DEFENSE OF THE GOSPEL
by Bola Olu-Jordan
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‘And when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Barjesus: Which was with the deputy of the country, Sergius Paulus, a prudent man; who called for Barnabas and Saul, and desired to hear the word of God. But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith. Then Saul, ( also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him, And said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord? And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season. And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand. Then the deputy, when he saw what was done, believed, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord’ (Acts 13:6-12).
When we read stories like that of Elymas BarJesus in the Bible, many times we forget that as it was, then, so it is, now. Have people like Elymas disappeared from today’s churches? No, but rather, they are on the increase! Remember, this man was called a (false) prophet and a sorcerer. That is the name they still go by today, but with a little more sophistication to hide the falsehood and the sorcery.
They thrive by seeing visions and delicately carving out prophetic words to appeal, not really to the spiritual needs of the people, (Jesus), but to their sentiments (lusts). People call them prophets because of the visions which they retail for a price, quite unaware of the fact that they are actually sorcerers.
Such turn the hearts of many simple and innocent people, who desire to hear the true word of God away by offering them alternate messages of the word of man, which seems to bring immediate result but eternal regret.
Sergius Paulus, despite being described as ‘a prudent deputy Governor’, fell into the hands of Elymas. Education and status is no barrier to their operations. Many with status are falling daily into the hands of Elymas. Many walk into the church with a sincere desire to know God but they end up being introduced to mammon, wrapped in the package of miracles.
We need people like Saul and Barnabas, to stand in the defense of the gospel, regardless of the numbers of Elymas on our pulpit today. They may bear names very similar to that of our Lord Jesus, but it’s only to deceive. They may claim to be prophets but do they speak the word of God? They may call themselves preachers but what do they preach: the gospel or prosperity?
The never discern but divine the needs of the people by sorcery and retail ‘miracle’ for them so as to meet the yearning of their own belly, at the cost of the congregation’s eternity. (Phil.3:19). They turn the hearts of the people away from the faith of our Lord Jesus into mere religion and to celebrate inanities in the pretense of breakthrough!
They really never had an encounter with Jesus, but are only impressed by the popularity. They never desired formation in Christ, but just information about Him. All they wanted is not the fellowship of His suffering but the power of His resurrection. (Phil.3:10)
These are the company of Jannes and Jambres who were also ‘prophets’ in the palace of Pharaoh in Egypt (2Tim.3:8). They have power to duplicate all the miracles of Moses so as to convince Pharaoh that Moses was fake. Moses could have been deceived by their miracles, except that he was bold enough to watch his own rod which became a snake, swallowed theirs. He could have been deceived, but he knew his God. They that know their God shall be strong and do exploit. How many people know their God today? They only know the man of God who is actually the god of the people.
Saul and Barnabas confronted Elymas Bar-jesus, the sorcerer and false prophet with the Word of God. We must also rise with the word of God in our lips. Without the word of God in us, we will fall to their skilled prowess, because their weapon is sorcery.
But before we can speak the word of God to them we must do three things that Paul did which made the word of God to be effective and neutralize the power of sorcery in Elymas. When these things are absent, we will not be able to face them.
First and foremost, the Bible says Paul was filled with the Holy Ghost. Without the Holy Ghost in us, we will fail against the power of sorcery. Paul did not only have the Holy Ghost, he was filled with it. Secondly, Paul set his eyes on him. When we fasten our eyes on them, we remove the power of sorcery and spell in them against us. We break the spirit of fear, which is one of the weapons use against people to keep them silent. We need to look straight into their eyes with the power of the Holy Ghost. Without being filled with the Holy Ghost, we cannot look straight into their eyes to discern which spirit they are operating with. We must discern their sorceries.
The third point is to speak to them the word of God and watch the word of God come to pass! ‘…Paul, FILLED WITH THE HOLY GHOST, SET HIS EYES ON HIM, AND SAID, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord? And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season’ (Acts 13:6-12).
Although this man presented himself as a prophet, a Jew and bore and name similar to Jesus, but Paul discerned his real identity: ‘thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness’. That is their real name - sons of belial! It is the Holy Spirit alone that can reveal such. Matthew says except the days were shortened, no flesh would be saved. ‘For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible possible, they shall deceive the very elect (Mat. 24:24).
What was the result of Paul’s confrontation? ‘and immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand. Then the deputy, when he saw what was done, believed, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord’ (Acts 13:6-12)! We need people like Paul. This is the real prophetic words, not the ‘you will buy trailer tomorrow’ we see many saying, hawking the anointing of the sakeof their belly!
Elymas was a Jew, but a fake one. He was a prophet, but a false one. He was Barjesus, not real Jesus, and so he continued to withstand the word of God to innocent people who desired to hear the word of God. We must rise up in the defense of gospel.
The company of Elymas Barjesus are on the increase. They withstand the true word of God by persuading people away from faith to religion, from salvation to miracles and other messages that truly appeal to the soul, but never gets to the spirit.
If we don’t rise, they will continue to be on the increase. An average pastor today who claims God calls him has no message except psychology. The primary message of the cross is not about making it in life but making it to eternity. It is not about liberty that makes our brethren to fall or that enslaves people to sin with the confidence to plead the blood later!
Many may be preaching such bread and butter messages: liberal messages of accommodation of what is not necessarily evil and not necessarily good (tree of knowledge of good and evil), secular humanism and universal good, but as factual as this is, is it the truth? Jesus ONLY is the truth, not philosophy or any other logical and intellectual submission of financial emancipation, wrapped up with Bible passages.
For the fact that such messages are preached in the church from a ‘collared’ or ‘titled’ person with Bible passages does not make it of God. Are they preaching Jesus or miracles? These are different! Anyone that does not preach Jesus, regardless of how relevant, practical and religious the message may be, he operates in the spirit of Elymas Barjesus.
We must stand where God stands. Like Paul, we must be able to declare that although ‘some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel’ (Phil. 1:15-17).
Will you stand for the defense of the gospel? But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed (Gal.1:8).
For more articles, you can contact Pastor Olu-Jordan on firstname.lastname@example.org.
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