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Digging deep at Easter

By AbduRafiu
14 April 2022   |   2:37 am
While we celebrate Easter, a constant in the Christian calendar for more than 2,000 years, we cannot help thinking and reflecting every year on the nagging questions attendant

While we celebrate Easter, a constant in the Christian calendar for more than 2,000 years, we cannot help thinking and reflecting every year on the nagging questions attendant to the season and the Event which are yet to be answered convincingly.

A great many in Christendom are yet to reconcile themselves with the bombshell thrown at us by Professor Pius Oyeniran Abioje especially in this part of the globe, following his studies and reflections.

Professor Abioje had dismissed the age-long and firmly held belief that the Lord Jesus died to save the world. He said that Christ was killed by haters of truth as a victim of a high-level conspiracy. In his words: “The conspiracy that killed Jesus Christ came from the milieu of the chief priest and the political elite.”

Abioje is a Professor of Christian Theology at the University of Ilorin. He is not a layman in the matter. That he lent his standing and brought his authority to bear on the dark recesses that led to the untimely death of the Lord, cannot be ignored. It was difficult to regard his exposition as heresy. As I did state at the time, five years ago, it was what to Christendom must be regarded as a bombshell. Professor Abioje was delivering the 167th inaugural lecture of the university.

He had said on the occasion: “Regrettably, the misinterpretation by many Christians is that God wanted Jesus to die so as to save the world. Yet, the world continues to persecute innocent critical prophets. Why can’t Christians emphasise that Jesus was killed by haters of truth, the religio-political political power that is, particularly since the world is still seeking redemption?” Professor Abioje said critical prophets should anticipate opposition and conspiracy from unexpected quarters.

His lecture was titled “Christian Prophets and other prophets in Nigeria.” The Vanguard on Sunday aptly ca
ptioned its report of the lecture: ‘Easter shocker: Jesus did not die to save the world—Prof. Abioje.’ As I did state at the time, on April 20, 2017, with this statement coming from someone who teaches Christian Theology and who can rightly be described as an authority, his conclusion must undoubtedly have sent shock waves beyond the Nigerian frontiers. And I want to believe that Professor Abioje must have opened a Pandora’s Box on this all-important and vexing subject. It was at the time and still is an invitation to deep thinking and deep reflection. I am back on the subject. What has changed since five years ago when Prof. Abioje lit the fire in many a soul? Did the Lord die to take away our sins? It is a question that will not go away from anyone who has given thought to it or who may have preoccupied himself in the search for conviction which alone liberates from the entanglements of errors. As we learn in the unique new knowledge spreading on earth today, errors in belief and teachings cannot be carried over, across the boundary point in the Beyond where all untruths and shams are rejected—and the Gate is shut!!

For more than 2, 000 years since the Lord departed this world all kinds of things have been written about Him. The aspect of the experience in the course of His Mission that would appear long-settled is that the Lord died to save the world. He could have run away but He did not. He bravely faced the howling mob, the minions of Lucifer, the anti-Christ in person. Running away would have ground His Teachings in the dust to the waiting pleasure of Lucifer. It would have sown doubts in His precious and up-building words of Truth. That would have defeated the purpose of His High Mission. It is to this aspect alone, superficially grasped that Christendom has clung as the purpose of His Mission. From childhood, it has been drummed into us that by His stripes we are saved.

The hymn book ingrains it in us, “We are washed in the blood of the Lamb.” And there is drumming and there is dancing; there is rejoicing: He has taken away our sins. We heard this ad infinitum only last Sunday. The old—men and women—say it. The young say it. However, in our closets, there is some uneasiness in our souls; doubts arise in the minds of anyone who can think just a little. Not about Him as our Saviour and Redeemer, but about why the Almighty Father would send His begotten Son to be subjected to humiliation and the gruesome manner of death Christ went through. Where there are doubts, there can be no conviction.

Since that notion has gone on for over 2,000 years despite the fact that Christ was subjected to the most agonizing death, He was mercilessly crucified—come to think of it, an innocent Man, the Author of Mercy, the Prince of Peace and the Exemplar of Compassion—that notion can only be anchored at the level of belief and not on conviction.

For those who can think, and it is not for nothing we are endowed by the Creator with the faculty for thinking, conviction arises from thinking and thinking, more thinking until thinking hurts, as they say, that is, from weighing and examining! Take, for example, the Lord was brutally murdered in order to take away our sins, an innocent Man, about Whom everyone testifies was without stain; Who was perfect, totally blameless and sinless and Who had come from a Realm where there is no sin. So, to where did He take and deposit the sins? To the purest and perfect Realm that is His Throne? To do what with them there? Until we human beings get to the point of unassailable truth it is natural we do not allow a matter to rest; something urges us on. We are unceasingly seeking to get to the bottom of a matter for which truth is the destination, for Truth is absolute, not relative. It is the degree of it we individually absorb consistent with our unfolded individual abilities that are relative.

The Almighty Father is the Truth, the Reality, Life Itself and the Lord Christ being A Part of Him, cannot but be the Truth also. He kept telling the world: “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.” As it is revealed in higher knowledge, Sonship of Christ means Part.

Where am I coming from? It may be asked. I am coming from the firm recognition of the Trinity of God—God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. In the higher knowledge we now have available for all mankind, we learn that the Son, Jesus and the Holy Spirit being Parts of the Father can be likened to two arms of a man which he can swing independently, yet as parts of the whole. In other words, Christ on the right-hand side can act independently, yet as a part of the Father. In other words, the Father is in Him and He is in the Father as He repeatedly asserted. Christ is the Love of God. When God acts in love it is through and in Jesus Christ.

When God acts in Justice it is through and in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Will and executive Justice of God. The Holy Spirit is in charge of the Laws; He is the Law which was why the Lord Christ said, if you offend the Father, if you offend the Son, there could be forgiveness. But if you offend the Holy Spirit, there can never be forgiveness. This is because, the Laws are immutable, they are inflexible, and coming from the Holy Spirit who is also Life, being A Part of the Father, they are living and automatically self-acting, self-enforcing. They are perfect and incorruptible.

Every activity including thoughts of a man is a seed planted in the soil of life. The laws ensure that the seed goes into maturation process and the sower is tied to his sowing through radiation threads which serve as channels for his harvesting of the fruits when they are ripe. The threads are accurately spun in the loom of life. There are chains of helpers working in matchless and incorruptible loyalty to ensure that it is unquestionable justice for everyone to reap what he has sown, and many times over. Forgiveness thus lies in atonement, in the sower changing before the fruits are ripe. The change shifts the sower from his original position and puts him in a different ethereal environment even if not a physical shift in a material environment immediately, corresponding to the change in his radiation arising from the atonement. He is hit governed by the degree of change or not even hit at all if he has completely changed. Even then the Laws, the activities of the Holy Spirit, ensure that the fruits of the sowing are returned to the sower unfailingly. Because of the change, however, the returning fruits are not able to find an anchorage and they slide off. That is when, as it said, it can be said of us that our linen is washed clean, and we are free and forgiven through the change for the better. As this column has said many times, we sow through our thoughts, speeches and physical actions. If they are base and depraved, we are dragged down by the weight the depravity engenders through the instrumentality of the Law of Spiritual Gravitation. If the activities are good and noble, through the same Law, we are raised high. We are lifted high. It is everyone who experiences this all the time. Something sinks in our soul when we do wrong, say give a boy a knock unjustifiably. When we do good we feel light and uplifted. We know joy. Everyone feels right and wrong at our fingertips. The point being made, therefore, is that forgiveness of sins is not unconditional. These are what the Lord Christ brought to mankind, showing the way to chart the course of joy and happiness for ourselves, and free ourselves from entanglements that could bar our way to the Spiritual Realm, our home Above called Paradise.

It is, therefore, incongruous that God Who is Justice and the Holy Spirit Who is Executive Justice will allow One, Jesus Who is Love for that matter and sinless, to be executed in place of sinners, and in such indescribable brutality, nailed to the wooden cross like a common criminal. The pronouncement of one of the two criminals executed with Him is instructive. Rebuking the other criminal who was mocking the Lord, he said: “Don’t you even fear God since you are undergoing the same punishment? We are punished justly because we are getting back what we deserve for things we did, but this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said “Jesus, remember me when you get to your kingdom.’”

Jesus Christ is Lord; He is the Redeemer and Saviour. Salvation and redemption lie in the Word of Truth He brought to mankind at great costs. In other words, Christ’s Mission lies in the Word. He brought teachings to show mankind the path we must follow to be free from enchainment, the entanglement of sins. He shows the way, but mankind is to walk on the path themselves. Moses and other Teachers of mankind as well as the Prophets had been sent to bring enlightenment, but no sooner they left than we human beings formed religions around their teachings. In no time acrimony ensued; there was bitter competition for power and influence that is still in character till this day. In the process distortions crept into the pure teachings they bequeathed to us. It is the same struggle for power that led the scribes, chief priests, Pharisees and Sadducees to plan to exterminate the Lord. The Lord had come believing that mankind would hearken to His Teachings. He referred to Teachers and Prophets and then to Himself in the parable of the owner of the vineyard and the unfaithful husbandmen. Mark 12: 3-9 reads in part:

“A man planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug out a pit for a winepress, and built a watchtower. Then he leased it to tenant farmers and went away.” At harvest time, he sent servant after another to the farmers to collect some of the fruits from the vineyard. But “they beat some and they killed some. He still had one to send, a beloved son. Finally he sent him to them, saying they will respect my son. But those tenant farmers said among themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours! So they seized him, killed him and threw him out of the vineyard.” Luke 20: 15 in his own account reports the Lord Jesus as saying, “Therefore, what will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and destroy those farmers and give the vineyard to others.”

Luke further says He looked at His hearers and asked, “Then what is the meaning of this scripture? ‘The stone that the builders rejected –this has become the cornerstone.” Verse 19 then reports as follows: “Then the scribes and the chief priests looked for a way to get their hands on Him that very hour because they knew He had told this parable against them, but they feared the people.” There are several pieces of evidence to prove that the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ was deliberate; that it was planned by the Establishment of His Time. They devised two broad ways to entrap Him according to reports: the spiritual and the politics. They accused Him of heresy, blasphemy, of calling Himself the Son of God. They accused Him of healing on the Sabbath day contrary to the demands of Torah. He was accused of placing Himself hinderingly between the chief priest and the people. Torah was the unassailable and compulsory guidebook, believed to be Divine revelation to the chosen people of Israel which must form the foundation for their religious, cultural and political life as well as the rule of conduct in their whole civil life. Doubts or failure of adherence to it was a serious offence, sometimes fetching the alleged offender capital punishment. The texts of the Torah were to be interpreted only by the scribes. Talmud was the summary of the verbal transmission of the law. The scribes were drawn from the ranks of the Pharisees. The Sadducees consisted of elders, high ranking men and priests, the conservative class.

Sensing that people were losing grip of the Law, a group got together under the leadership of a man called Simon ben Schetah to work as shining examples. They went round the country to demonstrate how people should live according to the law. These were, to the Lord Christ sham-piety. He denounced it all as religious hypocrisy. The Sadducees and Pharisees were also in fierce contestation for power and supremacy. Since only the scribes can interpret the Torah, Jesus Chris was regarded as an interloper. Caiaphas was the chief priest in the Temple in Jerusalem whose primary assignment was to serve as a mediator between Jahveh and His People. This was the foul environment in which the Lord lived and worked. On one occasion as the Gospels report, “As Christ was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath day, a woman who had been disabled by an evil spirit for over 18 years—she was bent and could not straighten up at all—was healed. But the leader of the synagogue was indignant.” He was reported to have said there were six working days, whoever was seeking healing should come on any of these days but not on the Sabbath day. The Lord Christ replied, asking, “Is there anyone of you who does not untie his ox to lead it to water on the Sabbath day?”

There was the healing of a man with fluid in the house of the leading Pharisee. There was the healing of the man who had been blind from birth. When his sight was restored by the Lord, there was a lot of agitation among the scribes. They questioned him and his parents as well. The priests asked the Lord by whose authority He was doing all these. The Pharisees and scribes complained that tax collectors and sinners were milling round Him. “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” And the Lord gave the parable of the lost sheep and the joy in Heaven;” “I tell you, in the same way, there will be more joy in Heaven over one sinner who repents than 99 righteous people who don’t need repentance.”

This was the build-up and hate-filled attitude and ugliness towards the Lord Jesus Christ which led to the resolve of the priestly and political Establishment to get rid of the Lord Christ, the Love of God. It must be amazing that with all the evidence available in these days of spiritual enlightenment we can still cling to the erroneous belief that the Most High would send His Son to the world to die in order to take away our sins. We learn from higher knowledge that with such thought, mankind continues to nail the Lord to the Cross anew. And these are not without serious consequences. The Lord brought the Word, not the Blood.
CONCLUSION NEXT WEEK.

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