• Wednesday, April 24, 2024
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BusinessDay

Why Nigerian Christians must prioritise righteous living

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Christianity is not a religion, and it is not a way of life. It is not adherence to a set of rituals, practices, rules and regulations. It is also not the attendance of church services, commitment to a church or serving faithfully in one.

To go further, you can be a famous man of God, known for charitable donations and doing many miracles in the name of Jesus and still not be a true Christian. The Bible is very clear on this. In Matthew chapter seven, verses 21 to 23, our Lord Jesus Christ said: “Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

“Never knew you?” How can one be a Christian, a follower of Christ, and yet be unknown to Christ? This is despite being known by many people as a powerful Christian. So being well-known as a Christian does not necessarily mean you are one. The scripture does not mince words about this. It says: “Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: ‘The Lord knows those who are His,’ and, ‘Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity’.” (Second Timothy chapter two verse 19).

If Christianity is none of these, what then is it? Who is a Christian? How can we identify one? How can one be sure that he or she is not claiming to be a Christian in vain?

The followers of Jesus were first called Christians in Antioch, a Greek city. The original Greek word ‘Christianós’, which means followers of Christ, was a nickname the unbelievers gave to Jesus’ disciples, who were under the tutelage ofPaul and Barnabas in Antioch. The unbelieving Greeks saw the Christians’ conduct, supernatural righteous living, and profession of faith in Jesus. They saw that the Christians were clearly distinct, and were like Christ, so they had to brand them so.

It is important to note that what the unbelievers saw in Antioch was not a product of strict adherence to dogma or learned behaviour. It is the outflow of a supernatural life that is accessible only to those who are truly born again.

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Recently, at the Remnant Christian Network, Lagos, we went through a bible study series with the theme, ‘Are you Born Again?’ One of the points that came out clearly in that series is that many, who respond to altar calls and say the sinners’ prayer, do not end up saved or born again. The evidence is that such people never bear the fruit of new and everlasting life. I mean the type of fruits unbelievers saw in Antioch and called them Christians. The true measure of the Christian life is in the fruits, not accomplishments. As we saw in Matthew chapter seven verses 21 to 23, accomplishing much in Jesus’ name does not prove you are a Christian. It is either you are born again or you are not. There are two steps to becoming born again as stated in Romans chapter nine, verses nine and 10: “…if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart, one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth, confession is made unto salvation.” Step one, believe in your heart. Step two, confess with your mouth. If you confess without truly believing in your heart, your confession is worthless. The new birth will not happen.

The story of your birth can only be told by the one who bears you. However, over time,a person’s traits will indicate the person’s parentage, even without a DNA test. Second Timothy chapter two, verse 19, that we saw earlier, says, “The Lord knows those who are His.” He does not need a DNA test to confirm. It further advises anyone who claims to be of God and uses the name of Jesus to stop indulging in iniquity, which is a willful transgression of God’s laws and opposition to His known will. God’s law here does not refer to the 10 commandments written on tablets of stone, given to Moses on Mount Sinai. That was external. It refers to the laws of God written on our hearts as Hebrews chapter eight verse 10 declares: “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” Therefore, Christianity is the inside-out expression of the life of God in those who are truly born again. And that life is inspired, directed and powered by the Holy Spirit.

Now, let’s look at Nigeria. The truth is that being a Christian has territorial implications. The great commission is a territorial mandate. Its implementation ought to be territorial in nature: from Jerusalem to Judea, Samaria, to the ends of the earth, including all towns and cities in Nigeria.

Christianity and selfishness don’t mix. You cannot be truly a born-again Christian and be selfish. The life of God in a Christian is supposed to flow out and influence his or her environment and community for good. This influence is not just speaking about Jesus and the Kingdom of God in words but living righteously to inspire others and let them know it can be done by a life powered by the Holy Spirit.

Miracles are great. Signs and wonders are great. It is wonderful to display the mighty power of God. However, if the power you have as a Christian does not enable you to overcome sin and live a righteous life, then that power is not worth having. Just imagine the impact the millions of Christians in Nigeria could have on the country if we all prioritise living righteously over the desire to be famous, rich and powerful.

Nigeria is plagued by corruption. The antidote is the institutionalisation of honesty, fairness, justice, equity and the fear of God. There is no set of people better equipped to live this way than Christians. The life of God in us is sufficient to drown every trace of corruption in this country, only we would let it flow out in our daily righteous living.

.Reverend Austin Ukporhe is the Point Man (Resident Pastor) at Remnant Christian Network, Lagos. Raised in Sokoto, northern Nigeria, he was trained in peculiar firebrand evangelism and was ordained as a pastor in 2001. He has experienced countless and diverse workings of the faithfulness of God over two decades and has developed a passion to see God’s will for Nigeria become a reality.