At Enugu, that great day, 42 years ago, as Ify and I were holding hands, not only as brother and sister, but also as a couple, the Assurance Voices Band from Lagos, led by our brother, Robinson Owolabi, burst out melodiously, ‘When the saints, go marching in…’ That marching-in was into our Reception Hall at the University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus, amidst the hilarious cheer by the unusually-large audience. It was nothing, however, to be compared with the Rapture day, when all the saints of God, dead and alive, will be marching into Heaven. Not the Assurance Voices, but the angels, will be singing in utter thrill, ‘When the saints go marching in…’
God, in His wisdom, did not reveal to us the exact day this glorious event will take place. Some churches and individuals have unfortunately, deceived their members by fixing the date, when the Bible, God’s Word, says, “Of that date and hour, knows no man.” If God has given the date, trust man, some people will be committing atrocities until a few days to the day. In utter error, some people think that the saints are the active workers or members of their church or ministry. The saints, found in various churches, are sinners, saved by grace. These are people, who have surrendered their lives absolutely to the Lord Jesus, and like Apostle Paul, they have declared, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain”.
The delight of these people is to ‘go marching in’ in Heaven because it is awesome, a place of no sorrow, pain or weeping. There, we shall be with the saints of old and above all, we shall see our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Hell, on the other hand, is a place of perpetual suffering. The Lord Jesus narrated, how a rich man went there and pleaded that Uncle Lazarus, a beggar on earth but prominent person in Heaven, should give him just a drop of water. He was denied of that. God does not answer prayers or requests from people in hell.
Apart from our beautiful wedding song, ‘When the saints, go marching in’, I have witnessed overflowing joy from the choristers of various churches in which I had ministered. They impacted my life. At All Saints Church, Jos, as the choristers were entering the church auditorium, singing, their excitement was extraordinary. The joy of their choir master, the way he was singing and his dancing steps, could have forced a first-comer to join the church. At the Assemblies of God Church, Clegg Street, Surulere, Lagos, as the choristers were singing, God released heavy anointing that filled all of us. Many people started falling down. Imagine! Just the choir! At Archbishop Vinning Memorial Church, Ikeja, Lagos, it was awesome and inviting, when the chief trumpeter was moving around their large auditorium blowing his trumpet. In Amsterdam, the pianist, with his overflowing mirth, was standing up all the time, pressing the keyboards confidently.
All these people and many others, who ministered mightily in song and instruments, have impressed me without measure. My problem is that, if I were to identify with the music ministry, I do not know who to be like: Is it the likes of the Choir Master at All Saints Church, Jos, the one in Assemblies of God Church at Clerg Street, the trumpeter at Archbishop Vinning, Ikeja, or the keyboardist in Amsterdam? As great as these God’s people are, it will be a tragedy, if after impacting, not only my life, but also those of millions of people, they will not be there, when the angels of God will be welcoming us in glory, singing: ‘When the saints, go marching in…’ May none of them miss it!
Yes, there will be a day the saints of God from different churches and ministries will be marching in, in Heaven. It is painful when someone misses one’s train, bus or flight. The good news is that another train, bus or flight will still be available. It is not so with the final flight of life. If missed, it is missed. It is not God that will choose the people who will be on the flight. The choice is made by us, here on earth. “When the saints, go marching in, I want to be in the number,” is a good desire. May we then, get the flight ticket!
It prompted Apostle Paul to labour for his soul. ‘…lest, after preaching to others I will be a cast away,’ he told himself. By the grace of God, many churches here invite me to minister to them and also in the US. If after all these, I fail to make Heaven, would I not be the most embarrassed person in hell? Would people not be surprised that the man, who was talking to them with confidence about Heaven, as if he has been there, is in hell fire? Will my mates in hell not beat hell out of me for disturbing them on earth with my ministrations, not knowing that I was fake? A true Minister of God does not minister only to the congregation, but also to himself.
I appreciate the way most Ministers of God sacrifice their time and stomach before ministering to people. Some will go on retreat for days on end, with fasting and prayers to seek the face of God. The qualification for Heaven does not, however, include ministering God’s Word. It is only by being born-again and living it out. It is possible to start the race without completing it. That was the fate of Uncle Demas. He stopped mid-way and went back to the world. God forbid!
Apostle Paul took personal decisions, resolving that nothing would hinder him from making Heaven. Hear him: “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 castaway”. The first thing to note here is that he knew what would be the fate of unbelievers on the last day. Secondly, he made up his mind that he would not end up like them. Thirdly, he decided on self-denial about certain things, so that he would achieve his heart’s desire concerning Heaven.
Good things may not be easy to obtain. Our crude oil is found inside the bowels of the ocean. Knowing this, Paul decided to keep his body under the control of God. A child of God is not ruled by the dictates of his body but by the Word of God. Hunger or need will not make him to steal. He will not commit fornication or adultery because his body desires a woman. During fasting, he does not break it because his stomach is rumbling and grumbling. He might be insulted but he does not retaliate, not out of weakness but by choice.
The burning desire to be among the saints dictates what a child of God does, or refrains from doing, so that he will be there, when God’s angels will be singing, “When the saints, go marching in, when the saints go marching in, Lord I want to be in the number, when the saints go marching in.”
For further comment, Please contact: Osondu Anyalechi: 0802 3002-471; [email protected]