To follow Jesus, one must be willing to experience loss, suffering, sacrifice and death. Yet these are the basics of salvation and a worthy price to be paid so that the Word of God is preached throughout the world. Last weekend at City Harvest Church, guest preacher Bishop Dag Heward-Mills preached two powerful messages, challenging the church to give their all for the gospel.
On the first weekend of February (3 and 4 Feb), Bishop Dag Heward-Mills, a world-renowned healing evangelist from Ghana, Africa, graced the halls of CHC with two power-packed messages. Bishop Dag is the founder of the Healing Jesus Campaign and the United Denominations of the Lighthouse Group of Churches. His evangelistic meetings see millions come to Christ and multitudes receive healing from God.
LOSING, SUFFERING, SACRIFICING, AND DYING
On Saturday, he preached a message titled, “Losing, Suffering, Sacrificing, and Dying”, emphasising that these are the four spiritual appointments for every Christian.
Trained as a medical doctor, Bishop Dag used the analogy of a doctor’s path to explain that medical students need to complete certain studies before they are qualified to be a doctor. Similarly, to be a disciple of Jesus, there are some standards one must obtain. Jesus will not lower these standards for anyone (Lk 14:26 NIV), he stated.
Christians have four key appointments on their road to follow Jesus:
1. An appointment with loss and losing
“If you’re going to follow Jesus, you’re going to lose something,” Bishop Dag reading from Matthew 16:25. In Philippians 3:7-8, Paul said he counted all these things that he has lost and suffered for Christ, a gain instead.
2. An appointment with suffering
Philippians 1:29-30 says that Christians are not only called to believe in Jesus but they are also called to suffer for His sake.
“No matter where you are, there will be some kind of suffering,” the preacher said, quoting 1 Thessalonians 3:3 which says, “… we have been destined for this”. In V5, it further explains that Satan attempts to convince people that the reason for their suffering is because they are a bad person. The Bible warns against these tactics of the enemy, and gives believers the hope that Jesus is with them.
Acts 14:22 says that it is “through much tribulation” that Christians “enter into the kingdom of God”. Tribulation is a door in the realm of the Spirit, one that causes people to enter places they would never enter if they never suffered. Similarly, there are certain things one would never think about until one has suffered.
The preacher mentioned Derek Prince’s book The Grace Of Yielding, where the author wrote three important questions one should ask oneself: what has he been through, what has he suffered, and how has he survived? It is more than his accomplishments and achievements, but how he has overcome all the trials and tribulations in his life that is important.
3. An appointment with sacrifice
Reading Romans 12:1, Bishop Dag reminded the church that every person who comes to God must sacrifice something.
“Have you ever heard of any of God’s greatest servants that never made any sacrifice?” he asked. He named Abraham, Isaac, Solomon, and David, who willingly made sacrifices as they served God.
Suffering is an inherent part of Christianity. Bishop Dag shared his personal story of how God told him to serve as a pastor. At that time, he had just become a doctor and most of his classmates had moved to America to become well-paid doctors. Instead, Bishop Dag laid down this lucrative career on the altar and followed His calling as a pastor to serve God.
4. An appointment with death
Jesus said that for Christians to follow Him, they must deny themselves and take up their cross daily (Lk 9:23). Today, the cross is a popular fashion item but in truth, it was an instrument of death. “God wants you to come to this place where you are going to make losing, suffering, sacrificing and dying part of your lives,” Bishop Dag said. “This is where the change comes.”
John 12:23-24 says that to produce much fruit, a seed must first die. Jesus Himself reached a point when it was His time to die. He could have continued preaching in other places, but He did not because preaching was not going to save people—it was His blood that would. Jesus’ suffering and dying on the Cross would save the people because that was where the power lay.
Luke 9 describes a falling process and then a dying process before the seed can grow and bear fruit. However, many Christians are not prepared to suffer for Christ to go out as missionaries into the world. Yet, Jesus has called His disciples to go into the world to preach the gospel. Bishop Dag challenged the church to send out their people to the field to bring in the harvest.
The preaching of the cross is the power of God (1 Cor 1:18). He explained that if there is no preaching of sacrifice, there is no power to change, to move and win the lost. Sacrifice releases power—every religion knows that, but only Christians have a true living God who saved them through His sacrifice on the Cross.
God is calling His churches to pay a price and it is not money He is looking for. Bishop Dag challenged the church to give themselves to God, to serve Him and to follow Him.
THOSE WHO FORGET
On Sunday, Bishop Dag brought the church through Scripture to remind them never to forget God.
He started his sermon with Hebrews 6:10, reminding them that God is not unrighteous to forget the labours of His children. Even David who committed a serious sin by killing Uriah and taking his wife, was commended for his service unto God.
When Christians fail to remember the things they ought to remember, they go astray. Bishop Dag noted that when people forget, they become disloyal and wicked. “If we as Christians remember our salvation properly, we will be better Christians,” he commented.
There are two tests in a Christian’s life: poverty and prosperity. Of the two, prosperity is a harder test to pass. In Deuteronomy 8:12, Moses told the people to remember God when they find themselves living in abundance. The bishop warned the church against taking credit for their success when it was God who had blessed them. “Don’t forget how you came to be who you are,” he urged.
“When you forget, you become proud,” he continued. Reading Deut 9:7, he urged the church to forget not the things that they have done that had angered God. In Deuteronomy 15, Moses also reminded the people to remember their humble beginnings.
What makes a Christian barren and unfruitful?
Referencing 2 Peter 1:8-9, the bishop taught that the thing that makes Christians barren and unfruitful is blindness, short-sightedness and forgetting one’s salvation. He noted that the blind and the short-sighted cannot bear fruit because they do not see beyond their circumstances and have no idea where to go. “Fruitfulness is dependent on going,” he said.
Citing the armour of God, Bishop Dag noted that on the soldier’s head is the helmet of salvation and on his feet are the shoes of the gospel of peace—without these two, the soldier is not well protected.
Finally, a Christian is barren and unfruitful when he has forgotten how he received his salvation. “It doesn’t come by osmosis,” the preacher quipped drawing laughter from the crowd. “Salvation comes by preaching the gospel and the Word of God.”
The bishop went on to relate a vision that he read from Rick Joyner’s book The Final Quest. In that vision, Apostle Paul told Rick that to be a minister is a big sacrifice. The process of salvation demands sacrifice and Christians must be willing to pay the price for the gospel.
“The three problems that the church is facing ‘is blind’, ‘cannot see far’ and ‘has forgotten’ that salvation comes by preaching,” the preacher reiterated, referring to 2 Peter 1:8-9. He challenged the church to look beyond Singapore and go to the nations to preach the gospel.
Using the illustration of Jesus’ parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Lk 16:19-31), Bishop Dag noted that hell is a real place. Yet, many are not concerned because they are blind and cannot see into the things of the Spirit. When the rich man was in hell, he asked Abraham to send Lazarus back to earth as an evangelist to warn his brothers of hell. Abraham, however, told him that there are prophets on earth to preach the gospel and there was no need to send someone back from the dead.
At this point, Bishop Dag urged those sitting in the congregation to rise to the call of God. “The time has come when you start asking, ‘What am I going to do for God today?’” he proclaimed.
He related a story of a pastor whom Jesus brought to hell. There, he saw a friend who told him that he died on Friday in a car accident. Shaken, he called his mother and realised that the friend had indeed passed on.
“Many of us have become barren in Christ; we’ve become empty because we can’t see the multitudes that are screaming and calling out, ‘Just one drop’,” he said, referring to the request of the rich man to Abraham.
At the end of both services, Bishop Dag gave an altar call for those who wanted to answer the call of God to preach to the nations. Many streamed to the altar to receive an impartation. He also prayed for those who were sick to receive healing.