(mr 01/06/18)

2 Timothy 2:24-26 KJV: And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all [men], apt to teach, patient, (25) In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; (26) And [that] they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.

In this scripture, the apostle Paul was addressing himself to a young, single minster, his son in the Lord Timothy, to give him instructions on how to conduct himself as the pastor of the church at Ephesus. Church history reveals that Timothy was ordained the first bishop of the church at Ephesus, which was a major city in Asia Minor at that time. Initially, when Paul was sent to Ephesus, there was a lot of resistance to the gospel in that city (Acts 19:8-10; 13-20).

We, the end time church must reproduce what happened in Ephesus and beyond in the nations and cities of the world today, particularly in Nigeria. We have had the visitations of the Spirit of God in Nigeria; for example, the manifestation of power and miracles in the 1930s with Prophet Joseph Ayo Babalola in Ilesha, and a few other men with him, through the CAC Movement. Pa Sidney Elton was also part of that move to a certain degree. He arrived in Nigeria during the revival and tried to channel it in the right direction. However, because of a lack of knowledge, pride, stubbornness, the movement waned, though it didn’t die completely; people were still getting born again, but that initial visitation by the Spirit was no longer as powerful as it was originally.

The second visitation of the Holy Spirit in Nigeria was in the late 1940’s, through early 1950’s from the Latter Rain movement in Canada. Some of the brethren through Pa Elton were invited to Nigeria and held tremendous campaigns in Ibadan, Lagos, Abeokuta and Warri as told by historians. Again, wonderful miracles were seen, like as it was in the days of the apostles: the dead were raised, the blind saw, the lame walked. Again the movement died out!

About the time of the end of the civil war in the late 1960’s, the Student Union (SU) movement received a fresh visitation from the Lord. Young people were going round the secondary schools and universities. People like my wife and I were touched and we got born again, though we didn’t really understand it very well: some of us got born again and then backslid.

That move of God continued and in the early 1970s, the Holy Spirit came to the University of Ibadan through some brethren including late Brother I.K.U. Ibeneme, Rev. Emiko Amotsuka and others and in one meeting in 1975 many brethren in the fellowship were baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit and started speaking in tongues!  Many people hadn’t seen anything like that before; it gained momentum and for this we thank God!

The Word of God began to be preached and taught through the instrumentality of the teachings of Gordon Lindsay, Kenneth Hagin (primarily), E.W. Kenyon, Kenneth Copeland and others being disseminated particularly through Rev. Emiko Amotsuka, whom God used tremendously to bring good Christian materials into the church in Nigeria; and also the teachings of Derek Prince. All these teachings brought light, understanding and revelation to the church in Nigeria. Many young people in the universities began to read these materials and pray in the Spirit. The impact of all this spiritual activity began to grow in the nation! Some of us started churches by the influence of the Spirit, young and old started come in to the fold, get born again, filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in tongues. We have seen  the move of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God spread throughout the whole nation and for this, we are grateful to God!

However, we have not seen what happened in Ephesus. The Bible records this in

Acts 19:20 KJV: So mightily grew the word of God and PREVAILED.

The word of God has grown, but we have yet to see it grow as mightily as it should and it has certainly not prevailed as it prevailed over the city of Ephesus!

Bill Britton, a great man of God, a kingdom preacher and one of our prophetic fathers and teachers, wrote in the book called, “Eagle Saints Arise” that there are two dimensions of the move of God: upreach and outreach. The church has concentrated on outreach ALONE and has neglected upreach: the upward spiritual growth of the saints to the perfection and fulness of Christ.

In Nigeria too, we have had the outward growth of the Word of God horizontally but not enough vertical upreach and this is why the Word has not grown mightily. Bill Briton said we should concentrate on upreach and that is what, by the mercy and grace of God, I have been doing in my life and ministry. I have concentrated more on upreach than outreach, not because I don’t know the importance of outreach or because I don’t want to do outreach, but I understand that if you attain the upreach, the maturity of the saints, the outreach will come!

We see that understanding in the analogy of the atom bomb:

When a nuclear device is detonated, like they did in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, the first thing you see is the cloud that goes up; when it gets to a particular height, it then spreads out like mushroom! It is called, ‘The Mushroom Cloud’. That is how the power of God should be. The growth of the Word of God in Ephesus was so great that many of those in the city using black magic and sorcery confessed and repented.

Acts 19:19 KJV: Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all [men]: and they counted the price of them, and found [it] fifty thousand [pieces] of silver.

It is a great testimony to the power of God at word in Ephesus at that time, that the people who were using demonic power and black magic brought out their books and tools and burned them before all men.

The day in which these things will happen again has come upon us! We have preached the Word of God, and it has grown, but now it must grow mightily and PREVAIL over the spiritual atmosphere where some of our political leaders will come out and confess, “This is the evil we have been doing”, just as it happened in Ephesus of old, where the entire city was shaken by revival power!

Imagine what would happen if the Word of God were to grow mightily and PREVAIL as it did in Ephesus in major cities like Lagos, Kano, Ibadan, London, Birmingham, Beijing, Brussels, New York, Paris, Los Angeles? That is what is called impact!

When Paul was leaving Ephesus, he called the elders of the church and spoke to them and gave this warning:

Acts 20:29-32 KJV: For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. (30) Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. (31) Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. (32) And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.

Paul told Timothy to preach the word in and out of season:

2Timothy 4:2, 12 KJV: Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. (12) Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.

Many years later, the Lord Jesus appeared to apostle John on the isle of Patmos, by which time apostle Paul had died and Timothy too would had been an older man.

The apostle Paul placed a great responsibility upon the shoulders of Timothy. He was not only the head of a local church but also the Bishop of Ephesus, that is of all the churches in that area! This is why the apostle Paul wrote not one but two letters to Timothy! However, something went wrong in Ephesus as revealed in the Book of Revelation:

Revelation 2:1-5 KJV: Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; (2) I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: (3) And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. (4) Nevertheless I have [somewhat] against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. (5) Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.

It is a sad commentary on the stewardship of Timothy as Bishop of Ephesus, that what Jesus warned him about through apostle John is exactly what happened: the light of the candlestick of God’s Word was removed from the church at Ephesus and the whole of the region went into spiritual darkness! It is sad that Ephesus is in Turkey today, a nation which has a population that is 99% Muslim! One of the most powerful cities in the New Testament era when the gospel started, the greatest revelation of the New Testament church was written by apostle Paul to the church at Ephesus, but somehow, it  was lost! Why? The scripture says in:

2 Timothy 2:24-26 KJV: And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all [men], apt to teach, patient, (25) In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; (26) And [that] they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.