Thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place – 2 Cor.2:14. My last mission trip to Otukpo, Benue, was propelled by the marvelous grace and provision of the Lord. Truly, the Lord’s vision and mission never lack His provision.
He showed Himself faithful and sovereign in providing for my transportation, the purchase of a brand new motor bike for brother Amos’ pastoral/evangelistic work, the settling of the domestic needs of my dependants before and during my absence, and above all, the granting of utterance to open my mouth boldly in making known the mystery of the gospel as I ought to speak [Eph.6:19-20].
I spoke at the Sabongiri Youth Conference, Christian Evangelical Fellowship of Nigeria [CEFN], a women’s meeting at Ojale, at the Church at Ojale, the Church at Ameh Street, Otukpo, and the church at Sabongiri, Otukpo. For all of these I thank Christ Jesus our Lord [I Tim. 1:12].
Sabongiri 3-Day Youth Conference: 1st – 3rd Oct. ’09. The conference kicked off around 2pm on the first of October and ended about the same time on the third. Prof. Height Iyiama and I were the two preachers at the meeting. He spoke on “The Times and the Youth”, “Decoding Babylon” and “Vessel of Sonship” after which I commenced on my three day’s session on “The Vanity of Life without Christ” from the book of Ecclesiastes.
Brother Height exposed the evil of our time [2 Tim. 3:1-5] and the urgent need for the next generation to be spiritually prepared to overcome the raging tide of wickedness lest they forsake the LORD God of their fathers [Judg.2:10-17]. “We are in the perilous time already and each youth has a choice to make. Your choice will determine where you will spend eternity.” “Holiness makes you a son, but sin makes you a slave.”
On my “the Vanity of Life without Christ,” the experience of Solomon in his backslidden state as divinely revealed in Ecclesiastes is highly instructive for every young person of our generation. “A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself, but the simple pass on and are punished” [Prov.22:3]. A wise youth will consider the evil of seeking fulfillment or satisfaction without Christ and will hide himself under the shadow of the Almighty [Ps.91:1].
It is only the foolish youth who will despise the wisdom of God’s word and seek to “live it up” to his own destruction [Prov.14:12]. Experience is not the best teacher as the word says, rather the true wisdom is in keeping God’s commandments for this is man’s all [Eccl.12:13]. Man needed not experience the deplorable sting of death, if he has contended himself with the Lord’s commands and warning that lead to life [Prov. 4:13; Gen.2:16-17].
Experiencing the joy, peace, life and reward of obedience is far better than having first-hand knowledge of the sorrow, misery and death consequent upon disobedience. It is better to hear me now, my children, and “do not depart from the words of my mouth…lest…you mourn at last, when your flesh and your body are consumed and [you] say, ‘How I have hated instruction, and my heart despised correction!’” [Prov.5:7,10-12].
Solomon sought peace and purpose outside of God. In his quest he tried human wisdom [Eccl.1:16-18], pleasure [2:1-3], alcohol [2:3], building projects [2:4], beautiful gardens and parks [2:4-6], personal indulgences [2:7], sex [I Kg. 11:3], massive wealth [2:7-8], international reputation [I Kg.10:6-7], Cattle breeding [2:7,8], Music [2:8], Literature [I Kg.4:32], natural science [I Kg. 4:33], and military power [4:26, 9:26].
Yet, after his exhaustive and exhausting journey, his concrete conclusion was: Meaningless! Meaningless! Says the debater, utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless [Eccl.1:2; 12:8]. He realized that life apart from God is utterly futile [Eccl.2:11], repetitious [3:1-8], permeated with sorrow [4:1], grievous and frustrating [2:17], uncertain [9:11,12], without purpose [4:2,3; 8:15], incurable [1:15], unjust [7:15; 8:14; 9:11; 10:6,7], and on the level of animal existence [3:19].
The only satisfaction is in Christ, the Lord our God [Jn.20:28]. All the labor of man is for his mouth, and yet the soul is not satisfied [Eccl.6:5; cf. 1:8; 6:3; 4:8; 5:10]. May we understand as the son of Korah did; May our souls pant for God as the deer pants for the water brooks. May we truly say, “My soul thirsts for God, for the living God” [Ps.42:1-2].
Therefore, Solomon concludes that even with God life is a mystery, but apart from Him it becomes a horrible nightmare. What else is best for man than to find and fear God early and throughout his life [Eccl.11:9,10; 12:1,2,13,14] ; even before the difficult days of old age come [Eccl.12.2-6].
As I concluded my 3-day teaching on the third of October, I dwelt on the twelfth chapter of Ecclesiastes, verses one, thirteen, and fourteen. I reasoned out from the Scriptures, the answer to the question: “Who is your Creator and God?” If we must remember now your Creator in the days of your youth and fear God and keep His commandments [Eccl.12:1,13], we must know Him. He is Christ Jesus!
“He is the image of the invisible God…For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him [Col.1:15-16]. Hallelujah!
And if there is one thing He wants us to remember Him for, it is His death on the cross for our sins [Matt.26:26-28; Lk.22:19-20]; and that “He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again” [2 Cor.5:15].
We must turn to Christ with a repentant heart [Mt.4:17], confessing Him “as Lord with our mouth and believing in our heart that God has raised Him from the dead, and you will be saved…For the Scripture says, ‘whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame’” [Rom.10:9,11]. “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” [Jn.3:36].
If one fails to remember Christ, it shall be accounted unto him as wickedness, and “the wicked shall be turned into Hell and all the nations that forget God” [Ps.9:17]. Which other time is best to believe in Christ if not in the days of our youth, before the evil days come? “Oh, satisfy us early with Your mercy, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days” [Ps. 90:14].
It is Christ alone who can satisfy the thirst of our youthful souls. “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink” [Jn.7:37; 4:14]. In Him alone is true rest. He beckons, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” [Matt.11:28-30].
Prophet Jeremiah testifies, “it is good for a man to bear the yoke in his youth as he hopes and waits quietly for the salvation of the LORD. The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him” [Lam.3:25-27]. Many of the youth professed Christ after the message as the moderator of the conference and brother Height gave the “altar call.”
I didn’t use this method, because I would rather wait for the despondent to call out apart from responding to an emotionally charged appeal. And one such young man did. Emmanuel, in his early 20’s had professed Christ previously, but was troubled about whether he would truly experience God’s salvation this time after many unfruitful responses to “altar calls” in the past.
He acknowledged his membership in a secret cult [Editor: A blood covenant ritual sacrifice cult often involving violence, murder, and even human sacrifice] at Benue Poly [Editor: A higher institution, roughly equivalent to a college specializing in technical subjects] and expressed his desire to be free from his sinful and wicked life. I counseled with him in the word of God and assured him of Christ’s power to save those who call upon him [Rom.10:13]. Please earnestly remember him in your intercession as he returned to school the following week. I have been contacting him on phone.