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November 2015

Warning Blasts from Our World


A warning is only any good if it serves to alert us to an impending problem. The book of Revelation contains powerful warnings that in our day are so loud and obvious that only the blindly foolish could ignore them.

In biblical times trumpets were mainly used to warn and announce. Chapter Eight of Revelation starts with seven angels each given a trumpet to sound as an urgent warning to the world. These warnings are of ecological and social disasters that are to come upon the natural world and its inhabitants. The first four effect the environment and the last two effect the minds and spirits of humanity.

Numbers are used symbolically in Revelation and so one-third destruction described should be understood as signifying a substantial but lesser part of the whole. So, these are disasters that seriously impact the ecology yet do not entirely destroy it.

Something else to bear in mind is that these disasters are warnings, not punishments. They are the results of human sin, not divine judgment. The intention is that mankind should consider what it is doing to the ecology and take sober warning from this. Genesis 2:15 records that ‘the Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it’, yet humans have forever polluted and destroyed the environment. Each succeeding generation has been responsible for a greater degree of environmental destruction, but in our day it has reached unprecedented levels.

Don’t get too involved in the details of the first four trumpet disasters. The descriptions present us with vivid pictures intended to evoke emotion rather than convey specific detail. Hail mixed with fire, mountains thrown into the sea, and flaming stars might have some particular significance but serve mainly to create a dramatic image that cannot be ignored.

truth-is-the-word-revelations-email-32Feature-ImageThe first trumpet warning concerns the earth’s vegetation and we, more than any generation before us, are witnessing the mass destruction of vast areas of forests and grasslands. The decimation of the Brazilian rain forests first caught the public’s attention, but habitat destruction is far more widespread than that. We are all painfully aware of what is happening in the world around us but what some folk might not realise is that when we destroy an ecology we doom multiple species of animal life to extinction.

The second trumpet has to do with the oceans of the world. We have fished out vast expanses of ocean, destroyed coral reefs, poured billions of cubic meters of effluent into every ocean that can be named, and slaughtered whales and dolphins to near extinction! For the last several decades’ world leaders should have been responding to the escalating destruction of our planet, but they haven’t! Now it is too late for conferences, and research grants, and pro-green rallies. The trumpet has been sounding but our ears have been too blocked by materialistic greed to hear.

The next warning concerns the river systems of the world. I need look no further than my own country, South Africa, to see the systematic pollution of rivers that has been taking place. Factories spew toxic waste into what were once pristine rivers, abattoirs pump a flood of blood and offal into the nearest tributary, mine acid seeps into the water table … and the list of woes goes on and on.

The fourth trumpet sounds a warning that we are destroying our atmosphere. Carbon emissions have formed a hot-blanket around the planet and temperatures are rising, and with this global warming comes devastating weather changes. In the space of the last two weeks I have personally experienced a hail storm of biblical proportions and, just 100 kilometers away a sand storm where the top soil of some of our best farmlands was ripped off the drought-stricken ground by tornado like winds.

Surely we must be both blind and stupid not to see what we humans have done to our God-given environment! How then should we respond? Well, apart from behaving responsibly and pressing our governments to behave responsibly, we need to repent: “I am so sorry my Father that I have been part of the willful disobedience to your mandate to humanity; please forgive me.”

Further, we should encourage those who do not have a relationship with Jesus to turn to Him and cry out for salvation – for then the trumpet warnings will have served their ultimate purpose.
Destructive as these warnings are they do not match the woes that follow… so buckle up and brace yourself for the next post.

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Prayer and worship

The Golden Altar of Prayer


Here is a biblical riddle: “When and why did the Altar of Incense in the Tabernacle move?” The answer will intrigue and encourage you.

Revelation Chapter Eight marks the start of Part Three of the book. Each part covers the period between the first and second comings of Christ, but from different perspectives and with varying levels of detail. Part Two started with the throne in Heaven with God seated on it, and Part Three also starts in the heavenly throne room.

An angel offers incense on a golden altar which stands before the throne. The resultant fragrant smoke is depicted as mingling with the prayers of the saints (Revelation 8:1-5). I wrote in a previous post about how the layout and furniture of the Tabernacle of Moses was a three-dimensional model of the multi-dimensional reality of heaven pictured here in the book of Revelation. The Golden Incense Altar was located in the Inner Court of the Tabernacle, the Holy Place, along with the Menorah and the Table of Shewbread, but here in Revelation it is pictured as standing before the throne… it seems to have moved!

Hebrews 9:2-4 contains a description of the Tabernacle that reads as follows: ‘A tabernacle was set up. In its first room were the lampstand, the table and the consecrated bread; this was called the Holy Place. Behind the second curtain was a room called the Most Holy Place, which had the golden altar of incense and the gold-covered ark of the covenant’. Now, if you read the original description of the Tabernacle that Moses constructed, (Exodus 30) you will note that the incense altar was located in the Inner Court, not the Holy of Holies. What is happening here? Is the description in Hebrews incorrect? But no, wait a minute, the Bible is inspired and trustworthy is it not? So there must be an explanation for the moving Incense Altar.

The Holy of Holies contained just once item: The golden Ark of the Covenant, a representation of the throne of God. The room next to it, the Holy Place/Inner Court contained the table, the Menorah, and the Incense Altar. A thick curtain separated the two rooms and only the High Priest was allowed past this curtain, once a year, to present the blood of the atonement sacrifice before the Ark of the Covenant. Later, Solomon built the Jerusalem Temple according to the same pattern as the Tabernacle, but Matthew records that when Jesus died on the cross, as an atonement for the sins of all humanity, ‘the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom’ (Matthew 27:51). The author of Hebrews explains this by setting out the wonderful fact that, because of what Jesus has done, we who believe, can enter into the very presence of God; he writes, ‘Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith…’ (Hebrews 10:19-22). This is why this same author describes the Golden Incense Altar as located inside the Holy of Holies before the throne of God. You see, as is clear from the contexts of both Exodus 30 and Revelation 8, this altar represents prayer and worship. There is no curtain of separation between us and God anymore, and we can therefore approach Him freely in prayer and worship! Hebrews 4:16 makes this absolutely clear when the author declares, ‘Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need’.

The Golden Incense Altar has moved because Jesus ‘rearranged the furniture’ to represent a new reality – no longer are we cut off from God by sin, but in Christ Jesus we have access to Almighty God!
In Revelation 8 the particular prayer requests of the saints receive a dramatic response… but I will write about this in my next post.


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Signed, sealed and delivered


Who says that trials and tribulations are a bad thing?

I was called upon at the last moment to fill in for our preacher who had fallen ill, and I decided to present a ‘behind the scenes’ look at Revelation Chapter Seven, the subject matter of this post. You can listen to the message Signed sealed and Delivered.

Chapter Seven presents a picture of two groups of people, one on earth and the other in heaven. In the sermon I describe a couple of the misinterpretations of the identity of these groups, so I am not going to repeat this here – suffice it to say that they are neither 144,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses, nor converted post-rapture Jews. Rather, the crowd on earth represent the church and the crowd in heaven represent Christians who have already died and are with the Lord. If you want more detail on how I come to this conclusion, then please listen to the sermon.

The two key truths revealed in this chapter are, firstly, that Christians on earth are enduring ‘tribulation’, and secondly, that we are ‘sealed’ by the Holy Spirit during this experience so that we can learn and develop through this experience.

Dispensationalists  and some others teach that the truth-is-the-word-revelations-email-30Feature-Imagetribulation referred to in Revelation is only something that will occur after Christians have been ‘raptured’ (snatched up into heaven) before the real trouble starts. But what does Jesus say about this? In speaking to his disciples about what would happen after he had left them he said: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33). The word translated as ‘trouble’ in the NIV is thlipsin, a Greek word rendered in many bible versions as ‘tribulation’. Paul and Barnabas understood what Jesus had meant by his use of this word because Acts 14:21-22 records that, ‘they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.’ (ESV).

Contrary to much popular teaching in our day, we are not guaranteed wealth, health, and comfort in this life. Quite the contrary, we are warned that we will experience ‘tribulation’ during our time on earth. Now there is a reason for this – earth is our training ground for eternity. We are here to come to know Jesus, become like him, and help others to do likewise. The questions the Lord will most likely ask us when we die will not have much to do with position, qualifications, wealth, or achievements: I strongly suspect that we will be asked something like, “Have you learned to Love me and others? Have you grown in faith in me? Did you come to understand that hope in an eternity with me is the only real hope there is?”

But here is the really good news! During our time in this School of Tribulation we are sealed by the Holy Spirit with the mark of divine ‘ownership’. The devil may afflict us, circumstances may batter us, ISIS may scare us…. but nothing in heaven or on earth can assault our spiritual identity – we are sons and daughters of the Most High God!

I explain the origin of the ‘sealing’ concept in my sermon but you might like to read Deuteronomy 6:4-8 and Ephesians 1:13-14.

Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come – 2 Corinthians 1:21-22
The revelation of the church already in heaven sheds its wonderful light on the darkness of a world in tribulation, and it is the hope of being part of that glorious multitude that draws us through to our journey’s end. But we also have this light within us now. The anointing and presence of the Holy Spirit seals and signs us as Children of God; an anointing that protects our spirits and helps us to learn and practice love, faith, and hope in this present tribulation.


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Sermons & Articles added


Hi there

I’ve uploaded some new Sermons along with a few Articles which were published in Joy! Magazine. Please have a listen or a read, and as always your comments are welcome.



LUKE 15 ‘Lost and Found’ The Prodigal son, the lost sheep and the missing coin are a trio of Jesus’ parables. I realise these are well known and loved verses, but I would like you to listen to them with new ears – you may hear something you’ve not heard before if you listen to the sermon and, of course, the Holy Spirit.

LUKE 17 ‘Thank you Jesus’ Remember the good Samaritan? This sermon will give you insight into the background and true meaning of this story. We find that we are all united in Jesus, no matter what our differences, customs or races. This has been the case since Biblical times and still is today, among believers from all ‘walks’ of life.

EPHESIANS 1 ‘Who are We in Christ’ My apologies for the poor sound quality of this sermon. The first few seconds are very bad but it get’s better, really! Ephesians 1 7-19 is the wonderful prayer of Paul to the Church in Ephesus and also to US.  Ask yourself ‘How well do I know God?” and “Who am I in Christ?” and listen to this message.


If you would like to hear more sermons, please CLICK HERE or on the SERMONS IMAGE to go the the main sermons page where you can listen to or download a number of other sermons.



WHAT IS TRUTH is an article I wrote in 2006. If you haven’t been paying too much attention to my ongoing talks and posts about truth 🙂 then this short article should fill you in on my understanding of the nature of truth.

APOLOGETICS.  Apologetics is the branch of Christian studies that deals with why we believe what we do. I dislike the word because it comes from the same root as ‘apologise’, which means essentially to defend something we feel guilty or embarrassed about. “Hey, I know this might sound foolish, but let me tell you why I believe in God… or the creation… or the Gospel”. This article challenges the very nature of apologetics.

A CONSIDERATION OF FRANK VIOLA’S ‘BEYOND EVANGELICAL’ is not a book review. I have written several book reviews, but this not one of them. In this article I am considering ‘Beyond Evangelical’, not reviewing it. My purpose is to reflect on some of the things written in this book from a positive perspective and leave the evaluation and critique to others.


If you would like to read more articles please CLICK HERE or on the ARTICLES IMAGE. Alternatively use the previous and next buttons at the bottom of each article.



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About Me

My name is Christopher Peppler and I was born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1947. While working in the financial sector I achieved a number of business qualifications from the Institute of Bankers, Damelin Management School, and The University of the Witwatersrand Business School. After over 20 years as a banker, I followed God’s calling and joined the ministry full time. After becoming a pastor of what is now a quite considerable church, I  earned an undergraduate theological qualification from the Baptist Theological College of Southern Africa and post-graduate degrees from two United States institutions. I was also awarded the Doctor of Theology in Systematic Theology from the University of Zululand in 2000.

Four years before that I established the South African Theological Seminary (SATS), which today is represented in over 70 countries and has more than 2 500 active students enrolled with it. I presently play an role supervising Masters and Doctoral students.

I am a passionate champion of the Christocentric or Christ-centred Principle, an approach to biblical interpretation and theological construction that emphasises the centrality of Jesus

I have been happily married to Patricia since the age of 20, have two children, Lance and Karen, a daughter-in-law Tracey, and granddaughters Jessica and Kirsten. I have now retired from both church and seminary leadership and devote my time to writing, discipling, and the classical guitar.

If you would like to read my testimony to Jesus then click HERE.