The above phrase is a part of our “marching-in” song for presbyters’ procession into Church to signify the commencement of Sunday service. As a member of the Fellowship of Christian Students (FCS) in Daura, Katsina State, I was a chorister, one of four soprano leads in the school choir.
Recalling that song brought the words of Jesus back to me:
“…no man COMES to the father but BY me”.
It came upon me one day to know and note that the way Christians imaginarily visualize the illustrations of scripture defines how they appropriately or inappropriately understand the word of God.
The impossibility of understanding the true implications and applications of scripture is evidential in the truth that nothing pertaining to God can be effectively and effectually understood and appreciated by the natural mind, because the things of God are spiritually discerned. A Christian must have the mind of God to decode his word.
It was in regards to this fact that Jesus told the Samaritan woman “…believe me, the hour comes when neither on this mount nor in Jerusalem shall the father be worshipped…and now is when the worshippers of the father shall worship him in TRUTH (the word) and in SPIRIT, for such seeks the father to worship him”.
John 14:6 says “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life; no man comes to the father but by me”.
A very profound scripture. Like I said earlier, the way our imaginations tailor the illustrative vision of scripture to us determines how appropriate or inappropriate our understanding of the knowledge embedded in the scripture will be. Noteworthy is the fact that there is no faith on earth that has shown to have diverse misunderstanding of its scripture than the Christian faith.
There are so many independent ministers of scripture, who have developed various doctrines and several manuals for Christian living and their leadership persuasions. Evolving so many “dos” and “do nots”, welding the chalk and cane as instructors, to teach and harass their followers into slavish submissions.
Pastor Abel Damina, an Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, based founder of “The Power Chapel” on Nwaniba road, in a Church led by my friend Rev Tony Ibok, where he was invited to preach in 1994 or thereabout, in a congregation I was a part of, in Zaria, Kaduna State said “I am your shepherd and you are my sheep: the shepherd drinks the milk from the sheep, while the sheep eat grass”. I immediately sensed his misappropriation of complimentary illustration.
In the literal relationship between the sheep and its Shepherd, both are of different creative species, but in conveying the literal implication of his illustration, knowing that in his own case, both sheep and shepherd are of the same specie. I thought it was insensitive and callous, even insolent to say humans eat grass to give milk to their pastors, just because he needed peoples’ money.
Jesus fortunately told us that he is a shepherd who lays his life down for his sheep; not one given to drinking their milk, while they eat grass.
So many Christians have located themselves in various Churches under various teaching which makes each one of them to see the other as “not doing ‘it’ well'”.
The bane of our present day Christianity has been this attitude of Cain: spiritually speaking, this Cain-like attitude has created a lot of ignorant Christian-murderers and vagabonds, who have shown our world the wrong picture of Christ and further pushes the world away from him.
If Cain had concentrated on his sacrifice and was not distracted by Abel’s, he likely would not have been fixated on the responsive nature of his brother’s offering to the extent of hating him and wanting him dead.
When we refuse to be our “brothers’ keepers” because of the things they choose for themselves, we automatically wear the shoes of Cain.
This apparent division in Christianity is caused by the partitioning of Christians by those who attire in shepherds clothing but are hirelings in their hearts (John 10:1-16). They show themselves outwardly to be shepherds but know inwardly that they are hirelings.
My angst against every Nigerian “man of God” is his receiving tithes by the dictates of the Levitical law, but quickly refer to Melchizedek receiving tithes from Abram, when they know so well how scripture makes it very clear that it was the King of Sodom who was the beneficiary of the materials that made up the tithe Abram committed to Melchizedek – not to touch the things of Sodom, lest they say they made him rich (Genesis 14:21-23) – no man goes to war with his own personal goods.
This is what brought the words of Jesus back to me this morning.
“…NO MAN COMES TO THE FATHER BUT BY ME”
Imaginatively, we can choose to see this scripture illustrating Jesus as a GATE through which every man should access the almighty God. Or more appropriately as the bouncer at the gate leading to God.
In this reasoning what the mind would probably not ask is where this gate is located. If the mind pictures Jesus as been a gate or the bouncer at the gate, then there must however be a location for this to happen. No one in this category of thoughts would usually ask about the location as my kind of mind would.
Many Christian willingly assimilate trash as living water, even when one is solid and the other is liquid – the sense of differentiation is completely deaden by laziness to “study to show…” oneself “…approved”.
It is therefore the duty of a preacher who ministers to his congregants on portions of scriptures to elaborate more on the true meaning and implication of the words of Jesus, like I will quickly do now, as one born in, and out of season.
“No man comes to the father…” literally means you cannot access the father. The natural imagination would picture an access way and a manned gate. This is indeed truly wrong.
Jesus did not limit the possibility of accessing his father to the “way” alone, and “no man comes to the father but by me” does not necessarily indicate a gate on the way. Luke 13:23 clearly illustrates this fact, even using the picture of a gate: “strive to enter in at the strait gate…for MANY shall desire to enter therein, but SHALL NOT BE ABLE.
So even if our natural minds should picture Jesus words as a gate, it is clearly an unmanned gate which only one’s ABILITY, however feeble it may be, can grant him access. Therefore it will draw the wrong conclusion to picture Jesus as the bouncer at that gate.
Have we asked ourselves why amongst all the multitude that followed Jesus about, only 70 were privileged to be assigned as Evangelists? Have we asked ourselves why amongst the 70 Evangelists that constantly walked with Jesus, only 12 were chosen as Apostles? Have we asked ourselves why amongst the 12 Apostles chosen only 4 had faithful testimonies they left behind for the Church?
These men saw, heard, touched and lived every second of each day with Jesus but yet, with this relational privilege they enjoyed, one betrayed him, one denied him, another doubted him, and none except one recognised his voice when he called out from the shores of Tiberias (John 21:7). So it is possible to be with Jesus and not know him enough.
Why then should we trust a spiritual descendant of Judas Iscariot or Thomas to lure us with been with Jesus and to lead us astray? It is clearly not enough to be with Jesus. Your faith requires its work. Even salvation, which is free requires a personal work.
Nevertheless, even those who were not as close as the Apostles were with Jesus had something to testify about him, like the writers of the 4 synoptic gospel, but unlike Mark and Luke who only documented the life and times of Jesus’ incarnate ministry, Matthew traced Jesus from Abraham through 14 human generations (a doubly completed divine apportioning) in 3 divine earthly manifestations of Christ – from Abraham to Christ were 42 generations of human genealogies (Matthew 1:14) as it would take “42 months”, as stated in Revelation, to reveal the called, the chosen and the faithful.
Matthew revealed the doctrinal interpretations of the old law, laying the foundation for the calibre of the new wine and its wineskins. While John dealt with the spirituality of the new human specie privileged to live the life of God on earth.
So apart from the “way”, the 2 Apostles who were privileged to have their testimonies captured as synoptic, both stationed their testimonies on the TRUTH. This is where ones imagination picturing Jesus’ word as a way with a manned gate is diversionary from truth.
What made the writers of scripture different from those close-rangers with Jesus, was that while others were lazily enjoying the “sights and sounds” of Jesus, they documented their testimonies and for the 2 Apostles who wrote, they meditated on the words of Jesus and searched the scripture. Matthew 1 and John 1 testifies to this truth.
So “many are called but few are chosen”. We have seen also that it is not enough to be chosen…you must be faithful to “feed the household of God” appropriately. I made this clear in my book “The Mystery Of Unbelief”. There must be a personal effort to ensure the ability to “enter therein” at the “strait gate”.
If men who walked, ate and slept with Jesus all of the more than 3 years of his earthly ministration and still could not leave any tangible testimony about him, some even leaving bad examples we should not follow, how pitiable you are who is located in running around with pen and note pads trailing every “powerful man of God” taking notes of his own personal testimony of Jesus, acting in the place of the Holy Spirit for you.
That man has no crime if you cannot see how he spent his own time to “search the scripture” (5:39) and to seek the “comforter, helper, guide, teacher, and revealer of things to come (John 16:7-15) in order to dutifully vacate the same responsibility he shares equally with you before God, and to think that you pay for this in one way or another makes you pitiable – for been too busy to have time to seek to know God.
If he is that good, why not desire to be like him, if you cannot envisage been better than him. Week in, week out, you sit and listen to your pastors in the manner of Judas, Thomas, Nathaniel, and others who sat and listened to Jesus with no spiritual impartation for the lost world – even Apostle Philip, though left no testimony, was recorded as been separated from others as he went into the world preaching Christ and winning souls until he faded away when he met Paul’s team in Caesarea (Acts 21:8).
Israel failed and lost the eternal grace- impacted life of God to the Gentiles because when God descended upon Sinai to speak to them, for each Jew to hear his voice, they all refused and chose Moses to hear and talk to God for them. The same thing we are doing these days, when we require our pastors to speak and hear God for us…would Christ need to die again?
Imagine if every church-goer was like his Arch Bishop (let me use the highest Pentecostal rank), we would either choose to be idle before God, or we would go out there, with power following, to evangelize a dying world, a world where ISIS are winning the souls of European youths and converting them into blood thirsty monsters.
We would have no need for “Sunday school”, no need for “Bible studies” and “Sunday service” because we will also have a diary jammed with programs of our assignments around the world, like our pastors do – now you can imagine what the world would become, if we all do this.
I surely hate this recycling of “Church-goers”. Nobody cares how much the church is proliferated and bastardized. A kind of people who will sing “by the Rivers of Babylon…how can we sing ‘the lord’s song’ in a strange land'” while Ezekiel sat with them seeing the visions of God in “open heaven” in the same “strange land”. This was the 2nd pre-incarnate manifestation of the Christ on earth to Israel, as a dong in their mouths, but the refused to sing “God’s song”, even when the Babylonians were instigating their salvation.
“Must I go an empty handed…must I meet my saviour so, not one soul with which to greet him?” The body of the communion Jesus served in the upper room was the typical body of the first law Moses broke on Sinai, the 2nd had human input which burdened it with human traditions and hence was nailed to the cross. That broken law was bread, today it is our Bible – the compendium of scriptures.
Habakkuk 2:3 says “For the vision (of God) is yet for an appointed time… though it tarry, wait for it, because it will surely come – talking about the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
We have the communion of the body freely given as our Way and our Truth, and scripture say to “see the father”, we must “wait”. Isaiah 40:31 says “They that wait upon the lord shall renew their strength (they shall not be tired)…” The “strait way that leads to life also has a “strait gate” we must “enter” therein-to…by our own efforts.
Until we give in to our searching the scriptures the same time our church leaders give into their own search, we will never experience the voice of the Holy Spirit talking to us, we will only hear our leaders’ voices, and we can be unfortunate to start living and speaking like them – this is sub-human bondage.
I refused to see Jesus as a gate or a bouncer at the gate on the “Way” to life. In the first place, he is not only the way, he is the truth and the life. At the point you get to the strait gate (when you desire to know God), you meet Jesus, who brought you this far by the “way” of access he grants by his sacrifice, who embodies the “truth” (Knowledge of God – God is True) and the “life of God” altogether – “the words I speak to you, they are spirit and they are life” (John 6:63), then we will be glad to “learn of” him, not by the mouth of men but by the unction-persuasion of the Holy Spirit.
It happened to me in 1997, and again in 2007. Both instances have produced 6 books including “The Voice Of Silence”, which law enforcers quote to those they come to arrest. Yes! Silence has a voice only God hears.
Without the truth and the life, we cannot possess the ability to enter in at the strait gate that leads to life. The “Way” leads to the gate, but your ability to embrace “the Truth and the Life” enables us to access God.
We cannot ask for what we do not know, nor can we seek in a direction we have not determined, nor even knock on a door that is not in sight. This is what waiting on the lord entails – spiritual knowledge, not tutorials from men – it is the knowledge the Holy Spirit alone that imparts and impacts believers to see God. It is the responsibility of the Holy Spirit to lead you to God, to show you those things that Jesus said he could not accomplish in telling you in scripture.
The first trip of grace-militancy is getting the believer to the strait gate. Many “spirit-filled” Christians are located here, as in “few are chosen”: this imputed election is by the knowledge of Christ – the word, but that is just one arm of eternal life.
The law (word) of God is upon two tables – one for God and the other for Christ (our fellow man) – Jesus said what you do to the least of my brethren, you do unto me – effectively relinquishing all privileges due to him to his human brothers (all men).
The other arm is the knowledge of God (John 17:3), which is conveyed by the Holy Spirit, completing the Communion of the bread and wine. Listening to men cannot and will not make you see God – your pastors can see God and tell you who he is…that is their testimonies, what is yours?
“No man comes to the father but by me”. The body that brought grace and truth is available, dwell therein, seek the Way, ask for the Truth and knock on the strait gate…when you do, wait, do not loiter nor stray away from the gate, cast all cares on him, remember the foolish virgins – were they really foolish because they had no oil in their lamps, or was it because they left the gate and missed the wedding feast? Could their pastors have told them like they do these days, that without oil, one cannot find admittance into Jesus’ banquet?
Rather than miss entrance into the wedding banquet because of personal oil, attachment to Christ’s grace is allowed – he is our sufficiency. If he did it for King Hezekiah during his temple renewal of worship, when so many “unclean Jews” were permitted by God to worship, suspending the law, Jesus can accept us if we wait on him, even without oil in our lamps – there is no night with him.
We must be in the banquet hall before the gates are locked up – this is what matters; nevertheless if your lamp is oiled or not – your works will be tested by fire. Seeking oil outside the gate can rob you of “coming to God” – do not be arrogant, for what is hidden from the wise and the prudent is what suckling make meat of – this is the prototype of the Kingdom of God and the antitype of our earthly Church-systems.
“We refuse to be what they wanted us to be; we are what we are, that’s the way its going to be”. If my words are not strange to your ears – because they are new to Hunan ears – then you are under the Holy Ghost baptism; congratulation!