VP’s Keynote Address At Great Minds Summit In Rivers State
KEYNOTE ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, PROF. YEMI OSINBAJO, SAN, GCON, VICE PRESIDENT, FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA AT THE GREAT MINDS SUMMIT HELD AT RCCG REGION 5 HEADQUARTERS, PORT HARCOURT ON SATURDAY NOVEMBER 16, 2019
I am extremely honoured to have been invited to speak to this distinguished gathering of professionals, intellectuals and entrepreneurs on the topic exercising Kingdom Dominion. What does this mean? It means transforming your own sphere of influence by simply practising the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
There is an interesting scripture which I think speaks to this issue
2 Kings 2:19-22
19 Then the men of the city said to Elisha, “Please notice, the situation of this city is pleasant, as my lord sees; but the water is bad, and the ground barren.”
20 And he said, “Bring me a new bowl, and put salt in it.”So, they brought it to him.
21 Then he went out to the source of the water, and cast in the salt there, and said, “Thus says the Lord: ‘I have healed this water; from it, there shall be no more death or barrenness.’
22 So the water remains healed to this day, according to the word of Elisha which he spoke.
Elijah called for physical salt and poured it into the source of the bad water, and it was healed. Scripture describes you and I like the salt of the earth. In Matthew 5:13-16.
He says, 13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.”
But because we are the salt of earth, it means in this nation, whatever capacity we find ourselves, we are the salt that has been poured out by God into the source of the problem. Just as Elisha poured salt to the source of the problem. You and I, in whatever field we find ourselves, we are that salt that has been poured there. Whether its in Politics, business, entertainment, education or in Ministry, or where ever it is, we are that salt that has been poured there. Scripture also say that we in Matthew 5:14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.
Scripture goes further to say that:
15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.
16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
Our light is supposed to benefit everybody and then it goes on to say that our light must shine before men that they would see the glory of our Father. They will see our good works and then glorify our Father in Heaven. When our light shines, God will be glorified. But our light can only shine from our good works. So, it is important to understand that we are obliged and compelled by the scripture to be the light, to be the salt. And it is so important to understand that salt cannot operate, except to flavour. The purpose of salt is to improve the taste, to make the taste better.
Years ago, when I was appointed as the Attorney-General of Lagos state that was in 1999; I have become a born-again Christian in 1994 and in 1999, I was appointed the Attorney General. So, it was a period of about 5 years. But all through that time, that is in 1994 when I became a born-again Christian. I was only interacting with Christians. You know how it is, when you are born-again, spirit-filled and you’re doing all manner of things, excited about the gospel, you’re doing all sorts of thing for God. All my interaction was with Christians, I didn’t even know people still drank and smoked. I completely forgot that they were people on this earth who were doing all sorts of crazy things.
Anyway, when I was appointed Attorney General, one of the very early days after my appointment, I had a meeting with a group of other advisers of the governor at the time. It was in a very small room, in that small room, we were about 4 or 5 of us. There was a gentleman who was smoking a pipe, another one was smoking a cigarette. By the time we started the meeting only the one smoking the pipe, continued to smoke his pipe. This was a small air-conditioned room, so the smoke became so much in the place that tears began to come out of my eyes. So, I said to the man, why you don’t you just stop this thing, this is very uncomfortable. So he looked at me and said “Pastor, pastor, pastor.” Anyway, he puts off his pipe, but by this time, smoke was all over the place.
So, as I stepped out of the meeting, my hair was smelling of tobacco, my body was smelling of tobacco, everything was smelling of tobacco. And I was just getting so upset, and I said to myself – You’re a pastor, what if a member of your congregation comes now and smells this tobacco all over you? And says pastor, do you also occasionally…you know? What would you say? And I was getting very upset, wondering is this the right place for me to be. Should I be in the company of these kinds of people? Am I even doing the right time? And I heard the Lord speak to me- “You are salt, if salt is not inside the stew, If it is not inside the soup, how can it make a difference? How can you make a difference if you’re not right inside the trouble? That’s where you’re supposed to be. I was so convinced that that was exactly where I ought to be because God spoke to me about it.
So, where ever it is we find ourselves, no matter the circumstances, no matter how dark, no matter how bad, that is where we are meant to be. If you are salt, you are meant to flavour, if you’re light, there’s no point being a light in light, you can only be a light in the darkness to make a difference.
Romans 8:19, Scripture says; for the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.
You and I are eagerly awaiting by the creation, in other words by our own nation, by this society, this is our own creation. We are eagerly awaiting; everything that is wrong, everything that is corrupt, everything that requires repair is saying where are the sons of God? Where are the sons of Gods? That’s what it’s saying. God has given us authority.
1 Tim 3:18, The scripture describes the church, you and I (the church) as the pillar and foundation of truth. That is how the bible describes us.
In 1 Timothy 3:15 it says; if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. The church is, therefore, the key to the transformation of society. And when we say the church, we refer to you and I. We are key to the transformation of the society. What the church does, what is preached, how we behave is what will transform our societies. The responsibility for the destiny of the nation is ours. The responsibility of the destinies of business, politics, education, and the destiny of this nation is ours. Everything we read in the scripture about us, tells us of our responsibilities to our nation. None of it tells us that our nation owes us anything. Everything we read, tells us about our own responsibilities.
If you look at 2 Chronicles 7:14, that scripture we quote very often, it says “if my people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
Look at what it says, it refers only to those who are called by the name of the Lord Jesus. It does not refer to anybody else. It says if we, who are called by His name will pray, and humble ourselves but most importantly that we turn from our evil ways. That’s what it says, it doesn’t say that other people should turn from their evil ways, in other to heal the land. It says those of us, who are called by his name is required to turn from our evil ways so that the land will be blessed. The responsibility for prayer for our nation is ours. To seek his face on behalf of the nation is ours. Even the responsibility to turn from evil ways is ours. The Bible believes that a nation will not do well if the believers are doing evil or they refuse to turn from their ways. That is what the bible says, that is what the scripture says. The scripture imposes on the church, the responsibility for transforming the nation. That’s what the scripture does. The gospel also gives us the mandate, there is a clear mandate, and we call it the great commission.
THE GREAT COMMISSION: OUR MANDATE, Matt 28:18-20
Verse 18: All power is given to me in heaven and earth. 19 Go ye therefore and (teach) make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you always even unto the end of the age.
The scripture is so clear about our mandate. Our mandate is absolutely clear, we are supposed to go out and disciple the nations. We are supposed to go out and teach the nations to observe the scripture. What are those things we are supposed to teach the nation? We will come to that in a moment, but Genesis 1:28 is part of that mandate.
THE BELIEVER’S FIVE-FOLD MANDATE is contained in Gen 1:28. It says: Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
So, there is a Five-fold mandate, be fruitful,
multiply, fill the earth, subdue it, have dominion. We are required to do all of these things, the mandate that have been given to us. So when we look at the scripture that tells us about how to have dominion, subduing and all that. A good working definition is one that tells that we have not subdued the nation until the principles, values, virtues of the kingdom of God have been accepted as a normal way of life in our society. So this is what it means, to go and teach them to observe and to do all things whatsoever He has commanded us. It is so that we can teach the nations, our won nation all of the principles of scripture that are important to transform our nation. So we are anointed to do this. Pharaoh was in search of a man who could handle the economy of Egypt in the time of famine. The bible said he actually asked for a man who had the anointing of God. The anointing to deal with the economy, not the anointing to raise the dead or heal the sick that you can also use to heal the economy because it’s the same God, the same spirit of God, the same anointing is used in different ways. So, if you look at Genesis 41:38-40 and Pharaoh said to his servants, “Can we find such a one as this, a man in whom is the Spirit of God?” Can we find someone who has the spirit of God? In other words, can we find an anointed man? And then Joseph went on and spoke about what he was and what he can do.
Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Inasmuch as God has shown you all this, there is no one as discerning and wise as you. You shall be over my house, and all my people shall be ruled according to your word; only in regard to the throne will I be greater than you.”
It is very clear that what God wanted and what God still wants is that the anointing which he has given each and every believer is to transform our society in our own space; whatever that space may be.
1 Corinthians 12:4-7
There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all:
We are anointed to be the best entertainers, the most adept in technology and innovation, the best in business, the most creative entrepreneurs, that is the nature of the anointing of God. So, we’re already anointed and we have the spirit of God. The spirit of excellence as Pastor Emmanuel pointed out. All of these come with the anointing of God. So sometimes we ask ourselves, how then can the principles, values and virtues of the kingdom become accepted as the normal way of life of society?
Are there any examples in history where the gospel of Jesus Christ has transformed societies by the actions of men and women like yourself and myself? Yes. There are good examples in history. Those of us who are students of history have heard about the Protestant reformation. When believers like you and I in Europe, America and later Asia changed their world by observing the principles of scripture in their everyday lives. Some sociologists and historians like Ashton, for example, or Weber all agree that the industrial revolution and the prosperity of the west of Europe and then America benefitted greatly from the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Especially through the way the puritans preached and practised the gospel. The strict observance of gospel principles especially righteous behavior was so crucial. The way the believers worked in factories and offices led to the description of hard work, diligence, service and integrity as the puritanical work ethic. In other words, because of the way the Christians worked, because of the way they behaved, work itself hard work diligence was described as puritanical work ethic. In other words, it was described as if hard work means the way Christians behave.
So, the Germans, for example, in their catechism in churches in those days, many of them, protestant churches. They would take the Ten Commandments, say for instance: “Thou shall not steal” and analyse it in details what does stealing means. They will say stealing means when you steal the time of your employer, for example, if you’re praying when you should be working, they will say its stealing. And I use the example of praying when we’re working because it’s an example of doing something good at the wrong time. And they will give you different examples of stealing and that was how they taught in the churches. So, they will look at the various dimensions, if you even remember the invention of the mechanical clock, not the hourglass, the mechanical clock, was in Bavaria. They invented the clock so they could be so sure that people will work the hours they were required to work and pay a tithe. So, the clock was important for that purpose. There was French philosopher who wasn’t even a Christian, Alex De Toqueville who was writing about what he discovered about America; why America was great. He said “I looked around and when he was talking, this was the 18th/19th century] so I looked around everywhere in America I was wondering why is this country great, I looked their harbours, their railways, I looked at everything trying to found out why is this country great. I couldn’t discover it until I got to their churches and discovered what they were preaching and I realized that America is great because what was being preached on their pulpits. What were they preaching on their pulpits? What was being preached? If we ask ourselves what is being preached, then we know why the gospel transformed their society. The influence of the gospel was what transformed Europe and America and later on Asia.
And I will explain how come Asia beginning with Japan was an old established civilization. In fact, Japan and China were ahead of European civilization, they were way ahead, generations ahead. They were already writing when European civilization was considered barbaric. They had writings, they had all sorts of things, but by the 18th century, the European civilization had taken over so even the Japanese began to wonder why is it that this Europeans had suddenly moved ahead of us. For those who study history, will know that the reason was because of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. The transformative nature of the Gospel and the various principles, and we’ll look at these principles in one minute.
But in 1871 Emperor Meiji of Japan just three years after what is called the Meiji restoration gathered a group of people together; intellectual statesmen and people like that, and 50 students. And said go to America and find out why these people are great. They also went to negotiate treaties and things like that but they had three major objectives but I take the one that concerns us which the reason for the greatness of Europe and the greatness of America. So that team of scholars went there, and many of the students were left behind to study the principles that made these nations great. And as you know the Japanese copy very well. They copied those principles. Those same principles that made those nations great- what were they?
The first principle was Righteousness, and we’ve heard from Pastor Emmanuel already, the principle of integrity.
Observed the phenomenal progress of the West decided to send a mission to the UK and America to discover how they
Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.
This principle applies to a man or woman. Because a nation is first a man. Genesis 12.2(a) I will make you a great nation. First righteousness is the hallmark of the children of God. We become righteous by grace. Seek ye first the Kingdom…
For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
We are already living in the righteousness of Christ but the true mark of the believer is that we are practising righteousness.
1 John 3:10. In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother.
So what does righteousness mean? First, it means INTEGRITY – Matt 5.37
But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ let it be clear where you stand. Honesty, forthrightness, trustworthiness, you must be trustworthy! If we are not trustworthy there is no way that we can benefit from the things that God has for us and our nation cannot benefit. The puritans were preferred for work, everyone knew they would be diligent and trustworthy. It was impossible for any one of them not to find work because they were considered trustworthy.
Imagine a situation in Nigeria today if we were to say that in this place, every person who is here is trustworthy it will be impossible for the person not to find work because everybody is in search for honest people, we are all in search of honest people to work for, even thieves are looking for honest people to keep their money with.
What does integrity mean? It means ‘RESPECT FOR CREDIT AND OBLIGATION’
I was so excited when Pastor Emmanuel talked about the fund that was created by his church to empower people and what happened to the fund. I have experienced a very similar thing, anyone who has pastored for any length of time would have experienced the same thing because we all do these things. In fact, in my own church, after we had done it, many people did not pay back. But what was worse was that at vigils people will now begin to pray that those who you owed should forget the debt. So, you have to tell them that it is a witchcraft prayer. The scriptures say (Psalm 37:21), “The wicked borrows and does not repay,” because if you don’t repay, how do you give to others from that same fund. Respect for credit and obligation is an important spiritual principle.
We must show that we are honest and trustworthy. I am sure some of us know about a book store owned by Pastor Remi Morgan.
In 1995 when we were all at the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Apapa Parish, he started a business of buying selling Christian books. At a time he was trying to order bibles from abroad but nobody was prepared to give credit to Nigerians, even to buy bibles because so many people had come collected bibles and didn’t return the money. But somehow, he got favour and started to get bibles on credit. And because he consistently paid back, his credit became bigger and he was able to expand the book store. Today, that book store is the leading Christians book store in Nigeria and even in West Africa, because of the consistency and integrity of an individual. The whole world is in search of integrity.
The same goes for ‘SAVINGS AND INVESTMENT’ but I am not going to talk about it today.
The second principle which we also need to practice is the principle of service and DILIGENCE – and I am talking about the principles that made other nations great. The same principles that the Japanese saw when they went on that visit to the United Kingdom and America – the principles of service and diligent.
The principle of the gospel is that the greatest is the servant. The leader must be prepared to be the servant of all. (Mark 10:43-45) It says, “it shall not be so among you, but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
So, being ready to be a servant is important. In fact, the word minister actually means servant, so we are supposed to be servants if we want to be leaders.
The other feature of service and diligence is ‘HARDWORK and PLANNING’. This is the hallmark of the Christian.
The puritans – those old believers, were so hardworking, so diligent that hard work was named after them. The puritanical work ethic. Many historians sociologists attribute the economic development of the West to the puritanical work ethic. The work ethic of the believer. We are serious, dedicated, loyal, honest because our service is unto God and not to man, that is the reason why we cannot but be loyal, trustworthy.
The other feature is planning. Luke 14:28
He says, “For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it”. So, planning is basic for us as Christians.
Hard work is basic for us, John 9:4, Jesus said, “I must work the works of Him who sent me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work.”
Hard work is so fundamental to the way we operate. If a Christian is not hardworking he cannot rightly describe himself as a Christian.
You know, sometimes because of the way we preach, many young men and women believe that success in life should a function of the miracle. I was talking to her Excellency on our way here that people think that it is all about the miracle.
Somebody comes up in the church and gives a testimony that “praise the lord, I started a business 2 years ago and today I have bought myself an Okada.” Nobody will clap, you will look at him as you have looked at me now, Okada? Is that a testimony?
But if another fellow comes and says “praise the lord, I started a business 2 years ago and now, you look at that black jeep out there, that what the Lord has given to me”. Everyone will stand up and clap, they will not ask the question, “How did you do it, when did you get the money, by what means? Nobody will ask the questions. What the scripture teaches us is that we are supposed to build whatever it is that we are doing, line by line, precept by precept. Nobody suddenly becomes rich, it is most likely a dishonest thing. Anybody who suddenly comes up rich, we have to ask the questions.
The reason why believers were able to come forth with testimonies is that they built their businesses line by line, precept by precept. If we begin to preach a gospel that gives people the impression that they can just suddenly become rich, we are misleading people, that is not the gospel of Jesus Christ, we are misleading them. It is line by line, that is what the gospel tells us. The big businesses all over the world were built on hard work and that is why they are still surviving till this day.
The other principle is ‘TIME-CONSCIOUSNESS’.
“To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under the earth. Whatever it is, we must be prepared and conscious of time. And so, all of these principles were the sort of principles that made all of these countries great because the believers in those countries took their responsibilities seriously. And whatever space they were in, whether in politics, commerce, education, they took their place and they were serious.
But let me say something that is very important and that is part of the responsibilities to bear as believers.
In 2 Timothy 3:12-13, the scripture said, “Yes, and all who desire to live Godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.”
Anybody that want to practice righteousness in the marketplace, whatever that marketplace may be, whether it is business, politics, wherever, if you want to practice righteousness, you will suffer persecution.
Scripture says that, “but evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.” But is says that if you are going to practice righteousness, you will be persecuted. Persecution is a part of righteousness. Look at a society such as ours where over time, corruption has been accepted as a way of life. If you don’t accept corruption wherever you are, whether you are in politics, business, government, you will suffer persecution, that is how it works. You will be persecuted, there is no way you will not be persecuted. If the rule is that there should be corruption and you don’t follow that rule, then you will be persecuted.
If the norm in a place is that we take bribe here and we share it, if you are a Christian and you say you will not be part of it, you will be persecuted. But the important thing to bear in mind always is that we are designed to win in the end. There is no way that righteousness will not prevail, the only thing is that we must be prepared to take the persecution. The place of the Christian is to stand and remain standing, and you must prevail. Whether it is in politics or government, you will prevail. I have had experience in government, and I am fully confident because I have seen it time and time again, and what we are supposed to do is to be loyal, faithful and be honest, stand, because everything will come at you.
But the scripture says that you cannot dismay or be fearful because every one of those battles, God himself has said, the battle is mine, so I want to urge all of us to be able to stand and remain there; people will attack and say all sort of things but remain there. God is able, if God be for us, who will be against us. I urge you, remain standing, even if you are falling, stand up, God almighty is ready at all times, he has seen this before and you will prevail in the end.
Let us stand up and say one single prayer point.
(Leads the prayer session)
"But because we are the salt of earth, it means in this nation, whatever capacity we find ourselves, we are the salt that has been poured out by God into the source of the problem."