|Friday, September 28, 2018|
To become effective men of God, then, we must know and acknowledge that every grace and every virtue proceeds from God alone, and that not even a good thought can come from us except it be of Him (Aiden Wilson Tozer)
n my preceding article, I chastised the fake Nigerian religious leaders for being robbers in the Houses of God; but here, and now, the moment belongs to the real men and women of God, who are worshipping God in truth and in spirit (John 4:24). No doubt, there are real men and women of God in Nigeria, although they are only a few. I want to eulogize them for genuinely putting their trust in God, and serving Him, diligently.
Despite the overwhelming lure to do otherwise, these few real men and women of God have been hanging on to their faith and have remained steadfast in the service of the one and only God. It is hard to remain sane, sacred, and to do the right thing in Nigeria, a country in moral decline and is being led by thieves (almost all Nigeria’s political, economic, religious, social and traditional leaders are thieves). Despite the temptation to climb on the bandwagon of thieves, the few real men and women of God of Nigeria have stayed clean, and are keeping their righteousness intact, by sheer determination, and by the grace of God, Whom they serve. The few real men and women of God of Nigeria are the “sheep” among the “goats” (Matthew 25:31-46); the “wheat” among the “tares”. The true religious leaders have the attributes of God, and can easily be distinguished from those who are of the world – they are not hypocrites or pretenders but have the substance of God in them.
I agree with Ed Stetzer that the times can be discouraging, but an honest look at history will remind us that people have always failed us. Actually, religious leaders have always failed us, so we ought not to be surprised. However, and this is key, just as in 1 Kings 19, when Elijah discovers he is not alone, and that there many who have remained faithful to God, so too we must remember that today there are many faithful pastors, leaders, and Christians seeking to live in integrity and authenticity.
It’s uplifting to know that there are still a small proportion of our religious leaders who are living the life of Jesus Christ, or Prophet Mohammed, or God. Evangelist Philo Umoh posted a picture of Rev Father Charles Chukwukelue Ebele, parish priest of St Jude Thaddeus Catholic Church, Inoma, Anambra State, who was involved in a boat accident in the River Niger, and he removed his life jacket and gave it to his friend so his friend could live while he died! This happened just a few weeks ago. This Reverend Father was a real man of God, because he died so that his friend will live, just as Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins. The Reverend father had love in his heart, just as the Bible, in John 15:13, notes that “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends”.
Before going further, it will be better to know who the true religious leaders are, and what differentiates them from the fake ones.
While God calls, prepares and empowers the real men and women of God to lead his or her Church or Mosque, Satan is the one that called and empowered the fake ones. A real man or woman of God follows God, wholeheartedly, and, makes a positive impact on the world around him or her.
These people, unlike the fake ones, have allowed the Holy Spirit to gradually work in them, and to change their lives, their thoughts, their desires, and their goals, so that their lives are more God-centered, instead of being self-centered. And now, using the words of the Bible, in John 3:30, God increases in their lives whilst they decrease. These chosen few keep their hearts submissive to God’s Word, daily; they allow God to rule in their lives, and they seek to know Him more, and then make Him known to their followers.
As J. Oswald Sanders wrote, real spiritual leaders are not elected, appointed, or created by synods or church assemblies. God alone makes them. There is no such thing as a self-made spiritual leader. A true leader influences others, spiritually, only because the Spirit works in and through him, to a greater degree than in those he leads. Spiritual leaders of every generation will have a consuming passion to know the Word of God through diligent study, and the illumination of the Holy Spirit.
The Inspire Walk used a verse in the Bible, Matthew 7:20, to substantiate the fact that we all can recognize true genuine men and women of God by their fruits. The real men and women of God are those whom God bestowed with spiritual powers and not those fake ones who use occult and demonic powers. Suffice it to say that the real men and women of God are genuinely led by the Spirit and they bear fruits for God, and the Bible, in John 15:8, notes that “By this, my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.” Dr. Dale A. Robbins also noted that if any spiritual leader does not bear spiritual fruit, he is not genuinely led by the Spirit of God, and if not led by God's Spirit, neither can we risk that his teachings, ministry, or alleged revelations are led of God's Spirit either! Jesus gave us this fruit test to protect us from deceivers. "You will know them by their fruits..." (Matt. 7:16).
Larry Wilson wrote that despite the fact that there are many false prophets, God has true prophets! The Bible indicates that Jesus bestowed spiritual gifts in the early church. Jesus warned His followers, "Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. . . . Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles? Then I will tell them plainly, I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!" (Matthew 7:15, 21-23) "For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect, if that were possible. See, I have told you ahead of time." (Matthew 24:24, 25)
These few verses tell us that false prophets can (a) be gifted and talented people who deceitfully use the name and gospel of Jesus for recognition, power, and/or money, (b) perform great signs and miracles because they are associated with demons, (c) have no affiliation with Christ and His gospel even though they may speak volumes about Jesus and salvation, and (d) will exist until the end of time. The Bible is clear that genuine and false prophets will exist until the end. (In fact, the last "false prophet" mentioned in the Bible is the devil himself. Revelation 19:20)
God foreknew that His people would have trouble identifying true and false prophets. To reduce this problem, God said to Israel, ". . . Listen to my words: When a prophet of the Lord is among you, I reveal myself to him in visions; I speak to him in dreams (Numbers 12:6)." Jesus said that false prophets can perform great signs and miracles, so we know that displays or manifestations of supernatural power do not necessarily mean that God has sent a prophet. In fact, the book of Revelation reveals that a time is coming when the devil, himself, will call fire down out of the sky to prove that he is God, and this overwhelming miracle will deceive most of the inhabitants of the earth.
I believe the first step in identifying a true prophet is found in the book of Ezekiel: "The word of the Lord came to me (Ezekiel): Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel who are now prophesying. Say to those who prophesy out of their own imagination: (They deceitfully say) Hear the word of the Lord! (But,) This is what the Sovereign Lord says (to them): Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit and have seen nothing! Your prophets, O Israel, are like (noisy) jackals (roaming aimlessly) among ruins. Their visions are false and their divinations a lie. They say, The Lord declares when the Lord has not sent them; yet they expect their words to be fulfilled. Have you not seen false visions and uttered lying divinations when you say, The Lord declares, though I have not spoken? (Ezekiel 13:1-7, insertions and italics mine)"
These chosen few among the rest (the real men and women of God of Nigeria) are really doing the work of God, and they are attending to the spiritual, and even sometimes, the physical needs of others, and are always there for their followers. They look around and help those who are hurting, who are needy, and who are ready for help – service becomes their primary purpose, and they find solace in what the Bible says, in Matthew 20:28, “Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Many who aspire to leadership fail because they have never learned to follow, and Mr. Sanders noted further that pride ever lurks at the heels of power, but God will not encourage proud men in His service. The fake religious leaders are only interested in themselves, forgetting the work they chose to do, but God has opened the eyes, the ears and the heart of the real men and women of God for them to know and understand when, how, and why they should be there for their followers and other suffering people.
The real men and women of God have been protecting the oppressed, the marginalized and the vulnerable, unlike the fake ones who have many flaws, and hurt others, and are exploiting the weak the more. From God’s point of view, it is noble work to reclaim the world’s downtrodden people. When we find some of those the world calls “the least” and seek to meet their needs, Christ tells us we can think of them like Him. Ed Stetzer wrote about the many moral failures in a world where believers often claim to be guardians of morality. Sometimes, it’s been more than a moral failure. Sometimes it is an abusive situation, as I’ve written about often. And, it is there where the church or mosque needs to stand with the victims—and we have seen that all too often they do not.
The real men and women of God are always there for others. A true religious leader will seldom say “I don’t have time.” Such an excuse is usually the refuge of a small-minded and inefficient person. The true ones give their all to others, and are not preoccupied with what they will get from others; they are not after worldly possessions but are more interested in adding value, and being a blessing, to the lives of their followers. Christians or Muslims everywhere have undiscovered and unused spiritual gifts. The true religious leader must help bring those gifts into the service of the kingdom, to develop them, to marshal their power. Spirituality alone does not make a leader; natural gifts, and those given by God must be there too.
The real men and women of God walks, speaks, acts in love, because without love, God cannot be alive in them. They are motivated by love, because God is love, like the Bible, in 1 John 4:7-11, advises: "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this, the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him - God loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another." The fake religious leaders claim to serve God but have no love in themselves, and the Bible, in Corinthians 13:1-3, warns the fake ones, thus: "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing."
The followers of these chosen few (the true religious leaders) are always happy to know that they have a real man or woman of God they can rely on, who can also comfort them when sorrow calls, and is there to help them. That gives them courage, hope, power, and assurance. Just as one of the real men of God noted, you cannot preach Jesus or Prophet Mohammed to a hungry person without first of all feeding him. That was the reason Jesus fed the crowd following Him.
To be continued!
THE THANX IS ALL YOURS!!!