There was nothing religious about the publicity materials. Although, one gets the idea of a Christian programme, but they did not contain the usual religious clichés of breakthrough, healing, prosperity and miracles. One of the fliers was handed to me on campus, and I promised to attend. As a new bee on campus I was still testing the waters; trying to gauge the spiritual landscape of my new abode as a graduate research student. I looked forward to the event, with an open mind but ready to receive whatever bombshell that emanates therefrom. Little did I know that I was ill-prepared for what finally came.
The session I attended started off well. It began as though it was a departure from the regular Pentecostal emphases, as the Facilitator assured us that we would be amazed at the understanding of the word of God we would get in the cause of the programme and also challenged us to independently confirm all the scriptural passages he would be quoting. That was fair enough as most Pentecostal assemblies do not encourage believers to search the scriptures for themselves to confirm if the teachings were in line or not. Most Pastors expect you to swallow everything they say hook, line and sinker, without asking questions. Some Believers on their own are equally lazy to think and inquire for themselves.
While most of the passages the Facilitator quoted were quite frankly well explicated, some of his positions could not stand in the light of the scripture. To make matters worse, he said no questions would be allowed throughout the meeting. He was very emphatic about it, and I was wondering what could have informed that. At that point I knew there would be issues requiring questions. As I was still trying to process that, as part of his introduction, he said “the moment you are born again, even if you do not step foot into the church and continue to live in sin, you will still go to heaven”. Immediately, the red flag popped up; the bolt from the blue.
He made the statement and went ahead with his teaching without elaborating more on it, or give us scriptural basis for the statement. From that moment, the alarm in my head did not stop ringing until I left the meeting. I had heard rumours of Pastors teaching this doctrine in Nigeria, but I never took it seriously because I thought it was ludicrous. In between, he introduced a video message which he paused intermittently to explain some points. It was the video of one of Nigeria’s mega Pentecostal Pastors. Trust me, not one of the spooky ones, but the sleek and smooth talking ones. I was alarmed because there was no mentioning of the name of his assembly or anything relating to it until the video.
I was so shocked that I called my Pastor in Nigeria to intimate him of what transpired at the meeting. He was not surprised a bit, but rather went ahead to tell me about one of the leading Pentecostal Pastors in Nigeria who teaches that same doctrine. I could not believe my ears. Immediately he mentioned the Pastors name, it was the same one whose video clip was played at the meeting. It made sense where this Facilitator got his doctrine of ‘once saved is forever saved’ from. My Pastor went further to confirm the high rate of immorality being reported in that assembly in Nigeria. Imagine what would be happening in other parts of the world where this man has followers.
You may be itching to know the name of the Nigerian Pastor. Some of you probably know who by now, and he may even be your own pastor. I will not mention the name because I wouldn’t want it to distract from the essence of this piece. A teaching like that would lead a lot of people to hell. To justify this outrageous position, they say it is the body that sins and not the spirit. While there’s always forgiveness when we occasionally give in to the flesh if we repent, to continue to live in sin wilfully as a believer is tantamount to praising and dancing your way to hell.
What shall we say, then? Should we continue to live in sin so that God’s grace will increase? Certainly not! We have died to sin — how then can we go on living in it? Romans 6:1-3 (GNT)
But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors — not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. Romans 8:11-13 (NKJV).
Paul said “But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified” 1 Corinthians 9:27 (NKJV). Paul equally admonished us to work out our salvation with trembling and fear (Philippians 2:12). You have to take personal responsibility for your own salvation. On the day of final judgment God will not ask you to come with your Pastor. Some people need to run for their lives out of the entrapment of religion and seductive doctrines of demons (1 Timothy 4:1-2).
In the next part, I will inform you of my eventual communication with this Facilitator on my campus, and also show you more scriptural passages that invalidate the doctrine of ‘once saved is forever saved’. I encourage you to take personal responsibility for your spiritual development so you do not smile, praise and dance your way to hell.
This article was first published on Premium Times in 2014.