FOR MY SAKE by Bola Olu-Jordan
"... and they loved not their lives unto the death (Rev 12:11b).
When the foundation of the new temple was laid in Jerusalem by the people, having returned from captivity with the favor and order to rebuild the broken down temple, the young ones who never saw the old temple that was destroyed before rejoiced greatly with a loud voice and with fun fare at the completion of the new one. To them, that is the Temple of God and the restoration of His glory and power. But the elders, who had seen the glory of the old temple, wept sore and would not be pacified. They knew that the new temple was devoid of the presence, glory and power of God.
The same scenario is happening in the church today, with the exemption of the fact that the elders who saw the old temple in its glory and splendor before being destroyed are not weeping; they are rather feeding fat and benefitting from the jamboree that the new generation of believers called Christianity today. They are less concerned, as long as due recognition is being given to them as ‘fathers’ with a commensurate honorarium.
A quick sample at an average message that comes from the pulpit today will leave one to ask the question over and over again; why has the Gospel of Jesus being replaced by other gospels like healing, prosperity, breakthrough, etc? Or we might further ask that, is it the same messages that we hear on our pulpits, T.V’s, radios, crusades, etc that the disciples and the early Christians actually laid their lives to die for? Why would anyone want to kill the disciples for preaching a message of “seven steps to breakthrough”; “what to do to become millionaires”; “how to move from poverty to prosperity”; “crossing over to your abundance”; “name it and claim it”.
Or why would anyone want to kill the disciples for inviting entertainers into the church to liven up the people and make them wriggle their bodies in dances and steppings that compete with that of demons from hell with music and rhythm by worldly musicians elevated to the place of honor of the pulpit of our Lord.
Was this the reason why the Jews crucified Jesus? Was this the kind of message that got Stephen into trouble and cost him his life by being stoned to death? Was this the type of message that Paul preached that got him beheaded or got Peter crucified upside down? How would this type of message provoke such public and governmental judgment for Mark to the extent that no better cruelty could be meted on him for his preaching than to drag him in the streets until his body was dismembered, littering the street till the poor man died for the testimony of Jesus. Was he preaching the same message and average pastor is preaching today? More importantly, how does a message like this provoke passion in the heart of people like Paul, to abandon all that they ever possessed to Preach Jesus without owning anything to death.
The chart below shows us the way the disciples died, but before you look at it, I want you to ask yourself, will preaching this type of messages above incur the wrath of not only the government but also the populace to the extent that they died the most horrible and ignoble death ever in history. Reconcile it with affluence, opulence and ease of the gospel that we have today. If such persecution and martyrdom is still the fate of preachers and pastors today, how many will still want to be a pastor?
Many of them were well read individuals like Paul (doctor of law) and Luke (medical doctor). They lost all they had that they may gain Christ. These are the testimony of Paul: 2Co 11:25 “Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness”
But yet Paul said: “Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ” (Phl. 3:8)
Once he trusted a basket and the thin rope that let him down the city walls by the very people he once persecuted and killed. He was imprisoned many times and at one of the times, He said: “… behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me” (Acts 20:22-23). These are their testimonies and in all these things, they still confessed: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? … Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us” (Rom. 3:35-36).
Same with Peter, and many other disciples: none of them arrogated a better title to themselves more than that of a ‘servant’ (Rom.1:1; Tit.1:1;Jas.1:1;2Pet.1:1;Jude1:1;Rev:1:1), even ‘bond-servant, ’unlike today’s baby bishops and other multiple title holders with craze for crowd as a measure of their “success” in ministry.
It could be imagined how these disciples would feel seeing the sophistry of our own version of the Gospel today? Would they not ask us what type of religion we are practicing? Would anyone have fed them to lions at the Coliseum, stoned them to death, flayed them alive and killed them with such a terrible death if what the bishops are preaching today is what they were preaching; dabbling into, fraternizing, commending the government of the day and singing their praises in order to benefit from them.
Jesus warned us not to fraternize with them. He clearly told his disciples: “my kingdom is not of this world” (Jn.18:36) and John also warned saying: “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1Jn 2:15). “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” (2Cor.6:14). The reason is because we are not of the world, “If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you (Jn.15:19).
Do we still serve the same Jesus with these people or our own Jesus is a modern Jesus who is always looking for how He can bless us despite our sins? The Jesus that dance with us in our praise worship on Sundays as we sing obscene songs and wait for the time the ‘King Herod’ will come out and make some orations and prophetic declarations to cancel our sins and sentence us to a life of unconditional prosperity so that we can clap for him, commending his grammar, quotes and rhetorics brought about by ingenious human research, thanks to the internet.
The disciples gave their lives for the cause of Christ unlike many today who gave their lives for the cause of tithe and offering of members and their belly (Phil.3:18). Others gave their lives to solving the problems of their members at all cost even contacting strange powers so as not to appear as failures. Are we called to solve people’s problems or to lead them to Jesus who is the solution to all things?
We have more of professional pastors, orators and specialists in babies, wives or miracle manufacturing. The only reason why our churches are filled to capacity is because people want to take their own share of the largesse being distributed by the acrobat clown, that display skill every Sunday in the name of Jesus. Miracles seekers and not God seekers, those who only desire the gift but not the giver of the gift!
A sizeable number of preachers today don’t even know what salvation is in the light of personal relationship with Jesus. Many of them never experienced this relationship to Jesus, just an emotional religious feelings of commitment to God, otherwise, they would not toy with the souls of innocent congregation who desire eternal life for their souls and are, instead, being short changed and given perishable meat which truly has immediate benefit for the body but, no eternal value for their souls.
This was the misfortune of Esau and God said He ‘hated’ him, even before he was born, for desiring immediate food at the expense of his future (Rom.9;13). Perhaps, you reader, you are one of Esau’s descendants: the only thing you go to church for is food and meat: miracles, healings, break throughs, prosperity, etc. These are good but that is not the reason why Christ died, for many received these before Christ came and many who don’t believe Christ today do get these things.
Christ wouldn’t have laid his life just because of all these; the disciples wouldn’t have laid their lives just because of these. Paul said “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable (1Co 15:19). What about those who peddle these, too. This is not the Gospel; the gospel is not about provision of things, it’s about deliverance from sins. Paul said “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief (1Ti 1:15).
You can get ‘all these things’ and still be yoked in sins. You can still go to hell with your healing, miracles, breakthrough, prosperity, etc. Don’t seek those things; if the reason why you are a Christian is because of these, you have been deceived. If all what your pastors tells you all the time he preaches is this, then you are in a company of blind leading blind. Christ himself said “Seek yea first the kingdom of God and its righteousness, all these things shall be added” (Mt.6:33)
You are not better than Esau, who sold his destiny because he was pressed for hunger. What are you pressed for, breakthrough, prosperity, healings, babies, partners, etc? That is not enough reason to mortgage your destiny because none of these things will follow you to eternity. Don’t be like Esau who was called a profane person (Heb.12:16). If your pastor or your church put less emphasis on the kingdom of God and its righteousness, if he labor more on ‘these things’, you better run before your are trapped, He may be sincere, but sincerely wrong. Sincere wolves are only tearing lamb according to its nature. Some have sincerely believed a lie and will also sincerely lead men to hell, don’t be a victim!
Don’t turn Jesus into a problem solver, He is a life giver!
The number of souls who suffered persecutions from the millennium past is staggering. Did they die for what you believe in today to be Christianity or something deeper? Examine yourself, reader for we are going to the same heaven with these ones who endured affliction for Christ, counting their lives as loss and dross for only one purpose; that they may know Christ and being found in Him not their own righteousness but His (Phil.3:9). Is this your focus too?
Many of them prayed until their knees cleaved to the ground; praying nothing but revival, righteousness, salvation of souls. Does this look like the reason why you go to the mountain or night vigil or many miracle programs and super services? O, man of God, that is frequent at the ‘mountain’ for prayers, what is the purpose of your prayers? to collect powers so as to solve peoples’ problems and to engage witches and wizards in battle. Know thou, O man of God, that after you have done all these, you may still go to hell, for there are no witches to further contend with in heaven. Heaven is full of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost, if you don’t pursue them on earth, you can’t embrace them in heaven. If your church or ministry is opened for these reasons, then you are temple robber, for Christ is interested in building a church without spot, without stain, wrinkle, a glorious church, allelujah!
It’s time to return to the faith of our fathers, the apostles and the early Christians. It’s time to look up to Jesus only, not title holders. It’s time to abandon religion and move up to faith. To be like the Berean Christian who always examined their Bibles as against what any preacher told them on the pulpit; for when they say peace and safety, sudden destruction lies at the door.
Prophet Jeremiah told us the mind of God towards many so called prophets: “Then the LORD said unto me, The prophets prophesy lies in my name: I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spake unto them: they prophesy unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of nought, and the deceit of their heart” (Jer. 14:14).
Many preachers today preach ‘good news’ truly, but not the Good News of Christ, but of other things. Their messages are borne out of ambition, church growth, financial rewards, etc. Be careful the good news you have received. As much money the Lord has blessed you with that you give to these ones to launder their ambition is nothing but a waste, you are partaker of their sins, for they preach not The Christ (1Tim.5:22).
Fire must return back to our altars, nay, our hearts! Pure fire! Our worship must no longer be in what we stand to gain from him but what we are willing to give to Him, even our lives! Doctrinal pillars of the Christian faith which the disciples held so dear and which are tragically becoming extinct and fast disappearing from our pulpits today and being replaced with such that the disciples, if they were alive today would wonder what the correlation is must be revisited; and they are many.
For instance, it takes a heart weaned from milk today to accept the simple historic and religious fact that Christmas and Easter festivals which, to many, is the basis of Christian religion are not only pagan festivals but demonic, strange to the early Christians from the time of Jesus to about 300 AD when some of those festivals tragically found their way into the organized church system of the papal Rome to accommodate other beliefs and practices into the newly found Christian universalism. Should we celebrate his birth or rather, his sacrifice in laying down his life and shedding his blood to atone for our sins death on the old rugged cross?
How many Pastors today can sacrifice their lives for the testimony of Christ, let alone believers? We have been taught differently: that the only sacrifice we can make that is acceptable to God is to sow bountifully to the pastor’s coffers or prophet’s offering so that we can be blessed bountifully. Everything is about what we can get, not what we can give. God gave us His only Son, His only Son gave us his only life and we are also asked to give our only heart to Him, so that we can get it back at the last days, but we give our lives instead to our denomination or the pastor.
The Christianity many used today as a platform to launder their financial ambition was sustained by the blood of many who would not compromise their faith, even in the face of death. They are called martyrs of Christ, those who were killed for never denying Christ at the point of death.
Many of them were martyred through stoning, crucifixion, burning at the stake or other forms of torture and capital punishment. Persecutions is less severe today but some people still die as martyr all around the world because of the testimony of their faith and because they would not deny the Lord and Master. If you do not live in such regions of the world, then remember to pray for those who do, especially in the Islamic dominated regions of the 10/40 windows of the world.
Hundreds were killed in Northern Nigeria recently, slaughtered and massacred like animals but there you are ‘enjoying’ your Christianity. Is this all you can do for Him?
HOW SOME OF THE DISCIPLES OF JESUS DIED
NO NAME OF DISCIPLE TYPE OF DEATH DATE OF DEATH WHERE
1. Stephen Stoned to death. 34 A.D.
2. James the Great (Son of Zebedee) Beheaded 44 A.D.
3. Philip the Apostle Crucified 54 A.D.
4. Matthew the Evangelist killed with a halberd 60 A.D Ndabah
5. James the Jess At age 94, stoned to death and had his brains dashed out with a fuller’s club.
6. Matthias Stoned and beheaded.
7. Andrew, (Peter's brother) Crucified in a multiplication sign
8. Mark Dragged in the streets until his death
9. Peter Crucified upside-down.
10. Apostle Paul Beheaded Rome.
11. Jude Crucified AD 72 Edessa
12. Bartholomew Flayed alive and crucified India
13. Thomas the Apostle Killed with a spear Pathia
14. Luke the Evangelist Hanged on an Olive tree
15. Simon the Zealot Crucified 74 A.D. Britain