…Unknown to me, some believers and gospel ministers held night vigil, in the room where my body was laid. They were singing praises to God, and praying fervently for my coming back from the dead. I am the only son of my parents. My relatives planned to bury my body the following day, as there was not mortuary service around, to preserve my body for days or weeks.
Suddenly, I found myself in my room on earth. When I sat on the bed I was laid on, pandemonium broke loose. Most of the mourners who gathered in our compound, fled in panic. My mother ran away. But, my father stood behind. He was a church catechist when alive. Of course, he was a “rural” preacher of the gospel. They were amazed. I calmed them down, and told them my story. I explained to them about life in the great beyond. Gradually, other sympathizers came back to hear more from me. They were jubilant to see back from the dead. I learnt I left the body (was dead), for about nine hours: from dust till dawn. But, it was as if I spent more than sixty years in paradise.
Meanwhile, unbelieving mourners gathered outside, and watched curiously throughout the night, for what would happen in between weeping. The Lord granted the praying believers their supplications, by raising me up from the dead, like Lazarus in the bible. Then, mourners turned to spectators. My coming back to life, was unprecedented in the history of my community, and beyond. Initially, I was sad for coming back to this harsh world. But, Jehovah brought me back to bear witness, of all I saw and heard over there. When I returned to earth, the Lord miraculously healed me of my chronic sickness.
The next Sunday, I held a thanksgiving service in my local church. Many inhabitants of Avu, including pagans attended. There, I gave my testimony. Of course, I sang the song God taught me there. My coming back from the dead brought great revival, and evangelical outreach far and near.
Inhabitants of neighbouring communities, were coming to our house on ‘pilgrimage’. I opened my mouth to preach and admonish them; to repent and serve God wholeheartedly. The idol worshippers, drunkards, fornicators, adulterers, murderers, and ministers of the gospel were not left out. I told the pastors, and other ministers, to practise what they preach or teach to people; so that at the end, they won’t be a castaway.
“And every man that strive for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as un certainly; so fight I not as one that beat the air. But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection; lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a cast away“ [1 Corinthians 9:26-27]. I told everybody who cared to listen, that paradise and hell are real. All will not end here on earth. God Almighty used my coming back from the dead, to explain to every doubting “Thomas”, about life after death, and His eternal plan for mankind.
Four years later, I got married to my beautiful wife- Helen. And on October 1979, our first daughter, Ogechi was born. Now, Almighty God has blessed us with eight surviving children: three boys and five girls. I am always conscious of the fact, that I am a stranger and pilgrim in this world. “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul” (1 Peter 2:11). I guide against sinful habits; or anything that can prevent me from going to paradise. I rejoice in the prospect, of worshiping God throughout eternity. I witness to others regularly, about God’s everlasting plan for us.
The Lord has commissioned me to do the job of a watchman, for the rest of my sojourn on this earth. ”Son of man, I have made you a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me. When I say unto the wicked, you shall surely die, and you give him no warning nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity. But his blood will I require at your hand.
Yet, if you warn the wicked, and he turns not from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul. Again, when a righteous man does turn from his righteousness and commit iniquity, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die. Because you have not given him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he had done shall not be remembered. But his blood will I require at your hand” (Ezekiel 3:17-19).
Now, I am happy I am doing my job as a watchman. Many who heard my testimony are repenting. Others still harden their hearts. I am free from the blood of anyone. I know that one day; I will depart finally from this world to the wonderland. The grave diggers will do their job: and the real me (my spirit), will go and be with the Lord (Ecclesiastes 12:7).
From Elder J. Ogbuagu.
THE GREAT BEYOND
Reverend Minister Yong Park from Korea, is a ‘conservative’ minister of a protestant church. After a protracted sickness, he actually died (left the body), in 1987. The LORD took him to the great beyond. He saw life there. He was amazed by what he saw and heard. Before then, life after death was like a ferry tale to him and members of his congregation: mere bible story of old; though he was an ordained minister. He narrated of what he saw and heard.
In the kingdom of God, an angel showed him many homes of God’s faithful. Many of them are mansions, well furnished; while others are houses of various categories: depending on level of reward of each occupant. In other words, the higher the reward of believers, the bigger their buildings. All are not going to be same there.
It is a blissful place, very beautiful environment: a clear departure of hustle and bustle of life here on earth. All the inhabitants there appear very young: below the age of 30 years; just like God’s angels who look very youthful. There is no old, wrinkled, or haggard looking person there. Also, there is no gender classification (no man or woman); just like angels of God. Of course, there is no handicap, or awkward looking person there. Such are healed before they enter there; in the case of believers in Christ. Nothing that defiles is allowed into this fascinating place: eternal home for the righteous.
Then, he was shown hell: a place of wailing and gnashing of teeth; for those who refused to repent and accept Christ as their saviour, while alive on earth. They are restless: and always pleading to be given another opportunity to repent. But, it is too late. It is appointed unto men to die once, after that comes judgement.
When a believer serves God and humanity faithfully, his deeds are translated into raw materials to build and furnish his home in God’s kingdom. There is a difference between salvation and reward. Somebody can be saved, but hardly have any reward; as he didn’t really worked for God when alive on earth.
Angels are responsible for building houses for saints there. After being born again, basic deeds of somebody will translate into treasures, or providing raw materials there. They are: praises and worship of God; intercessory prayers; ministration of God’s word, including evangelism; as well as giving for the work of God, and to the needy. The greatest reward is the reward of soul winning.
Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire_ I Corinthians 3: 13-15. All will not be equal in the kingdom of God; just as all are not equal here on earth.
Many will be much bigger than others there. Many who are very rich and influential on earth will be among the least there. The reason is that a lot believers labour for God more than others. Everyone will be rewarded according to his deeds.
“Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father, ‘Who hath ears to hear, let him hear. And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of firmament, and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever”– Matthew 13:43, Daniel 12:3. Even among those that turn many to righteousness, the glory differs. The shinning of some persons will be more glorious than others; as level of performance and reward are not the same. Just as each of the stars has different glory; so those who bring multitude of people to the kingdom of God in their various capacities, have differing rewards and glory of shinning.
There are many mansions in God’s kingdom; and there are categories of mansions. Also, there are various classes of buildings, to be occupied by those who love the LORD.
The believer ‘sends’ raw materials for the building of his house in the great beyond, while alive. As he labours for Almighty God: worships and praises Him regularly; gives for the ministry work and charity; and above all evangelizes; he is laying up treasures; and sending materials for his own building there. When he dies (departs from this world), his house will be completed. Those who evangelize rigorously, have best houses.
They can be likened to somebody abroad, who works tirelessly to save toward building his home in his village. He puts the money in the bank for onward transfer to his close relative, to finance the erection of his house. The amount he sends will determine the magnitude of the house. The larger the amount of money he transfers, the more magnificent the house can be. He sends money for procurement of raw materials: trips of sand, bags of cement, timbers, and so on. When he stops remitting money, the work will stop. If he lingers in sending funds, the now uncompleted building will be overgrown with weeds. So will his house in kingdom of God be. When a believer stops working for God; the building of his house in the great beyond will stop.
As the man abroad resumes sending raw materials, work will automatically resume in his country home. His efforts in remitting money, determines the level of progress on the job. When the house is finished, painted and furnished; he is free to come home and occupy it. He may finally retire from the hustle and bustle of life abroad, and move to his retirement abode. He collects his retirement benefits from his employer, to sustain him for the rest of his life.
The jobs he now does, are far less strenuous than the ones he used to do then. He is more relaxed: enjoying the fruits of his labour. Of course, he enjoys the treasures he has laid for himself. He acted wisely. He knows his stay abroad is for while. It is a matter of time he will depart from there to his home.
Same way, the believer in Christ works hard in God’s vineyard, while living on earth, to get his house built and well furnished in the kingdom of God. And when he finally departs from this sinful and adulterous world, he will go to his real home. That is why Christ said, work while it is day; for night cometh when no man works. “For the love of Christ constrains us; because we judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead. And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves but unto him which died for them, and rose again 11Cor.5:14-15.
On the other hand, those who misuse their opportunities to work toward building their country homes; will eventually regret it. By the time they are disengaged or retired from service, they won’t have good houses of their own to live in. Some will have no option, than to build thatched or mud houses for themselves, which they can only afford. Those who can’t even afford to erect structures of any kind; will beg to attach themselves in the houses of other people who are willing.
They left service with little or nothing to show for it. They didn’t make hay while the sun was shining. They lived as if there is no tomorrow. Many of them will end up as paupers. So shall it be with those who do not lay treasures in heaven, or work for God; though they barely make it to the kingdom of God.
People with little reward (who barely make it to God’s Kingdom), live in community or group houses. There, they will have door-to-door neighbours; they didn’t send materials for separate dignified houses or mansions. Therefore, they can’t own mansions. They cannot eat their cakes and have them. As they made their beds, so shall they lie on them. Let us work toward the eternal home, whose builder is Almighty God. Our earthly possessions, including houses are for a while. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passes away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abides for ever.
We need to be mindful of the lives we live. They should glorify God. He that breaks the least commandment shall be admitted least in the kingdom of God. “Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven”_ Matthew 5:19…..to be continued.
King Solomon in his splendour, realized the temporal nature of life here: that all is vanity. He said, he built himself houses, and planted vineyards. Also, he made himself gardens and orchards; planted all kinds of trees in them. As well, he made water pools for irrigation, acquired male and female servants, had large herds and flocks. He gathered silver and gold, among other things. He had whatever his heart desired, and did not withhold his heart from any pleasure. Then, he looked at all his possessions and achievements, and observed they were all vanities. He knew he would one day leave them behind for the man that would come after him—Eccl.2.
Old age is a period of sober reflection, for those who are opportune to attain it. It is a period of stock taking; and fence-mending. It is a period for one to reflect on his deeds in the past; and how to change for the better; a time to practise, and teach the younger ones virtues: righteousness, honesty, love, forgiveness, etc. During this period, youthful exuberance, with it’s attendant vices and pride of life, is drastically reduced. The sexual desires, appetite for food and drink, will be diminishing. The teeth of the ageing man will be weakening.
His physical strength will fail him, as well as his sight. It will dawn on him that he is a pilgrim on earth. It is a period of acute reminder, that one is about to leave the world: a critical time for one to mend his ways before his Creator; to repent and flee from every appearance of evil. It’s a period to be truthful and shun injustice. He has to change now before the grave-diggers finally do their job!
I remember a past incidence. A young man was having illicit fun. He gathered his friends, together with their girlfriends, and organized a party. He parked bottles of assorted drinks, and crates of eggs, in the butt of his car. His friends entered into his car to go to the venue. When he was about to drive out, the mother talked to him. She advised him to always invite God, to be with him wherever he wanted to go.
But, the arrogant son said to her, “Mum, there is no chance for God inside this vehicle; unless in the butt.” He drove off. Shortly, the vehicle had a fatal accident. All the occupants of the car were killed, and mangled. The car itself was squeezed beyond repairs. But to the astonishment of everyone, the crates of eggs in the butt were intact. Nothing happened to the bottles. Then, the woman remembered what the son said: that there was no chance for God, unless in the butt of the vehicle. And the Lord protected the eggs in the butt of the vehicle, where He was given a place! She wept bitterly for her prodigal son.
And the Lord said unto me, son of man, these bones are the whole house of my people. They say our bones are dried and our hope is lost. Behold, I will open your graves and cause you to come up. I shall put my spirit in you, and you shall live. I shall place you in your own land and you shall know that I the Lord have spoken it”—EZEKIEL 37.
This was a vision God gave to Prophet Ezekiel, concerning the resurrection of the dead. In the day of judgement, all the dead shall be resurrected, both just and unjust. The Lord Almighty will create new heavens and new earth. He will make everything new, including our bodies. A new Jerusalem will replace the present one. “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away: and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind”— (Rev.21:1-2 & Isaiah 65:17).
God shall wipe away tears from the eyes of the righteous. There will be no physically handicapped person in the kingdom. The Lord will completely heal those that are handicapped, or deformed like: the blind, lame, deaf, who are believers. And there shall be no night there. They shall have no need of candle: the sun and moon shall not light there anymore. For the Lord God will give them light forever. They shall hunger no more for the lamb shall feed them.
“And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations”—Rev.21: 1-2.
The new heavens and new earth, will be much better than the existing ones. That is to say, life in the new earth will be far better, than what we are experiencing now. There will be no more deaths, hunger, wars, diseases etc. The truth is that, Almighty God, has allowed us to pass through this sinful world, as a trial ground. If we pass the taste, and are faithful to Him, we will inherit everlasting life. Eye has not seen, or ear heard what God has prepared for those who love Him.
Christ said, in my father’s house, there are many mansions. I go and prepare a place for you—John 14:2-3. In the new life, wolf and lamb shall feed together. Lion shall eat straw like ox. Dust shall be serpent’s food. They shall no longer be harmful. The tree of life will grow at the bank of the river. Their leaves will never wither, nor their fruits fall. They will bear all manner of fruits every month. The fruits will be for food, while the leaves will be for medicines—Ezekiel 47:12, Rev. 22:2.