Do you want to speak? Pause a minute and think about what your usual conversations have been like! What is the subject of most of your discussions? The words spoken earlier or yesterday – did they edify, bless and save? Is your speech profitable to others? Do you talk too much and not give opportunity for others to speak? Do your words build others up or pull them down? Is there any benefit people derive from them? Above all, do our words glorify God? If we are honest with ourselves, we must admit that much of our conversation, prayer, fasting, preaching and teaching is nothing more than empty talk.
Our Lord Jesus Christ has warned against speaking idle words – I mean, words that do not edify or build others up because for every idle word a man speaks, he shall be accountable. In Matthew 12:30-34, we are told that God takes notice of every word we say, even that which we ourselves do not notice. Vain and idle talk is a product of a vain and idle heart; they are unprofitable and not pleasing to God Almighty.
Remember, God has entrusted us with a treasury. The heart is the treasury; the words are the things brought out of the treasury (Matthew 12:35). It is the character of a good man that he has a good treasure in his heart and from there he brings forth good things. Love, kindness, good affection, tenderness, wisdom of utterance, power to counsel and good knowledge are all good treasures hidden in the heart; the law of God has written them there, ready for use as occasion demands.
On April 1, this year, world-renowned Christian clairvoyant and miracle executor, Prophet T.B Joshua, had written on his twitter handle, “Anytime you encounter trials, take them as an opportunity for you to honour God before men.” Wittingly or unwittingly, that expression, coming from the founder of Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN)-a Christian body that has variously come under knocks or praises, might have indicated that there is yet, some fire on the mountain.
Joshua, a one-time rural dwelling cleric on the Lagos outskirts, is now a man being sought after, all over the world. No fewer than 20 heads of state and prominent world leaders had come visiting at his SCOAN headquarters in Ikotun-Egbe, Lagos, as they are either there to pay him obeisance, seek miraculous healing, or hanker for some foretell.
However, despite T.B Joshua’s soaring popularity and the several cocktail of affection from adherents of his genre of Christian religious worship, there is a pesky worry he may be silently brooding at the home-front; which to many who love him, translates to the biblical saying that “a prophet has no honour in his homeland.”
It is an open secret in Nigeria’s Christendom that Joshua’s formula of worship, with emphasis on the swift, seemingly dramatic ways his needy worshippers obtain their miracles, has met with an abiding rebuff and grinding resentment from many Pentecostal church leaders, who see that modality as hogwash and by implication, fetish.
Like a plague, therefore, the Pentecostal church leaders have kept their distance from Joshua, with a strict instruction to their members not to have any dealing with him and his team.
Only last December, at the Holy Ghost Congress of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), arguably Nigeria’s largest church, T.B. Joshua was sarcastically cited in furtherance to the hostility to his dimension to Christianity.
There, the RCCG General Overseer, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, remarked that the church ushers stumbled on key holders that were put up for sale bearing his (Adeboye’s) picture.
Adeboye said the production of the key holders with his picture “is an attempt to equate me with God.”
However, Adeboye was more displeased that apart from the sacrilegious dimension to putting his picture on a key-holder, on the flipside of the key-holder was also the picture of T.B Joshua! Looking worried, he then told the congregation, “And you know what that means.”
But objecting to Adeboye’s remarks at the period, the National President of the Association of Christian Theologians (ACTS), Prof Olakunle Macaulay, said the onus was to first prove if the key-holder emanated from TB Joshua, “before passing comments against his personality”.
“First, you have to find out the source of the key-holder before passing comments against Joshua’s personality. We must realise that because of the harsh economic situation in the country, people resort to various things to survive; including even kidnapping.
“People could decide to use the picture of T.B Joshua on their own, maybe because of the miracles in his church, and decide to place it with that of Adeboye, for market value. So, Pastor Adeboye should have investigated the source of the key-holder before coming out to pass comments that tend to denigrate T.B. Joshua.”
Macaulay added: “Even, if the key-holder had been traced to T.B Joshua, you have to find out his purpose for manufacturing it. Did he say it should be used for magical purpose? The scriptures told us to investigate thoroughly and hold on to the truth; not to pass judgment on feelings or hearsay.
“After all, people pray in the name of God of Oyedepo, God of Adeboye. Are these people not also idolising these men of God? That is, if that is the angle with which Adeboye wanted to view the key-holder controversy.”
In his inimitable character, however, Joshua has refused to react to the caustic remark from the RCCG leader, as he goes about his duties; attending to the hordes of visitors at his SCOAN headquarters, mostly foreigners. When this correspondent accosted him and wanted to hear his side of the story, a calm Joshua simply smiled, waving his hands to suggest, “Let’s forget about it.”
Defending Joshua still, another Bible scholar, Mr. Seyi Ologunaye, said, “The Pentecostal churches cannot decide for God on how He intends to carry out his miracles, and so, they should go and seek for forgiveness in criticising T.B Joshua.”
According to him, when Namaan, the leprous Syrian army general, came to Elijah, the prophet, in the Bible, the latter told him to go bathe seven times in River Jordan to get his healing, noting that if it’s by strutting fanny fingers and slapping heads that people get their miracles at the SCOAN, it’s nobody’s business.
“After all, I’ve listened to the man preach on many occasions and have not heard a single heresy from his words,” he stressed.
Plan to Relocate to Israel
Two years ago, T.B Joshua had hinted of his resolve to relocate to the State of Israel, in what he himself tacitly linked to his ordeals in the Nigerian environment.
Though he said the move was not connected to the “persecution” he had been witnessing in Nigeria, he also said the move would help people to “appreciate” what his ministry had been contributing to the local economy and Nigeria’s international image.
He said of Israel: “This is where my Father in Heaven came from; it’s non-negotiable. It’s the best place for you to meet Prophet T.B. Joshua. After your healing, blessing and deliverance, you can move around all the spiritual monuments, which will establish your faith.”
Joshua added a clincher though: “This (his SCOAN) is the most persecuted ministry in the world. Who are the people persecuting the ministry? My people, Africans.
“That is why I choose to live a lonely life. If you want to see me, come to this church. I don’t go out. It has not been easy-because I don’t know who is a friend or who is an enemy.
“If you learn T.B. Joshua is not around, I am in a revival. I live in the church here. I don’t have a house outside. Anytime you pray, remember Africa in prayer. Many heroes and great people have been chased out of Africa. There are many geniuses in the Western world who are originally from Africa.”
Not a few Nigerians were alarmed by his decision to relocate from Nigeria, thus eliciting a flurry of appeals to the Man of God, to reconsider his decision in the interest of Nigerians who derive spiritual benefit from him, and indeed, the Nigerian nation whose economy was benefitting from the influx of foreign worshippers to his SCOAN, in Lagos.
Reacting, a Lagos economist, Mr. Segun Oyeyemi said, “What people don’t realise is that, if the Man of God decides to leave the country, most of these foreign visitors who, while here, change their foreign currencies and storm our markets purchasing various items, will no longer be around. And that means loss of money.”
He also pointed the public attention to the fact that Joshua is a philanthropist, who has for many years, been helping the less-privileged who include widows, the motherless children, the maimed, and even, Nigerians stranded in the Libyan serfdom. “So, if you frustrate him out of the country, you can imagine what Nigeria is going to lose,” he cautioned.
Building Collapse Incident
What has indubitably become a sobering moment in the chequered history of the SCOAN is the church’s high-rising hotel building that collapsed on September 12, 2014, in which 115 persons, mostly South Africans, lost their lives.
While that particular incident is still under government probe, the SCOAN television station, Emmanuel TV, had shortly after the collapse, shown a CCTV footage depicting a “mystery plane” that flew very low, over the building three times before it finally went down. This revelation, at the period, sent tongues wagging that an explosive might have been deposited on the building, causing it to come tumbling down.
The SCOAN has ever since canonised the departed souls, remembering them as martyrs of faith. Besides, the church is reported to be providing some succour to their respective families without wanting any publicity given to the effort.
About T.B Joshua
Born on June 12, 1965 at Arigidi, a little community in the current-day Akoko North-East Local Government area of Ondo State, Temitope Balogun Joshua came to the world as a mystery child. As against the usual nine months, Joshua was said to be in his mother’s womb for 15 months, and that while growing up, he encountered so many life-threatening problems that he ended up overcoming.
Owing to financial difficulties, he couldn’t proceed to the secondary school, as he ended his educational pursuit at St Stephen’s Anglican Primary School, Arigidi. His parents could not afford his school fees.
Re-collectors say young Joshua was known among his peers as ‘small pastor’ because of his love for the Bible and the things of God. His several sorties to pursue a career in the secular world, it was learnt, crashed each time he attempted it.
Joshua had also striven to join the Nigerian army in his youthful days but the vehicle conveying him to Kaduna for the recruitment interview broke down on the way. And he missed the opportunity. As he waddled through the circumstances of life, the compass of destiny kept directing him in the direction of the vineyard. And on March 8, 2007, Joshua began the SCOAN in a jungle at Ikotun-Egbe, which is today, a beehive of activities for Christian pilgrims from across the world.
Kayode Fasua Thisday
Many people know about God but do not know God. There is a difference between knowing about God and knowing God. John 3:27 says, “A man can receive nothing, except it is given from above.”
There has been a great mix-up in the church. It is the erroneous assumption that spiritual truths can be intellectually perceived. This has affected our preaching, our praying, our singing and our activities. It is possible to grow up in a Church but not know God at all because God is not known by external things. In John 16, it is perfectly plain that the Spirit of God is the One who reveals God to us. Remember this: You only know Jesus as far as the Holy Spirit is pleased to reveal Him to you.
◾️You can know about Christ dying for you.
◾️You can be a publisher of the Bible.
◾️You can head this or that religious organisation.
◾️You can be the Founder or General Overseer – and still never know God at all – because only by the Holy Ghost can we know God.
You can read your New Testament and still never find Christ in it. You can be convinced that He is the Son of God and still never find Christ. The Holy Ghost reveals Christ. If you are reasoned into Christianity, some wise fellow can reason you out of it – unless you know the Holy Spirit, because knowing Jesus is knowing the Holy Spirit.
God chooses grace rather than works (Ephesians 2:8). He chooses grace because He knows we are weak. He knows our limitations. He knows our shortcomings. If the Lord had chosen works rather than grace, no one would merit His mercy because our righteousness is like a filthy rag before Him. What we call our good works are like filthy rags before Him (Isaiah 64:6). In other words, man is undeserving of God’s mercy. In Romans 3:10, the Bible says no one is righteous, not even one. If we are to come to His presence, we must acknowledge our position as sinners in need of redemption. In Luke 5:8, Peter, on seeing Jesus, fell on his knees saying, “Depart from me Lord, for I am a sinner.” By this, he acknowledged his position as one undeserving of the Lord’s presence.
To acknowledge our position is to admit our weakness. When we come before Jesus in sincerity and humility of heart, He would receive us with compassion. I mean we would receive His favour. When we come to God in any form – He sees beyond our appearance (John 2:23-24). The Bible says Jesus knows all men – what man is made of, their nature, designs, secret plans, disposition and true character. If man gives out anything, Jesus knows whether the man is truly generous or merely wants to be seen. If man speaks, Jesus knows whether the intent is merely to flatter or whether he speaks what he truly believes in his heart. We know what men do but Jesus knows the designs of their heart. Therefore, let us approach God in sincerity and humility of heart.
– Prophet T.B. Joshua
Among the Biblical characters, Job stood out as one who knew the purpose of life. The vicissitudes of life did not affect his relationship with God. When the going was smooth with him, he saw Jesus as Lord and Saviour. His prosperity did not take his mind, time or loyalty off his Creator – the Giver of the blessing. When the goings became tough with him, Jesus remained Lord. He never despaired! Just as he saw his good times as the reason for believing God, he saw his hard times as a reason for believing God as well, because he knew the purpose of life was beyond the joy and pain we receive.
When we base our relationship with God on prosperity, we would have nothing to rest our belief on when the prosperity is taken away. When we base our relationship on the joy of life alone, satan would use it as a bait to tempt us. Bait is the thing that attracts one to receive harm or injury. Bait is food put on a hook or trap in order to catch a fish or an animal. It is the thing you cherish most that satan uses as a bait to tempt you – those things we love most.
Satan uses our weakness to tempt us – I mean, anything we love most becomes our point of weakness. For example, if you have a car you cherish so much, if anything happens to that car, you are likely to despair and complain, “Why me of all this?” That may affect your relationship with God. By the time satan knows that tempting you with something you love would separate you from the love of God, he would continue to tempt you with those things you love. That is why Apostle Paul said, “Have all these as if you have not”. That is, if you have money, you should not allow it to control you or to dictate your direction, but let the Giver of the money instead. Love God above all!
Just as Jesus Himself is the solution to the problems of all mankind, so He expects us to be a solution to someone in trouble. This was what He meant when He said to His disciples – in fact, all believers, ‘As the Father hath sent Me, so send I you’ (John 17:18; 20:21). In other words, Jesus was simply saying, “As the Father had commissioned me to be a solution to someone in trouble, so have I commissioned you a solution”.
You may say you are not properly placed to be of help to someone in dire need. Consider the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37). He met someone who was in great need of a helper. Though he was not properly placed in monetary terms, he knew that what was in his hand at that point in time could be a solution to the problem at hand. He could not afford to look the other way even though other better-placed individuals had looked the other way as they passed the victim by. He knew he was commissioned to be a solution to someone in trouble. To him, providing a solution to someone in such circumstance was an assignment from God and he could not afford to fail God. What did he actually have in his hand? Certainly, he had no more than a keg of palm wine and a few coins – just his personal provision for his journey. It did not matter to him if he had to exhaust his personal provision for his own journey in the course of solving another’s problem. It also did not matter to him whose interest he had to serve, whether a Jew or Gentile, friend or foe. What was uppermost in his heart was the need to carry out his assignment as a commissioned solution provider.
The Samaritan had every reason to be excused from showing compassion on the wounded Jew. First, the Jews and people from Samaria were arch-enemies. Ordinarily, they would not see eye-to-eye. Second, he hadn’t the requisite resources to provide any fundamental solution to the badly wounded and dying Jew. Third, it was very probable that the robbers might come and attack him in the course of trying to help the robbery victim. But there was one compelling force, which encouraged him to defy all the odds against him – the need to help someone else in trouble. It did not also matter to him if the priests and Levites – the most likely people who should be moved to compassion – looked the other way or not. He knew that every man God created is a solution to some problem.
I am a solution to your problems, just as you are to mine. In other words, I am because you are and you are because I am. There are many people on the sickbed in the hospitals around you. Go there, visit them and show them your love and compassion. Who knows, that may be all that is needed for their recovery. Pray with them and pray for them. By doing this, you are not only helping to solve someone else’s problems, you may discover who you are thereby. You might have been sent to a person or a people. For example, Aaron was sent to a person while Moses was sent to a people. Aaron was a solution to Moses’ problem while Moses was a solution to the people of Israel’s problems. We are not equally gifted but no one is created without a gift and each gift is meant to meet a need (Exodus 31:1-10).
– Prophet TB Joshua
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