While growing up in my early days as a Christian, I always imagined what it would mean to have eternal life. The mystery that surrounded the never ending life would leave me in wonder. To live on and on and on was the common thought that went on in my mind. I must be frank there wasn’t so much attraction to it asides from the curiosity of wondering what we would be doing living on and on and on. As a kid, I knew I could get tired of playing basketball after a long while so you would understand my part interest. The other attraction to it; as it were, was that the idea of perishing or living a temporary life wasn’t so fanciful either.
Then, gradually I came to realise that eternal life meant the very life of God. This time the thought of being called to be a partaker of God’s life was too good to be true. But it was evidently written all over scriptures. I couldn’t wait to partake of this life. Like so many others, I couldn’t suffer in this life and suffer in the hereafter too. ‘Let me take all the suffering I can knowing that a glorious life awaits me’, I concluded.
The concept of heaven suddenly turned to an afterlife destination. I tried to make myself qualify for the race to make this destination known as heaven. I thought of how beautiful it would be to finally lay aside this life and put on the glorious life of God. I thought of the ‘other fellowship’ in heaven in this light in the various songs in praise to God.
Gradually, the reality of living in the reality of who we have been made came. The concept of heaven changed from a destination I would do all to get to. But rather to what I have been made to partake of in Christ Jesus. I tried to live out this life by every means possible till I realised I was helpless and really needed help. I kept becoming born again, again and again because I felt I needed a fresh start – a new beginning, a new slate.
But thank God for illumination by his word which brings me to our discourse today which is: living the reality of sonship today not tomorrow; on earth and not in heaven. Let me illustrate this a little by saying that I am yet to see a soldier at the war front who decides to save up ammunition so that he could have some to take back home. The home has no need for his ammunition. What was given to him is meant to be used and used urgently at that.
As Christians, Titus says how we are to live in this present world
“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.” Tit 2:11 – 12 NKJV.
We are saved to live out the glorious life we have received right now and not later. The world is meant to see the gradual unfolding of the Sons of God. Rapture shouldn’t be an escape route due to our being battered, shattered or frittered by just about anything on earth. It should be likened to the eager yearning of soldiers who have conquered and held the frontlines (and possibly even extended it).
Quite a number of times I have been drawn into waiting to get to heaven to finally live right as no act of goodness is possible here on earth. But friends, this is far from the truth. We are not called to live in desperation or frustration rather we are called to live in the victorious reality of all that Christ has obtained for us.
“But now in a single victorious stroke of Life, all three–sin, guilt, death–are gone, the gift of our Master, Jesus Christ. Thank God! With all this going for us, my dear, dear friends, stand your ground. And don’t hold back. Throw yourselves into the work of the Master, confident that nothing you do for him is a waste of time or effort.” 1st Cor. 15: 57 – 58 MSG
Our salvation is now and the reality of all that we have become ought to be displayed now. We have been packed full and packed deep to be a sign and a wonder. We are the light of the world and the salt of the earth.
We were created a wondrous spectacle for the angelic hosts of heaven WHICH WE ARE!!! The question is ‘Are we living in the consciousness of this reality?’
“God, who is the Creator of all things, kept his secret hidden through all the past ages, in order that at the present time, by means of the church, the angelic rulers and powers in the heavenly world might learn of his wisdom in all its different forms.” Eph 3:10 GNB.
Someone said that no matter how terrible situation of things are, the lion never eats grass. I tend to think of that in line with the believer. We are not cockroaches or rats neither are we squirrels hiding in holes till an opportune time. Rapture is not what ought to distinguish me from the unbeliever but our distinction should be evident now.
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (is a command that still reverberates even up till now). Matt 5: 16 KJV.
It is important to realise that these things do not fall on one like ripe cherries. There needs to be an expression of the reality that we have attained to in the inner man.
These find expression by engaging ourselves in exercises that would renew our mindset in line with the above.
I trust that you would find this out through a constant study of God’s word as it is clearly made plain for all to see.
-Dr. Bolaji Akanni
|Recently, my friend and his family came over to Dubai for a vacation. My first meeting with them was at a water park where they were hanging out with other friends and families. When I got there my friend offered me some refreshments but I mildly declined. I didn’t think it was wise to make him spend money on me. As a “big boy” I felt I should pay for my refreshment. Moreso, my friend has offered to take me on fully sponsored dinner cum boat cruise latter in the day.
The next day, we met again for a dinner at my friend’s luxury holiday apartment at the Hilton. Whilst we were having dinner, my friend decided to extend the departure date for his wife and children by a day but the authorities refused. Disappointed, he began to lament how he had paid a total of $15,000.00 to cover the holiday for his wife, three young children and nanny, not knowing he could have got the package for as low as $4,000.00, feeding and accommodation inclusive.
Much as I felt bad that a lot of money had gone down the drain, it dawned on me that I should not have starved myself at the water park since all expenses had been paid. I sold myself short.
Just as I sold myself short based on my ignorance, as Christians, we sometimes do likewise. Many times we forget that the death of Jesus Christ on the cross ( John 19:30) paid all the expenses so that we can live an all-round successful life (Rom.8:32-33).
“Everything that goes into a life of pleasing God has been miraculously given to us by getting to know, personally and intimately, the One who invited us to God. The best invitation we ever received! We were also given absolutely terrific promises to pass on to you—your tickets to participation in the life of God after you turned your back on a world corrupted by lust.” (2 Pet.1:3-4 The Message).
The verses above highlight these five salient points;
I want to encourage you to be steadfast and not sell yourself short. You have all things in Christ. May you to enjoy the bounties made available to you by the death of the Lord Jesus Christ, even as you grow in the knowledge of who he has made us to be (2Peter 1:3).
There is no more sacrifice for sins. Heb 10:18b
This is a declaration that we need to preach from the roof tops. It is a wonderful declaration and attestation to all that Christ has become for us. The past, present and the future course of all mankind was dealt a decisive blow by our Lord and saviour Jesus such that things can just never be the same again.
It tears my heart apart to see us stumble on that basic but all important point. No amount of beautiful, lovely acts of piety can undo that statement. The time basking in prayers ought to be in view of that statement and not in trying to undo the statement. No deed; though worthy in the eyes of man, can change the fact that there is no more sacrifice for sins. It seems just good to think that it is possible to undo that fact.
It is vain to try to make a sacrifice for our sins. Our call to live in the light of who we have been made is not to try and pay back a little of the debt. The price to be where we are and who we are has been paid.
As I am coming to gradually understand God’s unsearchable love day by day, it is mouth gaping to just realise that his demonstration of love on the cross has put an end to all forms of sacrifice.
If there is any sacrifice worth giving, it is the sacrifice of ourselves (in letting go of self) beautifully-garnished, seemingly with incenses (of sacrifices) of praise and appreciation unto the lord alone who has done this marvelous deed.
It beats human ego to appreciate and understand that when he said, ‘It is finished’, It is finished. There is no part. No flesh can glory or boast in his presence. That is not our part.
When a wrestling match is declared over, you don’t go jogging and warming up your boots waiting for the next round. You join the victory parade. You know it’s over.
I wish to God we would realise it is over because a price has been paid. If our Saviour could decide to take a seat in attestation to the fact that all is settled, why are we trying to carry out that which has been accomplished?
Only let us hold on firmly to the hope we profess, because we can trust God to keep his promise. (Heb 10:23)
-Dr. Bolaji Akanni
A friend gave me a story of a man who proceeded to choose a vacation window and paid for all vacation expenses prior to seeking a leave approval from his boss. Contrary to his expectation, his boss refused to approve a leave for him within the vacation window he had chosen and paid for. The young man called the attention of his boss to the fact that he had already picked his vacation destination and all expenses had been paid. Furthermore, he labeled his boss as being insensitive and foolishly flouted his boss’s decision and proceeded on the vacation. This further infuriated his boss who felt slighted at his subordinate’s presumption and gross disrespect of his person, office and the institution. The young man was consequently fired for being absent without a leave approval.
Ideally, the young man should have sought his boss’s approval before making his vacation plans. This is because, as a professional, you’re primarily answerable to your boss or supervisor. To a very large extent, your level of obedience and loyalty go a very long way in determining how much you rise in the professional cadre.
The scenario described above is quite similar to what we sometimes do as Christians. We make up our minds to accomplish a task and we use all our human discretion to make out all the plans we think are necessary, then we go to God for approval. When he doesn’t give the approval we expect, then we begin to doubt His integrity and faithfulness. For instance a person gets set for a journey without initially consulting God for an approval to proceed, then when he is about to commence the journey, he ask God for a safe trip. If something goes wrong while on the journey, we begin to doubt God’s credibility. Another instance is when a person gets wealthy by cutting corners and feels that using such funds to support church events is tantamount to bribing your way through to God. Or a person who consciously and consistently eat a very bad diet and expects to live in divine health. This will all back fire. “God is not mocked, whatever you sow you will reap (Gal.6:7)”.
Ideally, whatever we do as Christians should always start and end with God. He loves us so much that he wants us to take an approval from him before we make every move of our lives, from the least to the greatest (1Cor.10:31 and Col.3:17). As our maker, Lord and savior his integrity is always at stake so he jealously protects it by nature. In other words, He sees his glory in our lives and he’ll want our every step to transmit this glory in return (1Cor.6:19-20).
To be able to effectively seek and take approvals from him we must know the following:
- Know God for who He is (Heb. 11:6, James 1:17, 1Tim.1:17, 1Tim.6:16).
- Know that God Loves you and has a perfect plan for you (John 3:16, Jer.29:11).
- Know yourself exactly as God knows you (Col.2:10, Eph.2:10)
- Know how to love your neighbor. This results as an automatic consequence of loving God and yourself (Eph. 5:1-2, 2Cor.5:14-15)
- Know that every action you take has a consequence, good or bad (Gal.6:7).
“I am God, your God, who teaches you how to live right and well. I show you what to do, where to go. If you had listened all along to what I told you, your life would have flowed full like a river, blessings rolling in like waves from the sea.” Isaiah 48:17b-18 (The Message).
Recently, I saw a news report about Syrian refugees escaping from their war torn country via land mine-infested borders to the refugee camps across the Turkish border. What struck me the most was a young ex-soldier who painstakingly used his genius and experience to incapacitate the land mines via very unorthodox means. Subsequently he led as many that trusted in him across the border for free. As many that followed him had a guaranteed passage across the mine fields.
However, some people didn’t notice him, while others totally ignored him. These ones passed through land mine-infested route and they had horrific experiences. Some died, some were maimed and some actually crossed over unscathed, but in all it turned out to be an unmemorable experience for them. It would have obviously been better if they followed this unique ex-soldier who literarily gave himself to defuse the land mines and lead others across the border, all for free.
The ex-soldier who literarily gave himself to save his fellow compatriots serves as an allegory of Christ in this story while the mine field serves as an allegory of the world with all its uncertainties and unpredictability.
We live in a world full of uncertainties and lopsidedness, where change is ever constant and events swing faster than the pendulum. There’s a strong possibility that a very wealthy person becomes so poor overnight by making a singular bad business cum investment decision. There’s also a strong possibility that a person can win a million dollar lottery. There’s a strong possibility that you’re born into a wealthy and a royal family with all the requirements to have a guaranteed successful life. There’s also a strong possibility that you could be born into very poor family in a war torn zone where the chances of survival if any, are very slim. All these are left to time and chance.
In Christ, we have the guarantee of a Savior who is God; the Maker of heaven and earth. To this extent, we are guaranteed of a thorough passage through this uncertain world, unscathed. The bible says, “So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? (Roms.8:31-32 THE MESSAGE)”. His only requirement is that we trust and obey him so we can allow him lead us assuredly (Prov.3:5-6) the same way the Syrian refugees who trusted and followed the ex-soldier had a guaranteed passage across the mine fields.
“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6 NIV)”
“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you (1Pet.5:7 NIV).”
Are you into mere Religion or Christianity?
In the Book of Acts 17:22-30, Paul teaches a set of people. They were very religious, they had temples and shrines dedicated to various gods. A particular one was dedicated to an unknown God. They tried their best to get close to this God by paying tribute to him on certain days, but Paul explains that God does not dwell in temples made with human hands.
Are you in the thought that God dwells in church and so you go every Sunday to appease him? That is Religion. You are trying to please an “Unknown God” Christianity is walking with God daily because he dwells in you in permanent abidance. He does not dwell in Church (Acts 17:24) but dwells within you.
God wants us to walk closely with him daily; let Him be the source, centre and pillar of your life. Let Him teach you and lead you from the dawn of the morning till the night comes again. Don’t try to please him only on Sunday mornings or when you have a difficult situation. Learn to reverence him every single day of the rest of your life.
Rom 5:1: Having been justified by faith you have peace with God and access to him by grace wherein you now stand.
He is pleased with you. He wants you to know Him, he wants to be part of your plans.
Rev 3:20 “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hears my voice, and open, I will come in to him, and will sup (enjoy relationship) with him, and he with me.”
RELIGION IS WORKING TO PLEASE OR MEET GOD; CHRISTIANITY IS WALKING WITH GOD.
“But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.” James 1:25 KJV.
When I consider the final part of this discussion, three words/phrases readily come to mind. The first is to be a doer. Surprisingly, it originates from a word that means ‘to be a performer or an actor’. It reminds me of a theatre or movie script with the director simply saying “Play your part”. The script is not something you play lip service to but you ought to act accordingly because you are now assuming the role given to you. You don’t see the bad guy suddenly try to be Mr Nice guy in the movie all of a sudden unless the script says so.
For us as Christians, God is calling us to play out the part assigned to us. Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel – Phil 1:27. The word of God is not something to be chanted, simply turned into some lovely slogan or simply hung up on our walls etc The word of God reveals the lovely role/identity of the Christian, believer or new creature Christ paid by His blood to give freely to us.
Now note that this time it does not speak of a moment’s act of goodness. It speaks of our life. God is saying,’Play your part as the Christian you have been called.’ To be a doer is not to try to lace your own deeds with some few goodness of the Lord; like Ketchup on spaghetti. Rather, to be a doer is to live in the ever constant reality of who God has made us in Christ Jesus.
The second word or phrase is ‘to be blessed.’ This stems from the Greek word meaning to be well off or happier. The man who is a doer of the word of God is well off. He is better off. He is happier. He is fulfilled. He is content. He is living the life – the real life. He is not supposed to be the object of pity as the world would have us assume. He is living out destiny and purpose. He is fully equipped and fitted accordingly. I wish space would allow me to say more. The man living in accordance with the reality of who he has been made is reigning in this life. Because he operates in a dimension that is foreign even to certain spiritual beings as he is in harmony with the Father of spirits.
My searching out God’s word is to turn the blessedness I have received on the Cross of Calvary to reality. It ought to be an eye – opener into ever-constant realities.
I remember a brother who was always having regular bouts of illnesses that always seemed to coincide with the beginning of a new season. It kept happening again and again but while he was still contending as it were, he remained diligent in the study of the word. Then he fell sick again. This time he decided to pray to God as before for a healing. Still agonising over prayers, he remembered that God’s Word says he is the healed of God. It struck him all of a sudden that this is who God has called him and he ought not to view himself in some other light in spite of whatever contradictions his body might be telling him. Armed with that knowledge, his seasonal ailment is now a thing of the past. I see in him now a rare boldness. I see him now well off and better than he was in the past.
Permit me to say the blessedness is not in something extra. It is right there. While giving heed to the word, you seemingly draw it out. This reminds me of the expression ‘out of his bellies shall flow/burst forth rivers of living water’.
Lastly, let us take a look at the final word/phrase – Continue. This does not suggest a start – stop – start – stop order. Instead, it speaks of remaining or dwelling. Simply put: you and I ought to make living out the reality of who we have been made, a constant, permanent thing.
This reminds me of a cat fish my pastor had that leaped out of the local aquarium it was kept in while nobody was home. The poor thing didn’t make it. It was worse off. It was messed up. It lost out. It got frustrated and its poor frame was all that was left to tell the story. If only it had remained/dwelt/stayed in the locally-made aquarium.
The believer can be likened to that. The call to live in the reality of who you have been called is not a call because there isn’t any other thing to say or do. It is because you are wired to live as so. You can’t be content any other way. I find most people who are passionate about their profession find it difficult to stay in any other place. Call the doctor to the museum; that is a big -time stress. Call the accountant to the farm or the farmer to the hospital; you have some major depression coming soon. Bible says ‘If we live in the spirit, let us walk in the Spirit’ Colossians 5:25. I love the song writer that goes to say,’ I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold.’
‘There is a blessedness that comes from a constant, in – depth study of the word of God. Tap into this today. Seek this above all else. Things would soon start falling off you and you would be dazed to realise what you have now become or turned out to be.
-Dr. Bolaji Akanni
God’s word as a mirror seeks not to reveal defects rather it seeks to let us know what we have attained to in Christ Jesus. It is imperative for us as believers to look into the word not with the constant feeling of unworthiness to out more reasons why we are not worthy of being called by the master. Rather we should search the word with the true aim of wanting to know what God has accomplished for us in Christ Jesus. To understand the features of the glorious estate to which God has now elevated us to in Christ Jesus.
The word is meant to display who we have been made and what we have now attained to. To the believer who finds it difficult to live in agreement with the word of God, James offers a very simple logic not commonly ascribed to these days. It is not as spectacular or mysterious as considering the fact that the devil might just have held us captive again and led us into sin. He says instead that it is a very simple matter of forgetfulness. Forgetting the very essence of our being thus causing us to walk adrift and miss the point by a very wide margin.
The man who looks into the mirror of God’s word intently; and not casually, and sees all that Christ has made him to be but immediately makes a u – turn to start living the exact opposite should be reminded again of who he is. James 1:21 – 25. It is no wonder then that the ministry of reminding the believer of his glorious heritage is one the Apostles did not find tiring or time bound as long as they were still here on earth. 2nd Tim. 1:6, 2nd Pet. 1:12, 1stTim. 4:6
John says ‘And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him’. 1st John 3:19. Assurance speaks of reminding ourselves. Paul puts us in timely perspective by saying ‘only let us live up to that that we have already attained’ Phil 3:16.
The issue of forgetfulness is not new. Countless times in the Old Testament; especially in the reign of judges and kings, God was not tired of reminding the children of Israel of the miracles that was done in the past which ought to be an assurance of God’s unfailing love.
To us the matter of forgetfulness is something which we must realise still lies paramount in God’s heart as it is tantamount to unbelief. I know the word says the ‘times of ignorance has been overlooked’. You and I would not be excused for failing to take advantage of all that Christ has freely given unto us through His Holy Spirit.
Have you forgotten for instance that God is your Father and that through Christ we have been given access to Him?
Have you forgotten that through Christ He has blessed you with much more than your thoughts can possibly comprehend?
Have you forgotten that through Christ you are the healed of God and ought to dispense this healing to all?
Have you forgotten that through Christ He has endued you with power similar to the one He used to raise Christ Jesus from the dead?
Have you forgotten…?
Let us seek not just to pore over scriptures but to remind ourselves of God’s glorious work i.e. THE NEW CREATURE. This is who you are and what you have been made.
Again let us live up to what we have already attained.
-Dr. Bolaji Akanni
One day, Mr. Olugu hired a sleek-looking 2011 Mercedes E –Class. Without a proper check-up on some essentials, he rode the car to attend an august event – he assumed all was in order; after all, the car was sleek and new. Just as he rode, he got caught up in the dreaded Lagos Island traffic. Lo, Mr. Olugu’s hired acquisition began to overheat because water dried up in the radiator and simultaneously the car ran out on fuel. He decided to push the car to the service lane so the car temperature could normalize and subsequently try to get a nearby filling station to get some fuel in a gallon he found in the trunk.
Naturally, he was miffed and flustered by the turn of events. As he tried to get himself composed, he got drenched by his sweat in his new, white and lavishly- embroidered kaftan. Worst of all, he got swooped on by marauding street urchins who stripped him of all the cash he had. The day that started out so bright ended up so gloomy.
The above scenario is typical of what a number of Christians pass through today in their faith. They are quick to embrace philosophies, doctrines and patterns that totally contradict the principles and dictates of Christ. Although these might look so sleek and appealing at the first instance, only a proper scrutiny of the essentials by the word of Christ reveals the shortcomings. Ironically, some of these shortcomings are heralded by the church, which should be the ground and the pillar of truth (1Tim.3:15). Many Christians are left with thoughts and intents bruised and mangled with false teachings. They are worse today than when they first started.
To this end, scripture admonishes us to be schooled in Him personally, by diligently knowing our full rights in Christ so we don’t make a shipwreck of our faith (2Tim.2:15-18).
“My counsel for you is simple and straightforward: Just go ahead with what you’ve been given. You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him. You’re deeply rooted in him. You’re well-constructed upon him. You know your way around the faith. Now do what you’ve been taught. School’s out; quit studying the subject and start living it! And let your living spill over into thanksgiving.
Watch out for people who try to dazzle you with big words and intellectual double-talk. They want to drag you off into endless arguments that never amount to anything. They spread their ideas through the empty traditions of human beings and the empty superstitions of spirit beings. But that’s not the way of Christ. Everything of God gets expressed in him, so you can see and hear him clearly. You don’t need a telescope, a microscope, or a horoscope to realize the fullness of Christ, and the emptiness of the universe without him. When you come to him, that fullness comes together for you, too. His power extends over everything. ” (Col.2:6-10 The Message)