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.
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,
Dear brothers and sisters.
A good few years ago I preached a series of messages called 'Cultural Chameleons', in which I pointed out some cultural values that expose us to the risk of a fatal contamination.
The Word of God exhorts us to keep ongoing vigilance against the ungodly and dangerous assumptions of our culture, saying in 1 John 2:15 'do not love the world or the things in the world'. What this well know Bible verses says is one thing, but what it means for us today is another. In the past few Pastor's Weekly's I have been pointing out some aspects of our culture that we need to sit up and take note of, and immunize ourselves against. The cultural trend I want us to briefly consider is The Time of the Spectator.
Are you not aware of how much today entices us into the position of passive viewing? Consider a filled stadium crowded with observers waiting to be entertained by some event. Today, that spectator-experience is now delivered on-tap for us in our own homes and wherever we go (without the inconvenience of having to physically be at any event). We have access through a variety of media (internet, TV, smart phones etc) to a whole world full of engrossing activities whenever we want. What a time we are living in! I do not so much want to judge what is available for us to watch today, but I want the spotlight of your awareness to fall on how much we are tempted today to take up the posture of the irresponsible spectator before modern media.
This particular temptation is not new (the exponential bombardment is!). In the book of Proverbs the same temptation appeared in a different form. In chapter 7 and 8 the father warns his son not to be enticed by the 'grass-widow' seductress but rather to dearly embrace and follow Lady Wisdom. The 'simple' fool naively follows the attraction that is before his eyes, listens to her promises of 'entertainment' and passively follows where she leads. The father urges his son to choose rather to follow Lady Wisdom, 'who dwells with prudence and possesses knowledge and discretion' (8:12). 'Don't just follow passively what your eyes see son', the father says, 'but rather listen to the voice of wisdom and wise counsel. Guard your eyes and and choose to follow in the path of wisdom'. Though a different time and example, the urgent call of Lady Wisdom for us to responsibly follow in the paths of prudence and discernment is what we so need to hear and obey in our time.
I think that in all that is brought before our eyes today, we need to have 'minds that are alert and fully sober' (1 Peter 1:13) so that 'we may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ' (Philippians 1:10). This translates into subjecting all the media into the position of a good servant, and not allowing ourselves to passively take up the posture before it as a master. It will mean saying No to mind-filleting viewing and Yes to viewing that helps us to better understand our world and our responsibility within it. I personally believe that this must entail more active reading and less passive viewing. Unnecessary 'spectatoring' enfeebles the mind and leads it down the comfortable and wide road that leads to destruction. Necessary reading cultivates and strengthens the mind and leads down the road of life; it engages us in a way that makes us more human not less.
So friend, consider the temptations that are on offer today. Be aware that you need to make a daily responsible choice to engage your faculties more than pamper them. Let us keep our focus on loving and serving real other people in Christ's name, engaging with our families over Scripture and good literature, and keeping vital contact with our Father in prayer. Let us embrace with call of Lady Wisdom today.
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
I have recently started to slowly read through the Journals of John Wesley. After being born again sometime in March 1983, the first church I attended and joined was the Pinelands Methodist Church. I was confirmed and wholeheartedly entered into the good Wesleyan covenant and dedication at my confirmation. From the pulpit I remembered stories of the great founder of the movement and of how his 'heart was strangely warmed' and how his head was strangely cool. Listening to the stories of John Wesley's travels around England and his ardent love for Christ put a holy ambition into my heart of a desire to be used for the Lord in the same way as he was. Though I moved on to Living Hope Baptist Church in 1986, I still carry in me a great love for the Wesley's. To this day I treasure the hymns of Charles Wesley and frequently worship the Lord in terms of the words of his hymn-poems. I don't think that two brothers have given so much to the church of Jesus Christ as John and Charles Wesley.
In a superlative degree John Wesley was a holy man who loved and trusted Jesus Christ with all his heart, soul, mind and strength. I think he personified for us the words of the apostle Peter in his second letter, chapter 1:3-11 in a way rarely found in the church of Jesus Christ. There Peter states that since the Lord has given us everything necessary to lead a holy and godly life, we need to add to our faith virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, mutual affection, and love. "For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive.... and you will never stumble" (1:8, 10). He certainly proved the truth of this Scripture. Historians have surmised that due to the pervasive and trans-formative influence of the Methodist revival in 18th century England, that country was spared a revolution similar to what happened in France in 1789. His influence was out of all proportion to his sphere, and truly, the world was his parish. What did John Wesley put this influence down to? He himself said that 'God had raised the Methodists up to spread Scriptural holiness throughout the land'.
Today, as always, what we need is a church that is characterized by holiness: a manifestation of the character of God in the lives of God's people. As Peter says in verse 1:4, we have the 'very great and precious promises of God so that through them we may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires" . The wonderful promises of forgiveness through the blood and of the Holy Spirit connecting us directly to God is given so that we can be free from sinful corruption and share the moral character of God. We must not receive the grace of God in vain. Purity of life is now possible (no, mandatory) through all the promises that are given to the believers.
Dear friends, let us not squander the grace of God. We must know what has been given to us by grace and also know what is required of us by grace! We must keep our lives free from all hurtful and poisonous behavior. We must keep on walking in love and self-control and righteousness. Don't let the reigns of your life rest on the neck of your flesh. Take hold of the reigns! - and, in the provision and power of all that is given by God, press on into godly lifestyle in all areas. "For if you do these things, says Peter, you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ" (vss 10-11).
Let us remember John Wesley!
Hello dear SBC and friends
The 'minor' prophet with the strange name, Habakkuk, is unique. Rather than speaking to the people on God's behalf as most prophets did, he spoke to God on behalf of the people. He cried out to God in a generation of flagrant injustice and wrong doing. He passionately asked God to bring His justice: to punish evil and restore righteousness in the nation. He found it very difficult to understand how God could tolerate the status quo in Judah (1:1-4). God's answer to his petition (1:5-11) was that He was sovereignly raising up the Chaldeans (Babylonians) on the world scene. The prophet was shocked (1:12-17): the medicine was worse than the cure! Babylonians!! They were themselves a nation even more unjust and wicked than Judah. What solution would that be to the state of affairs! So Habakkuk decided to ask God for more explanation on this unthinkable answer (2:1). God's answer assured the prophet that He would eventually deal with the 'puffed up' nations and those who worship idols, and that God would ensure that 'the earth would be filled with the knowledge of the Lord's glory as the waters cover the sea' (2:2-2:20). This response of God then resulted not in further questioning but in the prophet's prayerful worship (chapter 3). He there gives us a vision of Christ's great coming to this earth to fulfill all that the prophet so longed for and all this inspired book promised (3:3-15). Habakkuk closes with the final victorious statement of what 'living by faith' (2:4) would look like in the time prior to this great coming, when evil would still have free reign on earth (and in particular for Habakkuk, in the time when the Babylonians would destroy Jerusalem (3:16-19):
"I heard, and I trembled within; my lips quivered at the sound. Rottenness entered my bones; I trembled where I stood. [at the news of the Babylonian invasion of Habakkuk's country] Yet I will quietly wait for the day of distress to come against the people invading us [ for God's later judgment the invaders].
Though the fig tree does not bud and there be no fruit on the vines, Though the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, Though the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stall, [projected socio-economic disaster for little Judah with enemy invasion] Yet in the Lord I will rejoice, in the God of my salvation I will take joy.
God the Lord is my strength;
He makes my feet like the feet of a deer;
He makes me tread on my high places"
This is how the prophet knew he could live by faith even when he knew worse times were ahead for him and his people. It is how you and I must also live in the present time, until the glorious coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. And when He does in fact come, may He find us doing exactly this: waiting with joy!