Posted by News Express | 17 April 2020 | 1,680 times
In the formative days of the Church, the beliefs, customs and governmental policies of the world and its pagan values were at variance with the ways, beliefs and creeds of the “Pentecostal Christianity”. However, one remarkable action of the early apostles and disciples (our patriarchs) then, was that they doggedly withdrew from the anti-Christian policies of the society. Without any appearance of overt rebellion, they held meetings of prayers, fasting, breaking of bread and upholding the truth of the gospel. They relentlessly continued with this even in the face of the fiercest persecution of the day. This defiant position, taken by the early and later apostles became the object and reasons for all kinds of charges against the church: For example, immorality, terrorism and cannibalism. It was so bad that by the end of the first century, nearly every pagan hand was lifted against Christians; and for more than two hundred years the church lived under the threatening shadow of persecution from the Roman government.
The persecution was fashioned in governmental decrees and policies so as to justify the government as merely enforcing public policies. In fact, the decree of the Roman empire, which “Criminalises the Christian Assembly” was no licet esse vos, a Latin phrase which interprets “it is not lawful for you to live or exist.”
It was a practice not different from the anti-Christian totalitarian position taken by various governments today in response to the of Covid-19 pandemic. In my opinion, this position is born out of the fear that the Pentecostal ideal of freedom, divine health, healing, truth, justice, deliverance, salvation and redemption is dangerous to the suppressed truth about Covid-19.
For conceptual clarification and elucidation of hidden truths, Covid-19 is a plague, pestilence or epidemic, which could have only resulted from satanic oppression, or anti-Christ agenda, aimed at bringing mankind to its very knee under the cruel charge of Satan in his pre-anti-Christ regime.
On the other hand, the lockdown policy across the globe is to me, a premeditated satanic strategy to disarm the church (the body of Christ) of its most relied-upon weapons: The assembly of the brethren in fellowship, prayers, fasting, breaking of bread, confession and dissemination of the gospel.
In matters of this nature, it has always been reputed to the credit of the Holy Spirit that the Church, the body of Christ, is the only body vested with the spiritual mandate to stop the hand of devil anytime he rises against mankind.
It must be pointed out that while Satan’s constant drive is to kill, steal and destroy, one of the assignments of the Church on earth is to serve as watchman in battle, keeping the gate of the Christian faith and the wellbeing of mankind under strict watch, against the invasion of anything that raises itself against or above the knowledge of the Almighty: be it diseases, pestilences, famine, terrorism, war or whatsoever. In so doing, we have the guarantee that the Lord “…Will be a spirit of justice to him that sits in judgment and a source of strength to those who turn back the battle at the gate.” Isaiah 28:6.
But the battle is a spiritual one; and we must not only appreciate the fact that we are in a spiritual warfare, but also deploy the relevant “spiritual intelligence” and weapons: which are the fellowship of the brethren in prayers, fasting, breaking of the bread and radical confession and dissemination of the truth of gospel “…for though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10: 3-5.
Covid-19 is one of those high things that seek to exalt itself against the knowledge of God. But, the church has been mandated to sit in judgment, enforcing the redemption of mankind from this present torment of Covid-19. We are called to bring into captivity any thought created or inspired by Covid-19 to the obedience of Christ (all to the glory of God). But Satan knowing this has strategically moved one step ahead by instigating the minds of the world leaders to make policies to the effect of frustrating the assembling of the brethren, thereby disarming and bringing the Church to the position of reproach and irrelevance in the very matter that indicts or tries our faith. It is a pity!
I believe by the word of God that, one effective way the Church, in its formative age, responded to indictments that sought to strip her of God’s glory is by organising a praying assembly.
“Peter was, therefore, put in prison. But prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.” Acts 12: 5.
That was an attempt by Herod to have Peter, (the rock upon which the church is founded), gagged, detained, outlawed and executed). A calculated attempt to extinct the foundation of the church from existence. But the fervency of inclusive prayer of the brethren in holy assembly has always been a damning threat to the kingdom of darkness and its activities. The prayers of the assembled brethren generated aggressive Angelic intervention, and we see the chains broken, fallen off Peter’s hands and the prison gates opened of its own accord.
One may argue that this is not about the Church but national policies affecting every other facet of our national life, but such conclusion will only amount to an unpardonable bigotry. I am of the strong opinion that the lockdown policy, though affecting many other facets of our national life, is a conspiracy whose chief aim is to disarm the Church of its most relied upon weapon: the inclusive prayer of brethren in solemn assembly, fellowship and breaking of bread
“And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place; And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost…. And they continued steadfastly in the apostle’s doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread in prayers.” Acts 2:1, 4, 42.
“And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spoke the word of God in boldness” Acts 4: 31.
The above biblical scenarios were the days of the fiercest persecution of the Church, immediately after the death of Christ. The disciples did not submit themselves to state policies and decrees that tended to jettison their faith or deprive them of gathering in fellowships. They gave up their lives protesting. They became vulnerable to all sorts of governmental sanctions, such as imprisonment, being torn by wild beasts, etc. The penetrating question raised by this situation is the question of Christ and Caesar: Where does the highest loyalty of man belong?
I do not intend to author any Christian philosophy that rebels against public policies and governmental regulations. But the ever-springing truth has been that right during the formative age of the Church, ranging from the days of Christ’s earthly ministry to the days of the early and subsequent apostles and saints, Christians have always insisted that man’s highest loyalty belongs to God. And, as such, no governmental or caesarean policy can stop or disrupt the Church’s ordering of things.
“We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name? …. Peter and the apostles replied: we must obey God rather than men” Acts 5: 28-29.
It is noteworthy here that the disciples were not rebelling against governmental public policies. They only insisted that the Church is a divine institution, headed by Christ and not man. It follows, therefore, that man-made institutions cannot regulate or prohibit the doctrines of the Church.
We must not be confused by the provisions of Romans 13:1. In construing that verse, we ought to be sure that our interpretation and application of that verse conforms to the intent of the framer of that verse, the Apostle Paul. I find it difficult to align myself with the submission that, Apostle Paul, by framing that verse, intended to bring the Church, the body of Christ, subject to the pagan administration of the Roman empire where as a matter of governmental order, incenses were to be burnt on the alter dedicated to the divinity of Caesar. Impossible! Light has got nothing to do with darkness. God forbid!
The absurdity of construing that scripture in that manner would be so monstrous to our Christian faith that all Christians, without hesitation should unite in rejecting this interpretation and application. The lifestyle of the apostles, even the most learned of them, St Paul, demonstrated the absolute independence of the Church. This has been the toughest and suppressed truth of all times - the Church is a divine institution headed by Christ whose supremacy to human institutions cannot be negotiated or compromised. No! God’s ordinances cannot be mocked. The Church will rather submit itself for state’s prosecution than accept practices that contradicts this truth. The apostles and saints died for this truth. And, in fact, they enjoyed the glory of dying for the truth. The proof of this is indelibly written in the blood of thousands of Martyrs in the days of trial. The early church never submitted or aligned itself with any governmental rule that tends to distort the least of the Christian creeds. This, in fact, was the reason two titles of supreme courage and honour in the early Church emerged as:
1. Confessor: One who steadfastly confessed the faith of Christ despite all suffering inflicted on him.
2. Martyr: One who was burned, stoned, torn apart by wild beasts or crucified in imitation of the Lord, whose service he would not jettison in a bid to comply with any governmental demand which tend to turn his highest from God to any earthly authority.
St. Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, before his execution in A.D. 155, for refusing to acknowledge the divinity of Caesar, prayed “…… Lord God almighty, father of Jesus Christ … may I be an acceptable sacrifice … I praise thee, I bless thee, I glorified thee through Jesus Christ.”
Forty years later, in the same burning spirit of the Church against the Roman rule, Tertullian, a fiery Christian writer, flung his defiance against the persecuting Roman authority: Kill us, torture us, condemn us, grind us to pieces, the more you mow us down, the more thicker we rise up… the blood of the martyrs is a kind of seed….
It is time for the Church to rise up to this lockdown conspiracy against the church.
Why the conspiracy?
With the assembly of the brethren on earth, Satan and his anti-Christ will be crushed anytime they rise against mankind.
“They overcome him by the blood of lamb, and by the words of their testimony, and they loved not their lives unto death.” Revelation 12:11.
To put it in its proper perspective, Covid-19 is a stronghold of Satan and his anti-Christ institution which cannot survive the Pentecostal Christian faith, the Church of Jesus Christ. No matter how destructive it may appear, it cannot survive the fervent inclusive prayers of the assembled brethren. “And when they have prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.” Acts 4:31.
As spelt out in the book of Revelation 12:11, our victory over this satanic oppression of Covid-19 epidemic will only be delivered if believers deliberately shun this anti-Christ policy of shutting down the churches, gather in praying assemblies to wage this unavoidable war against the fiery darts of the wicked one while leveraging -
The blood of the lamb
The very essence of the doctrine of Passover is our exemption from epidemics of any sort.
“And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it. And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it.
Eat not of it raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roast with fire; his head with his legs, and with the appurtenance thereof. And ye shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; and that which remaineth of it until the morning ye shall burn with fire.
And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the Lord's Passover.
For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the Lord. And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.” Exodus 12:7-13.
The blood of the lamb is the token of that covenant by which Christians are exempted from epidemics, including Covid-19.
Today Jesus Christ “… is our Passover Lamb” 2 Corinthians 5:7. The flesh and blood of Jesus (the Passover) has been given to us in material form of the Holy Communion.
“And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” Matthew 26:26-28.
It follows, therefore, that as a matter of apostolic doctrine, the Church must inevitably stay in fellowship and in the administration of the Communion in. In this lies the power of the Church in dealing with oppositions.
“And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.” Acts 2:42-43.
“And upon the first day of the week… the disciples came together to break bread...” Acts 20: 7.
It is pertinent to know that the administration of the communion is to be done in the assembly of brethren.
The word of our testimony
The word of our testimony is the overt declaration of the deliverance, salvation and healing potency of the blood of Jesus and the word of God. The power of God is encapsulated in his word, and the overt proclamation of the word and its wonder-working power is the only way the power of God is lifted out of the drawing board (Bible) to reality.
“He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.” Psalm 107:20.
The Apostle Paul directly and metaphorically expressed the power of God in terms of His word. “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes.” Romans 1:6
“By the power of signs and miracles, through the power of the spirit, I have fully preached the gospel.” Romans 15:19.
In fact, the apostle re-emphasised it that our preaching is not just for philosophical engagements but a matter of demonstration of Gods power and spirit, so that the Christian faith is not built on just theological philosophies but on the power of God.
”And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 2:4-5.
Self-Sacrifice of our Lives in Defiant Challenge of any Rule or Agenda that Threatens the Well-Being and Beliefs of the Church.
“… And they loved not their lives unto the death.” Revelation 12:11.
We see the apostles gave up their lives any time they are faced with the question of Caesar or Christ - anytime they had to defend the course of the gospel and the Church against prevailing imperial rules and orders. We see them unreservedly insisting that their services and allegiance to God cannot be distorted or disrupted by the prerogatives of Caesar or any earthly, man-made authority. The administration of the Church is of a divine order and cannot be subject of any presidential prerogatives.
It is going to be the greatest order of self-sabotage if we folds our hands and allow the Church to be stripped off its most relied upon weapon (by being locked down). The assembly of the brethren, the administration of Communion, the confession and dissemination of the word and our aggressive defence of the gospel of truth are our only known and trusted weapons against satanic harassment.
Christians must wake up from their sleep. The church must assemble again. Prayers must be made without ceasing against the aggressions of Satan and his anti-Christ while we are still here on earth. There cannot be two kings ruling in one kingdom. Until the Church is raptured, the anti-Christ has no place here on earth. The antichrists must stay down in obedience to Christ for the moment. I call on all Christians to put away their fears because the arch-Angel Michael is here on guard for us and for our deliverance up to the very moment of rapture.
“And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.” Daniel 12:1.
The anti-Christ may begin to set stage for their later invasion through any form of technological advancement. We cannot be bothered about that because it is obvious that our days are numbered here on earth. And a justified child cannot be afraid of the return of his father; neither would he be afraid of going up to meet the father in the destined home. However, the anti-Christ cannot move ahead of God’s agenda. We must sit in judgment, enforcing this unbreakable truth.
“Do you not know that the saints shall judge the world…” 1 Corinthians 6:2.
“He will be a spirit of justice to him that sits in judgment and a source of strength to those who turn back the battle at the gates.” Isaiah 28:6.
Again, we cannot resist the evolving technological advancement because “Moreover, the profit of the earth is for all: the king himself is served by the field.” Ecclesiastes 5:9. The Church itself is to be served by the technological advancement.
The technological advancement in form of 5G, IOT or whatsoever could be perceived as leverage for the anti-Christ when they would have finally invaded the earth, but that does not mean that the innovations are satanic creations. Satan created nothing. God created everything. God is the source of scientific and technological knowledge. The world must experience the digital revolution which the book of Daniel spoke of in Daniel 12:4 “And knowledge shall be increased…”
It should be pointed out that the Bible in this verse never said the increase of knowledge is going to emanate from the Satan or anti-Christ. It is just the process of the life of the world. What the world must go through - Digital revolution, IOT (Internet of things) IT (Information technology), etc.
So the church should not concern itself with the fact that Satan and his antichrist may leverage on technological advancement. The church should rather concern itself with the fact that digital revolution must not disrupt the business of the Church here on earth, that is, dissemination of the gospel, soul-winning, and the wellbeing of mankind.
Finally, I make bold to state that the lockdown arrangement was targeted at displacing the assembly of the brethren, frustrating the administration of communion on this Eve of Easter, 12th April, 2020, thereby disarming the Church and rendering mankind vulnerable to the wishes of Satan as regards Covid-19.
In conclusion, I am calling on the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigerian (PFN), The Nigerian Association of Christian Youths and other relevant bodies to push for the review of the lockdown. The church should be opened and allowed to hold services while maintaining the directives on social distancing and personal hygiene during services. We must rise in solemn protest to ensure the assembling of the brethren, even at the expense of our lives. This was the first step the Church took after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Acts 1:12-14.
•Paul S Onyilo is a lawyer and public affairs analyst. He can be reached via email@example.com
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