My teaching notes for “Search the Scripture” Conference, June 20/21, 2014 in Ibadan, Nigeria
What does this mean: our glorious inheritance? Every organization or market brand in appealing for membership/patronage must be able to spell out in clear terms what benefit the organisation/product has for the prospective member/end-user. (The best publicity mode portrays the end-user as the sole beneficiary of the product and never shows how the producer is supposed to benefit.)
The body of Christ has a clear mandate to go and make disciples, to evangelise the earth and call as many as possible to repentance. It is like asking prospective members to join an organisation. What picture do we paint to them as the benefit that comes to them for becoming Christians? Why should they upon becoming Christians remain so in spite the overwhelming opposition awaiting all those who dare to answer the Christian call? What is strong enough to motivate anybody to remain an adherent follower of Christ in the midst of such a hostile territory? If you are in doubt about that, you need to read John 15:18-21, 16:1-4,33. James 4:4, I John 2:15. I Pet. 3:21,4:1, Phil. 1:29 & several others.
2 Tim 3:12 “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” NIV
“Anyone who wants to live all out for Christ is in for a lot of trouble; there's no getting around it.” THE MESSAGE
“Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” KJV
Phil 1:29 For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him. NLT
“God gave you the honor not only of believing in Christ but also of suffering for him, both of which bring glory to Christ.” NCV
“For you have been given the privilege of serving Christ, not only by believing in him, but also by suffering for him.” GNT
This is the original package of Christianity. Strangely, today’s Christianity sees things quite differently. I cannot resist reading what Catherine Booth said on this:
“It is a bad sign for the Christianity of this day that it provokes so little opposition. When the church and the world can jog along together comfortably, you may be sure there is something wrong. The world has not altered. Its spirit is exactly the same as it ever was. And if Christians were equally faithful and devoted to the Lord and separated from the world, living so that their lives were a reproof to all ungodliness, the world would hate them as much as it ever did. It is the church that has altered, not the world.” - Catherine Booth, Co-founder of the Salvation Army.
Why am I stressing this? May you grasp the gravity of what the Spirit of God is communicating: hear it in the words of veteran preacher, Emiko Amotsuka: “Friends, I can tell you this confidently without fear of contradiction: I have declared over and over and over that what we are practicing in Nigeria in the name of Christianity is a highly corrupted and perverted version of bible Christianity. This is not Christianity – no, not at all; certainly not.”
Beloved, look around you: what you see today as Christianity is not it. This is not it! Oh to God that my hearers, as a result of this, feel a sore discontent in their spirits for institutionalised & organised Christianity and begin to long for authentic unpolished raw Christianity! That is why we are here!
Where did I deviate from? I said what would make anybody want to stick to the original version of Christianity which clearly puts a man on the wanted list of this world system? What would be that motivation? What are we looking forward to like Moses who looked forward to the heavenly reward (Heb. 11:26) or what the writer of Hebrews says in Heb. 10:35: “Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward.” This is what we shall call the Christian hope or the Christian reward.
A little statistics: There are 68 references to the word, “hope” in the N.T.; 58 out of these are found in the epistles i.e. from Romans to Jude. There are other words, “we await”, “looking for” and others - these also are an allusion to this blessed hope. What does this statistic tell us? That the New Testament Church lives and breathes this hope. Perhaps we should check a few of them:
Gal 5:5 For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.
Eph 1:18-19 the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,
Col 1:5 because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel,
Titus 2:13 --- looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,
Heb 10:23 --- Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.