Bishop of Ika Dioceses, Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, Rt. Rev. Geoffrey Ekpenisi, has urged Nigerians to live a life of love for a transformed society and to enjoy eternal life.
He made the call in a sermon at the commencement service of the first session of the 12th synod of the Diocese of Abuja on Thursday 18th May, 2023.
The 4-day synod which is the gathering of the Bishop, Clergy and Laity delegates (both male and female) of the diocese is titled “Synodalty: The Transforming Journey with Jesus Christ” started on Thursday 18th May at St. Matthew’s Anglican Church Maitama, Abuja under the leadership of the Synod president and bishop of Abuja diocese, The Most Rev’d Henry C. Ndukuba.
Synod is an annual highest decision making gathering in every Anglican Diocese.
Bishop Ekpenisi who took the text of his sermon from Psalm 24 v3-4 with the title “Who Shall Ascend to the Hill of the Lord”, said that bearing religious titles and belonging to faith groups without showing love was not good enough.
Right Reverend Geoffrey Ekpenisi expressed regret that some leaders see themselves above the church thereby affecting their relationship with members.
He said full participation of leaders in church programs and activities encourages members to be more committed for their spiritual growth.
He further stressed the need to be baptized, be born again and live a life of righteousness in the society for a better country.
The cleric said that it is important to consider and be empathic with the plight of fellow citizens in day-to-day dealings.
“There is a need for purity, a total departure from sin, this is a condition to access God and to ascend to heaven at the end of time,” he said.
The cleric urged Christians to hold on to the Word of God and be prayerful saying that effective and fervent prayers avail much.
He also emphasized the need for church leaders to always care and show love to members for peace to reign both in the church and the society at large.
In his opening remark, Primate Church of Nigeria Anglican Communion and the president of the Synod, The Most Reverend Henry Ndukuba said the church would continue to compliment efforts at making life easier for every member of the society irrespective of religious affiliation.
Watch The Message Here: “Who Shall Ascend to the Hill of the Lord”
Keynotes of Bishop Ekpenisi’s Sermon.
Today, in this opening service of the synod we are looking at, how prepared and connected we are I’ll be looking at 7 aspect of our Christian lives common and known to us that connects us to God and prepare us for the coming of our lord Jesus Christ and eventually joining him in the Heavenly places.
- New Bad Connection – John 3: 3-6
The foundation of walking through the transforming power of Jesus is to be born again. It’s very important that we ensure that we have this encounter with our lord Jesus Christ. The appearance of Jesus to Saul changed his life (Paul earlier called Saul became born again). We all need this same divine encounter with our Lord Jesus Christ and the question is not just whether we’re in the Church as members of the Church but whether we’ve had such encounter with our Lord Jesus Christ like we always say ‘it is possible to be baptized and confirmed but yet not having a definite encounter with Him’. As we go through this synod journey, consider this in your heart not the messages beginning now to consider the kind of life that you live today.
We must take a decision to live a new life and standing to be with Him is not a function of being in the church or your position in the church you can be a synod delegate and still go to hell.
- The Purity Connection – 1Timothy 2:19 & 21
Purity is a condition that we must fulfill before we can work with God. It is pivotal, it is a gateway to accessing God’s presence and ascending to him. So, as we go through the synod and particularly today the ascension day we must also remember in our text he who has clean hands and a pure heart will ascend into the hill of the Lord.
It is possible to be in the church but yet with dirty hands. Purity connects us to God we need to consider this.
- The Word Connection – Hebrews 11:3
By faith we understand that the words were framed in Hebrews 11:3 by the word of God so that the things which are seen were not made of the things that are visible. Things which are made were created out of the word of God. If we’re able to hold firm upon the word of God then we also are able to prepare ourself to ascend to Him. You remember when Jesus was tempted that the devil severally wanted to bring him down and stop him from being lifted up along side and walking with the father for each of them Jesus replied him “it is written” and again “it is written” and the Bible said the devil left Him.
Joshua 1:8 this book of the lord shall not depart out of your mouth.
The word of God connects us to God through study and meditation on the word of God. We become eternally connected to Him sometimes when we rise to the level that we’re made synod delegates even as bishops and clergymen, we get to a point where we don’t have need to attend even Sunday school on a Sunday morning when the Sunday school is going on we use the Sunday school opportunity to do various other things because we feel that we have come to a level. We calculate when Sunday school will end and then we step inside the church. I want to ask us again from January to today how many times have you gone for Bible study in your local congregation? And be able to access how much you have been connecting to the word of God. It is difficult for you to ascend and meet God himself who you have not taken time to study about.
- The Faith and Power Connection – Mark 16:17.
You look at yourself and prepared to ascend with Him when He returns. You’re prepared to go through this transforming power through this period of synod, one thing I ask you, how much faith do you think you have in God even today it’s possible to have people who have been in the church for several years but for very little thing you lose your faith in God.
A lot of us for the course of our lives abandon God and seek powers where there are no powers. We need to consider our lives today, where we place our trust and our faith in when on earth we’re able to celebrate the faith that we have in God and the power there in then we’re prepared to go on to heaven. The power of God makes all the difference. I say to us let’s trust God in power and in all circumstances and God will continue to prove Himself in our lives.
- The Spirit Connection – Romans 8:11 & 16
How much of the Holy Spirit do you have in you?. When last did you have to wait upon God in prayers asking that God sends His Holy Spirit to fill you to overflow?.
We need all of Him in our lives and I call upon us this evening as we go through this journey to look up to God and ask for the infinite of the Holy spirit rise in our lives.
- The Love Connection. John 3:16.
Love is very important force in connecting to God. It was love that brought Jesus to dwell among men in the flesh. Once you succeed in walking in love, you have endured yourself to God, you have won His heart and cannot but be connected to Him. Many Christians even got to the extent of showing in us that we’re Christians by the way we tie our head, by the way we dress and by the way we do several other things but in us is filled with the spirit of wickedness and of evil.
We find many are Christians in offices and even those who work under them look at them and refer to them as being wicked not minding the Christianity that they carry in them. How much love do you share with people around you? With all your Christianity how much love do you have?.
No man will ascend with Him except you have love in you.
- Prayer and Praise Connection -James 5:16, Acts 12:5
It’s essential that we know that prayer connects us to God and through being steadfast in prayer we will indeed ascend when He will return. That’s very very important James (5:16). Prayer is indeed a communion with God, the disciples continued on prayer and the study of the word of God on the day of Pentecost they were together in one accord praying.
Prayer bring God’s glory and presence down. Acts 12:5, the church kept praying until Peter came out of the prison, Acts 16:25, Paul and Silas they were not just beaten but locked up in prison with chains all around them but they prayed and they sang praises to God and the Bible said suddenly there was a great earthquake and immediately the prison doors open and everyone chained were loosed.
When you live a life of prayer, it makes a difference in our lives. When you live a life of prayer and praise, you prepare yourself for to ascend unto the Lord. It is Gods desire that we fellowship with Him and remain connected to Him.
In this synod we seek to draw closer to God, speak words that connects in discussions, in deliberations through this synod before you have to raise your hand and speak please speak words that connects rather than words that disconnects. Share views and criticize in such a way that the diocese will be lifted up to greater heights, that is the right way to go. Let the word of God dwell in you richly. Pray and praise Him in faith. Love is still the key as we make a decision to live a life of purity and power.