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Msindisi Newsletter #79

April 3, 2011

NUMBER: 79. Apr 2011
PO BOX 1481
+27 (0) 728311008
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Dear Friends and family,

Despite what we wrote about the hot weather disappearing by the end of February, this has been proved wrong by March. The sun has continued its onslaught and it is harder for Di hailing from New Zealand.

We started the month by visiting the Care Bear Pre-School which is run by Belinda from Bethany Baptist Church. Di did a lesson on the wise man building a house on the rock and Salvi did a skit on that bible story. We are always given such a warm welcome there and the kids are so well behaved. We trust that the Lord will cause these seeds of teaching from the Bible to sprout in their lives in the future. Di also did a couple of clinic runs during March one of which had her waiting for almost the whole day while the nurses slowly went about their business. But it does show how invaluable the government clinics are and we do appreciate their presence.

Phumlani and Thabi did their legal act of marriage in anticipation of their wedding ceremony next month (May). The reason they did it so early is because Home Affairs is always full of people and this way they could make sure that the legalities are covered before the actual wedding. Planning is under way with looking at suits and décor and praise the Lord, various people in and out of South Africa have been helping or contributing.

In Vryheid there was an Afrikaans singer visiting from the Cape called Oscar Ehrenberger, who was sharing the gospel in a Zulu church, Afrikaans church and in schools and prisons. We took some people from church and others including Celani’s husband who is not saved but was happy to go and hear the singing and hear the gospel. This was a rare occasion because normally he is not interested. So we pray that the Lord will continue to minister to his heart as he has now made noises that he is not interested in ancestral traditions anymore. We were told that Oscar spoke Zulu but his Zulu was very basic, so Salvi was roped in to interpret for him. Amidst many fluffs and the challenge of interpreting at high speed the majority of the message was understandable.

At Church Salvi was given an opportunity to teach a short series on Jude and at Home cell we still continue with Revelation. There are trials in the Home Cell at the moment in people’s individual walks and we continue to walk with them. Please keep praying for them. At Church, Ma Ntombela was upset at the illnesses of her children after a neighbour had claimed that he had used witchcraft against her family. Witchcraft is always there but we often do not come face to face with it. Once Salvi was witnessing to a guy who was very ill. It was only after he died that we found out that he was a witchdoctor (or herbalist as the word Inyanga can be translated). We do not sensationalize the phenomenon and do not want people to have the impression that we constantly have to deal with all the witchdoctors in the area. You can spend a long time in the area without ever coming across one of them. But they are there and there are people using witchcraft medicine. One notorious area of demonic manifestation is a school about 15km away from us that has at various times had girls experience possession where they would scream and display great strength, so the reports of eye witnesses say. But this is not usual in the surrounding areas. Numerous Sangoma’s (another type of witchdoctor) administer medicine or sacrificial rites that do not accomplish what was hoped for but they still make money out of it. So in witchcraft there are the genuine and there are the fake. In Ma Ntombela’s case it was fake as the doctor was able to diagnose the illnesses and with medication they started to get better.

Salvi has stilled continued to preach through out KwaBokkie and Ngenitsheni but this month has seen a few adults and mostly children or young people coming to hear the message. Salvi starts by playing Zulu hymns on the guitar and singing while people are coming out to hear and then after a few songs he will start preaching.

Last week we visited Stanger and Port Elizabeth. We are entering into a formal and relational fellowship with a church in Port Elizabeth which is mainly pastored by a friend of ours called Alan Mackenzie. They are in truth and have a legal umbrella that we can fall under called ‘The Road to Recovery Christian Fellowship’, which originally was a drug rehabilitation work. This will be a major help for us to apply for permanent residence. Alan has a wonderful perspective on Church structure being more organic than formal with openness for real and substantial fellowship and co-operation with many other Christians and Churches that preach truth. Before we flew there we went to visit a friend that Salvi has made who lives in Stanger. Mark Van Niekerk lives near Stanger with his wife, Marie Anne and he has spoken in Di’s home church in New Zealand concerning the subject of Israel and promoting Jewish Evangelism in Israel among Jews which he does on a yearly basis.
It was so lovely to find a kinship of spirit and to see his heart for the Jews and his passion for their salvation. It is also lovely to see his desire to see the salvation of Arabs also. From there we flew to Port Elizabeth for an intense weekend of fellowship and discovery. It was especially wonderful for Di as Salvi was the one who had been in close contact with Alan over the past year so she was able to get to know the family and fellowship for herself. There was a fellowship meal on the Friday night where we also met a couple from KwaZulu Natal who were friends with people that we knew near Louwsburg. On Saturday Salvi preached twice and once on Sunday morning all about the theme of getting back to the building of God’s house, how we should be building and the ultimate end of building the house of God being intimacy with the Lord. The blessing lay in the fact that the whole weekend was a confirmation of what the Lord had recently been speaking to them specifically about. On Sunday afternoon Salvi spoke at a Chinese fellowship that Alan ministers with. Eyes lit up when people found out that Salvi has Chinese blood from his grandmother. Di especially loved the whole occasion though it was hard to keep up with the Ping Ying transliteration of the Chinese songs. Alan sang with remarkable fluidity. Salvi spoke on Psalm 1 and the role of the word of God in a believer’s life. We got back to Stanger on Monday morning and in the evening we visited an Indian church that Mark Van Niekerk is part of. Salvi shared about having a zeal for God’s house which manifests in a zeal for truth and a zeal for love. This also was a great blessing.

We have now come up to Springs for a few days. Di has also taken time to help Allen and Sue with some unpacking as they have just moved house again though their lease had yet not expired as the owners had found a buyer for the house. As such we have not had time to visit other people apart from one family who live in Boksburg. We would have loved to visit other friends and churches.

Salvi has had results from 2 modules completed at the diploma level of his degree. For one he got 70% and for the second 63%. We go back to KwaZulu tomorrow and are looking forward to resettling in and getting back to the work. This month we will be seeing the arrival of Jacob Meads from Di’s home church who will be staying with us till about July to participate in Evangelism. At the end of this month we will be teaching through a Passover supper with Bethany Baptist Church which is a great tool for learning about the Hebraic background to the Lord’s Supper and its prophetic significance regarding the Messiah, our salvation and regarding the return of Jesus Christ.

Finally, please note that our website address is now which contains our newsletter and has the facility for you to leave your comments and questions. Many thanks for all your emails, prayers and involvement in our lives and ministry.
The Lord bless you and keep you.

Shalom Aleichem baShem Yeshua, Salvi and Di

1 JOHN part 7

1 John 5
Final Assurance

Well here we are in the last session on our series on 1 John. And I just want to remind us of the reasons that this letter is significant for us. The situation that John is writing into is one of heresy. From 2 Peter to Revelation spiritual seduction becomes the predominant theme in the apostolic epistles and a major element of the book of Revelation. One thing that is intrinsic to the last days is apostasy and false teaching. Jesus is coming back bodily and there will be a physical resurrection and the rapture, which Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2: 2 links intrinsically with the Day of the Lord. But before this Day occurs Paul gives his readers and us a sign to look out for which is that the man of lawlessness must be revealed after the restrainer is taken away. This is the one who sits himself in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God. He exalts himself. The man of lawlessness will not come out of the blue and will not be revolutionary in what he does and claims about himself. His signs will be amazing, that he and the false prophet do but he himself will not be revolutionary. For what does it say in 2 Thessalonians 2: 7 – 8? The man of lawlessness is preceded by the spirit of lawlessness being at work and the restrainer being taken away. According to verse three we read that Jesus’ return and our being gathered to him will not happen until the antichrist is revealed and until the apostasy happens. And this apostasy, ‘apostasia’ means a defection from the truth and is a female form of the adjective ‘apostasion’ which means a separation especially in the context of a divorce. The turning away from truth is a divorce from the one who is THE Truth, Jesus. The Gnostics who seemed to have got saved but never really repented from their Gnostic heresies were part of this fulfillment and as we ourselves, who are nearer the return of Christ, can see the Gnostics have returned, in fact they never really went away because at the heart of this system of belief is the old Satanic lie that you too can be as god, you too can ascend to the secret places of the most high. They denied sin as moral rebellion, they interpreted the New Testament in light of their own visions instead of judging their visions by the word of God. They rejected the Old Testament as being from a Jewish God who is harsh and believed Jesus came to liberate us from the harsh judgmental Jewish God. They believed that everything spiritual is good and everything physical is inherently evil and this is the warning. Once you start to mix the bible with an unbiblical philosophy or world view, you are on a slippery road to being deceived. This is why I enjoy watching the Francis Schaeffer series, ‘How should we then live, because your world view shapes everything about you. John is combating these heretics and he is reaffirming the faith of those who might be a little shaken through these Gnostics who claimed a more direct line with God. What did these Christians have? They had the bible and they had prayer. These Gnostics were tapping into secrets that only they had access to. With that in mind, let us look at the fifth and final chapter of 1 John.

Who is born again? (Verses 1 – 5)

Look at the first two verses. The Gnostics taught that there were many levels of knowledge that one had to be initiated into. The further up the ladder you got the more spiritual you were and the nearer to salvation you were. Salvation was dependant on receiving the special revelation and not really to do with sin. They perceived our problem as ignorance. But what does John show us. There is only one initiation and that is the spiritual new birth. If you are born again, you are in. Yes we do go through a journey of growth and the Word is something we have to grow in knowledge of. No one will ever deny that but the way to move forward is not ascended various levels of knowledge through initiation rites, but it is through obedience. There are three elements that are at work in the one who is born again that John shows us. Firstly there is believing that Jesus is the Christ. This means that Jesus has the supremacy, He is the Anointed one and no one else may claim that privilege. We have AN anointing from the Holy One but only Jesus has THE anointing, definite article. We are not, as Benny Hinn claims, everything He was and is. We are being conformed to His character BUT, we are only kings and priests in His Kingdom. On the other hand, He is THE King of Kings, THE high priest, THE Lord of lords. Therefore no one else can say ‘I have the Christ spirit like Jesus had it’. No one can say that the Christ spirit left Jesus at the crucifixion because John does not say that Jesus was the Christ for a time, but that He is THE Christ. Believing on this is essential to salvation. Even if someone says they are a Christian but they do not accept that Jesus is forever, exclusively THE Christ, that person is not saved. Secondly, there is loving the Father and loving the child born of the Father; to sum it up in one word, love. Note that love starts with the Father, it starts with God. God is the author of love, as we saw in the last session. We do not know how to love and so we always start with God as the author and the demonstrator of what love really is. But though it begins with God, it does not stop with God but it flows on. In other words, His love is put into us to grow within in us and to be poured out into other believers and to spill over into the world. Just because our love must start with God at the centre and focus of it does not mean that we can dispense with the love of the brethren. In fact John shows us that this is essential to the Christian life. But thirdly there is obedience. The Christian life is one of obedience, not a life of lawlessness. One stream of Gnostic belief taught that you can do what ever you wanted in your body, it is your soul that will be saved and that cannot be affected by what you do in your body. They would use Paul’s teachings in Romans to say, ‘Look, even the Apostle Paul says that we are not under Law but under Grace.’ Let us sin so that Grace may abound. But God’s love is not a lawless love. Why? Because as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13, it is not self seeking. Love is the fulfillment of the Law. So why have the Law at all? Why not just tell people to love and let them get on with it? We need the Law because of the fact that we are fallen. We all have our own definitions of what love is and therefore we need God to set the standard and to teach us what love really means.

Verse 3 tells us that the love of God is that we keep His commandments. When you need to learn how to use the internet you might go out and buy, ‘Dummies guide to surfing the net.’ If you want to learn how to play an instrument you might buy ‘Dummies guide to playing the guitar’. If you want to know how to love, follow ‘God’s guide to loving’. His guide is His commandments. His commandments are not burdensome. But when unbelievers see God’s commandments and they seem impossible. But this is prefaced on the first two verses. We have to be born again. With the Gospel comes spiritual power to declare us righteous at the onset and to form that righteousness in us from faith to faith. But secondly there is believing that Jesus is THE Christ. What does that imply? It implies that the focus is Jesus and not me. He is the Anointed one and so His priorities are more important than mine. God can work a miracle in us in that, what was impossible in the flesh becomes possible in the Lord. But it must flow from Him. Secondly we must love. We must have a committed devotion for the promotion of God and God’s people before the promotion of self. That is hard. At times it looks impossible. We try in our wisdom to come up with the solutions of how to deal with difficulties, with how to follow God’s commandments and we fail time and again. It is a burden, it is overpowering. How can John say that His commandments are not burdensome when we experience so much of it as a burden? Verse 4. It is prefaced on the spiritual birth and not by the flesh. It is God’s power in us that lifts the burden, it is Christ Jesus we are to cast our burdens on and it is Him who helps us. We must walk by faith, and what is faith? It is a journey, as Paul says in Romans 1: 17 that the just shall live by faith. It is something progressive and relational and it comes down to responding to what God shows us and tells us in trust and reverence. It is to see things from an eternal perspective and not from a temporal perspective. The word for victory in Hebrew is ‘Netsach’, which in the strong’s means both victory and eternity. We have victory because of something that is eternal. What is it? 2: 14. The word of God abides in you. You see we overcome the world. The love of the world and the things of the world is comprised of three basic elements. It is the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life. These things are temporal and passing away. But the word of God is eternal. Therefore, by the word informing and influencing me, I have victory in Jesus. It is down to Faith and it is not just a matter of believing in Jesus as being THE Christ. Even the Ebionites, or as we commonly refer to them the Judaisers, believed in that but they could not accept Jesus’ deity. As verse 5 shows, we must also believe that Jesus is THE Son of God. Not a son of God like us but THE only begotten of the Father.

The Testimony of Jesus (Verses 6 – 13)

John goes on to speak of the testimony of Jesus as being the Son of God. Some Gnostics believed that Jesus was man, but not that He was God because of that Gnostic belief that the spiritual cannot mix with the physical. Cerinthus, whom I have written about over the past few sessions, was one of these Heretics. John did not even want to be in the same bath house as this guy. But there was another group of Gnostics who believed that Jesus was both Christ and God. These people were called Docetists and they taught that while Jesus was divine, He was not really human but appeared to be human. Really Jesus was a phantom or a ghost. The nearest thing we have to this in today’s churches is a teaching that Jesus was not conceived with Mary’s egg but He was planted in Mary’s womb. This is because they cannot see how Jesus could be without sin if His body came from Mary’s egg. Mary was a woman who was a sinner. This is why the Roman Catholic Church teaches the ridiculous and totally illogical doctrine of the Immaculate Conception which says that Mary was born without sin so that she could have given birth to the sinless Son of God. If Mary needed to be born without sin to have given birth to the sinless Son of God then Mary’s mother also had to be without sin for Mary to be conceived without sin and so on till we get right back to Adam and Eve. Docetists could well agree with verses 1 – 5 so how will John deal with this group of people? They believed in Jesus, the Son of God so does that mean they were born of God? Just for clarification John says, in effect, ‘To be born again you have to believe that Jesus is the Son of God and this means you overcome the world, but hang on… Let us be clear about which Jesus I am talking about. I am talking about the One came by both water and blood.’ The Cerinthian Heresy said that Jesus became Christ at the Baptism and the Docetist heresy said that Jesus was not physical. John is saying ‘Yes Jesus was declared to be God’s Son in whom He was well pleased, but He was born Human as well as being begotten of God. He was not a phantom and the blood He shed on the cross was real blood.’ A phantom does not need blood. If you have a King James Bible or a New King James Bible, verse seven will read differently to the New American Standard or the NIV. It will have an extra sentence about three witnesses being one in Heaven, the Father, the Word and the Holy Spirit. This is not a reflection of the translation but of the Greek documents that these versions translate from. The New American Standard and the NIV translate from a compilation of texts compiled into Nestle’s ‘Novum Testaementum Gracae’ that are dated earlier than those from which the ‘Textus Receptus’ was based on from which is translated the King James and the New King James. This does not necessarily prove one translation over another. I only say this because some people might be puzzled over the difference between the two and if you want to know more about it you can read the introductions to any good New King James or New American Standard Bible and see their reasons for the choice of their text. But I think it is beneficial to take into account what the King James says because it is putting forth that the Father, the Word and the Holy Spirit all bear witness to Jesus. With the exaltation of Jesus the whole Trinity is involved. They are all three and yet they are one.

But in verse 8 we have another set of witnesses on earth. And you will notice that the Spirit is at the top of the list. The Spirit is in heaven but also on the Earth and this is because the Spirit is Almighty God who is not limited by the restrictions of a physical body. Yet instead of being ethereal, or other-worldly, He is really here. This Holy Spirit is not only here in His omnipresence but here is also here in a special way, for a special purpose. He was manifested on the day of Pentecost in what looked like tongues of fire. He was tangible and specifically arrived at a certain place and at a certain time. He lives in us, not because of His omnipresence, but because He has been given to us especially. This verse gives three witnesses, the Spirit, the water and the blood. The main sense that John is saying is this; Jesus is testified to, not only by the Spirit, and not only by His baptism but also by His death. Jesus was still the Christ, the Son of the Living God on the cross. The Spirit testifies of the Truth. He is the Spirit of Truth. And Jesus said in John 15: 26 ‘The Spirit will testify of Me’. The water speaks of His baptism, in which God said that Jesus is His Son in whom He is well pleased.’ But then there was His blood that spoke of the fact that He was a real human being. But there is another way of seeing this verses, which although does not contradict this verse, I would not be dogmatic about because water here must definitely refer to Jesus baptism because of the context of the Cerinthian heresy. However, in the New Testament, where as living water is a reference to the Holy Spirit in John 7: 38, water itself is a symbol of the Word of God. Ephesians 5:26 speaks of Jesus cleansing the Church by the washing of water with the Word. John 15: 3 Jesus says that His disciples were already clean because of the Word that Jesus gave. And in John 17: 17 Jesus prayed, ‘Sanctify them in the Truth, Your Word is Truth.’ When Calvin Smith came to South Africa a few years ago, he did a teaching on the inspiration of the Scriptures and one thing that stuck out that I won’t forget is that he said, the Bible is 100% the Word of God in 100% the word of man because it is a picture of Jesus who is the Word of God, being 100% God and 100% man. When we look at this verse in this way the doctrine of the distinct yet inseparable nature of Jesus as being fully God and fully man comes into full force. The first witness, the Spirit is someone fully divine, is fully spiritual. The last witness, the blood, is not spiritual but something fully human and fully physical. But the middle witness, the water also representing the Word, portrays something where the Spiritual and the physical are intertwined. Because of the middle witness we can say that all three are in full agreement and faith is the acceptance of what God says. If we cannot accept this we are saying that God is wrong in what He says and therefore we are accusing Him of being a liar. That is why Francis Schaeffer once wrote that Faith is to stop calling God a liar.

Why is doctrine important? Some people say, ‘we do not want to know about God, we want to know God.’ They think that Doctrine is irrelevant to a relationship with God. But John teaches us that Biblical doctrine is the way we can know God. How revolutionary is that? John says that if we have this testimony we have eternal life. And what is eternal life? John 17: 3 shows that eternal life is knowing God. The Gnostics said, ‘You do not know God like we do, we have received a special revelation that you cannot have because we are in a higher level of knowledge.’ John says, ‘no those guys do not know what they are talking about. You are the ones that know God because you accept the testimony that God has given about His Son.’ John wants to assure His readers finally that they do know God despite what these phonies say about them. Verse 13.

Conclusion (Verses 14 – 21)

The Gnostics prided themselves in knowing secrets but John gives something else to be happy about. What is better than knowing something that no one else has discovered? Knowledge is power and so what could be better than being part of a wise, all knowing elite? How about answered prayer? God answering of prayer is the opposite of Gnosticism. Gnosticism achieved levels of knowledge through initiation rites. Techniques are employed to alter a state of conscious. Prayer is not a technique. Techniques deal with laws that if performed correctly will yield results. Prayer however deals with a person, infinitely wise who has the ability to say no. That is why answered prayer carries a condition with it. Verse 14 says that we must pray according to His will. Throughout the year 2005, while living in the UK, I had been praying that God would provide the means for me to get back to South Africa and I was a bit self assured that it would come together. When I applied for my Visa they asked me for proof of funds but I was in arrears in my overdraft so I just sent in a copy of my bank statement that showed that. I did not know how I would afford the plane ticket and everything. To add more pressure, my flat mate Anthony Royle (Dave’s eldest son) was getting married on the 25th March 2006 which meant I would have to move out and find somewhere else to live. So I looked at moving down to Bournemouth and signed up to a website to find as cheap accommodation as possible. At the beginning of march I had basically lost hope that I would be going back to South Africa that year but then while I was at work and having a bad day at work I get a phone call from someone on my mobile who had put everything together for me to get back to South Africa. I was still waiting on my visa so I decided that I would move in with my friends in Bristol and work for some weeks until I was in a position to come over. However the day before the wedding I got my Visa in the post and I booked my plane ticket 3 days later. I had lost faith but God is the Living God. Before leaving to go to South Africa I went down to visit my friends, Graham and Susie Gee in Bere Regis and at their house we put on the God channel, Europe’s version of TBN. The preacher said something to the effect of this. ‘You wonder why God does not answer your prayer. I will tell you why. It is like a candy machine. If the item costs $1 but you put in 50c you will not get the item. You have to give the right amount.’ I phoned up the toll free number and asked the guy about the preacher and said that he is totally wrong and gave my experience. Prayer is not a slot machine.

We can pray and we are to pray concerning those in the church who are in sin. If you have a literal translation when you read verse 16 you will see that God is in italics which means it is not there in the Greek. According to John Stott’s commentary on 1 John the phrase in the Greek runs like this, ‘If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not to death, he will ask and he will for him get life.’ This can mean that God gives life to the one but it can also mean that the one who prays is the one who gets the life on behalf of the other person who he gives it to. What does this mean if it is true? It means that God will use the person who prays as a vehicle to answer that prayer. What ever it means two things are certain, it is God who is the origin of that life and not us, and secondly God is the one who is answering the prayer no matter who He uses to do it. John says that we will pray when we see our brother in sin. But there is another sin that John points out as something we should not necessarily pray for and that is the one to death. It is a debated point but look at the context of the epistle? It is dealing with the Gnostic heresies that elevate man to the same level of Christ, or that deny His deity or His humanity. This is to death because life is to know God but death is the opposite. There is a difference between someone who is only deceived by it or learning through these issues and someone else that teaches others to deny the truth and opposes the truth. I do not believe John would speak in the same way to an old lady that was being conned by Gnostic thought as he did to Cerinthus. I believe that he would gently reason with the lady. It is difficult to say anything like this because we are speaking from silence but one thing is certain, there is a precedent for not praying concerning Benny Hinn or Kenneth Copeland. It is not to say that we MUST not pray for them, but John simply says that he is not telling us that we should make request for this. But notice in verses 18 and 19 the difference between us and the World. The world lies in the arms of Satan like a Samson in the arms of Delilah but the believer does not sin and the Devil cannot touch him. The word ‘touch’ here means to attach. The Devil does not have the last say or a hold onto us. He does bombard us and we do fall but he has not got a permanent hold of us, we are born again.

Again doctrine is important because the Gospel is not about having the right formula but it is about strong content. Verse 20 says that Jesus has given us understanding. It is important to evaluate what we believe about Jesus. Having a right understanding facilitates our knowing Jesus. It is not an exhaustive understanding that John is speaking of but nevertheless it is a ‘true understanding’. It is not just an intellectual exercise that John is referring but He wants to make sure we are worshipping the right Jesus. An understanding of Jesus that contradicts the ‘Jesus’ that the Apostles preached is not the same Jesus. That is why John says in verse 21; ‘Little Children, guard yourselves from idols.’ This Cerinthian Jesus, who was only a man with a Christ spirit, is not the real Jesus it is an idol. This Docetist Jesus, who was not human, is not the real Jesus but it is an idol. This Word of Faith’s Jesus, who is like a slot machine, is not the real Jesus, it is an idol. This Jesus who only appears to those who have been initiated into secret levels of knowledge is not the real Jesus, it is an idol. The Jesus that does not care how you conduct yourself in the body and is content with lawlessness is not the real Jesus, it is an idol. Little Children, guard yourselves from idols.

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