Posted by: Veroni Kruger | April 4, 2016

What Must We Do

“Nero fiddled while Rome burned” describes the attitude of people who either don’t realize what is going on when things are falling apart, or don’t care.  But what are we as Christians supposed to do when we see things around us going wrong, especially in our own country/ies, or in the whole world?

Realize that no earthly governmental system can be seen as the perfect representation of the Kingdom of God

Jesus said his kingdom is not “of this world.”  While we pray that the principles of the Kingdom of God may prevail in our earthly cultures, we realize that no earthly system can ever be equated with the Kingdom of God.  Nor can any nation ever be seen as “the people of God.”  God’s people are to be found in the great diversity of cultures all over the world. Every culture contains something Godly. Yet none can be said to be the embodiment of Godliness. British Israelism, Afrikaner Israelism, American Israelism… – all are a fallacy.

Exercise your dual citizenship

Believers have dual citizenship.  You are a citizen of your country of birth;  you are also a citizen of heaven.

As the citizen of a country you have certain rights and privileges as well as responsibilities.  God expects you to exercise those to the benefit of your own nation and the nations of the world.  Vote and pay taxes are two of these privileges and responsibilities. Never become “so earthly minded that you’re no earthly good.”

As a citizen of heaven you are the sign of the future, representative on earth of King Jesus, possessing authority in Jesus to stand against evil, certain of the protection of God Almighty… You have weapons that “are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.”  Paul says “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God…” 2 Corinthians 10.4,5.  God expects us to use those weapons.  One of the most powerful weapons we have is the weapon of prayer.  Alfred, Lord Tennyson wrote these powerful words: “More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.”

Rejoice in the fact that God controls history, in fact, makes history

He is never caught off guard, never at a loss as to what to do.  The Psalmist writes:

Why do the nations conspire
and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth rise up
and the rulers band together
against the Lord and against his anointed, saying,
“Let us break their chains
and throw off their shackles.”
The One enthroned in heaven laughs;
the Lord scoffs at them.
He rebukes them in his anger
and terrifies them in his wrath, saying,
“I have installed my king
on Zion, my holy mountain.”  Ps 2.1-6)

Look forward with joyful anticipation to the consummation of the Kingdom of God

We are heading to that wonderful day when

“at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2.9-11)

“The joy of the Lord is our strength”(Nehemiah 8.10). Our joy derives from our relationship with Him, and from our expectation that the end will be good. A secular authority (sic) echoes this: In the end everything will be allright. And and if it’s not alright yet, it’s not the end yet (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel).

Posted by: Veroni Kruger | March 26, 2016

Does Easter Have Any Bearing On Racism?

Of course it has!

Jesus died for all humankind, and never made any distinctions between people of any race.

Last week I posted Alexander Venter’s Pledge on Racism and said it provided a good programme for anyone who wants to rid themselves of racism.  Today I want to lend some more assistance, utilising  the main points in the pledge and giving practical tips.  In order for us to rid ourselves of racism, we should do the following:

Examine ourselves to see if we are harbouring racism

In another context, Alexander Venter describes four different kinds of racists.  here are some extracts from his description:

  • Confirmed racists are those who are still prejudiced and are open about it.  The attitudes of this group are hardening.
  • Suppressed racists are those who are still prejudiced, but have suppressed it in the name of political correctness, or keeping-the-peace, or fear of reprisal, or because of self-deception and psychological denial. Recovering racists are those who have acknowledged and faced their racial conditioning—racism is inbred if you were raised in SA—and are taking responsibility for it by consciously working on their thoughts, beliefs, attitudes and actions.
  • Recovering racists are those who have acknowledged and faced their racial conditioning—racism is inbred if you were raised in SA—and are taking responsibility for it by consciously working on their thoughts, beliefs, attitudes and actions. They have dealt with their guilt and are free.
  • Suppressed racists are those who are still prejudiced, but have suppressed it in the name of political correctness, or keeping-the-peace, or fear of reprisal, or because of self-deception and psychological denial. Recovering racists are those who have acknowledged and faced their racial conditioning—racism is inbred if you were raised in SA—and are taking responsibility for it by consciously working on their thoughts, beliefs, attitudes and actions.
  • Pre-racists or innocents are those who are in the pre-prejudice stage—our children. They are the racially innocent people, unless their parents or others have already infected them with their prejudice.
pp.124-125 in Doing Reconciliation – Racism, Reconciliation and Transformation in Church and World. [http://alexanderventer.com/product/bundle-doing-reconciliation/ and http://alexanderventer.com/racist-polarisation-in-sa/

Where do we fit in?  As we all know, self-awareness needs to lead to repentance if it is to mean anything.  The following points are helpful in this regard.  We should:

Acknowledge our participation in our nation’s racism

Our whole nation is suffering under the burden of a national racist legacy.  In order to rid our nation of this, each one of us should admit to the fact that apartheid was an evil system.  Sure, we may not be directly responsible for its legacy.  Nevertheless, we are responsible for how we respond to it today.

Cooperate with the Holy Spirit in bringing about reformation in our own minds and lives

With God’s help we can remove all prejudice from our hearts and minds.  God, whose vision for us is that we should become like His Son, is eager to work with us to make sure we  “do not conform to the (thought) pattern(s) of this world, but (are) transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12.2, parentheses mine).

Undergo a change of attitude

Having renewed minds should result in a change of attitude.  This will lead us to respect the dignity of every individual regardless of race, and we should give evidence of this changed attitude practically, in what we say and what we do.

Take up the correct position

Adopt a position that is in accordance with our changed attitude.  We should see ourselves as standing in solidarity with victims of hatred and violence.  This means we identify with them rather than watching from a distance what is happening.  Does news of bad things happening to people of races other than our own touch us as intensely as when the same things happen to people of our own race.

Allow all of the above to manifest in our daily lives

Changed attitude and assuming the correct position should manifest in our daily lives.  We may find that we are so accustomed to using certain expressions (e.g. “… typical of such and such a group/race, isn’t it?”) that we have to watch closely what we say.  I recommend we ask close friends and acquaintances to help us here by lovingly making us aware where we follow old habits of expression and behaviour.

We will also find it necessary to speak up in situations of prejudice, racism and exploitation of any persons.  This becomes very difficult where we feel threatened by what other people may think and even do to us, e.g. in public.  (Have you considered how those who are being disrespected or exploited feel?)  It also becomes difficult when we are in a close relationship with the perpetrators of racism.  We need real wisdom from above to know how to maintain relationships while asserting non-racist principles.  Biblical advice on this is to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4.15).

We have the privilege to be involved in the ongoing dialogue on racial equality in our country.   To be effective in this, we should learn to listen and join the dialogue  with patience, understanding and respect. This means active participation at all levels – personal, social, religious, and civil.  You can make a difference!

Posted by: Veroni Kruger | March 19, 2016

Racism: The Battle For Our Minds

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(Alexander Venter on Facebook)

In the battle for our minds, there are a number of “pet” avenues by which Satan attempts to seduce us. Many of these are the result of selfish ambitions. Others derive from fear. Racism is a combination of these two negative feelings. It rests on the premise that my particular race is superior to all others. It feeds on the fear that my race is doomed to at best deprivation, and at worst extinction, because of oppression by another race/s.

Racism is alive and well in many countries in the world. Right now, it is like a disease in South Africa that threatens our very existence.

What should we do about this? We could give in to Satan and surrender ourselves to a totally destructive force that will ultimately annihilate us. Worst still, it will bring complete estrangement between us and God. That is, by the way, what hell is, and we may bring it upon ourselves to experience it in this life already. On the other hand, we could ask ourselves what Jesus thinks about it, and align our thought patterns to His thoughts.

Jesus made no distinction whatsoever between people of different race, shocking many of the traditionalists in his time by associating with Samaritans, the race most despised by many of Jesus’s own race. Paul, great propagator of the Gospel of Jesus Christ makes an emphatic statement in Galatians 3.28: “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

The pledge above provides a plan to guide us as we divest ourselves of racism. I have pledged to follow these guidelines, and I want to invite you to do the same. You will see that it will bring freedom such as you may never have thought possible. Best of all, Jesus will be with you each step of the way as you rid your mind of the baggage of racism.

Posted by: Veroni Kruger | March 13, 2016

Ridding Our Minds of Baggage

From last week’s blog:

Among the practical suggestions on how to win the battle for our minds, I mentioned that we should recognize interference and deal with it. I mentioned as interferences: disappointments, hurts, failures, etc.

By interferences I meant things that might affect our progress towards getting our minds into line with the thoughts of God, rather than the worldly thoughts that keep us from enjoying the riches God has for us. They often withold us from thinking clearly.

How do I deal with interferences?

Acknowledge them

Each of us has a history that is, unfortunately, not all pleasant. We have to deal with them in order to remove them from our path towards freedom to think the thoughts of God. A first step towards dealing with these, is acknowledging them. Too often we are told to just deny them “in faith.” After all, Jesus has made all things new, not so? This is not to deny that truth, but to say that our brains are said never to forget anything. We do not need to fear anything, least of all events from our past. Acknowledging them robs them of a large part of their power over us.

Analyse them as clearly as you can

It is very helpful for me personally to visualise putting whatever I have identified as an issue on the table and to study it from all angles. Yes, it is often hurtful but that only shows how necessary it is to deal with it. The more we can understand what it is that is bothering us, the better we can deal with it.

Allow the light of the Word of God to shine on the issue    

Next, visualise the light that comes from the Word of God to illuminating the issue. The Bible contains something on everything humans can experience: Hurts, failures, disappointments … as well as advice on how to deal with them. Not all of this is easy to accept, like the advice to freely forgive whoever has wronged us.

Commit it all to forgetfulness

Visualize throwing the whole thing in the trash can in the Name of the Lord Jesus. He is the expert in doing this (see what He does with our confessed sins), so He is a powerful partner in this step.

Repeat these steps until the issues become harmless history

It is often like peeling an onion, where you may think you are done with something, only to discover new aspects that need to be dealt with.   The secret is to continue following the steps until the event or experience becomes like a piece of history that does not affect you emotionally at all.

Keep short accounts

Do not allow any “new” experiences to encroach on your freedom. Apart from cultivating the postive lifestyle I advocated in my previous blog, be careful not to do something you might have to repent of afterwards; deal with any new experiences in the manner described above.  If something arises, try to sort it out as soon as possible with the  other party.  If that proves to be impossible, forgive immediately.

The Word of God on This

Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free (John 8.32)

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed (John 8.36)

Posted by: Veroni Kruger | March 8, 2016

The Primary Battlefield For Christians Is Their Own Minds

All Christians know that we are involved in a great war

This battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6.12).

What we often miss, though, is that the primary battlefield is our own minds

The Conflict Every Christian Experiences

Paul describes this conflict aptly in Romans 7.15-25:

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; … but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.

You might say it’s the battle between good and bad, ultimately between God and Satan.

BUT: There is no more battle between God and Satan – Satan is overcome in the epic battle fought at the cross and the resurrection, where Jesus won the victory. 

The battleground has shifted to the human mind.

Satan can attack us physically – although most physical diseases have physical causes, like aging, bad habits, lack of exercise, etc. Satan can attack us in our spirits, but then comes face to face with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit dwells in the believer, and is where your spirit is – quite an enemy for Satan to take on! The mind is the most accessible avenue for attacks by Satan

It is a fallacy that all who become followers of Jesus are free of any further attacks by Satan. It is true that when we are born again, our spirit becomes the home of the Holy Spirit. Our physical life (in our own bodies and in our behaviour in the world) is determined by what is in our spirit. However, everything is filtered through our minds. That is often where the problem is.

James describes a particular aspect of the fruit of this battle (James 3.9-12)

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water

The essential question is: How can people who have been born again and sincerely want to follow Jesus still not always do the right thing?

The answer is: It’s all in the mind

This is what Jesus said to Peter when he unexpectedly did the wrong thing. “…you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” (Matthew 16.23). I would paraphrase it as “Your mind is where the problem is!”

Peter As Example Of the Battle For The Mind

 Peter was called by Jesus from his career as fisherman – Mark 1.16-18. Notice the prompt response of Peter. Also, he must already have had an inkling of who Jesus was. Luke’s more elaborate account of this incident says that Peter fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man” (Luke 5.8).

Peter received the revelation that Jesus is the Christ – the first human who received this, except maybe Mary.   Matthew (16) recounts Peter’s confident answer to the question of who Jesus is: “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

And yet

Immediately afterwards Matthew describes Peter’s big mistake that made Jesus rebuke him as Satan. Refusing to accept Jesus’s prediction of his suffering, Peter rebukes Him. This leads Jesus to say to him “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.

The problem is in Peter’s mind: Jesus says Peter thinks the thoughts of humans and not those of God

The pattern continues:

After three years of being in training with Jesus, he denies knowing Jesus – another slip of the mind!

He is a witness to the empty grave – yet goes back to his livelihood when Jesus does not show up quickly enough after the resurrection (John 21.3).

He receives the baptism of the Holy Spirit – yet makes another mistake in reasoning, so that Paul rebukes him as hypocrite (Galatians 2.11-14).

The key to understanding Peter’s struggle: The battle for the mind

The Same Kind Of Battle Rages In Our Own Minds

 The origin of that battle

The battle originates in the desire of Satan to counter the authority of God in people’s lives. The alternatives are Satan who wants to control our minds, and God, who wants us to enjoy the freedom Christ bought for us.

Kinds of attacks we suffer in our minds:   

Here are some:  Fear, unbelief, negative thoughts, false gods like materialism and selfish ambition, aggression, unforgivenes,

How can we counter these attacks

Paul focuses on Jesus as the one who can lead us to victory:

Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Rom 7.25)

But because it’s in our minds, we CAN do something about it. As human beings, we have control over our own minds.

Peter writes about this in 1 Peter 1.13

Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober (NIV Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober), and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ (KJV)

(“Gird up your loins” refers to the ancient practice of tying up long, loose clothes so that they were more practical when you are working or travelling.)

Was Peter thinking of what Jesus said to him about his thoughts?

Some practical suggestions on how to win the battle for our minds

Cultivate a lifestyle of submission to God

Spend regular time in prayer

Recognize “interference” by e.g. disappointments, hurts, failures, etc. and deal with them.

Avoid bad input – press, TV, advertisements, destructive company, harmful reading matter. All of these render us vulnerable to a bombardment of worldly wisdom.

Study Scripture – the most effective way of countering the bombardment of worldly wisdom we are subjected to.

Establish correct thought patterns by avoiding negative words and expressions.

Our way of thinking must be adapted to that of God – remember what Jesus said to Peter: you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.

A man’s mind may be likened to a garden, which may be intelligently cultivated or allowed to run wild; but whether cultivated or neglected, it must, and will, bring forth. If no useful seeds are put into it, then an abundance of useless weed seeds will fall therein, and will continue to produce their kind.”
― James AllenAs a Man Thinketh

South Africa Is In The Midst Of A Battle

This battle manifests itself in politics, economy, education, and security etc.

This is a spiritual battle, but it’s all about capturing the minds of South Africans.

Of course, as citizens we need to play our role in all of the areas in which we have civil responsibilities, privileges and avenues of legal involvement.  But as Christians we also need to recognize the nature of the battle and act accordingly. Even in terms of our country, what is needed is a change of mind. If we can all have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2.16) how different would things be. That needs to start with each one of us. Before we ask “What would Jesus do?” we need to ask “What is Jesus thinking about this?”

Posted by: Veroni Kruger | June 29, 2015

Gay marriage?

On January 20, 2014 the title of my blog was “What should the church do about gays?” At the time I wrote:

“The church can no longer avoid the issue. Some have responded by becoming more legalistic about it, like my friend who denied his son access to their home “until you are straight again” (sic!) and the pastor who denied a professing gay membership in the local church. There are others who have come to the conclusion that gay relationships are quite in order from a Biblical point of view.”

The issue has become even more critical now, with the US Supreme Court’s decision on gay marriage.

As a Bible-believing follower of Jesus, I want to present the following perspective. Note: “Bible-believing follower of Jesus” means I am just human, and therefore cannot pretend to speak the definitive word on the issue.

1. The Bible categorizes the gay lifestyle as being sinful

In spite of many efforts to explain away the severity of Scripture’s judgment of the gay lifestyle, I have yet to be persuaded that the Bible does not condemn the lifestyle outright as being contrary to God’s will and determination for mankind.

2. Condemning the lifestyle does not imply condemning the people who engage in it.

There are two sides to this. Christians unfortunately often err by confusing the practice for the people, thereby condemning the people. It is completely unbiblical for anyone to judge anyone else. Maybe partly because of this too common error on the part of Christians, gays often interpret proclamation of Biblical principles as being condemnatory of the persons in itself.

3. Explaining that any lifestyle is sinful (according to the Bible) without providing a “way out” is completely ineffective.

In my previous blog on this topic, I wrote: “Let us create an environment in which everyone may feel free to worship God with us, trusting God to work in people’s lives to make of them what He wants them to be.”

Now I want to say: If we truly believe the gay lifestyle is not what God wants for people, let us provide some help to gays to find their way out of the lifestyle. Some would say “If they would only commit their live to Jesus …” Others would say it is only a matter of making the right decision. One could add a multitude of Christian clichés to the list of “remedies”. But let’s be honest that there are complications involved that we have not even begun to understand, physical, emotional, psychological, social…

The church should provide assistance in all areas. We should start with acceptance of the person, born of the love of Jesus for all people, and the grace of God, tempered with the realization that we all are after all, sinners. This precludes any form of judgment on the person. Follow this with a sincere effort to understand and to help to understand through counseling, employing the best counseling skills available. Undergird all of this with a support base of prayer trusting God for the miracle of transforming lives into what his ideal is for all of us – that we may become more like Christ.

Who knows but that with a good dose of humility we “may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge” and “be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Eph 3.18,19).

Posted by: Veroni Kruger | April 17, 2015

Association of Vineyard Churches in South Africa on Xenophobia

Go to this link for a prophetic statement

http://alexanderventer.com/avc-sa-statement-xenophobic-violence-in-sa-15-april-2015/

Posted by: Veroni Kruger | March 31, 2015

What Did Jesus Do The Day After He Was Crucified?

Gospel accounts only mention authorities fearing His prediction that He will rise again, and sealing the tomb. However, the Bible is such an amazing book that that one can glean information from other Scriptures.

1 Pet 3.18-19
18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.
19 After being made alive, he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits

What would Jesus have announced? The following Scriptures tell of a theme of the preaching of Jesus. It seems reasonable that He would have spoken on the same theme when He entered the world of the dead.

Matthew 4.12-17
When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he withdrew to Galilee. Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali— to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah:
“Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali,
the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan,
Galilee of the Gentiles—
the people living in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
a light has dawned.”

17 From that time on Jesus began to preach, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.

Mark 1.14-15
After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”

Jesus announced in the world of the dead that the kingdom of God had dawned.

Revelation 1.18 is also relevant.
“I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.”

A picture comes to mind: Jesus entering the world of the dead, announcing that the Kingdom has come, and saying: “You’re looking at the King!” Then demanding the keys to the world of the dead from Satan.

An illustration from the Old Testament, where David is a prototype of Jesus:
But David said to Saul, Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. (1 Sam 17.34-35)

Jesus entered the lair of Satan and defeated him!

Consequences For Us:

Believers need have no fear of death
1 Cor 15.52-57
For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true:“Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Believers need have no fear of evil spirits
They all know about the announcement!

For Bible Readings for Holy Week, go to http://www.twftw.org

Posted by: Veroni Kruger | January 12, 2015

Drastic Times Call For Drastic Measures

There can be no doubt that we are living in drastic times:
* The truth is being attacked from all sides:
* Increasing secularization is making it seem old-fashioned and foolish to persevere in faith.
* Within the church the truth is being compromised increasingly in a false attempt to be acceptable.
* The Gospel is often diluted because the cross of Jesus Christ is even more of a disgrace today than it ever was before.
* There is an Increase of violence all over the world.
* Adherents of lslam are increasingly militant.
* Almost everyone is experiencing economic pressures.

What are Christians to do in these times?

We should realize that we are radical people with a radical beginning and expecting a radical outcome. Therefore our conduct must be radical.

The radical outcome
Jesus will come as the King of all Kings. Every knee shall bow before Him and every person confess that He is Lord and Christ. The Kingdom of God will be consummated, meaning everyone will know that God is God and He alone.

We are heading for the radical manifestation of the kingship of God, that will last for eternity. The end of all resistance, the sterilization of the powers of evil, the termination of all suffering, the achievement of God’s ultimate purposes with creation. The fulfillment of what Paul calls the “Hope of Glory”.

The radical beginning
There are many different ways in which people find God, but one thing is certain: there needs to be a commitment to begin with. This entails the realization of lostness without God, confession of sins, acceptance of Christ Jesus as the Saviour, and a decision to serve God.

This decision is blessed by God through granting us to be born again, that miracle of becoming a new creation through the work of the Holy Spirit. Being born again is a radical transformation of a person’s inner life. The Bible says it is as radical as exchanging a heart of stone for a heart of flesh. It includes receiving the law of the Lord in one’s innermost being. That means we are given a desire to obey God. Where before we wanted to live lives dedicated to ourselves, we now find we want to please God.

A RADICAL COMMITMENT TO JESUS CHRIST BRINGS ABOUT THE RADICAL TRANSFORMATION OF OUR INNER BEING, RESULTING IN THE TRANSFORMATION OF OUR ENTIRE LIFE!

The radical lifestyle

We hold fast to the faith.
Hebrews 10.38 “… my righteous one will live by faith.”
We are strange people, who live with view to a future you can only expect by faith, who obey a God you can only know by faith. That is our strongest weapon, to live by faith. Paul says “we live by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor 5.7) That is why we are able to live by the paradoxical comparisons in 2 Cor 4.7-10:
7 “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 4.8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 4.9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 4.10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.”

We are called on to persevere.
Hebrews 10.36 “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.”

By God’s grace and the power of the Holy Spirit, we can press forward regardless of what circumstances may bring. We have the assurance that our perseverance will bring rewards: “Therefore, …stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Cor 15.58).

There may be persecution, in fact more probably than not.
At least some of us experienced degrees of persecution at the beginning of our lives as Christians.

Hebrews 10.32
Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering. 10.33 Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated.
10.34 You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.

A radical Christian lifestyle may bring about persecution.

How Will We Be Able To Do This?

* The Word of God is the only never-changing thing in the lives of humans.

If we build our lives on the Word of God as it appears in the Bible, we have a secure foundation for our whole life.

* The Holy Spirit is God in the world today: Empowering, inspiring, leading, protecting.

Jan Pit, at the time International Director of Open Doors ministry, once declared that the only churches that will survive the future are the Pentecostal churches. He was not talking about denominations, but about churches and believers who allow the Holy Spirit complete freedom in their lives.

what has your church become

5. “A Fellowship Centring on the living Christ”

Richard Halverson, former chaplain of the US Senate is quoted as making the following profound statement.
“In the beginning the church was a fellowship of men and women centring on the living Christ. Then the church moved to Greece where it became a philosophy. Then it moved to Rome where it became an institution. Next, it moved to Europe where it became a culture. And, finally, it moved to America, where it became an enterprise.”4

If the church is a group of believers around the person of Jesus Christ, its very existence is dependent on the grace of God. In the core of the description lies the fact that it is only by faith in Jesus Christ that one may become a member of the church. The church only exists by virtue of its relation to Him and those who are in that relation are believers. It is faith alone that brings them into any relationship. Any consideration of deserving works is absolutely excluded.

There is therefore no room for legalism or arrogance, even of the spiritual kind. Spiritual arrogance is a feeling of superiority based on supposedly better doctrine or higher degree of sanctification, or whatever aspect of one’s Christianity one perceives as justification for considering oneself to be better than others. It is only through Jesus Christ, and by faith in Him, that we can be members of his church. Nothing else will do. Nothing we do other than believing in Jesus Christ can obtain for us the privilege of being part of his church.

To understand … the characteristic of being Christ-centred, it is necessary to refer to the sociological distinction between different kinds of groups. The two that are most clearly opposite are the “centred-set” and the “bounded-set” models. (For a detailed description of these two models as well as a third possibility, the so-called “fuzzy-set”, and how they apply to church life, see Alexander Venter, Doing Church Building From the Bottom Up, 50-58)
In the bounded-set model, the group is defined by outside boundaries. These can be any kind of characteristics that are used to distinguish the members of the group from all others. The distinction is between the “we” group and the “they” group. Everything in the relationship with anybody outside of the bounded group is defined in terms of this distinction.

In churches that exist as bounded models, the boundaries may be social, liturgical, or doctrinal. The people who belong to the church are characterised by a certain lifestyle, usually regarded by the members of that church as being “holy” or sanctified.

The members of such groups generally use “holy” incorrectly, with the meaning of “blameless” or “sinless” . (This incorrect interpretation of the concept “holy” is not limited to groups such as these, but occurs widely among Christians.) Only God can be holy in this sense. People are sanctified through the redemptive work of Jesus Christ, when this is accepted by faith. The correct application of the word “holy” to human beings is that of being dedicated to God.

Avoidance of certain activities or foods etc. is often employed to denote the members of the group, and all who do not live by these “principles” are considered outsiders. Certain rituals or activities that once again distinguish the members from other groups characterise meetings. It is usual, of course, for groups that meet with any regularity to have a certain ethos. However, in the church this unavoidable phenomenon should never be allowed to determine the characteristics that are conditions for membership of the group, or are considered to be indications of superiority. They are then obstacles to, rather than facilitating factors for, the development of that group as part of the church of Jesus Christ.

The church should rather strive to follow the centred-set model. In the centre should be none other than Jesus Christ Himself. Christ-centred churches are just that: Christ-centred. The dynamics of the church centre on Christ, his Person and his work of redemption. He is the reason for the group’s existence as well as the motivation for their activities. He is also their source of energy. In this sense, the church and churches are a microcosm, as it were, of the universe. The church and its manifestations fit the Biblical description of creation as having been “created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1.16, 17). It is in this context that Paul speaks of the relationship between Christ and the church: “And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the first-born from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy” (Colossians 1.18).

In this model, the requirement for membership is the commitment to strive toward Christ. There is no stage indicated where a person is “officially” recognised as belonging to the church. What members require of each other, and what the church serves to encourage, is following Christ. This is all done in the realisation that nobody is perfect and that everyone struggles with his or her own weaknesses. Everyone’s hope is in Christ alone, who is known to be the only one who can perfect the saints, first by faith and then by the process of sanctification.
There are two things that are eliminated by adherence to this model: the focus on what is considered to be “absolute” sins, and the arrogance often experienced among Christians.

The former is a phenomenon that often occurs among minority groups in the church. I mean by this movements that do not consider themselves part of the mainstream in any particular tradition. In what is apparently related to their struggle for recognition and/or the right to exist as a separate group, they often identify particular transgressions that they emphasise radically. Abstention from these sins then becomes the badge of belonging to that group.

The serious fallacy in this phenomenon is the shift of focus away from the person of Jesus Christ to things, whether they are objects or practices. Given the fact that our only hope is Jesus, it is easy to see that focusing on anything else leads to distraction at the least, and destruction at the worst. Of the people of Israel it is said that they “followed worthless idols and themselves became worthless” (2 Kings 17.15). We become like the ideals we set for ourselves. If the ideal is Jesus, we will become like Him. If the ideal is some other, materialistic or pietistic ideal, we will become as shallow as that ideal.

God’s ultimate purpose for us is to become like his Son. Paul states this clearly in Romans 8.29: “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son.”

I want to return now to the quote from Halverson. As long as the church continues to be a “fellowship centring on the living Christ”, we will be achieving what is God’s ultimate ideal for us, namely to be transformed to be like Jesus. Focusing on anything else will merely lead to our becoming like whatever it is we focus on.

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