It has been a very fulfilling weekend; Although my own Christmas is not just on 25th of December (the pagan date) but everyday; everyday I remember what a favoured person I am to have God come down in my nature just to save me from my debt of sin, as Charles Wesley rightly puts it in “And can it be that I should gain” (first 3 stanzas)
And can it be that I should gain An interest in the Saviour’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain—For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be, That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
Amazing love! How can it be, That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
’Tis mystery all: th’Immortal dies: Who can explore His strange design?
In vain the firstborn seraph triesTo sound the depths of love divine.
’Tis mercy all! Let earth adore,Let angel minds inquire no more.
’Tis mercy all! Let earth adore; Let angel minds inquire no more.
He left His Father’s throne above So free, so infinite His grace—
Emptied Himself of all but love, And bled for Adam’s helpless race:
’Tis mercy all, immense and free, For O my God, it found out me!
’Tis mercy all, immense and free, For O my God, it found out me!
What a Master Planner He is to have seen from the foundation, the very beginning that I (in the first Adam) could make a mess of things and jeopardise the original plan of the Eternal Purpose and made a PLAN A1 . We will come to this later. Now still on the original eternal purpose the plan A which is: PLAN A – The Glory of God – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. (Eph. 1:3-6)
I was privileged to listen to a series of messages from a retreat conducted by Pastor W.F. Kumuyi at the weekend and was blessed by them all; but one message that I really think should be played continually in the ears of every man and more importantly Christians is the one titled ‘HEAVENLY CITIZENSHIP’. (Click here for video or follow this link)
Here is an outline of the message:
The ultimate goal: God having Children that will live with Him forever.
For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren. (Heb. 2:10-11)
Greatest glory here on earth is not enough.
For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. (Heb. 11:10).
SOME OF THE CHARACTERISTICS OF THOSE WHO MADE IT INTO THE FAITH HALL OF FAME
They knew God has prepared a city that will only accommodate those who are prepared and that this world is just a temporary home: Even more glorious and everlasting is Heaven
These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city. (Heb. 11:13-16).
SECURING THIS HOPE CALLS FOR UNCOMPROMISING PURSUIT OF PURITY
Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure. Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin. Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. (1John 3:1-6).
PASSION AND PURSUIT OF THE HEAVENLY CITY
What is my No. 1 desire? What is the flavour of your prayer?
One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple. (Psalms 27:4).
If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. (1Cor. 15:19).
For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels. (Mark 8:36- 38).
For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you. And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith. (Phil. 1:21-25).
That I may know Him
That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 3:10-14).
Keeping self under control like an athlete
Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. (1Cor. 9:24-27).
Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come. (Heb. 13:12-14)
PROMISE AND PREPARATION FOR THE HEAVENLY COUNTRY
Where He is; we will be also
Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. (John 14:1-3).
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you. (1Pet. 1:3-4).
Heavenly preparation – What are you willing to do to make it?
As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. (1Pet. 1:14-16).
Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you. (1Pet. 1:22-25).
Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. (John17:24).
Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling
Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them, Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are: Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out. And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God. And, behold, there are last which shall be first, and there are first which shall be last. (Luke 13:23-30).
LORD, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart. He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour. In whose eyes a vile person is contemned; but he honoureth them that fear the LORD. He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not. He that putteth not out his money to usury, nor taketh reward against the innocent. He that doeth these things shall never be moved. (Psalms 15:1-5).
Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation. (Psalms 24:3-5).
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. (Matth 5:3-11).
PURITY AND PERSEVEARANCE OF HEAVENLY CITIZENS
Pursuit of purity borne by hope
Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure. Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin. Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. (1John 3:1-9).
We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not. (1John 5:18).
Give diligence to make your calling and election sure
According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth. (2 Pet. 1:3-12).
Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: 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; Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. (Heb.12:14-16).
You might say – “Why do I have to know and experience this Jesus you are going on about?” Here is why, when and how you can get to know Him.
Admit your spiritual need.
We all are sinners: nobody likes that title “SINNER”, but the bible says in Romans 3:23 that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”.
What is the result of sin?
In Romans 6:23 we read “The wages of sin is death…” in other words, every sin is another step towards death. One thing that we need to remember is that God never sends anyone to hell; one can send himself there by rejecting the truth.
Since we can never measure up to God’s standards by our own strength; God has reached out to mankind.
In Romans 5:8 we read, “God demonstrates His own love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us”. It is Jesus, after all, who is the source of life’s greatest high.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” (John 3:16-17).
What must a person do to accept this gift?
Simply receive it! Matthew 11:28 states –“come to me, all you who labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me…for my yoke is easy and my burden is light”. Revelation 3:20 says, “Behold I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with me” Jesus stands at the door of your heart and knocks, seeking entrance into your life to give you peace, change you for the best. John 1:12 says: “For as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become the children of God”.
If you haven’t already received Christ as your Saviour, don’t put it off another day! Take time right now to reflect on the state of your life, how does Romans 3:23 apply to you? Ask God to empower you to see the true state of your heart – “The heart of man is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked; who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9) then when enabled, invite Jesus into your life. Confess your sins. Receive His forgiveness and the gift of eternal life. You could pray something like this:
Dear Jesus, I know that I am a sinner in need of a Saviour. Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins. Thank You for giving me eternal life. Help me to live my life in a way that pleases You, for whatever time You give me here on earth. I look forward to living forever in Heaven with You. Amen.