I listened to Jessy Dixon‘s song recently – “I am Redeemed” and it got me reflecting over this issue again – What is my motivation as a believer?
Some years ago, a branch of Christian Corpers’ fellowship published an article from a guest writer titled “Christianity ….one mile wide and one inch deep” He wrote about the spread of the gospel in that part of the world. That statistic has changed such so much now. I guess it might be something like 10 miles wide and zero inches deep. (Sad, isn’t it?).
The spread can be attributed to a lot of things, zeal, motivation, life challenges, etc. (mind you, I love soul winning, church growth and dynamism of the faith). If you love Soul winning these books will be of great delight “Soul Winning: A pleasant Experience” and “Lovely Feet on the Mountain”. A lot of gospel push produced that staggering number of people who confessed Jesus as their Lord.
The lack of depth is very disturbing though and results are that while many people confess to be Christians the impact of it on the society is actually abysmal. The question we should ask is what makes believers different? There are a lot of things people and religion fake but one thing that we hold dear is the fact that we are redeemed. In Jessy Dixon’s song “I am redeemed”, dedicated to new believers, he said “if anyone asks you who you are? Say “I am redeemed”
It is a very personal question we should ask ourselves and go on to live it out. Am I redeemed? What are my motivations? Christianity is not a club and true faith is far removed from religion. It is a personal commitment of one’s soul to Jesus Christ. It is a relationship with a living God. The scripture says in Matthew 6:33 “But seekfirst his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (NIV) so while enjoying the blessing associated with Christ, it must be made clear what Jesus said “Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3 (NKJV)
Make 8:36 says, “For whatshallitprofitaman, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (KJV)
Many people have attained great heights using Christianity as their ladder but it should never be assumed that the grace of God could be taken for granted. I read some time ago of a Bishop who said he was not sure Jesus rose again. I have met people who are so zealous in gospel work whose motives are not clear. I encountered a pastor who was not certain whether it was only Adam and Eve that God created first. According to her, God must have created other men and women (Sick! Isn’t it?) Such believe customises sin to certain people and absolves others of the need for repentance from sin. It promotes racial discrimination and degradation.
Whatever goes on anywhere and for whatever reason, it is our personal responsibility to ensure that we believed right. The believer’s life is a continuous faith fight against the forces of darkness but it is worthy to remember that the battle is won already. It is our firm dependence on Jesus that gives us continuous victory. We must keep on claiming that victory. Don’t forget, if you are a believer, that you are redeemed.
We all want to do “great work” for God. Some see it as fulfilling “purpose”. That is how some people express the longing to be up the ladder in church or gospel work. There is nothing wrong with a desire to serve God in outstanding way; I believe a little understanding will help someone to do it right and reap the reward from God.
Nicodemus once went to Jesus to find out this secret in John 3:1-10, the scriptures says, “Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.” Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!” Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spiritgives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” “How can this be?” Nicodemus asked. “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things?” (NIV)
Jesus simply told him, it is not what you do but who you are that makes the difference. Your nature produces your abilities effortlessly. I am sure that I will struggle to live in water than a fish would do.
Jesus answered those who asked the question more directly than Nicodemus the same thing. This is stated in John 6:28-29.
“Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?
Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” (KJV)
You need to be called and commissioned. This is what determines what you do, where you do it and how. You can see this in the Bible “In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!” “Yes, Lord,” he answered. The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.” “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.” But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name. ”Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized.” Acts 9:10-18 (NIV)
Ananias was called to go and do the work he did.
The scriptures in Acts 13:1-3 says “Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.” (NIV)
Paul and Barnabas were called and sent by the Holy Spirit.
Some years ago at a Youth for Christ camp, some brethren asked me why there were many church denominations. (Then we don’t have them this much) Mine mind went blank for a split second, and then the Lord spoke to me. He told me there are basically three divisions.
1. Those that he called
2. Those that called themselves (these are more numerous)
3. Those that the devil called. (These are deceivers and very cunning)
There are equally a lot of divisions among those the Lord called; this gives people the opportunities to hear the gospel in their own “language”.
Paul says “Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.” 1 Cor. 9:19-23 (NIV).
God provides variety of ways to reach people and uses different people as he wishes.
It is not my intention here to condemn denominations; I have just told you what the Lord told me. We must be discerning; we do this as we pray and ask God direction as to where to worship and have fellowship. Whatever we do, the responsibility is ours. You can see more examples in Acts 19:13-17 “Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, “In the name of the Jesus whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this.One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?” Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding. When this became known to the Jews and Greeks living in Ephesus, they were all seized with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor.” (NIV)
You must have compassion. The work of God is great when done in love. The Scripture says“If I speak in the tonguesof men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.” 1 Cor. 13:1-8 (NIV)
Obedience: There is nothing that is too small when it is a command or an instruction from God. When we concentrate only on doing “great things” and being great men or women of God, the motive could be wrong. Ananias is a good example of this.
You must be prayerful. You do the work of God as you pray. Most times people may not know you prayed for them but you don’t have to bother about it. God can lead you to do more things as you pray. (Acts13)
Every Child of God has something to do. We should prayerfully seek God’s face on the things he wants us to do. It is not what we want but what he wants that really matters. The case of Mary and Martha provides a good example of this.
Over the years I had listened to arguments that say that Jesus did not die (I don’t have time for such things anymore); I don’t know where those people got their information from but it is definitely out of place; to say the least. Jesus’ death was not a script acted out by Jesus and some folks. It was his enemies that masterminded his death and they did not stop at anything to see their plot through. Their plots were well examined by Pilate and this was his verdict “Pilate….saith unto them, Behold, I bring him forth to you, that ye may know that I find no fault in him. Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man! When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, crucify him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify him: for I find no fault in him.” John 19:4-6 (KJV)
Pilate found no fault in him. He was not guilty of anything. Jesus did not die because of any wrong doing. He died for our sins.
The Leaders of the Jews, who claimed that their law provided for him to die because he claimed to be the son of God, were in error. Psalm 82:6 says” I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High” (KJV). (You can also read John10:34-35). God called those who believed in him, his children. There was no evidence that they killed the writer of that scripture neither were there any evidence that they contested the legitimacy of that verse of the scripture anywhere.
The Jewish leaders insisted, “We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.” When Pilate heard this, he was even more afraid, and he went back inside the palace. “Where do you come from?” he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer. “Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?”
Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.”
From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jewish leaders kept shouting, “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar.” John19:7-12(NIV)
Pilate chose friendship with Caesar against his convictions and the evidence before him. He sentenced Jesus to death against his best judgment.
Pilate is dead and gone, so also is Caesar; however the manipulations of Jesus’ enemies and the errors of Pilate lives on.
Many people are “friends of Caesar” figuratively; they are willing to compromise the truth because of friends and relations. They can’t stand by their best convictions because of the advantages they hope to gain and because they love the favour and friendship of people more than the truth. They would rather make friends with people than live right or fear God.
Today, there are people who failed to accept Jesus as saviour because of what their friends would say. There are people who cannot preach the truth because their patrons will withdraw their “gifts”. They would rather have people go to eternal destruction than preach the true gospel.
We must never pass harsh judgments on innocent people as Pilate did. God hates it. Proverbs:21 says “Though hand join in hand, the wicked shall not be unpunished: but the seed of the righteous shall be delivered.” We must never allow ourselves to be manipulated as the enemies of Jesus did to Pilate. They employed every evil devises possible to see that Jesus died a painful death. The scripture says that we should not join multitudes to do evil.
“But they shouted, “Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!” “Shall I crucify your king?” Pilate asked. “We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered. Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified. So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). There they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle. Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS. John 19:15-19 (KJV)
When Pilate wrote the title: “JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS” He was only trying to calm his troubled conscience and justify his actions. Jesus did not ask for such a thing and the Jews asked him to change the statement. He compromised his integrity and framed a cover-up. One lie led to another. When people set out on manipulating others, they keep on scheming and multiplying wrong doing. The enemies of Jesus kept deceiving themselves as servants of God; envy, bitterness and greed kept them from the truth; they lied to the people, produced false witnesses, bought a traitor and bent the law to see their evil scheme through.
Jesus really came to die. It was his mission on earth; it was for the salvation of all who would believe. He is alive forever. Choose Jesus today and enjoy the blessing that goes with it.
“He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. John1:11-13 (NIV)
You can receive and use the power of God if you want to. This may sound over simplistic judging from the exclusiveness to which this subject has been subjected to. Jesus came to save all mankind and whosoever believes in his name is saved; this is about the most important thing that God has made available to mankind and if anyone who believes can get it, other things come second, including power. Jesus told his follower “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (NIV)
Many Christians suffer self-confidence problems and as a result never rise to their full potentials all through life. People have been made to be over dependent on “the big brothers and sisters”; a rare group who monopolise God as it were. This is not what God wants. The scripture made this clear in Mark 16:17-18 “And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”(NIV)
There is nowhere in the New Testament that the power of God is said to be for the privileged few. Ignorance, lack of courage and timidity has been the bane that has limited many people in this area of their lives. That can change today if you want it to. The Bible says,
…ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” Acts 1:8 (NIV)
What you need to receive the power of God is the Holy Spirit. Jesus told his follows that it is after they have received the Holy Spirit that the power will come upon them to do the work assigned to them and to live the lives expected of them. Jesus himself was subjected to this same condition and no person is expected to do otherwise. Acts 10:38 says “how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.” (NIV)
Jesus underscored the importance of this matter before his public ministry; in the gospel according to Luke, Chapter4:18-21, he said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, Because he anointed me to preach good tidings to the poor: He hath sent me to proclaim release to the captives, And recovering of sight to the blind, To set at liberty them that are bruised, To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant, and sat down: and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, To-day hath this scripture been fulfilled in your ears.” (ASV) Jesus quoted Prophet Isaiah’s prophecy about this (see Isaiah 61:1- 4).
Apostle Peter told his audience how to receive the Holy Spirit in Acts 2:37-39; the scripture reads:
“Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and the rest of the apostles, Brethren, what shall we do?
And Peter said unto them, Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
For to you is the promise, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call unto him.” (ASV)
It is important that anyone who desires the power of God acknowledges the Lordship of Jesus Christ, by repenting of his or her sin and accepting Jesus as their saviour. This is the first step into any meaningful relationship with God. The Holy Spirit according to Peter is a gift to all who believes and the above scripture makes it clear that the experience did not end with those people and that generation. You can receive the Holy Spirit today.
The Holy Spirit is given to help us in every area of our lives, in our walk with God, family, academics, jobs, vocation and so on. Recently, there was a Christian youth leader who was very engrossed with planning a young people’s event; I met her expressing her concern that she had an examination coming up; I told her that the Holy Spirit is able to help her with it; I told her it happened to me before and then left her. Few weeks later, I saw her literally elated and she told me how the Lord helped her in that examination. I have had several personal experiences which demonstrated the fact that God is at work in every area of our lives.
When Jesus talked about being witnesses, he was talking about evidence of his person; he was not just talking about preaching. The evidence of Jesus can come in demonstration of the power of God. That is what Mark 11:17-18 is talking about. It reads “And these signs shall accompany them that believe: in my name shall they cast out demons; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall in no wise hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
You can only receive the power of God when you are willing to use it for his glory. The power of God is not for “show”; God is not a magician.
Using the power of God for trading is ridiculous and people who do it are in danger. They run the risk of falling into trouble sometime, both here on earth and later when Christ appears.
The power of God is available at the name of Jesus Christ. You will experience this when you pray in his name and act by faith in time of difficulties.
The power of God comes when you are committed to prayers. You must pray at all times and in accordance with the will of God. Selfish tendencies rob people of the power of God.
There is power in the blood of Jesus. Learn to plead the blood of Jesus.
You must work on living right. Living right might be a constant battle but you must never give up.