|Urhobo Historical Society|
|THE LIFE AND WORK OF AGORI IWE|
FIRST BISHOP OF BENIN DIOCESE
Sam U. Erivwo, Ph.D.
|Originally Published in 1998 |
Reproduced in URHOBO WAADO by kind permission of Professor Sam U. Erivwo
BISHOP AGORI IWE’S SERMONS AND ADDRESSES
The sermons and addresses of Bishop Agori Iwe ought to be compiled and published as a separate book. What is contained in this chapter are only snippets from his sermons and addresses with our comments on them.
We start with reminiscences of his sermons heard before we turn to those written down which could later constitute a book.
In 1955, as Archdeacon of Warri Archdeacon, and superintendent of Urhobo District, Agori organised an Easter convention during Holy Week for the entire Urhobo District at Ovwadawanre, christians from different congregations in the District
|“assembled for activities of varied nature: competition in singing, dancing, and reading of Ovhokpokpo.” (S.U. Erivwo, A History of Christianity, p. 109).|
In the course of that week long convention Agori Iwe gave a series of sermons. In one of the sermons he stressed the centrality of the cross to the Christian faith, he presented the cross as the inevitable middle term, a focal point or fulcrum of the Christian faith. He noted that the Lord Jesus Christ, did not only go to the cross he also commanded each disciple to carry his cross if he would follow the master.
“Without the cross, there would be no crown”.
He then used two sticks to form a cross as an illustration of his point, rubbing one on the other, and saying that the cross is not anything pleasant, but suffering, pain; just as the friction caused by the two sticks indicates pain, so is the cross itself, the symbol of the Christian faith, a symbol of suffering for righteousness’ sake.
In another sermon Agori highlighted the nature of our Lord Jesus Christ, as one who was always looking for and seeing what is good and pleasing in his followers. To illustrate his point he told a story, which is probably from a New Testament apocrypha. According to him, as a child, Jesus was going out with his friends and age mates in Nazareth. As he and his friend were walking along the street, they saw a carcass of a dog already decomposing. All the comrades of our Lord were horrified, and commented on the odour that was doming out of the carcass. But Jesus drew their attention to the beautiful white teeth of the dead dog. The conclusion of Agori Iwe was that in each of one of us, Jesus sees what is good. Indeed, our Lord does not requite us according to our iniquity.
Now we turn to some of the written sermons.
NEW YEAR ADDRESSES AND MESSAGES
As Bishop of Benin diocese, between 1962 and 1977, when Benin Diocese was coterminous with the entire Midwest Region, Agori Iwe usually sent Christmas and New Year Goodwill messages to the people of that geographical area. We reproduce one of such messages which he sent on 2nd December, 1975.
|CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEAR GOODWILL MESSAGE BY THE RT. REV. AGORI IWE, C.F.R. MBE,. J.P. ANGLICAN BISHOP OF BENIN –1975.”|
Fellow country men, fellow Christians, I send you greetings from the Church and brethren of the Anglican Diocese of Benin this Christmas and New Year tides. May peace, mercy, love and truth be yours in the fullest measure.
It is with gratitude to God that I am able to send you this Christmas and New Year message. The word of God in Isaiah Chapter I verse 16 and 17 brings us this godly admonition.
|“Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your doings from before my eyes; cease to do evil learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; defend the fatherless, plead for the widow.”|
We realise that the idea of judgment for wrong doing, and of the responsibility of trying to do the right, does not come easily in today’s world. What has declined is the idea of a judge over all, and because God is a God of justice as well as of love, it logically follows that He must judge between the bad and the good, between the right and the wrong. The Old Testament prophets, age after age, stress two great facts: that righteousness is whatever is true; whatever is righteous, and merciful, and just in human actions. And all of us individuals and nations, are always in danger of forgetting this; thinking that wrong doing will not be discovered and punished. The Bible says:
“The soul that sinneth it shall die.” (Ezekiel 19:4).
This then is my word to you. You must be made new in mind, body and spirit, and put on the new nature of God’s creation which is shown to us at Christmas, and in the just and devout life of Jesus Christ.
May this Christmas bring you peace joy in the knowledge that Jesus is near.
Bishop of Benin
In addition to goodwill messages sent to the citizens of the Midwest Region or State by the Bishop, services were conducted in which the Bishop regularly delivered brief and incisive messages. A few of such sermons are reproduced below:
1. Sermon for the New Year, 1967.
1. Text – He who sat on the throne said – Behold I am making all things new: Rev. 21:5 (NEB).
2. In a new year like this, this is a very encouraging and comforting message. Especially as it comes from the one who sits on the Throne – ruling the whole affairs of men in the world. He is God the omnipotent.
3. Previous chapters of this book record tales of woes – and – battles – sorrows and sufferings – unrest, and fears.
4. Then the good news of this message of hope came – that God is making all things new – God who causes all things to work together for good – says – I am working (making) all things new.
5. In the world today, men are making new things – to bring comfort, rest and peace –
(i) New inventions in the field of science and medicine.
(ii) In politics, new leaders are coming up with new policies.
(iii) In states – new Governments are taking the places of the old.
(iv) In commerce – new articles are being produced to take the places of the old – new houses are being built –they are very new – unlike the old buildings.
(v) Many new things are being made by men – and more new things are still to be made by men.
(vi) Yet all these new things made – and are increasingly made – by men – never give men lasting happiness – joy and peace.
(vii) Instead – there is unrest – distress – wars – fighting – killing – hatred – malice – jealousy.
(viii) Men are never content and satisfied with the new things that they are making to procure them – happiness rest and peace.
(ix) But here is out text – it is God – who says he is making new things – not men – not by hands of men and from men – But by hands of God and from God.
6. Now what is that happy state that is coming – through God’s working?
7. It is a state and condition – when God shall wipe away every tear from our eyes – there will be no more death – no more mourning – no more crying – no more pain.
8. That is – in spite of all our moral disorder in politics and in societies –
9. In our griefs and distresses – an the dark shadows in our life – the new creation is in progress – and shall rise – out of this chaotic state of our history. Believe God – He is making new things – which will turn out to be our good.
10. Now, why should God make new things> What has happened to the old?
11. When He created the world – He saw all things good – Genesis 1:31 recorded that God saw everything that he had made, and behold it was very good.
12. Yes, everything that God made is good and very good an – has kept to the same order – since the creation – except man – you and I did not keep that good order of God.
13. First by our parents – Adam and Eve – Then we inherited the sin and disorder from them –carried from parents to children up to this day.
14. But other things that God made in the world are quite obedient to God’s order –
15. The moon which He made – has never changed – The sun has never changed – Day and nights never changed –
16. Dogs never changed to be goats – sheep never changed to be fowls.
17. It is man who has since changed from his nature as a child of God – to be a child of the devil.
18. It is man – and from man – all the disorders – unrests and distresses of the world came: man is (now) a disobedient child of God.
19. Now if god is making new things – He begins with man – disobedient man – disordered man – you and me.
20. And God has begun this new creation of man in Christ Jesus.
21. He has begun the new creation with us – with you and me – though our Lord – Jesus Christ –
22. In Second Corinthians 5:17 St. Paul observed that – if any man is in Christ, he is a new creation.
23. Do you see the hand of God in your life working in you to bring you into His perfect image?
24. Now as you enter this new year – watch the hand of God in events around you – moulding things to fashion them anew.
25. As we pass from weeks to weeks – months to months – this new year – may God – make us to experience His new creation.
26. Make us to abhor our sins – make us to love to do the things that please Him.
27. Draw us nearer to Him than in the past years.
28. Make us to sanctify our life – and dedicate it to His hour and glory – than ever before.
29. Lord – make us new in faith – in love – in honesty. He who sits on the Throne said –
“I am making all things new”
30. St. Paul says – “Be renewed in the spirit of your mind.”
41. Dear Lord, continue your work of new creation in us and in all the world – an perfect it now and ever – Amen
2. New Year 1968
1. Text – For our short meditation turn to St. Luke 13:6-10. Jesus spoke this parable saying.
(a) “A man had a fig tree planted in his garden. He came looking for fruit on it and did not find any. He said to the gardener – you see – since three year – I have been coming here to look for fruit on this fig tree – and still, I am not finding any. Cut it down – why should it use up the ground.
(b) The gardener replied – saying – Master – leave it this year also – until I have manured around it.
(c) If it bears fruit in the coming year – well and good. But if not – you will cut it down.
2. For us, who have survived the horrors of the past year and have come out – to breathe the fresh air of 1968 – the new year is a miracle of grace.
3. The parable – we have just read confirms this work of grace upon us.
4. God, of his infinite mercy has spared us once more to tenant his ground – to eat and enjoy it.
5. The simple interpretation of this parable (story) – is that:
(a) The owner of the garden is God – The Father
(b) The gardener is our Lord Jesus Christ.
(c) The garden represents the world.
(d) The fig = tree represents – us all the people living in the world.
6. The whole parable is a warning to us. In fact the chapter begins with some warning.
7. Verse 1 reads:
(a) “At this time – some men came and told Jesus about the Gali-laeans whose blood – Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices – Jesus replied and said – Do you think that these Galilaeans were sinners above all Galilaeans – because this happened to them?
(b) I tell you. No. But except you repent you will all perish in the same way.
8. This warning has come to us – in an appropriate time and hour.
9. We who have seen the horrors of the war in our midst – are warned – not to think that – we escaped it – because we are righteous and good. It was because – God has been merciful and good toward us – that we are saved.
10. We are reminded in the parable that, except we bear the fruit required of us – we may not continue to enjoy God’s Grace.
11. New – St. Paul in Galatians 5:22 gives us a guide – as to what sorts [sic] of fruit we are to bear –
12. (i) Love to everybody –
(ii) Joy at all times
(iii) Peace with everybody
(iv) Patience in all tribulations –
(v) Kindness to all in words and deeds.
(vi) Goodness in all our undertakings and jobs – as public servants or private – as social servants or domestic –
(vii) Faithfulness in our work – to our employers – to our Church – and God
(viii) Gentleness in dealing with our weaker brethren – the poor and the destitute –
(ix) Self – control – when we are wronged and are in anger and passion.
13. Now, may this new year be your fruitful year. And may the grace of our Lord continue to spare you to the end -–through Jesus Christ, Our Lord – Amen.
3. New Year 1969
1. Yester night, we bade, good bye to the old year – 1968.
2. And, this morning, we salute the new year – WELCOME . And we wish you all – Happy New Year – Wish you all – bright life and prosperity in abundance.
3. We need Not – and should not, recall the events of the past year. They are so bleak and sad, that their memories will upset our faith.
4. Let us go ahead, in the New Year – with hope and faith in our Heavenly Father – that He will bless use again with better things.
5. Now, this is a New Year – full opportunities. We can notice few things, indicating to us that it is indeed – a new year – Another year.
The number of the year has changed its figure from 1968 to 1969.
The calendars of weeks and days have changed their positions.
All things indicate a New Year.
Life seems to remain the same as last year.
6. Our business, our houses, our clothes, and our complexion remain the same.
7. All these do not matter so much.
8. It is the way we choose to walk this new year that matters most.
9. The Bible says – there are two ways of life:
(a) In Deut. 30:15 He says –
“see – I have set before you this day – two ways – good and bad.
(b) In Jeremiah 21:8 – He said
“Behold – I – set before you the way of life and the way of death”
(c) In Matthew 7:13,
Our Lord describes the two ways – one is wide and easy – that is the bad way – the other is narrow and hard – this is the right and good way.
10. Psalm one, advised us to choose and walk in (the) way of the godly – the good way – which shall lead us to happiness and peace – And to avoid the way of the ungodly that is the wrong and bad way which will end in shame – misery and ruin.
11. Now David – who is the author of this Psalm – was an old man of vast experience in life.
12. He was a great man of God – Great in Faith and prayer.
13. Whatever he teaches in this Psalm, he illustrates from his personal experience of life.
14. When he describes to us in verses 1-3 of this Psalm – the character – and the condition of godly man and his reward – he quotes –
15. In Psalm 37:25 –
“I have been young – and now am old – yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken nor his children begging bread”.
16. And again = in verses 4-6 of the Psalm, David exposed to us the way of the ungodly – and its inevitable consequences.
17. Here again he cited from his long experience in verses 35 and 36 of the 37th Psalm.
18. “I have seen the wicked in great power – and spreading himself like a green bay tree. Yet he passed away; and behold – he was not – yea, I sought him, but he could not be found”.
19. Mark the perfect man – and behold the upright – for the end of that man is peace.
20. Now, who are these godly and god – fearing men?
21. They are those who walk not in the counsel of the ungodly – That is they utterly renounce the companionship and fellowship of evil doers – and refuse to be led by them.
22. This part of character of god – fearing men – is carefully put first – because those that will keep the commandments of God – must say to evil doers – Depart from me.
23. Evil doers are all around us – This world is full of them. The tares are among the wheats – we are to shun them.
24. And the god – fearing men are described as they that cleave to the law of God – and make it their criterion of judgement, acquainting themselves with It – they meditate on it – day and night.
25. And this is the thing that fortifies their thoughts and strengthens their action – against evil propensities of the world – the flesh and the devil.
26. And again the God – fearing men are illustrated by a similitude of a tree planted by the stream of water – fruitful and flourishing – at all seasons and in all climates.
27. They shall fear no adversary because they have inexhaustible reservoir of nourishing power flowing beside them.
28. So that, whatever change, seasons and climates – might bring – they prosper.
29. And further – in Psalm one – we are shown the true picture of the ungodly and godless men.
30. They have not the fear of God in the arts – their conscience is dead to the Holy Spirit.
31. They are led by counsel of the wicked – and they travel on the road of sinners.
32. While godly men are like valuable, useful and fruitful trees in the community they live – and are joy and happiness – The ungodly and godless men are a curse to their neighbor.
33. They are useless wild grapes of Sodom and Gomorrah – detestable to society and destruction to themselves.
34. They shall not stand in the congregation of the righteous. That is – they will be forever shut out from among the community of the Blesses. Because the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous – and because the way of the ungodly shall perish.
35. Those of us – who call ourselves – God’s people – ought to take these lessons, seriously to heart.
36. We live today in a world of debased morality.
37. Honest and just dealings with one another – is at the lowest ebb.
38. The creed of our day is – money is everything – And power – is everything. Get money you get all things. Be in power – you hold all things.
39. And everything becomes – money and power.
40. Kill and steal – money a power will save you from the consequences.
41. Because – they say – might is right.
42. And how glaring and great – are the atrocities planned and executed in our midst today.
43. When they say – the end shall justify the means – God says – NO.
44. History has not proved them correct.
45. The Bible cannot support their argument. The Bible says – the way of the Transgressor – is hard.
46. And it has been hard all times. Hard because of its inevitable consequences – shame and ruin and misery.
47. And now, as we enter the new year, let us choose the good way to walk – so that the end may be well and good – with us.
48. God is saying to us, at the beginning of the new year – Behold, I have set before you – good and evil – I advise you to choose good – and walk in good way – The end is joy and peace.
49. Let us walk this year – in the way of (the) godly – and so, joy and peace, (will) be our end – Amen.
“Let us walk in the way of the godly”. It is pertinent to point out that on the night of January 26, 1968, hired killers were sent to the Bishopscourt in Benin to capture and kill the Bishop, but in vain. Instead, one of them got killed. That event must have been in the mind of the Bishop when he prepared the sermon, hence “we need not, and should not recall the events of the past year”.
The Rt. Rev. Agori Iwe, as an outstanding church leader, preached many sermons on many important occasions in his life. Time. Such occasions included New Year Day, Christmas Day Harvest Festival, Funerals, Service of confirmation, National Day and so on. In reading the sermons, you hear and see the man Agori, as he is; the reader is no longer seeing him through the spectacles of this biographer. Every effort will be made to get his sermons published. But before we leave his sermons in this work, we reproduce just one more, the sermon he preached during a National Day service.
4. Nigeria Republic Day Service
1. Nigeria is predominantly agricultural country. Farming settlements are opened in many places. New system of cultivation, and better methods of farming are taught, replacing the old. New knowledge and techniques have been brought to the farmers – new crops introduced and soil fertility improved.
2. Now, I refer to that as typical of Republican system of Government, we have adopted.
3. It is like a new cultivation, a new and better method of farming, substituted for the old.
4. Therefore, the subject I have chosen for our meditation is – sowing and reaping. And the text, you will find in the 7th verse of the 6th chapter, St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians –
“Be not deceived…for Whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap”
5. The text consists of two parts – First, a warning and caution:
“Be not deceived”
6. Second, a law of sowing and reaping (is) stated.
“Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap”
7. We shall consider first, the warning and caution – Be not deceived.
8. Now, we have all lived long enough to know what it is to be deceived.
9. We may have been deceived by our friends, by our enemies, by our neighbours, and by our own relatives.
10. At every turn of life – social dealings, economic bargains, political campaigns,; and even in family and religious affairs, we may have had this sad experience of being a victim of deception.
11. We also know too well, that sin has deceived us with sweet smiles – sin meets us with pleasures, and holds out to us, object of joy and delight – saying that they are pure and lasting. When they are not in fact what they look to be [appear to be].
12. Also Satan, the god of this world, has deceived us, as he had deceived our first parents – saying –
“Ye shall not surely die – Ye shall be as gods Paradise shall be yours for ever.
And in the end Paradise was lost.”
13. And also, our own hearts have deceived us. Who can say here – with all sincerity – that his own thoughts have not misled and disappointed him, in one way or other?
14. The ambition and strong impulse of our hearts, too often turned to be our snare; and we blame ourselves –
“Had I known”
15. The Bible, again and again, has waned us not to trust our hearts – The heart is deceitful above all things; and desperately wicked” says the Holy Book.
16. Oh! What gross deceptions come from our heart”.
17. King Solomon said –
“He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool”.
18. Luther, one of the greatest Religious Reformers, once revealed that he feared his own heart more than his foes.
19. The truth is, your heart is and my heart, are the worst spot in us, – for out of our hearts are the issues of life and death.
20. Our Lord Jesus, said –
“From within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, wickedness, deceit, evil eye, pride, foolishness”.
21. A Jewish teacher once asked his pupils to tell him the best thing a man could have to keep him on the right path in life.
22. One said – “ a good friend” – another answered – “a good education”. And the last said – “ a good heart.” And the teacher cried out – “you are quite right.” For you have comprehended all that the others have said –
23. “For he that has a good heart; has a good friend and good education and he shall be straight in life.”
24. And he said – “Let every one, therefore cultivate a sincerity and uprightness of heart – at al times and in all places – and it will save him an abundance of sorrow.”
25. Here is a daily prayer for a good heart – “Create in me a clean heart, O god, and renew a right spirit within me.”
Make it your daily pray.
26. We need men and women of good heart to rescue our societies from corruption and decay. We need boys and girls of good heart to succeed us, when we are gone, and be no more seen.
27. This appeal comes to teachers and pupils as well – To parents and children also – And to pastors and congregations too.
28. And “Be not deceived” – a timely warning and caution for all people of our new nation.
29. We shall now consider the second part of our text –
“whatever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
30. This implies that human life is sowing and reaping. The sowing and reaping, are not separated from each other in time, as in natural harvest.
31. Every day of our life, we are sowing something for the future – and at the same time, reaping something from the past. The sowing and reaping go on contemporaneously and continually throughout life.
32. “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap”.
This is simple and natural, in the nature of things.
33. Yet certain people live one and sow on; and hope to find it otherwise in their case. Persons of high and of low degree, drunkards and prostitutes – boys and girls on the streets. He that soweth to his flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption. The word of God said so. Believe it or not – it must come to pass.
34. This law has been long in existence. It is as old as the universe; and as ancient as Adam. It is among the principal laws that govern the world in which we live – as the law of gravitation, or of heat and sound; and like the common law of arithmetic; plus 5, ten, no more no less.
35. Call it the law of cause and effect, of retribution of retaliation, or of compensation and reward simply the law of consequences – it is the same law.
36. St. Paul only used here, the language of farm to describe it – “Whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap”.
37. And, our Lord Jesus, used another Language to describe it – He said:
“With what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again.”
That is the language of commerce, trade, and industry.
38. And again, he repeated the same law; and used the language of court –
“With what judgement you judge others, you shall be judged also” (Matt. 7:2).
39. So our life –from infancy to old age; and down to the grave, – is bounded and governed by this law. The evil harvest of sin and wickedness – and the good reward of holiness, from the farm – for whatsoever the farmer sowed, that he also reaps.
40. And so it is – as every man or woman journeyed through lie – he or she, scatter seed (good or bad) at every step along his way.
41. By his intercourse with friends and companions – by exposing himself to good or bad influences – he is cultivating the seed for the coming harvest.
42. He may not see the see as it drops and grows – but time will reveal it – The harvest shall show it.
43. And the seed consists in his thoughts – his words – his acts and deeds, which sooner or later spring up – first the blade, then the ear, and after that the full harvest and the reaping time is come.
44. It is well to not here that certain seeds take longer period to grow and prepare for harvest.
45. They are waiting for wet soil and fair weather.
46. And men may deceive themselves in thinking that their time for harvest was passed.
47. The writer of the Book of Ecclesiastes said on this wise –
“Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men, is fully set in them, to do evil.”
48. An ancient writer said –
“There are in the world neither rewards nor punishments – But there are consequences. The events are the prints of our forms; and they fit us like our skins.”
49. So the great men of the Bible discovered this law.
50. In the Book of Job, one said
“They that plough iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the same.”
51. King Solomon said –
“He that soweth iniquity shall reap vanity.”
52. Isaiah the prophet declared –
“Say ye to the righteous that is shall be well with them – for they shall eat the fruits of their doings – but woe unto the wicked, it shall be ill with them – for the reward of their hands shall be given them.”
53. There is an old proverb, which says –
“sow an act, and you reap a habit –sow a habit, and you reap a character – sow a character, and you reap a destiny.
54. “Be not deceived…for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”
55. Now, let us take few examples from the Bible –
56. Jacob first deceived his old blind father Isaac. Then, during his life, his father-in-law deceived him 10 times. Hear what he complained to his wife –
“Your father, (referring to Laban his father-in-law) hath deceived me, and changed my wages ten times.” (Gen. 11:7)
57. That was not all, His own children deceived him by kidnapping Joseph from them, telling him, and evil beast has devour him.
58. King David committed adultery with Uriah’s wife, and arranged and numbered Uriah.
59. Later in David’s life – His son Ammon committed adultery (incest) with David’s own daughter Tamar. And Absalom – Tamar’s brother murdered Amnon.
60. And further – Abralon drove David from his palace, and publicly committed adultery with the King’s wives, on the roof of the King’s house.
61. And there are many examples from history –one is about King Alexander VI. He was poisoned by wine he had prepared for another.
62. And so we might go on, with examples from the past.
63. And here at home, there are glaring examples around us which we dare not mention.
64. “Be not deceived…for whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap”
65. And a man reaps more than he sowed. This needs no proof. Sow one grain of corn; at the harvest you will reap more. Sow a piece of yam and at the harvest you will reap a whole yam.
66. Take again, the example of Jacob – He told his father one single lie –
“are you my son Esau?”
67. It appeared in the Bible that Jacob reaped this bad harvest all along his life – for he referred to the days of his life as full of evils (Gen 47:9).
68. Now, ignorance of the seed in sowing alters not the kind of harvest.
69. For example: it by ignorance planted cassava instead of yam – I must reap cassava at the harvest.
Nature will not forgive me.
70. Therefore it is well advisable that we examine the seed, before we sow it. For once it is sown, it is bound to yield exactly its kind.
71. Here is the moral lesson, – examine your words before you utter them – prove your acts before you perform them. For they are like seeds which shall bring their fruits in due season.
72. Again: a man may sow alone; But at the harvest, others may reap with him.
73. Here the example of David comes to mind. He sowed alone, and in private. But his whole family – wives and children had to reap the bad harvest with him.
74. The Bible has this parable –
“The fathers have eaten a sour grape and the children teeth are set on edge.”
75. And again, God has said –
“I will visit the iniquity of the fathers upon their children, unto the 3rd and 4th generation.”
76. That is why King Solomon said –
“The way of the transgressors is hard.”
77. Hard: because of others who might suffer the consequences with them – their wives and children – brothers and sisters – parent and friends.
78. Now, nations like individuals are subject to this same law.
79. The Old Testament has a record of these – Sodom – Judah and Israel – Assyria and Babylon, all had to reap the harvest of their iniquities.
80. Now, each time a new monarch ascends the throne – each time a new parliament is elected – each time a parliament meets – a seed is being sown for posterities to reap, for their joys or sorrows.
81. “Be not deceived…for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” – and there is no respect of person. No bribe to pervert its judgment – n other words, no one can escape its consequences.
82. Kinds and Princes – Priests and Prophets – preachers and hearers, Saints and sinners, Christians and heathens.
83. St. Paul said – “Thou are inexcusable, O man, whatsoever thou art” (Rom. 2:1).
84. Now the future of new Nigeria – for better for worse – for richer for poorer – shall depend henceforth, upon you at the top, and me at the bottom, you in office, and me at home – you as a candidate of my choice in an election, and me your voter. Let us take care. Examine the seed. Be sure of its wholeness, its usefulness and its future goodness.
85. Be not deceived.
86. For, “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap”
“And what makes a nation happy and keep it so? What ruins kingdoms, And lays cities flat? In them is plainest taught”.
Now, God bless the New Nigeria; her Government and people – Amen.
That Bishop Agoir Iwe was heavily anointed by the power of the Holy Spirit, and mightily used by God throughout his episcopate is certainly not in doubt. The few sermons reproduced above reveal the powerful influence of the Holy Spirit in his life – The content of his sermons, clearly justifies the role of Agori, as a custodian of his sermons, clearly justifies the role of Agori, as a custodian of the Christian faith, which is one of the primary functions of a Bishop. Indeed, Agori in preparing ordinards (including the present author) for ordination in 1968, said, inter alia:
“True preachers look only to God. They recognise God’s light, power, and grace within them.
…it is God who puts the word in their mouths. It is God who through His spirit presses the word into the hearts of the hearers. Therefore the preachers do all their work to honour God , not men.
The word of God knows no limit to its power. At any moment if only your utterance gives it a faithful echo, souls may be born again –some sinners may be translated from the power of darkness into the kingdom of light – A soul may awaken to hear God’s call, who will bring tribes and nations into His kingdom – the heavenly vision may be unveiled to a blind soul – and the course of the history of the world may be changed. Just as the pressure on an electric button may set in operation a long chain of antecedents and consequences, which will launch a ship, or explode a mine, or win a war, so in spiritual preaching one can place no limits to the boundless possibilities.”
As to the pastor and his life, Agori Iwe observed, that
“every Minister of God should exhibit two things – first, a blameless life by which he can defy the world and no one have [sic] cause to slander his teaching. Second, irreproachable teaching that he may mislead none that follow him”.
The Bishop taught that whilst it is true that no one lives so perfect a life as to be without sin before God, the minister should at least be blameless in the eyes of men. But as touching the minister’s teaching, it
“must be so good and pure as to stand not only before men, but also before God”.
According to Agori Iwe, a minister of God is in office at all times and in all places. He is a minister in public and in private. He is on duty always. Says the Bishop:
“A policeman or a soldier may be off duty, but a minister never is. Many wear God’s cloth that know not their master….Beware of yourself. God does not call those to feed the sheep of Christ, who have no love for the shepherd.
Because the preaching, teaching, and the life of the minister could not be separated and put into different water tight compartments, Agori urged all those called to the ordained ministry to be always conscious of this reality.
The minister, is entrusted with, in Agori’s words:
“hundreds of precious immortal souls”,
and the minister is to watch over these precious souls, for whom he will give account. And the Bishop posed this purgent point,
“will you be able to give a good account of the souls of others, if you are unable to give a good account of your own?
It is not a most pitiable case to be under a strict and awful charge, to affect the minds of your hearers with what new affect your own minds?”
Agori, in his teaching then made the point again and again, that no one was to presume to undertake the care of souls, without personal holiness. Says the Bishop:
“The life of the minister of God must be the prologue of his sermon and teaching that he would give. His life should be the commentary on what he has taught and preached; and should be the epilogue, and the seal of what he taught and preached”.
And Agori’s own life of simplicity, sincerity, and severity, bore eloquent testimony to the reality of his conviction, his teaching, and his preaching.