Upcoming seminar on the prophet Isaiah, to be held at Mowbray Baptist Church, 20 February, booking essential. More details below.
This excellent and timely series was preached by Pastor Pieter Pienaar in response to the Dutch Reformed Church of South Africa's decision in October 2015 to approve same-sex unions and the ordination of homosexual ministers without the requirement of celibacy. Accompanying each sermon is a short video introduction providing some context and intended to be watched first.
Upcoming seminar on the Gospel of Mark, featuring our own Dr Paul Hartwig. Held at Connect Church in Meadowridge, 1st August, booking essential. More details below.
Though the book of Revelation appears last in our Bibles, it is sadly first in being the most abused book in that divine library. It is often loved for all the wrong reasons, with readers divided between those who never bother to venture into the book and those who never care to get out of it. Yet it remains a very important book for the church today and God has placed it in our personal Bibles in order to be read, understood and obeyed.
YOU ARE INVITED TO OUR SATURDAY SEMINAR, open for anyone who wants to get to grips with the meaning of this book given to the church in the first century. The format will include both individual presentations and discussion. Speakers: Dr Paul Hartwig (host) with Bradley Trout (pastor), Dr Gideon Beukes (lecturer) and Pieter Pienaar (pastor).
WHEN / WHERE:
31st Jan 2015 at Strand Baptist, 121 Church Street Strand, 09:30am-16:30pm.
RSVP Heather firstname.lastname@example.org by the 28th Jan.
R30 for light lunch provided.
PROGRAM FOR THE DAY:
Hope you can join us!
Hello SBC and friends
On Friday morning, all South Africans awoke to the not-so-unexpected-news of the death of the first democratically elected president, Nelson Mandela. In this one man the political hopes and ideals of millions of South Africans have converged and found an articulate expression. Not only nationally, but also globally, Madiba has been the icon for the ideals of much of the Western World: political freedom and personal equality for every citizen, regardless of gender, race and religion. Thus the flood of a public and deeply felt sympathy that we witnessed today is truly fitting for all that he stood for in this painful yet beloved country of ours. Only the most hardened can not offer up a heartfelt prayer to God for giving the country such a leader at her most important hour. I hope you have done that already.
As Christians we know that the real problem remains and that Mandela has not been able to accomplish the ideals for which he stood for. New laws can be in place (as needed as they are) and a new South African anthem and flag can carry high in the sky our deepest longings for this country yet without the root problem being eradicated. Let me remind you again that what we will always need is not a new South Africa but new South Africans. Neither Mandela nor any man can do. We are all aware that the great gains ushered in in the 1990's have also been accompanied by newer problems. Sexual and violent crime now characterizes our society, and though racial segregation is outlawed infant-murder (abortion) is legislated in the new South Africa . So in one very real sense the sins of the country are as ever present with us though their appearance has changed.
This reality that we daily face reminds us that Mandela is not Messiah. We are led to ask then: who then will truly bring lasting and effectual moral change to South Africans? Well, there one:
So as we pause today and reflect upon the life of Mandela, let us give thanks to God for giving us such a leader to inaugurate the new era in the history of South Africa. But let us also remember the limited and small place that he plays in the things that ultimately matter. Let us remember that Mandela was not able to give us what we need most. Only in the Christ of God will all our deepest and dearest longings find rest and fulfillment. We 'honour the king' as the apostle Peter told us to do in his first letter, but we also declare with him to the Crucified One who was rejected of men: "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God".
Dear Strand Baptist Church and friends
The City of Man stands today as a memorial to all the achievements of what human beings have done and can do. For everyone who is reading these words, whether on a computer or on A printed out office-copy, the reason why you can do that is clearly because someone has worked hard to produce these methods of communication. We are conveyed from point A to B by the collected wisdom of over 100 years of automobile expertise and industry. We are all borne along in all that we do by the hard earned achievements of previous generations. They have made us what we are today. And then comes Romans 9: 16 and says:
"So therefore it does not depend on the one who wills or the one who runs but on God who has mercy"
The perspective and work of God is deeper and broader than any of us can fathom. The famous Christian thinker and bishop, Augustine brilliantly said: "God is more truly imagined than expressed and He exists more truly than imagined" Here in Romans the inspired apostle plainly declares that the ultimate Person who is behind everything in this world of ours is God. Just as all the activity of human beings and all their accomplishments depend absolutely upon invisible nitrogen, oxygen and argon, so we are dependent upon the invisible God more than we are aware of. Here is the very important fact:
Without God dealing with each person alive on this earth today through His mercy, the entire human race would cease to exist. If the pure and holy justice of God were to come directly to us without going via the Cross, every human being would be damned in Hell forever. We are not worthy to be on God's good creation in the light of how we treat Him. 'All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God'. If God had to recall His spirit dealing in each human being, there would be no accusation of injustice from the council of heaven. This is a sobering truth that should cause us to walk humbly all our days.
Since the above is true all that is allowed to exist exists only because of the merciful pleasure of God. Since our appeal to rightness and fairness would only land us all in a place of banishment, that we are not there is because He has tempered His justice by His mercy. 'He has not treated us as our sins deserve'. Paul said earlier in Romans that this mercy and forbearance of God toward the world is meant to lead us to repentance (2:4). Sadly, it does not but only makes human beings doubly guilty. But the benefits of the Cross of Jesus still remain with every human being for God chooses to temporarily suspend His justice - which cries out for immediate fulfillment - on the godless for every second of their existence. Praise God for the Cross of Jesus Christ! It is the divine origin of the active mercy of God toward us right now. It only the world was more aware that it is not lungs that are allowing them to draw their next breath, but a merciful God!
How much more is it an act of mercy and grace that we should be called sons of God! How come we, who are more adept at sin than righteousness and are the ones who still go on eating the forbidden fruit, how come we are in such a place of grace with God? How can it be that we are the elect of God, the apple of His eye? This cannot be! Oh, but in Jesus Christ it is so! By grace alone and through the kind intention of God in every aspect of our faith in Christ, God has been forming and planning good things for us - by grace ALONE. As much as dead Lazarus was given new life through the word of the merciful Christ, so Christians have been given new life through the gift of another.
It all depends upon the MERCY OF GOD. How in debt are we to that Cross of the Lord Jesus Christ! Come, and receive light and life under its shadow!
See you Sunday, God willing.
Dear SBC and friends
What doe the word 'inheritance' bring to your mind? Rather than a dictionary definition, we most likely think of patrimony and what was or will be left to you of your parents possessions. Most generally, the word refers to all that is legally passed on to the children after the death of their parents. It speaks of a great loss to one and a great gain to another, of great cost and great grace. So it is a very richly textured word that we all can relate to, though into different degrees.
Did you know that the Bible, in both the OT and NT, speaks much about inheritance? In the book of Joshua we see Israel receiving the inheritance of land from God. He gave them the land as a gift after they had come out of Egypt. All the tribes, except Levi, received a portion of Palestine. God was to be Levi's inheritance. In the NT there is also an inheritance that the church receives. Since a death has taken place, the people of Christ receive an inheritance from Him. This inheritance is one of salvation, in the most comprehensive sense of the word. Our inheritance is all the rich blessings that Christ died to bring us, from initial salvation to the final salvation of our bodies at the resurrection: the entire fruits that bequeath to us from His death. It is all that is in Jesus for us.
Yet Scripture is very clear that your spiritual inheritance is not automatic. It needs to be possessed and made ones own. This is clearly seen in the book of Joshua, where the tribes had to go into the land and dispossess the Canaanites, and make their own by faith what God had legally promised to them by His word. Likewise in the NT. Paul thus says:
"And now I commend you to God and the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified" (Acts 20:32)
Here Paul states that God's Word is the vehicle to bring us into all that He has for us. The Word is able to give something to you, able to give you your inheritance. As it richly abides in us and as we know all that Christ died to bequeath to us, so we can respond in faith and obedience. Oh what a blissful idea! Our great Heavenly Father has an earmarked inheritance for you now that His Son has died! It is a divine gift that waits to be appropriated. It includes intimacy with God, experiences of His Spirit, fellowship with Christ, victory over sin, opportunities of service in the Royal Household, the replication of the image of Jesus in you.. and so much more. Notice here that it is not through meritoriousness or moral goodness that we quality but through 'the Word of His grace'! - for inheritance is all about a gift of grace from another. That's good-news (Gospel) for all of us.
May you know that in Christ Jesus and in His cross - and only through them- you have a special inheritance from God. No matter how much you know you don't quality through sin, through His Son's death 'the Father has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light' (Col 1:12). Knowing this, we need to press into it and 'to press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me' (Philip 3:12).
The Promised Land lies before you - and their is a piece of it allotted just for you! Go up and inherit it in Jesus Name!
Under the greater Joshua,
This morning I posted a quote on our church facebook page by Al Mohler, the current President of the Southern Baptist Seminary. In this email, I would like to attempt reflect with you on the truth of his statement:
"In the end, the biggest problem with prosperity theology is not that it promises too much, but that it promises far too little"
First, what is the prosperity theology/gospel? It is teaching given by many pastors, authors and many TV preachers who use the Scriptures to state that God's wants each of His children to experience physical health and financial wealth. The corollary of this is that if His children are not experiencing this, there is a problem in their relationship with the Lord. The word 'gospel' is used since 'gospel' in the Greek means 'good news'. Christianity thus becomes the 'good news' of God's promise of your spiritual, physical and financial well being.
Secondly, we need to be aware that this is another 'cultural moment' we are experiencing in the history of Christianity, and is strikingly different to what has been preached over the centuries in the church. Today our religious expectations have piggy backed the gains of the world (which offers health and wealth to us all), and even if we do not hold to the prosperity teaching, at bottom most of us assume that if God had His way with us He would heal our bodies and fill our wallets. Are not most of our testimonies of God's work in our lives about how we have been provided for in these realms? His faithfulness or goodness commonly translate to mean health and wealth. This is also the reason why many people serve God and believe in Him: to be spared physical and financial suffering.
What Al Mohler was wanting to point out was that if we believe that our health and wealth are the main concerns of God in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we have an impoverished perspective of His work and are missing the heart of what is on His agenda for our lives.
Traditionally (and correctly) God's main intent for us now in this life is not our health or wealth but our holiness, i.e., to be like Him. The greatest gift and the most urgent work of God is simply not physical blessing; This is clear to all in their most sane moments when they ponder what their greatest needs are. What is the greatest thing that a Christian would want for her children? Is it not to know Christ, and for them to reflect His character,and to live a life pleasing to God Almighty? Because of the fleeting and temporal nature of our present bodily experience, it is not ultimately their best life now that we want for those we love but their best life in eternity that we want for them! Does not the entire New Testament warn us that if we aim at beautify bodies and bounteous bank balances, we will move away the Gospel and not closer to it? Consider the words of Jesus in Mark 4:18-19 and also those of His apostle in 1 John 2:15-17:
Still others are like the seeds sown among the thorn bushes. These are the people who hear the word, but the worries of life, the deceitful pleasures of wealth, and the desires for other things come in and choke the word so that it can't produce a crop.
Stop loving the world and the things that are in the world. If anyone persists in loving the world, the Father's love is not in him. For everything that is in the world—the desire for fleshly gratification, the desire for possessions, and worldly arrogance—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world and its desires are fading away, but the person who does God's will remains forever.
Of course we trust God for our provision in every area of our lives, and we ought to testify to His faithfulness in caring for us in the material areas of our lives. BUT, we must know that there is a higher purpose that He has with us in this life. He wants us to 'share His holiness' (Hebrews 12:10). His purpose is for us to be like Jesus (Romans 8:29). He want us to not settle for temporary things but rather be willing to 'accept joyfully the plundering of our property, since you know that you yourselves have a better possession and an abiding one" (Hebrews 10:34).
When we consider 'the prosperity gospel' in the light of the New Testament, it is revealed as a devilish and deceitful distraction to the people of God.
For Christians passing through Vanity Fair on his way to Celestial City, they are always tempted to stay and enjoy all the blessings of the world. Some have mistakenly thought that this was God's voice that beckoned to them, but it is not. Rather, may we, like John Bunyan's Christian, also 'set our eyes on the things that cannot be seen' (2 Cor 4:18) and aim at the 'pleasures which are in His right hand' (Psalm 16:11).
In His priceless Name,
Dear Strand Baptist and Friends,
When Archimedes, the Greek mathematician, working with a simple lever, said, “Give me a place to stand on and I will move the earth”, he was asking for a base for his lever’s fulcrum necessarily outside the cosmos. When asked for an illustration of his contention that a very great weight could be moved by a very small force, Archimedes apparently used a large and fully laden ship and to have employed a mechanical device by which any man was enabled to move it himself. The power of leverage! Now a fulcrum is a firm centre base that can support and implement a mechanism used to move another object. It is succinctly defined as ‘the point or support on which a lever pivots’. But here is the issue: in order for the lever to lift an object, the fulcrum for the lever must be outside of the object it is acting upon. I hope this is not either labouring the obvious or ‘mist-ifying’ (that’s not a spelling mistake!).
Do you likewise look for the fulcrum of life, that has the ability to lever your life above your present cul-de-sac’s and treadmills, burdens and bondages? Now the Cross of Christ is such a fulcrum, and in preparation for Good Friday it will do us good to be in awe of its peculiar power. The Cross is a veritable power and truth that stands rock-like and safely outside of us, eternal in the heavens. Paul says, ‘For us who are being saved, the cross is the power of God’. The message of the cross has the power to transform us and pull us out of ourselves, into that other world around us where, ‘behold, all things have become new’.
It is in that unique book of Hebrews that this ‘alien’ message is sounded out. Let us turn our minds and hearts there. As we read chapter 6, we hear the writer say, ‘we have this [hope] as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain where Jesus has gone.’ As Jesus took His shed blood into heavens holy of holies, He was completing something on our behalf, doing something eternal and infinite for us outside of us, outside of humanity, outside of the earth and universe, but inside the very presence of God. And what did Jesus do once He had presented His blood as His provision for the responsibilities of all our sins? He sat down, waiting until His return. Oh, the cross of Jesus and the finished work of Christ for the world. Not the wood, or the physical agony, or the supposed magical qualities of the blood of Mary’s son – but the life which He gave up in death as an offering for our sins. He took all our guilt and sin, and having borne the reproaches of God that should have fallen upon us, He accomplished atonement (‘at-one-ment’) and reconciliation and cleansed the heavenly realms for us, once and for all.
The writer in Hebrews clearly states that Jesus has now ‘made purification for sins’ (1:3), has ‘PUT AWAY sin’ (9:26). The Greek word used for ‘put away’ (athetesis) is only used twice in the entire New Testament, here and also in 7:18. In chapter 7v 18 (read it please) it is used in the sense of ‘to set aside’, or ‘abolition’ or ‘set at naught’ – for the Levitical priesthood is no longer necessary, it is obsolete. Through His Cross, he abolished the old ceremonial machinery of the Old Covenant. It is a strong Greek word, with our English ‘abolish’ a fitting equivalent. So in the Cross, Christ absolved and abolished the power of sin. Marcus Dodds says of 9:26, “This was the great object of Christ’s manifestation, the annulling of sin, its total destruction, the counteraction of all its effects’. Hallelujah! Where the Old Covenant called sins to mind by the perpetual and regular sacrifices, He sacrificed Himself, once for all, and thus annulled sin (note: as He made purification for sins plural in 1:3, so here in 9:26 His total victory is over sin singular, that is, sin in its comprehensive and total power. Every word of God is inspired!) Absolute atonement was achieved. No higher cleansing can be reached in dealing with sin. Sin was vanquished, set at naught. The curtain is now torn, man can come in Christ before a Holy Father. Redemption is achieved and effected. What a gospel. Regardless of what sin is still doing in the world of men after that first Good Friday period, something final in Christ has occurred. This we must always preach. What good news it truly it!
Finally, going back to Archimedes. When king Hieron asked him whether a crown of gold made for him actually contained some proportion of silver, the famous scientist was initially puzzled. Then one day as he was stepping into a bath the solution dawned upon him. He was so overjoyed at the solution in his mind, having been rankled by the problem for some time, that he supposedly ran home without his clothes, shouting ‘eureka, eureka’ (Greek for ‘I have found it, I have found it’). Now readers, when you freshly discover the objective Truth of the Cross, and what it means for you and your relationship to God and the world, I would not be surprised if you did similarly!
With love, Pastor Paul