There was a question in my heart a few days ago, I thought it was going to be and remain a personal meditation. But I have been instructed to share it. So, the question will be thrown at us again through this piece. Although it is not about us answering, it is about us meditating together as a body of Christ. So, what we are going to be discussing together here is going to affect us as the church, and it is going to concern the matter of discipleship in the church. In this piece we want to consider “How Far is the Church Willing to Allow Christians to Follow the Christ” or “to follow the Holy Spirit of Christ.”
You know usually, I like to mention other things than emphasize on the word ‘Christian’ and ‘Christianity’ because the word ‘Christianity’ has been taking over by our generation and they use it for convenient sake. But in this piece, the Holy Spirit gave me enough confidence to use the word freely so, I am going to use it. Let's quickly go to the book of Matthew chapter 16, and I will start my reading from verse 13:
“When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?”. He didn't say, “Who do men say that I the Son of God is?” But He brought Himself to the basic like. “You are all children of men; you are sons of men.” “I'm a Son of man.” “Who do men say that I am?” He wanted to understand their understanding because people will relate with Christ Jesus based on who they think He is. Now there is a politician in Nigeria whose name is Femi Fani Kayode, and in an attempt to respond to blasphemy issue around the world, particularly around the northern part of Nigeria, he said, “When you call Jesus a prophet, you are blaspheming”. If you look carefully, you will understand that he just wanted to score a political game — he is a political Christian — he uses Christianity for political purposes. But we don't want to go do all that. Our goal is to look at the word of God.
“Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” So, they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
The subject we are considering is “How far is the church willing to allow Christians to follow Christ?” How far is the church willing to allow Christians to follow the Spirit of Christ? Now, look at it, he says, “You are [You the Son of Man] the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus answered and said to him, Blessed are you, Simon bar Jonah, for the flesh, and blood have not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I also said to you that you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church and the gates of Hades [not the gates of any village, not the gates of anything] shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of evil. And whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loosen on earth will be loosed in heaven. Then He commanded His disciples that they should tell no one that He was Jesus [the son of man] the Christ.
The emphasis is on the Christ. So, two words or two issues are available for us to consider. The first is the phrase “My church”, Jesus said, “I will build my church”. So, Jesus the Son of Man called the church his own. He said, “He will build it”. Again, another word that we must consider is “Jesus is the Christ”. Now, when Jesus was on earth, the Bible made us realize that some certain men and women decided to follow Him as their Lord, their Savior, and their master. In other words, we can say as their discipler. There was a way they were seeking; a destiny that they were seeking, hoping for or expecting. There was a future that they were desiring. Thomas at a point said, “Show us the father and it will be enough.” That's what we want; we want to see the father, we want to know the father, we want to receive from the father.
That is what they were looking for, and Jesus stood as the way for them to the Father. Jesus said to them in John, He says, “I am the way, I am the truth, and the life no one can come to the Father except through me.” Jesus was their discipler. Jesus was their way. So, as long as they wanted and desired to get to the Father, they needed Jesus. It is not about starting to follow Jesus; it's about continuing in following Jesus till you get to the Farber. It's about walking with Jesus, not for a few days, but as long as you live on this earth; until you become like the Father. Don't forget, originally you are just the son of man, but by what means will you translate to become like the father.
The only available means is following the Son and becoming a son of God — like the Father. So, you being a son of man, who is already a son of man, you follow the Son of God, and he leads you to the Father. There is the desire of every man to find the father. The Bible says, “They came seeking Jesus”, why were they seeking Jesus? It is not because they wanted to eat Jesus as flesh, it is because they needed Him to connect them to the Father. There was an experience that they yearned for, and if they would ever get the experience, they needed to follow Jesus. The Bible says in the Hebrews chapter, “He is the express image of the invisible God”. So, if you want to see God, you must find Jesus. And the question now is, how far is the church willing to allow Christians to follow the Christ?
Today, it looks as if the church doesn't have a problem making Christians follow anything other than Christ, or anything except Christ. You can follow the traditions of elders, you can follow a man of God, you can follow a woman of God, you can follow a denomination, you can follow an association, you can follow a doctrine, you can follow a person, you can follow a people. But it looks as if it is easier to follow all that than to follow the Christ. It looks as if what we get ourselves into is making men follow other things instead of following Jesus. Now, I'm sure you might have heard it over and over that ‘people do what people see’.
If people do what people see, how come the majority of us don't follow Christ? Yet, we gather as a church every week. We gather as a people every week across countries, across cities, across nations, across denominations, irrespective of the name we call our organizations, or our congregations, we gather. We are assumed to be seeing ourselves, we are assumed to be seeing the man of God, and we are assumed to be following somebody, or something. But could we authoritatively say that an average Christian is a follower of Christ? That is the issue!
If it is difficult for a 25-year-old Christian, not 25 years old in his age, but 25 years old in the church, if it is difficult for such a person to reveal Christ to other people, then the question is what has he or she seen for 25 years in the church? If the church is expected to show Christ to Christians, how come not every Christian can look like Christ? Is it possible that the church over the years has replaced following Christ with something else or some other things? I am sure we still remember that place in 1 Corinthians chapter 11, I will just read verse 1. In this text, Apostle Paul, a man like you and I, was also a son of man. He said, “Imitate me [copy me, follow me] just [in the same way, to the same extent, in the same dimension] as I also imitate Christ”.
So, if any man chose to follow Apostle Paul, it is assumed or expected that such a man had followed Christ. Could it be said also that anyone that follows brother so, so, and so in Nigeria, or in the country that you are right now, is also following Christ? This question is a great concern for God, and it has to be a burden for anyone that is named the name of Christ, but why? Let's go to the Book of Acts of the Apostles chapter 1. I'm sure you remember that at the beginning the people were concerned about the kingdom, and they asked, “Lord, would you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel? We are tired of this mediocre life. We want to live a meaningful life; we want our lives to count for something. And Jesus speaking to them in the Book of Acts of Apostles chapter 1 verse 8, says, “But you shall receive power [you shall receive enablement, ability] when the Holy Spirit…”
This is actually a short form. In the real sense, it could be the Holy Spirit because the word ‘holy’ is to describe His character, His nature — He is the Spirit of Christ. In order not to write too much, because he could have said, the Holy Spirit of God, or the Holy Spirit of the Lord, or the Holy Spirit of Christ. It says, “But you shall receive power.” You, the son of man, you who have this treasure in earthen vessel, you, even you that think “I am just a man, I'm just a woman”. “You will receive power”. You know, somebody might say, “even me too?” Even you too, “You will receive power when the Spirit of Christ has come upon you, and you shall be witnesses to Me.” This is the issue, friend, even though Jesus was talking to the disciples, He is talking to you also.
You shall be witnesses to Him, that's the issue. Every time you witness, men must say, “you are a witness of Him” not the witness of Deeper Life, Living Life, Deeper Word; you are not a witness of those names. Those names didn't die for you. You were not redeemed by the blood of the names, the Bible says, “God has given Him a name that is higher than every other name. At the name of Jesus, every knee must bow”, not at the name of a denomination. Not at the name of a doctrine, not at the name of a philosopher, not the name of faith, it is the name of Christ. Every kneel must bow at the mention of the name of Jesus; God has given him a name. “And every tongue must confess that Jesus is the master, the ruler, the King, He is the one that controls the affairs of men. He says, “You shall be witnesses to me”.
Jesus said, “When a disciple is perfect, he will become just like his master [then he will become a witness of the Master]”. When a disciple is perfect, he will become just like the Master. What will he do when he has become like his Master? He will do the walks of his master. Beloved, you spend 7 years learning how to buy and sell spare parts, or like Jacob, you spent another 7 years perfecting your learning; 14 years of your adult life learning a trade, then after you have finished, you now start another different thing, does it make sense? When you have become like your master, the works of your master you will do. That is why it is impossible for sinners not to sin, the works of their master, they will do. It is impossible for murderers not to kill. It is impossible for liars not to tell lies; they have become as their master, and the desires of their master, the works of the master, the trades of their master, they will do.
So, when Jesus said, when the Holy Spirit comes into you, despite how men have said you are nobody, but in such state of nothingness, the Holy Spirit came into you and came upon you, what would happen is that you will become just like your Master, who is your Master? The Christ, Bible calls Him the Holy Spirit of Christ. So, you will become like Christ. And the works of Christ, you will do. Jesus said, “You will be witnesses unto Me.” All glory and credits of your work goes to Me because you walk in My name, you work for my name, you work in my name. You work in my honor, and for my honor, you work in my strength and for My glory; “You will be witnesses unto Me”.
The things we do today, are they for God, are they for the glory of Christ, are they for the strength and honor of Christ on the earth? If you say what a Christian is doing is for Christ, does the Christian even know the Christ? Has the church allowed, enabled such a Christian, a believer so to say, to know Christ; the One he claims to believe in? The Bible says in Romans “How can they call on Him, the One that they do not know?” Now, if they will call on Him, they would know Him, and how will they know Him, except somebody preaches to them about Him.” How will somebody preach to them, except the person has been sent.”
When we look around our communities, and we see different denominations of the church, I'm sure you know Naira is a name? And there are different denominations of Naira whether #1 or 50 Kobo it is in the family of Naira, right? But when we see the denominations of the church, do they reflect the glory of Christ? Do they witness Christ to the people? Is Christ the center of the goal, the attention, the reason we are gathered? Do we have any other reason than Christ? Apostle Paul said, “When I was with you, I chose to know nothing in your midst except Christ and Him crucified.”
Is Christ the subject of our discussion, the reason we stand and are we standing for Christ? When we lift our voice in worship, and we lead other believers in worship, is it for the glory of Christ? Do you sing to God as a witness of Christ? Do you teach the Word of God as a witness of Christ? Are you a Sunday school teacher witnessing Christ? When you do your work as an usher, collecting money from people, do you see yourself representing Christ? Are you a staff of the organization or you are a member of Christ? There are some sisters when you go to some denominations, the way they will give you an offering envelope, they do it in a manner that you will be a forced to ask, is it the worship that is supposed to come first, or the offering; which one is most important?
We have to go back and ask questions about everything we do, where is Christ in it? Jesus said, “I will build my church and the gates of hades will not prevail against it.” If we are suffering, and we are being defeated, we must ask, are we part of the church? Are we part of what Christ is building, or we are outside the building of Christ? Are we building our own system, building our own society in the name of Christ? Are we building networks of men, networks of people, in the name of Christ? Are we building societal groups, and putting the name of Christ, to make it appealing to the people of Christ? When men come into the church, thinking that they will find Jesus with us, do they end up finding Jesus after a few moments with us?
When the disciples brought certain people to Jesus, Bible says, “They were seeking Jesus.” Imagine after spending moments, maybe hours or days with the disciples, they still didn't find Jesus, what will happen to them? From frustration to emptiness, it will go to a point when they will be opened to people who will fill their hearts with other things that look like Christ but are not Christ. So, what we are setting up that we call the church, that we call fellowship, that we call cell groups, are they places, platforms, and opportunities to show Christ, because a witness of Christ is a shower of Christ; somebody who reveals Christ. I don't know Christ until I came to you until I met you; imagine Priscilla and Aquila, the man of God that is called Apollos didn't know Christ enough, very well, until the man and his wife met him. They heard him preach, he had already started ministry, but he didn't know so much about Christ beyond the baptism of John the Baptist.
How can you witness Christ that you didn't know? The Bible says, “They took him aside, I don't know where they started from, maybe they started by asking, have you received Holy Spirit since you were saved? And the brother said, “I've never heard of anyone called the Holy Spirit. Okay. Now let's start from Genesis, and by revelation, the light is shown to him, the brother now understood the Christ, the Spirit of Christ. Even though you did not put a title there, or a ministry name, Revival Ministry Worldwide, you have witnessed Christ. Jesus said, “You will be witnesses to Me”. Those who are confused about who I am, you will show them who I am. Men will not know you and still be ignorant of God, why? “You are a witness of Christ? You are a witness!
There's a Scripture that the Lord has laid in my heart, let’s go to it. Isaiah chapter 8 verses 18, see what the Bible says, “Here am I and the children whom the Lord has given me! We are for signs and wonders in Israel from the Lord of hosts, who dwells in Mount Zion.” When you have the way, you need signs or signs along the way. It is not enough that you have roads, it is important that you need signs across the paths — that show people dangerous turn ahead — slow down. “I and the children whom the Lord has given me! We are for signs and wonders in Israel from the Lord of hosts, who dwells in Mount Zion.” When men who are over speeding get to us, they calm down. What are we? We are signs! You are a sign; you're a witness. You are a sign telling men and women (the world) God is 200 kilometers ahead, slow down. There are potholes ahead of you, slow down.
Another person is a sign with the message: God is 195 kilometers ahead of you. Don’t forget that people are on different paths on the way, you are committed to your task; God the Father is 2000 kilometers ahead of you, and you are advised to maintain 100 kilometers per hour. Yet others at their point of duty are bearing the sign, sorry, you are advised to speed up more. Different signs tell us different things. Some signs will tell you there is a hill ahead of you. Some will tell you different things. Some could even tell you there is a bridge ahead of you. We are signs! Count us across the world, everyone that is called by the name of God is expected to be a sign on the way.
The disciples across the world were called followers of the way before they were given the name Christians by the people of Antioch. They were called followers of the way. While all of us are followers, some of us have taken up responsibility not just to be consumers on the way, but producers — we have now become signs. I have followed to a point that I have now become a sign. I am showing people the way, telling people not to be discouraged. Don't be discouraged, you are still on the way to God, in fact, in 15,000 kilometers, you will get to God, and in 5 minutes, you will get to your petrol station. Don't be afraid! Your life will not shut down along the way; there is fuel ahead of you.
Ahead of you, you will see another person, a sign, and an assigned petrol station. It is by your right hand, 500 meters ahead, slow down, and maintain your right. Another sign is saying, “when you get to the petrol station, we have this and we have that; all for your nourishments along the way. So, can we see how all of us can become industries along the way of Christ? Industries, we supply the needs of men. Men are traveling on the way of Christ, some people need food, water, a ride, spiritual biscuits, and all possible resources that you can think of. Do you understand? Your ministry could just be as spiritual small chops. Somebody else's ministry could just be a vulcanizer ministry to help other people who are deflated to patch up and get enough energy. Some people have a ministry like that. They don't just fill you with the Holy Spirit, they want to help you to patch up a little bit; all those things that have been punctured in your life that make the Spirit of God escape you, that makes the breath of the Almighty to escape you, they patch it up, they pump you up, they set you up on your feet.
There are men and women, people like you and I, that God has ordained in this way to ensure that everyone that is called on the name of the Lord gets to the promised Land — becoming like God. The Bible says, “There is no other name under heaven that is given among men that we can be saved except by the name of Christ”. If you follow any other thing or any other way outside Christ; it will lead you into something else not to do Father. So, your inheritances, the things you are trusting God for; they are along the way. You remember you don't need to get to the Father to drink water, there are destinies that God has prepared ahead of you. As others are on the way giving you support, you must be in this way a source of encouragement, a source of strength, and a source of focus to others.
There are people who would help you about your purpose along this way. Many people in this way need you; whether they are young or old, whether they are Africans or not, whether they are in China or not. Your country notwithstanding, we're all on one way. In Christ, we are all in one way. And when people come to you, will you be positioned as somebody to get them to the father, or they will still find you, yet they are helpless? I pray that God will help us. The church is expected to lead men into Christ, to lead men, “Follow us as we follow Christ.” Let it not be said of us that people have us, yet they lack Christ. May the Lord help us in Jesus’ name!