RELATING APPROPRIATELY TO CHRISTIAN ELDERS pt. 2

I’m still pressed to further stress the matter I raised in my last post. What bothers my heart is not that I feel that our elders are ‘gods’ and hence cannot be critically appraised and discussed in order that we may draw some lessons from their lives and doctrine. However, what bothers me is the kind of spirit I found amongst young ones like us who look with disdain on pastors and spiritual leaders of denominations as ‘fleecers of the flock, hypocrites, etc. We may even have a particular man of God that we honour above all else. So, anything coming from others will be critically looked into and poked holes, but anything from our man of God will be swallowed hook, line and sinker.

Now I must commence with the witness of scriptures. 1 Corinthians 3vs.21 said, “Therefore let no man glory in men”. Paul here insists that though we should celebrate the men God has given us, we should not unduly glory in them, i.e. feel proud that we are their followers or members of their denominations. No, let him that must glory do so in the Lord. Your pastor is fulfilling his place in God’s mandate, and so are others. Let no man glory in men. Rather let us glory in God who has given such grace and apostleship to men. See vs. 22, “whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas,…; all are yours” Did you see that. Whether Kumuyi, Adeboye, Oyakhilome, Adefarasin, Oyedepo, Gwamna, Ogbueli, etc, all are yours! They are all God’s gift to you, yes you!

That is to say, God looks at you and decides that there are lessons He needs to teach you in life, so he sends you men. It is not for you to sit down and start analyzing every move they make, whether it was right or wrong, rather it is for you to learn from their lives. Let me explain further.

We all read these series of biographis- “GOD’S GENERALS” (about four different series). If you have not read any, I’m very sorry, but I wonder what kind of Christian you are. And then if you are a minister and have not read any, please RESIGN! I’m sorry, but you are not ready to do ministry.  That is why people keep repeating the mistakes of others which they would have avoided if they had sought wisdom and knowledge. Now in those biographies, we saw the lives of many men and women of God x-rayed. Their successes and failures, high points and low points, were discussed. We saw for example the great stories of our beloved elder Alexander Dowie and how a spirit of pride rose in him towards the end of his ministry. We did not finish reading that and started criticizing him and saying that we will never read any thing he wrote, neither did we rise to his defense and say that  they are misrepresenting him. No. Rather, we started praying for our lives. We learnt a crucial lesson from brother Dowie,- whatever God does with you, remain humble. This should be our attitude towards God’s men. We should be poised to learn from them and not to stand as ever-ready criticizers or ever-ready defenders of them.

Read Paul’s discussion in 1 Cor. 4 vs.9-13. I’m touched when Paul said of the apostles that God had made them ‘spectacles’ i.e. a sight unto the world, and to angels, and to men. Brethren, our elders are a spectacle. They are being put on display by God, and He says we should learn from them. For example, when I learnt of Benny Hinn’s wife divorcing him, I felt very bad. This was because I had read a lot of his books and they blessed my life. Why wouldn’t the Holy Ghost correct him if there was any error in his life? As I pondered on these things and prayed for the restoration of his marriage, I learnt a crucial lesson. If you want to do ministry like Paul, jumping from coast to coast like a single man, please don’t marry! Once you get married, you have a responsibility to God to take care of your family. You cannot be jumping about or even living in another country, and then your family only sees you thrice or four times in a year, and at weekends, and then you do not expect your marriage to crash! No matter how anointed you and your wife are, you are sowing seeds of divorce, because she too is human, and satan may place ideas in her head. So, later when I heard they had reconciled and Benny Hinn confessed that he neglected his family, I had already learnt my lesson. So, when Pastor Oyakhilome’s issue came up, it pained me but I was no longer shocked. I didn’t think I should stop listening to him as a result (though the thought crossed my mind). In your so-called constructive criticism, learn from God’s servants and move on. Your criticism becomes destructive when it now develops in you a disdain and dislike for some man of God, so you disregard divine revelations from him. I grew up in some circles where though we held certain men in high regards, we didn’t lookdown on others. We might not agree with all of your doctrines but we will listen to you and pick God’s word for us.

Some people from the sincerity of their hearts insist that you should listen to only one teacher to avoid confusion and so you can grow faster. I vehemently disagree with that. It is not biblical. Whether Paul, Apollos or Peter; all are yours. You don’t say I listen to Paul but not Peter. As strategic and sincere as Paul was the revelation of the new covenant was not complete with him alone. Paul, John, James and Jude had to put in their contributions. In fact Paul said in 1 Cor. 4 vs. 15, that though they have many teachers, he is their father. That is to say they may be committed to a place, to one man under whose authority they walk; such one is their father or discipler as some call it. But even Paul recognized there must be many who must teach them. It must not be only Paul and his team, Stephen my teach them. Phillip too may teach them.

This is why one of the skills to teach younger brethren in the Lord is to teach them how to sense wrong doctrines. You cannot tell them that to be safe; they must listen only to you. No. How do I recognise those who have no word from the Lord; those who ran without a message? Because I’m not endorsing every man who wears tie and shirts and preaches God’s word.

Rev. 19 vs. 10 gives us a guideline for discerning the spirit of a prophecy. It matters that the men we listen to glorify Jesus, and the Word of God above all else. When a preacher begins to build doctrines based on visions (of himself or others), based on some motivational books, based on African mythology (you know, of spirits and forefathers and all that), then we must be careful because such a one is prophesying based on some foundation other than Jesus. “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy”. Every true preaching must bear testimony concerning Jesus, His life, His cross, His death, His resurrection and ascension, His exalted position, His second coming. Even as we discuss practical life issues like marriage, career, business, politics, etc, all must be in view of Christ Jesus. Any prophesying or preaching that does not glorify Jesus must not be heeded to. So, that a man prophesied who will win a football match, what will happen this year, my phone number and personal history, etc, is not the issue. That a man taught on marriage, business development, career matters, etc, is not the issue. But, how is Jesus glorified in this?

When I see how some of my young ones run after prophets and all that, I’m appalled. You are too young to be running about looking for prophecy. Go for God’s word; listen to His men who bring God’s word in sincerity to you. Learn from their lives, mistakes and all. Get wisdom from God’s word and from His men. It is wisdom and knowledge that will be the stability of your times. (Isaiah 33 vs. 6)

God bless you.

N/B: I will speak further on the issues I promised in subsequent posts.

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