PREACHING THE CORRECT GOSPEL

In our postmodern world the defense of the correct Gospel is of great importance. Paul the Apostle deals with a false Gospel in Galatians. (Galatians 1:6-9)

The same threat which Paul the Apostle faced, is being faced today, according to John D Payne, The Gospel is a manifestation of God’s grace, His favor that is poured without the slightest reference to their merit. Merit is identified by Paul the Apostle as works (Romans 4:1-2).

Paul the Apostle goes on to remind us that God’s love was working in our lives while we were still sinners.

ROMANS 5:9
Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.

We must always remember that a sinner is under God’s judgment and wrath. This language is obnoxious to postmodern thinking.
So often the threat towards a false doctrine comes from within the church. According to J.V Fesko part of the reason for Paul’s alarm
in Galatians is evident, no doubt, that this threat to the Gospel has come from within the church – demons dressed as angels, Martin Luther describes the danger of such a threat:

Here let’s learn to recognize the trick and craft of the Devil. A heretic does not come with the label of “Error” or “Devil” nor does the Devil himself come in the form of a Devil. In fact even the Devil, who impels men to acts of evil, provide them with a covering for the acts they perpetrate or intend to perpetrate. In his fury the murderer does not see that murder is as great and horrible a sin as it is, in fact because He has a covering for it. Lechers (disguising interest) thieves, covetous men, drunkards and the like, have the means to flatter themselves and cover up their sins. Thus the Devil always emerges in the disguise and covering of all his works and tricks. But in the spiritual area,where Satan emerges in guise of an angel or even God himself, there he puts himself forward in very sly pretense and amazing tricks. He peddles his deadly poison as the doctrine of grace, the Word of God, and the Gospel of Christ. This is why Paul calls the doctrine of the false apostles and ministers of Satan a “Gospel” representing “a different Gospel”.

So what is the solution? We as children of God must learn to discern what the true Gospel is and what a false Gospel is. How does one do this? By studying the doctrines of the Bible. I remember when I studied Soteriology (the doctrine of Christ) the professor just passed me. Not being satisfied with the grade, I asked the professor why my grade was so low, and his reply was rather interesting. He said that most Pastors in ministry fail the course the first time round. This was not a comfort to me. As a minister of the Gospel I should know Christology.

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DO I REALLY BELIEVE?

If belief is activated by my will or intellect, there can be no difference between believing in a brand and believing in God. However, when the Holy Spirit activates my will and causes me to believe, faith is infused into my soul. Modern Christianity has made Jesus Christ a product. Many of our modern preachers treat Jesus Christ as a brand.

The doctrine of the immediate operation of the Holy Spirit in the heart of the sinner, who is made capable of being born again (regenerated) and accepting Christ and all His benefits in faith, is foundational to Christianity. Jesus reminds us in John’s gospel that “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (John 14:25-26).

Jesus gave us a promise of the Holy Spirit’s power for regeneration and strength of faith after He had gone back to the Father. When the Holy Spirit has activated repentance in my heart, He causes me to believe in the incarnation, atonement and salvation. Faith is infused in my heart and then I have the capacity to believe. He changes my will. When faith is infused into my soul, my belief-system is changed. I now know that God is stable, reliable and faithful.

You may ask: What is salvation?

Jesus Christ prepares the way of salvation in His work of incarnation and resurrection, and so brings about justification, God the Father acts as the Judiciary who justifies the sinner on that basis. Meanwhile, the Holy Spirit unveils the justification to God’s chosen people. Thus, for Kuyper, Scripture teaches two positive truths, which on the surface to contradict one another, namely:

1. That God has justified us in His own, judgment – sent from eternity

2. That we are justified by faith, only in conversion

(Kuyper, Het Werk Van Dein Heiligen Geest, 463-464)

Thus, from God’s point of view, the believer is justified from eternity, according to God’s own sovereign and eternal council. From the point of view of the objective, justification is accomplished in the resurrection. I stumbled over a great definition by Louis Berkhof on justification: “…As that legal act of God by which He declares the sinner righteous on the basis of the perfect righteousness of Christ” (Berkhoff, A Summary of Christian Doctrine, 111).

The Bible says no man/woman can save themselves. Unless the Trinity is involved in our salvation, we are not Christians. This cheap Gospel that has been marketed by false pastors and teachers, cannot be a marketing tool for a brand.

God bless,

Dr Steve

Authentic Gospel

The Gospel means different things to different people. For many Charismatics, it has little to do with repentance. The emphasis is placed on the individual just believing with his heart and confessing with his mouth.

Most of us have experienced food that has not been prepared correctly. Recently in a restaurant I ordered chicken that had not been grilled for the correct period of time. Being afraid of sending it back to the kitchen, not knowing what a disgruntled chef may do, I took it home in a doggy-bag. I felt cheated that I had to pay for a service and ended up doing it myself.

Well, salvation can never be achieved by what we do. Salvation pertains to everything God has done. God is our soul Chef. He does the calling, regeneration, implanting of faith and adoption. Paul the Apostle reminds us of this in Romans 1:16-17. “16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith,as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

The gospel or the cross of Jesus is an offence to the modern charismatic, intellectual, philosopher and the feel-good Christian. We have learnt from society to present a Gospel that makes Jesus a superhero, or a message that never deals with the core issue every person has to address: sin.

The offence of the cross is simply this: I am condemned and so lost and so hopeless that if Jesus Christ had not died for me, I would never know God, and I could never be forgiven. That hurts, that annoys, that tells me the truth – that I am vile, useless, and a sinner. The natural man does not like these facts. Let’s face the fact that the true Gospel offends the sinner.  Some today would distance themselves and say that God is love, and never deal with the facts. This is an incorrect assumption. Most Charismatics have become managers of their own sin.

I close with a quote from Martin Lloyd-Jones:

“If you tell me you are not ashamed of the Gospel, I have the right to ask you why you are not ashamed of it”.

The reason why we must not be ashamed of the Gospel is that we must be unique, separate, distinct, God glorifying, Christ glorifying, Glorifying the Spirit! Something that no man can say, save he has been called by God’s grace, born-again (regenerated), given a new nature and understands it is all about God and not about man. Finally, salvation begins with God and ends with God. We cannot save ourselves!

 The authentic Gospel is all about an authentic God.

God Bless,
Dr Steve

 

Knowing God

Aside

Dear Fellow Citizen of God’s Kingdom
Greetings!

Knowing God and having the knowledge of God’s outworking in our lives is vital for growing in God’s covenant.

It is important that we know what the object of the knowledge of God is; God can mean different things to different people. Knowing God is something unique, since God Himself is unique. We are not seeking to know just any God, we are seeking to know the Lord Jehovah, the God of Scripture, the God and Father our Lord Jesus Christ. There is nothing more important than knowing God, according to John M Frame.

Jeremiah, the prophet, reminds us of the importance of knowing God. “23 Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, 24 but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.” (Jeremiah 9:23-24).

The Apostle John refers to knowing the true God: “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” (John 17:3).

In our post-modern world where self is God, the knowledge of God is rare. Some speak about knowing, or believing in God, but never take the time to discover the knowledge of God. The Psalmist and Paul the Apostle remind us of how the wicked view God:

In the pride of his facethe wicked does not seek him; all his thoughts are, “There is no God.” (Psalm 10:4)

no one understands; no one seeks for God.” (Romans 3:11).

David Wells speaks vividly of the “weightlessness of God” in many of our churches today. Churches and individual Christians devoted to the service of God often govern their lives by the standard of modern secular culture, rather than by the Word of God. They hear and speak about God, often with enthusiasm, but He makes little real difference to them. But how can it be that the Lord of Heaven and earth makes no difference? This is a great question that John M Frame presents.

The church’s responsibility is that each of its members should seek and know God. We do this by knowing God through His Word and having fellowship with Him. The testimony of Jesus is that He knew Father God. “Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God,” (John 13:3). The Father of Jesus is my/our Father, He is our God. “17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” (John 20:17). We are to call on Him as our Father. “17 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile,” (1 Peter 1:17).

Let us put together some practical steps of knowing God as Father.

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.” (Matthew 6:9).

The word “hallowed” means to declare sacred or Holy, or to honor as holy. This is one of God’s attributes: He is Holy. Begin today, by looking up all the Scriptures on God’s Holiness and start declaring His Holiness.

I look forward in seeing you in church, whereby we are able to grow in God’s knowledge.

God bless,
Dr S Ward

IS CHRISTIANITY INCLUSIVE OR EXCLUSIVE?

I attended a funeral service and a prominent minister in South Africa made the following statement: God is inclusive and not exclusive. This got me thinking, as he did not qualify what the statement meant. 

Did he mean that all religions were inclusive as God is inclusive and not exclusive?

Secondly, did he mean that God loves all people and that all are going to heaven?
Thirdly, is it possible that God has changed from the Old Testament? He elected Israel and Israel was responsible to evangelize the heathen nations. In the New Testament, do we find God or does God find us?

These are some of the thoughts which I contemplated after the service.

This has led me to understand that God is a Covenant-keeping God. John M. Frame shares the following insight: “As Lord, God dwells with human beings through covenants. A Covenant is like a treaty between a great King and a lesser King, in which the great King describes the relationship, imposes law, and promises blessing to those who obey the law, and curses to those who don’t. in the Bible, God made covenants with Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses and David, and with Christ. It is only through this Covenant relationship that we can have fellowship. In other words, we are either in Covenant or out of Covenant. God’s grace came through Christ. This grace is God’s free favor towards sinners on account of Christ.

One must always remember that God was gracious before one transgression was committed. Michael Horton mentions this concept in his Systematics “God would still be gracious and merciful in His essence even if there were no transgressions. In fact, God’s gracious and merciful character does not require that He show mercy to anyone. Rebellion of such a high creature against such a Holy God deserves everlasting punishment. God remains gracious and merciful in His essence, even though the exercise and object of His mercy is determined in absolute freedom. In other words, God is not free to decide whether He will be merciful and gracious, but He is free to decide whether He will have mercy on some rather than others”.

This is fascinating because we often view God from our earthly worldview. God does as He pleases. He is totally free. I don’t think God could be defined as inclusive or exclusive. God is love, grace, righteous, just to name a few of God’s attributes. So we know God through His Covenant.

His grace is undeserved, and mercy is the opposite of what we deserve.

Finally, the Covenant begins in grace and the law follows grace and this law is birthed in love.

God’s blessings
Dr S Ward

ARE YOU A DUALIST?

 

This is an interesting question. Many Christians are dualists without even realizing it.

A dualistic worldview will believe that there are two mutually antagonistic principles in the universe: good and evil. They will also hold to the view that man has two natures: physical and spiritual.

Good and evil do not co-exist, in the same way, a material universe and God does not exist side by side. The God we serve is transcendent. www.bible.org gives us a great definition: “Transcendency is a theological term referring to the relation of God to creation”.  God is “other”, “different” from His creation. He is independent and different from His creation. 

ISAIAH 55:8-9

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

He transcends His creation. He is beyond it and not limited by it or to it.

God created the universe and is far greater than the universe (God is transcendent). God created His universe and His people is for His own glory and pleasure. Isaiah the prophet reminds us of this fact:

ISAIAH 43:7

everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”

God is worthy to receive glory!

REVELATION 4:11

11 “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”

As a Christian, God has revealed His great wisdom and power which is far above anything that could be imagined by any creature.

I trust that we are continually reminded of God’s transcendence and His immanence.

God Bless,
Dr Steve

TRUE GRACE IS NOT CHEAP

Grace has so many different meanings in the twenty first century. From a Biblical perspective, grace is demonstrated by a Holy God showing mercy on an undeserving sinner. This grace which God demonstrates can be easily corrupted. Let’s examine some examples of grace demonstrated in Scripture.

A) The multiplication of grace and peace

God’s grace causes peace and not turmoil and division. Peter paints a picture that reflects the beauty of grace.

1 PETER 1:2
according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.

Peter writes to the Christians who were scattered throughout the Roman province of Asia Minor. He writes to those who had been sanctified by the Holy Spirit and who were living in obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ, that they may experience God-given grace and peace in abundance. This is one of the many blessings of the New Covenant. 

B) Grace explained by a Puritan – Thomas Watson

“The word ‘grace’ has various acceptable uses in Scripture: grace can represent God’s favor. 

GENESIS 6:8
But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. 

Here we see a compassionate God able to help Noah in a time of need. Grace may also be viewed as a metaphor. This is evident in the beauty of creation. James reminds us of this

JAMES 1:11 (KJV)
11 For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth

C) Our early Church Fathers’ view on grace:
Augustine and Theophilact observed the following: “Grace is the infusion of a new and holy principle into the heart whereby it is changed from what it was and is made after God’s own heart. Grace does not make a civil change only, but a sacred one; its biases the soul heavenward, and stamps upon the image and superscription of God” (Thomas Watson, p77).  

D) The means of Grace
Herman Bavinck (2011) reminds us that all salvation and blessedness comes to fallen people via God’s gracious character. Objectively, that grace with all its benefits appeared in Christ, who acquired and distributed them in the way of covenant. The “fellowship” of those who have received Christ with all His benefits is called “the church” or the Christian community. As God’s Christian community we should have His image within us. We are commanded to be Holy.

LEVITICUS 11:44

44 For I am the Lord your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy. You shall not defile yourselves with any swarming thing that crawls on the ground.

1 PETER 1:15-16
15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

Grace should never lead us to unholy practices.

In the New Dictionary of Christian Ethics, the following definition is given: “Grace unites forgiveness and moral absolutes”. The standards of morality and absolutes should never be ignored in our Christian community.

 E) A matter of Grace

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was hanged by the Nazis in 1945, wrote in his book, The cost of Discipleship, that cheap grace is the deadly enemy of the church. He went on to say that we are fighting for costly grace. Grace that is cheap is a grace that doesn’t demand that we become like our Lord and Master Jesus Christ. Costly grace does not appeal to sin or to self. It compels man to submit to the yoke of Christ and follow Him; it is a grace which identifies with Jesus’ command: “My yoke is easy and my burden is light”.

Let us never forget that the most important means of grace is the Word of God.

May God’s grace and peace be multiplied in your life.

 

God Bless,
Dr Steve