Archive for January, 2018

I love God’s Word and delight in its truth. Yet too often I find that after reading my Bible or hearing a sermon, the truth, so necessary to the wellbeing of my soul, can too easily slip away. The truth that had for a moment captured my attention and my affections can quietly fade amid the clutter and noise of the day.

One of the best ways to remedy this is to practice the spiritual discipline of meditating on God’s Word. It is a discipline that takes time and intention, but one that brings great benefit to the soul. We need to carve out time to lay hold of the truth of God’s Word.

It is a bewildering paradox of our day that the Bible can be so accessible and yet so marginalized. On the one hand our technology has brought God’s Word close at hand. It’s on our phones and tablets and computers and iPods. We have almost immediate access to several versions of the Bible as well as a wealth of sermons and commentaries. But this same technology also threatens to distract us and drown out God’s Word. We have become a culture obsessed with noise and comfortable with clutter. So many sources are bringing input into our lives: TV, radio, online news feeds, Facebook, Twitter…. More than ever we need to make time to meditate, to dwell in God’s Word.

Meditation is pondering the Word in our hearts, preaching it to our own souls, and personally applying it to our own lives and circumstances. It is how we sanctify our thinking and bring it into submission to Christ—taking every thought captive. Paul tells us in Romans 12:

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:2).

[All Scripture references are ESV unless otherwise indicated.]

In Psalms 77 Asaph uses three verbs that capture the essence of meditation. When he finds himself perplexed and troubled and cries out to God, he determines to steady his soul by looking to God and laying hold of truth. He says in verses 11 and 12:

I will remember the deeds of the LORD;
Yes, I will remember your wonders of old.
I will ponder all your work,
And meditate on your mighty deeds (Psalms 77:11-12).

Asaph uses 3 verbs in the Hebrew to describe what it means to lay hold of truth: He says: I will remember, I will ponder, and I will meditate.

He begins with remembering (zakar)—calling to mind “the deeds of the Lord” and His “wonders of old.” He intentionally takes note of truth and draws it back into his thinking. Asaph reflects on what God has accomplished for His people in the past—events and epics like the Exodus and Passover, the giving of the law on Mount Sinai, the conquest of the Promised Land. He makes an effort not to forget all the Lord has done.

David also speaks of remembering God:          

When I remember you upon my bed,
And meditate on you in the watches of the night (Psalms 63:6).

In Psalms 143, when David is overwhelmed with trouble, he uses the same three verbs as Asaph, beginning with “remember.”

remember the days of old;
I meditate on all that you have done;
I ponder the work of your hands (Psalms 143:5).

We are a forgetful people and God would have us to remember. Meditation begins with remembering, bringing back into our minds the truths and praises and promises of God.

But, second, Asaph also uses a word that is translated in Psalms 77:12 “I ponder.”

I will ponder all your work,
And meditate on your mighty deeds (Psalms 77:12).

This is the verb hagah in the Hebrew. It is found in numerous places in the Old Testament and is translated as “ponder” or “meditate”:

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success (Joshua 1:8).

But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
And on his law he meditates day and night (Psalms 1:2).          

When I remember you upon my bed,
and meditate on you in the watches of the night (Psalms 63:6).

In Psalms 2 it is used of the nations “plotting” against God.

Why do the nations rage
and the peoples plot in vain? (Psalms 2:1)

The word literally means “to let resound.” It is used in Psalms 92:3 of the sound or tones of a musical instrument as it resonates.

On an instrument of ten strings,                
On the lute, And on the harp,
With harmonious [or resounding] sound(Psalms 92:3).

It is used also in Psalms 9:16.                                

The LORD is known by the judgment He executes;
The wicked is snared in the work of his own hands.
Meditation. Selah  (Psalms 9:16).

It is not entirely clear if the use of the word here is a musical instruction for the musicians to play an interlude—letting the instruments resound—or if it is an instruction to the congregation—let this truth resound within yourselves.

We find the term also at the end of Psalms 19:

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in your sight,
O LORD, my rock and my redeemer (Psalms 19:14).

In other words: Let the inward tones of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord…

This is how we want the truth of Scripture to fill us and impact us—as we hear it and sing it and pray it—as Paul tells us in Colossians 3:16, let the Word of Christ dwell in us richly! Let it dwell in us in a way that resounds and reverberates in and through our lives.

We see another use of the word in Isaiah 31:4that helps us understand its intent. Isaiah uses the word in reference to a lion:

For thus the LORD said to me,
 “As a lion or a young lion growls over his prey” (Isaiah 31:4)

The word for growl or roar is this word for meditation. Have you ever heard a lion when he roars? He does not just use his voice. His entire being reverberates. This is meditation. Letting God’s Word resound from within the very center of our being.

Meditation involves remembering, and resounding, but finally Asaph speaks of meditating.

I will ponder all your work,
and meditate on your mighty deeds (Psalms 77:12).

This word siyach means to muse and wonder and dwell on—to think deeply about something. Used literally it means to murmur, mumble or talk to yourself.

In a negative sense it can mean “to complain.” It is the idea that something has so taken hold of your thinking that you can’t stop thinking about it. So on the negative side—it troubles you and disturbs you and draws out complaint; but on the positive side—it captivates you and enraptures your thinking so that you “dwell on” it. This is the way we want God’s truth to lay hold of us—so that we can’t but dwell on it, so that it captures our thinking and finds it way into our choices and decisions.

The Puritans thought of meditation this way as they described it as “preaching to yourself.” We take the Word of God that we hear and read, and we mull it over in our minds and then bring it to bear upon our lives in personal exhortations.

It is a word that is found often in the Old Testament, especially in the psalms.

May my meditation be pleasing to him,
for I rejoice in the LORD (Psalms 104:34).          

I will meditate on your precepts
and fix my eyes on your ways (Psalms 119:15).          

Oh how I love your law!
It is my meditation all the day (Psalms 119:97).

When we meditate we think about God’s Word. We dwell on it and then as opportunities arise, we preach it to ourselves. We inject it into our thoughts as we make decisions, as we admonish and instruct our souls to choose right things and walk down right paths.

This is the essence of meditation. It is evoking the truth, embracing it and embedding it in our lives. It is intentionally focusing on recalling God’s truth that it might resound in our hearts and become that grid through which we sift and measure our thoughts and actions.

Meditation is a crucial Christian discipline and a vital means of grace that we must treasure and practice. But it is a discipline that takes time and effort. Accessibility can never beat intentionality. Don’t assume that having God’s Word close at hand means you have it close at heart. Carve out time in your day to remember, time to ponder, time to preach to yourself. The world around us can too easily choke out what is needful and good for our souls. Don’t allow God’s truth to slip away from you. Be intentional and diligent and your meditation.

Founders Ministries Blog

by Ken Puls


Fellow Nigerians:

Happy 2018 once again. This year promises to be an unusual one and a turning point in the history of our nation. In conveying my optimistic salutations, I am not unmindful of the unpleasant circumstances that characterised the turn of the year, including the fact that the first “Merry Christmas” uttered by many Nigerians was to their fellow compatriots in fuel queues at petrol stations. I am also saddened by the terror attacks on places of worship during the festive season. My heartfelt condolences go to the families and communities in Guma and Logo Local Government Areas in Benue State who began the year in grief because of the murderous activities of heartless criminals. I pray that they, and every hurting Nigerian, will experience the comforting hand of God and find the fortitude to hope for a happy and joyous year in 2018.

Tomorrow, the fifteenth of January, is Armed Forces Remembrance Day; a day set aside to remember Nigeria’s fallen heroes, those who fought in the First and Second World Wars, as well as those who laid down their lives during the Nigerian Civil War to keep Nigeria one. I salute these heroes and every member of our Armed Forces still fighting in various missions in the world and, in particular, those in the theatre of the prolonged war against Boko Haram.

I am also mindful that tomorrow will mark fifty-two years since the shots were first fired that eventually destroyed the federal foundations upon which our union was originally constructed. We remember the fathers of our nation who lost their lives in the process, the likes of Sir Ahmadu Bello and Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa. We celebrate the legacies of these heroes past, together with those of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe and Chief Obafemi Awolowo, and we reaffirm that their labours shall never be in vain.

I stand here today as I have done in previous years to constructively examine the state of the nation, to evaluate our progress, to appraise our governmental systems and structures against the backdrop of our national purpose and promise, and to awaken leadership to the solemn call to dispense good governance. Very importantly, I stand today to prick the conscience of a nation that has turned the other eye in deliberate sinful silence of a conspiratorial magnitude while Nigerians are being murdered in various parts of the country by marauding herdsmen. I will proffer structural solutions to these and other challenges facing our nation in the course of this address, but first I will clarify issues arising from my public statements regarding my role in the future of our nation.

Setting the Record Straight

On the first day of the year, I shared twelve prophecies regarding the nature of the year 2018 as I had received from God. For instance, the tenth prophecy indicated that there will be an upsurge in the price of mineral resources as well as oil and gas in 2018. Barely had these statements been made when the price of oil topped $68 for the first time since 2015.[i]

However, the twelfth prophecy has become the theme of myriad speculative interpretations and enquiries. While it has brought excitement to some, it has brought anxiety to others. I have since been inundated with messages from politicians and journalists as well as friends and well-wishers seeking clarification or offering advice based on their understanding of those declarations.

I did say that, while waiting on God, the Spirit of God said to me:

“Politics is not over for you. There is still one thing left for you to do: Run for President…I will work it out Myself and make it happen in due course[ii].”

I went ahead to put this in context as I appealed for prayers. I hereby further clarify the twelfth prophecy with the following ten points:

  1. The declaration was not a presidential campaign announcement; it was an invitation to prayers sent out to fellow labourers initiated in our corporate destiny as nation builders;
  2. To the uninitiated, that declaration was news, but to my partners in destiny, to whom indeed the request for prayers was extended, my journey and trajectory in the call to nation building is well known. It began on April 10, 1967 when, as a thirteen-year-old, I saw myself in a vision discussing the future of the nation with two Nigerian leaders, General Yakubu Gowon and Chief Obafemi Awolowo. That vision changed my life; it sustained me as a teenager and propelled me into student politics at the University of Lagos as I ran for the post of Student Union President; it took me into active politics as I stood on the platform with the elders the day the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) was launched in Lagos; that vision shaped my uncompromising non-conformist value system in legal practice, business, ministry, and politics. The subject of the twelfth prophecy is therefore not new;
  3. Nowhere in that declaration did I mention running for election. It is, however, not surprising that politicians and the politically-minded have interpreted it as such. Their narrow interpretation reminds me of Joshua’s description of the sound from the Israeli camp while Moses was away on the mountain with God.[iii]Whereas the Israelites were making merry, to Joshua, a man of war, every sound from the camp was a sound of war. In like manner, every time the word “run” is used in a statement, the politician thinks of elections, while a statesman thinks of the next generation. I am, by God’s grace, a nation builder propelled by the dream of a New Nigeria and hopefully will become a statesman someday;
  4. I am indeed running, but not for elections; it is a race of destiny and the destination is certain. The certainty of this destination is reminiscent of the statement Jesus made before Pilate:

John 18:37 (NKJV): 37 Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?”Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”

In like manner, to everyone asking what the twelfth prophecy actually means, my unequivocal response remains, “To this end was I born, and for this purpose I came into the world: To lead Nigeria into her prophetic destiny.” It will happen in due course, in God’s way, and in God’s time;

  1. Some may ask, “How then can it happen, if not by elections?” My simple response is that there are biblical precedents, including the stories of Joseph, David, Nehemiah and Daniel; there are also historical precedents, including the case of George Washington whose unanimous election was merely an endorsement, and Gerald Ford who, under the terms of the 25th Amendment, took the oath as Vice President on December 6, 1973, and, following the resignation of President Richard Nixon, was inaugurated as the 38th President of the United States on August 9, 1974, without a single election;
  2. Furthermore, as Jesus said when Nicodemus came to Him by night to make enquiries:

“…The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”[iv]

If God leads me to serve my nation by election into political office, I state boldly that I will accept it with all my heart. In the year 2011, when the opportunity came to be running mate to then General Muhammadu Buhari, God said to me, “You are walking on a path that I have mapped out for you.” In His wisdom, God knew that phase of His plan was not going to lead to election victory, but it was a crucial phase of His plan, and I dare say that the dress rehearsal was worth it. As God unfolds the next phase, my response to Him is simply, “Here I am. Send me.”[v];

  1. The important point to note is that it is my destiny to shepherd this nation into her prophetic destiny, and the time is at hand. The method by which God intends to do it is up to Him; I am neither flagging off an election campaign nor building political alliances. Like David, I will continue to shepherd God’s flock and, in His time and manner, I will shepherd the nation according to the integrity of my heart and the skillfulness of my hands[vi];
  2. For the cynics who query the authority and audacity by which I speak of my assignment to Nigeria, let me remind them of the statement by Papa Chief Obafemi Awolowo before the High Court on September 11, 1963, just before he was sentenced to prison for treasonable felony:

“It is, therefore, with a brave heart, with confident hope, and with faith in my unalterable destiny, that I go from this twilight into the darkness, unshaken in my trust in the Providence of God that a glorious dawn will come on the morrow…I…will not die in prison…I am confident that the ideals of social justice and individual liberty which I hold dear will continue to be projected beyond the prison walls and bars until they are realized in our lifetime.”[vii]

History later justified these bold claims. Shortly after his release from prison, he became the Federal Commissioner for Finance and Vice Chairman of the Federal Executive Council in the Gowon administration (today’s equivalent of Vice President and Minister of Finance rolled into one). In this capacity, Chief Awolowo helped Nigeria prosecute the Civil War without borrowing a dime, to the extent that General Yakubu Gowon, in a tribute to Chief Awolowo, acknowledged that the late sage helped save Nigeria from breaking up[viii].  My question to the cynics is therefore: How did Papa Chief Obafemi Awolowo know that he would not die in prison but would be released to serve Nigeria? If they cannot answer this question, then neither will I tell them by what authority I make these audacious declarations;

  1. Having established the fact that I am ready to follow God’s leading in the service of my nation, let me reiterate that what Nigeria needs now is not another election but a return to the drawing board to renegotiate our union. You will recall that, in 2015, I made a similar declaration in the message titled “The Gathering Storm and Avoidable Shipwreck: How to Avoid Catastrophic Euroclydon”[ix]. In that address, I called for restructuring when others were clamouring for elections. Three years later, the majority that was wrong has become the minority, and the minority that was right is becoming the majority, even as restructuring has become the buzzword in our nation;
  2. Finally, I am reminded of David’s response to his brothers’ spiteful cynicism when he accepted Goliath’s challenge. This is recorded for our learning in I Samuel 17:28 & 29 (NKJV):

28 Now Eliab his oldest brother heard when he spoke to the men; and Eliab’s anger was aroused against David, and he said, “Why did you come down here? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your pride and the insolence of your heart, for you have come down to see the battle.” 29 And David said, “What have I done now? Is there not a cause?”

Fellow Nigerians, given the state of our nation, is there not a cause? Therefore, rather than waste time on cynical critics, we draw strength from the words our ears have heard:

The Lord of hosts has sworn, saying,
“Surely, as I have thought, so it shall come to pass,
And as I have purposed, so it shall stand…”[x]

The State of the Nation

Some measure of progress has been made within the first thirty-one months of this administration[xi]. However, as was the case with previous administrations, the current government appears to be merely patching the cracks on the wall. This administration anchored its policy outlook on three main thrusts, including security, job creation through diversification, and anti-corruption, yet all around us are signs of retrogression.

As at June 2015, the unemployment rate was 8.2% of a labour force of 74 million[xii], meaning that about 6 million Nigerians were unemployed. By September 2017, despite such efforts as N-Power[xiii] and a range of policies aimed at improving enterprise development and facilitating job creation, the unemployment rate had risen to 18.8% of a labour force of 85.1 million[xiv], indicating that between 2015 and 2017, the number of unemployed Nigerians rose from about 6 million to almost 16 million.

On diversification, despite ongoing efforts, reports indicate that oil continues to significantly dominate Nigeria’s exports revenue[xv], leading to the shortfall in foreign currency in the first half of this administration[xvi]. In essence, we have been unable to export much beyond crude, as oil still accounts for over 90% of total exports revenue[xvii].

The ineffectiveness of the anti-corruption war is seen in the loss of crucial corruption cases[xviii]. For instance, in April 2017, the federal government lost four high profile corruption cases in ninety-six hours[xix].  These losses are in addition to bizarre developments such as the failure of the government to confirm a substantive Chairman for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), despite the fact that the same political party controls both the executive and the legislature, not to mention the public showdown between EFCC and Department of State Services (DSS) officials[xx], or the opposition of the Director-General of the DSS to the confirmation of the Acting Chairman of the EFCC[xxi].

Furthermore, nothing indicts the current government greater than its failure in one key performance area that ought to be its strength: security. Despite recent setbacks, we acknowledge the gains in the war against Boko Haram, but highly disturbing is the mayhem being continually unleashed by herdsmen on communities in different states across the country, including Benue, Taraba, Plateau, Adamawa, Kaduna, Enugu, Edo and Ogun States, leaving trails of weeping and wailing. The recent killings in Benue State are akin to the last straw that is set to break the camel’s back.

Herdsmen Attacks and the Deliberate Sinful Silence (DSS) of the Nigerian State

Not only has the government failed to stop these killings across the country, it has done so against the backdrop of conspiratorial silence, choosing rather to label such attacks “an issue of communal misunderstanding”, as the Inspector General of Police recently did in respect of the Benue attacks[xxii]; it has treated the menace with kid gloves even after the Global Terrorism Index 2015 described “militant” herdsmen as “the fourth most deadly group of 2014”[xxiii]. Worse still, some of these killings have reportedly been carried out in collusion with the military[xxiv].

Recently, the Secretary to the Adamawa State Government, Umar Bindir, justified the bearing of arms by the herdsmen[xxv] but failed to tell where the herdsmen get their guns from and with which government agency these guns are registered. Who authorised them to bear arms? Who gave them immunity against section 3 of the Robbery and Firearms (Special Provisions) Act 1990[xxvi], which prescribes punishment for illegal possession of arms? Who monitors the use of these guns? Why have the relevant government agencies failed to act? In particular, why has the name Department of State Services (DSS) become synonymous with the phrase “Deliberate Sinful Silence” (DSS)? Or is it now the Department of Sinful Silence?

As expected, due to the incapacity of the states, not even the anti-grazing laws of states like Benue have succeeded in dealing with these issues. These one-sided and incomprehensive legislations by state governments that lack the constitutional powers to provide security for their people have yielded little or no results. Therefore, the federal government has become complicit for the following reasons:

  1. By not advancing and vigorously executing policies aimed at pre-empting or preventing these killings even with sufficient warnings: I am reminded of the open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari by a former Nigerian High Commissioner to Canada and Second Republic senator, Prof. Iyorwuese Hagher. Permit me to quote excerpts from that letter:

Your Excellency Mr. President…I am pained that you ignored my advice in my private memorandum to you dated 30th July 2016. I had warned you of the possibility of a horrendous genocide in Benue, Plateau, Taraba, Southern Kaduna, and Southern Adamawa States. I asked you to be proactive and stop the genocide that has been ongoing but which would burst out in the open and shock the world within 18 months. Your office replied my letter…thanking me “immensely” and giving me the assurances that the advice would be heeded…I regret to now inform you that it is seventeen months since my warning and prediction and your government did nothing to pre-empt or prevent the genocide.[xxvii]

  1. By failing to make it an issue of importance in national discourse: Despite the antecedents of the marauders, including the recent Adamawa incidents[xxviii], Mr. President, in his New Year address to the nation, did not consider the menace or the pain of victims of previous attacks worth a mention in his address[xxix];
  2. By failing to give victims a path to reconciliation and the hope of a united Nigeria: It has been reported, for instance, that as a result of the failure of government to act, there have been reprisal attacks on herdsmen[xxx], resulting in a vicious cycle of death and destruction;
  3. By rejecting the call to restructure our nation in order to bring lasting solutions to these and other signs of sectional discontent:

In his New Year address, Mr. President further alienated his government from the voice of reason in relation to the call to restructure Nigeria. In his words:
“…I have kept a close watch on the on-going debate about “Restructuring”…When all the aggregates of nationwide opinions are considered, my firm view is that our problems are more to do with process than structure.”[xxxi]

I totally agree with Mr. President that we need process reforms; otherwise, we would not be appointing dead men to head parastatals[xxxii], but can process reforms replace foundational structural reforms? Never. Be that as it may, let no one confuse the genuine call to restructure the nation with the gimmicks of political opportunists who ride on the restructuring wave for their perceived advantage. Many of them talk the talk but neither walked the talk in the past nor will do so in the future.

Therefore, I say to those who have the power to take the decisions and actions necessary to end these atrocities, especially by restructuring the nation, but have failed to do so for political gains, that they are attempting to establish a city by iniquity and there are dire consequences. I am reminded of the word of the Lord in the Book of Habakkuk: “…For the stone will cry out from the wall, And the beam from the timbers will answer it. Woe to him who builds a town with bloodshed, Who establishes a city by iniquity!…”[xxxiii]

The current edifice of state has become a deathtrap. All around are cracks on the wall that originate from the structural foundations. Those cracks are dripping with blood and the stones in the wall are crying out. The stones are crying out from Benue State and every part of the country where herdsmen have slaughtered the innocent in unspeakably barbaric attacks while the government failed to act until there were yet more bodies in morgues. The stones are crying out in every state in the federation where workers’ salaries are unpaid and poverty prevails because states are nothing but institutional and constitutional vegetables on life support from Abuja. The stones are crying out because young men and women are leaving the shores of a country so rich yet so poor and are enslaved, prostituted and murdered in other lands. By maintaining the status quo, Nigeria has once again become a land filled with crimes of blood.

Therefore, since state legislation has proved inadequate and the federal government has failed to act, the cries of Nigerians have gone up to God as an appeal to a higher governmental order. The judgement that is written in Ezekiel 7:2327 (NKJV) is about to be executed: 23”‘Make a chain, For the land is filled with crimes of blood, And the city is full of violence.

24 Therefore I will bring the worst of the Gentiles, And they will possess their houses; I will cause the pomp of the strong to cease, And their holy places shall be defiled.

25 Destruction comes; They will seek peace, but there shall be none.

26 Disaster will come upon disaster, And rumor will be upon rumor. Then they will seek a vision from a prophet; But the law will perish from the priest, And counsel from the elders.

27‘The king will mourn, The prince will be clothed with desolation, And the hands of the common people will tremble. I will do to them according to their way, And according to what they deserve I will judge them; Then they shall know that I am the Lord!’”

The Nigerian state has a choice to make on the way forward to lasting peace and prosperity: It is either the path of divine judgment reminiscent of a Jehu revolution[xxxiv] or a choice to renegotiate our union through a pragmatic approach to restructuring the nation. I will devote the last part of this address to reiterating the latter option, hingeing it on an interesting statement made by Mr. President in his New Year address.

Of Impatience and the Expectations of Nigerians

First, I will read excerpts from the 2018 New Year address by Chinese President Xi Jinping that show the heart of a leader mindful of his people:
“Our GDP rose to the level of 80 trillion yuan (12.3 trillion US dollars). Over 13 million urban and rural jobs were created…1.35 billion people are covered by basic medical insurance. More than 10 million rural residents were lifted out of poverty…
…Our country’s great development has been achieved by the people, and its fruits should be shared by the people…
…officials at all levels must constantly hold in their hearts the interests and concerns of the people, and regard the benefit of the people as their highest career accomplishment. They must think for the people, respond to their needs, and work for the greater happiness of the people.”[xxxv]

By contrast, in his New Year address to Nigerians, President Buhari said:
“We Nigerians can be very impatient and want to improve our conditions faster than may be possible considering our resources and capabilities…We must give a long period of trial and improvement before the system we have adopted is anywhere near fit for purpose.”[xxxvi]

Admittedly, this administration inherited a backlog of woes, including economic recession, an unfavourable external environment characterised by low crude oil prices, and a treasury emptied through corruption by previous administrations. Also, one cannot but agree with President Buhari on the long-term nature of the desired change. After all, China began its journey to economic transformation in 1978[xxxvii].

However, the fact remains that, over the years, Nigerians have been known to be resilient to a fault and to have low expectations of their governments, but if Nigerians are now getting impatient, it could be because they are beginning to realise that fast-paced growth is possible when we get the fundamentals right. In those fundamentals lie the solution to herdsmen attacks and our myriad economic and socio-political problems. It is a call to return to the foundations of our geopolitical structure; it is a call to renegotiate our union.

Facilitating Nigerias Economic Miracle: Revisiting the Pragmatic Approach to Restructuring

Nigeria’s past episodes of oil-induced growth have never been sustained, not even when we had a GDP growth of 33.7% in 2004[xxxviii] after oil prices rose in response to the American invasion of Iraq. However, as at 1963, when Nigeria had not yet discovered its oil, we had the opportunity to build a fast-paced but sustainably growing economy. At that time, the Nigerian economy had begun to grow at about the same growth rate[xxxix]by which Japan would later become the second largest economy in the world within two decades.[xl] By 1962, official reports indicated “a rapid rate of economic growth” across Nigeria[xli]. However, while Japan’s growth continued, ours was truncated by political recklessness and military intervention. This led to the abrogation of the regional federal structure that nurtured that growth.

Fellow Nigerians, this is why I stand on the God-inspired pathway to the New Nigeria which I call the Pragmatic Steps to Restructuring Nigeria[xlii]. I stand on this because it is a return to the winning formula, albeit improved upon and better suited. With this plan, Nigeria can leapfrog, within ten years, the phases of industrialisation to become a global industrial powerhouse comprised of six geo-economic zones.

With this plan, the North Central can optimise its mechanised agricultural potential and harness the Niger and the Benue not just for irrigation but also for hydroponic farming; it can become a centre of world class cattle ranching that will not just quell the menace of herdsmen attacks but also incubate allied opportunities such as meat, milk and leather processing and a range of fast moving consumer goods industries, powered by renewable energy. The zone can then transit to heavy industries, including steel manufacturing and auto-manufacturing, while also harnessing the rivers as inland waterways and tourist attractions.

Meanwhile, the North West can harness its vast arable land by deploying land-enhancing technologies for mechanised agriculture and cattle ranching, while also becoming Africa’s defence manufacturing hub. With this arrangement, the zone will then be provided sufficient competitive impetus to revive its historical potential as a central hub in Africa’s textile industry.

With this approach, the North East will have the opportunity to redefine its identity from being a hotbed of Boko Haram to becoming a hub for cattle ranching as well as pharmaceutical and construction industries, harnessing its unique concentration of mineral resources such as clay, limestone and gypsum.

With its new-found liberty to develop at its own pace, the South West can revive the vision of Chief Obafemi Awolowo. The zone will not just resuscitate its vast industrial and agro-allied manufacturing potential; it can become a global centre for warehousing and distribution with its world-class sea and airports. Its intellectually aware cosmopolitan social class can become the catalysts of an African cultural renaissance that will facilitate the rise of new genres of creative and cultural industries. Meanwhile, within the zone, Lagos State can consolidate its position as the African hub of global finance.

The South South zone, with its vast oil and gas resources, currently sustains the nation’s expenditure. Nigeria owes this region the urgent activation of the pragmatic approach to restructuring. This approach will see the zone progressively obtain autonomy over these resources such that it can house a cluster of refineries and petrochemical industries. In addition, it can recover from its history of environmental degradation to harness its agro-allied industrial potential. It can also incubate a renewable energy cluster and become an African shipping hub.

The South East is home to a large population of vibrant entrepreneurs. In addition to potentially hosting a globally competitive agro-allied and energy industrial hub, it can, once again, break records in commerce and industry, and export to the world, innovation, enterprise, and an energetic human resource ready to convert opportunity anywhere in the world in the interests of our nation and continent.

With this approach, within ten years, from a near unitary structure comprising thirty-six states, these geo-economic zones can then evolve into six strong federating geopolitical zones and a Federal Capital Territory, roughly mirroring the seven emirates of the United Arab Emirates.

Fellow Nigerians, another important season is upon us as a nation, as a people, and as custodians and protectors of our collective national heritage. A nation should indeed be more than just a mere geographical expression: it should be the sum total of all its peoples, joined together by shared history, values, culture and aspiration, fused into a national ethic and an ingrained sense of identity. Failure to embrace this wise option, brilliantly articulated with patriotic fervour in 1947 by the sage Chief Obafemi Awolowo in his book, Path to Nigerian Freedom, is at the root of the unfortunate challenges we face today as a people. Indeed, there is nothing anyone, however cerebral or highly placed, can do against the truth, but for the truth[xliii].

Our founding fathers embraced the challenge of nationhood in their season by securing independence from the so-called colonial masters. Our military has played their role, good and bad, in shaping national direction for a considerable portion of our nationhood. The current political class has done its part by facilitating our return to civil rule.

Now, it is the turn of Nigerians: professionals, artisans, students, soldiers, policemen, para-military, academics, market women, drivers, youth, both the employed and the unemployed, as well as every Nigerian who is not an active beneficiary of the present disorder.

It is time for a DEMOCRATIC REVOLUTION. The season for complaints and complacency is over. We must seize this opportune moment to translate our collective national disappointment into a uniquely Nigerian REBIRTH.

The current political class constitute far less than one percent of Nigeria’s voting population. To avoid engagement with the powers that have hijacked our collective patrimony is to surrender our national destiny without a fight. And as Cardinal John Onaiyekan said: “Every citizen must be involved in politics…Only people who are irresponsible will say they are not interested; even if you are not interested in politics, politics will be interested in you”[xliv].

Our fight to reclaim and renew Nigeria begins now. Registering and obtaining a valid voter’s card must now be a national priority. If the 2015 elections were critical to our national survival, the 2019 polls are pivotal to our country’s future development. If power truly belongs to the people, it is time for the silent majority to instigate REAL AND GENUINE CHANGE.

As I have declared on previous occasions, what is required to kick-start this process is the creation of a Presidential Commission for National Reconciliation, Reintegration and Restructuring[xlv]. This commission is to be headed by a biblical Joseph-type national figure appointed to provide visionary leadership for the process with the support of six Zonal Commissioners. The visionary leadership will co-ordinate the implementation of master-plans for each of the six Geo-economic zones. It will evolve for the nation a strong anti-corruption-based national value system and stir up uncommon patriotic zeal among Nigerians. It will also attract various domestic and foreign investment packages and float a social impact bond to fund development. The requisite human capacity for the economic miracle will be provided not only by skilled Nigerians at home but also by many others based abroad through Diaspora for Development agreements guaranteed by goodwill and fuelled by uncommon patriotism.

To facilitate the process, the National Assembly will provide the requisite constitutional amendments within the ten years in addition to serving as a monitoring and evaluation clearing house. By the tenth year at the latest, the systems, values and structural underlay of the geo-economic transformation will be codified in a new constitutional arrangement whose preamble is the Nigerian Charter for National Reconciliation and Integration[xlvi] adopted by the 2014 National Conference. The new constitution will be adopted by the Nigerian people through a referendum, such that it can genuinely lay claim to the prefix, “We the people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria…”

Conclusion

As a nation, we have an opportunity to rewrite our history and choose a more prosperous future. We can choose to continue to play the ostrich or we can decide to take up the gauntlet and face our national challenges squarely. Just as Moses said to Israel in Deuteronomy 30:19 (NKJV):

“I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live…”

Let it be known, however, that the New Nigeria is like a moving train that cannot be stopped, like a stone that will cause the wicked to stumble, and like a rock that will make them fall[xlvii]; and whoever falls on this stone will be broken, but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder[xlviii], and this nation will fulfill her destiny.

I have said my piece. He who has an ear to hear, let him hear: Nigeria will be saved, Nigeria will be changed, and Nigeria will be great in my lifetime. Thank you, God bless you, and God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Pastor ‘Tunde Bakare
Serving Overseer, The Latter Rain Assembly,
Convener, Save Nigeria Group (SNG)

 

References
1. Okoromadu, Festus. “Oil Price Rises Above $68, Highest Since 2015.” Leadership. January 5, 2018. Accessed January 9, 2018. https://leadership.ng/2018/01/05/oil-price-rises-68-highest-since-2015/

2. Bakare, ‘Tunde. “2018 Our Year of Good Success”, Video, 59:47, December 31, 2017. Accessed January 9, 2018. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2l91oFjXm5U/

3. Exodus 32:17 (NKJV)

4. John 3:8 (NKJV)

5. Isaiah 6:8 (NKJV)

6. Psalm 78:72 (NKJV)

[vii]Dawodu, Segun. “Obafemi Awolowo’s Allocutus.” Dawodu. Accessed January 9, 2018. https://www.dawodu.com/awolowo6.htm/

[viii]Ameh, Comrade Godwin. “How Awolowo saved Nigeria from breaking up during the civil war – Gowon.” Daily Post. March 7, 2017. Accessed January 9, 2018. http://dailypost.ng/2017/03/07/awolowo-saved-nigeria-breaking-civil-war%E2%80%8E-gowon/

[ix]Bakare, ‘Tunde. “The Gathering Storm & Avoidable Shipwreck: How To Avoid Catastrophic Euroclydon.” Tunde Bakare. January 4, 2015. Accessed January 9, 2018. http://tundebakare.com/gathering-storm-avoidable-shipwreck-how-to-avoid-catastrophic-euroclydon/

[x]Isaiah 14:24 (NKJV)

11Adetayo, Olalekan. “Nigeria @ 57: Presidency releases Buhari’s 57 achievements.” Punch. September 30, 2017. Accessed January 9, 2018. http://punchng.com/nigeria57-presidency-releases-buharis-57-achievements/

[xii]Ugwuanyi, Sylvester. “Unemployment rate in Nigeria rises to 8.2%.” Daily Post. August 3, 2015. Accessed January 9, 2018. http://dailypost.ng/2015/08/03/unemployment-rate-in-nigeria-rises-to-8-2/

13N-POWER. Accessed January 2018. http://www.npower.gov.ng/

[xiv]“Nigeria’s unemployment rate rises from 14.2% to 18.8%.” Vanguard. December 23, 2017. Accessed January 9, 2018. https://www.vanguardngr.com/2017/12/nigerias-unemployment-rate-rises-14-2-18-8/

[xv]“Nigeria facts and figures.” OPEC. Accessed January 12, 2018. http://www.opec.org/opec_web/en/about_us/167.htm/

[xvi]Ohuocha, Chijioke, and Mayowa Oludare. “Nigeria considers foreign exchange reforms as dollar shortages bite.” Reuters. November 21, 2016. Accessed January 9, 2018. https://www.reuters.com/article/nigeria-currency-lawmaking/nigeria-considers-foreign-exchange-reforms-as-dollar-shortages-bite-idUSL8N1DM2Y0

17See 15

18“Why EFCC keeps losing corruption cases, by Agbakoba.” The Nation. September 3, 2017. Accessed January 9, 2018. http://thenationonlineng.net/efcc-keeps-losing-corruption-cases-agbakoba/

19Tijani, Mayowa. “Orubebe, Ademola, Patience…FG loses four cases in 96 hours.” The Cable. April 6, 2017. Accessed January 9, 2018. https://www.thecable.ng/orubebe-ademola-patience-fg-loses-four-cases-in-96-hours/

[xx]Akinkuotu, Eniola. “Drama as DSS operatives stop EFCC from arresting ex-DG.” Punch. November 22, 2017. Accessed January 9, 2018. http://punchng.com/drama-as-dss-operatives-stop-efcc-from-arresting-ex-dg/

[xxi]Oyedele, Damilola. “Senate: DSS Report on Magu Sent to AGF More Damning.” ThisDay. March 26, 2017. Accessed January 9, 2018. https://www.thisdaylive.com/index.php/2017/03/26/senate-dss-report-on-magu-sent-to-agf-more-damning/

22Wakili, Isiaka. “IGP meets Buhari, says Benue killings is “communal misunderstanding.”” Daily Trust. January 5, 2018. Accessed January 9, 2018. https://www.dailytrust.com.ng/igp-meets-buhari-says-benue-killings-is-communal-misunderstanding.html/

23Institute for Economics and Peace. “Global Terrorism Index 2015.” Economics and Peace. Accessed January 9, 2018. http://economicsandpeace.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Global-Terrorism-Index-2015.pdf/

24See Agbakwuru, Johnbosco, and Marie-Therese Nanlong. “Uniform men lured us to be killed by herdsmen – Plateau attack survivor.” Vanguard. October 17, 2017. Accessed January 9, 2018. https://www.vanguardngr.com/2017/10/uniform-men-lured-us-killed-herdsmen-plateau-attack-survivor/ and “Tension in Edo as Fulani herdsmen rape, kill two women.” National Daily. May 23, 2017. Accessed January 9, 2018. http://nationaldailyng.com/tension-in-edo-as-fulani-herdsmen-rape-kill-two-women/

25Silas, Don. “Why Fulani herdsmen need to carry weapons – Adamawa SSG, Umar Bindri [VIDEO].” Daily Post. December 15, 2017. Accessed January 9. 2018 http://dailypost.ng/2017/12/15/fulani-herdsmen-need-carry-weapons-adamawa-ssg-umar-bindri-video/

26Law Nigeria. Accessed January 9, 2018. http://www.lawnigeria.com/LawsoftheFederation/ROBBERY-AND-FIREARMS-(SPECIAL-PROVISIONS)-ACT.html/

[xxvii]Ameh, Comrade Godwin. “’You betrayed Nigeria’s democracy, promoted genocide’ – Former senator bombs Buhari in open letter.” Daily Post. January 6, 2018. Accessed January 9, 2018. http://dailypost.ng/2018/01/06/betrayed-nigerias-democracy-promoted-genocide-former-senator-bombs-buhari-open-letter/

28Silas, Don. “BREAKING: Suspected herdsmen attack villages in Adamawa.” Daily Post. December 4, 2017. Accessed January 9, 2018. http://dailypost.ng/2017/12/04/breaking-suspected-herdsmen-attack-villages-adamawa/

29“Full text of Muhammadu Buhari’s 2018 New Year address.” Punch. January 1, 2018. Accessed January 9, 2018. http://punchng.com/full-text-muhammadu-buharis-2018-new-year-address/

30 Umar, Yusuf. “Silent killings of herdsmen ongoing in Adamawa, Fulani group alleges.” Vanguard. January 3, 2018. Accessed January 9, 2018. https://www.vanguardngr.com/2018/01/silent-killings-herdsmen-ongoing-adamawa-fulani-group-alleges/

31 See 29

32 Olowolagba, Fikayo. “Appointment of dead people: SERAP asks Buhari to withdraw appointments.” Daily Post. December 31, 2017. Accessed January 9, 2018. http://dailypost.ng/2017/12/31/appointment-dead-people-serap-asks-buhari-withdraw-appointments/

33 Habakkuk 2:11-12 (NKJV)

34 II Kings 9 (NKJV)

35 “Full text of President Xi’s New Year address.” CGTN. December 31, 2017. Accessed January 9, 2018. https://news.cgtn.com/news/3063444d35637a6333566d54/share_p.html/

36 See 29

37 “Chinese economic reform.” Wikipedia. January 3, 2018. Accessed January 9, 2018. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_economic_reform/

38 “GDP by Country | Statistics from the World Bank, 1960 – 2016.” Nigeria Data Portal. Accessed January 9, 2018. http://nigeria.opendataforafrica.org/mhrzolg/gdp-by-country-statistics-from-the-world-bank-1960-2016?country=Nigeria/

39 ibid

40 “GDP by Country | Statistics from the World Bank, 1960 – 2016.” Nigeria Data Portal. Accessed January 9, 2018. http://nigeria.opendataforafrica.org/mhrzolg/gdp-by-country-statistics-from-the-world-bank-1960-2016?country=Japan/

41 Eastern Nigeria Development Plan, 1962-68. (Eastern Nigeria, Nigeria, Ministry of Economic Planning: Government Printer, 1962), i.

42 Bakare, ‘Tunde. “Pragmatic Steps Towards Restructuring Nigeria.” Tunde Bakare. October 1, 2017. Accessed January 9, 2018. http://tundebakare.com/pragmatic-steps-towards-restructuring-nigeria/

43 II Corinthians 13:8 (NKJV)

44 Odunsi, Wale. “Why every Nigerian should be a politician – Onaiyekan.” Daily Post. January 7, 2018. Accessed January 9, 2018. http://dailypost.ng/2018/01/07/every-nigerian-politician-onaiyekan/

45 See 42

46 “Download: Nigeria 2014 National Conference Report #NGConfab.” Premium Times. August 14, 2014. Accessed January 9, 2018. https://www.premiumtimesng.com/national-conference/download-nigeria-2014-national-conference-report-ngconfab-2/ (See pages 288 – 295)

47. Isaiah 8:14 (NIV)

48. Matthew 21:44 (NKJV)

BEING TEXT OF SPEECH BY PASTOR ‘TUNDE BAKARE AT THE STATE OF THE NATION BROADCAST ON SUNDAY, JANUARY 14, 2018.
VENUE: THE LATTER RAIN ASSEMBLY, END-TIME CHURCH, 4, AKILO ROAD, OFF OBA AKRAN AVENUE,
OGBA, IKEJA, LAGOS, NIGERIA.

THEMEIT IS TIME TO RENEGOTIATE OUR UNION

SCRIPTURAL TEXTS: JEREMIAH 8:20229:19.

This year will be great for good music lovers, how do we know? Very easy, if so early in the year new songs are dropping with so much Power, then you can tell that 2018 is definitely going to be an Amazing Year. 

Here we start off with our very own Darling Dunnie 

She starts off the year with this great afro-fusion song telling stories about the everyday struggle of an average Lagosian. ‘Wahala‘ tells a story about the challenges faced with boarding a commercial bus (Danfo/Molue) and buying items from roadside sellers.

These are situations every Nigerian is confronted with on a daily basis (except your father is Dangote).

Produced by DonSam. 
Mix and Mastering by Mix-Masters.
Guitar by E-daniels. 
Bass by Micah.

Twitter/IG : @officialdunnie

Click here to download 

We live in a time when there is great fascination about life after death. Why this fascination with the world beyond the grave? Is it not because death is so final? Whatever one thinks about the reports of “near-death” visions, death when it finally comes is irreversible. When you finally cross the line, there is no coming back from the other side. Death wins the battle every time. After the doctors have tried the latest wonder drug, after the best minds have pooled their wisdom, after the philosophers have done their best to explain that death is only a natural part of life, we come face to face with the ugly reality that someday we will all die. And that death–whether planned or accidental, whether comfortable or painful–will be the end of life as we have known it.

Questions About Life After Death

In answering questions about life after death, we are left with only two sources to consult. Either we turn to human experience or we turn to the Word of God. If we turn to human experience, we find many guesses, many ideas, many theories–but no sure answers. That’s because, in the nature of the case, no human has a sure answer. The only people who have the answer are dead! That leaves us with the Word of God. In God’s Word we find ample, abundant answers. God who knows the future knows what happens when we die, and he hasn’t left us to wonder about it. The Bible is filled with information on this subject, so much in fact that we can offer only a brief survey in this chapter.

If you want the answer in one sentence here it is: What happens after you die depends on what happens before you die. Consider what the Bible says in Hebrews 9:27, “It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (NKJV). This is an appointment no one will miss. As someone has noted, the statistics on death are appalling. One hundred out of one hundred people will eventually die. We are all terminally ill with a disease called death; we just don’t know when the end will come.

Before we go further, let’s stop and think about some important questions that people often ask about death and dying.

Is There a “Second Chance” after Death?

This is the popular view of many people who hope that those who did not accept Christ in this life will somehow have a second chance after death–either in the afterlife or perhaps through reincarnation. The answer is quite simple: There is no biblical support whatsoever for the notion of a “second chance.” Hebrews 9:27 declares that we die once and after that comes the judgment of God. Let no one be mistaken on this point. The only opportunity you will ever have to get right with God is the opportunity God affords you right now. If you dream of coming to God after you die, you are nursing a vain hope.

What about “Near-Death Experiences”?

Such experiences are very popular today.  ooks in recent years have purported to tell of people who “died,” went to “heaven,” and then were given a “second chance” to return to the earth. Some of those books have been extremely popular, and a few have been embraced by Christians. However, a close inspection shows that most of those books embrace unbiblical heresy, either the notion that we are saved by doing good works or the idea that everyone is going to heaven in the end.

In thinking about this question, we need biblical balance. On one hand it’s undeniably true that some Bible characters did see the Lord before they died. Stephen saw Jesus just before he died in Acts 7. Paul was evidently given a vision of heaven–perhaps during his stoning at Lystra in Acts 14. He alludes to the event in 2 Corinthians 12. However, it’s important to say that such revelations did not happen often even in Bible times. Not every believer had or will have a revelation of heaven. Could such a thing happen today? Yes, but we shouldn’t expect it or base our hope of heaven upon a last-second experience.

Let’s also remember that Satan is the great deceiver. He can create scenes that seem to be scenes of heaven but are actually creations born in hell. Some near-death experiences are demonic in nature. You should never base your hope of heaven–or the hope of seeing a loved one in heaven–on a supposed vision or revelation. The only reliable ground given to us is the eternal, unchanging Word of God.

What Happens to Children Who Die?

This is obviously a very tender subject to many people. Parents want to know: Will I see my child again? The place to begin in answering this question is with the observation that the Bible doesn’t specifically address this question. However, we do know two things are true. First, children are not born innocent, but sinful. If children who die do go to heaven–and I believe they do–it is not because they are morally innocent in the sight of God. All of us are born with an inclination to sin that leads us away from God. Ephesians 2:1 says that we are spiritually dead by nature. That applies as much to young children as it does to adults. Second, we know that God’s grace is always greater than human sin. Romans 5:20 reminds us that where sin abounded, grace superabounded. God’s grace always goes far beyond sin’s disgrace.

I believe that God’s grace credits children with the merits of Jesus’ blood and righteousness so that children who die before they are old enough to believe are covered by His blood, and their entrance into heaven is made sure and certain. Thus they are saved by grace exactly as we are.

Can We Contact the Dead after They Are Gone?

The answer is no. Any attempt to dabble in spirit contact is strictly forbidden in the Bible. It is sometimes called necromancy or sorcery or dealing with familiar spirits. Remember, demons can masquerade as the dead. They can even mimic the voices of our loved ones and give information that only the dead person would have known (for more on this subject, see Leviticus 19:26-28Leviticus 19:31Deuteronomy 18:9-14Galatians 5:20). In case this isn’t clear, let me make it plain. Do not attempt to contact the dead through any means at all–séances, parlor games, crystal balls, psychic readers, channelers, or mediums. You are involving yourself in that which God forbids. Leave the dead alone.

What Do You Say to Someone Who Has Lost a Loved One?

Over the years I have discovered that it really doesn’t matter what you say in terms of the precise words. Those who are grieving will not remember the words you say, but they will never forget that you cared enough to be there when they needed you. If you go with God’s love in your heart, he will give you any words you need to say. That means we don’t need to answer questions only God can answer. If we don’t know the spiritual state of the deceased, we shouldn’t speculate, either to offer false hope or lay a heavier burden on those who are left behind. God is both just and merciful, and in every case He will do what is right.

What Happens at the Moment of Death

Now we come to the central question: What happens at the very moment of death? I have already given the general answer: What happens when you die depends on what happens before you die. The Bible classifies the whole human race into two broad categories–the saved and the lost. The saved are those who have trusted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. The lost are those who haven’t. What happens to the saved is radically different from what happens to the lost.

. . . For the Saved

The Bible is abundantly clear on this point. When the saved die, they go directly into the presence of the Lord. At this point we remember the words of Jesus to the thief on the cross, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43, emphasis added). This appears to be a straightforward promise that at the moment of death the repentant thief would pass from his life of crime and his agonizing death into the realm called “paradise.” This would seem to contradict the teaching called “soul-sleep,” which implies that at death a believer “sleeps” in a kind of suspended animation until the day of the resurrection. How could the thief be that very day in paradise if his soul went to sleep when he died? At the moment of death the believer passes immediately into the personal presence of Jesus Christ. This is our hope and comfort as we stand at the graveside of a loved one.

Paul said he had a desire “to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far” (Philippians 1:23, emphasis added). He also said, “We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body (that is, separated from the body by death) and at home with the Lord’ (2 Corinthians 5:8, emphasis added). These are the words of a man who believed that heaven would begin at the moment of his death. Was Paul looking forward to an unconscious slumber after his death? No! He was looking forward to the personal presence of Jesus Christ.

But that’s not the whole story. The soul goes to be with the Lord in heaven, and the body is buried until the day of resurrection when Jesus returns to the earth. 1 Thessalonians 4:14 says, “We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.” Here you have both sides of the truth. Christians who die are said to be “with Jesus” (that’s the soul in the conscious presence of the Lord) and “have fallen asleep in him” (that’s the body which “sleeps” in the grave). Listen to Paul’s description of that great reunion of body and soul: “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first” (1 Thessalonians 4:16, emphasis added). Here is a clear promise of future bodily resurrection for the believer.

1 Corinthians 15:51-55 adds the crucial fact that our bodies will be “raised imperishable”–that is, with a body that is perfect in every way, free from the vestiges of death and decay In this life our bodies wear out, like a clock continually running down, but when we are raised, it will be with bodies that can never decay, never wear out, never suffer injury, never grow old, never get sick, and thank God, never die.

Many Christians have a wrong view of death. We think we’re going from the land of living to the land of dying. But the opposite is true. If you know Jesus, you are going from the land of dying to the land of the living. Here are some of the images the Bible uses for the death of a Christian: going to sleep and waking up in heaven . . . moving from a tent to a mansion . . . walking from the darkness into a well-lit room . . . coming home to see your family and friends . . . being set free from prison . . . taking a long journey to a new land . . . riding a chariot to the New Jerusalem . . . moving into a brand-new home . . . opening a gate to a brand-new world.

Christians have always faced death with confidence. The very word cemetery comes from a Greek word meaning “sleeping-place,” which refers to their confidence in the promise of the resurrection. Many pagans cremated their dead because they saw no further use for the human body. But Christians buried their dead as a statement of faith in the coming resurrection of the body. I have been asked more than once how God can raise the dead if the body has been burned or lost or vaporized in some terrible explosion. I don’t think that’s a difficult question at all. If you can raise the dead, you can raise the dead. Resurrection is God’s problem, not ours. We don’t need to know the how of the resurrection as long as we know the who.

As he lay dying, D. L. Moody proclaimed, “Earth recedes, heaven opens before me.” Catherine Booth, wife of the founder of the Salvation Army, cried out, “The waters are rising, but I am not sinking.” And George MacDonald, the English novelist, said, “I came from God, and I’m going back to God, and I won’t have any gaps of death in the middle of my life.” John Wesley summed up the faith of the early Methodists with four simple words: “Our people die well.”

When Benjamin Franklin was twenty-three years old, he wrote the following epitaph. His words catch the essence of the Christian doctrine of bodily resurrection:

The body of Benjamin FranklinPrinter;Like the cover of an old book,Its contents torn out,And stripped of its lettering and gilding,Lies here, food for worms.But the work shall not be wholly lost:For it will, as he believed, appear once more,In a new and more elegant edition,Revised and corrected
By the Author.

Once our bodies are raised, we will be with the Lord forever. Wherever he is, there we will be, rejoicing, praising, singing, and celebrating throughout the ages of eternity. 1 Thessalonians 4:17 says, “We will be with the Lord forever.” Speaking of his own return, Jesus said, “In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:2-3, emphasis added).

What is ahead for us when we die?

  • Our soul goes into the conscious presence of the Lord.
  • Our body is buried until the day of resurrection.
  • When Christ returns, we will be raised bodily from the grave.
  • Body and soul reunited, we will be with the Lord forever.

As Tony Evans says, “Have a good time at my funeral, because I’m not going to be there.”

… For the Lost

Now we turn to briefly consider the fate of those who die without Jesus Christ. The lost fear death and with good reason. Job 18:14calls death “the king of terrors.” Hebrews 2:14reminds us that the devil holds people in bondage through the fear of death. And 1 Corinthians 15:26 calls death “the last enemy.”

Before saying any more, we should note one similarity between the fate of the saved and the lost. At the moment of death, the body is buried in the grave while the soul enters a new realm. For the believer, the moment of death brings him into the personal presence of Christ. For the unbeliever, death begins an experience of unending conscious punishment.

We can summarize the fate of the lost in four short statements:

1. At the moment of death the soul of the lost is sent to hell where it is in conscious torment. In Luke 16:19-31 Jesus told of a rich man who upon his death went to hell and suffered in the flames of torment. It does not matter whether you think this passage is literal or figurative. If you say it is literal, then it must be a terrible punishment. If it is figurative, the figure itself is so awful to consider that the reality must be much worse.

2. That punishment is eternal. Though this is debated in some circles today, Christians have united across the centuries in their belief that the Bible teaches an eternal punishment for those who do not know our Lord. Mark 9:43-48speaks of the fire that is not quenched and the worm that does not die–a reference to the continuing existence of human personality in hell.

3. The body is raised at the Great White Throne judgment. Revelation 20:11-15 describes the awesome scene as the unsaved dead are raised to stand before God and receive their final sentence of doom.

4. The unsaved are then cast into the lake of fire where they will reside forever, eternally separated from the presence of Almighty God. If this is unbearable to think about, if we shrink from such a thought, then let us by all means do whatever is necessary to make sure that such a fate does not befall us or the ones we love the most.

This is the final destiny of those who do not know Jesus Christ. To make it more personal, it is the final destiny of your friends and neighbors, your loved ones, your parents, your brothers, your sisters, your children, if they die without Jesus Christ. And it is your destiny if you die without Jesus Christ. Let that thought linger in your mind. The reality of hell is more than just a theoretical doctrine. There is a place reserved for you in the lake of fire unless you by a conscious choice put your complete trust in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.

Dr. Barnhouse and the Shadow of Death

Only one question remains. How can you personally face your own death with confidence? Dr. Donald Grey Barnhouse–beloved Bible teacher of another generation–told the following story. While he was still a young man in the ministry, his first wife died. As he was returning from the funeral with his heartbroken children, their car came to a stoplight just as a massive truck pulled up next to them, blocking the light of the sun. Seeing the immense shadow that had overtaken them, Dr. Barnhouse asked his children if they would rather be run over by the truck or by the shadow of the truck. “By the shadow,” the children instantly replied, knowing that a shadow could not hurt them. “That’s what has happened to your mother,” he told them. “Death cannot hurt her because the Lord Jesus Christ took her to heaven. It is only the shadow of death that took her from us.”

If you know Jesus, you have nothing to fear when death knocks at your door. Death comes to all of us–it will come for you one of these days. Do you know Jesus? If so, then you need not live in fear. Death may be quick or slow, painful or painless, but when the moment comes, you will find yourself ushered into heaven where you will see Jesus face to face.

Some people wonder if they will have enough faith when they die. They worry about losing their faith and wonder if that will cause God to turn them away. When she was a young child in Holland Corrie ten Boom worried about her own death and whether or not she would have enough courage when the moment finally came. Her father–Papa ten Boom–knew of her fears and calmed her heart with these words: “Corrie, when I am going to take you on the train, when do I give you the ticket?” “Just before we get on board.” “That’s right. Dying is like taking a trip to see the Lord Jesus. He will give you whatever you need just when you need it. If you don’t have the courage now, it’s because you don’t need it now. When you need it, the Lord will give it to you, and you won’t be afraid.”

In another generation, believers talked about “dying grace.” They meant the special enablement God gives to his children as death draws near. Countless Christians who worried about their last moments on earth have exited this life full of faith because the Lord gave them grace just when they needed it most.

Jesus Has the Keys

Here are the words of Jesus in Revelation 1:18: “I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.” Keys are a sign of authority. If you have the keys to my house, you can open it and go in anytime you want. It is often said that the devil owns the gates of hell–that is, he has the power of death. But that’s okay. The devil has the gates, but Jesus has the keys. We have nothing to fear in the moment of death for when the time comes, Jesus will personally unlock the gate and usher us into his presence.

“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25). If you believe in Jesus, you will never die. What an amazing promise. But believers die every day. Yes, but for the believer, death is merely the passing from this life with all its sorrows into life eternal in the presence of our Lord. The question is not: What happens when we die? But rather: What will happen when you die?

Death is not the end of the road, it is only a bend in the road. For the believer, death is the doorway to heaven. For the unbeliever, it is a passageway into unimaginable suffering. These things are true even if we do not fully understand them. They are true even if we don’t believe them.

What happens when you die depends on what happens before you die. Here is my final word to you: Make sure you’re ready to die so that when the time comes, you won’t be surprised by what happens next.

A Truth to Remember:

What happens when you die depends on what happens before you die.

Take a moment to calculate the number of days you have lived so far. Now take a guess as to how many more days you expect to live. What is the most eternally profitable way you can spend your remaining days?

  • 1. Have you ever had a near-death experience, or do you know anyone who has? Why is it crucial that such experiences always be evaluated by the standard of God’s Word?
  • 2. Why does the Bible contain such strong warnings against trying to contact the spirits of the dead? What happens when those warnings are ignored?
  • 3. Picture the moment of your own death. How do you expect it will happen? Do you fear that moment? Describe what will happen to you the first five minutes after your death.
  • 4. Do you believe in the resurrection of the dead? Why is this doctrine essential to the Christian faith? Name at least five Christians now dead who will be raised when Christ returns.
  • 5. Read 1 Corinthians 15:35-58 and Revelation 20:11-15. What does the first passage teach about the resurrection of the saved? What does the second passage teach about the resur­rection of the lost?
  • 6. Do you believe in a place called hell where unbelievers are punished for eternity? Why or why not? Why is this doctrine sometimes denied today?

[Taken from FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions About The Christian Life by Keep Believing Ministries. Used by permission.]