…For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their actions.… 2 Cor 11v13-15
There is hardly anyone who has followed the story of the Nigerian church from the 70s till now; that won’t come off with this feeling that something went wrong somewhere.
There is certainly a disconnect. And it is obvious many are only grappling with the straw. It seems what we have now in many circles is more of a jamboree. But then it will be really unfair to write off the church in its entirety.
There are men and women who are still burning with the old zeal. There are those who are still not bowing to Baal. There are those who are still sacrificial in their love. There are men and women who still have a burning zeal for evangelism who are not given to filthy lucre. There are women out there whose sole ambition is to live for God and carry the banner of Christ.
All these positive developments notwithstanding, should not stop us from crying on the roof top that something is amiss. We must need shout and write and tell those who care to listen that this is not the faith some of us grew up to know, and that we are not practicing the Bible. We need to raise the alarm and raise it always. The nation is bleeding and indeed the church is bleeding because there are so many hirelings who have invaded the top echelon of many assemblies.
There are sons and daughters of Belial who understand only the language of stomach and ego; whose preoccupation is to drag the church in the mud. These people are not thinking of eternity and would not be bothered about it. They are thinking of their pockets. They are thinking of their empires. They are thinking of their ego and self-worth. They are more concerned about their estate and how to increase their slave camps called church rather than preaching the truth of the gospel.
But then, where did we get it wrong? Until we identify where we got it wrong and retrace our steps it may well be difficult to get out of the mud we have found ourselves. The mistake many of us made before now was to think the devil was going to come in a garb; with the inscription of the name Satan and then we would be able to run away from him. We forget completely that the devil is subtle and clever. We forget that he is the deceiver of the brethren, the old fox. We forget that devil would not attack with the red garment but would rather put on white garment and deceive the unsuspecting. We fail to realize that the devil would rather become a pastor than oppose a pastor. He would rather join the choir than attack the choir from outside. He would rather start a church than write petitions against the church. We forget that he would not be bothered about our vigils and activities.
He would not even be bothered by the kneeling kneels as we used to think for he himself is a prayer warrior. Who says the devil does not pray? We were so naïve to believe the only language he does not understand is the tongue. But rather than understand your tongue, he speaks his own tongue and then you are left wondering.
The devil won’t be against evangelism, he won’t be against your messages of love and piety. He joins you in all these activities, constructs his own cathedral and leads an army of people. In many instances he leads gullible people whose understanding have been blinded. He lets you pray but ensures your prayer is ineffective by giving you selfish and misguided prayer points. He lets you study but ensures you are guided by the wrong teacher. He presents a counterfeit but ensures that the counterfeit is veiled with the covering of truth.
That is why it is sometimes difficult to differentiate the truth from the fake. But the question that pops up every now and then in many circles is: How did we get here? Who did we offend to deserve the kind of things we see in our assemblies today? When did we sleep?
First, from my little observation, the church began to sink the moment some church leaders introduced specialized services. It sounded so nice and good when the wave was spreading across denominations. But then that accounted for part of the rot in the system. The day we began having anointing service, breakthrough service, first born service and all kinds of services in the name of addressing specialized needs we shut out God. The devil crept in through those services that allowed us to pocket and control God.
We forgot quickly that God does not have to wait for a breakthrough service to give us breakthrough. He does not need a healing service to give us healing. He operates in endless space and time. We are not the one to determine when he would respond to our needs. Our own is to pray and wait on him. But then, promoters of those services thought they were doing God a favour and that such specialized service would draw crowd to the church. But they fail to realize that those services were subtle commercialization of the gospel and an attempt to reduce God to a need-respondent God who is at the beck and call of his children.
Some have gone to the extent of boasting that if so and so does not happen in their so called healing or breakthrough services then God had not called them. But then we know that many really don’t get people to experience the miracles and breakthrough they promised. Yet they have not stepped down from their exalted office.
Are we saying God is not in the business of healing his people? Not in the least. What we are saying is that designating a programme as special and a place to get a particular miracle is playing God. Did any of the apostles hold a special healing service? Did Jesus hold one? But we know they healed a lot of people in the course of their ministry. Miracles happen every day. It happens when we least expect. It happens sometimes in a spontaneous way that keeps everybody wondering.
God can’t be boxed but the modern pastor wants to box Him. Peter and John were going to the temple when God used them to heal the lame man at beautiful gate. We did not read that they started Peter and John Healing ministry. They continued in their daily ministration to the saints.
Today, we have turned God to a utility being who exist for his creations. He is never to say no and he must answer at the particular time we want him to answer. What happened to his sovereignty? What happened to his will and Lordship over man? Is he now a pawn on a chessboard? Oh, we claim to be displaying faith. That sounds right. But faith does not play God. Faith submits to the will of God. Hebrew 11, the hallmark of faith chapter tells us that there were men and women who died for what they believed without getting the promise.
The breakthrough service was particularly hijacked by charlatans who capitalized on the downturn in the economy to promise stupendous wealth to their followers. Brethren, rather than work hard and seek for counsel were busy on how to fly out of the country. Some were busy romancing the illusion of a manna from heaven. Some literally suspended their brain waiting on a fathom financial miracle that never came.
The grand delusion stared so many in the face. Rather than experience breakthrough many were experiencing breakouts and disillusionment. Many later became despondent and wondered at the promises they received from these merchants of the anointing. Indeed the breakthrough services is an enchantment and will continue to be an enchantment. We are not to designate a programme. The only distinct sacrament we know of in the Bible is the communion. And this is because Jesus instituted it. He specifically said each time we eat the bread and drink the wine we remember his sacrifice on the cross.
If you call a particular service breakthrough, by implication you’re saying the breakthrough of the people is limited to that service. If you call another anointing service, are you saying in effect that other services are not anointed? By the way how did we arrive at this anointing service craze? Who bewitched us? Healing the sick is never a special service throughout Jesus’ time and the time of the apostles. The people received their healing in the course of their teachings and meetings. And we see that anointing with oil which is more like rubbing oil on somebody was for the sick. James counseled that we should anoint (rub) those who are sick with oil. But what do we see today? We put oil on everything imaginable. We anoint cars, anoint house anoint tables and chairs.
The devil knows we like activity and ceremonies. We have turned ourselves to idolaters who designate a time to meet their gods in a particular place and do obeisance to them. What do we see? We see people going to give money to God in the name of thanksgiving service. Pray? Should we designate a time and day for thanksgiving? Are we not to give thanks in everything and always? And to think that our thanksgiving services is often decorated with the call for money makes one wonder the God we are thanking. Is God interested in our money as a payback for what we have done? This may be contentious.
The trouble really is not the designation of a special day for thanksgiving but the commercialization of it. We make it to look as if people need to pay for the favours they have enjoyed when in actual fact we can’t pay for anything that God has done for us.
Since no amount of money can pay for his mercy in our lives we should begin to strip ourselves of the commercial tendencies that we have forced on our relationship with God. If we don’t we will remain in the mud of confusion and the power of God will continue to elude us.
The truth is that the Lord can’t be boxed. He can’t be manipulated. What he wants from us is total devotion and commitment to His will.
Read also: The sheep and shepherd: What pastors fail to do for the flockhttps://www.churchtimesnigeria.net/sheep-shepherd/
Now that the angel of darkness has metamorphosed into the angel of light and dwells right in our midst we have one option: Go back to the Bible. Let us check the scripture and check what we do and see where we missed it. May the Lord give us understanding!
Gbenga Osinaike: 08033336243