Religious Confusion!

In talking to some people not too long ago it was said to me, “Now that you have come away from the Kwasizabantu cult you have to find and worship in a church where you may be built up in your most holy faith! You lack deepness in your faith.” I wonder, if the piercing of one’s heart with a knife could match the pain in my soul in hearing such advice at that moment.

This happened some months ago and it kept reverberating in my mind every single day since then. I so much wanted to be a genuine Christian, a true follower of Jesus Christ and an authentic minister of His Gospel all my life. Hence, I have gone into all the corners of my life seeking to find any cult-like remnants to ensure the destruction thereof and searched out the hidden crevices of my life lived to destroy anything not pertaining to pure and holy faith in Christ Jesus. With a skeptical attitude, prepared not to be easily convinced and having doubts or reservations about all my religious beliefs, I crisscrossed all I had preached and believed as missionary at Mission Kwasizabantu. With a cynical attitude of suspicion and believing my theological future to be bleak unless I find the Truth in Jesus Christ, I relentlessly kept up the pursuit for religious Truth. Realizing that many religious people are acting only out of self-interest I confronted my very beliefs cherished through the years at the Mission and evaluated them in the light of Scripture.

Now, outside of the cult, I once again read through my Bible, from the beginning to the end. I spend hours upon hours listening to preachers and religious teachers preaching and teaching on You Tube. I indulged myself in reading the multitude of books that flowed from their minds. I dug into their beliefs and the belief systems they adhere to. My only prayer was, “Open my eyes Lord, open my eyes to see You!” I studied the Reformation, Calvinism, Arminianism, Charismatic movement, Pentecostalism and Cultism. I listened for hours to the likes of Ravi Zacharias, Stegen, Sproul, MacArthur, Copeland, Washer, Graham, Lawson, Ferguson, Piper, Walls, Whitherington, etc. I listened to the learned scholars debating Calvinism, Arminianism, Lutherism, Catholicism, Pentecostalism, Methodism, Free will, Paedo and Credo baptism, Millennialism, the Rapture and End Times and so much more. These tend to be “boxes” into which the Gospel of Jesus Christ is forced at all cost to satisfy the specific denomination’s Confession of Faith, inter alia meaning its interpretation and understanding of the Gospel as found in the Scriptures. I studied the books on Systematic Theology and Christian Ethics written by Grudem, Skinner, MacArthur, Berkhof and more.

I looked for and read numerous confessions of faith and creeds. A confession of faith is a formal statement of doctrinal belief ordinarily intended for public confession by an individual, a group, a congregation, a synod, or a church; confessions are similar to creeds, although usually more extensive. So, I looked at the 1648 Presbyterian Westminster Confession, the 1689 Baptist Confession, The Apostolic Creed, the 1561 Belgic Confession of Faith, the Nicene Creed, the Heidelberg Catechism, the Canons of Dort, and the 1571 Anglican Thirty-nine Articles. Indeed, there are many more as every religious denomination has its own set of Confession of Faith, Creed and Catechism.

Where is the Truth in the cacophony of all of these? Where was the deepness that I had to have, and people wanted to experience in me? I came away from all of the above with a deep understanding of myself and a deep understanding of the simple essence of the Christian religion. All people will have to answer this one question standing before the Creator God at the end of their lives, “Who do you say I am?” There is no deeper Truth than the answer to this question! As the Lord Jesus Christ said, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” To do so, throughout the history of religion, various systems of belief, or rather Systematic Theologies had been formulated which gathered adherents from the multitude of God’s created people, just as the Kwasizabantu cult based their Systematic Theology on a 1966 Maphumulo revival and not the Scriptures alone and gathered their adherents from across the globe. And so, the simplicity of what the Lord Jesus Christ demanded was turned into a complexity of religious denominational doctrines concerning God, Creation, Man, Salvation, Truth, Knowledge and much more and set out in uncountable variants of Confessions, Creeds and Catechisms to be believed, followed and taught with relentless harshness and brutal spiritual absoluteness as true faith as per specific faith system.

Notwithstanding the above, within this magnitude of complexities there is a guiding principle to be remembered though! God wrote the Bible; He is the first Author of Scripture and He wrote the Bible. Says the apostle Peter, “20knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2Peter 1:20-21). God wrote the Bible so that people could understand what He wanted them to understand, “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” (1John 5:12; John 3:36).

This is what I found then; a simple yet lifesaving message that precipitated from the Bible and is sufficiently and adequately mouthed by the Savior as He came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, 15“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark1:15). The 16th century Protestant Reformation only really helps one to grasp this truth and understand the Word of God in giving us five principles to study the Scriptures; Scripture alone, Christ alone, faith alone, grace alone and to the glory of God alone (The Five Solas). The deepness of faith in Jesus Christ, the simplicity of the Gospel as set out in John 3:16, hinges on making these five principles the basis of one’s personal spiritual walk and protects one from deviating into all manner of skewed and boxed doctrines of faith.

The apostle Paul said it so right, “1when I came to you, brothers, (I) did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” We surely can take the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, at face value in what he said and believe! For it is said in Scripture:

9But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”— 10these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.” (1Corinthians 2:9-11).

There is nothing ever deeper than this to understand and comprehend!

Soli Deo Gloria!

Covid19, Faith and Life.

The pastor at the church I attend had been preaching on the Book of Habakkuk for the past few weeks. There are many parallels with our current Covid19 experiences and how we experience life in general with what the prophet relates in his experiences around 612 BC. Considering both situations, the disasters around 612 BC and 2020 AD, the conclusion that encompasses all is perhaps best summed up by what Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 12: The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.

Habakkuk drives the above conclusion home with a song of praise and joy in the closing verses of his prophesy:

17Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
18yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
19God, the Lord, is my strength;
he makes my feet like the deer’s;
he makes me tread on my high places.
(To the choirmaster: with my stringed instruments.)

For some time now I have not written anything on this blog, except for posting my lectures on certain topics as I lectured them to my students at the Theological College. It kept me busy for I gave everything. However, as Solomon told us in Ecclesiastes and Habakkuk confirms in his prophecy, nothing we in our humanity deem certain, is indeed certain in this life. The Covid19 world we are living in at the moment makes that abundantly clear too. I have been retrenched on 30th June from my work because of the financial restraints Covid19 has dumped on businesses and the economies of this world and so the Theological College could not afford its workforce anymore. As merciless as the Chaldeans were in their conquest of the Jews, so pitiless is the Covid19 pandemic in its conquest as it destroys the comfortable global fellowship and certainties we have known in pre-pandemic times. And as the tormenting questions in the mind of the prophet are verbalized in his discourse with God so, in the current time the faithful turn to their God seeking answers to their questions yet finding few answers but only refuge in Him, the Rock of all ages as the physical pandemic transfers into a spiritual contagion.

So, what is certain? God is certain! After everything is said, done and experienced, all that remains is a surety that God exists and in His perfect knowledge there is total control. That is why both Solomon and Habakkuk as so many others, in faith, could find joy and peace in the midst of the unknown perpetual catastrophes and the mayhem that disaster works in the lives of God’s people.

It is all about God. Whatever the question, Jesus is the answer. We should never loose sight of this most basic truth. This is the fuel that keeps faith’s fire burning. Therefore, when the spiritual disasters come as was the case at Mission Kwasizabantu or the physical disasters of this world befall us is the case with Covid19, let us fill our hearts with the wisdom of Solomon and the hymn of Habakkuk. We can face today and the unending tomorrows because Christ is alive!

Soli Deo Gloria!

“Moorings!”

“Moorings” may be defined as, 1 : an act of making fast a boat or aircraft with lines or anchors. 2 : a place where or an object to which something (such as a craft) can be moored. 3 : a device (such as a line or chain) by which an object is secured in place. In a personal sense a “mooring” may then be the place, point or conviction where I am secured in faith and life.

A dear friend of mine is a pastor and preaches the most inspiring messages by the grace of our Lord. From time to time he preaches on a topic that really keeps me busy meditating on it for a long time. One such time for example was when he preached on the simplicity of the Gospel being only the following:

2 Events – Jesus died & Jesus rose!
2 Witnesses – Old Testament & New Testament
2 Affirmations – Jesus reigns as Lord & Jesus reigns as Saviour
2 Promises – Forgiveness of sins & Eternal life
2 Demands – Repent & believe the Gospel

But we will talk about it a next time. Not long ago he preached on the topic of “moorings” as applied to ones spiritual and secular convictions that gives one “grip” or “security” in this life, preventing one from just going with the flow of everyday life. So every person really needs to be moored in how they express themselves about the Triune God and creation, man and the fall, the Bible, truth and knowledge and the world.

This brings me to a personal questionnaire I completed with regard to the faith “moorings” in one’s life. “Moorings” may be defined as to be my personal conviction or knowledge on who I am, what I believe, why I am in this world and with whom do I associate. My context as a confessing Christian expresses itself as being a man, husband, father, pastor and theologian. Now these “moorings” may be applied to my faith and to my church I frequent or to my life in general. The point is that on these three levels, faith, church and world I take a good look at myself and position myself with regard to my convictions. Below for example is my personal look with regard to my spiritual “moorings”, faith, church and world.

It would not be a bad exercise at all for my fellow “pastors” to go through the same questionnaire I completed below and confront the “moorings” in their own lives. The difference between what I want to be, what I think I am and what I should be like according to God’s Word may perhaps be quite profound and call for adjustments in one’s life, to be loosened from the inappropriate moorings and to be fastened to the appropriate moorings.

  1. Describe how you came into a saving relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.

I grew up in a Christian home, living in Nelspruit. My parents and family were members of the Reformed Church in Nelspruit. I came into a saving relationship with the Lord Jesus attending an evening service in the Dutch Reformed Church in August 1985, at age 33. I repented, experienced regeneration and I was quickened in my faith all by the grace of God. I wanted to serve God and had been doing so ever since that night. I started studying for the Ministry. I served the Lord after completion of my initial theological studies in 1994 as missionary in KZN till January 2019 (25 years). My family consists of my wife Andra and I, and a married son, Chris and his wife Geralda, living in Canada. We all love and serve the Lord.

2. Provide a brief testimony of your spiritual journey and how you have grown in your relationship with the Lord.

Since my repentance and coming to sincere faith I have endeavored to follow Christ faithfully in thankfulness for His saving grace. I have served Him in obedience, suffering and blessing in total dependence all over the world, among the poorest and the rich, among the Africans, Europeans, Russians and Americans on four continents. I had to trust Him in circumstances of need and follow Him in circumstances of surplus. It was always the Lord and I, and I have resolved to always know Him as the Lord, my Savior. Indeed, as Titus 2:11 says, He was the impetus of everything I am since the time God converted me by His grace and mercy.

3. What do you experience God doing in your life at present and how are you responding?

I am serving God in the ministry being able to serve Him as a lecturer at Mukhanyo Theological College. My wife assists at Augustine Book room at Constantia Park Baptist Church. We, my wife and I, have a full spiritual life at Constantia Park Baptist Church, focused on the Lord and thankful that we may serve God in His church, vineyard and the world at large. God grants us many opportunities to share the Gospel and sustains us in this. As a puppy following its master, we follow Christ as He leads us. God’s presence in our lives is at present perhaps the most noticeable “working” of God in our lives. And we are responding in faith, following in obedience busy with the tasks he grants us to do.

4. What are you passionate about, both spiritually and personally?

I am passionate about the ministry, the missio Dei and sharing the Gospel with people. I am also passionate about teaching the Word to people and involving myself in the study of the Bible and related biblical subjects. I am passionate about His cause in this world and the role His church has to fulfill in realizing the Great Commandment and Great Commission in the life of the church. As a hobby I am passionate about my Clivia flower collection as well.

5. What does the statement, ‘The Bible is the Word of God’, mean to you?

The Bible is God’s Word, the inspired inerrant Word of God. It has to be taken as such, believed and obeyed to the honor and glory of God. The Bible is the Word of God, then to dismiss it is to dismiss God Himself. Therefore, to me, it is the final authority for all matters of faith, religious practice, and morals.

6. What is your understanding of the inspiration and authority of the Old and New Testament Scriptures?

Both Old and New Testaments are the single inspired Word of God. The New Testament is hidden in the Old Testament and the Old Testament is revealed in the New Testaments. There are two testaments yet one Bible, the Word of God. God divinely influenced the human authors of the Scriptures in such a way that what they wrote was the very Word of God as He intended it to be written down.

7. Briefly state what your preaching philosophy is and describe your approach to, and preferred style of preaching.

My philosophy of preaching requires me to develop and deliver expository sermons. My task is to expound God’s Word with clarity so as to reveal God’s message from His Word for the listeners. Since Scripture is divinely inspired and absolutely trustworthy, I must allow it to speak. The authorial intent should be revealed trough my preaching and not my preconceived ideas. Therefore, the context, author and intended listeners are all of first importance in the exegetical process. My preaching preparation requires much study, meditation, and prayer and may at times be labelled consecutive expository preaching. Meaning systematically working through a book of the Bible verse-by-verse, chapter-by-chapter. To me this is and should be the ordinary method of preaching because over time it sets before the people the whole counsel of God. Lastly, in short, my preaching philosophy is God centered, Christ centered and Holy Spirit centered.

8. Provide examples of typical messages or series (book studies, character studies, topics, etc.) which you have preached.

I have preached series on the books of Genesis, Joshua, Ruth, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Zachariah, Jonah, Malachi, Matthew, John, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, Colossians, James, 1&2 Timothy, 1&2 Peter, James, 1,2&3 John and part series on Revelations, Pentateuch, 1&2 Samuel, Romans and Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos, Ezra, Nehemiah. Topic series included sin, repentance, atonement, salvation, justification, holiness, sanctification, Jesus as the Messiah, Moses, Paul, Peter, James the Apostles, Following Christ, the Church, the life as a believer, Christian life, confession of sin, the spiritual gifts, the commandments of God, the covenant, sexuality and sexual purity, sexual orientation and many more.

9   Describe your view of your role as pastor in relation to the congregation.

I see myself as a team member with the task to shepherd, lead, feed, and guide the people to spiritual growth and service for the Lord Jesus. In a practical sense the pastor is the person who primarily leads the church, generally doing the majority of the preaching and teaching in the pulpit at the services and overseeing the administration of the church. I hold myself to the standard of agreement to 1 Timothy 3:1-13 and Titus 1:6-9. As Pastor I preach the whole counsel from the Word of God remembering the words of the Lord Jesus as found in Mark 1:15 and Matthew 4:17.

10  In what ways do you build personal relationships with people within the congregation?

Building relationships is about the ability to identify and initiate working relationships and to develop and maintain them in a way that is of mutual benefit to myself and the next person or group to the benefit of the church of Christ. Good relationships are the key to getting things done and are essential in that the success of the ministry is dependent on others in the congregation. I accept and celebrate differences, endeavor to listen effectively, give people dedicated time, practice communication skills, manage mobile technology, give and take feedback, trust people unconditionally accept where proven not to trust them and having genuine and sincere empathy. Lastly in building personal relationships the biblical truths that we are brothers and sisters in Christ, abiding in and being led by the Spirit should not be forgotten.

11  How do you personally think you relate to people?

I think overall, through the years in the ministry, I have had good relationships with most if not all people in working relationships. Obviously, there were strained relationships at times but generally differences could be sorted out and relationships could experience healing. In an instance or two because of deep differences in conviction, relationships were discontinued.

12  What is your approach to counseling?

Counseling is a sensitive matter at all times. the Bible is the foundation for understanding the mind because God made the mind. The Bible proclaims itself to be sufficient for everything we need, and counseling is no exception – 2Pet 1:2-4, Heb. 4;12 & 2Tim.3:16-17. The Bible, God’s Word, is related in counseling individually to a person or persons who are struggling under the weight of personal sin and/or the difficulties with suffering, so that he or she might genuinely change in the inner person to be pleasing to God. I have a qualification in educational psychology which I have found to assist me in counseling as well. However, in the praxis of counseling I refer females first to a female counselor or if not available, I will counsel a woman under controlled situation, eg. in an office where the door is transparent or equipped with a glass section. I don’t counsel single women at their homes or by appointment alone at some venue. This is very much part of my counseling praxis. In this my wife assists me much and she is a godly trustworthy and experienced counselor herself.

13.  How would you exercise church discipline and the mediation of conflict within the church?

14. Have you experienced either of these situations?

Church discipline is to be done in terms of Matthew 18. It also has to be done in the light of Galatians 6:1. I have extensive experience by God’s grace and mercy in dealing with church conflict matters, mediation, discipline, reconciliation and reinstatement of members. Over 30 years in the ministry has given me much experience in these matters on various levels of mediation and discipline and obviously in varying degrees of mischief.

15.  How do you respond to criticism?

I welcome criticism. I do not regard myself as being above criticism. As long as criticism is fair, civil and Christian I have no problem with criticism at all. I am a saved sinner living daily by the grace and mercy of the Triune God and as such I make mistakes as well. Therefore, criticism is not out of place as long as decency prevails in addressing one another.

16.  What aspect/s of your pastoral role/ministry do you love most?

The ministry is a “wholesome approach”. As such I love administering the Word of God into the lives of people whether through speaking the Word or administering the signs of grace. I cherish all aspects of being a pastor.

17.  What aspect/s of your pastoral role/ministry do you like least?

Working with and dispensing the finances of the church. Personally, this aspect I would rather entrust into the hands of those called of God to manage and take care of the finances of the congregation. I do not like to negotiate for my own upkeep either and trust the Lord to arrange trough others.

18.  How do you see your family-life commitments in relation to your pastoral responsibilities?

My family, my wife and I, are both totally committed to the work of the Lord. We are a “team functioning together to realize His calling into His purpose for us in this world. We love the Lord, serve the Lord and seek to do His will together and to His honor and glory in all things. My son and daughter in law live in Canada. My wife and I are fully contend, satisfied and taken up with one another.

19.  What in your opinion are your character strengths and weaknesses?

I do not like to talk about myself. However, I will say this – I get the job done. I am organized, a good administrator and set goals, short-, medium- and long-term and then work towards reaching those goals. I am approachable and a people’s person. I like to work democratically. Being as such people may experience me as forceful and non-compromising at times in working towards set goals.

20.  How would you describe your leadership style?

I would say it is democratic and people centered. Yet at times, when needed, it may tend to be transformational especially in assisting others. It is also visionary in the sense that it is goal orientated. It should be as I have been appointed in various managerial positions in the past as can been seen from my CV.

21.  How would you describe your pastoral responsibilities?

My pastoral responsibilities cover the whole spectrum of responsibilities as set out in God’s Word and broadened by the congregational needs of the local church. The Lord Jesus is my first example of what a pastor should be like. The apostle Paul has given many guidelines as well. I accept the total package knowing it is a 24/7 responsibility. This has been the characteristic of my ministry till now.

22.  What is your opinion regarding the function of other elders in relation to yourself?

A pastor cannot function without his co-workers, the fellow elders. Leading a church pastorally is indeed not a one man show. As pastor, I am an elder also. Nothing more and nothing less. It is vital that the pastor be assisted by regenerated, trustworthy, godly, Christ centered and Holy Spirit inspired men. See 1Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:6-9. There is One Head and Pastor of the church, Jesus Christ.

23.  How does your wife support you in ministry?

My calling is as much her calling as well. We have served the Lord together wherever we have been called to do so as a team. There is no divided ministry for us, and she has been a vital and supportive part of my ministry calling. I can testify that she loves the Lord, His people and His church and served Him with distinction next to me.

24.  What is your theological standpoint?

My theological standpoint may be referred to as a Reformed Evangelical Theology: as it precipitated from the Reformation. I strongly hold to the Five Solas and Reformed Theology as set out in the Confessions of Faith: the Baptist Confession of Faith 1689, The Westminster Confession of Faith and the Belgic Confession of Faith. I hold to the Apostolic Creed, and similar creeds. In more contemporary terms it may be said to be conservative and evangelical

25.  What position do you take on the following, and how would you address these matters in leading and teaching.

a. Calvinism / Armenianism.

I am careful about being labelled, either as Calvinist or Armenianist. I am a Reformed evangelical theologian holding to the SOLAS and the faith as expressed by the acronym TULIP. My theological standpoint may then be specifically characterized as overly Calvinistic. I am not an Armenianist as per their defined theology. Then again, Calvinism expresses itself strongly and positively with regard to paedo-baptism whilst I hold to the Scriptural view of credo-baptism. That is why I am more likely to be identified in my theology as a Reformed Baptist.

b. Eschatological view.

Eschatology helps us to understand the Bible’s prophetic passages and how to live our lives in response to what God is going to do in the end times. John 3:36 and 1 John 5:12 are of utmost importance to me eschatologically. There is a great deal of controversy in Eschatology, but that does not relieve us of our responsibility to study and understand what the Bible teaches about the end times. Our God is sovereign, He has a plan, and it will all unfold according to His perfect will and timing. A key verse on Eschatology is Titus 2:13: “we wait for the blessed hope – the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ.” We need not fight over the differences, yet we have to agree that Jesu Christ is the eschatological focus in all matters pertaining to the when, how and what of the eschatological winding down of this world we are living in.

c. Cessationism / Continuationism.

According to I Cor. 13:13-14:1, we would do well to “pursue love,” the greatest gift of all. If we are to desire gifts, we should desire to speak forth the Word of God, that all may be edified. It is my belief that the end of the apostolic age brought about a cessation of the miracles associated with that age. In my opinion, there are good historical and theological arguments for the cessationist position.

d. Worship in the church (contemporary / traditional).

I assume that one would classify my view of worship in the church as ‘traditional”. I am very much inclined to congregational singing with the accompaniment of only few musical instruments like a piano, violin or flutes to support congregational singing. Where other instruments are used the voices still remain the major contributor to the worship service and if contemporary instruments are used it should support congregational singing and not overshadow it. Singers in front are meant to lead the congregation and not entertain the congregation.

25.  What is your thinking in regard to the following?

a)  Cross cultural fellowship and missions?

I have been a missionary for round 30 years. See my CV for detail. I have preached the Gospel of our Lord all over the world in the diversity of cultures, nations and ethnic groups. I have seen God calling His elect people by grace from many nations and cultures uniting them in and baptising them into His Kingdom. A church not involved in missionary work will be severely and distinctly spiritually handicapped.

b)  Para-church mission and evangelical organizations?

Most para-church ministries are centered on one special area of need within the local church or the worldwide church, such as family, military, publishing, education, missionary support, prison outreach, medical, communications, and transportation. The concept of evangelical organizations may be added hereto as well. The local church may support and work together with such after due consideration.

c. The role of women in the church as far as preaching and office-bearing are concerned?

There are two primary viewpoints on the question of whether women can serve as elders in the church. The egalitarian view holds that women can serve as elders as long as they fulfill the requirements as outlined in 1Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:6-9. The complementarian view affirms the opposite and states that women are not allowed to serve in the capacity of elder within the church of Jesus Christ. These passages that describe the qualifications and duties of elders/overseers do not open the door for women to serve as elders. In fact, the consistent use of male pronouns and terminology argues strongly for the office of elder/overseer being restricted to men only. Therefore, I hold to the conviction that women cannot serve as elders and are therefore also excluded from preaching in the church.

d. Involvement in socio-political issues of the day?

Jesus said that His kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36). The kingdom of Christ is not connected with earthly political systems or national governments, all of which are in rebellion against God. The world Christians are to be concerned with is the spiritual realm, not the temporal. Socio-political correctness or issues in the secular, political realm is not the hands-on concern of Christians or the church because “our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Saviour from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will, by the power that enables him, “bring everything under his control” Philippians 3:20-21. So, the church should express itself verbally and uphold biblical principles publicly to state correctness of socio-economic issues.

e. Handling the various political sympathies within the congregation?

Speaking for myself: I distance myself, as pastor, from any party-political affiliation or sympathy. I simply do this to protect the work of God in the congregation and to be able to stand next to each and every member of the congregation irrespective of their political affiliation or sympathy. The political sympathy of church members is a private matter and should remain so within the church. Members of the congregation should refrain themselves from sharing political affiliations or lobbying for specific political sympathies.

f. Evangelism and out-reaches?

Biblical evangelism begins with prayer for the guidance of the Holy Spirit in witnessing, open doors of opportunity, and a clear understanding of the bad news of sin and wrath and the good news of love, grace, mercy, and faith. Evangelism is biblical and the Good News should be shared. Perhaps Lifestyle Evangelism should not be overlooked in the process. A gospel out-reach or crusade is a concentrated effort to evangelize a city or region. Gospel outreaches have been in existence since the second chapter of Acts (Acts 12:14-41). This might be perhaps a debatable statement but, nevertheless. God uses many avenues to reach those He came to save, including gospel crusades, out-reaches etc. There are many acceptable methods of presenting the gospel, and none should be discounted if the truth is proclaimed. A gospel crusade or out-reach is only one way.

26  Involvement with other denominations and with the schools within the community?

There is no reason not to be involved.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Fallen into sexual immorality! Should Pastors Be Restored?

During the past week some people contacted me and asked me pertinently about the topic of this article. So yes, what is the answer? What answer would you give to this question?

The Bible teaches that the spiritual integrity and conduct of an elder must be above reproach. More than anyone else the life and conduct of the pastor should be like 1 John 2:6 would have it: “Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did” (NLT). Pastors tend to use terms and concepts like anointed, called, appointed, and “taken by God” to describe themselves being in the ministry. They are regarded too frequently by the title “man of God” or “servant of the Lord” or end letters and e-mails with the greeting “Yours in Christ” or “In His service” to distinguish themselves from the rest of God’s people.

Some people seem to discuss the pastoral office as if they do not have a clear biblical guidance on what qualifies a man for the office of elder/pastor. Unless we do there will be no clear understanding of the severity of a pastor falling into sexual sin. Here is a rough list, a composite from the three primary qualification passages (1 Tim 3, Titus 1, and 1 Peter 5), An elder, and therefore a pastor ought to be:

  1. Sexually/maritally faithful
  2. Good manager of household
  3. Humble
  4. Gentle
  5. Sober
  6. Peaceful
  7. Financially responsible
  8. Hospitable
  9. Self-controlled
  10. Upright in character
  11. Committed to holiness
  12. Able to teach
  13. Spiritually mature (not a new convert)
  14. Respectable (and respected by outsiders)
  15. A good example to the flock

So, with the above as background let us read and consider the article below. And may the Lord God help us to understand that in holiness we are called to reflect His holy nature. Let us, the elders of God’s church be reminded once again of the high calling we ought to satisfy, even more than God’s flock: 14So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then. 15But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. 16For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.” 1Pet 1:14-16.

The article of John MacArthur below is so insightful. To me that is the standard that we preachers and pastors should adhere in service and in discipline for our righteous deeds and of course for our unrighteous deeds.

John MacArthur says – It has always saddened me over the years as I’ve watched church leaders bring a reproach on the church of Jesus Christ. What’s shocking to me is how frequently Christian leaders sin grossly, then step back into leadership almost as soon as the publicity dies away.

Some time ago I received a cassette tape that disturbed me greatly. It was a recording of the recommissioning service of a pastor who had made national news by confessing to an adulterous affair. After little more than a year of “counseling and rehabilitation,” this man was returning to public ministry with his church’s blessing.

That is happening everywhere. Restoration teams — equipped with manuals to instruct the church on how to reinstate their fallen pastor — wait like tow-truck drivers on the side of the highway, anticipating the next leadership “accident”. Our church has received inquiries wondering if we have written guidelines or a workbook to help restore fallen pastors to leadership. Many no doubt expect that a church the size of ours would have a systematic rehabilitation program for sinning leaders.

Gross sin among Christian leaders is a signal that something is seriously wrong with the church. But an even greater problem is the lowering of standards to accommodate a leader’s sin. That the church is so eager to bring these men back into leadership is a symptom of rottenness at the core.

Some have claimed that a leader’s failure makes him more effective in shepherding fallen people. That is ludicrous. Should we drag the bottom of sin’s cesspool for the most heinous sinners to lead the church? Are they better able to understand the sinner? Certainly not! Our pattern for ministry is the sinless Son of God. The church is to be like Him and her leaders are to be our models of Christ-likeness.

We must recognize that leadership in the church cannot be regarded lightly. The foremost requirement of a church leader is that he be above reproach (1 Timothy 3:2,10; Titus 1:7). That is a difficult prerequisite, and not everyone can meet it.

There are some sins that irreparably shatter a man’s reputation and disqualify him from a ministry of leadership forever. Even Paul, man of God that he was, said he feared such a possibility. In 1 Corinthians 9:27 he says, “I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.”

When referring to his body, Paul obviously had sexual immorality in view. In 1 Corinthians 6:18 he describes it as a sin against one’s own body-sexual sin is in its own category. Certainly it disqualifies a man from church leadership since he permanently forfeits a blameless reputation as a one-woman man (Proverbs 6:33; 1 Timothy 3:2).

Where did we get the idea that a year’s leave of absence and some counseling can restore integrity to someone who has squandered his reputation and destroyed people’s trust? Certainly not from the Bible. Trust forfeited is not so easily regained. Once purity is sacrificed, the ability to lead by example is lost forever. As my friend Chuck Swindoll once commented when referring to this issue — it takes only one pin to burst a balloon.

What about forgiveness? Shouldn’t we be eager to restore our fallen brethren? To fellowship, yes. But not to leadership. It is not an act of love to return a disqualified man to public ministry; it is an act of disobedience.

By all means we should be forgiving. But we cannot erase the consequences of sin. I am not advocating that we “shoot our wounded.” I’m simply saying that we shouldn’t rush them back to the front lines, and we should not put them in charge of other soldiers. The church should do everything possible to minister to those who have sinned and repented. But that does not include restoring the mantle of leadership to a man who has disqualified himself and forfeited the right to lead. Doing so is unbiblical and lowers the standard God has set.

So why is the contemporary church so eager to be tolerant? I’m certain a major reason is the sin and unbelief that pervade the church. If casual Christians can lower the expectations on their leadership, they will be much more comfortable with their own sin. With lower moral standards, the church becomes more tolerant of sin and less tolerant of holiness. The “sinner-friendly” church is intolerable to God — that is a frightening condition.

Conservative Christians have for most of the previous century focused on the battle for doctrinal purity. And that is good. But we are losing the battle for moral purity. Some of the worst defeats have occurred among our more visible leaders. The church cannot lower the standard to accommodate them. We should hold it higher so we can regain purity. If we lose here, we have utterly failed, no matter how orthodox our confession of faith. We can’t win if we compromise the biblical standard of moral purity.

What should you do in the current crisis? Pray for your church’s leaders. Keep them accountable. Encourage them. Let them know you are following their godly example. Understand that they are not perfect, but continue nonetheless to call them to the highest level of godliness and purity. The church must have leaders who are genuinely above reproach. Anything less is an abomination.

Adapted from The Master’s Plan for the Church, © 1991 by John MacArthur. All rights reserved.

This article originally appeared here at Grace to You.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Can You Repent If You Were Caught? Three Signs of Godly Sorrow.

“The brokenhearted believer will not seek to escape the discipline of the Lord.” and “A repentant sinner pleads guilty to all charges, trusting Jesus Christ the advocate to secure our forgiveness.”

I read an article by Chad Ashby (Pastor, Newberry, South Carolina) that really blessed me. And I would like to quote it here for all to read. I receive daily notifications from the website “Desiring God” (https://www.desiringgod.org) which has proven to be of immeasurable help to Andra and myself when we had to face most difficult times in our lives and we were seeking a spiritual home after we had to depart from a spiritual home where we have been serving God for many years and where the spiritual leaders failed to live up to the standard of God’s Word. We could no longer associate ourselves with them. The sermons of John Piper and others at “Desiring God” helped us to remain faithful to the Word and we eventually found a new spiritual home where we can worship God.

Whilst we are praying for those left behind that God in His grace and mercy will keep them from falling away totally, we are thankful to be sustained and encouraged in our faith by words of truth shared by others. Therefore I feel to share below that which has blessed me. Never loose hope and never give up for Christ is alive and will be with His people right to the end!

Chad Asby says, “In recent years, we’ve sadly seen some popular Christians fall into ministry-disqualifying sins. Often, the revelation of a double life is followed by a public statement of regret.

It’s hard not to be cynical about the purity of the motives behind such acts of repentance. After all, wouldn’t a truly repentant Christian confess the truth about their sin before being caught? But if we’re honest, I wonder whether what unsettles us most on these occasions is how familiar it all feels — offering rushed apologies in an effort to mitigate sin’s consequences. It’s one of the most worn pages in our own playbook.

Is true repentance even possible when we’ve been caught in the act?

Though we might be jaded by our contemporary experiences, a survey of Scripture finds numerous examples where true repentance followed a sudden exposure of sin. Only after Abigail’s courageous public confrontation did David realize he had let pride nearly drive him to murder (1 Samuel 25:23–35). Later, David remained blinded to his heinous crimes against Bathsheba and Uriah her husband until Nathan raised a pointed finger and pronounced, “You are the man” (2 Samuel 12:7). Both exposures are followed by David’s sincere repentance. Likewise, the city of Nineveh expressed sorrow only after God sent Jonah to bring public outcry against her sin, yet her repentance is lauded by Jesus himself (Matthew 12:41).

Although repentance after the humiliation of uncovered sin may appear contrived, the fact remains that one of God’s patterns in Scripture is to use human agents to expose sin and bring about repentance. The question, then, is not whether true repentance after being caught is possible, but what this true repentance looks like.

True repentance accepts full responsibility.

Repentance is a matter of the heart, and a truly repentant heart turns away from sin not in part but in full. Consider this question: When you have been confronted about sin, do you try to admit the least amount possible, or do you confess it all? In his first epistle, John writes, “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). When a brother begins to shine a light in a dark corner of your life, is your impulse to confess quickly to get him to turn off the flashlight? Or do you realize it’s all or nothing? A repentant heart will seize the moment to step completely into the light.

Often, the temptation in confrontation is to play the lawyer. We justify ourselves by trying to share the blame with others. For instance, when Samuel confronted Saul for disobeying God’s command to destroy the entire camp of the Amalekites, Saul kicks into blame-shift mode: “I have obeyed the voice of the Lord. . . . But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen” (1 Samuel 15:20–21).

When we try to defend ourselves, we betray a disbelief in the truth of the gospel. “If anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1). In the courtroom of God, sinners try to plead their own case on the basis of technicalities, comparison to others, or self-righteousness. However, a repentant sinner pleads guilty to all charges, trusting Jesus Christ the advocate to secure our forgiveness on the basis of his righteousness — not ours. He also admits that his sin has harmed others, and pleads with Christ for mercy and healing for those offended.

When you are confronted about sin in your life, is your response, “Yes, I did it,” or is it, “Yeah, but . . .”? You’ll know immediately if you are willing to take full responsibility.

True repentance relinquishes control.

An unrepentant heart is a savvy politician; it wants to get out in front of the issue so it can control the narrative. Panic, embarrassment, shame, and guilt can cloud our judgment. The pride that blinded us to the dangers of sin is the same pride that wants to remain in control through the repentance process.

This is why true repentance demonstrates a willingness to let go and admit the truth: I do not get to choose the consequences of my sin. We see this attitude modeled once again in David, who, after hearing the consequences of his sin from the prophet Nathan, did not try to negotiate, but simply acknowledged, “I have sinned against the Lord” (2 Samuel 12:13).

Often, we want to manage our sanctification, but that’s not how it works. The sin God is seeking to root out and destroy in us is the same sin that drove nails through his Son. It’s deadly stuff. When God brings a spouse, friend, or church member into your sin, it may be because you don’t take your sin as seriously as you should. You need help. In that moment, true repentance says, “You know what, you are right. I have sinned. What do you think I should do?”

Sanctification is a team effort. Oh the depth of God’s mercy and the liberty of Christ’s love to be able to entrust the care of our souls to others — and not to disinterested parties but to brothers and sisters who seek to love us unconditionally! God is going to use others to root the old man out, if we are willing to relinquish control.

True repentance treasures discipline.

A third sign of repentance in a believer is a proper understanding of God’s discipline. We are reminded in the Scriptures, “The Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives” (Hebrews 12:6). The brokenhearted believer will not seek to escape the discipline of the Lord, but will treasure it as a gift from the Father.

The author of Hebrews pulls no punches; discipline “seems painful rather than pleasant” in the moment (Hebrews 12:11). However, a repentant heart trusts that “later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:11). Depending on the seriousness of sinful behavior, discipline may mean the loss of a relationship, a career, or a pastorate. It may even involve prison time. The repentant heart receives even these painful consequences as from the merciful hand of God, who by his very discipline spares us from eternal wrath (1 Corinthians 11:32).

Discipline certainly means restitution for past wrongs, but it can also mean training for future righteousness. This means enlisting the help of brothers and sisters who have been solemnly charged to “see to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God” (Hebrew 12:15). A local church, spouse, and friends are essential in helping to take concrete steps to prevent sin’s temptation in the future. Once again, this may mean difficult life changes or drastic measures. For instance, a convicted sex offender may never be able to walk onto church property without being escorted by a fellow church member, but a repentant believer will receive this discipline as a gift from God.

The Spirit works in this way to cultivate humility, interdependence, and unity in the body of Christ. While you may be helping a brother in one area of weakness, he is helping you in another. While he is confronting you about your sin today, you may be the one confronting him about his tomorrow. In this way, the Spirit empowers the church through true repentance to “[build] itself up in love” as we “bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Ephesians 4:16; Galatians 6:1).

Chad Ashby (@Chad_Ashby) is the pastor of College Street Baptist Church in Newberry, South Carolina. He is a graduate of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.
https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/can-you-repent-if-you-were-caught?

Study Material

I have started to add from my lecture material at Seminary on the blog. There has been several requests over the past few weeks that I should include some study material on my blog to help people in their understanding of Biblical doctrine and to elucidate what we actually should believe based on the Bible. Or, simply to help people to know Scripture better. I have added material concerning the Old Testament, Mission, and Doctrine. I will still add some material on Bible interpretation and the New Testament in the near future. I plan to add material on a weekly basis.

It is in a more popular format where I draw from various sources to bring over content concerning the topics under discussion. I hope and trust that readers may find it of some help in their own study of the Bible and Christian walk. I have added references to sources as much as I can. Please visit these resource links. I will add a “Links” tab where I will highlight trustworthy websites to visit and trustworthy preachers, speakers and teachers one may listen to.

You will notice that my blog is most definitely Reformed Theology in essence and also Reformed Baptist to be more specific. It is thoroughly in line with the trusted confessions of faith which have withstood the most vigorous scrutiny during times of theological conflict. I have added the confessions of faith to the blog. The Reformed grounding in the Five Solas is basic, foundational and of utmost importance for my Evangelical approach to the understanding of the Scriptures. It has brought great stability in my spiritual life and to keep me from falling into false doctrine in the past.

I am developing this blog and it will take time to have it “perfect”. So bear with me and feel welcome to write and assist with advice or ideas or positive criticism. I appreciate all responses.

I pray that God will be honored in all this effort!

January 2020

2Teach and urge these things. 3If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, 4he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, 5and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. 6But godliness with contentment is great gain, 7for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. 11But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. 12Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, 14to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen. (1 Timothy 6).

Today by the grace and mercy of God, I started as Senior Lecturer at a theological training college. I am extremely thankful to God for making this possible and I honestly pray that I will be faithful to Him, the Most High God, in everything I do and teach at this place where young people are prepared and trained to be ministers of the Word. I have made many mistakes in my past, but I hold on to the most precious words found in the Bible for the saved sinner,

7But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1)

I have had a “life-time” with the Lord in the ministry all over the world. I am not ashamed of the Gospel and I am looking forward to teaching and preaching this Gospel of Jesus Christ for the remaining of my years to live. I have quoted some verses from 1 Timothy 6 above, which spoken to Timothy by the apostle Paul, will nevertheless guide me in my teaching practice with the students.

Previously to this theological lecturing post I will be standing in now, I have taught at a teacher’s college for 21 years. To this day I still have contact with some students from those years. They are teaching all over the world. I thank the Lord for each moment I could have spent teaching and preparing them to function as Christian teachers in the secular schools of this world we are living in. But now, the student body has changed. I believe much of what was taught to the young teachers in educational practice would also be needed in the training of the young pastors. And I am looking forward to doing so. May God find me faithful to the appointed task in His vineyard.

With this in mind, this blog will change. Most that was previously posted on this blog had been archived. This blog will now cater for this new focus in my live. The content will be as beneficial to you in your spiritual walk as it will be to the students I will be dealing with. The content of the blog will not proclaim the theological views of any particular congregation, church or denomination but be Christ centered and based on the Bible as much as is possible within my finite ability. I will be theologically guided in the expression of my faith as it appears on the pages of this blog by the dicta, the so-called Five Solae, which precipitated from the Reformation, namely:

Sola scriptura: “Scripture alone”
Sola fide: “faith alone”
Sola gratia: “grace alone”
Solo Christo: “Christ alone”
Soli Deo gloria: “to the glory of God alone”


Do not leave the blog but stay with me. It will be an exciting journey. Together we will walk and talk with God, study His Word and walk into the future one step at a time.

Credo!

There is a new tab on the blog, “Credo”.

If everyone believes in God, the obvious question then follows, “What do we believe about God?” To answer the question is to confess, declare, state or proclaim our creed. A creed is a statement that describes our beliefs. The English word creed is an English equivalent to the Latin word credo, which means, “I believe.” It goes back to the 12th century, where it occurred as a compound word kerd-dhe, meaning basically “to put one’s heart.” This has relevance to the essence of a creed in that it focuses on what we believe, from our hearts and also confess with our mouths.

I have been rather vocal and critical on this blog concerning what people believed and did not believe, and I duly include myself in this criticism. At Mission Kwasizabantu there were creeds in place that we earnestly query as to their biblical roots and therefore validity as Protestant creeds satisfying the Apostles’ Creed and five solas at the very least as an expression of the reformed theology we profess to adhere to. I think it is clear that we all fell short in the process to uphold biblical doctrine. Whether formal or informal, written or verbal, in one-way or another we all have a creed that embraces our beliefs.

By God’s design, the entire human race is creedal; we are all inclined to “believe”. So the real question is not whether we have creeds, rather the questions are, “What do we believe in our creeds?” “What is the content of our creeds and how do our creeds relate to biblical revelation?” “What are the authority, usefulness, foundation and purpose of our creeds?” “How authentic are our creeds when evaluated against the biblical cannon.”

Under this tag “Credo”, I speak for what I believe. You might agree or you may differ from what I believe. I will speak about my trust in the Triune God, on what I know about Him from His Word and what I believe to be necessary to love Him with all my heart, all my soul and my entire mind. My theology, and by that I mean my understanding of Scripture, must be driven by the Scriptures, and I want to submit my theology constantly to the Scriptures for revision and correction as I have been doing these past two years.

I pray you do the same as an individual, or congregation or group of churches. Because, your spiritual integrity will stand or fall in what you believe.

Funeral

This past weekend we traveled to Mafakathini, KwaZulu Natal.
Gogo (Grandma) Mnikathi passed away and we went to be with the family. I was asked to facilitate at the funeral. The Mnikathi family are very precious to me. When we moved into the area in 2009, this family was the first to open their hearts and home to me and Andra. Gogo experienced three strokes over time. We visited her in hospital with the family. The last stroke was fatal.

Visiting Gogo in Edendale Hospital.
Some of the Mnikathi family members and Andra at the hospital.

The funeral proceedings stretched over three days. What a blessed time was it not for all involved. On Friday evening we went to “Duduza”, that is to “comfort” the bereaved family. There is time to speak with the members of the family and have a devotion. We gathered in the big round hut (rondavel) for the duduza service.

The bereaved women attending the duduza devotion.

The actual funeral ceremony took place on Saturday morning at 10am. Proceedings lasted well into the afternoon. It is such a privilege to lay a child of God to rest. We only have good memories of Gogo. Speaker after speaker only testified about the good of her life. I could only say “Amen” to all because that is how I knew her as well.

The coffin is opened and people could view the body. She looked so peaceful in death!

About 300 people attended the funeral.

The grave is on the property of the family. Next to the vegetable garden. Gogo is the third family member which I have laid to rest in this garden patch. The grave is covered and cared for by the family as time goes on.

A view of part of Mafakathini town.

On Sunday we had a closing service, mostly for the family. It is very special and a blessing in God to be with His children in their times of sorrow. I am so thankful to God for granting me the grace and mercy to be able to do something meaningful for those He loves and cares for. What would we be without the precious Gospel of Jesus Christ? How will we be comforted, if not comforted by God the Spirit. How will we die, if we don’t die in the Lord and go home to be with our loving heavenly Father?

Soli Deo gloria! To God be the glory!

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