By: Bro. Stephen Iluman (Bishop)
This is another question everyone is to answer, starting from me the teacher and preacher, am I still in the faith, I should examine myself, and the same question is now directed to you, are you still in the faith, examine yourselves. The word of God revealed to the world according to Romans 1:16-17 – 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel [a]of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” Habakkuk 2:4 – “Behold the proud, His soul is not straight or within him; But the (rigidly) just and the (uncompromising) shall live by his faith and his faithfulness – Galatians 3:11 – Now it is evident that no person is justified (declared righteous and brought into right standing with God) through the Law, for the Scripture says, The man in right standing with God [the just, the righteous] shall live by and out of faith and he who through and by faith is declared righteous and in right standing with God shall live (Amplified Bible).
Jesus Christ through whom we became Christians was steadfast till death despite all temptations, trials, humiliations, insults, intimidations, embarrassment, oppressions, even within His family, yet He held firmly to His Father’s will. Then His apostles and disciples were also steadfast and faithful – Acts 4:19 – But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. Acts 5:29 – 29 But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men. Be aware that this teaching and preaching is timely to enable us know what the rewards of those who are steadfast without drifting or doubting – 1 Corinthians 15:58 – Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
There are encouragements for Christians as revealed through the inspired word of God – Revelation 2:10 – Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. The choice is ours either positively or negatively because of the examples of those who remained faithful till death were all revealed as Stephen was the first martyr – Acts 22:17-21 – 17 “Now it happened, when I returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, that I was in a trance 18 and saw Him saying to me, ‘Make haste and get out of Jerusalem quickly, for they will not receive your testimony concerning Me.’ 19 So I said, ‘Lord, they know that in every synagogue I imprisoned and beat those who believe on You. 20 And when the blood of Your martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by consenting [a]to his death, and guarding the clothes of those who were killing him.’ 21 Then He said to me, ‘Depart, for I will send you far from here to the Gentiles.’ ” I was happy when I saw this topic handed over to me Stephen. Acts 6:8-15 – 8 And Stephen, full of [a]faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people. 9 Then there arose some from what is called the Synagogue of the Freedmen (Cyrenians, Alexandrians, and those from Cilicia and Asia), disputing with Stephen. 10 And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke. 11 Then they secretly induced men to say, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.” 12 And they stirred up the people, the elders, and the scribes; and they came upon him, seized him, and brought him to the council. 13 They also set up false witnesses who said, “This man does not cease to speak [b]blasphemous words against this holy place and the law; 14 for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs which Moses delivered to us.” 15 And all who sat in the council, looking steadfastly at him, saw his face as the face of an angel.
We ought to understand in reality what Christians can go through and yet remain in the faith. What have you gone or went through in the vine yard of God, as this question is now asked? Are you still in the faith, examine yourself?
Dear brethren, I am tired of writing, our reader to open his bible to Stephen’s address – Acts 7:1-3, the call of Abraham. The patriarch in Egypt – Acts 7:9-14. God delivered Israel by Moses – Acts 7:17-29. Israel rebelled against God – Acts 7:37-42. Israel resisted the Holy Spirit – Acts 7:51-53. Stephen the martyr – Acts 7:54-60 – 54 When they heard these things they were [h]cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth. 55 But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, 56 and said, “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” 57 Then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord; 58 and they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
Saul who later became Paul testified of this as read in the book of Acts 22:17-21. This is the same Paul who went through so many perils according to 2 Corinthians 11:1-4 – Oh, that you would bear with me in a little folly—and indeed you do bear with me. 2 For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. 3 But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the [a]simplicity that is in Christ. 4 For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted—you may well put up with it!
Paul wants all of us to know that we have no reasons to give for the lack of faith – 2 Corinthians 11:22-28. There is a remarkable statement – 2 Corinthians 11:31-33 – 31 The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying. 32 In Damascus the governor, under Aretas the king, was guarding the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desiring to arrest me; 33 but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall, and escaped from his hands. After all these, he confirmed that nothing will separate him from the love of Christ, because God’s everlasting love – Romans 8:31-39 – 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 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? 33 Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 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. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” 37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. If we all can work like Saul who became Paul, this topic: Are you still in the faith, examine yourselves will not be necessary. Let us hear from Paul as he boasted with assurance of eternal reward – 2 Timothy 4:6-8 – 6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.
The last statement of Paul is encouraging because of those of us who will love Christ’s coming, according to 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 13 But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. 15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.
Everybody should be aware that God, Christ and the Holy Spirit have finished their assignments for we all both on earth here and heaven. And He confirmed this through His inspired word – Revelation 22:18-19 18 For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, Godshall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
On this wise, we are to study the Bible as directed – 2 Timothy 2:14-16 14 Remind them of these things, charging them before the Lord not to strive about words to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers. 15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 16 But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness.
Recently, last week, I spoke on this topic Beware of The Snare Of Worldliness and this is the work of Satan as revealed in John 8:42-44 42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me. 43 Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.
1 Peter 5:8-9 8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 9 Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.
There are so many things, individually, one need to examine in his or her Christian life because of corruption and before then God is aware and you cannot be bold to tell God to examine – Psalm 26:1-2 1 Vindicate me, O Lord, for I have walked in my integrity. I have also trusted in the Lord; I shall not slip. 2 Examine me, O Lord, and prove me; Try my mind and my heart.
You on your own is asked to do this Lamentations 3:40-43 40 Let us search out and examine our ways, and turn back to the Lord; 41 Let us lift our hearts and hands to God in heaven. 42 We have transgressed and rebelled; You have not pardoned. 43 You have covered Yourself with anger and pursued us; You have slain and not pitied. 1 Corinthians 11:28-30 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. 30 For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. Galatians 6:4 4 But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.
Above it all – John 1:8-10 8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. 9 Thatwas the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.
Before I make my personal observations, see Romans 3:23 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body according to what he has done, whether good or bad. Examine yourselves in the field of evangelism according to Christ’s directives and instructions and He is the owner of His church and in authority. Matthew 28:16-20 16 Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them. 17 When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. Mark 16:14-18 14 Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen. 15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; 18 theywill take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” Luke 23:36-49 36 The soldiers also mocked Him, coming and offering Him sour wine, 37 and saying, “If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself.” 38 And an inscription also was written over Him in letters of Greek, Latin, and Hebrew: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS. 39 Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, “If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.” 40 But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.” 42 Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” 43 And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” 44 Now it was about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. 45 Then the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was torn in two. 46 And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, “Father, ‘into Your hands I commit My spirit.’ ” Having said this, He breathed His last. 47 So when the centurion saw what had happened, he glorified God, saying, “Certainly this was a righteous Man!” 48 And the whole crowd who came together to that sight, seeing what had been done, beat their breasts and returned. 49 But all His acquaintances, and the women who followed Him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things. John 20:19-23 19 Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” 22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”
Acts 1:6-8 6 Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. 8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
In my observation, there are those of you, after your baptism that had not taken part in this great responsibility assigned to all Christians collectively and individually.
My dear sisters, beware that you are always assigned to a duty every Saturday to take care of the meeting hall and there are those of you assigned that never take part in this responsibility.
Those of us who are teaching and preaching be aware that you are deceiving yourselves if you are not doing what you are preaching and teaching – James 1:21-25 21 Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. 22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.
You need to develop and improve in your commitment to God, in all the activities spiritually and physically without late coming. Rooms are given to those who want to be teachers and preachers in our zonal house fellowship on weekly basis. Rooms are also given to those concerned with fasting and prayers including the all-night prayers every last Friday of each month. More rooms are also given to those of us who live close to the church premises for everyday morning devotion as from 6:30am – 7:20am.
Will God be offended at any time when you gather to pray? 1 Thessalonians 5:16-22 16 Be happy (in your faith) and rejoice and be glad-hearted continually (always), 17 Be increasing in prayer (praying perseveringly), 18 Thank (God) in everything (no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks); for this is the will of God for you (who are) in Christ Jesus (the revealer and mediator of that will). 19 Do not quench (suppress or subdue) the Holy Spirit. 20 Do not spurn the gifts and utterances of the prophets (do not depreciate prophetic revelations nor despise inspired instructions or exhortation or warning). 21 But test and prove all things (until you can recognize) what is good (to that); hold fast. 22 Abstain from evil (shrink from it and keep aloof from it) in whatever form or whatever kind it may be) – [The Amplified Bible].
In all that have been taught, there is still room for repentance. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
May God bless His words into our hearts and mind to enable we heed and take to corrections before it is too late in Jesus Name – Amen! (Hymn 637 – Songs of the Church).