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Msindisi Newsletter #74

October 25, 2010


NUMBER:      74.       NOV 2010

PO BOX 1481
+27 (0) 728311008
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Dear Friends and family,

Well, please excuse us for writing this newsletter not long after the last one was written. This is because we are taking the opportunity to access time and power where as all next week and possibly the week after we will be too busy to write one. So here we go. The first thing we would like to praise the Lord for is that Phumulani has passed his driving test. This has brought him much joy and gives him enough qualifications to be an apprentice mechanic if that is what the Lord wants for him to do and is the direction that he wants to pursue in the future. He is so very happy about this and it has been a hard slog to get to this point. He has been so very busy once again in the last couple of weeks tearing down one room of his hut and re-roofing his bedroom. Salvi and he have started preaching in an area called KwamaBokkie which lies between Eastmine and Alpha. Yesterday we had Olaf and Charnel visit us after they attended the Baptist Church service in Vryheid where a 17 year old zealous young man got baptized. Thank the Lord for this report. The last month has seen battles with the congregation members’ lives and the bible study. After Mr Khumalo got baptized his wife suddenly decided to start going back to the old church. The problem with this is that they look after an old blind gentleman who needs someone to be at home. So for two Sundays Mr Khumalo was stuck at home unable to attend the church meeting. Last Sunday, also, Jabulani had all his chickens stolen in the morning and had to go to the police. Thus, this Thursday, Salvi did a teaching with them concerning the trials of the faith – Satan’s purpose in them and God’s. This Sunday they were both able to attend and Mr Khumalo shared with Salvi that he is so glad he is saved and has had joy in his heart. One of the lady’s in the bible study group had a little debate with bible teachers at an end time’s seminar where the teachers apparently were saying that we are not waiting to be glorified, we are already glorified. She asked questions, including, ‘what about carrying our cross.’ Apparently the bible teacher said that people are putting too much emphasis on the cross which rang huge alarm bells for her. The blessing was that she felt empowered only by using the word of God and that is a blessing for us to hear.

Salvi has started preaching the gospel in a brand new area in Ngenitsheni and the hearers are looking forward to our return next week. With the bible study Salvi has just completed looking at the Olivet discourse from the perspective that Jesus was addressing His disciples as Jewish believers awaiting the return and redemption of the Lord. Di has just finished painting Gogo’s hut a terracotta colour with a black strip at the bottom. The outside toilet still has some teething problems with plumbing but the glass is in and the door is almost put on. We thank the Lord for His supplying of this for the Kraal we live in. Di’s Zulu has suffered in the past number of weeks. For her it is like the never ending story but she has come a long way since we moved into the area that it is easy to forget the progress when it has seemed to come at a snail’s pace.

This coming month we are expecting visitors next week from Truth Ministries in Johannesburg. Shaun and Tony have visited us before and are such an encouragement to us. Phumulani loved their visit as the always made him laugh. In December we hope that Mujuru and Abel from Elijah ministries, Johannesburg will be visiting us for a few days. They are lovely brothers in the Lord who have come out of error and are well established in the truth. The Lord has used Mujuru in the lives of some people to pluck them out of the fire also. Next week we will also visit our friends Olaf and Charnel in Piet Retief and seek to encourage them. Just before we reach them we will do our last Care Bear Pre-school assembly for the year. We had to pop in today and it was a joy to hear the children singing ‘hallelujah hosanna’ which we have sang with them on every visit.

We just want to thank you all for your prayers and involvement in our lives and ministry here. All glory to the Lord for His salvation and grace in and through us.


CHAPTER 2:1-11

The Preservation of the truth.


Last time we looked at 1 John, you will remember that John was written against a backdrop of Gnosticism. Gnostics believed that everything physical was inherently evil. They would either despise all physical pleasure or believe that you could do what ever you please because, although the physical realm was evil, it was your spirit that would be saved and your spirit cannot be tainted by the physical. Because of this ‘doctrine’ the Jesus that these Gnostics believed in was different too. Because the physical was totally evil, Jesus could not have been fully God and fully man. He either had to have been fully God, who only appeared to be a man, which doctrine was called ‘docetism’; or He was only a man who received ‘the christ spirit’ at His baptism. Thus he was a lesser God. These Gnostics did not build their theology on the writings of the apostles but they boasted a more direct line to God through initiation rites into secret levels of knowledge. They took their stand on visions and dreams. The scripture is pro visions and we should never despise visions or prophesy. If we do we grieve the Holy Spirit. Nevertheless, we are never to take our stand on someone’s vision or dream. The only visions we can take our stand on are those which are recorded in the scriptures. If a vision is from God it will never contradict the plain meaning of scripture. Even with something strange that God may command someone to do, God will never contradict his own character. When God commanded Hosea to marry the woman of harlotry, it was the woman who committed harlotry and never Hosea. God can never be tempted by evil nor does He tempt any one to commit evil.

Last time we also saw that John is like the protective father who loves his children and would be cut up over the down fall of his children. He speaks out of love but John’s love is a tough love. This is why John seemed so harsh against Gnostics like Cerinthus. They were teaching it was good and perfectly acceptable to sin, because it does not affect your salvation. John replies that they cannot hold onto this teaching and the teaching of the bible. We cannot follow Christ and follow sin. But John is also gracious and acknowledges our fallen state. He knows we stumble and when we do he says we have an advocate with the father, someone to plead our case. But we have no case, we are just plain guilty. That is right but Jesus has a case, He is our propitiation. This says John who saw Jesus in the flesh and spent time with Him. Note when John claims apostolic authority in the first chapter, he does not claim it individually. (1 John 1: 4 – 5), but he acknowledges that there is a body of apostolic authority. He is not saying, ‘I have a Word from the Lord’. He says ‘We collectively have received it’. But the Gnostics had the secret knowledge, that is above the likes of you or me, so how can we know who is right? And this is what the next chapter is dealing with.

Read chapter 2.

Notice how often the word ‘know’ is mentioned in this chapter. If I have counted right it is contained in this chapter 12 times. You see the Gnostics claimed they had ‘the knowledge’ but John tells us, ‘no they do not… this is how you know’. It is not through initiation rites or by visions and dreams. 1 John 2: 3 is very practical. How can we be sure that we know God? We know that we know Him when we obey Him. Is that meaning that we obey His visions and His personal words or to obey His commandments? We know that we know Him when we obey his commandments. And where would we find those commandments? We find them in the bible. It is not superhuman revelation we need. God’s commandments are not like quantum physics or mechanics. We do not have to bend our minds to get round this. Just take heed to what Jesus says in his word and do it. Commandments are to do with Law. We follow the Law of God and this Law is manifested to us through Christ. John is saying this, ‘This is the test of knowing God and this is what eternal life is about. It is not how many revelations, visions, prophesies, tongues or miracles you have seen or done, it is about obedience’. You see the Gnostics regarded the main problem as being ignorance and without the special revealed knowledge, mankind could not be saved. People today may argue the same. ‘Well the scripture does say in Hebrews 3: 19, ‘So they were not able to enter because of unbelief.’ Maybe ignorance is the problem’. But the bible does not teach us that unbelief is due to ignorance, but rather unbelief is due to our rebellious nature that does not want God to be in control. Instead our unbelief is due to our pride and this pride is very apparent in the boasts of the Gnostics. Hippolytus writes of a guy called Marcus who boasted that the Tetrad, (a god type being – which some would call mother earth, or the Holy Spirit or Sophia – think of the angel wisdom) would visit him in female form, because the world could not bear the male form of this Tetrad. This is what they would claim. “I know something that no one else does”. But John tells us the opposite. To know God is not to have knowledge that no one else has but to be obedient to the commandments that Jesus tells all believers in the context of the scriptures that they are found in.

Now as John does in other places in this epistle, so in this chapter he compares things with their opposite. Light with darkness, error with truth, and he does not give any grey area. In 1 John 2: 4 he says that the person who says, ‘I have come to know Him’ and does not keep his commandments is a liar. John is quite blunt. He does not say; ‘well they might only be deceived’ or that they are misguided. The truth is not in him. Now firstly, in light of what we have already seen this is a doctrinal, teaching issue because these people were not giving their hearers the truth of scripture but a false gospel. So they were liars in the fact that they were teaching error. But let us apply this to other scriptures, especially in terms of evangelism. We will see this later with the letter 1 John but for now let us look at Romans 10: 9. “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” When we use this scripture to share the gospel with people we must remember that it is a two point scripture. A verbal confession without real faith equals a lie. This is what John is hitting at. The belief has to be in the heart and the confession in the mouth. What happens when we meet people who say “Yes, Jesus is Lord, I know Jesus”? Does that mean that they are saved? I do not mean we are to doubt everyone’s salvation but what it is to say is that John does not regard confession alone to be an indicator of whether someone has the truth. It is the life that goes with the confession. We must also listen to the whole teaching that is to be consistent with the profession but we will look at that later on. John continues 1 John 2: 5. It is another contrast. It is like being at school. You are going to take a test and the tutor is preparing you for it by reading the marking criteria. I do not know what your tutors did, but mine read the criteria for the top grade first and then he would read the criteria for the bottom grade and say that this was what we were not to aim for. But then he would point us back to the top criteria and tell us to aim for that. The higher we would aim the better chance of getting good marks. In a similar same way John gives us the example we should follow and then the example we are not to follow and then gets us back to a good example. And notice that having the love of God is bound up in honouring the word of God. The division that has been made between doctrine and love, as if we can have the love without the right doctrine is a false dichotomy. Whoever keeps the word of Christ, in Him the love of God has been perfected. That is to say that if we do not have regard to the word of Christ we do not have the love of God perfected in us. John shows us that the idea of, ‘we do not need doctrine, we just need love’ is bogus. If you do not honour the word of God then you do not know the love of God and all you have is the love of man, which is not pure. It might not seem as exciting as the revelation that Marcus was getting or as exciting as a vision from one of our contemporary prophets but John shows us that what we need most is what has already been given to us.

In 1 John 2: 7 we see that unlike these false Gnostics who are always getting new revelation, John is saying, ‘I have not come to bring you anything new. What I am writing is what you have had from the beginning.’ John is calling us back to the first things. Just like Jude, he shows us this faith was once for all handed down to the saints. We have arrogance that because we have heard something once, we have heard it and therefore we know it and therefore we need not hear it again. ‘Oh Grandpa, we have heard that story before’. The Jewish people however were the opposite. The same stories were drummed into their brains and even the very fibre of their being year after year and then we wonder at how stories can be preserved through oral tradition without it succumbing to the same fate of Chinese whispers. The reality is that we are forgetful. The fifth book of the bible is called Deuteronomy, which means 2nd law giving. Why does God need to repeat Himself? It is not for his benefit. Yes, in Deuteronomy, it was a new generation of Israelites but also we are prone to forget. In the book of proverbs we keep seeing the repetition of the words, ‘Listen to the instruction of your father, hear my words, do not forsake the teaching of your mother.’ 2 Peter 1: 12 – 15 also highlights this need. No we do not need new revelation knowledge, we need to be faithful to what the Lord has shown us already. But is that not a little stagnant? Are we not supposed to grow in knowledge? Are we not supposed to learn knew things? Any one that says they have arrived at a complete knowledge of the scripture is arrogant and unteacheable. But just because there is no new revelation knowledge to be obtained does not mean that there are not any new personal revelations. A revelation might be new to me but it will not be new in the sense of adding to scripture or as authoritative as the scripture. What is revealed to us is not unique to us but God will have revealed it to others and the scripture will attest to it and this is what John refers to next in 1 John 2: 8. On the one hand, it is not new, it was given at the beginning, it was always there. But on the other hand it is new because we are beginning to understand it more. What does it mean by the darkness is passing away? Does it mean that as you go through new initiations and rituals you will tap into the secret depths of knowledge? No. We must not build doctrines on obscure passages of scripture. To understand this phrase we must look at the rest of the chapter. What is darkness attributed to? 1 John 2: 9 shows us that to hate your brother is to be in darkness, to love your brother is to abide in the Light. In other words when we grow in the love of God towards one another, the darkness is passing away and the true Light is already shining. We will learn new things about what it means to love the brethren as we walk in love. On the one hand it is not new because the commandment has always been with us, but on another hand it is new because we will see it apply to situations that we never perceived before. And does that not happen to us in the Word?

Now what does it mean to love the brethren? Our concept of God’s love is often moulded by our own subjective experiences, so that we might say certain things are unloving. For example, to point out someone’s sin might be termed to be unloving, or to point out wrong doctrine is also called unloving. Sometimes people are right, it is done out of a motive that is not love. But as a preacher said at a wedding in the year 2005, ‘love is not God, God is love’. Love does not define God, God defines love. 2 Peter 1: 7. Peter makes a distinction between brotherly kindness and love, just as there is a difference between faith and moral excellence. Both are essential to the Christian life. We need both brotherly kindness and love but they are not the same. Sometimes love can be tough as we saw in the last session. The Greek word for love is agape, and often it is defined as unconditional love but it can also mean benevolence. This is different to the emotionless connotation we usually attach to the word love, God’s love is emotional but it is not governed by emotion and that is the difference. The noun love comes from the verb ‘agapao’ which means to love (in a social or moral sense). Most times it means to do what is socially or morally best for the person concerned. It is to love in a big sense. It was this love that drove Jesus to the cross. It is not governed by emotions but by God’s will. As Jesus prayed, yet not my will but Yours be done. Yet love must also be sincere and from the heart. Love must be without hypocrisy as we reject what is evil and cling to what is good. And we see this aspect of God’s love demonstrated by what John writes in 1 John 1: 10. The one who walks in love will build up another person in Christ. They will not seek to cause that person to sin or stumble in their faith. It is doing and helping other people to do God’s will. If something will offend someone weaker in faith the one who walks in love would rather go without it. And that goes for issues such as food, drink, clothing, music, all manner of things that might be OK in themselves but which means someone else may stumble in their walk. Look at how Paul deals with it in Romans 14: 1 – 17. You see, I might like classical music for instance, say Gershwin, or Chopin. Now there is nothing wrong with the lyrics to Rhapsody in Blue or to Prelude in C minor, (by the way there are no lyrics to them) but someone might come up to me and say ‘please do not play that in front of me because I used to get high while playing that stuff, I used to shoot cocaine to it and when I hear that music the temptation comes back’. Now what do I do? Do I claim my rights and say, ‘well that is your problem mate!’? No Paul says to accept the one who is weak in faith, not for the purpose of passing judgment. There are some issues in scripture that are issues of personal conscience and we are to learn to accept each others’ restrictions without feeling superior over them. But if I stop listening to my Gershwin am I not communicating to that person that I also believe that music is bad? That is why Romans 1: 16 says ‘Therefore do not let what is for you a good thing be spoken evil of’. When they sin because of that it brings reproach on the act that you have the liberty to do without sinning. At the same time, it is better to go without these things than to ruin someone else’s salvation because these things do not really matter in the long run.

But there is another application to not being a cause for stumbling and you can only see this from the comparison John makes. John compares the one in the light, in whom there is no cause for stumbling, to the person who hates his brother, in the darkness, and cannot see where he is going. In other words the one in the light sees where he is going and can see the pitfalls that are to come. As Jesus said, ‘take the plank out of your own eye first’. He does not then say ‘leave the person in the condition that you saw him’. But He says ‘then you will see clearly how to take the speck out of your brother’s eye’. You will have the wisdom for the situation because you have gone through eye surgery yourself. You know the procedure. You know what is required and how to do it without causing damage to that person in other areas.


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