Author: J. O. Soboyejo, Ph.D
Concepts of God
Christian Soteriology, the Human Soul and Eternity: Challenges of Modern Heresies
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This Festschrift marks the 70th birthday Anniversary of Dr. Josephine O. Soboyejo, a deserving academic icon who has proved herself a worthy ambassador in the Philosophy of Religion & Theology. It contains the perspectives of Twenty-One Biblical Scholars, Theologians, and Christian Philosophers on the Immortality of the human soul and the role of Jesus Christ in the salvation story. The thrust of the Festschrift, in a well-written and researched Eighteen Chapters, is to marshal philosophical arguments and scientific and historical evidence for the Christian faith and develop an apologetic case for the Christian belief that Jesus Christ is the Saviour of the human soul. In essence, it clarifies the misunderstandings and misrepresentation of some people and unsettling specific objections, criticisms, or questions about Jesus Christ. This book, therefore, provides the eternal and settled truth of the Bible on soteriology as opposed to human thoughts, beliefs, and propositions that many times are agents or errors. The book is a must-read for contemporary theologians and the faithful who should give informed reasons for their lives and beliefs, including pastors and ministers of God. Still, it will also serve as a resource material for teachers, lecturers, and students in Seminaries and Universities. It will also assist growing Christians and leaders of Christian churches who may doubt the authenticity of God’s words as it relates to the theme of this book.
Spiritual Rewards and Works
Spiritual Rewards and Works:
The Bible shows that our rewards are closely related to our good works. For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works – Matthew 16:27.
Here, we can see that rewards are the result of our work. Because of this, we can conclude our reward is NOT salvation, for we can never earn salvation. For by grace, you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast – Ephesians 2:8,9. Since salvation is a gift of God obtained through faith, our reward must be something other than salvation. We know God’s plan was for every Christian to give himself to good works.
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them, Ephesians 2:10. We also know our good works are to be maintained carefully, and they will result in profit for us. That is a faithful saying, and I want you to constantly affirm that those who believe in God should be careful to maintain good works.
These things are excellent and profitable to men. Titus 3:8. If our works cannot save us and our reward is not salvation, to what end are our good works profitable? For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to His works. – Matthew 16:27. We see that rewards result from our works. Because of this, we can conclude our reward is NOT salvation, for we can never earn salvation. For by grace, you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. – Ephesians 2:8,9.
The Five Crowns Reward:
The Bible mentions five different crowns or rewards which a child of God may win as he passes through this life. As we study these, we will mainly take note of three things: How the crowns are won! The area of life they refer to and God’s commands for each of these areas.
- Crown of Life
Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been proved, he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to those who love Him – James 1:12.
The crown of life is a reward promised to those who genuinely love the Lord. Loving God and demonstrating that love by enduring trials and temptations win it. These are opposite sides of the same coin. Our love for God gives us the strength to endure our testing, trials, and temptations rather than become bitter, critical, or disillusioned. This crown deals with our discipleship. The writer to the Hebrews reminds us of Jesus’ endurance under the supreme test and urges us not to lose heart in our struggles. Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls – Hebrews 12:2,3. Endurance wins the Crown of Life.
2. Crown Incorruptible
And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.
But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I should become disqualified. – 1 Corinthians 9:25,27.
This crown also deals with personal discipleship and is won for self-denial, something this existential age knows nothing about. The challenge of Jesus: Then He said to them all, “It anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” – Luke 9:23. Though “self-denial” may be a dirty word for the existentialist, it is at the heart of personal discipleship for every follower of Jesus Christ. If we have disciplined our lives and have denied ourselves the pleasures of sin in this life, the crown incorruptible will be ours.
3. Crown of Joy
For what is our hope, joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? 1 Thessalonians 2:19.
Here, Paul says that the Thessalonian Christian, whom he had led to Christ, would be his crown of joy on the last day in Christ’s presence. This crown is given to those who have obeyed what the Scriptures teach about evangelism.
And He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of Men.” Matthew 4:19
If you are not a fisher of men, I don’t know whom you are following, but I would wonder if it is Jesus. He said, “I will make you fishers of men.” Evangelism may not be your primary gift, but at least you will know how to fish for men. If Jesus taught you to fish, you would not come home empty-handed. Men and women will be brought into the Kingdom because of the testimony, not only of your life but your lips as well. If you have been faithful to proclaim Christ to others during this life, this crown will belong to you on that last day.
4. Crown of Glory
Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by constraint but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away. 1 Peter 5:2-4.
This crown is given as a reward to those who nurture the flock of God. It is not a unique crown reserved for the clergy, but one every Christian can win. It has to do with caring for the children of God, helping them to grow in Christ so they can serve in the building of God’s Kingdom—in other words, disciple-making.
Jesus said: Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. – Matthew 28:19 (NASV).
Jesus’ last command is to be our first. We are charged with the responsibility of disciplining the nations. Jesus not only commands us to BE disciples but to MAKE disciples.
5. Crown of Righteousness
Finally, the crown of righteousness is laid up for me, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that day, and not to me only but to all who have loved His appearing. – 2 Timothy 4:8.
Those who live in anticipation of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ win this crown. Many Christians have hopes, dreams, and aspirations that do not concern God or His Kingdom. For such people, Christ’s return would “ruin everything.” Jesus said: Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching.
Assuredly, I say to you that he will gird himself and have them sit down to eat and will come and serve them.” – Luke 12:37.
Jesus desired that we live life watching and waiting for His return, exchanging our lives for the building of His Kingdom. If we do, we will receive the crown of righteousness. Are you living for His coming?
Crown How Obtained Area of Life
Life Enduring Trials & Temptations Discipleship
Incorruptible Self-denial Discipleship
Joy Soul-Winning Evangelism
Glory Under Shepherd. Disciple-making
Righteousness Looking for the Second Coming of Christ Second Coming of Christ
The Crown of Life and Crown Incorruptible are vertical. These two crowns comprise the Vertical Spokes that deal with our personal discipleship and walk with God. They relate to the Great Commandment and demonstrate in a very tangible fashion our love for God (Matthew 22:27-38 – the First Commandment) and our willingness to make disciples.
The following two crowns (Joy & Glory) are horizontal. The Crown of Joy and the Crown of Glory relate to the Great Commission and engage us in what God has commanded us to do. We are to be fishers of men (Matthew 4:19) and makers of disciples (Matthew 28:19).
The last crown (Righteousness) is related to the hub of our existence, which makes Jesus the Great Commander of our lives. All five crowns demonstrate the reality of obeying God’s Word.
Principles of Life: Recognising & Rewarding your Former Master
What is Theism? What is Theistic Arguments?
Spiritual Growth and Transformation
Spiritual Growth and Transformation
- Biblical Literacy – Knowing, understanding, and applying God’s word individually and corporately. (Psalm 119:10-16; Col. 3:16; 2 Tim. 2:15, 3:16
- Spiritual Formation and Growth – Learning the value of humility, thankfulness, love, personal holiness, study, stewardship, and giving. Developing authenticity and a healthy balanced life. (Deu. 6:6-9; Rom. 12:1-2; Gal. 5:22-26.
- Spiritual Vitality – Knowing the value of walking in the fullness of the Holy Spirit, being filled and consumed by His energy, power, and presence. (Is. 44:3-5; Eph. 5:15-21)
- Gift-Based – Discovering and exercising your unique spiritual gifts and offering sacrificial contributions in ministry. (Ps. 139:13-16, Rom. 12:3-8; 1Cor.12).
- Missions – Relational evangelism, church multiplication, international missions, and God-inspired ministry. Matt. 9:10-13; Acts 1:8; Rom. 1:16.
- Justice – Upholding Christian worldview in all issues of life. Defending the cause of the weak, maintaining the rights of the poor and the oppressed. (Is. 1:17; Ps. 82:3; Luke 4:18-19).
Personal Spiritual Growth
When people begin to see that their lives should be invested in eternal rather than temporal things, they first need Personal Spiritual Management. The first lesson in this subject area trains the student from God’s Word in how to manage the resource of time. Here, they learn that God has given them all the time they need to accomplish the tasks God has assigned them. When they have learned to live by this principle, it will give them time to invest in the matters of His Kingdom. Following that, we teach students how to organize their time using.
**Credits to Dave Dawson, Equipping The Saints, Book One – A, pp.3-24
“Personal and Spiritual Management Aid” (PSMA). It is divided into three parts. One-part deals with the students’ devotions—Day by Day, spending time with God, preparing their hearts to walk with Him, and receiving direction for what God wants them to do during the day. The next part focuses on the basics of the Christian life: Bible reading, Bible study, prayer, Scripture memory, witnessing, follow-up, and caring for God’s temple, the Body of Christ.
The final part is a time management aid on which the students make out a “do list,” rearranging their activities in keeping with their newly- formed Biblical priorities, arranged around the eternal. If people cannot manage their time, they will never correctly manage anything else!
The basic principle: God has provided us with time to invest in the eternal things of God; this is the heartbeat of spiritual formation.
Evangelism – The first lesson in this section is devoted to teaching students another principle from God’s Word: “If you follow me, I will make you fishers of men.” That is a worthy vocation, one that demands obedient application. Unfortunately, research reveals that only five percent of people in the Church ever share their faith with another person.
Basic Christian Living:
The lessons involving basic Christian living deal with the fundamental business of living out one’s Christianity, including such matters as having the assurance of one’s salvation, learning how to have a quiet time, the importance of prayer, walking in victory, understanding the importance of the Word of God and obedience, and coming to grips with the Lordship of Jesus Christ. The imperative of the Great Commission in Matthew 28 is “Go and make disciples.” At this moment, the whole world is talking about discipleship. If you’re not into discipleship, you’re missing it! There may be a difference between the discipleship Jesus talked about and the discipleship the Church talked about in the twentieth century.
The Importance of Scripture Memory:
Scripture memory is one of the most critical aspects of Basic Christian Living. If people know the Word of God and can quote it (“Thy Word have I hid in mine heart…”), they are more apt to apply it to their lives and share it with others. God’s original intention is outlined in Paul’s letter to Ephesians.
“And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ..”. Ephesians 4:11,12
In this passage, God gave the “full-time Christian workers” (the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers) to the Church for a particular purpose. That purpose was NOT to do the work of the ministry themselves, but “… to get His holy people ready to serve as workers and build the body of Christ” (Beck translation). These special agents were to be coaches to train the disciples to be the players in the Great Commission. The ordinary saints of the Church were to be on the front lines—witnessing, leading their friends to Christ, and disciplining the nations. Scripture is so clear—the ministry and the edifying of the Body of Christ belong to the saints. These gifted leaders are responsible for equipping the saints so they can engage in the work of ministry.
Two Great Realities of Life:
- Cross-of-Christ/White Throne Judgment and
- Judgment Seat of Christ (Beama Seat)
Issues Person’s sin Person’s work
Decisions. Where I will spend eternity What eternity will be like
Results. Heaven or Hell. Reward or loss of reward
The First Reality: is the cross of Christ, from where He died for the sins of humankind over 2000 years ago. Each reality involves an issue. At the cross, the issue is our personal sin, those thoughts, and deeds that separate us from God. Each issue requires a decision. Our decision about sin in light of the cross will decide where we will spend eternity. God’s plan for each of us is that we spend eternity with Him in Heaven. However, if a person refuses to deal with the issue of sin in light of the cross, God has no recourse but to send him to hell. He refused to let Jesus’ blood from the cross cover his sin. All of this someday will culminate at the Great White Throne Judgment, where unbelievers will be judged at the end of the millennium. If there is no work of repentance for sin, their names will not be recorded in the Lamb’s Book of Life, and this judgment is recorded in Revelation 20:11-15. They will be cast into the lake of fire because of their unwillingness to deal with this first reality.
The Second Reality – Judgment Seat of Christ: This is often called the Beama or reward seat. From here, the believers, or the Obeyers of Christ, will someday be rewarded for their faithful stewardship to the building of God’s Kingdom here on earth. The issue in this second reality is the believer’s works. It is not our sin since it was covered by Jesus’ substitutionary death upon the cross for our sin (the first reality).
Study on Rewards:
The Bible warns us many times that we are to be careful to both strive for and protect spiritual rewards. “Behold, I come quickly! Hold fast to what you have, that no one may take your crown”. – Revelation 3:11. It is possible that someone could take another’s crown away, or Jesus would not have warned us about it. Stay Alert and let no one defraud you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind – Colossians 2:18.
It is possible that someone could deceive another of his reward, or Paul would not have warned us about it. “Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully” – 2 John 1:8 NIV. One could receive less than a full reward, or John would not have warned us.
Next Sunday, I will write about Spiritual Rewards and Works.
Destin Florida’s Trip
Overview of Theistic Arguments
Justice and Peace
Happy Easter Sunday!
Justice and Peace:
Church leadership has much to do with the question of peace and security of any nation. Since the late 1970s, religion has become as disruptive as ethnicity, and the youths are involved. The struggle for political power has come to entail the manipulation of the symbols and beliefs of Islam and Christianity. August 26th, 2011, was a sad day for Nigerians as it went down in history as the suicide bombing brought the Country to international prominence and focused the world on the giant of Africa. The Muslim terrorists bombed the United Nations (UN) headquarters office in Abuja, killing UN staff and non-staff. This event was just one of the atrocities of the Islamic jihadist militant sect called Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati Wal-jihad, which in English means “people committed to the propagation of the prophet’s teachings and jihad” called ‘Boko Haram.’
The Country witnessed its nakedness in security and vulnerability and turned Nigeria into a state immersed in violent conflicts. The reasons for various violent conflicts range from ethnic conflagrations, religious insensitivity, and political authoritarianism; to ethnicism, political power, defeat in elections, mass poverty, youth unemployment, intolerance, the rigidity of opinions, and selfishness, among several others.
The world today has become a global village. With all the changes around us, relational changes are the most critical. Globalization is forcing people to think more about relationships (at least in economics) beyond their provincial boundaries and comfort zones. These relationships, however, focus only on an exchange process (e.g., of labor, goods, and services), not a relational process. The exchange process shows the ways many personal relationships are conducted, even with God. We must know that relationships should be based on Love (koinonia; agape). The simple lesson this relational connection teaches us is to love one another, serve one another, obey God, and always do God’s Will and commands. It is better to stop a conflict than find ways to resolve it.
Most Church leaders have stepped aside from the teachings of Jesus Christ for a prosperity message. Martin Luther King’s conviction was that any religion that professes concern for the Souls of men and is not equally concerned about the slums that damn them, the economic conditions that strangle them, and the social conditions that cripple them is a spiritually moribund religion only waiting for the day to be buried. Therefore Church Ministers must be concerned about economic crises and injustice.
I concur that, at times, War is a ‘negative good’ in preventing the spread and growth of an evil force. But it is incomparable to the power of an evil force and to the power of Love in solving social problems. Mahatma Gandhi, during his lifetime, did Salt March to the Sea and fasted several times to press home his points. Gandhi’s concept was ‘SATYAGRAHA’ (Satya is a truth which equals Love, and Agraha is force; Satyagraha means truth force or love force). It conforms with Jesus’ teachings. It has great potential in the area of social reform.
Gandhi was the first person in history to lift the love ethic of Jesus above mere interaction between individuals to a powerful and effective Social Force. Love for Gandhi was a potent instrument for social and collective transformation. This philosophy of Gandhi is highly recommended for militant Youths. Leaders have failed woefully, maybe because of their greed and selfishness. The Comatose situation is mainly due to unrighteous leadership.
Conflict Resolution is a MUST: no more violence, kidnapping, no militancy but a dialogue. Let a true disciplined leader emerge like Gandhi of India or Martin Luther King Jr. of the United States of America, who will lead the people to the Promised Land with a nonviolent approach. It calls for a godly leader who will use Love’s weapon to resolve the conflict. Life is good for the living, not for the dead. The Youths should live out their whole life and not be cut short by bullets, which happens in a militant approach.
Peace is good, and Justice is supreme, but an illegality cannot and must not be allowed to replace an illegality. The people deserve to have basic amenities, and the people deserve to enjoy abundant life, a good environment, good shelters, gainful employment, good Infrastructures, etc. The actions and inactions of today are tomorrow’s history. Historically, Capitalism failed to see the truth in a collective enterprise, and Marxism failed to see the truth in an individual enterprise.
Conclusion and Recommendations
Present-day Capitalism fails to see that life is individualistic and personal. Nurture and the Environment play essential roles in the Etiquette of Youths. Love overrides all things, and Love for Gandhi was a potent instrument for social and collective transformation. The youths need to imbibe Gandhi’s Philosophy of Nonviolent Resistance. Martin Luther King Jr. gave 3-dimensions of a complete life. The 3-dimensions are:
- The inward concern for one’s welfare.
- The Breath of life is the outward concern for the welfare of others.
- The height of life is the upward reach toward God.
And without the due development of all, any life becomes complete.
Evil is so entrenched worldwide today to the extent that the virtuous, the law-abiding, the innocents, the charitable, and the generous are scarce. At the same time, charlatans, swindlers, villains, fraudsters, traitors, dishonorable men and women, murderers, robbers, manipulators, and hypocrites want to be in charge of affairs. Justice is thoroughly perverted, everything is upside down, truth is crushed, and evil repressed good.
God has endowed humankind with tremendous wisdom and capacity for good and evil. That is the whole essence of Free Will. Free Will needs to be trained in a deterministic positive dimension. In unity, man can achieve anything, even the most challenging task. It is like the Biblical Tower of Babel; men can achieve their aim in the unity of Mind, Will, and Emotion, the three faculties of the Soul of Man. I am using this opportunity to advise the militant and fundamental youths to desist from violent resistance and embrace nonviolent resistance. Let them use their votes to empower good leaders to address their needs and bring peace to the world.
The Church has Social, Economical, Political, and Spiritual Responsibilities to the people but has refused to act to bring everlasting peace to the nation. The Church must be concerned about land degradation, unemployment of vibrant youths, and insecurity in today’s world. The Church must set an excellent example of good etiquette, transmitting a good code of conduct and good doctrinal teachings for the youths to imbibe.