t know about the power of God. While in CHS Bambui as a young student from 1989-1991 those who lived in the dormitory will tell you we chased out the wizards and witches by a show of power, healed the sick and experienced what it means by being carried in the spirit. God used me to raise up a 125 years old man in Bambui in 1990. In 1991, God raised up my niece from the dead through me and my younger sister, delivered my family from my mother’s landlord boa totem. Through me, many have come to know Christ and they are pastors today. Just to show you I know what it means by operating in the gifts and power of the Holy Ghost. I have been beaten for Christ, experience accidents for Christ, robbed for Christ, insulted and abused for Christ. I know what it means by suffering for Christ. To me falling “under the anointing” is adiaphorous and as such does not change the fact that God healed and still heals today. Nevertheless, when they fall under the anointing there should be a true change in their lives and not an imaginary and presumptuous change.
In two out of ten Nigerian movies, we see the preacher using underworld powers to make miracles and attract people to their church. It is not just movie pranks. These things really exist. If you are condemned to a particular preacher watch out. If it would seem without them, your household would never be free of demonic powers or you can never win or progress, then watch out, you need deliverance from witchcraft authority. You have been bewitched. Yes you are! You can know a good preacher and a true man of God from the qualities I stated above. Look at them well. If any man or woman of God is selling anything that will heal, deliver, or save do not buy. That is ungodly. Run away from them. Freely they have received and freely they should give. If you have to stand on a particular altar before they pray for you, then watch out. If they never pray without a ring, handkerchief, stick or something conspicuously displayed then be careful. If they want you to pay an allegiance or even swear to be their follower then it is time to run for your life. When you see churches with laws like do not come here with your shoes, or people who are healed that no one recognizes them then it is time for you to run. If people are healed and the sickness comes back or may be, attacks another family member, please watch out for your life. Go seek a true prophet for deliverance
You want to ask me what about Jesus who healed with mud (Jn 9:6). It was not habitual. He even asked a paralytic why he did not dive into the waters for healings like the others (Jn. 5:3-18). Nonetheless, after that he healed the man by mere command. Now, remember, if you stay faithful and truthful to God “no weapon fashioned against you shall prosper and any tongue that shall rise against you shall be condemned. For that is your heritage and your righteousness is from God.”(IS 54:17)
C) Body Guards
The preachers have bodyguards today all over. From Moses to Malachi and from Jesus to Paul none even had a single bodyguard. The term and idea do not even future in the Bible. These three terms; armourbearer, sons of the prophet and disciples resemble the bodyguard theory but they are not even synonyms.
Let us start with the term armourbearer. The word armor in 1 Sam 14:1 and the term armourbearer have the same root word: /kelîy/ meaning a vessel to carry weaponry. The first time we hear the word /armourbearer/ is in Judges 9:54. In those days, the king had someone who carried his weapons when he went out for a walk or to war. That person was called the armourbearer. He did not have any title claim to the throne and he will never be king. He was like the nchinda of the North West province of Cameroon. In those days, both the weapon (I Sam 14:6; 17:8) and the person who carried the bag (I Sam 14:12-17) have the same root word for armourbearer. This means he was a type of bodyguard. Now the question is who had the armourbearer; the king or the prophet. Are preachers today, kings or prophets? The prophet did not have an armourbearer the king did. Preachers are like the prophets of old while the president and kings are like the kings and queens of old and should not have bodyguards.
I saw a young man wrestled to the floor because after the sermon he wanted to approach the preacher to greet and thank him for the sermon. Before he knew it, his back was on the ground. I mean: he was tackled from the hip. Today, it is easier even to see a president than to see certain preachers. The bureaucracy and bottlenecks are just cumbersome and callous.
Let us go back to the second term sons of the prophet (2 Kings 2:3; 5; 4:38; 5:22; 6:1). In this text, the word /son/ would instead refer to young and not the term /bên/ which has to do with family. This term fits the modern usage of godchild. The sons of the prophets were young aspirants who wanted to be prophets. They are not there to guard the prophet but to learn from him so that they will replace him. On the contrary, preachers take young people to guard them and not prepare them to replace them. Worst still they start to groom their kids (sometimes even non-believing kids) to take over. That is why the church seems today like pure business. The preacher raises up someone who will protect his interest. How different is that from Capitalism?
The next term is disciple / mathētēs/ (meaning pupil, apprentice or learner). That means students of Christ. The term progresses to Christians in Acts 11:26. These ones want to learn from Christ so that when he is gone they will take the mantle. They become the little Christ through whom the world sees the Christ who is gone to heaven. The disciple was not the bodyguard of Jesus. He told them two swords as enough (Mt 26; 52-53). I can defend myself if I want. I freely give myself. So where did we come with this idea of Bodyguard. It is simply an imitation of the world so as to look important. If the man of God is preaching that heaven is better than earth then why does he need a bodyguard to protect him from dieing if dieing will mean a flight to heaven (the better place)? If we are so scared to die that we have bodyguards to tackle people down in church then why preach about heaven as better and dieing as gain and being with Christ? That means somewhere somehow someone is jacobizing another.
Yet we know that it is not a bad thing to have a disciple you are training. This disciple is to replace you and continue the work you began. He is not there to put his life on the line for you so that you can live. Shame on all those preachers with bodyguards.
Another area of excess is leadership. When a preacher makes himself the fourth person of the godhead then time has come for you to look for a better place. No preacher should force you or coerce you to sign permanent allegiance or membership. You are not obliged to be a member in a church. The usage of Hebrews 10:25 is not for a particular church but fellowship with other Christians. One can fellowship with different Christians everyday without even going to church. However, we encourage going to church because it will help you to grow and for people to know you, trust you and entrust you with responsibilities. If you go here today and there tomorrow, people will not know you and therefore you will not grow in Christian leadership because no one will give you any responsibility. Yet, it is bad when you have to give account of how you sleep with your wife. What color of dross you are wearing or submitting your pay check to your minister so that he or she can determine how much money you make to deduct tithes and worst still that he can decide to sow his seed into any of your daughters any time and any age. That is cultic and should be avoided.
F) Some misused verses.
Now this item is very funny because it is not the preachers but also the Christians who encourage this one. We may operate in the supernatural because of our spiritual gifts but we have natural bodies; that is even why we get sick or die. That is why we get tired, angry, disappointed and even happy. I hear people say all the time that a Christian never fails and should never use the word failure. If one does not fail, then he is infallible. And if we are infallible then we are God. If we are God then we do not need any other God in our lives and therefore do not need salvation. Considering that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23). Mindful that John the Baptist doubted Jesus when in jail (Mt. 11:3), that Peter who dined and wined with Jesus will later deny him (Mt. 26:75), that Paul failed to integrate the church of Jerusalem when he believed and had to retreat to Arabia until Barnabas brought him back ( Gal 2:1), shows that though Christians we can still fail.
Now realistically, if Christians do not fail, are we then the first in our classes? Are Christians the richest people on earth? I mean even the prosperity preachers. Are there Christians who are in jail? Are there believers who are in jail? If yes what is that called? Remember it does not mean they are no more Christians but they have failed to achieve a particular goal. Do we achieve all our New Year Resolutions?
We always use Rom 4:17 as if it was a positional blessing; that is, a blessing we acquire once we believe in the Lord. It is not! On the contrary, it is a conditional and progressive blessing, as I will unfold in the study below.
Job 22:28, Eliphaz makes this statement when accusing Job. According to Eliphaz its fulfillment is conditioned on one main demand; a return to the almighty by putting away iniquity. Then Job would enjoy the following advantages: prosperity, protection, and delight in the Lord, answered prayers, fulfilled prophecies (V.28), and encouragement to the broken hearted, evangelize and save the lost. Therefore, verse 28 gains its strength from verse 23. Now remember that though Eliphaz said this, Job was not far from God as Eliphaz thought. However, Eliphaz’ principle which is God breathed still stands.
Philippians 4:19. In this verse, Paul tells the Corinthians but his God shall supply all their need (main necessity) according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. He starts with a coordination conjunction making it look like a secondary thought. Where is the primary thought? The primary thought is the fact that the Philippians communicated with Paul’s affliction (V. 14) by giving and receiving (V 15) up to, the point where while he was still in Thessalonica, they still sent him things (especially those sent through Epaphroditus). As such, his God who is so rich will refill (supply) or replace more than what they gave. God would replace even more than what Paul was given. Consequently, seeing that all of them emptied to give him then on that basis, God would replace with a prophet’s reward (Mt 10:41-42) what they gave out. Therefore, God can only bless more if we give (Acts 20:35).
Rom 4:17 : In this verse, Paul in trying to make the Romans be partakers of God’s promises through Abraham he reminds them of the promises made to Abraham and simultaneously spelling out the person of God. So let us divide the verse into two parts:
a) What was written? In genesis 17:5 God told Abraham he would be a father of many nations. We all came because of that promise. It was left for Abraham to believe or not to believe. So he believed Him. Who did Abraham believed in? God!
b) The person of God.
This God is the one who raises the dead (resurrection) from the days of Elijah to the days of Paul. More so, the same Person creates. He calls things that do not exist as if they were and they come to exist. In other words, Abraham hadn’t any son by the time he had that promise. God telling him I have made you a father of many nations he had lived the future of Abraham by seeing Abraham with Isaac, Ishmael and the rest of the human race. God is the one who calls those things that be not as if they were and not the Christian.
We can only do that, if we take on the nature of God and fulfill the conditions in Job and the Philippians whereby Abraham could only receive this promise by giving his precious son. Paul tells the Hebrews why Abraham fulfilled the condition in Job and in the Philippians. He followed God by faith (Heb. 11:8-10). Remember, today the righteous shall live by faith has not changed (Heb 2:4; Rom 1:17; Gal. 3; 11). It is instead James who gives a clearer picture of Abraham’s source of justification (Jas. 2:23). It was when Abraham believed God that all he did, was imputed on him as righteousness. Therefore, at that time, his iniquity has been put away and he moved to the next step of giving himself and even his heir-to-be son. As from then, the Lord supplied his need according to the riches in his glory.
My friends be careful where you go to church. Finding God is expedient for our eternity. However, be careful not to be in hell here and later in heaven because somebody misled you. I know how you want to meet God yet be careful. Know where you go to church and who your pastor is. Don’t hesitate to leave a church you suspect does not bless your soul or has abuses and excesses. But before you leave, expose it for others to see. You might save another soul. I hope that this series blesses you and that you share it with others. My next series would be on African Traditional Religions (ATR).
God bless you abundantly as we walk this journey of faith.
Until then, the modern church must curtail its excesses.
Prince & PA Hamilton Ayuk