Posted by: Veroni Kruger | April 7, 2021

Jesus Christ has risen indeed! So what?

Before I address the above question I want to state categorically that I truly believe what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15.3 and 4:

… that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve.After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.”

Apart from the witness of the Bible as well as other documents, I believe the following facts confirm the truth that He rose from the dead.

1.         The Church that came into existence as a result of his resurrection continues to grow after two thousand years, in spite of tremendous and sometimes even violent resistance.  In fact, the more hostile the environment, the more vigorously it grows.

2.         The Book that was written about Him, is still a bestseller, in spite of countless attempts to destroy it.  The Bible has been translated into more languages than any other book and is bought by more people than any other book. 

3.         Millions of people all over the world declare that He is alive.  They do not base this on “evidence” that can be questioned or challenged, but on personal experience of his life in them.  “I know He is alive, because I spoke to Him this morning”, is what many people say.

4.         Even those who reject Him cannot forget Him.  Every time they use his name in profanity, they are confessing that he is a reality, albeit one they do not like, or whose existence they try to deny.  Why don’t they say “Barak Obama!”, or “Jacob Zuma!” or “Donald Trump!”?  I think it is because Jesus Christ is the greater reality.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is foundational to the Christian faith.  But what does the 

resurrection mean for you and me?

It is the basis of our own regeneration.

Peter writes:

“3 … In his great mercy (God) has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you,who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Peter 1.3-5)

Resurrection proved that the power of God can work in the body of a human being to bring

new life.  Paul states with confidence:

“The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.”  (Romans 8:11, NLT)

The Holy Spirit is not just waiting to impart divine life on the day we are resurrected from the dead.  He is living in believers today and is already imparting God’s power to those who accept it. 

What can I do to ensure his power works in me?

Leviticus 9 tells how the people of Israel received a full revelation of God’s glory.

Moses tells the people to follow God’s commands, “so that the glory of the Lord may appear to you.” (Leviticus 9.6)

Sure enough:  When they had done what God commanded, “the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people.” (verse 23).  “And when all the people saw it, they shouted for joy and fell facedown.” (verse 24)

The commands of God in Leviticus 9 were all about the sacrifices God required for the people to experience his glory.  Thank God, Jesus is our perfect sacrifice through whom we have redemption from our sins and the privilege to experience his resurrection power.  The first step is to accept Him as our Lord and Saviour.  

As children of God we should seek the Lord with all our heart.  He will surely reveal Himself to us in this life, and one day in all his glory.

I will write on the practicalities of this in a future blog.  

Posted by: Veroni Kruger | April 7, 2021

Jesus Christ has risen indeed! So what?

Before I address the above question I want to state categorically that I truly believe what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15.3 and 4:

… that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve.After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.”

Apart from the witness of the Bible as well as other documents, I believe the following facts confirm the truth that He rose from the dead.

1.         The Church that came into existence as a result of his resurrection continues to grow after two thousand years, in spite of tremendous and sometimes even violent resistance.  In fact, the more hostile the environment, the more vigorously it grows.

2.         The Book that was written about Him, is still a bestseller, in spite of countless attempts to destroy it.  The Bible has been translated into more languages than any other book and is bought by more people than any other book. 

3.         Millions of people all over the world declare that He is alive.  They do not base this on “evidence” that can be questioned or challenged, but on personal experience of his life in them.  “I know He is alive, because I spoke to Him this morning”, is what many people say.

4.         Even those who reject Him cannot forget Him.  Every time they use his name in profanity, they are confessing that he is a reality, albeit one they do not like, or whose existence they try to deny.  Why don’t they say “Barak Obama!”, or “Jacob Zuma!” or “Donald Trump!”?  I think it is because Jesus Christ is the greater reality.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is foundational to the Christian faith.  But what does the resurrection mean for you and me?

It is the basis of our own regeneration.

Peter writes:

“3 … In his great mercy (God) has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you,who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Peter 1.3-5)

Resurrection proved that the power of God can work in the body of a human being to bring new life.  Paul states with confidence:

“The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.”  (Romans 8:11, NLT)

The Holy Spirit is not just waiting to impart divine life on the day we are resurrected from the dead.  He is living in believers today and is already imparting God’s power to those who accept it. 

What can I do to ensure his power works in me?

Leviticus 9 tells how the people of Israel received a full revelation of God’s glory.

Moses tells the people to follow God’s commands, “so that the glory of the Lord may appear to you.” (Leviticus 9.6)

Sure enough:  When they had done what God commanded, “the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people.” (verse 23).  “And when all the people saw it, they shouted for joy and fell facedown.” (verse 24)

The commands of God in Leviticus 9 were all about the sacrifices God required for the people to experience his glory.  Thank God, Jesus is our perfect sacrifice through whom we have redemption from our sins and the privilege to experience his resurrection power.  The first step is to accept Him as our Lord and Saviour.  

As children of God we should seek the Lord with all our heart.  He will surely reveal Himself to us in this life, and one day in all his glory.

I will write on the practicalities of this in a future blog.  

Posted by: Veroni Kruger | March 31, 2021

You and Holy Week

We have just celebrated Palm Sunday (see my previous post).  Now we are in what is called “Holy Week”, the week that approached the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.    

A.        HOLY WEEK IS ALL ABOUT JESUS

Some people think it’s all about us – our sin: the power of it, to have caused the death of Jesus.  Of course our sin played a role in it, but it wasn’t the major theme.  To make our sin the major theme, can lead, in a perverted form, to the glorification of our sin.  That, in turn, serves to glorify our flesh.

In the events of Holy Week, Jesus is the main actor:

  • He arranges the procession into Jerusalem with the instructions to his disciples to fetch the donkey
  • He curses the barren fig tree and makes it wither
  • He cleanses the temple
  • He teaches fearlessly in the temple
  • He is the centre of attention when He is anointed at the banquet in Bethany
  • He hosts the Last Supper
  • He comforts his disciples
  • He struggles in Gethsemane, while the disciples are sleeping
  • In the midst of the excitement of the raucous celebration of people welcoming Him to Jerusalem, He weeps over the city.
  • He lays down his life of his own accord, and takes it up again – John 10.17 “The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

He is not the victim of our sin, he is the Initiator and Perfector of our redemption.

Holy Week is all about Jesus:  

  • His love for us – that he died for our sins.
  • His strength – to resist the power of the Jews, of Rome, and of Satan.  
  • His revelation as the Son of God
  • His death and his resurrection

B.        THE PARTICIPANTS

If the few days between Palm Sunday and Easter (someone referred to these days as “seven days without sunlight”) were considered as a democratic process, Jesus lost the elections:

*          His own disciples were unable to support Him in Gethsemane.

*          Judas betrayed him.

*          All the others ran away, deserting Him – one even ran away naked in his haste to get away from the embarrassment and danger of being associated with Jesus.

*          Peter denied even knowing Him.

*          His own people delivered Him to be crucified, preferring a criminal above Him.

*          The (puppet) king of the Jews (Herod, the antithesis of Jesus, true King of the Jews) selfishly sought a miracle from Him and then gave up on Him when Jesus did not oblige.

*          The political and judicial authority of the day (Pilate, Roman governor) made a rather feeble effort to save Him, and then gave in to the demands of the ecclesiastical authorities to have Him crucified. 

*          Creation:  The sun was darkened.  Mere personification?  I think not.  In a manner we cannot comprehend, creation acknowledges the position of Christ:

The sun became dark when He was crucified

There was an earthquake when He rose again – Matt 28.2

*          In the end, everyone turned away from Him.

Luke 23.48 When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away. 

There is another process apparent which is faithful to reality:

*          When everybody deserted Him, a few “who knew him”, stayed with Him.

Luke 23.49 “But all those who knew Him, including the women who had followed Him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.”

Matthew adds some more information:

Matt 27.55 “Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. 56 Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons.”

C.        THE EVENTS OF HOLY WEEK DEMANDED A CHOICE

Jesus always demands a decision, and this became even more important as the dramatic events around his crucifixion unfolded.

Everyone deserted Him!  The crowds who had celebrated his entry into Jerusalem, and even his disciples.   

When all deserted Him, Luke 23.49 says there were only few that stood with Him.  It is important that Luke mentions the fact that the few “were all those who knew Him.”  That may be the key to their perseverance:  That they were in a personal relationship with Jesus.

This week again, as we celebrate Holy Week, Jesus demands a decision.

Do you know Him?

Posted by: Veroni Kruger | March 24, 2021

What Are You Celebrating on Palm Sunday?

 

Sunday March 28, 2021 marks a very important event in the church calendar.  It is celebrated world-wide as Palm Sunday.  It is the beginning of what we call Holy Week, which is the approach to the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Luke describes, along with the other Gospels, the events when Jesus entered Jerusalem in a victorious procession, in Luke 19.28-40.

“After telling this story, Jesus went on toward Jerusalem, walking ahead of his disciples. As he came to the towns of Bethphage and Bethany on the Mount of Olives, he sent two disciples ahead. ‘Go into that village over there’ he told them. ‘As you enter it, you will see a young donkey tied there that no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks, ‘Why are you untying that colt?’ just say, ‘The Lord needs it.’  So they went and found the colt, just as Jesus had said. And sure enough, as they were untying it, the owners asked them, ‘Why are you untying that colt?’ And the disciples simply replied, ‘The Lord needs it. So they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their garments over it for him to ride on. As he rode along, the crowds spread out their garments on the road ahead of him. When he reached the place where the road started down the Mount of Olives, all of his followers began to shout and sing as they walked along, praising God for all the wonderful miracles they had seen. ‘Blessings on the King who comes in the name of the LORD! Peace in heaven, and glory in highest heaven!’ But some of the Pharisees among the crowd said, ‘Teacher, rebuke your followers for saying things like that!’ He replied, ‘If they kept quiet, the stones along the road would burst into cheers!’ ”

WHAT HAPPENED ON PALM SUNDAY WAS A PROPHETIC EVENT 

Palm Sunday is the fulfilment of one prophecy and the foreshadowing of another.

1.         The fulfilment of prophecies in the OT regarding the return of the King to Jerusalem

In Zechariah 9.9 the prophet calls out:

“Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion!

Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem!

See, your king comes to you,

righteous and having salvation,

gentle and riding on a donkey,

on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

In Zechariah’s prophecies, this is the beginning of the restoration of Jerusalem, leading eventually to the consummation of the kingdom of God.  After prophetic words exhorting Israel to repent, and describing judgment and salvation, Zechariah turns to eschatological themes of the unfolding of the kingdom of God, and how that affects Israel and Jerusalem.

In the prophecy in Zechariah 9.9 Zechariah sees the beginning of that process.  

The return of the King of Israel to Jerusalem is fulfilled in the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem on what we now call Palm Sunday.  By this, Jesus is identified as the Messiah, the anointed King who has come to take up his position.  

2.         Palm Sunday is a foreshadowing of the return of Christ in power and glory.

Zechariah also looks ahead to the second coming of Christ, when He will return to Jerusalem as the King not of the Jewish people only, but also of the whole world.  This event is described in Zechariah 14.9:

“The LORD will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one LORD, and his name the only name.”

Revelation 19.11-21 provides more details of that day.

“11 I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war.  12 His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself.  13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. 14 The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. He will rule them with an iron scepter.  He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty.  6 On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:  KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.”

WHAT ARE YOU CELEBRATING ON PALM SUNDAY?

Let us praise God for the joy of Palm Sunday, and welcome the King of  kings into our hearts and lives.  Let us also look forward with joyful anticipation to the fulfilment in the Second Coming of Christ.  

Posted by: Veroni Kruger | March 10, 2021

Jesus or Jonah

Today’s blog draws heavily on Bosch[1], 1980, p50-83.  David Bosch was a missiologist who worked in South Africa, but who was well known worldwide.  My own thinking about mission was deeply influenced by him.  His last work was published in 1991 under the title “Transforming Mission.  Paradigm Shifts in Theology of Mission.”  Although this work is much more comprehensive than the one published in 1980, the earlier work contains, to my mind, the core of what Bosch’s thinking on mission is.  It should be studied by everyone who is serious about the subject.        

The next heading is really the answer to the question:  Why Mission?  The answer to this question is to be found in the biblical perspective on mission.  This goes beyond merely providing a biblical motivation for mission, to also giving the biblical framework against which mission has to be seen.  

THE ULTIMATE GROUNDS FOR MISSION – GOD’S COMPASSION

The ultimate aim of mission is establishing the Kingdom of God.  The first and last grounds for mission are, however, God’s compassion.  These two parameters provide not only guidelines for determining what the nature of missionary activity should be.  They also point to an inexhaustible source of motivation and energy for the missionary task.  This is because both are centred on God himself.  

GOD’S COMPASSION IS UNDESERVED

This fact is illustrated in the election of Israel to be God’s people.

Deuteronomy 7.6-8 emphasizes the special position that the people of Israel have among the nations of the world (verse 6), as much as it lays emphasis on the fact that this position was not earned, but depended solely on the choice of God, and the promises He made to their ancestors (verses 7 and 8).

“6 For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession. 7 The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. 8 But it was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath he swore to your ancestors that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt.”

Ezekiel 16.1-14 describes in powerful figurative language how Israel came into being, emphasizing that the nation had nothing but the compassion of God to rely on for its survival.

The same fact is emphasized in that key verse on salvation in the New Testament:  John 3.16.  Why did God give his only Son?  The answer is clear:  because He loved the world.  In light of the Scriptures quoted above about the election of Israel, the reason for his love will be found only in his compassion for people. 

It is this fact that motivates mission.  The question “Why should we be involved in mission?” needs no further answer than “Because God loves people and has compassion for them.”   

JESUS AND JONAH:  COMPLETE OPPOSITES

Jesus is the perfect example of compassion.  One only has to look at Luke 4.16-30 to see how Jesus identified Himself completely with the compassion of God and saw the fulfilment of his mission in demonstrating that compassion.  None of the groups mentioned would be able to provide any motivation why they should be the objects of God’s mercy, other than the compassion of God.  

Jonah, on the other hand, is the complete antithesis of what a missionary should be.

Called by God, Jonah continues heedlessly to do what he thinks will be best for him (Jonah 1.3 – “headed for Tarshish”).  Mandated with a special message for Nineveh, he is disobedient (Jonah 1.3 – “Jonah ran away from the Lord”).  Although he was well informed about God, he behaves in a manner that is completely foolish (in the storm at sea, and again when the people of Nineveh repent).  He is one of God’s people, yet he is irresponsible (he does not seek God, even when the pagan crew are calling on their gods; what did he think would happen to him after he was thrown into the sea?).

But the climax of Jonah’s disappointing behaviour comes when he is angry with God for being merciful to the people of Nineveh, and then does not understand the lesson God is teaching him through the vine that grows miraculously to shelter him from the sun (Jonah 4). 

The book of Jonah ends in a very unsatisfactory manner, with Jonah’s unforgiving behaviour emphasized by the abruptness of the ending.  The message is aptly summarized in the following poem[2].

ARE WE LIKE JESUS OR LIKE JONAH?

And Jonah stalked
to his shaded seat
and waited for God to come around
to his way of thinking.

And God is still waiting
for host of Jonahs
to come around
to his way of loving.

Let us never forget that we ourselves have been saved saved only by the grace of God, the One “who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.” (1 Timothy 2.4, NLT)


[1] Bosch, David J., 1980.  Witness to the World.   Atlanta:   John Knox Press  

Bosch, David.  1991.  Transforming Mission.  Paradigm Shifts in Theology of Mission.  Maryknoll: Orbis.

[2] “Coming Around” by Thomas John Carlisle, in Carlisle, 1968

Posted by: Veroni Kruger | March 3, 2021

What is Mission?

Last week I wrote about what mission is not.  This week I want to focus on what mission is.[*]

MISSION IS THE RESPONSE OF THE CHURCH TO THE MANDATE GIVEN IT BY JESUS CHRIST IN MATTHEW 28.19, 20.

This verse is known as the “Great Commission,” because it is a concise formulation of the command of Christ to his followers (who were to become his Church), of what they should do with the Gospel.  The first part of the Scripture contains specific instructions (verses 19 and 20a), and the second part a promise that implies authority (verse 20b, see also verse 18).  This is characteristic of a mandate:  it contains both a command and delegated authority.

The instructions Jesus gives his disciples centre on making disciples.  One implication of this command is that they will have to be proactive – this is entailed in the fact that Jesus adds the thought of “going” to the command.  The element of “going” as early missionaries sometimes understood it, is not really central.  Colloquially, Jesus is saying, “Get moving, don’t just sit, start making disciples!”      

Jesus guarantees his presence with the disciples in the work of making disciples in the second part of verse 20.  This also lends authority to their enterprise.  They will have authority, because the One who says of Himself that He has all authority “in heaven and on earth” (verse 18) assures them of his abiding presence with them.  There is tremendous assurance in this, as when Paul says “you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Cor 15.58).  The Good News rendering is more to the point:  “nothing you do in the Lord’s service is ever useless”. 

MISSION IS THE FULFILLMENT OF THE PROMISE IN ACTS 1.8    

Acts 1.8 does not contain a command, but a promise.  Receiving the Holy Spirit will have two consequences for us:  we will have power, and we will be witnesses of Jesus.  Both of these are presented as unavoidable consequences of receiving the Holy Spirit.  It is almost as if Jesus is saying:  with the Holy Spirit comes power; and once you have received that, you will not be able to help being a witness, it will just happen!

Of course, this is exactly what happened on the Day of Pentecost.  Suddenly the fearful disciples were transformed into powerful witnesses.  Peter, who a short time before had still behaved more like Cephas (his name before Jesus gave him a different name) than Peter (the “rock”, the name that Jesus gave him) suddenly became a fearless (and effective) preacher.

In this same way then the church of the Lord becomes Spirit-filled, the (super)natural outcome is unavoidable:  there will be a desire to reach out to those who do not yet know the Lord.  

“MISSION IS THE CHURCH-CROSSING-FRONTIERS-IN-THE-FORM-OF-A-SERVANT” (Bosch, David J, 1980. Witness to the World. Atlanta: John Knox Press, p248).

Attempting to arrive at a conclusive definition of mission, the formulation by David Bosch seems to give one of the best options.  It contains the element of being pro-active (as seen in Matthew 28), as well as defining the basic attitude.  This attitude is best exemplified by Jesus, and therefore should be characteristic of all who want to be his witnesses.  He said He did not come to be served, and in the same way, missionaries should not come as wanting to lord it over anybody, or to impose their own culture or personal habits.  Rather, we should come as servants.  

Frontiers that need to be crossed are any kind of barrier between the Church and non-believers.  These may be social, cultural, political, religious, historical, and language.     

The actual frontier is Rom 3.23.  Wherever there are people who have not yet come to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, there are frontiers that have to be crossed by the Church. 

IS THERE A DISTINCTION BETWEEN “MISSION”AND “EVANGELISM?

The Church has basically two types of unbelievers to deal with:  those belonging to the same group as the membership of the Church in general, and those who are from a different grouping altogether.  These can often only be pictured as being on a continuous spectrum, with the boundaries very difficult to discern.  Extremes would be e.g. the children of church members on the one hand, and people who are removed in all aspects, even geographically.

In light of this distinction, the following formulation makes sense:

Mission “ is whatever takes place from the local Church out beyond its boundaries as opposed to ministry that happens within the local Church” (Unpublished Policy Document, Gauteng South Africa Association of  Vineyard Churches January,1998)


[*] Much of the material in this blog comes from my book “What Has Your Church Become” and from the notes on Mission in the training material for TWFTW Diploma in Bible Translation

Posted by: Veroni Kruger | February 24, 2021

Mission

There can be no doubt that the church is called to mission.  Because it is such an important topic, and because of my own personal calling to mission, I intend to devote the next few blogs to mission.  But first I want to make clear what I understand mission to be.  A good starting point is to define what it is not.      

WHAT MISSION IS NOT    

MISSION IS NOT THE IMPOSING OF ONE CULTURE UPON ANOTHER      

Missionaries have often been guilty of considering evangelising or Christianizing to be influencing the “natives” to be like the missionaries in cultural characterization.  At the base of this approach is the assumption that the culture of the missionary is superior to that of the people among whom the missionary has come to work, and somehow more “Christian.”  It is a racist point of view that has been shown to be false.

The widespread custom among missionaries of teaching the people among whom they work to sing translations of the hymns of the sending culture is a result of this approach.  In Africa at least, and I believe also in other parts of the world, this often leads to church music that is completely unnatural to the indigenous people.  Every culture has its own media of expression, and it is an impoverishment of the people of that culture to detract from those means of expression.      

I would characterize this fallacy as cultural colonialism.

MISSION IS NOT THE EXPANSION OF ANY PARTICULAR DENOMINATION OR CHURCH MOVEMENT

There is nothing wrong with organizing the work of the church along the lines of various groupings, be they denominational or doctrinal or customs.  Effective organization is a powerful vehicle for the truth of the Word of God, and it is unreasonable to try to deny that.  But whatever vehicles we employ, they always remain just that – instruments utilized for the work of mission.  The donkey that carried Jesus into Jerusalem did not become the focus of the events on Palm Sunday, but only to carry the object of people’s admiration.  In the same way, the vehicles we employ in mission must never become more important than mission.  Denominations are useful vehicles for the spread of the Gospel, but should never become the objective of mission.    

Tremendous progress was made as long ago as in the nineteenth century, when Henry Venn and Rufus Anderson coined the phrase “the three-self formula”.  According to this view of mission, the goal of mission should be the building of churches that are self-supporting, self-governing and self-propagating.  Yet, in spite of this formula being ostensibly accepted as a principle for mission in general, there are still organizations that seem to have the expansion of their own particular group as the main focus of missionary activity.  There are movements for whom the call to mission is totally executed through church planting all with the name and characteristics of the planting organization.   

I would characterize this fallacy as ecclesiastical colonialism

MISSION IS NOT “CIVILIZING” PEOPLE

This wrong approach is similar to the first one (that of imposing one culture upon another), yet different in the focus on the individual.  “Natives” are taught to be like the missionary in as many respects as possible.  Early missionaries were often more interested in making people conform to their own standards than to let them know that Christ died for them just as they are.  Clothes were handed out so that the pagans could “cover their shame” even before the Gospel was presented to them.  There is a terrible theological blunder behind all of this, viz. that we need to make ourselves acceptable to God.  This serious theological error has both serious and ridiculous consequences.  It is sad that the Gospel should be so obscured by man-made rules and regulations.  On the other hand, people in large parts of the world are still labouring under the western traditions of ties and jackets for men no matter what the climate is like, because of the impressions left by early missionaries.  The underlying assumption is similar to that discussed under cultural imposition, namely that the culture of the missionary is superior to that of the unevangelized.     

I characterize this fallacy as personal colonialism.

Next week I will write about the reason for mission.  Why should we do mission?

Posted by: Veroni Kruger | February 17, 2021

“It is too small a thing …”

Isaiah 40 begins a series of songs, called the Servant Songs, because they speak of the Servant of the Lord.  The three main servants of God in these chapters are Cyrus (pagan king whom God used to liberate Israel), Isaiah 45.1-4; Israel, Isaiah 49.1-3 and ultimately Jesus Christ, of whom all others are mere shadows, Isaiah 53.3-6.

The Church as the new Israel, and Body of Christ, is the Servant of the Lord in the eschatological sense, that is as playing its role in the unfolding of the history of the world towards the end.

What Isaiah says about the servant

The Servant is called by God – Listen to me, you islands; hear this, you distant nations: Before I was born the Lord called me; from my mother’s womb He has spoken my name. (Isaiah 49.1)

The Servant is given a special message – He made my mouth like a sharpened sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me into a polished arrow and concealed me in his quiver. (Isaiah 49.2)  

The Servant will experience times of despair, but is assured of ultimate victory –  I said, I have laboured in vain;  I have spent my strength for nothing at all.  Yet what is due me is in the Lord ’s hand, and my reward is with my God.  (Isaiah 49.4)

The wider calling

In the midst of all these wonderful things about Israel, the Church, and Jesus, God’s perspective is clear, that is to reach all the peoples of the world:  It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept.  I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth. (Isaiah 49.6)  

This was God’s plan from the beginning, already clear when God called Abram in Genesis 12.1-3, especially verse 3:  All peoples on earth will be blessed through you.

Jesus demonstrated God’s vision, ministering to people outside of the people of Israel.  He ministered to the Samaritan woman (John 4), and the Canaanite woman (Matthew 15).  He promised the fulfilment of God’s worldwide vision in Matthew 8.11:  …many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.

God’s vision went far beyond what was traditionally regarded as the people of God.  

The commission of Jesus to the Church clearly illustrates this again: … you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. (Acts 1.8)  Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations…  (Matthew 28.19.

So to the end, when heaven will resound with the song in praise of Jesus the Lamb of God:  … you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation… (Revelation 5.9)

Israel’s greatest error was that they perceived themselves to be the ultimate objective of God’s plan of salvation. 

“It is too small a thing… (Isaiah 49.6) is what we constantly have to hear and apply, as we struggle with the same, purely human self-centredness as Israel had.  

God’s purposes for his servants are Isaiah 49.6b I will also make you a light for the Gentiles that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.

It is never “enough”, because Jesus came for the next person, the next group, also, until all will have heard.

What are the facts?

  1. You/we are the servant of the Lord, through whom He wants to achieve his objectives.
  2. God’s vision is the entire world – God so loved the world… (John 3.16)
  3. The “world” begins at the unsaved person nearest to where you are – remember the Good Samaritan?
  4. The “world” extends to the unsaved person farthest away from you, and our commission is complete only when that person has also been reached.  (The church in Acts had to be forced to continue fulfilling its commission – Acts 8.1-4 describes the scattering of the church because of persecution.  Through this God was beginning to achieve his purpose of the bigger vision.  Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. (Acts 8.4)

Not all of us are called to go to the utmost ends of the earth.  However, we can still play a vital role in fulfilling God’s vision. 

Let’s get practical

  1. Your life is your most powerful witness
  2. Your word can save people – Romans 10.14:  How then, can they call on the one they have not believed in?  And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard?  And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?
  3. In the “post-Christian society” in which we live, it is your task to speak to Jesus to people who otherwise might never hear about Him.
  4. Your prayers are the irreplaceable means to victory for the Church world-wide.
  5. Your money is God’s financial resources in the world.

THE KEY IS OUR COMMITMENT TO THE CALL OF ISAIAH 49.6

It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept.  I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.

Posted by: Veroni Kruger | February 3, 2021

The Glory of the Lord

Let me say at the outset that the glory of the Lord is indescribable.  It is revealed in countless ways, through creation, salvation history, and too many ways to be mentioned here.  God’s glory will be manifested fully in the new heavens and the new earth.  However, I believe God wants to reveal his glory through each of us.  How that happens, is the subject of today’s blog.

Some would say it is through the working of spectacular miracles.  And yes, that is one of the ways, but to be honest, God does not do mighty miracles through each of us, at least not frequently.  How can He then reveal his glory through us?

Paul writes in Romans 5 that we “boast in the hope of the glory of God”) verse 2.  He says that one of the consequences of suffering in the life of the believer is that we have hope (verse 4).  This hope, he says, does not put us to shame” (verse 5).  In light of verse 2, the hope we have is that we will see the glory of God.  If that hope does not cause us to be ashamed means that we have not been disillusioned in our hope that we will see the glory of God.  Then comes one of the most profound statements in the Bible.  

We have not been disappointed on account of the hope of seeing God’s glory, because we are able to see it in our everyday lives: “Hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us” (Romans 5.5).

The clearest revelation of the glory of God is the love that God pours forth into our hearts.  Maybe the most spectacular miracle is the revelation of God’s love through his people.  It transcends every boundary, be it culture, language, ethnicity, worldview, or any other difference.  It has confounded even enemies of the Gospel when believers under persecution have cried out about their enemies “Lord, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”  To understand its prominence in the sight of God, we only have to remember that it was the love of God that drove Him to sacrifice his only Son, and that the Son declared that the greatest command of all is that we should love God and our neighbour.

I am sure that you experience the love of God in your walk with Him.  I am equally sure that you have experienced his love for others, particularly in those moments when you have felt close to God.

You may ask, “But how can I have more of love?”  The answer lies in the fact that love is part of the fruit of the Spirit, that is, what the Holy Spirit brings about in us.  That in itself shows how important love is in God’s Kingdom.  He has poured out his love in us and wants to continue doing it in ever-increasing amounts.  It is only for you and me to realize how important it is, realize that He has already given us his love, and to allow Him to increase it in our own lives.

Let’s make it more personal.  Paul calls Jesus the “hope of glory” and speaks of the mystery, that “Christ is in you” (Colossians 1.27).  You see, he IS love.                                 

Posted by: Veroni Kruger | January 27, 2021

How Does God See His People

In response to comments on my blog last week, I thought it was necessary to elaborate on how we (should) see ourselves.  This week I want to approach it from another angle, namely how does God see his people.

There is a wonderful account of how God saw his people in spite of the fact that they had disappointed Him.  You can read all about it in Numbers 23.7-10; 18-24; 24.3-9.   

Rather than write a lot about my own thoughts, I am going to let Scripture speak for God.

The key is Jesus

… who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father… (Revelation 1.5,6)  

A.        How Does God See His people?

            What does God think of us?

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.  (1 Pet 2.9,10)

SO WHAT DOES GOD SEE?

1.         A people who are set apart for Him

My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. (John 17.15,16)  

This is what true holiness is:  to be set apart for God – a holy nation.  Sanctification is the process whereby we become more like Jesus.

 2.        A blessed people

The greatest blessing apart from being saved, is the abundant life:  Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive.  (John 7.38,39)

3.         A strong people

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom 8.35-39)  

4.         A beautiful people

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever- increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.  (2 Cor 3.18)

We bear his name (“Christians”) but we also bear his image!

5.         A people with a future

Revelation 22.16 calls Jesus the bright Morning Star.        

Revelation 1.4-7 says He is the ruler of the kings of the earth… coming with the clouds…who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty

B.        But are we really like that?

A resounding “No!”

1.         The point is:  GOD SEES HIS PEOPLE AS HE WANTS THEM TO BE AND WHAT HE KNOWS THEY CAN BECOME!

  • Jacob the deceiver became Israel, father of the Jewish nation  
  • Abram the childless became the father of all who believe
  • A young boy reddish in complexion became David, the greatest king of Israel
  • Simon the one who denied that he knew Jesus became Peter, leader of the Church
  • Saul the murderer became Paul, the great apostle and writer of the largest part of the New Testament.

In the same way: There is no limit to what God can do with you and me.

2.         God has never changed

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Heb 13.8)

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Alexander F. Venter

Live a life of love just as Jesus loved us...

Attempting Authenticity

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Martha Elizabeth Kruger

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