PASTOR Seyi Adeyemi, the Senior Pastor of The Worship Centre, was ordained a pastor in the Christ Apostolic Church in 1995. He was a Director and Head of Trade Products in Citibank Nigeria Ltd where he had over 20 years banking experience. The church, situated in Oregun, Lagos, is hosting an interdenominational Apostolic Fire Conference with the theme, ‘Eyes on Eternity,’ in January 2018. He speaks on the programme and other national issues.
By Sam Eyoboka
Can you tell us what informed the Apostolic Fire Conference?
Sometime in 2016, in the course of seeking the face of God as to what next to do as a church, I had the inspiration to establish a platform where people must be geared to focus on what is the most important thing in the mind of God. God wanted to have a relationship with man until sin interrupted the plan and God decided that Christ should come for the redemption of man. The spirit of God put it in my mind that it’s important for the church to focus on the things that are of eternal value, that are celestial because we have been so terrestrial over the years and that’s what brought about the birth of this conference.
The programme is slated for three days. Do you think those days are enough to address the issues you are targeting?
Three days will not be enough but it’s a continuous programme, it’s an annual event. So wherever it is that we stop after the three days, we continue at the next edition. All of these things revolve around the gospel—-the gospel has been preached since the resurrection of Christ over 2017 years ago and we haven’t finished preaching it. This programme is not going to finish the gospel.
There’re so much distortions, controversies surrounding the Nigerian Church with many ministers more interested in pecuniary gospel than the gospel of Jesus Christ. Where did the Church get it wrong?
In the 30s to 50s, when Pentecostalism and the move of the spirit came into Nigeria, it didn’t come with any form of modality, as we had the apostles, ordinary people, uneducated and raw people who were so dependent on God and obedient to the letter of the gospel. That is why our fathers, for example, were so committed and were able to pass the gospel to us in its raw form. There was a high level of spirituality but there was a low-level of knowledge. In the 70s, during the era of Billy Graham, T.L. Osborne, Kenneth Higgins, we began to see the renaissance of knowledge. They began to teach the scripture in its entire form.
Interestingly, the people who received the gospel at the beginning were not wealthy people. They just lived their lives and depended on God. But in the 70s and the 80s, the spirit of God was moving even on the educated and wealthy people and, therefore, Christianity, for those who were growing, found themselves between two extremes: Those who wanted to focus on holiness, righteousness and close their eyes to anything that is of the world and those who equated poverty with righteousness. Neither of the two positions was correct. But because that was the experience of some people at a point , those who found themselves in the first era moved in that direction while those who found themselves in the second era moved in that direction. Here is where the problem began; when Pentecostalism came to this part of the world in the 80s, that was when we had the new generation churches and the notion of poverty and not being ambitious was associated with the gospel; some people believed it was a sin to be a doctor or a lawyer because those were not the things God wanted but many people said no.
When the light of the gospel came, people began to understand the mind of God that we didn’t need to be so celestial focused and terrestrially useless which was the impact of the first era but that God wanted us to prosper both on earth and in heaven and that was where the pendulum swung from one extreme to the other. People like Billy Graham, T.L. Osborne who are examples of modern Pentecostalism were wealthy and blessed but were not covetous. But the challenge we have in the body of Christ today is that a number of people have commercialized the gospel of Jesus Christ in such a way that people are now being motivated to chase money rather than chase the things of God. The Bible says seek ye first the kingdom of God and its righteousness and all other things shall be added. So the most important thing we need to understand is that those charlatans who distort the true gospel are the ones that are giving the gospel a bad name. God is not anti-wealth, God is not pro-poverty. He blesses people who are doing things according to His will. He asked us to work and we will be blessed. We need to understand the morality of working. God is a working God. It is a distortion in the body of Christ and that is part of the things we intend to address at this conference.
And you are not afraid to step on big toes?
I don’t know what you mean by stepping on toes. One thing about the gospel is that you preach it the way it is. If it affects you, you’ve got two options, either change or ignore. We don’t target or attack anybody. We simply preach the true and undiluted Word of God and that’s all. We are not setting out to step on anybody’s toes; we are only stepping out to do the will of God.
Time was when Nigerians accused the likes of Archbishop Benson Idahosa for leaning towards money gospel and not the true gospel. Don’t you think you are going to be at loggerheads with some big players in the industry today?
God is in a business of revelation over a period of time and He uses different people at different times for different purposes. Archbishop Idahosa was the father of Pentecostalism in Nigeria. He was the one who took away that extreme notion of poverty gospel. In that dispensation, God had to use people like that to open the eyes of people to know the mind of God. God did not intend people to live in penury. When He created Adam and Eve, He put them in a garden where every need was already provided for them. So Idahosa was used in that dispensation.
Then God talked to another dispensation, where the issue of faith had to come in. We have people like Bishop David Oyedepo who God use to teach people faith. We have people like Pastor William Kumuyi because God knows that holiness and righteousness and purity are also the prerequisite for making heaven. God gave him that assignment. God looked at people like Pastor Enoch Adeboye and said that only those who humble themselves before God can be exalted and gave him the gospel of humility. And looked at Pastor Sam Adeyemi among others and said people need to learn the art of leadership. He looked at people like Pastor Matthew Ashimolowo and used them to teach success. God does not use one person for everything. Over the years, God has used different people for the revelation of His mind, and we will not understand God in full until we get to heaven.
Will the conference address the issue of the unification of CAC?
The issue of the unification of CAC is an ongoing programme and serious efforts are being made in that direction and great successes are currently being achieved. I predict that within the next couple of years, the process of unification should be completed and we will have one powerful and focused Christ Apostolic Church again.
There’s a lot of controversy over Christmas, where do you belong?
That Christ was born at all is a major headache for the devil because Christ was born to defeat the devil here on earth. There is no controversy as to the fact that Christ was born. Whether He was born in December or He was born in January, as far as I’m concerned, it’s inconsequential to the whole fact. So whether December 25 was exactly the day Christ was born or not is not the real issue, the issue is that the Christian world has chosen the 25th as the day to celebrate the historical and undeniable fact that Christ was born. If anybody has a headache with that, there’s no apology.
On the issue of tithe, where do you belong?
When you speak about the things of God, you need to speak out of the knowledge which reveals the mind of God and not from convenience or circumstance. A lot of the people who spoke against tithe spoke because they don’t pay and they probably want to get people to align with them. Second, they spoke because they felt that recession is biting so hard and they felt that tithe was taking part of their income and, therefore, affecting their ability to live which, in itself, is ignorance. Third, because I know that whenever you see a campaign against biblical principles and doctrines, the devil is behind it. The scriptures that talk about tithe began as far back as Genesis where Abraham paid tithe to Melchizedek. Then it moved on to Deuteronomy where the people of Israel were required to make 10 per cent contribution to the house of God in order to take care of the Levites. That is how the issue of tithe was established in the Jewish setting and, of course, when it got to Malachi, which is the popular scripture, Malachi 3:10, the Bible says ‘bring all tithes into the house that there may be meat in my house’. That is the first part of that scripture. Then it says ‘prove me now if I will not open the windows of heaven and pour you out a blessing’. Now here’s the question, by demanding tithe, does God really need our money? No. God requires man, wherever there is a physical demand for anything in church, it is not because God is in need, it is because God wants us to learn how to honour Him with what He has given to us. People need to understand that the needs in the house of God will be met whether or not people decide in their own wisdom or knowledge to bring. So people need to come to the understanding that we are not doing God a favor by obeying that scripture, we are doing ourselves a favor. The argument that tithe was given as a commandment to Jews and that it was supposed to be paid to the Levites, and we are not Jews and neither are pastors Levites simply shows the ignorance of those who say so. The Bible makes it clear that everything that took place in the Old Testament was an example for the future. It used physical things to give analogy for the understanding of spiritual things that were going to come. So when we talk about tithe, there is a need in the house of God that transcends just meat and drink. The Church has a role to take care of the brotherhood. The Church has a role to step in and try to bridge the gap where government fails as far as people’s welfare is concerned. The Church has a role to propagate the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ for God till the end of the earth. All these assignments require money and that is what tithe is meant for.
Do people arrogate tithe and offerings to themselves? Yes! But the misuse of something does not nullify the authenticity of its command. Every man, pastor will give an account of his stewardship to God. So if somebody is not being faithful, it does not nullify the Commandment of God. It simply means that you are being unfaithful to the commandment of God. So, if somebody takes the tithe that belongs to the church and uses it for his own personal need, that is unfaithfulness. I don’t believe that the money that comes from tithe and offering is enough to buy private jets. We need to talk about something else.