By Ven. Paul Uzo Nwozuzu
About 30 years ago the issue of been Born Again, was not widely accepted. Much ignorant and doubt even anger featured as a response to those who claim to be Born Again. But, most who made claim were genuine.
Today the situation is different! A great number of those who claim to be today are not genuine. This has made it necessary now to ask those who claim to be, how radical, genuine and committed they are to Jesus Christ in word, taught or deed! There is need therefore to revisit the whole issue of how to receive and be sharpen of the new life in Christ, to be sure one is Born Again. The E-5R Approach captures this.
God has created us to know him, love Him and serve Him through His son Jesus Christ. This is not however, an easy task, since we are born in sin, our flesh is weak and the world is a battle ground and not a playground. From my study of the Scripture, personal experience, encounters with the Lord Jesus Christ, submission in an increasing matter to the Holy Spirit, study of related materials and listening to people, I have prayerfully put together a biblical understanding of what God expects of all human beings; as a base and fundamental for our salvation and restoration to him. This approach begins with the person knowing Jesus personally and being known personally by Him before serving or working for Him. This was also the Masters approach, as He recruited men to be saved and to partner with him in the warfare and salvation of others, He called them by personal names as he listed them, he knew them personally (John 1 vs 42, 47; John 13 vs 18) This approach ensures that the disciple to be, knows the Master, accepts to follow the Master before he is exposed to the content of why he was called.. It is however, a knowledge and learning that the disciple continues to grow in, all through life. Day after day I discover I long to know Him, to submit to Him more.
St. Mark brings out this Jesus paradigm or model of teaching and learning well in Mk 3 vs 14 and 15. According to Him, Jesus called the disciples to be with him, and to be sent out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons,” Thus to, know and be, before being sent out by him to serve or minister. According to Bryan Mers “being, comes before doing”. In the church however, we are sometimes tempted to engage men and women to do work for God before they have been with the master. We observe that even the Western Paradigm to teaching and learning has become transformed with emphasis now learner based and not subject matter based. This is where altar call, personal encounter and follow-up or discipleship class becomes inescapable for anyone who is serious about following Jesus Christ and making heaven. Structured discipleship period provides for much closer walk with Jesus Christ: a foundational time to be with Him!
The E-5R approach is the biblical, godly, evangelical expectations of those who come to Jesus Christ. Indeed it is what God, who desires all men to be saved, expects of all men. This expectation does not respect race or color, sex or position. It is expected even more of those who are called to be ministers, leaders or heads of Church families, arms and organizations. These are enlisted to lead in Christian Spiritual Warfare. The approach provides a ground for self examination, self understanding and also godly confidence/assurance for those who want to consciously commit themselves to know the Master, serve him or war behind him. Let us now look at the approach in details.
(a) E -ENCOUNTER WITH THE WORD OF GOD: This is the first stage where the man receives the Rhema…the living, active and quickening Word of God. When Jesus walked the streets of Galilee, he will physically call men to himself, as we saw above in the call of Mathew, the Rich Young Ruler – Mathew 19:6ff; Mark 10:17ff, they chose to follow him or refuse him. Jesus is the Word that became flesh, Jn 1:14. He is no longer physically present with us as was the case before His death and resurrection but now he still encounters men through His Word, preached, or read by the person in the dream or vision or in reality through His miracles. Testimonies abound where He appears to people in dreams to witness to them, in some cases also in the Muslim lands where Preachers and Evangelists are few, far and often forbidden. Psalm 95 vs 7; Acts 16 vs 14; 2 Cor 6 vs 2. No one truly hears the word of God or sees Him at work and remains the same. The word of God is fire, hammer, sharper than two edged sword.
(b) R – REALIZATION OF ONESELF: At hearing the Word, quickened by the Holy Spirit, the person realizes himself, as a sinner unbelieving, disobedient to God and given to dirty habits, selfishness, immorality and violence. On the other hand he/she sees Jesus as He is righteous and Holy. At this encounter, the Veil is removed; the person is unmasked and the hearer sees himself as he/she is. This is quite a humbling experience that results ideally in brokenness of heart (Psalm 51 vs. 17). “Thus Isaiah will say, ” Woe is me…for I am lost” Isa 6 vs 3; Peter will say, “go away from me I am a Sinner”. (Luke 5 vs 8). The person should not stop at self realization!
(c ) R – REPENTANCE FROM SIN: The next ideal step that God expects from one who has realized him/herself is the person’s confession of sin and repentance from same…to say “Father”, or “Lord” “I have sinned, please forgive me” and to really mean it. .it is not a feeling of remorse (mere feeling sorry or bad about sin and stopping there) but of genuine acceptance that one has got it wrong. It is not time to blame anyone or Satan, but to accept responsibility for ones action of sins resulting from our nature of sin and sins committed since after ones birth. It is important for repentance to be real, factual, radical and thorough so that one can know what he/she has been saved from and what he/she is repenting from. To gloss over this stage is to woble and struggle through the Christian life. The person will have difficulty loving the Lord much..(Luke 7 vs 47.) A Pastor’s daughter for instance, who was not used to the “big sins” of other girls, who lived outside the vicarage, was saved from pride, self righteousness and haughtiness, as she repented from looking down on other “sinners” with a superiority complex. Psalm 51; 1 Sam.7:3-4; Matthew 3:2, 4:12; Acts 2:37-38. Repentance must be radical and thorough for it to provide a solid foundation for maturity. It will be difficult for the person to mature if the foundation of following Christ is not strong and thorough. The radicalism expected here is not singing the song “radical for Jesus”, and throwing up seats, but truly resolving to obey God in every area of life. Unless you tidy this stage you will remain a babe Christian.
(d) R – RECEIVING JESUS CHRIST AS LORD AND SAVIOUR: At the confession of one’s sin, and as one is forgiven, there is a gap that needs to be filled..As one master (Satan and sin) leaves, another Master (Jesus and righteousness) should take over..There should be a deliberate invitation of Jesus to come into ones heart and to reign as Lord, Master and King..(Rev 3 vs 20). John 1 vs 12; 8 vs 34 to 36). As one steps out or kneels to receive Jesus, it’s a commitment even to die. The person becomes a disposable slave to Jesus the new Lord. The person is saved from and will no longer be captive to fear, death, sickness, Hell and Satan. The step to leave sin is like leaving Egypt. There will be a gap until the person accepts Jesus Christ….. really enters Canaan! Without receiving Jesus Christ there will be no power to live the new life, the person will have no help of the Holy Spirit to be able to stand. He/she will be rising and falling daily.
(e) R – RESOLUTION TO LIVE NEW LIFE IN CHRIST: The Lord Jesus comes in when he is invited…John 6 vs 37, but he expects that there will be room for him to come in, and after he has come in, the person MUST adjust his/her way of living to suit his/her new decision and position, Eph.4:17; 2 Cor.5:17; Galatians 2:20; that the person will be ready for the journey (Dan 1 vs 8) growing Spiritually and deepening faith in him so as to be used in time to be a vessel for bringing others into the kingdom…(Col 2 vs 6 and 7). How solid the resolution is well determine how far the person will go in the faith. For foundations are important (Matt. 7:24ff). This new life will found expression in regularly reading and studying the Bible, attending fellowship, witnessing to the Gospel, living righteously and expecting the Master to come!
(f) R – REMAINING IN LIFE OF OBEDIENCE TO GOD: The Lord also expects the person to remain faithful to his/her resolution no matter the circumstances..Only those who remain bear fruit. John 15 vs 16.. he also warns that those who turn back only show that they are not worthy..Heb 10 vs 38..only those who remain faithful to the end will be raptured and crowned, variously, with crowns of life, righteousness and glory. (Matthew 24 vs 13; I Thess. 4 vs 17, Rev. 2:10).
The church, with the Minister and leaders of families, organizations arms leading, has a very important and critical role to bring men and women to this experience and to see them through it. This is the basic mandate and mission of the church. Other activities of the church are useful only to the extend they help the individual member to realize this goal..According to Prof Rylaasdam of India “Whatever the church does has evangelistic significance or implication”. The Lord Jesus is coming to harvest those who remain faithful.
In the days of Abp Adetiloye, the Bishops of Nigeria had a program at Lokoja in 2000 with the theme:
‘The Bishop as an Evangelist…when the Bishop moves”. Their conclusion at that meeting/retreat organized by the Rt. Rev. Cyril Okorocha was that when the Bishop, the Shepherd and leaders moves, the people follow. In a Church when the Pastor and other leaders have genuinely encountered Jesus and have become committed to him, resolutely adjusting their lives to be transformed according to the image of Christ, determined to remain fruitfully faithful to the end. Rom.8:28-30; 2 Cor.3:18; Eph.4:22; Rom.12:2, then they can help the members to receive who and what (salvation) they have. One cannot give what he does not have.
The E-5R Approach enables the (Christian) to be positioned, to be filled with the Holy Spirit, to receive spiritual gifts, to be ready to engage with the enemy, to stand to wrestle with wicked spirits, the flesh, the world and sin and to be victorious by the grace of God and to bear fruit (1 Cor. 15:10)
According to watchmen Nee
…no Christian can hope to enter the warfare of the ages without learning first to rest in Christ and in what He has done, and then through the strength of the Holy Spirit within to follow Him in a practical, Holy Life here on earth. If he is deficient in either of those, he will find that all the talk about Spiritual Warfare remains only “a story”, he will never know its reality “or victory”.
Satan can afford to ignore him for he has not committed himself to anything that constitutes a threat to Satan’s Kingdom. Yet the very same Christian can be made strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might” by knowing the values first of his exaltation and then of his indwelling.
May submission to God in Christ through the E-5R approach, remove the cobwebs in your heart and mind regarding salvation and may God enable you to help your neighbor until we ALL attain godly excellence in Christ.