Faith Is Not A Denial Of Reality, But Reliance On God’s Omnipotence To Upend Negative Reality.

Oftentimes, we see Christians living in denial as they struggle to display “faith” in God in the midst of adversity and calamity. These believers have been taught to deny reality and confess “positively” always, as a demonstration of faith in God. The mere acknowledgement of their situation is deemed a lack of faith. Thus, when such people are sick and you ask them how they’re feeling, they tell you they’re fine or they’re “strong”, even when they’re terribly down and need urgent help! When they’re broke, they tell you they’re “rich”, even while coming to borrow money from you! They deny and refuse to accept medical diagnoses as not being their “portion”, and most of them refuse the treatments offered thereafter, while clinging to their “faith”. Is faith a denial of reality? Does the acknowledgement of a difficult and challenging situation amount to a lack of faith? Can faith coexist with the acknowledgement of reality? We shall examine the Scriptures to answer these questions.

Scripture teaches us that faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. It is believing God’s report and his promises of supernatural intervention and victory for those that trust in him. Biblical faith is having full confidence in God’s word and in his ability to make good his promises. When a believer is confronted with a problem that’s beyond his natural abilities to resolve, he has the promise of God to expect divine help in time of need. Taking God at his word in expecting supernatural help in the midst of trouble is called faith.

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

Hebrews 11:11 Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.

Hebrews 11:32 And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets:

Hebrews 11:33 Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,

Hebrews 11:34 Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens (NKJV).

The starting point for faith is the acceptance of one’s inability to deal with the reality of the challenges one is confronted with. Faith begins where situations and circumstances overwhelm our natural abilities. For faith to be called into action, the challenge must be acknowledged as something that’s beyond one’s natural abilities to handle. Faith is therefore not a denial of the problem at hand, but its acknowledgement as being beyond our capability and thus needing supernatural intervention. A few biblical examples of faith at work will buttress this point.

King Hezekiah of Judah was a man who feared God and walked in his ways closely, following in the footsteps of his ancestor King David. One day, he was threatened by invasion from the powerful Assyrians who had subdued all the surrounding kingdoms and now had Judah in their sight. The King of Assyria sent a warning letter to Hezekiah to surrender peacefully and not allow himself and his kingdom to be invaded, for the consequences would be grave. Hezekiah immediately recognised the magnitude of the danger at hand. Truly, the Assyrians had a formidable army, and soldier-for-soldier, Israel could not stand the might of Assyria. Hezekiah did not deny the problem at hand, but honestly acknowledged it. He rightfully assessed the magnitude of the problem as being beyond the ability of his military to cope with. This realisation triggered and activated his faith and led him to cry unto God for help. In his frank and honest heart-to-heart discussion with God, Hezekiah revealed the magnitude of the problem at hand, acknowledged the might of the enemy, but also recognised heaven’s omnipotence as being far and above the enemy’s power, if God would undertake for him. By recognising the problem and God’s power to resolve it in his favour, Hezekiah showed how true faith works! Faith is linking God and our problems and getting out of the way for God to work on our behalf and grant us the promised victory!

2 Kings 19:14 And Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it; and Hezekiah went up to the house of the Lord, and spread it before the Lord.

2 Kings 19:15 Then Hezekiah prayed before the Lord, and said: “O Lord God of Israel, the One who dwells between the cherubim, You are God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth.

2 Kings 19:16 Incline Your ear, O Lord, and hear; open Your eyes, O Lord, and see; and hear the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to reproach the living God.

2 Kings 19:17 Truly, Lord, the kings of Assyria have laid waste the nations and their lands,

2 Kings 19:18 and have cast their gods into the fire; for they were not gods, but the work of men’s hands—wood and stone. Therefore they destroyed them.

2 Kings 19:19 Now therefore, O Lord our God, I pray, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You are the Lord God, You alone.”

2 Kings 19:20 Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent to Hezekiah, saying, “Thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘Because you have prayed to Me against Sennacherib king of Assyria, I have heard.’

2 Kings 19:21 This is the word which the Lord has spoken concerning him:
‘The virgin, the daughter of Zion,
Has despised you, laughed you to scorn;
The daughter of Jerusalem
Has shaken her head behind your back!

2 Kings 19:22 ‘Whom have you reproached and blasphemed?
Against whom have you raised your voice,
And lifted up your eyes on high?
Against the Holy One of Israel.

2 Kings 19:23 By your messengers you have reproached the Lord,
And said: “By the multitude of my chariots
I have come up to the height of the mountains,
To the limits of Lebanon;
I will cut down its tall cedars
And its choice cypress trees;
I will enter the extremity of its borders,
To its fruitful forest.

2 Kings 19:24 I have dug and drunk strange water,
And with the soles of my feet I have dried up
All the brooks of defense.”

2 Kings 19:25 ‘Did you not hear long ago
How I made it,
From ancient times that I formed it?
Now I have brought it to pass,
That you should be
For crushing fortified cities into heaps of ruins.

2 Kings 19:26 Therefore their inhabitants had little power;
They were dismayed and confounded;
They were as the grass of the field
And the green herb,
As the grass on the housetops
And grain blighted before it is grown.

2 Kings 19:27 ‘But I know your dwelling place,
Your going out and your coming in,
And your rage against Me.

2 Kings 19:28 Because your rage against Me and your tumult
Have come up to My ears,
Therefore I will put My hook in your nose
And My bridle in your lips,
And I will turn you back
By the way which you came.

2 Kings 19:32 “Therefore thus says the Lord concerning the king of Assyria:
‘He shall not come into this city,
Nor shoot an arrow there,
Nor come before it with shield,
Nor build a siege mound against it.

2 Kings 19:33 By the way that he came,
By the same shall he return;
And he shall not come into this city,’
Says the Lord.

2 Kings 19:34 ‘For I will defend this city, to save it
For My own sake and for My servant David’s sake.’”

2 Kings 19:35 And it came to pass on a certain night that the angel of the Lord went out, and killed in the camp of the Assyrians one hundred and eighty-five thousand; and when people arose early in the morning, there were the corpses—all dead.

2 Kings 19:36 So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and went away, returned home, and remained at Nineveh.

2 Kings 19:37 Now it came to pass, as he was worshiping in the temple of Nisroch his god, that his sons Adrammelech and Sharezer struck him down with the sword; and they escaped into the land of Ararat. Then Esarhaddon his son reigned in his place (NKJV).

Paul, the Apostle of faith, had a thorn in his flesh, a messenger of Satan sent to torment him. He didn’t deny the existence of this thorn in his flesh. He didn’t deny the pain and torment he felt. Rather, Paul acknowledged the presence of his distressing situation and cried out for divine help. In the process, God made Paul realise that his grace rests upon us only as we acknowledge our weaknesses, not as we deny our problems or their existence. The Apostle Paul thereafter resolved to always boast about his weaknesses, so that the power of God would rest upon him always!

2 Corinthians 12:2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know —God knows.

2 Corinthians 12:3 And I know that this man —whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows —

2 Corinthians 12:4 was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell.

2 Corinthians 12:5 I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses.

2 Corinthians 12:6 Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say,

2 Corinthians 12:7 or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.

2 Corinthians 12:8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.

2 Corinthians 12:9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

2 Corinthians 12:10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong (NIV).

When one is sick or has suffered a misfortune, faith is not denying the existence of the sickness or the misfortune. That is denialism, not faith! True faith is acknowledging the problem and then going beyond that to cry for God’s promised intervention! Each time the prayer of a saint reaches God, he asks what we’d have him do on our behalf. Blind Bartimeus acknowledged his blindness and wanted his sight back. Hannah recognised her barrenness and asked God for a son. David, in the multitude of his psalms, recognised the powerful forces of the enemies arraigned against him (Saul, Absalom, etc), and cried to God for deliverance. God heard and delivered him out of all his troubles.

Psalms 34:4 I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.

Psalms 34:19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
But the Lord delivers him out of them all. (NKJV).

There was a time Jesus healed a man who was blind. After touching the eyes of the blind man, the Lord asked him to describe how he could now see things. He responded by saying he could see people walking as trees! That was a sincere declaration because that was how he could see things! Jesus knew the man’s healing wasn’t perfect yet, and had to touch his eyes a second time, leading to a perfect restoration of his sight. By admitting to Jesus what he could actually see (his reality) rather than what he was expected to see, the imperfectly healed blind man had an opportunity for a second and perfect healing! Imagine if he had denied reality by telling Jesus he could see perfectly after the first touch! He probably would have gone on in his “faith” seeing men as trees! But, by acknowledging his reality and confessing how things were with him, this man got perfect healing!

St. Mark 8:22 They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him.

St. Mark 8:23 He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?”

St. Mark 8:24 He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.”

St. Mark 8:25 Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly (NIV).

Child of God, don’t let anyone make you look faithless for acknowledging your reality. If you have been prayed for over an illness and you don’t feel better, don’t try to please anyone by falsely saying you’re better. That’s not a declaration of faith but a denial of reality. God does not expect us to confess the opposite of what’s happening to us just to please him or anyone. Our demonstration of faith is in taking our problems to God in prayers, and in presenting ourselves before God’s anointed servants for deliverance, healing, etc. That we come before God or his anointed servants believing he’s able to make us whole is our display of faith. We have played our part. When God heals us, we’re supposed to mend and get well, and when we’re well, we’ll feel well!

When a demon-possessed person was brought to the Apostles of Christ and was neither delivered nor healed, Jesus didn’t blame the sick person for lacking faith. He didn’t expect the sick person to go away confessing he was healed when he wasn’t. That would be denying reality. Instead, the Lord blamed the Apostles for their lack of faith in not healing the boy! If the Apostles had the power and faith to heal the boy, the boy should have been healed, having had enough faith to present himself before servants of God for healing! Don’t die in silence confessing you’re well when you’re not! If you were healed you would become well and you would feel well! There’s no one in the Bible that was healed miraculously that didn’t become well immediately thereafter! God’s healing power is real! He doesn’t need us faking we’ve been healed when we’re not! It’s bearing false witness to God’s omnipotence to claim healing and wellness when your body is still riddled with disease and its evidence! True divine healing shows, and is evident for all to see! It doesn’t need to be assisted by false declaration of wellness in positive confessions when healing has not taken place!

Matthew 17:14 And when they had come to the multitude, a man came to Him, kneeling down to Him and saying,

Matthew 17:15 “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and suffers severely; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water.

Matthew 17:16 So I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not cure him.”

Matthew 17:17 Then Jesus answered and said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me.”

Matthew 17:18 And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour.

Matthew 17:19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?”

Matthew 17:20 So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.

Matthew 17:21 However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.” (NKJV).

In summary, faith is trusting God to intervene in our circumstances for good. It is having confidence that God is able and willing to do unto us as he has promised. Our act of faith is to present ourselves and our problems before God, and beseech him unceasingly to intervene. When God does intervene (either directly or through his anointed servants), our situations will definitely change! However, we should not confess we’re well when we’re not yet well. We should not deny our reality before our change comes. It’s okay to tell God exactly how we feel. We confess our reality before God, not our expectations. Faith holds unto God until change comes. Like blind Bartimeus, our cry for help should be louder and louder until Jesus stops and asks what we would have him do. Don’t therefore let anyone tell you to confess you’re well when you’re not. When God heals you and you’re well, you will be well indeed and won’t need to make false declarations of wellness! Making false declarations of wellness when you’re not well is fake, not faith! Don’t bear false witness against God’s omnipotence by claiming what he hasn’t done yet. Keep believing and keep trusting until he does it. Only then can the weak truly say he’s strong! Faith is not delusional; it is evidencial and substantial!

James 5:16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that you may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much (AKJV).

What It Means To Abide In Christ

(All Bible quotations, unless otherwise stated, are from the English Standard Version).

John 15:1 I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.

John 15:2 Every branch of mine that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.

John 15:3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you.

John 15:4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.

John 15:5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

John 15:6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.

John 15:7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

In the passage of Scripture quoted above, the Lord Jesus compared the relationship between himself and his disciples to that of the vine and its branches. The Lord likens himself to the vine tree, with his disciples being the branches of the vine. As the branches cannot live and bear fruits on their own, except they are united with the vine, so are Christians lifeless and fruitless, outside of their union with Christ. Except we abide in Christ and draw nourishment and sustenance from his life and Spirit, we become barren and unfruitful, and will eventually dry up spiritually and die off. Such dead branches are of no spiritual value, but only fit to be cut down and cast into the fire. Such is the ultimate fate of believers who cut themselves off from Christ and don’t get reunited with him again. But, what does it mean, in practical terms, to abide in Christ? How do we remain united with Christ, in order to be fruitful and pleasing to God? We shall examine the Scriptures further to answer these questions.

1 John 2:3 And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments.

1 John 2:4 Whoever says I know him but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him,

1 John 2:5 but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may be sure that we are in him:

1 John 2:6 whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

The apostle John, in his first epistle, connects abiding in Christ to knowing Christ, keeping his words and walking (living) as Christ did. To abide in Christ then means to know Christ, to keep the commandments of Christ and to live as Christ lived while he was here on earth. To know Christ is to be born again and to have the life of Christ (eternal life) in us (united with Christ). Being born again makes one a lifelong disciple of Christ, one who must now follow Christ and obey his teachings all his life. Obeying the commandments of Christ implies following the footsteps of Christ and living as Christ did. That’s the evidence of being a disciple of Christ indeed, when we continue or abide in his word. It’s as we obey and live by the word of God that we become fruitful in our Christian walk. That’s when our life becomes pleasing and glorifying to God. That’s how our love for God is manifested—when we keep his commandments. We may profess all the love for God with our mouths and in our songs, but until we keep God’s commandments, we’re only loving God by mouth and not in deed.

John 8:31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples,

John 8:32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

1 John 3:23 And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us.

1 John 3:24 Whoever keeps his commandments abides in him, and he in them. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.

1 John 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.

Finally, John was emphatic in what he meant by walking as Christ did, for those abiding in Christ. We must not love the world and its lusts and passions, for whoever loves the world does not have love for God, for the world and its lusts (the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes and the pride of life) are at enmity with God, and we cannot be loving enemies of God and be faithful in our love relationship with God, as that amounts to spiritual adultery. Simply put, friendship with the sinful ways of the world is enmity with God. No one can claim to abide in Christ who is living in sin. Anyone who lives in sin and practises a lifestyle of sinfulness has not truly known God. For sure, no one can be perfectly sinless in this fallen world and in our mortal bodies. However, no true Christian who is abiding in Christ will be comfortable living and grovelling in sin. When he falls into sin, a true disciple of Christ quickly repents, confesses his sin and turns away from it. The Christain who abides in Christ practises a life of righteousness by default, not a life of sinfulness, which he once lived (before he was born again), but has now renounced. By our union with Christ, we become new creatures, old things in our lives having passed away, while all things have become new.

1 John 2:15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

1 John 2:16 For all that is in the world— the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world.

1 John 2:17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

James 4:4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

James 4:5 Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us?

1 John 3:4 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.

1 John 3:5 You know that he appeared to take away sins, and in him there is no sin.

1 John 3:6 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.

1 John 3:7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous.

1 John 3:8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.

1 John 3:9 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.

Ephesians 5:1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.

Ephesians 5:2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Ephesians 5:3 But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.

Ephesians 5:4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.

Ephesians 5:5 For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous ( that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.

Ephesians 5:6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.

Ephesians 5:7 Therefore do not associate with them;

Ephesians 5:8 for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light

Ephesians 5:9 (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true),

Ephesians 5:10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.

Ephesians 5:11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.

Ephesians 5:12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret.

Ephesians 5:13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible,

Ephesians 5:14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.

Ephesians 5:15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise,

Ephesians 5:16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.

Ephesians 5:17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

Ephesians 5:18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,

Ephesians 5:19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart,

Ephesians 5:20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,

Ephesians 5:21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new (KJV).

In conclusion, a believer must abide in Christ, the same way a living and fruitful branch abides in a vine, for him to remain spiritually alive and fruitful. The moment a Christian stops abiding in Christ, he cuts himself off from Christ’s life, and automatically dies off, the same way a severed branch of a tree dies and rots away, and becomes only good for firewood. To abide in Christ means to be closely united with him in word, in spirit and in deed. It means to follow and obey the commandments of Christ, and to live as Christ did, while on earth. To abide in Christ means to live a life of righteousness, shunning sin and walking uprightly as Christ did. Thus, one cannot be said to be abiding in Christ who loves the world and its sinful ways, for friendship with the world is enmity with God. To love Christ is to hate the world and its lusts, just as to love the world is to hate Christ. No one can abide in Christ and in the world at the same time, for no one can serve two masters at the same time.

Matthew 6:24 No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.

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You Don’t Need To “Tap Into” Or Be Envious Of Another Man’s Grace: Every Believer Has Got His Own Grace!

(All Bible quotations, unless otherwise stated, are from the New International Version).

We frequently hear of believers struggling to “tap” from the grace of successful ministers or other believers. In many Christian circles, people are encouraged to sow “financial seeds” into the lives and ministries of men of God, in order to “key into” or “tap into” their grace. Is grace transferable? Can a man impart his own grace to another, outside of the divine will? And most importantly, do we really need to covet another man’s grace in order to be successful Christians? We shall attempt to answer these questions through a close examination of the Scriptures.

Romans 12:3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.

Romans 12:4 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function,

Romans 12:5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

Romans 12:6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith;

Romans 12:7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach;

Romans 12:8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

The Apostle Paul made it abundantly clear, from the Scriptures above, that every member of the body of Christ is graced. Every believer has one spiritual gift or the other given to them by the grace of God, in order to bless the entire body of Christ and the whole of humanity. I wish we can all understand this important truth! Yes, everyone of us in the body of Christ, including the “least brethren”, has received grace from God to function in a unique way in the body of Christ! We all have unique talents, gifts and abilities that God has deposited inside all of us, for the purpose of edifying the body of Christ and blessing humanity! Grace is not an exclusive preserve of ministers of the gospel! The grace of God is upon every child of God! We may not have the same grace and the same gifts and talents, but we all have our own Christ-apportioned gifts! We’re not just called to sit and admire and applaud the grace of gifted ministers! All of us have unique graces with which to bless one another!! This knowledge should destroy envy, jealousy and pride among believers instantly! Why should I be envious and jealous of your grace when I have mine? Why should anyone be proud and haughty concerning the grace he carries when everyone else carries grace too? Hallelujah! Yes, God has given to every child of God some measure of faith and grace, and that should make everyone content, humble and grateful!

Ephesians 4:1 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.

Ephesians 4:2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

Ephesians 4:3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

Ephesians 4:4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called;

Ephesians 4:5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism;

Ephesians 4:6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

Ephesians 4:7 But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.

Ephesians 4:8 This is why it says: “When he ascended on high, he took many captives and gave gifts to his people.”

So, we all have grace and gifts of grace. We all have ministries. We are all ministers. Thus, the idea of thinking that only the ordained clergy are graced and gifted ministers is fundamentally wrong! The idea that other believers are just to sit back in the pew to receive from graced ministers during fellowship is not biblically right. When the church gathers together for fellowship, each member is to use his gift and grace to bless others. Blessing is not supposed to be a one-way traffic, from the pulpit to the pew! The pew is to bless the pulpit as much as the pulpit blesses the pew! The pastor too is to be edified by the members as much as the members are edified by the pastor! If pastors come to fellowship with the mindset that they’re to empty and release their grace upon their people and go back home depleted of virtues, then they’ve missed the mark! Pastors are to receive as much virtues from the people as they release upon the people. Every member of the congregation has the grace and the gift to bless and replenish the pastor while in service! The Church is supposed to be a closely-knit body where every member nourishes and sustains and builds up one another!

1 Corinthians 12:4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them.

1 Corinthians 12:5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord.

1 Corinthians 12:6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.

1 Corinthians 12:7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.

1 Corinthians 12:8 To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit,

1 Corinthians 12:9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit,

1 Corinthians 12:10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues.

1 Corinthians 12:11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.

1 Corinthians 12:12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.

1 Corinthians 12:13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body —whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free —and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.

1 Corinthians 12:14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

1 Corinthians 14:26 What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up.

I want to make a categorical statement here which might offend some people, but it’s the gospel truth: no man can give or transfer his gift or grace to another! Because no man gifted himself or is the source of his own gifts and grace, no man can transfer spiritual gifts to another man! All spiritual gifts come from God, and God distributes those gifts to his people according to his will and desire. It’s not by our coveting of gifts that we possess them. It’s not by lusting after gifts that we receive the grace for them. We cannot project our gifts onto others, even though we can bless others with our gifts. It’s only God’s prerogative to give or transfer a gift. The bearer of the gift does not control the gift. So, to fawn and appeal to a man of God in order to “tap” from his gift is scriptural ignorance. To sow “financial seeds” into a man’s life in order to have his grace transferred to us is folly and satanic delusion! You can’t buy the gift of God with money!

James 1:17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

1 Corinthians 12:14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

1 Corinthians 12:15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body.

1 Corinthians 12:16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body.

1 Corinthians 12:17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be?

1 Corinthians 12:18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.

Numbers 27:15 Moses said to the LORD,

Numbers 27:16 “May the LORD, the God who gives breath to all living things, appoint someone over this community

Numbers 27:17 to go out and come in before them, one who will lead them out and bring them in, so the LORD’s people will not be like sheep without a shepherd.”

Numbers 27:18 So the LORD said to Moses, “Take Joshua son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit of leadership, and lay your hand on him.

Numbers 27:19 Have him stand before Eleazar the priest and the entire assembly and commission him in their presence.

Numbers 27:20 Give him some of your authority so the whole Israelite community will obey him.

Numbers 27:21 He is to stand before Eleazar the priest, who will obtain decisions for him by inquiring of the Urim before the LORD. At his command he and the entire community of the Israelites will go out, and at his command they will come in.”

Numbers 27:22 Moses did as the LORD commanded him. He took Joshua and had him stand before Eleazar the priest and the whole assembly.

Numbers 27:23 Then he laid his hands on him and commissioned him, as the LORD instructed through Moses.

The Acts 8:14 When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to Samaria.

The Acts 8:15 When they arrived, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit,

The Acts 8:16 because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

The Acts 8:17 Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

The Acts 8:18 When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money

The Acts 8:19 and said, “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”

The Acts 8:20 Peter answered: “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money!

The Acts 8:21 You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God.

The Acts 8:22 Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord in the hope that he may forgive you for having such a thought in your heart.

The Acts 8:23 For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.”

Someone might argue and say, “what of Elisha? Didn’t he covet a double portion of Elijah’s spirit and anointing, and didn’t Elijah transfer same to him?”. At first glance that would appear to be correct, for Elisha asked and received a double portion of Elijah’s prophetic spirit. However, on deeper exposition of the Scriptures, we’ll discover that Elijah’s transfer of prophetic anointing to Elisha was simply in obedience to divine directives. God had already commanded Elijah, some moment before, to appoint Elisha as prophet in his stead, when his ministry was about to come to an end. It was a clear will of God for Elisha to become the voice and mouthpiece of God after Elijah. So, Elisha asking for the spirit and power that was upon Elijah to come upon himself was simply asking for the will of God to be done! Elijah wasn’t transferring the anointing or grace on his own impulse; he was simply obeying a divine injunction!

1 Kings 19:13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

1 Kings 19:14 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”

1 Kings 19:15 The LORD said to him, “Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram.

1 Kings 19:16 Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet.

1 Kings 19:17 Jehu will put to death any who escape the sword of Hazael, and Elisha will put to death any who escape the sword of Jehu.

1 Kings 19:18 Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel —all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.”

1 Kings 19:19 So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat. He was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, and he himself was driving the twelfth pair. Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him.

1 Kings 19:20 Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah. “Let me kiss my father and mother goodbye,” he said, “and then I will come with you.” “Go back,” Elijah replied. “What have I done to you?”

1 Kings 19:21 So Elisha left him and went back. He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his servant.

In conclusion, the grace of God is upon every believer in Christ, manifesting as unique gifts of the Spirit for ministry. It’s therefore absurd for believers to be envying and coveting one another’s gifts and graces, seeing we all have been dealt some measure of grace and faith by our gracious heavenly Father. Also, we’ve seen from Scriptures that all graces and gifts come from God, and cannot be transferred without divine authority. We also learnt that we cannot purchase the gift or the grace of God with money. It’s therefore unbiblical to induce people to sow financial seeds into a ministry in order to “tap” grace. That’s simply making merchandise of the gift of God, and it’s fraudulent! Rather than being envious and jealous of other people’s gifts, we should give all diligence to discover and cultivate our own gifts and graces, so that we too can minister to and bless other members of the body of Christ as well as the rest of humanity.

Grace Alone Is Not Sufficient For Success: You Can Have Grace And Still Be A Failure!

(All Bible quotations, unless otherwise stated, are from the New International Version).

Oftentimes, we hear people describe those who’ve excelled in ministry (or in life generally) as highly graced and gifted people. The conclusion usually is that, a man or a woman succeeds in whatever endeavour they’re into because they’re highly favoured by God, with a special gift, talent or ability. Most people reckon that geniuses are born, with little or no human effort needed in their success. Grace is thus judged to be the sole determinant of success: a person succeeds and excels because he has grace. Conversely, one fails because one lacks grace. Is grace alone a sufficient criterion for success? Can one be graced and fail to succeed? In this article, we shall examine the role of grace in success generally, but especially in ministry.

1 Corinthians 15:9 For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.

1 Corinthians 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them —yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.

Paul acknowledged here that he achieved whatever he did in ministry by the grace of God. He admitted that he became the great apostle that he was by divine favour. In other words, without the grace of God upon his life, evidenced by his apostolic calling and the abundance of the gifts of the Spirit, Paul wouldn’t have accomplished what he did for the Lord in being the chief of the apostles. God’s grace is represented by the totality of the power of God available for a man to access and use in the service of God. The level of the power and gifts of the Spirit available differs from person to person, and is determined by God. Thus, grace differs from one person to another. God distributes to every man some measure of grace according to the work we have to do, and according to our ability.

Ephesians 4:7 But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.

Ephesians 4:8 This is why it says: “When he ascended on high, he took many captives and gave gifts to his people.”

Romans 12:3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.

1 Corinthians 12:7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.

1 Corinthians 12:8 To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit,

1 Corinthians 12:9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit,

1 Corinthians 12:10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues.

1 Corinthians 12:11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.

Matthew 25:14 For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property.

Matthew 25:15 To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away (ESV).

Is it possible to have grace in abundance and not excel? Is it possible to be highly favoured by God and still fail to accomplish one’s mission or fulfil one’s destiny? The answer is a resounding yes! Grace and the gifts of grace are just divine potentials and capabilities. They’re like latent energy that must be harnessed and utilised to accomplish a task. Grace requires discipline and hardwork to excel. To cultivate the gifts of grace requires patience, discipline and diligence. Yes, Paul had great grace, but he made us realise that he disciplined himself intensely, denied himself a lot of privileges, fasted often, prayed without ceasing, and worked tirelessly not to make the grace of the God in his life be in vain. An athlete may be massively talented (graced) but he needs to discipline himself to train for long hours, to eat the right kinds of food, to avoid ingestion of things that could affect his fitness, and to deny himself so many pleasures, all in a bid to be the best and to win the ultimate prize. Grace is nothing without discipline and hard-work! Grace can be frustrated and made useless and ineffective!

1 Corinthians 9:24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.

1 Corinthians 9:25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.

1 Corinthians 9:26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air.

1 Corinthians 9:27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

1 Corinthians 15:9 For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.

1 Corinthians 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them —yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.

2 Corinthians 11:22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they Abraham’s descendants? So am I.

2 Corinthians 11:23 Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again.

2 Corinthians 11:24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one.

2 Corinthians 11:25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea,

2 Corinthians 11:26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers.

2 Corinthians 11:27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.

2 Corinthians 11:28 Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.

Galatians 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

Galatians 2:21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain (AKJV).

Let’s now consider an example of a man in Scriptures who was highly graced but fell way short of God’s glory and had his destiny aborted. That man was Samson, Israel’s supernaturally gifted but wayward judge. Samson was a uniquely graced and gifted person, the like of which the world has never known. The gift of supernatural strength that came upon him with the anointing of the Holy Spirit turned him literally into a one-man army! Imagine if Samson had been the kind of Nazarite that Samuel or John the Baptist was- sanctified and wholly consecrated to God. Imagine if he had separated himself to serve God the way the other two Nazirites mentioned above did. He alone was capable of exterminating the entire Philistines! He would have been the greatest warrior that ever lived among men! But, we all know what indicipline, lack of temperance and an unbridled romance with sin did to Samson’s grace. He grieved the Spirit of God continuously with his irreverent lifestyle, and the Spirit ended up departing from him. Samson ended up disgraced, humiliated and terminated prematurely by the enemy he was raised up to destroy! The great grace upon him did not attain its full potential! Though highly graced, Samson ended up in disgrace because he lacked the discipline and diligence to make the grace of God in his life count. In the end, he frustrated the grace of God! He failed God and his destiny. He was destined to destroy the Philistines, but the lusts of the flesh and of the eyes conspired to make him an object of ridicule and a piteous prisoner in the camp of the enemy! He had no temperance and no discipline to cultivate his gift and consecrate himself to his life’s calling. He couldn’t bring his body and his lusts under control. In the end, his unbridled lusts brought him down, at the prime of his life and grace. Samson was a case of extraordinary grace with no consecration, no preparation and no discipline. Such grace will end in failure, disgrace and disappointment.

Judges 13:2 A certain man of Zorah, named Manoah, from the clan of the Danites, had a wife who was childless, unable to give birth.

Judges 13:3 The angel of the LORD appeared to her and said, “You are barren and childless, but you are going to become pregnant and give birth to a son.

Judges 13:4 Now see to it that you drink no wine or other fermented drink and that you do not eat anything unclean.

Judges 13:5 You will become pregnant and have a son whose head is never to be touched by a razor because the boy is to be a Nazirite, dedicated to God from the womb. He will take the lead in delivering Israel from the hands of the Philistines.”

Judges 14:5 Samson went down to Timnah together with his father and mother. As they approached the vineyards of Timnah, suddenly a young lion came roaring toward him.

Judges 14:6 The Spirit of the LORD came powerfully upon him so that he tore the lion apart with his bare hands as he might have torn a young goat. But he told neither his father nor his mother what he had done.

Judges 15:14 As he approached Lehi, the Philistines came toward him shouting. The Spirit of the LORD came powerfully upon him. The ropes on his arms became like charred flax, and the bindings dropped from his hands.

Judges 15:15 Finding a fresh jawbone of a donkey, he grabbed it and struck down a thousand men.

Judges 15:16 Then Samson said, “With a donkey’s jawbone I have made donkeys of them. With a donkey’s jawbone I have killed a thousand men.”

Judges 15:17 When he finished speaking, he threw away the jawbone; and the place was called Ramath Lehi.

Judges 16:1 One day Samson went to Gaza, where he saw a prostitute. He went in to spend the night with her.

Judges 16:2 The people of Gaza were told, “Samson is here!” So they surrounded the place and lay in wait for him all night at the city gate. They made no move during the night, saying, “At dawn we’ll kill him.”

Judges 16:3 But Samson lay there only until the middle of the night. Then he got up and took hold of the doors of the city gate, together with the two posts, and tore them loose, bar and all. He lifted them to his shoulders and carried them to the top of the hill that faces Hebron.

Judges 16:18 When Delilah saw that he had told her everything, she sent word to the rulers of the Philistines, “Come back once more; he has told me everything.” So the rulers of the Philistines returned with the silver in their hands.

Judges 16:19 After putting him to sleep on her lap, she called for someone to shave off the seven braids of his hair, and so began to subdue him. And his strength left him.

Judges 16:20 Then she called, “Samson, the Philistines are upon you!” He awoke from his sleep and thought, “I’ll go out as before and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the LORD had left him.

Judges 16:21 Then the Philistines seized him, gouged out his eyes and took him down to Gaza. Binding him with bronze shackles, they set him to grinding grain in the prison.

Judges 16:22 But the hair on his head began to grow again after it had been shaved.

Judges 16:23 Now the rulers of the Philistines assembled to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon their god and to celebrate, saying, “Our god has delivered Samson, our enemy, into our hands.”

Judges 16:24 When the people saw him, they praised their god, saying, “Our god has delivered our enemy into our hands, the one who laid waste our land and multiplied our slain.”

Judges 16:25 While they were in high spirits, they shouted, “Bring out Samson to entertain us.” So they called Samson out of the prison, and he performed for them. When they stood him among the pillars,

Judges 16:26 Samson said to the servant who held his hand, “Put me where I can feel the pillars that support the temple, so that I may lean against them.”

Judges 16:27 Now the temple was crowded with men and women; all the rulers of the Philistines were there, and on the roof were about three thousand men and women watching Samson perform.

Judges 16:28 Then Samson prayed to the LORD, “Sovereign LORD, remember me. Please, God, strengthen me just once more, and let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes.”

Judges 16:29 Then Samson reached toward the two central pillars on which the temple stood. Bracing himself against them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other,

Judges 16:30 Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines!” Then he pushed with all his might, and down came the temple on the rulers and all the people in it. Thus he killed many more when he died than while he lived.

Judges 16:31 Then his brothers and his father’s whole family went down to get him. They brought him back and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the tomb of Manoah his father. He had led Israel twenty years.

Success in ministry (and in life generally) is not just dependent on the grace and talents one has. Diligence in cultivating and developing one’s talents is equally as important, if not more important than mere possession of a gift or a talent. Unrefined and unprocessed gifts and talents will not take one far. The best an uncultivated talent or grace will achieve is a mediocre life. However, when a gift is diligently cultivated, it will bring the owner before kings and prominent people; it will advertise its owner and bring fame and fortune. And when diligence is coupled to seeking God and pleasing him at all times, grace and gifts will be multiplied and the result will be good success. Every grace is received from God, and every grace relies on God for success. Detached from God, the best grace will be but dim and lackluster.

Proverbs 22:29 See you a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men (AKJV).

Deuteronomy 28:1 If you fully obey the LORD your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations on earth.

Deuteronomy 28:2 All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the LORD your God:

Deuteronomy 28:3 You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country.

Deuteronomy 28:13 The LORD will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the LORD your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom.

Joshua 1:7 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.

Joshua 1:8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.

Psalms 1:1 Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers,

Psalms 1:2 but whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on his law day and night.

Psalms 1:3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither — whatever they do prospers.

In conclusion, the grace of God can be sufficient only when men make good use of it. For grace to be sufficient for us, we must take due diligence to cultivate and develop the gifts of grace given to us. We must have the discipline to separate and consecrate ourselves to God and dedicate ourselves to our lifetask. Grace and talent can be frittered away and wasted. Divorced from God and hard-work, the best of graces will just be a shadow of their potentials, and will fall way short of God’s expectations. Samson was the perfect example in Scripture of uncommon grace made common and vulgar by lack of consecration, discipline and diligence. Such grace will end in disgrace, and will be overtaken by less gifted, but more consecrated and diligent men. May God help us not to frustrate his grace in our lives. And may he give us the wisdom and diligence to cultivate and develop every talent in us, for the common good. Amen.

Following The Footsteps Of Jesus In Being A Friend Of Sinners And Tax Collectors

(All Bible quotations, except otherwise stated, are from the New International Version).

Ecclesiastes 7:16 Do not be overrighteous, neither be overwise — why destroy yourself?

As Christians, our zeal for God and for righteousness should make us hate sin and contend for righteousness wherever we find ourselves. However, sometimes we fail to separate the sinner from his sins, and we end up hating and attacking both in our misguided zeal for God. While we must hate and abhor sin at all times, we must be careful not to hate the sinner. While we must separate ourselves from sin, we must be careful not to alienate ourselves from the sinner. We’re called and commissioned to go after the lost sheep and recover them, not to recluse ourselves as hermits who are so afraid to be contaminated by the world that we give up on the world and on our mission, in our bid to preserve our ‘holiness’. That would be falling into the trap of self-righteousness. Too many Christians there are who refuse to associate with sinners. We see many church people who cannot be friends with sinners and unbelievers. There is so much physical and social distancing between most Christians and their unbelieving neighbours that both end up living in two different and parallel worlds that hardly intersect. Communication and opportunity for real conversation and evangelism become lost.

We should follow the example of our Lord Jesus who was so focused on his mission that he was always with his target population (sinners and lost sheep). Jesus spent so much time with sinners that he was rightly accused by the self-righteous Pharisees of being a friend of sinners and publicans. He wasn’t ashamed to identify with those he came to save. His love for them forced him out of his comfort zone and into theirs, in order to be able to access them and minister to them. He would gladly attend their parties when invited, to eat and to drink with them. He would gladly visit their homes when invited, to rejoice and to feast with them. Sometimes, he would not even wait for an invitation to go to their homes- he’d invite himself! Jesus wasn’t a hermit ! Yes, he was the Son of God. Yes, he was the great prophet! Yes, he was sinless and perfect and undefiled. But he was also a socialite who mixed freely with sinners!

St. Matthew 9:10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples.

St. Matthew 9:11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

St. Matthew 9:12 On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.

St. Matthew 9:13 But go and learn what this means: ’I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

St. Matthew 11:16 “To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others:

St. Matthew 11:17 “’We played the pipe for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’

St. Matthew 11:18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ’He has a demon.’

St. Matthew 11:19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ’Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.”

St. Luke 19:1 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through.

St. Luke 19:2 A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy.

St. Luke 19:3 He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd.

St. Luke 19:4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.

St. Luke 19:5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.”

St. Luke 19:6 So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.

St. Luke 19:7 All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”

St. Luke 19:8 But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”

St. Luke 19:9 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham.

St. Luke 19:10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.

To accomplish the great commission, we need to go after the lost. We need to go hunting for sinners wherever they are. We’re not to wait for them to come to church, but we’re to go after them into the highways and byways of society (their comfort zones) and persuade them to come to the Lord. We’re to befriend them in our neighbourhoods, places of work, schools, etc, so as to soften them up for evangelism and soul-winning. We’re to love sinners because God loves them! God loves them so much that he sacrificed his only begotten Son to get them saved. We should love them so much that we sacrifice our comfort and self-righteousness to reach out to them and show them the love of God. It’s not sinners the Bible warns us to keep away from, otherwise we would need to leave the world! It’s actually fellow believers who are living disgraceful lifestyles which bring the Lord’s name to disrepute that we’re supposed to avoid, not unbelievers!

1 Corinthians 5:9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people —

1 Corinthians 5:10 not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world.

1 Corinthians 5:11 But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.

1 Corinthians 5:12 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside?

1 Corinthians 5:13 God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.”

St. Luke 15:1 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus.

St. Luke 15:2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

St. Luke 15:3 Then Jesus told them this parable:

St. Luke 15:4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?

St. Luke 15:5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders

St. Luke 15:6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ’Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’

St. Luke 15:7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

The Pharisees adopted a holier-than-thou attitude towards sinners and publicans, and socially distanced themselves from them, to avoid being “contaminated”. By so doing, they ended up alienating sinners from the kingdom of God. The Pharisees literally locked the sinners away from the kingdom of God, by refusing to interact with them and engage them. To them, the sinner’s cause was a lost cause not worth pursuing. Their public image and self-righteousness were more important to them than the fate of hell-bound sinners!

St. Matthew 23:1 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples:

St. Matthew 23:2 “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat.

St. Matthew 23:3 So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.

St. Matthew 23:4 They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.

St. Matthew 23:13 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.

It may be okay for the self-righteous and hypocritical Pharisees to act like some ascetic monks and isolate themselves in some monasteries located in the desert, but not so for the Lord! You can’t be a fisherman and not be mixed up with muddy water and dirt! You can’t be in the business of catching fish and not get wet and messed up while mingling with water and fish. In the same vein, you can’t be a fisher of men and not be ready to reach out and be friendly with the men to be caught! You have to go into the world of sinners to catch sinners! You have to relate with the sinner, love him, be his friend, have compassion on him and be concerned about his destination to be able to reach out to him and win him for heaven. He that wins a soul must be wise! Winning souls requires a deliberate and strategic effort targeted at them. You can’t hate the sinner and distance yourself from him and expect to win him for Christ! Any sinner you fail to love and befriend is a sinner unavailable to you for soul-winning!

St. Mark 16:15 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.

St. Mark 16:16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

St. Matthew 22:8 “Then he said to his servants, ’The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come.

St. Matthew 22:9 So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’

St. Matthew 22:10 So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.

1 Corinthians 9:19 Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.

1 Corinthians 9:20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law.

1 Corinthians 9:21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law.

1 Corinthians 9:22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.

1 Corinthians 9:23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten Son to a world of sinners to rescue them. Having been rescued ourselves and filled with the Spirit of God, we should so love the world that we would go after sinful men to try and rescue them from destruction. When the Bible said we should not love the world nor the things that are in the world, it was referring, not to the men of the world, but to the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes and the pride of life. These are the things we should not love, for these works of the flesh are in opposition to the Spirit. However, we’re to love all men of the world, like our heavenly Father, including those who hate us because we’re Christians. We should not interact only with people of like precious faith, nor should we relate only with those in our spiritual caucus. Loving only those in our comfort zone and our familiar friends isn’t the God kind of love. The God kind of love reaches out to the unlovely, the sinful, the immoral and even to those who hate us and persecute us. We must become friends of sinners and tax collectors and harlots like our Lord and Master, in order to win them for Christ. As disciples, we’re to follow the Master’s footsteps. And, if we do that, it will lead us to sinners and immoral people who need God’s love and mercy, not just to the assembly of the righteous.

St. John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

St. John 3:17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

1 John 2:15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them.

1 John 2:16 For everything in the world —the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life —comes not from the Father but from the world.

1 John 2:17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.

Romans 10:11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.”

Romans 10:12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile —the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him,

Romans 10:13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Romans 10:14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?

Romans 10:15 And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

St. Matthew 5:43 “You have heard that it was said, ’Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’

St. Matthew 5:44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,

St. Matthew 5:45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

St. Matthew 5:46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?

St. Matthew 5:47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?

St. Matthew 5:48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Jesus was a retail and compassionate soul-winner who wasn’t afraid to break religious norms in order to save men. He would touch the leper who was an outcast and bring him close as he ministered to him. He had so much compassion for the people that he would wear himself out to see their needs met. That included doing good on the Sabbath day, refusing to condemn sinners caught in the act, and conversing with prostitutes and allowing them to touch and anoint him. As the perfect physician, he wasn’t afraid to reach out and touch the sick as he ministered to them. Jesus, the good shepherd, would readily leave 99 sheep that were safe, to go after one lost in the wilderness of sin. And he would so rejoice when that one lost sheep was found! The sick sinner needs our compassionate and friendly touch. Let’s love them with the love of Jesus and win them back to God!

St. Matthew 8:1 When Jesus came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him.

St. Matthew 8:2 A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”

St. Matthew 8:3 Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy.

St. Matthew 8:4 Then Jesus said to him, “See that you don’t tell anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”

St. Matthew 15:32 Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way.”

St. Mark 3:1 Another time Jesus went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there.

St. Mark 3:2 Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath.

St. Mark 3:3 Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.”

St. Mark 3:4 Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent.

St. Mark 3:5 He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored.

St. John 8:1 but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.

St. John 8:2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them.

St. John 8:3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group

St. John 8:4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery.

St. John 8:5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?”

St. John 8:6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger.

St. John 8:7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”

St. John 8:8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

St. John 8:9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there.

St. John 8:10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

St. John 8:11 “No one, sir,” she said.“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

St. John 4:5 So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph.

St. John 4:6 Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.

St. John 4:7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?”

St. John 4:8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)

St. John 4:9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans. )

St. John 4:27 Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?”

St. Luke 7:36 When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table.

St. Luke 7:37 A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume.

St. Luke 7:38 As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.

St. Luke 7:39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is —that she is a sinner.”

St. Luke 7:40 Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.” “Tell me, teacher,” he said.

St. Luke 7:41 “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.

St. Luke 7:42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”

St. Luke 7:43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.” “You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.

St. Luke 7:44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.

St. Luke 7:45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet.

St. Luke 7:46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet.

St. Luke 7:47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven —as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”

St. Luke 7:48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

In conclusion, a holier-than-thou attitude and disposition towards sinners is counterproductive to the preaching of the gospel and the winning of lost souls for God. While we should hate sin and abstain from every form of evil, we should not hate sinners. Not only should we not hate them, we should also love them and be friendly with them! Our Lord was ridiculed and derided as a friend of sinners, and we shouldn’t be afraid to be so labelled by self-righteous people! It’s only as we become friends with sinners (while distancing ourselves from their sins) that we can win their confidence and trust to minister the gospel to them. Physically and socially distancing ourselves from sinners in our environment will only alienate them and create a communication gap which will hinder evangelism. May we be wise to use every opportunity to win souls like our Lord and Master Jesus Christ.

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The Christian And Xenophobia: Biblical Injunctions Concerning The Treatment Of Foreigners Amongst Us

Xenophobia, hatred and racism words written with blocks on red background

Xenophobia is defined by the Offline English-Urdu Dictionary as the morbid fear and hatred of foreigners. The fear and maltreatment of foreigners is rising proportionately with the rise of nationalistic movements the world over. As more and more anti-immigration elements within nations attack the foreigners in their midst and agitate for the closure of their national borders to the strangers at their gates, there’s an urgent need to understand the Christian’s obligation to foreigners living with us. How does the Bible expect Christians to deal with foreigners in their midst? How does God view the maltreatment of people in a foreign land? We shall examine the Scriptures to answer these questions.

Abraham, the father of faith and friend of God, left the promised land twice to sojourn in foreign lands, during periods of famine and food scarcity. He went first to Egypt (at the beginning of his call), and later sojourned in Gerar (just before the birth of Isaac). On both occasions, Abraham harboured great fear of being maltreated by the citizens of the places he was visiting. On both occasions, he had to lie to disguise his relationship with his wife, for fear of the men of the land killing him and taking over his beautiful wife, Sarah. We thus see that migrating to foreign lands for better economic opportunities (among other reasons) has been part of man’s pursuit of happiness and fulfilment from time immemorial. We also see that the sojourner in a foreign land has always been an endangered species. The story hasn’t changed much in our time. If anything, migration for better opportunities and personal safety (fleeing from political and religious persecution) and the apprehension of immigrants due to xenophobic attacks have only multiplied!

Genesis 12:10 Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to live there for a while because the famine was severe.

Genesis 12:11 As he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, “I know what a beautiful woman you are.

Genesis 12:12 When the Egyptians see you, they will say, ’This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me but will let you live.

Genesis 12:13 Say you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you.”

Genesis 12:14 When Abram came to Egypt, the Egyptians saw that Sarai was a very beautiful woman.

Genesis 12:15 And when Pharaoh’s officials saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh, and she was taken into his palace.

Genesis 12:16 He treated Abram well for her sake, and Abram acquired sheep and cattle, male and female donkeys, male and female servants, and camels.

Genesis 12:17 But the LORD inflicted serious diseases on Pharaoh and his household because of Abram’s wife Sarai.

Genesis 12:18 So Pharaoh summoned Abram. “What have you done to me?” he said. “Why didn’t you tell me she was your wife?

Genesis 12:19 Why did you say, ’She is my sister,’ so that I took her to be my wife? Now then, here is your wife. Take her and go!”

Genesis 12:20 Then Pharaoh gave orders about Abram to his men, and they sent him on his way, with his wife and everything he had.

Genesis 20:1 Now Abraham moved on from there into the region of the Negev and lived between Kadesh and Shur. For a while he stayed in Gerar,

Genesis 20:2 and there Abraham said of his wife Sarah, “She is my sister.” Then Abimelek king of Gerar sent for Sarah and took her.

Genesis 20:3 But God came to Abimelek in a dream one night and said to him, “You are as good as dead because of the woman you have taken; she is a married woman.”

Genesis 20:4 Now Abimelek had not gone near her, so he said, “Lord, will you destroy an innocent nation?

Genesis 20:5 Did he not say to me, ’She is my sister,’ and didn’t she also say, ’He is my brother’? I have done this with a clear conscience and clean hands.”

Genesis 20:6 Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know you did this with a clear conscience, and so I have kept you from sinning against me. That is why I did not let you touch her.

Genesis 20:7 Now return the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you will live. But if you do not return her, you may be sure that you and all who belong to you will die.”

Genesis 20:8 Early the next morning Abimelek summoned all his officials, and when he told them all that had happened, they were very much afraid.

Genesis 20:9 Then Abimelek called Abraham in and said, “What have you done to us? How have I wronged you that you have brought such great guilt upon me and my kingdom? You have done things to me that should never be done.”

Genesis 20:10 And Abimelek asked Abraham, “What was your reason for doing this?”

Genesis 20:11 Abraham replied, “I said to myself, ’There is surely no fear of God in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife.’

Genesis 20:12 Besides, she really is my sister, the daughter of my father though not of my mother; and she became my wife.

Genesis 20:13 And when God had me wander from my father’s household, I said to her, ’This is how you can show your love to me: Everywhere we go, say of me, “He is my brother.”’”

Genesis 20:14 Then Abimelek brought sheep and cattle and male and female slaves and gave them to Abraham, and he returned Sarah his wife to him.

Genesis 20:15 And Abimelek said, “My land is before you; live wherever you like.”

Genesis 20:16 To Sarah he said, “I am giving your brother a thousand shekels of silver. This is to cover the offense against you before all who are with you; you are completely vindicated.”

Genesis 20:17 Then Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelek, his wife and his female slaves so they could have children again,

Genesis 20:18 for the LORD had kept all the women in Abimelek’s household from conceiving because of Abraham’s wife Sarah.

However, the most significant sojourn in foreign lands for God’s people was the migration of Jacob and his entire family (70 persons in all) from Canaan to Egypt, as a result of a prolonged and severe famine in Palestine. Again, survival and the search for better opportunities drove this migration. Jacob himself was reluctant to leave the promised land for any reason; however, God appeared to him and encouraged him to do so, on account of the severity of the famine afflicting the land of Canaan. This shows that God might be behind some migration of his people to foreign lands. After all, the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof. The Lord can direct the relocation of any of his people to any parts of the world, to serve his purpose.

Israel’s sojourn in Egypt lasted for about 430 years, and ended up with maltreatment of the Jews who were turned into slaves and severely dehumanised by the Egyptians. Though the Jews contributed in no small way to the building and development of the Egyptian economy and their society as a whole (remember it was Joseph that preserved Egypt from the catastrophic effect of the global famine), envy, jealousy and misguided fear of dominance and displacement led the Egyptians to forget the good works of the Jews and turn on them in vicious xenophobic attacks. Eventually, God delivered the Jews from their captivity in Egypt, and returned them back to the promised land of Canaan that he had earlier given to their ancestors. However, the bitter experience of slavery in Egypt affected Israel’s perception and treatment of foreigners in a profound way, and was to define the nation’s immigration policies for generations to come.

Genesis 46:1 So Israel set out with all that was his, and when he reached Beersheba, he offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac.

Genesis 46:2 And God spoke to Israel in a vision at night and said, “Jacob! Jacob!” “Here I am,” he replied.

Genesis 46:3 “I am God, the God of your father,” he said. “Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you into a great nation there.

Genesis 46:4 I will go down to Egypt with you, and I will surely bring you back again. And Joseph’s own hand will close your eyes.”

Genesis 46:5 Then Jacob left Beersheba, and Israel’s sons took their father Jacob and their children and their wives in the carts that Pharaoh had sent to transport him.

Genesis 46:6 So Jacob and all his offspring went to Egypt, taking with them their livestock and the possessions they had acquired in Canaan.

Genesis 46:7 Jacob brought with him to Egypt his sons and grandsons and his daughters and granddaughters —all his offspring.

Exodus 1:5 The descendants of Jacob numbered seventy in all; Joseph was already in Egypt.

Exodus 1:6 Now Joseph and all his brothers and all that generation died,

Exodus 1:7 but the Israelites were exceedingly fruitful; they multiplied greatly, increased in numbers and became so numerous that the land was filled with them.

Exodus 1:8 Then a new king, to whom Joseph meant nothing, came to power in Egypt.

Exodus 1:9 “Look,” he said to his people, “the Israelites have become far too numerous for us.

Exodus 1:10 Come, we must deal shrewdly with them or they will become even more numerous and, if war breaks out, will join our enemies, fight against us and leave the country.”

Exodus 1:11 So they put slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labor, and they built Pithom and Rameses as store cities for Pharaoh.

Exodus 1:12 But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread; so the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites

Exodus 1:13 and worked them ruthlessly.

Exodus 1:14 They made their lives bitter with harsh labor in brick and mortar and with all kinds of work in the fields; in all their harsh labor the Egyptians worked them ruthlessly.

Exodus 1:15 The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, whose names were Shiphrah and Puah,

Exodus 1:16 “When you are helping the Hebrew women during childbirth on the delivery stool, if you see that the baby is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live.”

Exodus 1:17 The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live.

Exodus 1:18 Then the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and asked them, “Why have you done this? Why have you let the boys live?”

Exodus 1:19 The midwives answered Pharaoh, “Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women; they are vigorous and give birth before the midwives arrive.”

Exodus 1:20 So God was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became even more numerous.

Exodus 1:21 And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own.

Exodus 1:22 Then Pharaoh gave this order to all his people: “Every Hebrew boy that is born you must throw into the Nile, but let every girl live.”

Exodus 12:40 Now the length of time the Israelite people lived in Egypt was 430 years.

Exodus 12:41 At the end of the 430 years, to the very day, all the LORD’s divisions left Egypt.

Israel’s experience as maltreated slaves in Egypt formed the basis of God’s laws for them with respect to the treatment of foreigners in their midst. Because they had suffered severely in the hands of their slavemasters in their land of sojourn, the Israelites were expected to know what it felt like to be maltreated and persecuted in a strange land. They had experienced xenophobia first hand, and they were expected to be better positioned to deal more kindly with foreigners in their midst.

The Mosaic Law took care to defend and protect the lot of foreigners among the Jews. Under the law, foreigners were to be treated with love, respect, dignity and empathy. Foreigners were not to be discriminated against. One law was to be applicable to both citizens and foreigners. The foreigners were to be specially protected and defended from harassment and exploitation, and their material needs were to be catered for as one of the underprivileged and disadvantaged in society. Foreigners in need were to be taken care of from the tithes of the people, alongside the priests, Levites, widows and orphans! As we can see, a social safety net existed even then for the poor, and it covered foreigners in need too, in addition to the underprivileged natives.

Exodus 23:9 “Do not oppress a foreigner; you yourselves know how it feels to be foreigners, because you were foreigners in Egypt.

Exodus 23:12 “Six days do your work, but on the seventh day do not work, so that your ox and your donkey may rest, and so that the slave born in your household and the foreigner living among you may be refreshed.

Leviticus 19:10 Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am the LORD your God.

Leviticus 19:34 The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.

Leviticus 24:22 You are to have the same law for the foreigner and the native-born. I am the LORD your God.’”

Deuteronomy 26:12 When you have finished setting aside a tenth of all your produce in the third year, the year of the tithe, you shall give it to the Levite, the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow, so that they may eat in your towns and be satisfied.

Deuteronomy 26:13 Then say to the LORD your God: “I have removed from my house the sacred portion and have given it to the Levite, the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow, according to all you commanded. I have not turned aside from your commands nor have I forgotten any of them.

Deuteronomy 26:14 I have not eaten any of the sacred portion while I was in mourning, nor have I removed any of it while I was unclean, nor have I offered any of it to the dead. I have obeyed the LORD my God; I have done everything you commanded me.

Deuteronomy 26:15 Look down from heaven, your holy dwelling place, and bless your people Israel and the land you have given us as you promised on oath to our ancestors, a land flowing with milk and honey.”

Jeremiah 22:3 This is what the LORD says: Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of the oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place.

Furthermore, under the Mosaic Law, foreigners in Israel were given a path to citizenship, if they wanted to become Jewish citizens. All they needed to do was convert to the Jewish religion, get circumcised and keep the Jewish laws. They would then become proselytes, and enjoy all the religious rights and privileges of the native-born Jews. Such proselytes could then partake in all Jewish religious celebrations, including the Passover! Following this pathway to citizenship, some Gentile converts to Judaism rose to become prominent citizens in the land of Israel. Ruth, the Moabite, thus became one of the ancestors of King David and of our Lord Jesus, through her marriage to Boaz, after she renounced her gods and her people to take up Jehovah as her God, and Israel as her adopted country.

Exodus 12:48 “A foreigner residing among you who wants to celebrate the LORD’s Passover must have all the males in his household circumcised; then he may take part like one born in the land. No uncircumcised male may eat it.

Exodus 12:49 The same law applies both to the native-born and to the foreigner residing among you.”

Isaiah 56:3 Let no foreigner who is bound to the LORD say, “The LORD will surely exclude me from his people.” And let no eunuch complain, “I am only a dry tree.”

Isaiah 56:4 For this is what the LORD says: “To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose what pleases me and hold fast to my covenant —

Isaiah 56:5 to them I will give within my temple and its walls a memorial and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that will endure forever.

Isaiah 56:6 And foreigners who bind themselves to the LORD to minister to him, to love the name of the LORD, and to be his servants, all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it and who hold fast to my covenant —

Isaiah 56:7 these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.”

Ruth 1:16 But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.

Ruth 1:17 Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.”

Ruth 1:18 When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her.

Ruth 4:9 Then Boaz announced to the elders and all the people, “Today you are witnesses that I have bought from Naomi all the property of Elimelek, Kilion and Mahlon.

Ruth 4:10 I have also acquired Ruth the Moabite, Mahlon’s widow, as my wife, in order to maintain the name of the dead with his property, so that his name will not disappear from among his family or from his hometown. Today you are witnesses!”

Ruth 4:11 Then the elders and all the people at the gate said, “We are witnesses. May the LORD make the woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the family of Israel. May you have standing in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem.

Ruth 4:12 Through the offspring the LORD gives you by this young woman, may your family be like that of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah.”

Ruth 4:13 So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. When he made love to her, the LORD enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son.

Ruth 4:14 The women said to Naomi: “Praise be to the LORD, who this day has not left you without a guardian-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel!

Ruth 4:15 He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth.”

Ruth 4:16 Then Naomi took the child in her arms and cared for him.

Ruth 4:17 The women living there said, “Naomi has a son!” And they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.

In the New Testament, the need to deal kindly with foreigners is brought even closer to the believer- we ourselves are foreigners and pilgrims on earth, whatever our country of origin! Our new identity in Christ makes us citizens of heaven, and whatever earthly citizenship we have is secondary to our heavenly one. So, basically, the believer is a stranger himself and should treat other strangers with compassion and empathy, because he has the heart of a stranger! Scripture also enjoins us to be careful to entertain foreigners well, because some angels have come down to men in the form of strangers! Thus, treating foreigners right is not only the right thing to do, it’s also key to not missing a divine visitation!

The believer’s heavenly citizenship is the main driving force of his life. Yes, we’re citizens of our countries of birth and we should be good and model citizens in being responsible and obedient to the laws of the land. We should perform our civic duties and support the governments in place to maintain law and order. However, we should not be carried away by nationalistic sentiments and forget our heavenly citizenship, which overrides the earthly one. When the chips are down, if we have to choose between our heavenly citizenship and the earthly one, there should be no hesitation as to where our loyalty should be! If we have to choose between the government of heaven and the government of our countries, we shouldn’t think twice before choosing to obey God rather than men! At all times, we should judge the policies of our various countries by heaven’s policies and laws. We’re heaven’s ambassadors on earth, and we should represent heaven well and not get carried away by nationalistic fights and lose focus of our mission, which is to win and disciple all men and women for the Lord Jesus Christ.

Philippians 3:20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ,

1 Peter 2:10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

1 Peter 2:11 Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul.

1 Peter 2:12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

Hebrews 11:13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.

Hebrews 11:14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own.

Hebrews 11:15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return.

Hebrews 11:16 Instead, they were longing for a better country —a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

Hebrews 13:2 Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

2 Corinthians 5:18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:

2 Corinthians 5:19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.

2 Corinthians 5:20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.

In conclusion, the fear of strangers and hostility towards them is a base human instinct that stems from fear of the unknown, self-centredness, hatred and intolerance. Envy and jealousy are also often at play, especially if foreigners are perceived to be doing better than the indigenes. These negative instincts towards foreigners are all works of the flesh that are natural to the unregenerated. However, the believer in Christ is expected to respond differently to foreigners, being strangers and pilgrims ourselves here on earth. The Christian is to show love to all, but particularly to the foreigner and stranger, for some angels have come down to men in the form of strangers. People usually leave their home country to migrate to other places for economic, political and religious reasons. Being in a foreign land and far away from one’s familiar environment is enough circumstance on its own to induce anxiety and distress. To add to it hatred and the risks of violent attacks from one’s supposed hosts makes the experience even more harrowing. If we recognise that we’re all strangers on earth, we’d take more care to love and protect the stranger within our gates from molestation, exploitation and all other forms of abuse. If we understand that we could be in their shoes one day, we’d learn to treat them as we’d have them treat us if our positions were reversed. Israel suffered intense xenophobic attacks in Egypt, and that motivated the laws God gave them to protect and defend the cause of the strangers in their midst. May we learn to love our neighbours as ourselves, and to do unto others as we’d have them do unto us. Love is God’s cure for xenophobia, and the Christian is the ideal person to lead the fight against xenophobia, because the love of God has been shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit.

Thank you so much for visiting this blog. We appreciate you and the precious time you spared to read through this lengthy post. If you were blessed by this message, kindly like, drop a comment and share with others (with due acknowledgement of the source). You can also follow us to have subsequent posts sent directly to you through your email. God bless you abundantly in Jesus name! Amen!

The Christian And Racism: The Urgent Need For Good Samaritans In A Racially Intolerant world!

Xenophobia, hatred and racism words written with blocks on red background

(All Bible quotations, except otherwise stated, are from the New International Version).

Racism is defined as the prejudicial perception that members of one race are intrinsically superior to members of other races. It can also be considered as discriminatory or abusive behaviour towards members of another race (Offline English-Urdu Dictionary). The issues of racial superiority and racial discrimination are as old as mankind. Hatred and enemity based on racial and cultural differences have fuelled countless disputes and have resulted in several genocidal wars. How does Christianity view racism? What does the Bible expect of New Testament believers with respect to relations with people of other races? We shall examine the Scriptures to answer these questions.

In the Bible, from the Abrahamic era, humanity was basically divided into two races- the Jews and the non-Jews (the Gentiles). The Jews were descendants of Abraham through Isaac and Jacob. God chose and separated that race from the rest of humanity for the purpose of making his will and knowledge known to mankind, while highlighting the contrast between those who know him and those who don’t. The racial division of mankind into Jews and Gentiles was for the purpose of contrasting good with evil, godliness with ungodliness and morality with immorality. It was to enable the rest of humanity living in darkness see and appreciate God’s light in the Jewish camp. God was trying to teach mankind by contrast. God’s final aim was to provide a saviour through the godly Jewish race, who would ultimately abolish the racial divide and unite all mankind as one. This final purpose was accomplished by the Messiah Christ Jesus, whose death on Calvary abolished the racial enemity and prejudice between Jews and Gentiles and made humanity one again.

Ephesians 2:11 Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands) —

Ephesians 2:12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.

Ephesians 2:13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

Ephesians 2:14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility,

Ephesians 2:15 by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace,

Ephesians 2:16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.

Ephesians 2:17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.

Ephesians 2:18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

Ephesians 2:19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household,

Ephesians 2:20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.

Ephesians 2:21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.

Ephesians 2:22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

So, Christ’s death on the cross was designed to dismantle the middle wall of partition between Jews and Gentiles, and to turn both racial classes into one heavenly race of godly men and women- Christians! In Christ Jesus, we do not judge men after the flesh or after their races. In Christ Jesus, there’s neither Jew nor Gentile, neither Greek nor Barbarian, neither male nor female, neither bond nor free, for all are equal and one under God! In Christ, there’s no intrinsically superior race of men over others, for we’re all members of one body. The blood of Christ equalises all men and removes every fleshly and carnal prejudices. It abolishes all primordial pride, enemity, hatred, suspicion and mistrust based on ethnicity and race. In Christ Jesus, we build bridges among the sons of Adam, not walls, for we all came from one blood at the beginning, and the second Adam has restored us all back to that oneness!

Romans 10:11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.”

Romans 10:12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile —the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him,

Romans 10:13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Galatians 3:26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith,

Galatians 3:27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 3:29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

The Great Commission of preaching the gospel and making disciples of all men for the Lord was committed to the original Apostles who were all Jews. Initially, the intense anti-Gentile sentiments of the Jewish Apostles restrained them from preaching the gospel to people outside of their Jewish clan. It took heavy persecutions to disperse the Jewish disciples to other regions outside Jerusalem, where they were forced to minister to non-Jews, but first to Samaritans who were half-Jew, half-Gentile. Getting the Apostles to take the gospel to full-fledged Gentiles was an even more daunting task! The Lord had to prepare Peter especially for this task, by attempting to neutralise his deep-rooted racist sentiments with series of visions. Even at that, for Peter, entering the house of a Gentile to minister was like defiling himself! His preaching was with much reluctance and hesitation! It took God doing the unusual (baptising men with the Holy Spirit before water baptism) for the extremely bigoted Jews to accept that the Gentiles too could be saved! The racial bigotry was that intense!

The Acts 8:1 And Saul approved of their killing him. On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria.

The Acts 8:4 Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.

The Acts 8:5 Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah there.

The Acts 10:9 About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray.

The Acts 10:10 He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance.

The Acts 10:11 He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners.

The Acts 10:12 It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles and birds.

The Acts 10:13 Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.”

The Acts 10:14 “Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.”

The Acts 10:15 The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”

The Acts 10:16 This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven.

The Acts 10:17 While Peter was wondering about the meaning of the vision, the men sent by Cornelius found out where Simon’s house was and stopped at the gate.

The Acts 10:18 They called out, asking if Simon who was known as Peter was staying there.

The Acts 10:19 While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Simon, three men are looking for you.

The Acts 10:20 So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them.”

The Acts 10:21 Peter went down and said to the men, “I’m the one you’re looking for. Why have you come?”

The Acts 10:22 The men replied, “We have come from Cornelius the centurion. He is a righteous and God-fearing man, who is respected by all the Jewish people. A holy angel told him to ask you to come to his house so that he could hear what you have to say.”

The Acts 10:23 Then Peter invited the men into the house to be his guests. The next day Peter started out with them, and some of the believers from Joppa went along.

The Acts 10:24 The following day he arrived in Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends.

The Acts 10:25 As Peter entered the house, Cornelius met him and fell at his feet in reverence.

The Acts 10:26 But Peter made him get up. “Stand up,” he said, “I am only a man myself.”

The Acts 10:27 While talking with him, Peter went inside and found a large gathering of people.

The Acts 10:28 He said to them: “You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with or visit a Gentile. But God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean.

The Acts 10:29 So when I was sent for, I came without raising any objection. May I ask why you sent for me?”

The Acts 10:30 Cornelius answered: “Three days ago I was in my house praying at this hour, at three in the afternoon. Suddenly a man in shining clothes stood before me

The Acts 10:31 and said, ’Cornelius, God has heard your prayer and remembered your gifts to the poor.

The Acts 10:32 Send to Joppa for Simon who is called Peter. He is a guest in the home of Simon the tanner, who lives by the sea.’

The Acts 10:33 So I sent for you immediately, and it was good of you to come. Now we are all here in the presence of God to listen to everything the Lord has commanded you to tell us.”

The Acts 10:34 Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism

The Acts 10:35 but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right.

The Acts 10:44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message.

The Acts 10:45 The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles.

The Acts 10:46 For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Then Peter said,

The Acts 10:47 “Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.”

The Acts 10:48 So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days.

Despite this overwhelming evidence of the hand of God at work in literally forcing Peter and the other Jews to take the gospel to the Gentiles and minister salvation to them, Peter had a lot of explaining to do back home in Jerusalem, when the other Apostles heard that he went into the house of a Gentile! The Apostles were men filled with the Holy Spirit, yet racism was deeply ingrained in them! These were ministers of the gospel, yet systemic racism had blinded them to the truth of the gospel! The racism in these Jewish ministers was so deeply rooted that even with the divine encounter Peter had, he still went back into racial segregation and discrimination against the Gentiles! It took the racially liberated Paul to set Peter and the rest of the bigoted Jewish Apostles straight on the issue of racism. Paul didn’t hold back any punches in making Peter and the rest (including Barnabas his own partner) realise how fundamentally and systemically racist they were, even though they were men of God! They were so used to racism that it had become a normal way of life to them. Like a fish who had lived in a bowl all its life, the fish tank mentality had set in and coloured all their thoughts and actions. Racism is an insidious and deadly virus, for it poisons and defiles those in whose heart it’s found, without their ever realising they’re affected by it. Most times, the racist doesn’t believe he’s a racist at all!

The Acts 11:1 The apostles and the believers throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God.

The Acts 11:2 So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him

The Acts 11:3 and said, “You went into the house of uncircumcised men and ate with them.”

The Acts 11:4 Starting from the beginning, Peter told them the whole story:

The Acts 11:5 “I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision. I saw something like a large sheet being let down from heaven by its four corners, and it came down to where I was.

The Acts 11:6 I looked into it and saw four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, reptiles and birds.

The Acts 11:7 Then I heard a voice telling me, ’Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.’

The Acts 11:8 “I replied, ’Surely not, Lord! Nothing impure or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’

The Acts 11:9 “The voice spoke from heaven a second time, ’Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.’

The Acts 11:10 This happened three times, and then it was all pulled up to heaven again.

The Acts 11:11 “Right then three men who had been sent to me from Caesarea stopped at the house where I was staying.

The Acts 11:12 The Spirit told me to have no hesitation about going with them. These six brothers also went with me, and we entered the man’s house.

The Acts 11:13 He told us how he had seen an angel appear in his house and say, ’Send to Joppa for Simon who is called Peter.

The Acts 11:14 He will bring you a message through which you and all your household will be saved.’

The Acts 11:15 “As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning.

The Acts 11:16 Then I remembered what the Lord had said: ’John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’

The Acts 11:17 So if God gave them the same gift he gave us who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could stand in God’s way?”

The Acts 11:18 When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, “So then, even to Gentiles God has granted repentance that leads to life.”

The Acts 11:19 Now those who had been scattered by the persecution that broke out when Stephen was killed traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, spreading the word only among Jews.

The Acts 11:20 Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus.

The Acts 11:21 The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.

Galatians 2:11 When Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned.

Galatians 2:12 For before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group.

Galatians 2:13 The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.

Galatians 2:14 When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?

Galatians 2:15 “We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles

Galatians 2:16 know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.

Galatians 2:17 “But if, in seeking to be justified in Christ, we Jews find ourselves also among the sinners, doesn’t that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not!

Galatians 2:18 If I rebuild what I destroyed, then I really would be a lawbreaker.

Racism is actually quite difficult to root out completely in any group, as we have seen with the relationship of the Jewish disciples to their Gentile counterparts in Christ. This is because pride is at the root of all racial prejudices. The ancestral pride and illustrious heritage of the Jews made it difficult for them to accept others on equal footing. How could those who had Abraham as their father accept to relate equally with those whose ancestry and lineage were traced to pagans and idol worshippers? But, a fundamental fact forgotten by the bigoted Jews and all other racists is that, our ancestry can be traced back to the same source, if we go back far enough. We all came from one stock- Adam. Though mankind splintered and divided into several branches along the way, we have a common heritage in our origin. We all came from Adam. One other fact the Jews conveniently chose to forget about their ancestry was that, even Abraham was a heathen before God called him! He was an idol worshipper that God picked out by grace and used as a starting point for a new beginning for mankind. So, Abraham was an uncircumcised heathen Gentile before he became a Jew! Our pride that leads to racial discrimination and a looking down on others will lose its footing if we understand that whatever we think we have that puts us above others are all free gifts of grace! We didn’t choose our ancestry. We didn’t choose our lineage. We didn’t choose our place of origin or of birth. And we didn’t merit them either! That knowledge should humble all of us and make us appreciate and glorify God in our diversity and racial and cultural differences.

The Acts 17:24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands.

The Acts 17:25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.

The Acts 17:26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.

The Acts 17:27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.

The Acts 17:28 ’For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ’We are his offspring.’

Joshua 24:14 “Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD.

Joshua 24:15 But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”

1 Corinthians 4:6 Now, brothers and sisters, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, “Do not go beyond what is written.” Then you will not be puffed up in being a follower of one of us over against the other.

1 Corinthians 4:7 For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?

Jeremiah 9:23 This is what the LORD says: “Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches,

Jeremiah 9:24 but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the LORD.

How can we detect racism in our midst as Christians? How can we seriously stand up against racism in our environment? The first step would be to accept that racism is a sin! It’s a combination of pride, hatred and a lack of respect for other men and women made in God’s image, and whom even God respects and honours. Next, we need to accept the fact that, for those benefitting from racism, there’s usually a subconscious and reflex desire to deny the existence of systemic racism in our environment! The fish tank mentality may have conditioned us to see and accept racism as normal! We’ll need to step back a bit and look at things from a different angle of vision. Until we can accurately and objectively diagnose racism in ourselves and in others, we won’t be able to do much to root it out of our lives. A sincere prayer for God to shine his light in our hearts and expose our racist tendencies will help reveal the depth of racism in us. Only then can we begin to act in deliberate ways to counter our racist impulses. Racism is fundamentally a subconscious hatred of our racially different neighbours. The cure would be to apply God’s unconditional love to all, in an impartial way. The moment we’re able to love those not in our groups to the same degree as we do those of our race, we’ll cease to be racists. The moment we’re able to do unto others as we’d have them do unto us, racism will disappear. The law of love and the golden rule are the cure for racism- love God with all your heart and love your neighbour as yourself. Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you. Be the good Samaritan! Above all, as Christians, we should not hesitate to demonstrate our hatred for racism by spearheading the fight for racial equality and justice. Like our Lord and Saviour, we should treat all men with love, dignity, respect and fairness. We should stand up for the downtrodden and be the voice of the voiceless! To sit back and be silent in the face of systemic racism is to be an accomplice to this evil! To close our eyes and ears to the plight of the persecuted is to strengthen their persecutors. To refuse to reach out to the racially wounded and bruised and bind up the brokenhearted is to choose to be the hypocritical priest and Levite, rather than the good Samaritan. We cannot be neutral in this matter. We’re either for racism or we’re against it, and our actions will show were we stand!

St. Matthew 5:43 “You have heard that it was said, ’Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’

St. Matthew 5:44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,

St. Matthew 5:45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

St. Matthew 5:46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?

St. Matthew 5:47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?

St. Matthew 5:48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

St. Matthew 22:34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together.

St. Matthew 22:35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question:

St. Matthew 22:36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

St. Matthew 22:37 Jesus replied: “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’

St. Matthew 22:38 This is the first and greatest commandment.

St. Matthew 22:39 And the second is like it: ’Love your neighbor as yourself.’

St. Matthew 22:40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

St. Matthew 7:12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

Romans 13:8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.

Romans 13:9 The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Romans 13:10 Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

In conclusion, racism is a natural impulse of the unregenerated soul, being a manifestation of pride, hatred, division and strife. Unfortunately, even Spirit-filled believers in Christ can be overwhelmed with racist impulses. The typical racist is usually unaware of, or readily denies, his racist tendencies, having been conditioned all his life by the systemic racism around him or her to accept racism as normal. A sincere inward searching of the soul by the Holy Spirit, coupled with critical self-examination, will reveal and expose our racist tendencies and prepare the way for deliverance. Deliberate counteractive actions must be taken thereafter to check our racist impulses and show God’s love in an impartial way to all. The unconditional love of God expressed to all men in an impartial manner is the cure for racism. To love God with all our heart, and to love our neighbours as ourselves (including those racially diverse from us) is the key to defeating racism. Once we’re able to do unto others as we expect them to do unto us, racism will be uprooted from our hearts.

Psalms 139:23 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:

Psalms 139:24 And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting (AKJV).

Hebrews 12:14 Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:

Hebrews 12:15 Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled (AKJV).

Thank you so much for visiting this blog. We appreciate you and the precious time you spared to read through this lengthy post. If you were blessed by this message, kindly like, drop a comment and share with others (with due acknowledgement of the source). You can also follow us to have subsequent posts sent directly to you through your email. God bless you abundantly in Jesus name! Amen!

Did The Baptism Of The Holy Spirit And The Accompanying Gifts Of The Spirit Cease With The Original Apostles?

(All Bible quotations, except otherwise stated, are from the New King James Version).

Some Christian groups, called cessationists, believe that the baptism of the Holy Spirit, with his gifts and power, ended in the immediate post-Apostolic age, with the death of those whom the original Apostles laid hands on to receive the Holy Spirit and his gifts. The cessationists believe that the gifts of the Holy Spirit were to vindicate and authenticate the ministry of the Apostles and the gospel they preached, as well as to enable them receive direct revelations for the writing of the New Testament Scriptures. However, with the closure of the canon of Scriptures, it is argued that the gifts of the Spirit are no longer needed in the Church. Was the baptism of the Holy Spirit promised only to believers of the Apostolic age? Were the gifts of the Holy Spirit to cease from the Church after the Apostolic age? We shall examine the Scriptures to answer these questions.

To understand how long the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the spiritual gifts that accompany it are to remain in the Church, let’s look at the purpose of the Holy Spirit and his intended works in the Church. If we can understand that, then we’ll know if and when he’s supposed to be finished with the Church. One of the main reasons for the coming of the Holy Spirit is to take the place of Jesus Christ in the lives of believers as comforter, helper, teacher, guide and leader. The Holy Spirit is to continue to be and to do with believers what Jesus was doing with them while he was on earth. And, that ministry of the Holy Spirit to believers is to continue till the end of the Church age! The comforter/helper Jesus promised to send would be with the disciples forever! Also, Jesus promised that all who believe him will have the Holy Spirit flowing from their hearts, like rivers of living water! The flow of the Holy Spirit from the heart is for every believer in Christ, not just for those in the Apostolic age!

John 14:16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—

John 14:17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.

John 14:18 I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.

John 14:26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.

John 7:37 On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.

John 7:38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”

John 7:39 But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

The Holy Spirit and his gifts are to empower believers to witness effectively for Christ, and to carry out the great commission with great success. Preaching and other works of the Church are to be done in the power and demonstration of the Holy Spirit. If the gifts and power manifestations of the Holy Spirit were to end with the original Apostles, does that mean that other generations that followed them were not to witness for Christ again? Of course that’s not true, for the Church is to continue to witness for Christ till the end of the ages! Also, on the day of Pentecost, Peter told his audience that the gift of the Holy Spirit was for them, their children and for as many people as God would call, including those afar off from the Apostolic age! For as long as God is still calling people to salvation, the gift of the Holy Spirit will still be given to believers! The Scripture also tells us that the gifts of the Holy Spirit will follow those that believe in Christ, as a sign of their supernatural faith. As long as people keep believing in Christ, the signs will keep following them! Nowhere does the Bible say the gifts of the Holy Spirit would stop after the original Apostles! For as long as people keep believing in Christ, the gift of the Holy Spirit will keep filling and enduing them with power from on high! Children of God in all ages are to be filled and led by the Spirit of God!

Luke 24:46 Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day,

Luke 24:47 and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
Luke 24:48 And you are witnesses of these things.

Luke 24:49 Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.”

The Acts 1:4 And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me;

The Acts 1:5 for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

The Acts 1:6 Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”

The Acts 1:7 And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority.

The Acts 1:8 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.”

Mark 16:15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.

Mark 16:16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.

Mark 16:17 And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues;

Mark 16:18 they will 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.”

Mark 16:19 So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God.

Mark 16:20 And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen.

The Acts 2:37 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?”

The Acts 2:38 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.

The Acts 2:39 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.”

1 Corinthians 2:1 And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God.

1 Corinthians 2:2 For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

1 Corinthians 2:3 I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling.

1 Corinthians 2:4 And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,

1 Corinthians 2:5 that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

Romans 8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.

The baptism of the Holy Spirit and the release of his gifts into the Church are also for the edification and building up of the body of Christ to perfection and spiritual maturity. The Spirit is to continue to fill and build up believers until the Church comes to spiritual maturity and perfection. Has the Church come to that promised perfection and spiritual maturity now that will make the baptism and gifts of the Holy Spirit to cease in the Church? Are we better off today than the original Apostles who needed the Holy Spirit in their day to grow to maturity? Are we more mature and more perfect than those of the Apostolic age that God would now withdraw the Holy Spirit from us? The answers to these questions are obvious! We are spiritually less mature and more imperfect than the Apostles were in their age! Therefore, we need more of the genuine Holy Spirit and his genuine gifts than the Apostles needed them! We need more of the Holy Spirit now to reach and surpass the Apostolic standard! To attain the stature of the perfect man and the fullness of Christ, we need the fullness of the Holy Spirit and power! The Spirit is to help our weaknesses and intercede for us as we grow in grace. We build up our faith as we pray in the power and inspiration of the Holy Spirit! Believers in every age need the Holy Spirit and his gifts to realise their potentials and become who God wants them to be!

Ephesians 4:7 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

Ephesians 4:8 Therefore He says:
“When He ascended on high,
He led captivity captive,
And gave gifts to men.”

Ephesians 4:9 (Now this, “He ascended”—what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth?

Ephesians 4:10 He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)

Ephesians 4:11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers,

Ephesians 4:12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,

Ephesians 4:13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;

Ephesians 4:14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting,

Ephesians 4:15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—

Ephesians 4:16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

Romans 8:26 Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

Romans 8:27 Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

Jude 1:20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit,

Jude 1:21 keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

Those who argue that the baptism and gifts of the Holy Spirit have ceased in the Church quote a portion of Paul’s letter to the Corinthians in which he spoke about when prophecies and tongues would come to an end. Let’s carefully examine that portion of Scripture to get the complete context and meaning of what the Apostle intended to convey.

1 Corinthians 13:8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.

1 Corinthians 13:9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part.

1 Corinthians 13:10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.

1 Corinthians 13:11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

1 Corinthians 13:12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.

In the passage above, the Apostle was comparing love (a fruit of the Spirit) with the gifts of the Spirit, in terms of both the ability to edify as well as their longevity. It is apparent at first glance that love trumps all gifts of the Spirit in both its ability to edify and its longevity, for love is eternal! All gifts of the Spirit will come to an end someday, after bringing the Church to spiritual maturity and helping it fulfil its mission and the great commission. Love is, however, for all eternity. The question is, when will the gifts of the Spirit like speaking in tongues, prophecy, knowledge etc, cease, fail or vanish away?The answer is found in verse 10: the gifts of the Spirit will cease when the church has attained perfection!

1 Corinthians 13:10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.

And when is that perfection to come? That will be when we are glorified! The Church will come to perfection when our knowledge is perfect, when we will know even as we are known, when we will see and understand the things of God clearly, not as dimly as we do now. For as long as we know in part and prophesy in part, for as long as our knowledge is imperfect and we’re still children spiritually, we will continue to need the gifts of the Spirit! When shall we know even as we are known? That is when we’re on the other side of the curtain of time! That’s when mortality has been swallowed up by immortality, when imperfection has put on perfection! For when the Lord appears and we’re with him, we shall be exactly like him! And when we’re like him, we shall not need the gifts of the Spirit anymore, for then, we shall know even as we are known!

1 Corinthians 15:50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption.

1 Corinthians 15:51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—

1 Corinthians 15:52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

1 Corinthians 15:53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

1 Corinthians 15:54 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”

1 Corinthians 15:55 “O Death, where is your sting?
O Hades, where is your victory?”

1 Corinthians 15:56 The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.

1 Corinthians 15:57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 John 3:2 Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.

1 John 3:3 And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

Thus, we see the promise of the gift of prophecy made to God’s people right up to the second coming of Christ. God promised as far back as in the Old Testament, through the prophet Joel, that one of the gifts of the Spirit, prophecy, would be poured out abundantly upon God’s children, men and women, old and young, at the time of the second coming of Christ. If one gift of the Spirit is to continue till the second coming of Christ, then, we can safely conclude that all the other gifts of the Spirit, along with the baptism of the Spirit that ushers in the gifts, will continue right up to the coming of Christ. That is the plain promise of God in the Scriptures!

The Acts 2:14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words.

The Acts 2:15 For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day.
The Acts 2:16 But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:

The Acts 2:17 ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God,
That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your young men shall see visions,
Your old men shall dream dreams.

The Acts 2:18 And on My menservants and on My maidservants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days;
And they shall prophesy.

The Acts 2:19 I will show wonders in heaven above
And signs in the earth beneath:
Blood and fire and vapor of smoke.

The Acts 2:20 The sun shall be turned into darkness,
And the moon into blood,
Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.

The Acts 2:21 And it shall come to pass
That whoever calls on the name of the Lord
Shall be saved.’

In conclusion, we’ve shown that the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the accompanying gifts of the Spirit are for all believers throughout the entire Church age, for the promise is to as many as the Lord shall call. The Holy Spirit is the comforter, helper, teacher and leader for all Christians, as well as the power of God to preach and witness for Christ effectively. The Spirit and his gifts are to build the Church to spiritual maturity, and the gifts will be with us till the second coming of Christ, when we all would have attained perfection, having been glorified together with the Lord. Besides, if we still have pastors, evangelists and teachers in the Church (who are all gifts of the Spirit), then we should still have all the other gifts of the Spirit in the Church, including Apostles, Prophets, tongues and interpretation, miracles, healing etc, for nowhere in Scripture are we told any of these would cease before the Church comes to perfection. Therefore, the assumption of the cessationists that the baptism and the gifts of the Holy Spirit ended with the Apostolic age is false and unscriptural.

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We Glory In Tribulations Also

(Unless otherwise stated, all Bible quotations are from the American King James Version).

The Christian has the promise of divine blessings and favour for living a life of obedience to the commandments of God. We are to rejoice in the hope of the glory of God which shall be revealed in us. However, the Christian’s life is not just one of bliss and glory. We are not only to rejoice because of the blessings and grace we enjoy. Part of the Christian experience is to suffer persecutions and tribulations for Christ’s sake. Suffering for Christ is to be experienced by all genuine Christians, though in different forms and in varying degrees. When tribulations and trials arise because of the cross of Christ and his gospel which we live and preach, we are to rejoice and be glad. We are to give glory to God for the opportunity and privilege to be counted worthy to share with the Lord in his sufferings. That’s what the New Testament teaches. 

Romans 5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:

Romans 5:2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Romans 5:3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation works patience;

Romans 5:4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope:

Romans 5:5 And hope makes not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given to us.

1 Peter 4:12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you:

1 Peter 4:13 But rejoice, inasmuch as you are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, you may be glad also with exceeding joy.

1 Peter 4:14 If you be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are you; for the spirit of glory and of God rests on you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.

1 Peter 4:15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters.

1 Peter 4:16 Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.

1 Peter 4:17 For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?

1 Peter 4:18 And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?

1 Peter 4:19 Why let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as to a faithful Creator.

2 Timothy 2:11 It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him:

2 Timothy 2:12 If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us:

Christian suffering is not optional nor can it be avoided. The Lord Jesus taught that anyone who would come after (follow) him should be prepared to deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow the Lord. The Lord also taught that no true disciple of his would escape persecution for the sake of the Word of God, the same way he himself couldn’t escape it, since no disciple can be greater than his master. Whatever the master passed through, every true servant of his must experience. The Lord suffered unjustly while on earth, and left us all an example to follow in his footsteps. No true disciple of Christ can escape suffering unjustly and being persecuted for righteousness sake. 

Luke 9:23 And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.

Luke 9:24 For whoever will save his life shall lose it: but whoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.

Luke 9:25 For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?

Luke 9:26 For whoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels.

John 15:18 If the world hate you, you know that it hated me before it hated you.

15:19 If you were of the world, the world would love his own: but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

John 15:20 Remember the word that I said to you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.

John 15:21 But all these things will they do to you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me.

John 15:22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin.

John 15:23 He that hates me hates my Father also.

John 15:24 If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father.

John 15:25 But this comes to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause.

1 Peter 2:19 For this is thank worthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.

1 Peter 2:20 For what glory is it, if, when you be buffeted for your faults, you shall take it patiently? but if, when you do well, and suffer for it, you take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.

1 Peter 2:21 For even hereunto were you called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow his steps:

1 Peter 2:22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:

1 Peter 2:23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judges righteously:

1 Peter 2:24 Who his own self bore our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live to righteousness: by whose stripes you were healed.

2 Timothy 3:10 But you have fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, long-suffering, charity, patience,

2 Timothy 3:11 Persecutions, afflictions, which came to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me.

2 Timothy 3:12 Yes, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.

2 Timothy 3:13 But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.

Mark 10:28 Then Peter began to say to him, See, we have left all, and have followed you.

Mark 10:29 And Jesus answered and said, Truly I say to you, There is no man that has left house, or brothers, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s,

Mark 10:30 But he shall receive an hundred times now in this time, houses, and brothers, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.

It’s important that every Christian is made to understand at the beginning of their walk with God that persecutions and tribulations are an integral part of our Christian heritage, in addition to the blessings of Christ and the glory that shall be revealed in us. Unto us it is given, on behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake. Persecutions and sufferings are the means by which God allows our faith to be tested and purified and made stronger. They are the means by which our character and Christian experience are developed and built up. If we do not understand and accept this doctrine, not only will we be discouraged when trials come our way, we may become offended by them and abandon the faith. Deceived by the unbridled prosperity gospel, which preaches only the blessings of the cross but not its sufferings and shame, many a Christian have abandoned the faith, when adversity came knocking, being unprepared to deal with sufferings as part of the blessed inheritance of the Christian. Like Job’s wife, they’re ready to curse God and die, when the storms of life arise. Because such faiths have no depth, since they are not built on the Word of God, but are founded on the enticing words of man’s wisdom, they easily crumble under the weight of persecutions and tribulations. 

Philippians 1:29 For to you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;

The Acts 14:19 And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead.

The Acts 14:20 However, as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up, and came into the city: and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.

The Acts 14:21 And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch,

The Acts 14:22 Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.

James 1:2 My brothers, count it all joy when you fall into divers temptations;

James 1:3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith works patience.

James 1:4 But let patience have her perfect work, that you may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

1 Peter 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy has begotten us again to a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

1 Peter 1:4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fades not away, reserved in heaven for you,

1 Peter 1:5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith to salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

1 Peter 1:6 Wherein you greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, you are in heaviness through manifold temptations:

1 Peter 1:7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire, might be found to praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:

1 Peter 1:8 Whom having not seen, you love; in whom, though now you see him not, yet believing, you rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:

1 Peter 1:9 Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.

Matthew 13:3 And he spoke many things to them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow;

Matthew 13:4 And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up:

Matthew 13:5 Some fell on stony places, where they had not much earth: and immediately they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth:

Matthew 13:6 And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.

Matthew 13:7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them:

Matthew 13:8 But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundred times, some sixty times, some thirty times.

Matthew 13:18 Hear you therefore the parable of the sower.

Matthew 13:20 But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that hears the word, and immediately with joy receives it;

Matthew 13:21 Yet has he not root in himself, but endures for a while: for when tribulation or persecution rises because of the word, by and by he is offended.

Job 2:7 So went Satan forth from the presence of the LORD, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot to his crown.

Job 2:8 And he took him a potsherd to scrape himself with; and he sat down among the ashes.

Job 2:9 Then said his wife to him, Do you still retain your integrity? curse God, and die.

Job 2:10 But he said to her, You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.

Not only are we to prepare for, and to expect persecutions and suffering for Christ, we are also to display the right attitude towards them. When faced with trials, we shouldn’t grumble, complain, threaten or fight back. We are not to despair or be downcast. We are to be positive in the midst of trials, knowing we are sharing with the Lord in his sufferings, and will also share with him in his glory, for only those who joyfully partake of the sufferings of the cross will share in Christ’s glory and throne. We are to commit our ways to God and count it all joy for the privilege to share in Christ’s sufferings and develop Christian character and experience. We are to give thanks to God in all things, including our trials, for all things work together for good to those who love the Lord. When we know these truths and live by them, the joy of the Lord will fill our hearts and strenghten us in our tribulations. In the world we will have tribulations, but the peace of Christ will keep our minds and hearts even in our tribulations, which we will eventually overcome by his grace. We are to be of good cheer even in the midst of tribulations, because our Lord has overcome the world. In all circumstances, we are more than conquerors!

Matthew 5:10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:11 Blessed are you, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

Matthew 5:12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

The Acts 16:16 And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying:

The Acts 16:17 The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which show to us the way of salvation.

The Acts 16:18 And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.

The Acts 16:19 And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace to the rulers,

The Acts 16:20 And brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city,

The Acts 16:21 And teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans.

The Acts 16:22 And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them.

The Acts 16:23 And when they had laid many stripes on them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely:

The Acts 16:24 Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks.

The Acts 16:25 And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises to God: and the prisoners heard them.

The Acts 16:26 And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed.

The Acts 5:17 Then the high priest rose up, and all they that were with him, (which is the sect of the Sadducees,) and were filled with indignation,

The Acts 5:18 And laid their hands on the apostles, and put them in the common prison.

The Acts 5:19 But the angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them forth, and said,

The Acts 5:20 Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life.

The Acts 5:21 And when they heard that, they entered into the temple early in the morning, and taught. But the high priest came, and they that were with him, and called the council together, and all the senate of the children of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought.

The Acts 5:22 But when the officers came, and found them not in the prison, they returned and told,

The Acts 5:23 Saying, The prison truly found we shut with all safety, and the keepers standing without before the doors: but when we had opened, we found no man within.

The Acts 5:25 Then came one and told them, saying, Behold, the men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple, and teaching the people.

The Acts 5:26 Then went the captain with the officers, and brought them without violence: for they feared the people, lest they should have been stoned.

The Acts 5:27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them,

The Acts 5:28 Saying, Did not we straightly command you that you should not teach in this name? and, behold, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood on us.

The Acts 5:40 And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.

The Acts 5:41 And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.

The Acts 5:42 And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.

2 Corinthians 12:7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.

2 Corinthians 12:8 For this thing I sought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.

2 Corinthians 12:9 And he said to me, My grace is sufficient for you: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest on me.

2 Corinthians 12:10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

Romans 8:36 As it is written, For your sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.

Romans 8:37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

John 16:33 These things I have spoken to you, that in me you might have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

In conclusion, tribulations, persecutions and sufferings for righteousness are an integral part of Christianity, which every genuine disciple of Christ must experience in their walk with God. They serve as the means of trying and purifying our faith, and of building character and experience in us. God has ordained that every child of his must pass through the school of tribulations to learn obedience and develop spiritual maturity. We must therefore learn to count it all joy when we suffer for Christ’s sake and for the sake of his gospel, for we will only share in Christ’s glory if we are partakers of his sufferings.

Hebrews 5:8 Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;

Hebrews 5:9 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation to all them that obey him.

1 Peter 5:10 But the God of all grace, who has called us to his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that you have suffered a while, make you perfect, establish, strengthen, settle you.

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Is Speaking In Tongues The Only Initial Evidence Of The Baptism With The Holy Spirit?

(All Bible quotations, except otherwise stated, are from the New King James Version).

Most (if not all) Pentecostal and Charismatic churches are of the opinion that speaking in tongues is the only initial evidence of the baptism with the Holy Spirit. Because of this belief, speaking in tongues is considered synonymous with the baptism of the Holy Spirit by many. Thus, anyone who doesn’t speak in tongues is considered not to have been baptised with the Holy Spirit. Is speaking in tongues the only initial evidence of being baptised with the Holy Spirit? Is it possible to receive the Holy Spirit and not speak in tongues? In this study, we shall attempt to answer these questions through a careful examinination of the Scriptures.

When the disciples first received the baptism of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, they manifested the gift of speaking in tongues- the supernatural ability to speak foreign languages (tongues) they hadn’t learnt previously. Also, in the house of Cornelius (the first Gentile to receive Christ and the baptism of the Holy Spirit), while Peter was still preaching, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those listening to him, and they all began to speak in unknown foreign languages. On the occasions described, people who got baptised with the Holy Spirit spoke in varieties of unknown (foreign) tongues (languages).

The Acts 2:1 When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.

The Acts 2:2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.

The Acts 2:3 Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them.

The Acts 2:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

The Acts 2:5 And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven.

The Acts 2:6 And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language.

The Acts 2:7 Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, “Look, are not all these who speak Galileans?

The Acts 2:8 And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born?

The Acts 2:9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,

The Acts 2:10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes,

The Acts 2:11 Cretans and Arabs—we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.”

The Acts 2:12 So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “Whatever could this mean?”

The Acts 10:44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word.

The Acts 10:45 And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also.

The Acts 10:46 For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God.
Then Peter answered,

The Acts 10:47 “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?”

The Acts 10:48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days.

From these two incidents where the manifestation of the baptism of the Holy Spirit was recorded, speaking in foreign languages or tongues was the first visible evidence of the baptism with the Holy Spirit. Is that then to mean that everyone baptised with the Holy Spirit must speak in tongues? Should speaking in tongues be taken to mean the universal initial evidence of the baptism with the Holy Spirit? It doesn’t appear to be so, as another recorded instance of the manifestation of the baptism of the Holy Spirit in Scripture shows.

The Acts 19:1 And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples

The Acts 19:2 he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”
So they said to him, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.”

The Acts 19:3 And he said to them, “Into what then were you baptized?”
So they said, “Into John’s baptism.”

The Acts 19:4 Then Paul said, “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.”

The Acts 19:5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

The Acts 19:6 And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.

The Acts 19:7 Now the men were about twelve in all.

In the passage above, we see another instance of a group of people receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit and manifesting certain gifts of the Spirit immediately after being baptised with the Holy Spirit. On this occasion, we see that while some spoke in tongues, others prophesied! This means that speaking in tongues is not the only initial manifestation or evidence of being baptised with the Holy Spirit! Prophesying too can be an initial manifestation of the baptism of the Holy Spirit!

In yet another instance in the New Testament where people were filled with the Holy Spirit, we see them being filled with boldness and speaking the Word of God without fear, as a manifestation of the Holy Spirit. Though this was not a group of people receiving the Holy Spirit for the first time, it is instructive to note that, in this case, the people needed boldness to preach the word of God without fear, and when filled with the Holy Spirit, they received the boldness they needed! This was the same group of people that spoke in tongues when they were filled with the Spirit on the day of Pentecost. Then, speaking in strange tongues was needed to catch the attention of the foreigners in their midst and open them up for evangelism, and they got just that! But now, they needed boldness, and when filled with the Spirit, boldness came upon them. Boldness too is a manifestation of the Holy Spirit!

The Acts 4:24 So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said: “Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them,

The Acts 4:25 who by the mouth of Your servant David have said:
‘Why did the nations rage,
And the people plot vain things?

The Acts 4:26 The kings of the earth took their stand,
And the rulers were gathered together
Against the Lord and against His Christ.’

The Acts 4:27 “For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together

The Acts 4:28 to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done.

The Acts 4:29 Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word,

The Acts 4:30 by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.”

The Acts 4:31 And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.

2 Timothy 1:6 Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.

2 Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

In the Old Testament, when the Spirit of God came upon people, they manifested his presence in different ways. Some prophesied, others displayed supernatural physical strength, while others performed miracles, carried out healings, and spoke the word of God with boldness. In other instances, some people upon whom the Spirit of God descended got special knowledge and understanding to do amazing things (including the ability to perform intricate skilled artisan works!), while others manifested supernatural wisdom, discernment, keen insight, bravery and courage in leading God’s people, among a host of other attributes. Let’s look at some of these manifestations of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament.

1 Samuel 10:6 Then the Spirit of the Lord will come upon you, and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man.

1 Samuel 10:7 And let it be, when these signs come to you, that you do as the occasion demands; for God is with you.

1 Samuel 10:10 When they came there to the hill, there was a group of prophets to meet him; then the Spirit of God came upon him, and he prophesied among them.

1 Samuel 10:11 And it happened, when all who knew him formerly saw that he indeed prophesied among the prophets, that the people said to one another, “What is this that has come upon the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?”

2 Chronicles 24:20 Then the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest, who stood above the people, and said to them, “Thus says God: ‘Why do you transgress the commandments of the Lord, so that you cannot prosper? Because you have forsaken the Lord, He also has forsaken you.’”

1 Samuel 11:5 Now there was Saul, coming behind the herd from the field; and Saul said, “What troubles the people, that they weep?” And they told him the words of the men of Jabesh.

1 Samuel 11:6 Then the Spirit of God came upon Saul when he heard this news, and his anger was greatly aroused.

1 Samuel 11:7 So he took a yoke of oxen and cut them in pieces, and sent them throughout all the territory of Israel by the hands of messengers, saying, “Whoever does not go out with Saul and Samuel to battle, so it shall be done to his oxen.”
And the fear of the Lord fell on the people, and they came out with one consent.

Judges 14:5 So Samson went down to Timnah with his father and mother, and came to the vineyards of Timnah.
Now to his surprise, a young lion came roaring against him.

Judges 14:6 And the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him, and he tore the lion apart as one would have torn apart a young goat, though he had nothing in his hand. But he did not tell his father or his mother what he had done.

Judges 14:19 Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon him mightily, and he went down to Ashkelon and killed thirty of their men, took their apparel, and gave the changes of clothing to those who had explained the riddle. So his anger was aroused, and he went back up to his father’s house.

Judges 15:14 When he came to Lehi, the Philistines came shouting against him. Then the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him; and the ropes that were on his arms became like flax that is burned with fire, and his bonds broke loose from his hands.

Judges 15:15 He found a fresh jawbone of a donkey, reached out his hand and took it, and killed a thousand men with it.

Exodus 28:3 So you shall speak to all who are gifted artisans, whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom, that they may make Aaron’s garments, to consecrate him, that he may minister to Me as priest.

Exodus 31:2 “See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah.

Exodus 31:3 And I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship,

Exodus 31:4 to design artistic works, to work in gold, in silver, in bronze,

Exodus 31:5 in cutting jewels for setting, in carving wood, and to work in all manner of workmanship.

Exodus 31:6 “And I, indeed I, have appointed with him Aholiab the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan; and I have put wisdom in the hearts of all the gifted artisans, that they may make all that I have commanded you:

Judges 3:8 Therefore the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel, and He sold them into the hand of Cushan-Rishathaim king of Mesopotamia; and the children of Israel served Cushan-Rishathaim eight years.

Judges 3:9 When the children of Israel cried out to the Lord, the Lord raised up a deliverer for the children of Israel, who delivered them: Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother.

Judges 3:10 The Spirit of the Lord came upon him, and he judged Israel. He went out to war, and the Lord delivered Cushan-Rishathaim king of Mesopotamia into his hand; and his hand prevailed over Cushan-Rishathaim.

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of knowledge, understanding, wisdom, might (power/strength), counsel, and of the fear of the Lord. He also has several gifts that he brings into people’s lives when he comes upon them or fills them. These gifts of the Holy Spirit include speaking in tongues or unlearned foreign languages, interpretation of unlearned foreign languages, prophecy, healing, miracles, faith, discernment of spirits, word of knowledge, wisdom. Also included among the gifts of the Spirit are the gifts of the five-fold ministry- apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. Other gifts of the Spirit include special adminstrative abilities, ability to show mercy, giving, exhortation, ability to lead others, boldness and courage, etc. Any of these gifts of the Spirit, singly or in combination, could come upon a person once the Holy Spirit fills the person.

Isaiah 11:1 There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse,
And a Branch shall grow out of his roots.

Isaiah 11:2 The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him,
The Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
The Spirit of counsel and might,
The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.

Romans 12:3 For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.

Romans 12:4 For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function,

Romans 12:5 so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.

Romans 12:6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith;

Romans 12:7 or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching;

Romans 12:8 he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

1 Corinthians 12:4 There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.

1 Corinthians 12:5 There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord.

1 Corinthians 12:6 And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all.

1 Corinthians 12:7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all:

1 Corinthians 12:8 for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit,

1 Corinthians 12:9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit,

1 Corinthians 12:10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.

1 Corinthians 12:11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.

Ephesians 4:7 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

Ephesians 4:8 Therefore He says:
“When He ascended on high,
He led captivity captive,
And gave gifts to men.”

Ephesians 4:9 (Now this, “He ascended”—what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth?

Ephesians 4:10 He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)

Ephesians 4:11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers,

Ephesians 4:12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,

Ephesians 4:13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;

Ephesians 4:14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting,

Ephesians 4:15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—

Ephesians 4:16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

Those who teach that all who are baptised with the Holy Spirit must speak in tongues as an initial evidence imply that all believers have the gift of speaking in tongues. That’s the only way all will be able to speak in tongues after being Spirit-filled. However, it is obvious from Scripture that not all believers have the gift of speaking in tongues. Paul stated this by asking a series of rhetorical questions in his letter to the Corinthians. The answers to these questions should be obvious to all!

1 Corinthians 12:28 And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues.

1 Corinthians 12:29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles?

1 Corinthians 12:30 Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?

If all believers are not expected to have the gift of speaking in unknown tongues, then why should anyone make the gift of speaking in tongues the initial evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit? For any of the gifts of the Holy Spirit to be considered the initial evidence of baptism with the Holy Spirit, it must be present and it must manifest in everyone who receives the Holy Spirit at all times. But, we do not see speaking in tongues manifested in everyone who got filled with the Holy Spirit in Scripture. And, we’re told in Scripture that not all believers who have the Holy Spirit speak in tongues. If the gift of speaking in tongues is not present in all believers who have the Holy Spirit, then it cannot be the only initial evidence or manifestation of the Spirit baptism. The Spirit can choose to manifest any of his numerous gifts in any believer at baptism and subsequently! When the Holy Spirit comes upon a believer, he manifests himself in a way, usually through the display of any of his gifts. This manifestation of the Spirit is given to everyone who has the Spirit. It may not be the same manifestation in everyone, as all do not have the same gifts of the Spirit. The Spirit alone determines who manifests what gift. The manifestation of the gifts in individual believers is according to the will of the Spirit. It is therefore wrong to expect everyone to manifest the same gifts of the Spirit upon being Spirit-filled.

1 Corinthians 12:4 There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.

1 Corinthians 12:5 There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord.

1 Corinthians 12:6 And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all.

1 Corinthians 12:7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all:

1 Corinthians 12:8 for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit,

1 Corinthians 12:9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit,

1 Corinthians 12:10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.

1 Corinthians 12:11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.

In conclusion, from the evidence of Scripture alone, it cannot be conclusively proven that speaking in tongues is the only initial evidence of baptism with the Holy Spirit. To be baptised with the Holy Spirit is not synonymous with speaking in tongues. The Holy Spirit can manifest at baptism with any of his gifts, of which speaking in tongues is just but one out of so many. There is evidence in Scripture of people manifesting other gifts of the Spirit like prophecy, gifts of healing, boldness to preach, knowledge, wisdom, etc, upon being first filled with the Holy Spirit. Besides, not all Spirit-filled believers speak in unknown tongues. It’s therefore unreasonable and unscriptural to expect everyone to manifest speaking in tongues as an initial evidence of being baptised with the Holy Spirit.

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