MY PEOPLE… MY GOD

“Ruth answered, “Please don’t tell me to leave you and return home! I will go where you go, I will live where you live; your people will be my people, your God will be my God” (Ruth 1:16)

My testimony: I live in Nigeria since 1980. I came here with my beloved husband, as a young wife and mother of our two little children. Before I came to Nigeria, I did not believe in God, and I did not see a Bible with my eyes. Also, I could not speak English. The engine of my life was my love for my husband. I could have followed him to the end of the world. We both worked as medical doctors. It was in Warri, in1986, that I had a crisis conversion and became born again. My life changed radically. I give God all the glory!

Most of the traditional customs here are very different than in my birth country, Romania. Long ago I made a choice: It is my duty to learn the traditions of people here. This is so that I may not ignorantly offend the very people I try to help spiritually. That will not be helpful to my testimony as a Christian and as a pastor. By the grace of God, I chose to show proper respect to the Nigerian people and all others I encounter daily! This is my duty before God!

Because I live here for so many years, I understand the way the Nigerian people think and behave. I study them because I love them, and so that I understand them. Like Ruth said, they are now ‘my people’ and their God, is now ‘my God’. They have thought me so much! For example, in Romania, the people are generally timid, shy, especially the women. I was like that for many years. It is in Nigeria that I have learned to be bold and courageous (not rude). This is a great achievement for me, for it has reduced my anxiety when talking to people.

Many people have helped me along the way, but my husband in particular. He has been my teacher, my mentor to help me understand the way Nigerian people think and behave. Over the years, he has patiently corrected me when I make mistakes. He has explained to me how to talk, dress and behave in a way that I will be accepted by the Nigerian people. It has not been always easy ‘to die’ to my Romanian way of life and adopt a new style. But the gain is so much that I stand in awe at what God has done in my life. My dear husband went to heaven suddenly in July, 2020. The lessons he thought me about Nigeria have made my life easier in his absence. My love for God, for my husband and for the Nigerian people have been the main reasons why I decided to continue to live here. I am a full time pastor in Warri/ Effurun, Nigeria. I say it with pride and gratitude. It is indeed my privilege to work here, where God has sent me. God bless Nigeria! Finally, once again, I honor my husband and my pastor, Dr. Richmond Leigh! God bless you Sir!

My desire: May I learn to live a humble holy fruitful faithful life, pleasing to God! Like sister Ruth, may I find favor with God and with the people! May people forget my face but only see and hear Christ in me! May nothing in my life hinder the progress of the Gospel! May the words of my mouth and the mediation of my heart be acceptable in Your eyes, my Lord and my Redeemer! Jesus is Lord!

(In the picture, my husband and I, during a vacation in 2015)

SUNSET TODAY

SUN SET TODAY AT 6:10PM, seen from the compound of Father’s House Bible Church / Warri/ Effurun/ Nigeria
Do you see a glimpse of the glory of God in the sky?
Give God all the glory!

“The heavens declare the glory of God;
And the firmament shows His handiwork.
Day unto day utters speech,
And night unto night reveals knowledge” (Ps 19:1, 2)

THE DOCTRINE OF GLORIFICATION

OUR GREAT SALVATION (4)/ THE DOCTRINE OF GLORIFICATION

During the Sunday service, Pastor (Mrs) Silvia Lia Leigh preached a sermon titled “Our Great Salvation” (3)/ The Doctrine of Glorification. Her main text was taken from Romans. “And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you… For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us…  And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover, whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified” (Rom 8:10, 11; 18; 28-30).

DOCTRINE OF GLORIFICATION DEFINED

The doctrine of the glorification of the Christian says that one day in the future, the believer shall be like Jesus, in his new spiritual body and will share in His glory forever! Glorification is the ultimate honor and promotion given by God to the believer in Christ. It is God’s ‘dream come true’ concerning His children. God will completely remove all sin from the lives of the saints. They shall live with Christ and with God, eternally. They will have resurrected bodies without any sin. They will change from being mortal saved men to become immortal holy men. In that holy state they will have free entrance to the presence of God. They will worship Him eternally. They will see God face to face and be like Him. They will enjoy holy joyful glorious fellowship with Christ throughout eternity, in a way that it is not possible now on earth. This doctrine is amazing. It is possibly the boldest of all the doctrines in the Bible. In a way, it is ‘too good to be true’. But it is true! It comes only to the believers and only by the revelation of the Holy Spirit. The promise that we shall be glorified in our very bodies should bring us great joy. That is glory! Perfectly redeemed, body, soul, and spirit! We shall see Christ and be like Him. We shall rule over angels and the world. There shall be no trace of evil in us. All scars of sin shall be removed. There shall be no risk or possibility of falling into sin again. We shall be without any spot of wrinkle, perfectly beautiful Bride for Christ. Perfectly eternally beautiful! Our youth shall be renewed! We shall never be sick, weak, or die! That is glory! “When He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2). At the point of death, the soul and the spirit leave the body and stay in heaven waiting the resurrection of the body. At the second coming of Christ, our bodies shall rise from death and become new bodies, spiritual, holy, and immortal. The new bodies will reunite with the souls in heaven and become complete and glorious. “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself” (Phil 3:20, 21). This is the ultimate salvation. This is glorification! Do you know that? Do you believe this promise? Do you rejoice in it?

Glorification is the climax of the process of sanctification. The more you die to sin and self, the greater the glory of God is reflected on you. The glory of God will not only be reflected on us, but we will share in it. It is the work of the Holy Spirit. “We all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Cor 3:18). Glorification is the last piece in the holy glorious golden chain of salvation. “Moreover, whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified” (Rom 8:30). This is the plan of salvation. Before the foundation of the world, God the Father deigned the plan. In His holy mind, God predestined us, one by one, to know Him one day and to be one with Christ. These people are called ‘the elect’. They shall believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. They shall hear and answer the call of God. They shall become justified by faith in the Gospel, Christ crucified and resurrected. All these people shall be glorified. This is God’s plan. It can never fail. All these verbs are in the past tense. In the mind of God, the glorification of the believer is already a fact. Sin and death cannot stop it. At the moment of justification by faith, you become saved. The soul and the spirit take their position in heaven, seated with Christ. “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Eph 2:4-9).

The doctrine of glorification may seem strange. But it is part of our spiritual DNA. God “has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end” (Ecc 3:11). God has put eternity into our hearts. We dream of the beauty of heaven and its glory even when we do not know what or where heaven is.  “For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him. But now we do not yet see all things put under him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone. For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings” (Heb 2:8-10). Jesus Christ is the Savior for the elect. He died for them, as their substitute. God accepted the Son’s sacrifice and proved it by raising Him from the dead. God put all under the feet of Jesus. Right now, we do not see all creation in submission to Jesus. But, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we see the glory of Jesus. It is the crown of glory in which as God’s sons we share forever.   

Glorification must be understood primarily as the honor that will be given to us in our transformed eternal state. That honor will protect us from sin and falling away and will ensure that we suffer no pain in the way that we do here on earth. Those who have suffered and died for their faith will be rewarded in a special way. There shall be a New Earth and a New Heaven. We do not know for sure what type of life we shall have on the New Earth. But we know that there shall be a connection with our life on earth, as sinners saved by grace. There is a direct continuity between us as we are in this life and the persons that we shall be in the next. It must be so, since otherwise salvation would have no meaning. If I return as someone else, I can hardly claim that I am the one who has been saved! What is certain is that the worship of God will be central to our experience of glory. The Bible speaks of multitudes standing around His throne and praising Him. Clearly, worshipping God is primary to our new life. We don’t know if we shall work for God. But one thing is clear, we shall worship Him forever!

GLORIFICATION – TWO STAGES

There are two stages: first, there is an intermediate state (from death to the resurrection) and then secondly: the final or eternal or glorified state (which is the life of resurrection). All what is promised to us now will be given to us then. There shall be a deeper fellowship with God and greater opportunities for praising him than we presently enjoy. In the company of Christ, we shall be seated next to the heavenly throne and installed with him as rulers and judges of the world. The glorified state of the believers is still a mystery. The Bible does not reveal too many details. But one thing is sure, for Christians, the life of heaven will be the fulfillment of life on earth. Glory to God in the Highest!

Job believed in this doctrine. He saw his glorification from afar. He believed the Our Lord is his Redeemer; that He died and rose for him. He was confident that God will not only vindicate him from his present troubles, but he will see the glory of Jesus in his spiritual body, in heaven. “For I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth; And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, That in my flesh I shall see God, Whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” (Job 19:25-27). Glorification does not mean that we shall become gods. It means that we shall become glorified perfect men, one with Christ, who as a Man, is glorified already!  At that time, Gods glory will finally be ‘all in all’ (1 Cor 15:28). The act of justification by faith produces peace, and joy in advance, as we hope to share in the glory of God! “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Rom 5:1, 2). Christ in us is ‘The hope of glory” (Col 1:27). Because glorification is what happens after death, the fear of death is destroyed. Faith in the doctrine of glorification gives the believer a living (ever growing) hope, joy, and assurance of salvation. Having faith in the promise of glorification gives me the confidence to say: “By God’s grace, my future is better than my past and my present!” Glorification is the wish and the work of King Grace. To Him be all the glory!

WHAT TYPE OF BODIES DO WE HAVE AT THE RESURRECTION?

“But someone will say, “How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?”  Foolish one, what you sow is not made alive unless it dies. And what you sow, you do not sow that body that shall be, but mere grain—perhaps wheat or some other grain. But God gives it a body as He pleases, and to each seed its own body. All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of animals, another of fish, and another of birds. There are also celestial bodies and terrestrial bodies; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory. So also, is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.  And so, it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man” (1 Cor 15:35-49)

It will be a spiritual body. At resurrection, your identity will be preserved. You will be the same you. Like a seed buried in the ground and dies, after that it become a plant. There is an organic connection between the seed and the plant. The new body will be incorruptible, powerful, heavenly, and glorious. We shall resemble our eldest Brother Jesus. The family resemblance will be there.

THE GLORY OF GOD

To understand the doctrine of our glorification, we need to study the glory of God. In the dictionary, glory is defined as the greatest form of honor given to someone, based on his achievements. Glory is seen as the height of prosperity, greatest beauty, and triumphant authority among men. On earth, glory is a royal attribute. Kings and queens are seen as glorious when they are dressed in their regalia, with servants around them. Glory attracts joyful worship and exuberant celebration. Joyful shouts of ‘Hail the King!’ or ‘Long live the Queen!’ are part of the glory picture of men on earth. “All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, and its flower falls away, but the word of the Lord endures forever. Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you” (1 Peter 1:24, 25). Man’s glory is a temporary shadow. God’s glory and His Word is eternal.

God’s glory is the combination of all the divine attributes of God. It is recognized by man only thru God’s self-revelation. On his own, man cannot see the glory of God. Without God’s protection which is found in Christ alone, the glory of God is like fire that will disintegrate all flesh. All the pictures of royalty on earth are only shadows of the glory of God in heaven where God sits on His throne. “Thus says the Lord: Heaven is My throne, and earth is My footstool” (Is 66:1). God is Holy. God is Love. God is gracious. But God’s Glory is different. Glory is what surrounds God, the way the creation sees this Holy, Loving, and Gracious God. Worship the Lord!

THE GLORY OF GOD IN THE SKY

“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them He has set a tabernacle for the sun, which is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber and rejoices like a strong man to run its race. Its rising is from one end of heaven, and its circuit to the other end; and there is nothing hidden from its heat” (Ps 19:1-6)

In Hebrew, the word ‘glory’ is ‘Kabod’. It is translated as the weight, the worthiness, the heaviness of God’s splendor. Glory is a combination of God’s holy beauty and His awesome power. God’s glory is manifested in the heavens, in the sky, and not on the earth. To see even a glimpse of God’s glory we need to look up and not down. Like the still water reflects the face of one looking at it, so the earth only reflects the glory of His Maker. If you want to see a glimpse of God’s glory, then look up! When David looked up, he did not see just the blue sky, some white clouds, and some birds flying. He did not see just the sun, the moon, and the stars! He saw a little of God’s glory revealed to man! He saw ‘nature’ with holy eyes and spiritual understanding. His heart was stirred to worship God. He saw God’s glory revealed and the work of His hands displayed for men to see. Do you see God’s glory in the sky? The Glory of God in the sky speaks and heals! This is just a little information about the sun. God made the sun and put it there in the sky. The sun is 92,935,700 miles from planet Earth. It has the full spectrum of light. Even from that distance the sun has healing effects upon men. The sun’s light reduces body pains. It improves emotional mood making us happier and more peaceful. It breaks down adrenaline which is a stress hormone. It increases Vitamin D, strengthening the bones and the teeth. Sun’s light helps the blood flow, improving the brain functions. It makes us more alert and intelligent. It increases metabolism helping with digestion. The sun’s light works as an antibiotic. It kills microbes and viruses and helps the immune system to fight sickness.  Can you give glory to God for His sun?  

GOD’S GLORY LOST IN ADAM AND FOUND IN CHRIST  

When God created Adam and Eve, they knew God in His glory. They were naked but they did not feel ashamed because the glory of God covered them like a garment. Once they sinned, the glory departed, and they felt naked, ashamed, and guilty. Sin separated man from God. Since the fall, man is blind to the glory of God. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23). In Greek, the word sin is translated as ‘missing the mark’. Sin is defined as ‘falling short of the glory of God’. The words ‘falling short’ mean to become inferior, to try and miss it. It means failing to share in the glory of God. A sinner always lacks. He is always missing the best of God. The Son of God, the King of glory, Jesus Christ, came from heaven to earth, from glory to darkness. He came into a world of sin and death, to bring salvation and eternal life to sinful men who believe in Him. Sin is like a blanket of dark clouds before the storm. There is no light. There is no hope. Suddenly, the rays of the sun pass thru the clouds, and the rainbow is seen above the storm. This is a symbol of the glory of the Gospel of Christ crucified and resurrected. It is only by God’s Grace, thru Christ, that man is able to regain the ability to see, reflect and eventually share in the glory of God. The truth is that it is hard for us, human beings, to imagine the glory of God. There are two main reasons why this doctrine is so difficult to believe. The distance between man and God is immense. God is the Creator, and He lives in the glory of heaven. Man is a created being. He is limited. That is the first difficulty. Secondly, man is born a sinner who is separated from God and His glory. Christ came to the earth, He lived and died to save the sinners who believe in Him. In Christ, man is now a new creation. The reflected glory of God that Adam had before the fall is now restored thru Christ. What man lost thru Adam’ fall has been gained thru Christ, and even more than that. The restoration of the lost glory thru salvation in Christ is one of the greatest miracles in the universe. The first stage of the restoration of glory is the act of being born again. The justification by Faith and by Grace it is to the glory of God. Secondly, thru the process of sanctification, thru dying to sin, the glory shines the more. The glory of God to man is perfected when Christ comes again, and He resurrects the bodies of the believers. Each believer will have a new spiritual and glorious body. Salvation is perfected then. The glory will be revealed in man like never before. The new body is eternal. It will never experience sin and death. Our new bodies are like the body Jesus had after His resurrection, material enough to eat and be touched, but spiritual enough to be able to appear and to vanish at will. Everything about us will be raised to a higher spiritual plane, comparable to that of the angels. In our new resurrected bodies, our present natural and good human desires will disappear. That is why Jesus said that there shall be no falling in love or marriage at that time. Jesus said: “in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage but are like angels of God in heaven” (Matt 22:30). There is also the assurance that earthly pain, sickness, and suffering will be wiped away. Our transformed spiritual bodies will be immune to the causes of the things that plague us now. “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (Rev 21:4).

GOD’S GLORY MANIFESTED IN THE FACE OF CHRIST

Our Lord Jesus Christ, “who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Heb 1:3). Jesus Christ as a Man was glorified by the Father. The proof of this glorification was His resurrection from the dead. His Word has the same power. His Glory and His Word are intimately connected. The Gospel reveals God’s glory. That is why it is called ‘the glorious Gospel” (1 Tim 1:11).  The sinners are spiritually blind and dead. They are not able to see God, Christ, or the Gospel. The glory of God proceeds from the face of Christ, and it is reflected on the believers. “But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor 4:3-6). Once the glory of God is manifested, it attracts sinners to Christ. Both the glory and the grace of God are magnetic and irresistible. The sinners are in a deep darkness of sin, ignorance, and death.  Glory is manifested as light and fire. The intensity of this light is gradual, and it is increasing. “Arise, shine; For your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people; But the Lord will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you. The Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising” (Is 60:1-3).

Our final glorification must wait for the glory of God manifested at the second coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Until then, what do we do? The Grace of God is already revealed in our salvation. Grace leads to glory! We need to die to sin, to purify our hearts in the process of sanctification. Grace is the Teacher. The Holy Spirit is also the Teacher. God’s purpose for our salvation while we live on earth is to prepare people for Himself, to be zealous and work for Him. This is our responsibility in this life on earth. Dying to sin, living, and working for God gives Him the glory even now. If you truly believe that we shall share in His glory, then you will pay the price for godliness. “Therefore, we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2Cor 4:16, 17). Suffering for Christ’ sake today, leads to an eternal weight of glory eternal! “But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth, to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining (sharing) of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2Thess 2:13,14). Christ made our salvation to be His most glorious work, in which glory we are privileged to share. The Gospel calls us by God’s glory revealed thru the excellent virtues and goodness of Christ. “His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue” (2 Pet 1:3). The more you study God’s Word, the more you shall know and appreciate the Person of Jesus Christ. In that way, God’s glory shall be revealed to you. In that glory, you shall share! Is this not a wonderful revelation?

The believer is sealed with the Spirit of Promise, until Christ comes again to redeem His purchased possession. The resurrection of our bodies will complete our salvation. Our Bodies, souls and spirits will dwell in God’s presence and glory. That is when God’s glory is seen and praised eternally by all the redeemed children of God (Eph 1:13, 14; 3:14-16). God’s glory is infinitely rich. The revelation of God’s glory strengthens the believer in his spirit. This is the power and the promise of the Gospel. We died with Christ, we were buried with Christ, and we have resurrected with Christ! Both for Christ and for us, there is a glorious crown after the Cross.  “For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory” (Col 3:3, 4). The suffering on earth will end in glory!

THE TRANSFIGURATION

When talking about the glory of Jesus we must be careful not to think of it just as a doctrine. It is a reality of the Spirit realm. We can only see His glory by the grace of God, thru the revelation of the Holy Spirit. Most of His life, the glory of Jesus was ‘hidden’ by His human flesh. It was only for a short time, during the transfiguration, that men on earth saw His glory as He is in heaven (Matt 17:1-8; Mark 9:2-8, Luke 9:8-36). Moses and Elijah, representing the Law and the Prophets, appeared in their spiritual state, talking to Him about His soon coming crucifixion and death in Jerusalem. During that discussion, the apostles fell asleep. God, in His mercy, covered them with His peace so that they can sleep. To witness this heavenly glory without God’s protection can kill a man. Glory means worship. Let us bow before Him who is the King of Glory!

BEHOLDING THE GLORY OF OUR SAVIOR

“Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me. And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them” (Jn 17:24-26). This is part of the High Priestly Prayer of Jesus. He prays in the shadow of the Cross. He prays for Himself, that God will glorify Him with that eternal glory He had before He came to earth. He also prays that God the Father will be glorified thru His work of redemption of sinners. He then prays for His apostles. They are the foundation of the church. He has revealed the truth to them and has invested His teaching in them. God should protect them from error and deception. Finally, Jesus prays for all the believers, for the elect. This prayer covers all of us even right now. Take a moment and consider, who is praying for you! It is the Son of God Himself! He prays to God the Father. One of the definitions for a believer is the man (or the woman) who is being prayed for by the eternal Son of God. Child of God, right now, Jesus is interceding for you! Another definition of a Christian is the man (or the woman) who God has given as a gift to the Son of God.  Our Lord says: “Father, I desire…”  This is a strong word. It means: ‘I will, I wish’. For Jesus to speak like that to God it shows the equality in the relationship as Father and Son. He wants us to be with Him in heaven! His wish was granted by the Father. He prays that we may be one with Christ and love one another. His glory shall be our portion forever. We shall see His glory in heaven, and we shall share in it! Going to heaven is not just our wish or our prayer. This is the prayer of the Son of God! May these holy words of prayer connected with your eternal destiny in Christ, bring you to your knees in total adoration! Have peace about your past, present, and future! Jesus is Lord over your life! Worship Him!

SHOW ME YOUR GLORY

 “So, the Lord said to Moses, “I will also do this thing that you have spoken; for you have found grace in My sight, and I know you by name.” And he said, “Please, show me Your glory.” Then He said, “I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” But He said, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.” And the Lord said, “Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock. So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock and will cover you with My hand while I pass by. Then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen” (Ex 33:17-23).

This is one of the greatest prayers in the Bible. It is a prayer few believers wish to pray. It is a revival igniting prayer. God has revealed Himself to Moses in so many ways. Moses is grateful, but he is not satisfied. He has experienced the Grace of God in his life, more than most men. But now he wants to see the fulfillment of God’s Grace which is God’s glory. Glory is ‘fulfilled grace’! That is what Moses wants to experience now. He does not pray for God’s gifts or blessings. He now prays to know God better, to see His glory. Moses wants to have a glimpse of ‘his wedding gown’ in heaven. He wants to see how he will look in heaven. Amazingly, God answers his request. But God answers this prayer in His own way. He answers the prayer partially. Moses will be placed in the cleft of a rock. That Rock is Christ. God’s glory shall pass by. God’s hand shall cover Moses’ face. If not, like Saul of Tarsus, Moses will become instantly blind or die. Moses will see ‘the back’ of the glory of God. God reveals His glory as His grace, and goodness, and His gentleness with His children. The glory of God is also revealed in the sovereignty of God concerning salvation. On the elect, God will have ‘compassion’. The rest must remain hardened. Our greatest need is to know God. This is an amazing revelation: God desires to reveal Himself to men. Revival is defined as the goodness and glory of God passing by. The answer to Moses’ prayer is not just a doctrine. It is an experiential encounter. You will ‘feel and touch’ Christ crucified and resurrected. You will see His power and beauty. Nothing else compares with Him. Do you want to pray like that? Do you desire a closer walk with God? Our Lord told Nicodemus: “If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?” (Jn 3:12). Are you interested in ‘heavenly things’? I am interested! I believe! May this prayer stir your soul to pray for revival! Worship the Lord!

“Moses stood on a mountain

Waiting for You to pass by

You placed Your hand over his face

In Your presence he wouldn’t die

All Israel saw the glory and it shines down through the age

Now You’ve called me to boldly seek Your face.

Show me Your face, Lord

Show me Your face

And then gird up my legs, I might stand in this holy place

Show me Your face, Lord

Your power and Your grace

I will make it to the end, if I could just see Your face”

(By Paul Wilbur)

THE DOCTRINE OF JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH

OUR GREAT SALVATION (3)/ THE DOCTRINE OF JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH/ JESUS HEALS THE LEPER

During the Sunday service, Pastor (Mrs) Silvia Lia Leigh preached a sermon titled “Our Great Salvation (3)/ The Doctrine of Justification by Faith/ Jesus heals the Leper. Her main text was taken from the Books of Romans 1:16, 17; 3:21-24; 4:5; 5:1, 2; 8:28-34 and the Book of Luke 5:12-15.

THE DOCTRINE OF JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH

The doctrine of justification by faith is one of the most important doctrines concerning our great salvation. It is like ‘the mother’ of all the doctrines of salvation. Long ago, man was interested to know about justification. “How should man be just with God?” (Job 9:2; KJ). Many Christians are ignorant of the true meaning of Justification. It is not a difficult doctrine but the devil fights hard against its understanding. For many centuries this doctrine was hidden under a cover of empty religion. It was re-discovered by Martin Luther (1483-1546), who God used to start the Reformation. The understanding of this great doctrine has ignited revival in many hearts and churches. May God help us to experience such mighty revival in this land! Amen!

The biblical doctrine of justification by faith is defined as the Loving, Gracious and Eternal ‘act’ of God, by which a sinner who totally trusts in the Lord Jesus Christ as His Substitute, is declared ‘justified’ or ‘righteous’. Simply put, to justify is to declare someone righteous. Salvation means that you are declared righteous (or justified) by God! In the dictionary, justification is defined as an acceptable reason or a reasonable explanation that defends and vindicates an action. For example, a man sends his child to a private school. He justifies his action by saying that he believes that school is the best for his child, and he has the money to pay the fees. This is an acceptable reason and a reasonable explanation for his action. In the same way, God chooses to save a sinner who is one of His ‘elect.’ God justifies His action by saying that the sinner has total faith in the death of Christ as his substitute. The believer is justified in saying that he is sure of heaven, because he has believed in Christ crucified. An unbeliever is not justified because he has refused to believe in Christ crucified.

Justification is God’s act based on His Grace alone. It is a gift. It is freely given. It is totally independent on our works. Justification for sinners is found in Christ alone. No other religion preaches justification by faith. God’s action is based purely on His Grace and Love. The question arises, “Is justification just? If God is holy, how can He forgive a guilty sinner?” The answer is that justification does not excuse, ignore, or endorse our sin. Rather, our sin is fully punished because Christ has taken our penalty for us. He is our Substitute (1 Pet 3:18). Because the wrath of God is satisfied in Christ (Is 53:4–6), we are now free from condemnation (Rom 8:1). Justification reveals God’s righteousness. God is both Holy (hates sin) and Just (He must punish sin). The death of Christ on the Cross gives God the reason for justifying the sinners who believe. God is always right in all His words, plans, and actions, including the act of justifying the elect. By this act of justification, God completely satisfies the demands of His holiness and His justice. This reveals the un-surpassing wisdom of God!

Justification is God’s legal declaration as the Supreme Judge of creation. God declares that a sinner who has total faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, is now righteous before Him. Justification is a legal or forensic term, that belongs to the realm of the Law Court. The Almighty God is the Judge of all. God speaks and declares the sinner to be righteous, justified, or free from the condemnation of sin before Him. God’s declaration is based on the perfect work of His Son, Jesus Christ, who died as a Substitute for sinners and paid the price for their sins with His Blood. Justification has to do with God’s declaration about the sinner, not with any change within the sinner. That is, justification does not make anyone holy; it simply declares him to be not guilty before God and therefore treated as holy. Immediately after justification, the process of sanctification starts by which the sinner saved by grace becomes holy. God sees the sinner righteous because He has a new relationship with Him. Justification and sanctification are always connected. Justification is once and for all an act of God. Sanctification is a lifetime process under the direction of God.  Justification of sinners is the work of the Trinity. God the Father declares the sinner righteous. God the Son died to pay the price for the sins of men. God the Holy Spirit oversees their sanctification.  Halleluiah!

Justification is the opposite of condemnation. To condemn is also a forensic term. The judge in the court, after weighing the evidence, he pronounces the man guilty and sentence him to punishment. In the Bible, all men are born sinners, therefore all are condemned before God. Only the elect believe in Jesus and God declares them justified. “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (Jn 3:18). Justification changes the position of the sinner, from the realm of Adam (a state or sin and condemnation) to the realm of Christ (the state of justification, which is freedom from sin). The sinner was born in the realm of death, where sin was his king. Now, the justified sinner becomes a child of God, and is translated into the realm of eternal life, where Grace is King!

Justification by faith is revealed throughout the Bible. All believers in the Old Testament got saved thru faith in God and not by obeying the law or thru their religious works. After Jesus died and rose from the dead, justification by faith became clearer. Apostle Paul got the clearest revelation of this doctrine. He expounds it best in the Book of Romans. It is a simple doctrine but many stumble over it. They do not understand ‘the simplicity’ of it. They stumble over the meaning of Grace.

To understand this doctrine, we must believe these foundational teachings:

1-All men are born sinners. The punishment of sin is death. Because God is Holy no sinner can come before God. No sinner can enter heaven!

2-Man cannot save Himself. Salvation is found in Christ alone. The Son of God, Jesus Christ, became a Man, lived a perfect righteous life, and died as a Substitute for sinners. The work of Christ on behalf of sinners, to save them, is perfect! God the Father proved that He has accepted the Son’s sacrificial work by raising Him from the dead.

3-Faith in the life and death of Christ who died for man’s sins is the only ‘key’ to salvation. Man’s works to please God cannot save him.

3-Because salvation is God’s work, man cannot boast of his salvation or justification. God takes all the glory!

4-Justification brings peace with God, and experientially, peace in the mind and in the heart of the believer.

5-Salvation is by Grace alone, by Faith alone, thru Christ alone, thru the Word of God alone, and for the glory of God alone!

God predestines, calls, and justifies the elect. Salvation is not random. Salvation is planned and executed by the Trinity. Salvation is totally God’s work! The declaration of justification is not a declaring of what is already a reality from eternity past or what will be true in the future, but it is God’s actual decision which takes place at the very moment a person believes in the Lord Jesus Christ. Salvation, faith, and the act of justification are actual present miracles granted from heaven. Justification is the Divine Judge’s verdict in advance of the day of judgment. Justification is an event in time, and it is always connected with our faith in Christ. God does not declare a sinner righteous without his faith in Christ. Faith is necessary for justification to be declared. Faith is not works. It is only an instrument that God expects from a sinner so that He can justify him. God plants the seed of faith during his effectual call. Faith is God’s gift to the elect. That is why all who are predestined and called unto salvation, come to the point of faith in Christ. That is when God pronounces the sinner justified. Justification is not a provisional announcement but a once-for-all decree in the here and now that will not be withdrawn in the future. Even the final judgment of God will not cancel it. Once God justifies a sinner, God does not change His mind about him. The sinner is now His child. Even if a Christian sins, he cannot become ’a sinner’ again. Thru the process of chastisement, God will bring His child back to Him. He who is justified and glorified already. Backsliding does not cancel the declared justification of God. As far as God is concerned, once He has declared you justified, you are living with Him in heaven. That is why a child of God cannot ‘miss heaven’. The believer is one with Christ, the King of heaven. Dear child of God, your soul and spirit are already glorified. One day, your body will ‘sleep’ in death but at the resurrection day, your body will rise and be changed into a spiritual body, to be like Christ. Your new body will be totally free from sin. At that time, salvation will be completed and perfect! Glory to God!

Justification has two basic components: forgiveness of sins and receiving the imputed righteousness of Christ. In declaring you justified God does two things at the same time: 1-God not only forgives your sins, but He takes your sins and imputes them to Christ who died as your Substitute. From this moment on, God sees you guiltless, blameless, like you have never sinned.  2-God takes the perfect righteousness of Christ and imputes it to you. You are now clothed with His garment of righteousness. God sees you as Christ! Standing before the Cross I see that on my own, I can nothing to save myself. I also see that Christ has done everything for me! He said: “It is finished!” (Jn 19:30). I am now in Him. By faith I become one with Him. This mystical unity with Christ is my life, my hope, my glory! Halleluiah!

WRONG DOCTRINE – In the Roman Catholic church they preach a wrong doctrine. They say that man is justified by works. They say that if a man comes to church regularly, takes the Holy Communion, and confesses his sins to a priest, at last, he will be justified and goes to heaven. They do not believe that God ‘declares’ the sinner righteous by Grace and by faith! Many have fallen into this error!

THE JUST SHALL LIVE BY FAITH

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” (Rom 1:16, 17)

The Gospel of Christ comes from heaven. God the Father designed the plan of salvation. God the Son agreed to become a Man and die as a Substitute for sinners who shall believe in Him. The Holy Spirit helps believers to apply the truth. This is the only way for a man to be saved from sin and eternal death. “Salvation is of the Lord” (Jonah 2:9). The Gospel is the story and power of salvation: “Christ died and rose again, for me!” Salvation is by God’s Grace and thru Man’s Faith. The Gospel reveals God’s Righteousness, how can a sinner be justified and stand before Him. The Gospel, Salvation, Righteousness, Justification are not ‘natural’ teachings. They cannot be understood just by man’s intelligence. These are spiritual realities that come only by the revelation of the Holy Spirit to those who believe in Jesus Christ. Man cannot be saved by religious works. “We are all like an unclean thing and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags” (Is 64:6). Man cannot go to God. God must come down to man. He has done this thru the life and death of His Son, Jesus Christ. In Greek, the word Righteousness is the same as being Justified. It means to right with God. A sinner cannot be right with God. Righteousness is that holy state that God approves and passes the test of His judgment. It is God’s ideal and His standard for man. Only Jesus lived and died as a Righteous Man. Christ’ perfect righteousness is imputed on us when we believe that Christ died as our Substitute. The word ‘imputed’ means to be paid unto your account. A sinner must believe in Christ. Then God will justify him. This justification is a double blessing: the subtraction of sins (forgiveness) and the addition (imputation) of Christ perfect righteousness on the sinner. The righteousness God demands He has provided it thru His Son! Glory to God! Faith is not a natural deduction. Faith is spiritual, a seed from God. Faith is not ‘blind’. Its root is in the Word of God which is Truth. Faith says: “God said it, that settles it! I believe it!” Saving faith is found only in the elect. The rest are called unbelievers. Your faith is not your justification. Then faith could have been counted as ‘works.’ Faith is the ‘hand’ that stretches to give your sins to Jesus and to take His garment of imputed righteousness. Salvation is ‘from faith to faith’. This means that the Old Testament saints were saved by the same faith in God. It also means that just as justification is by faith, the process of sanctification, of spiritual maturity, comes also by an ever-growing faith. This is the life of the Christian!    

JUSTIFIED FREELY BY HIS GRACE

“But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Rom 3:21-24)

These are some of the most important verses in the Bible. Here we see that men are born sinners. When Adam rebelled against God and fell into sin, he took all humanity with him. Sin leads to death. Sin is defined as rebellion against God. There is no salvation for man except thru Jesus Christ who died for man and rose again victoriously. Salvation is defined as being justified by God! The sinner is declared righteous by God at the moment when he truly believes that Jesus Christ died in his place, as his Substitute. As believers we are ‘being justified’ freely by His Grace. The words ‘being justified’ reveal a present action. We are justified freely, at the very moment when we believe in Christ. Salvation is a free gift of King Grace. This salvation reveals God’s righteousness, and it is ‘apart from the Law’. God gave the Law to reveal the meaning of sin to man. But God did not give the Law for man for him to obey it as a way to salvation. The Law itself witnessed to God’s righteousness which is by faith in Him. That is how Abraham, King David and all other saints in the Old Testament got saved. God always saves by His Grace. Grace is the unmerited favor of God given freely to those who merit the opposite. We are born sinners. We were going to hell. Then God calls and justifies the elect, those sinners who have faith in Christ who died for them. Because of sin, nobody could obey the Law to God’s standard. Jesus Christ is the only Man who obeyed God’s Law perfectly. That is why He was indeed a Righteous Man. Jesus took our sins and died for us. When He died, God took the righteousness of Christ and imputed it on the account of those who believe in Him. This is called justification by faith. We are saved ‘through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus’. In Greek, the word ‘redemption’ means to loosen the chains of a slave who is at the slave market, by paying a ransom price for him. The payment gives freedom. Christ, by His Blood shed on the Cross, paid the ransom price for any sinner slave who has faith in Him. All glory to God the Father who sent God the Son to die for us, sinners, saved by Grace!        

JUSTIFICATION OF THE UNGODLY

“But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness” (Rom 4:5). Here you see that justification is a peculiar act of God. It is not according to man’s works. The Word of God says: “He who justifies the wicked, and he who condemns the just, both of them alike are an abomination to the Lord” (PV 17:15). God is the only One who can justify the wicked, the ungodly, the sinner. What is called abomination to man, is a blessing to God.  God justifies the man who has faith that God justifies the sinner, the ungodly, not the godly. The reason why God justifies the ungodly is because Jesus Christ became sin on our behalf, took the punishment for it, and die for us. This is the mystery and the power of the Gospel! Halleluiah!  

JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH LEADS TO PEACE, JOY, AND CONFIDENT STANDING IN PRAYER  

“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Rom 5:1, 2)

Justification by faith is a miracle of life. It manifests as peace with God, and peace with man. For as long as you still feel restless, troubled, guilty and inferior to others, you should examine your foundation. Your money, religion, your church, your pastor or prophet, your education, your social status, none can save your soul. None can forgive your sins except God, who justifies the Christian when he believes in Christ who shed His blood for him. Peace is the sign that you have been indeed justified freely by God’s grace!

THE GOLDEN GLORIOUS CHAIN OF SALVATION IN CHRIST

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.  For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.  Moreover, whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us” (Rom 8:28-34). God the Father has planned this great salvation before the foundation of the world. God the Son became Man and died on behalf of sinners. According to God’s plan and purpose for the elect, any man God predestined to be saved, will be saved to the uttermost. God’s plan can never fail. These scriptures are great encouragement to all believers.  Read the Word often and mediate on it!  

JESUS HEALS A LEPER

“And it happened when He was in a certain city, that behold, a man who was full of leprosy saw Jesus; and he fell on his face and implored Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” Then He put out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately the leprosy left him. And He charged him to tell no one, “But go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for your cleansing, as a testimony to them, just as Moses commanded.” However, the report went around concerning Him all the more; and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by Him of their infirmities” (Lk 5:12-15).

Leprosy is a chronic infectious disease caused by a bacillus, Mycobacterium leprae. The bacillus multiplies slowly. Symptoms appear about 5 years after the initial infection. Leprosy mainly affects the skin, the peripheral nerves, and the eyes. Leprosy spreads thru the air, thru droplets from the nose or the mouth during close contact with the infected person. Untreated, leprosy can cause progressive and permanent damage to the skin, nerves, limbs, and eyes. The disease is now curable with multidrug therapy. People infected with leprosy live in communities called ‘leprosarium’.  Today, about 4 million people worldwide are infected with leprosy, most of them in Africa and Asia (India in particular). According to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, leprosy was almost eliminated. Recently, new cases have appeared. Over 3,500 people get infected with the disease every year in Nigeria. Most cases are in the northern part of Nigeria (Zaria, Kaduna etc)

In the ancient time, Leprosy was a dreaded disease that had no medical cure. In Israel, leprosy was more than a sickness. It was a social tragedy. The only way to deal with the leprous people was to isolate them outside the city. The leprous loses not only his health, but everything else. He loses his family, friends, the opportunity to serve God in the temple, and his business. Nobody hires a leprous. Most leprous are beggars. They live outside the community. they dress with rags. When they see people, they must shout ‘unclean, unclean’, to warn others to keep their distance. “Now the leper on whom the sore is, his clothes shall be torn and his head bare; and he shall cover his mustache, and cry, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’ He shall be unclean. All the days he has the sore he shall be unclean. He is unclean, and he shall dwell alone; his dwelling shall be outside the camp” (Lev 13:45, 46). To be a leprous was like living in hell.

This is a wonderful story how Jesus healed a man who was ‘full of leprosy’. His was a terminal case. The man was dying. His body was covered from head to toe with infested smelly wounds. His fingers, his toes, his nose, and his lips were gone. He looked like a monster. When he saw Jesus and the disciples, he was to shout ‘unclean, unclean’. God’s Law said that he should run away from men. But this man had nothing to lose anymore. God planted Faith in his heart. When he saw Jesus, he ran towards Him, fell on his face in worship and ‘implored’ Him saying: “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean!” Just try to imagine the scene… the disciples probably ran back in horror. They had no pity on this ‘dirty, ugly’ man. But the man was desperate and bold. The worse that could happen is that men will stone him to death. A quick death was better than this slow terrifying death. He knew that only God could help him. He believed that Jesus is not only a Man, but God. In his heart he said: “If Jesus dose not heal me I will die”. But if He heals me, I will live!” Here was his chance. Perhaps, his only chance… The man came to Jesus. He called Him, ‘Lord”. He needed healing, cleansing, forgiveness of sins, and a new life. He believed that Jesus has all power over sin, disease, and death. The leprous man was right! True faith is always right!

Jesus responded to the man’s humility and faith. He was a genuine sinner. He was not a hypocrite. He had great needs and no rights to claim at all. He forgot everything and everyone else. At the feet of Jesus, he waited, hoping, trusting… Then something totally unexpected and amazing happen. Jesus “put out his hand and touched him saying: I am willing. Be cleansed!” Jesus touched that man and “immediately the leprosy left him”. The man became completely healed by the Word and by the touch of Jesus. Instantly, as the disciples watched, his wounds disappeared. His fingers, toes, nose, and lips grew back. This was a creative miracle. Jesus always does creative miracles. He is the Creator of the universe. In the Old Testament, it was forbidden for any man, especially for a priest, to touch a lepper. By touching a leper, the power of sin will contaminate the other. But when Jesus touched the leprous man, the leprosy could not enter Jesus. The ‘high voltage’ of the power of Jesus destroyed the leprosy and the man became healed. Then Jesus told him to go to the priest and let him inspect the healing. The priest will pronounce the man ‘clean’ and restore him back to the community. This was total healing! Glory!

In the Bible leprosy is a symbol of sin. Man has no cure for sin. It destroys a man’s life, marriage, family relationships and ministry. Sin destroys the feelings, the conscience. The healing and cleansing of this man are symbols of what happens when a man becomes saved. It is a vivid picture of being justified by faith in Christ. The ugly sores of sin are gone. The dirty rags of self-righteousness are gone. He is now healed and clothed with the garments of righteousness given to Him by His Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ! From leprosy to liberty! From grave to glory! Only Jesus can do this! Oh, the goodness, mercy, grace, and gentleness of Jesus! There is no Savior like Him!  What a Savior! Worship the Lord!!!

MY CONVERSION TESTIMONY

MY CONVERSION TESTIMONY

I was born in Romania more than sixty years ago. At that time Romania was a communist country. Religion was forbidden. We were thought in school that God does not exist; that religion is for the poor illiterate people. I believed that! I grew up in a loving family of four. My parents were teachers in the school which I attended with my younger sister; Adica. My father was also the principal of the school. My parents thought us by example to be kind, respectful, humble and hard working. We did not believe in God and did not attend church.

In 1973 I got admission into the Medical School in Timisoara. In my first year I met my husband Richmond Sisan Leigh, a Nigerian. We were class mates. We fell in love and against all odds we got married. After graduation, in 1980, we moved to Nigeria. We became very successful as medical practitioners. We started a private hospital in Warri Nigeria called “Lily Clinic”. We were very happy. We had three children. We had money and fame. What else could one possibly want? Nothing! Or so I thought…

In 1986 I had a crisis conversion. I met the Lord Jesus Christ. This was purely the grace of God in action because we did not attend any church. This is how it happened…. Before coming to Nigeria I did not see a Bible. In January 1986, I became very depressed. I saw nothing good in my achievements. I even lost the desire to live. This was very strange because I was always an optimistic person. The mysterious depression started after ‘accidentally’ I read a scripture on a pamphlet: “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13). I did not know who Jeremiah was. The scripture was not explained. But after I read it once, I just could not forget it. It seems like the words got stamped in my mind. I tried to forget it but I could not. After reading it I started thinking of God. I fought the thought but I failed my destiny. I felt like He was calling me. I panicked… I have never prayed in my life. Can I start now? A voice said: ‘It is too late for you. Don’t pray!’ Another voice said the opposite: ‘It is never too late to pray. God loves you!’ These voices in my head made me crazy. What voice I am supposed to believe?

Finally, I made my choice. For the very first time in my life, I prayed. It was 14th of March 1986. I said: “God, if You exist, then come down from heaven and change my heart. I am tired of doubting You. I am tired of fighting you. But please God, I can’t wait forever for the answer to this prayer. I give You ‘a month’s notice’ to come down from heaven and change my heart. If You come, I promise to be Your friend forever. If You chose not to come, then let me die in peace. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen!” I did not know the meaning of the name ‘Jesus’ but I heard people pray like that so I guessed it was the appropriate end to a prayer. Immediately I knew that something ‘good’ had happened to me. Not certain of what, I felt a sense of destiny coming down enveloping my soul.

On the 12th of April, 28 days after this ‘a month’s notice’ prayer, the Holy Spirit came and filled my hungry heart. Like an invisible blood transfusion, I felt LIFE entering my veins. I was alone in the sitting room when this event happened. It was much later that I knew it was called ‘the baptism of the Holy Spirit’. I became a child of God, never to be the same again. I started reading the Bible like a mad woman. This hunger for the Word for God and for prayer continues without interruptions until now. After some time, my husband became saved also. We sold our private clinic and together, we are now in full time ministry. We are the founders and senior pastors of Father’s House Bible Church in Warri, Nigeria. To God alone be all the glory!

“They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death” (Rev 12:11)

May this testimony ignite in you the desire to be truly saved or to experience revival! In Jesus’ name, amen!

THE DOCTRINE OF GOD’S EFFECTUAL CALL

OUR GREAT SALVATION (2) – THE DOCTRINE OF GOD’S EFFECTUAL CALL/ THE PARABLE OF THE GREAT SUPPER

During the Sunday service Pastor (Mrs) Silvia Lia Leigh preached a sermon titled “Our Great Salvation” (2)/ the Doctrine of God’s Effectual Call/The Parable of the Great Supper.Her text was taken from the books of Isaiah and Luke 14:12-24. “But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine” (Is 43:1)

THE DOCTRINE OF GOD’S EFFECTUAL CALL

This doctrine says that God calls the elect to salvation with a call that never fails!!! God, by His Grace, invites all sinners to accept the free salvation that is offered in Christ Jesus. This is the general external call. All sinners are born as enemies to God. They hate God. For a long time, God ignores their enmity. At God’s appointed time, the Grace of God manifests to the elect. They have heard the call, but like all sinners, they have rejected it. Now, God works in them what is called ‘the effectual call’. God works in their spirits convincing them to come to Christ for salvation.

To call somebody is to speak in a loud voice, as to be heard at a distance, to get his attention. You know when your mother, father, teacher, or pastor calls your name. You feel a strong impulse to obey but you may ignore that call. A stronger form of call is ‘to summon’. This is an official demand to appear in a court of law. The summon has a greater authority. You must go to the court and see the judge. If not, you shall be punished. The highest official form of call is ‘subpoena’.  A subpoena is a written order (a writ) from a court for the purpose of compelling an individual to give testimony. Subpoenas must be served in person. His attendance is required, and if he does not show, he may be found in contempt of court, which is punishable with arrest and imprisonment. God’s call comes to the elect in a personal way. It comes thru the writing document which is the Bible. It becomes effectual thru the preaching of the gospel, by the power of the Holy Spirit. In the court of the law, subpoena is seen as negative. Nobody likes to be ordered to come to court and give his testimony by force. But when God, the Judge of all men calls you, it is to bless you with salvation. Glory to God!

The Almighty God calls the elect to salvation. There are two types of call: General and Effectual. The general call that goes to all human beings. All sinners ignore or reject God’s call. John 3:16 is a statement showing God’s general call. The effectual call is towards the elect. It is internal. It is also called ‘irresistible grace’. It is God’s sovereign ‘drawing’ of a sinner to salvation by His Grace. The effectual call so overwhelms the sinner with the love of God, that he cannot rebel against God anymore. He repents and comes to Christ in total surrender. The sinner is ‘compelled’ (Lk 14:23) to come to God. The word ‘compel’ means to urge forcefully, irresistibly; to use overwhelming pressure to make the sinner submit and totally surrender to God. The Holy Spirit overcomes all his arguments by limiting his freedom of choice and action. Without this effectual call, no sinner will be saved. The effectual call applies only to the elect, those whom God has predestined to be saved thru His Son. The effectual call of God feels like a magnetic loving ‘drawing’ towards Christ. God’s call is only for the sake of salvation and for nothing else. This is a call to holiness! It is not a call to wealth and fame. The effectual call is a call to fellowship with God the Father, a call for an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. This is a call to belong to the body of Christ, to join the family of God! The believer becomes one with Christ, one Spirit, and one faith.  

Our Lord said this: “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day” (Jn 6:44). In Greek, the word ‘draws’ means to drag, to pull, or to persuade. The effectual call starts like this: God the Father frees man’s will from the power of darkness and of the devil. He also plants the seed of faith. Without the intimidation of the devil as his slave master, man is now free to think and to decide. He will see that God is love and for the first time in his life, he will appreciate God’s Grace. He has faith in God. This is the peculiar work of King Grace. Of his own free will, man will choose Christ and run to Him for salvation. This process that happens in a sinner’s heart is called conversion. Therefore, God’s calling precedes repentance and salvation. As servants of God we must preach, teach, and pray for sinners, patiently waiting for God’s call to manifest.  “And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will” (2 Tim 2:24-26).     

All men are born sinners and enemies to God. In the past, God overlooked their ignorance and foolishness. From the moment Christ came to earth, died, and rose again, the excuse of ignorance is cancelled. We are commanded to repent, in the name of Jesus! The resurrection of Christ is a proof that He is now the Judge of all men. All sinners are commanded to come before Him to surrender to Him. The divine subpoena has been handed to all by the Holy Spirit Himself. “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead” (Ac 17:30, 31).

As with the teaching on election, some people hate this doctrine. They say that God is ‘forcing’ people to love Him. They say that God is arresting some people to come to court before Him. This is a wrong understanding of God’s Grace and power. “Your people shall be volunteers

In the day of Your power” (Ps 110:3). The word ‘volunteers’ also means to willing ones. In other words, when the elect feels the power of God in His Word, in His Grace, he become a willing lover of God. The truth is that all sinners fight against God’s call. The sinner will resist until King Grace comes out of heaven to meet him, manifesting Himself as this heavenly call. Once a sinner sees King Grace, he cannot fight against Him anymore. All desire to rebel against God dies immediately. Grace never loses any battle. Grace is King! Selah!

ATTRIBUTES OF THE EFFECTUAL CALL OF GOD

*THOSE WHOM GOD ELECTS, HE CALLS, JUSTIFIES AND GLORIFIES! “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover, whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified” (Rom 8:28-30)

*GOD’S EFFECTUAL CALL IS A HOLY CALLING, ACCORDING TO HIS PURPOSE AND GRACE

God, “who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began” (2Tim 1:9).

The false prophets may deceive the elect for a time, by preaching wrong doctrines. But this deception is not forever. Apostle Paul said this: “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ” (Gal 1:6, 7). The Grace of God calls you from the world, from backsliding!

*GOD’S HEAVENLY CALL IS MANIFESTED THRU THE PREACHING OF THE GOSPEL AND IT IS FOR THE GLORY OF CHRIST

“For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Cor 1:22-24)

“But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth, to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess 2:13, 14). “Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus” (Heb 3:1). Preaching the Gospel was primary. When the crowds came to Jesus seeking miracles, He told them: “I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, because for this purpose I have been sent” (Lk 4:43). God calls people to salvation thru the preaching of the Gospel! God has predetermined this call by His own purpose in eternity past.  He has assigned salvation to some, and He reaches out to save them through this call.  He calls them out of darkness.  He calls them out of unbelief.  He calls them out of confusion and chaos.  He calls them out of sin.  This is God’s sovereign, saving call.  And He is unyielding in exercising His power to make the elect sinner come into His court, come in and be presented as forgiven, and justified, and on the way to eternal glory.

*THOSE WHO ARE CALLED REPENT, GET BAPTIZED AND FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT

“Therefore, let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” (Ac 2:36-39)

*BY HIS MERCY, GOD CALLS THE ELECT FROM DARKNESS TO LIGHT, FROM BONDAGE TO FREEDOM, THAT WE MAY PRAISE GOD

“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy” (1 Pet 2:9, 10)

*GOD’S INVISIBLE CALL SHOULD MANIFEST AS A HOLY LIFE

“Therefore, we also pray always for you that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness and the work of faith with power, that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess 1:11, 12)

*GOD’S EFFECTUAL CALL NEVER FAILS- IT ALWAYS WORKS UNTO SALVATION AND MINISTRY – CHURCH IS THE ASSEMBLY OF THE CALLED ONES

“For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable [for He does not withdraw what He has given, nor does He change His mind about those to whom He gives His grace or to whom He sends His call]” (Rom 11:29; AMP)    

“Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ… God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Cor 1:1-3,9). Paul was ‘called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ’. No man appointed him to this office. God called him. The elect who are saved ‘are called to be saints’. They are blessed with grace and peace from God the Father and God the Son.

In Greek, the word ‘church’ is ‘ekklesia’. It means ‘the called ones’. God calls us from the world to have fellowship with Christ. We are called out of the world to become members of the Body of Christ universal. The local church is ‘a mixed multitude’. There are believers (the called ones) and religious unbelievers (who called themselves). Serving God in your local church is compulsory. “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching” (Heb 10:24, 25). In the local church we learn how to serve God by serving others.    

THE PARABLE OF THE GREAT SUPPER (Luke 14:12-24) “COME, FOR ALL THINGS ARE NOW READY”

A parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. Parables in the Bible are not to make things easier. They are a form of God’s judgment on those who hear but do not understand. Only the Holy Spirit can interpret a parable. Understanding a parable in the Bible brings great comfort and courage. This is because only the true believers understand its meaning and wisdom.

Our Lord was invited by one of the Pharisees to his house for a banquet. During the supper He told the guests a parable about a wealthy man who invited others to a great feast. The rich religious rulers were the guests. They were already offended that Jesus was healing the sick on the Sabbath Day. When Jesus said that rich people should invite the poor and the lame, they got even angrier. Then one of the religious rulers exclaimed: “Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the Kingdom of God!”. This man assumed that because he is a religious leader, he will surely be invited at God’s feast in God’s Kingdom. He could not imagine that he will be left out. That is when Jesus told all the guests this parable of the Great Supper. A wealthy man prepared a great feast and he invited many to come. A feast is to encourage human relations. People gather to rejoice and to appreciate their friends or neighbors.

At that time, it was the custom to make two invitations. The first invitation was given in advance. The host needed to know how many people will attend his dinner, to make the right preparations. Animals had to be slaughter and wine had to be bought. When ‘all things are now ready’, the second invitation was made. Once the people agreed to come in response to the first invitation, they were bound to attend the party.  

This man invited many other wealthy men like him. They all agreed to come. It was now time for the second invitation. The servants went to the same people who agreed to attend the feast, telling them to come now. They said: ‘Come, for all things are now ready!’. It was at this point that they all made excuses. The first one said that he bought a piece of land, but he wants to see it. This was clearly an excuse. Nobody buys a land without seeing it. The second man said that he bought five pairs of oxen and he wants to try them. This is also an excuse for none buys animals without trying them if they are healthy or if they can work in harmony. The third man said he just got married and he cannot come. He should have bought his wife along, but he loved his family life more than the host of the feast. These are all cheap excuses. Who buys five second hands cars without seeing them? None, of course! They raised the hopes of the host by promising to attend the feast. But they never wanted to come to His house. They deceived the host! They forgot that none could mock God! “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap” (Gal 6:9).

When the host was told about these men, how they found excuses not to attend His feast, he became angry. At that time, to reject such an invitation was considered an insult. Sometimes these incidents led to war. The angry host then told his servants to go and call the ordinary people on the streets, the poor, the maimed, the lame, and the blind. They were all surprised and delighted that they have been invited by such a great man. They all came and rejoiced at the dinner table.

But there was still room in the hall. The host then told his servants to go far to the villages, to the ‘highways and the hedges’ and ‘compel’ people to come. The word ‘compel’ means to constrain, to urge forcefully or irresistibly, to use overwhelming pressure to make someone to submit, to surrender. It means overcoming resistance by a force that limits the opponent’s freedom of action or choice.  This invitation went to people who do not know the host. They are not people of the city. They are farmers and countrymen. They may even be thieves and robbers who hide in the countryside. The host insisted that the servants should ‘force’ them to come and be blessed at the feast. This is how the hall was full of people who can never repay the kindness of the host.

In this parable God is the Host of the Great Supper. He invited men to come and be saved. This is God’s general call. The prophets in the Old Testament stand for the servants who called all people to God’s salvation. For example, God used Isaiah to call people to free salvation.

“On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine— the best of meats and the finest of wines. On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth. The Lord has spoken. In that day they will say, “Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the Lord, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation” (Is 25:6-9;NIV). “Ho! Everyone who thirsts, Come to the waters; And you who have no money, Come, buy, and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend money for what is not bread, And your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, And let your soul delight itself in abundance. Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live” (Is 55:1-3)

This was the first invitation. All the Jews said yes and amen to it! They were waiting for the Messiah to come and tell them that ‘all things are now ready’. Then Jesus came to them. As a Man on earth, Jesus stands for the servant who calls people during the second invitation, to the feast organized by His Father. He says: “Come, for all things are now ready!” He is the Lamb of God who will soon die on the Cross to save those who believe. On the Cross, Jesus said: “It is finished!” (Jn 19:30). In other words, ‘everything is now ready!”. Grace has opened the door to the Feast. The people who made excuses stand for the Pharisees and the religious rulers in Jerusalem. They refused to come to partake in the free salvation because they hated King Grace. They thought that they already belong to the kingdom of God, so they refused to come when invited.

The second group of people invited were the poor found on the streets of Jerusalem. These the ordinary Jewish people who accepted Jesus gladly as their Messiah. In the Old Testament, no man who has a physical deformity can become a priest or can approach God in the temple (Lev 21:16-21). Now, in the Kingdom of God, all these men rejected by the law, have found Grace in salvation, by the Blood of the Lamb.

The last group of people who were ‘compelled’ to come are the Gentiles. The Holy Spirit arrests them and brought them to Jesus. These are the elect among the Gentiles. They heard the Word and could not resist it! They have no money to pay the host. They come as they are, presenting only their needs. But they have faith that the host is the great King, and the supper will give them salvation. Sadly, the rich religious rulers refused to come. The door of salvation was shut before their faces. There is a point when Grace shuts the door to salvation. Grace says: “It is too late!” Religious spirits deceive many! King Grace says: “Because you refused to believe, now you cannot believe in Me!” Like Lot’s wife, God fixed them in their unbelief! They became salty pillars of God’s judgment! What a sad story…

The word ‘excuse’ means to be free from commitment. Excuse is a false reason that you give to explain bad behavior, for breaking a promise, or for absence. Excuse is an explanation for self-justification, to release a person from a duty or a promise. Thru the excuse, you indirectly ask for forgiveness for breaking his heart. James Moore wrote a book titled: “Yes, Lord, I have sinned, but I have several excellent excuses”. If you replace repentance with an excuse for sin, God will not accept it. A man who is addicted to giving excuses, why he cannot give his life to Christ, will eventually deceive himself and believe his own manufactured excuses. He becomes hard-hearted. He will always reject God’s call to salvation because he thinks he is saved already. On many invitation cards you see written at the bottom: RSVP. This stands for “please reply” (in French). It used at the end of a written invitation to mean that you should let the people who invited you know whether you are coming.

(By the way, like taking drugs, giving excuses is an addiction. It is a form of self-deception. The most common excuses people give for not doing the right thing, for not becoming successful in business are these: “I have no time/ I have no money/ I am too old or too young/ I will fail/ Nobody will buy my product”. If your thinking is based on excuses, you can never make progress in life! Repent! Trust God! Move on!)

This parable reveals the power and love of God. As you can see, God loves family and friends. He loves to have them around and rejoice. You can see also the sovereign will, the power of Grace, and the effectual call of God in salvation. The great supper stands for the offer of salvation found in Christ alone. On the table you find the bread of eternal life, the wine of the forgiveness of sins, the oil of joy, the jug of the living water, the cake of justification by faith and many dishes of blessings for body, soul, and spirit! God is waiting for you sinner to come for salvation! Come, for all things are now ready! On the Menu it is written “Jesus died and rose again for you!” Come! “For many are called, but few are chosen” (Mt 22:14).

“Oh, love that will not let me go

I rest my weary soul in Thee

I give Thee back the life I owe

That in Thine ocean depths its flow

May richer, fuller be” (By George Matheson, 1882)

Worship the Lord!       

THE DOCTRINE OF ELECTION

OUR GREAT SALVATION (1) – THE DOCTRINE OF ELECTION/ THE PARABLE OF THE SOWER

During this Sunday service Pastor (Mrs) Silvia Lia Leigh preached a sermon titled “Our Great Salvation” (The doctrine of election/ The parable of the Sower). Her main text was taken from the Book of Luke 8:1-15.

Election is a choice. It is the work of the will. The word ‘election’ is mostly used in politics. It is the process by which people vote for a particular person to hold an official position. Biblically, the doctrine of election says that God, in His sovereign will, from eternity, choses some people for Himself. He manifests His Grace to save them. Election is not a secret, but the decree revealed in Christ alone. He does not choose all people in this way. The rest are left as they are. They will continue in their sinful rebellion against God unto their destruction. Simply put, the doctrine of election says that God chooses/determines/elects/predestines those who will be saved. This is the truth: we are all born sinners and enemies to God. We all ‘merit’ to die and go to hell. From the foundation of the world, God, who created all people, decided in His sovereign will, to save some people from sin and death. He chose to bring them to Christ, to be saved by faith in His sacrifice for them. It is God who works in them the desire to have faith and to be saved. Without this sovereign election, no man will come to Christ to be saved. There are many people who hate this doctrine. They object to the fact that God choses some people to be saved and He leaves the rest to go unto destruction. But we cannot judge God! Be careful that you do not use your little mind to judge the great God!

THE ELECT ARE DRAWN TO CHRIST AND TO HIS WORD

Our Lord spoke about the elect. “For in those days there will be tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the creation which God created until this time, nor ever shall be. And unless the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake, whom He chose, He shortened the days. “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or, ‘Look, He is there!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will rise and show signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. But take heed; see, I have told you all things beforehand” (Mk 13:19-23). This election is totally by God’s Grace. There is nothing special in the elect that attracts God towards them. It is God’s sovereign choice. That is why their salvation never fails. Jesus said that even during the times of tribulation, when evil seem to prevail, when the true believers are persecuted unto death, even then, the elect shall remain faithful to God to the end. The religious demonic deception will deceive all people. But the elect cannot be totally deceived. Their eyes cannot be totally blind. The elect may be deceived for a while, but not to the end. They alone will have the strength to stand and stay faithful to the end. Truth always prevails in their lives!    

God the Father knows the elect even before they become saved on earth. Thru the Holy Spirit, God ‘draws’ these people towards Jesus. God creates in them new desires: to hate the devil, the world and sin; they now love the Word, prayer, worshipping God, and attending a local church. This spiritual ‘drawing’ ends in their salvation. This is what our Lord said: “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Therefore, everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me” (Jn 6:44, 45). The elect sense this internal drawing towards the Lord, towards the Bible.     

THE ELECTION IS DONE BY GOD, BEFORE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD, ACCORDING TO HIS WILL, AND FOR HIS PURPOSE

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved” (Eph 1:3-6). God choses the elect ‘according to the good pleasure of His will’. He predestined them according to His purpose. This choice is done ‘before the foundation of the world’. These people are ‘blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ’. They are saved by grace and thru faith in Christ. They become adopted by God as His children. This election will manifest the glorious grace of God, and all creation will praise it!  Apostle Paul suffered much persecution because he preached the Gospel of Christ crucified. But he was not discouraged by these sufferings. “I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory” (2Tim 2:10).

“When Rebecca also had conceived by one man, even by our father Isaac (for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls), it was said to her, “The older shall serve the younger.” As it is written, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated” (Rom 9:10-13). God gave the Apostle Paul a special revelation concerning the elect. God chooses the people He wants to save. This choice is not based on their family godliness or their own good works. For example, God chose Isaac and not Ishmael. God chose Jacob and not Esau. God’s choice is done before the foundation of the world. In the case of Esau and Jacob, they were twins. They had the same parents. But God loved Jacob and hated (loved less) Esau. God’s choice was done before the boys were born. This is the mystery of God. We need to accept it by faith!   

THE MEANS GOD USES TO SAVE THE ELECT

What is the means God uses to save the elect? It is The Word! It is the hearing of the Gospel, the preaching of God’s Word. The Word affects them powerfully. They develop a personal, intimate relationship with the Bible. To others, to listen to the preaching of God’s Word is seen as a duty, or it is entertainment. But to the elect is like eating spiritual food. They mature as they listen to God’s Word.  We do not know who among the people are the elect and who are not. This is Paul’s command to young Timothy: “I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” (2 Tim 4:1-5). We must preach the Word to all men, everywhere. A preacher shall be judged not by men, but by God! What do we preach? The Word! Not stories or fables. We preach the Gospel of Christ crucified and resurrected. These last days are dangerous times. Many will abandon the faith and the sound doctrine. They will ‘heap up’ for themselves false teachers who will tell them what they want to hear. But God commands all believers to preach His Word. Not men’s opinions! We are commanded to ‘fulfill our ministries!’ The general call to repentance goes to all men. Some will ignore it. But others, will respond to this call. God works faith in their hearts. They will come and surrender to Christ.

The Bible does not tell us to be worried about who is among the elect and who is not! Just throw ‘the net’ of the Gospel! The good fish will remain. The bad fish will leave. This is the experience of true Christianity over the ages. Of course, this doctrine is not something we preach at an evangelistic crusade. Men will be offended and over-react. We preach the Gospel. We allow the Holy Spirit to separate the elect from the others. This doctrine is not meant to bring division. It is to encourage the believers, to help them appreciate God’s grace in their lives.

BE DILIGENT TO MAKE YOUR CALL AND ELECTION SURE

“Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ… But also, for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things, you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet 1:1-11)

Apostle Peter commands the believers to ‘make their call and election sure’. This does not mean that they can save themselves, by their own efforts. What then does it mean? See how the Apostle Peter says about our saving faith. We have ‘obtained like precious faith’. God started the work of our believing. We did not produce faith by our efforts. Our faith was ‘obtained’ (or received) from God the Father and God the Son. We were dead in sin. A dead man cannot make himself alive. It is God that gives life to the dead. Election and calling are God’s sovereign works. This doctrine is a mystery. Man could not have invented it. Man cannot understand it totally. But this is faith: to believe what I cannot understand just because I find it in God’s Word!!! Faith has peace. Faith depends on God’s Word. Anything that it is not revealed in God’s Word, faith is content to rest in peaceful ‘ignorance’. Fake faith is always restless, has ‘itching ears’, and looks for new ‘revelations’ outside the Bible.

We are to be ‘diligent’ in our Christian life. In Greek, the word means to put effort (body and soul), to be fast, to have enthusiasm, and to be zealous. The opposite is to be passive, dull, and idle.  It also means to work persistently until to achieve your purpose. What is our purpose? To Glorify God and to become like Jesus!

These are deep truths! I accept them by faith! I declare that I am a child of God! My mind is too small to understand all God’s mysteries. I am satisfied with what the Holy Spirit reveals to me from God’s Word. Apostle Peter commands the believers to practice the Christian life, to become fruitful. In this way, they will become spiritually mature and gain the assurance of salvation. May God help us all!

REPENTANCE – A GENUINE SIGN OF THE ELECT

What are the signs that you are among the elect? The major sign is genuine repentance from sin with fruits to prove the new life! It is God’s work to grant repentance from sin, and with fruits to prove that it is genuine. A true repentance is ‘unto life’. “When they heard these things, they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, “Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life” (Ac 11:18). Are you sure that you have received forgiveness of sins? Any man who has come to Jesus, in humility and in faith, has received forgiveness for sins, peace with God and eternal life. The unbelievers are spiritually dead and blind. They cannot ‘see’ the beauty of Christ. The devil keeps them in bondage thru spiritual blindness. “But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them” (2 Cor 4:3,4). A man who says that he wants to repent, and he wants to be saved, but he cannot, that case is totally foreign to the Bible. This is God’s Word: “And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Ac 2:21). Thru the study of God’s Word, prayer, church attendance and doing good deeds in the name of Jesus, your faith will become mature and fruitful. This will lead to the assurance of salvation. In your heart you will know that you are among the elect, a child of God indeed! This leads to a deeper worship of God! Lastly, a word of encouragement to you:  If you have received Jesus Christ as your Savior, trusting Him alone for salvation, believing that His sacrifice is the full payment for your sins, congratulations! You are one of the elect! God bless you!

THE PARABLE OF THE SOWER, THE SEED AND THE SOILS (Luke 8:1-15)

We shall study the Parable of the Sower, soils, and seeds. Here we see that most people do not get saved, even when the hear the Word of God. This revelation can bring sadness and disappointment to us, especially to the pastors and preachers. Truth is painful. At least initially. But we also see, that against all odds, some people receive the grace to believe and retain the Word of God. They become saved. These are the elect, the chosen people of God.

The Lord was going from place to place preaching the Gospel, teaching the Word of God, and healing people who had spiritual or physical illnesses. He had a group of men and women who followed Him faithfully. The twelve disciples were with Him always. He mentored them in a particular way. There were some women disciples who followed Him faithfully. Jesus saved their souls and delivered them from their bondages. These women “provided for Him from their substance” (Lk 8:3). Some were married and some were single. Jesus and His disciples had almost no money with them. They ate what they could find along the way. These women may have been wealthy and carried money with them, to support the ministry of Jesus. This ministry of helps was blessed by the Lord. As you read the Bible, you discover that no woman spoke against the Lord. No woman was ever hostile to Jesus the way the Pharisees were. The women faithfully served Jesus to the end of His life on earth. They worshipped Him with humility and passion. Except for John, all the male disciples ran away when Jesus was arrested. But Mary, the mother of Jesus, and the other women stayed with Him, at the foot of the Cross, until He died. They followed His body to the place where He was buried. They prepared spices to anoint His Body. At that time, the women were greatly discriminated by the men. They were treated more like property, not like persons. But Jesus treated them with respect and kindness. He saved their souls and healed their diseases. His attitude towards the women was revolutionary. These women followed Jesus and use their money ‘to support’ Him. What a privilege! This is a good lesson for all, but for the Christian women in particular: worship God with prayer, with praise, with preaching, and with your purse. Paying the bills to a Christian in need is a form of worship that King Grace notices and always blesses.

The Parable of the Sower is called by some as The Mother of all parables. A parable is defined as an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. The parable is the same as God’s secret or God’s mystery. The Holy Spirit is the only One who can interpret parables to men. Therefore, the parable is a point of spiritual intimacy between the believers and God. The unbelievers do not understand the secret code of the parables. But to the believers, it is an ‘open secret’ for them. Therefore, only the children of God benefit from the study of the parable. In the parable of the Sower our Lord tells His disciples the reason why He uses parables when teaching people. He says that His purpose is not to over-simplify His teaching. Like a Shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, so He uses parables to spiritually separate the people who listen to Him. He quotes the Prophet Isaiah (Is 6:9, 10). God sent Isaiah to preach His Word. But the people were rebellious and refused to believe it. Then God placed a judgment upon the rebellious people. This judgment manifest itself as a hard heart and stubborn will. They will hear the Word, but because of their hardened hearts, they will not be able to understand and believe God’s word. The Word does not produce saving faith in them. They cannot repent of sins. They cannot be saved. They cannot be healed. In the parable of the Sower, we see men’s different responses to the Word of God. When we read a parable in the Bible, we need two things: interpretation and application. Both these functions are done only by God the Holy Spirit and only to a believer in Christ. The unbelievers cannot understand, interpret, or apply the wisdom hidden in the parables.

In the Parable of the Sower, we see that God is the Sower. He uses His servants to preach His Word. The seed is God’s Word that is preached to all people. Our Lord said that this parable describes the Kingdom of God, the spiritual community where Jesus is recognized as the Lord, which is the visible church. There are four types of responses to the arrival of the seed; there are four types of soils. The soils represent men’s hearts. Three of these soils are not good. In them, the seed remains unfruitful. Only one type of soil is good and fruitful. Let us study them one by one…

*The first kind of heart is hard. It is like a path in the field. Men walk on it. Some seeds fall on this path. These people are hardened and bitter by disappointing experiences of life. Their minds are closed to the truth. They have a grudge against God and His servants. They hear the word, but they forget it quickly. The demons steal the word from their hearts. They feel sleepy during the preaching of God’s word. They feel tired to attend weekly activities. They grumble against pastors and other Christians. They have trouble trying to remember the sermon preached. The problem is that they forget there is a devil, who the enemy of their souls! They need to humble themselves, repent, and do spiritual warfare!  

*The second kind of heart is superficial. The word is planted on a rocky ground that has some soft soil on top. The seed enters quickly and germinates. But because the little plant has no root, it cannot survive the heat of the day. This man hears God’s Word and loves it at the beginning. These are emotional hearers. But without a root, it cannot survive. They lack depth of character and faith. They look ‘soft’ on the outside, but their hearts are hard bellow this ‘niceness’. When the trials of life come, this temporary believer, abandons the faith.

*The third kind of heart is busy. The weeds and the thorns grow faster than the seed planted and choke it. These are people easily distracted and always worried. Their mind is not focused. These thorns are the cares, the riches, and the pleasure of life. The farmer should uproot these weeds. If you allow the anxiety of daily living to dwell in your heart, it will eventually kill the Word of God in your heart. A comfortable happy life is not bad. But be careful with the lawful pleasures of life, like marriage, or taking care of the children. Exercise self-control. These can destroy your desire to sacrificially serve God and to mature spiritually.

*The fourth kind is a good, spiritual, noble, patient, and fruitful heart! This is the only heart that gets saved by the Word. This man hears the Word, understands it, retains it and thru perseverance, produces fruits. This man is different than all the others. By faith, this man holds unto the Word of God. He loves truth! He patiently applies it in all situations of life. He expects God’s Word to work in His life and circumstances. He sees results. Grace strengthens him. Faith helps him. Eventually, he manifests fruits of the Holy Spirit in his life. His testimony and ministry influence others. He becomes a teacher and a mentor to other Christians. This is an elect child of God! The Word proves him true!

When the Lord spoke about 30/60/100 fold, that was shocking to his disciples. In Israel, if the multiplication of seed planted is seven-fold, they call that a great harvest. Nobody heard of hundred-fold harvest. This tells us that as we preach God’s Word, the loss of the seed is much, but the gain is always much more than the losses.

What is the conclusion of this parable? The first three types of hearts represent temporary ‘believers’. These are people who say that they are born again and attend a local church. They are religious ‘unbelievers’. They are not saved. The true believer is represented by the good soil. He is the only one who is saved. Examine your faith! It must grow and become fruitful!   

We are to spread the seed to all. “Preach the Word!” (2Tim 4:2). We do not know what type of heart each man has. The Word is given to all. Only God knows that hearts of men. We should not be discouraged when there is no fruit in the ministry. The work of a farmer is not easy. There are many factors that make it difficult. It is ‘up and down’. In this parable, the Sower loses three quarters of the seeds he has planted. But as you can see, not all is lost! Be like God, like Christ, who is never weary to work alone planting the seeds. The Holy Spirit is also the Sower. All Christians should be Sowers. A little child can be as effective as an old Christian because the seed is carried by the Holy Spirit wind. The work of the Sower is to scatter the seed. The Sower cannot make the seed grow. That is God’s Work! Christ is the Seed! Some will accept Him, and some will not! When the good soil receives the seed and produces a harvest, the gain is more than the losses. God is the Sower! He provides the Word, His Seed! We should scatter the seed to all! Let God judge the hearts! We should preach the Word and not fables. We should preach the Word when it is convenient and when it is not. We should preach the Word when men listen and when they do not. Preach the Word with anointing, faith, power, and joy! The harvest is sure! To the glory of God!

Only God changes man’s heart. “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, Like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes” (PV 21:1). The problem is not with the Sower, and the problem is not with the Seed. Stop complaining against the Pastor and against the Bible. The problem is always with your heart! Pray that God will change your heart! In His mercy and Grace, He will answer your prayer! Hallelujah! Finally, knowing the doctrine of election should humble us seeing that we did not merit salvation or any good gift from God. We should spend our lives worshipping God and preaching His Word!  Worship the Lord!