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July 2016

Old and New Earth

The New Earth

Revelation Revisited New HeavenEarth

The very first seven words of the Bible are, ‘In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth’, and the first seven words of Revelation 21 are, ‘Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth’.

Seven is a number that occurs many times in the Bible, particularly the book of Revelation, and symbolises ‘completion’. So now, as we come to the final chapters of Revelation, we find the cycle of creation completed and a new cycle inaugurated. Revelation 21:1, which I have just quoted, continues with the words, ‘for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea’. Other scriptures also describe something of how the old heavens and earth will pass away, for instance, 2 Peter 3:10 has; ‘On that Day the heavens will disappear with a shrill noise, the heavenly bodies will burn up and be destroyed, and the earth with everything in it will vanish’ (TEV). Isaiah prophesied the end of the old with the words; ‘All the stars of the heavens will be dissolved and the sky rolled up like a scroll; all the starry host will fall like withered leaves from the vine, like shrivelled figs from the fig tree’ (Isaiah 34:4). John echoed these words in Revelation 6:13-14 where he wrote; ‘the stars in the sky fell to earth, as late figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. The sky receded like a scroll, rolling up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place’.

The specific detail that ‘there was no longer any sea’ is interesting. I believe that John was connecting us back to the Genesis account of the first creation where it states that ‘the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters’ (Genesis 1:2). What I understand from this is that John wants us to know that the new creation will not be a gradual process like the first, but will be brought about in a sudden and swift manner. There could also be a second level of meaning to the absence of any sea because ‘sea’ in Old Testament times was sometimes seen as the breeding ground of evil, the place of the unsaved dead, and a symbol of rebellious nations – so the new world will not contain any of these elements.

Tree of LifeAlthough from verse 2 of Revelation 21 the symbol of a city, the New Jerusalem, replaces the ‘new world’ analogy, I am going to stick with it a while longer to draw out some of the other connections back to the Genesis account of the first creation. Genesis 1:16 records that on the fourth day ‘God made two great lights — the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night’ but Revelation 21:23 states that the new creation ‘does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp’. Genesis 2 tells of how God created a place for mankind described as a ‘garden in the east, in Eden’, (Genesis 2:8) and how a river watered this garden. In Revelation 22 we read of a ‘river of the water of life’ flowing down the centre of the new creation. Genesis also records the trees that God planted in Eden to provide food, as well as with the Tree of Life. Revelation carries this imagery into the new creation with the words; ‘On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations’ (Revelation 22:2).

The central idea of all of these comparisons is that the new creation will be superior to the first.
There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away’ (Revelation 21:2), and ‘No longer will there be any curse’ (Revelation 22:3). Of course, the biggest difference between the old and new creations is God’s direct presence with His people. In the old creation God was personally and directly present with His people relatively infrequently, for example:
  • In His meetings with Moses in the Tabernacle,
  • In His few personal manifestations to the prophets, and finally,
  • During the short life of Jesus of Nazareth.

Since then God has been indirectly present in and through His church through the ministry of the Holy Spirit… but in the new creation, He will dwell permanently with His people.Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them’ (Revelation 21:3) See also Revelation 21:22 and 22:3-4.

The old creation started with God walking in the garden with Adam and Eve, but, as we know, the sin of rebellion soon ruined everything. In the new creation there will be no more sin, nor even the possibility of it, for the devil and all his followers will be removed and only God and His people remain.

And the truly good news is that if you and I know Jesus as Saviour and continue to follow Him as Lord, then we will one day experience the new creation, the HeavenEarth, the eternal dwelling of God with His people. Amen!
In my next and probably last post in this series, I plan to show how the New Jerusalem depicts not only the final state of creation but also  the church throughout the ages… I am looking forward to writing about this!


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Politics, the Pulpit and People

It is often said that sex and politics should be taboo topics in the church, so should politics be off-limits for preachers?

Politics is commonly defined as ‘the activities associated with the governance of a country or province’. If this is how we understand ‘politics’, then of course all Christians should be interested and concerned with how their country is governed. In Romans 13 Paul instructs believers to submit to governing authorities, and in 1 Timothy 2 he urges us to pray for everyone in authority ‘that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness’

If you would prefer to HEAR this message, you can click on the play button below and listen to this short (7 minute) interview I gave on this topic..

If you prefer reading it, then continue on…

…On this basis, Christians should engage with politics. The extent of this engagement will range from simply being good citizens, all the way through to being career politicians. However, Christian leaders and preachers are not primarily politicians, and rather have the responsibility of helping their people to determine what constitutes good governance and what role they, as individuals, need to play in the political life of their nation. They also need to teach into how we are to react and respond to ungodly government. However, when it comes to preaching, there does seem to be a line that the church should not cross; the line between national or provincial politics, and party politics.

Vote For ChristJust as the pulpit should not be a forum for selling things or promoting secular interests, just so it should not be used for peddling a particular political persuasion. In South Africa we are about to hold provincial elections and I, like all responsible citizens, will be casting my vote. I have a decided preference for one of the political parties contesting the elections and I feel at liberty in sharing my views, on a one-on-one basis with friends and family.

However, I would be abusing my privilege and mandate as a preacher if, in a sermon, I tried to persuade the congregation to vote for the party of my choice. Rather, my role within the church should be to set out the values and principles that govern how a Christian should vote.

What then are these principles and how should we apply them?

  1. We as Christians have a duty to cast our votes. Abstaining is, in almost all circumstances, just a way of shirking the responsibility of being a good citizen, and we as Jesus-followers should be exemplary citizens.
  2. We need to evaluate the political parties competing for our votes and decide which one is worth supporting. When there is more than one party that has a decided chance of winning then we should vote for the party that best embraces core biblical governmental values and has sincere believers in its executive.

What do I mean by core biblical governmental values?

I mean things such as integrity, honesty, work ethic, economic common sense, freedom of religion and expression, accountability to law and constitution, lack of corruption, lack of racial or minority group prejudice, and so on. As Christians, we all have views on things such as gay marriage, abortion,capital punishment and things of this nature, but I do not see these as ‘core’ governmental values. But if you do, then you would need to add them to your set of criteria against which to evaluate each political party.

When there is little to no chance of any party other than the majority or ruling party winning the elections, and that particular party fails to meet core Christian values, then we need to give serious consideration to voting for a strong opposition party. The proviso of course is that the opposition party needs to meet the same criteria established for your evaluation.

If there is an ostensibly ‘Christian’ party in the running then they should be worthy of support provided they have shown themselves to be true to what they say they believe, and also provided that they are serious contenders to either win the election of be a viable opposition party. Sadly, often such parties are just too small and poorly resourced to be regarded as serious and viable contenders.

So, to sum up, it is my opinion that politics in a general sense is indeed something with which we as Christians should engage. Party politics, on the other hand are outside of the church’s mandate yet should be of concern to all individual Christians as part of our responsibility as citizens.
We all need to cast our votes and we should do so in a way which will best yield godly governance in our province and nation.


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Revelation Revisited psot 57

The Book and the Books

Revelation 20

The book of Revelation starts with a depiction of God the Father, sitting on His throne with a book (scroll) in His hands, and it ends with Him opening a set of books.

We are drawing very near to the end of the Revelation Revisited series and so before I explain the significance of the books of Revelation 20:12, I once again need to present a glimpse of the big picture. Actually, the part of Revelation we are currently looking at, Chapter 20, provides an excellent basis for doing just that.

Revelation Revisited in Article ImageJohn provides a graphic portrayal of a mighty angel seizing Satan and binding him for 1,000 years. The thousand years stands as a symbol for the long period of time between the first and second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. The devil was effectively bound when Jesus died and rose again from the grave. From that moment onward Satan’s authority was stripped from him and he lost the right to control the lives of all who follow Jesus and are born again of His spirit.

‘You were at one time spiritually dead because of your sins and because you were Gentiles without the Law. But God has now brought you to life with Christ. God forgave us all our sins; he cancelled the unfavourable record of our debts with its binding rules and did away with it completely by nailing it to the cross. And on that cross Christ freed himself from the power of the spiritual rulers and authorities; he made a public spectacle of them by leading them as captives in his victory procession.’ TEV. (Colossians 2:13-15)
Revelation 20:4-6 presents those who become disciples of the Lord Jesus, die and go to be with Him in heaven where they reign with Him. As part of what he called ‘a trustworthy saying’, Paul wrote that ‘If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him…’ (2 Timothy 2:11-12). Revelation 20:5 describes this as ‘the first resurrection’. I have written about this in a previous post  but essentially the allusion is to the fact that when a believer dies physically ‘in Christ’ then he or she is then and there resurrected to spiritual life with Jesus in heaven. When Christ returns these believers will accompany Him and receive, along with all other people, transformed physical bodies (the second resurrection).
Shortly before Jesus returns to judge and reward, the devil is ‘set free for a short time’. He will deceive the world into thinking that he is The Christ and will mobilise against the true church of the Lord Jesus.
This is the period of great tribulation and great revival the book of Revelation points us to in passages such as 7:14 and 11:1-14.

When Jesus comes again it is to reward His disciples and to judge all others. This event is portrayed in Revelation as the opening of books, and another book which Revelation 20:12 describes as ‘the book of life’. God will judge all people, saved and unsaved alike, by what is in the record of our lives. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:10, ‘For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad’.

Here is how I imagine it will be. You will stand before the great throne of God and He will open the record of your life. As He does so, you will see, in vivid holographic reality, everything you have ever done, spoken or even thought.

As you review your life in the awesome presence of Almighty God you will realise with clarity that there is nothing in the records that merit your acceptance by Him and your continuing existence with Him. The prophet Isaiah proclaimed that “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). This is so hard for us to own now, but we will see it so clearly then. But then The Lord will open another record, the Book of Life, and search for your name. This ‘book’ is written in blood, the blood of the Saviour, and if your name is inscribed in it then, despite your lack of earned merit, you will be deemed acceptable to God and worthy of eternal life. The entry in the book is made when you repent of self-serving rebellion against God, confess this to Him, cry out to Him for mercy, acknowledge that in Jesus Christ alone can you have eternal life, and then receive the rebirth of your spirit as a gift of grace received by faith.

This is the eternal Gospel, the Good News of salvation in Christ Jesus.


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Sermon on A different Gospel

Some truly Good News

Why do bad things happen to good people? Shouldn’t God be stopping them?

I preached on this topic in a sermon titled ‘In the World, trials and sorrows; In Jesus, peace’ when I realised that I had been asked this question more times than I can remember and yet my response has always been the same.
John 13-16 is the last long conversation Jesus had with His disciples before His crucifixion, and  we draw from the end of chapter 16 to find His answer to the question of suffering. Listen to my sermon if you would like to know what I believe to be the answer by clicking on the play button below.


Sermons and Articles ImageYou will find many of the sermons I have preached along with their notes on THIS page, so listen to any you may have missed or would like to listen to again HERE. They include:

and many more.

On you can also find many articles I have written over the years for various publications. Most are short articles sharing a specific message so they won’t take you long to read, so:

  • Are you feeling worried? Click HERE
  • Do you know what it is to be filled with the Spirit? Read about my personal experiences concerning it HERE
  • Want to live debt free? Click HERE for some tips
  • Feel like God isn’t there? It may help to read this article HERE.

Other topics which may be of interest to you include ‘Women in Ministry‘, ‘God is not a User!‘, ‘How to discern a Move of God’ and many, many more.

PLEASE NOTE with regards to the articles: Because I am still uploading many of these I can’t DATE them correctly (it’s technical), so please don’t try to find an article by how “current” it appears to be. Some of my most current articles, for example, are dated 5 years ago, so a much better way to find what you are looking for would be to use the Search button found on any of the listed article pages or simply browsing through them from here.

May God bless You!




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Meddlesome Millennium

That Meddlesome Millennium

Millennium matters

Millennium is a word that has caused more confusion than possibly any other word in the Bible, but it isn’t actually in the Bible.

Revelation 20:3 refers to a 1,000-year reign of Christ. The Greek word used for 1,000 is ‘chilia’ but in 405AD Jerome  compiled the Latin Vulgate version of the Bible and translated the word as ‘millennium’. So this became one of the several Latin words that have crept into some English translations of the Bible that never were in the earliest Greek manuscripts.

Millennium Matters

Over the last several hundred years, various scholars have built systems of interpreting biblical prophecy based on the books of Daniel and Revelation along with the meddlesome Millennium. But it’s not really the word itself that is the problem, it’s the insistence by its champions in interpreting Revelation as a literal calendar of events.

The basis of the various Millennium schemes is that Jesus will return physically to Earth to rule ‘with an iron sceptre’ (Revelation 2:27) for 1,000 years.

This idea is developed from just six verses of scripture, Revelation 20:1-6, and the outline of most schemes goes like this:

  • Jesus will return physically to Earth and set himself up in a rebuilt temple on The Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem.
  • He will rule like an Old Testament king, re-institute the temple sacrificial system and the Law, and administer justice with iron resolve.
  • Salvation through Faith alone will no longer apply.
  • Any contact with God will only be possible through physical exposure to King Jesus.
  • In some schemes, 144,000 Jews will serve as the immortal soldiers of the King.

Now consider more carefully some of the problems caused by this belief system:

  • The presence of God would then be limited once again to one place in geography and time. One of the great benefits of the Holy Spirit coming into the world is that any saved person, anywhere and at any time can enter into the presence of Almighty God.
  • If the Lord returned to take up long-term residence on Earth, then where would he locate? In Jerusalem, of course; and a rebuilt Temple would probably be his headquarters. The problem is that 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 has this to say; “Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.” So, if the temple is ever to be rebuilt in Jerusalem it will be a sign of the antichrist, not of the return of Jesus.
  • During the 1 000 years, there would be many millions of people living on Earth. Would they remain alive all that time? Would babies be born? But more importantly, how would they be saved? If Jesus is ruling with a ‘rod of iron’ as the ultimate benign dictator, then what of free will and what of grace? Would salvation again be a matter of works?
    There is also a very serious theological problem with the doctrine of the Millennium that imputes the value of the Atonement. Revelation 20:1-3 reads; “And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time”. In terms of a literalistic scheme of interpretation, this would mean that Satan is only “‘bound” when Jesus returns at the beginning of the 1,000 year period. So what was the crucifixion all about then? What did Jesus mean when He declared to His disciples two millennia ago that “All authority in Heaven and on Earth has been given to me” (Matthew 28:18)? And what did Paul mean when he wrote: ‘And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross’’(Colossians 2:15)? Surely any teaching that claims that when Jesus died on the cross He did not decisively deal with Satan is seriously in error and effectively empties the cross of Christ of its power (1 Corinthians 1:17).

What do I believe concerning the 1,000 years referred to in Revelation Chapter 20? Well, I can’t really state it any better than I did in my book Revelation in the Stars, which is available as a free pdf, should you wish to read it, HERE:

I believe that the millennium is a present reality. Christ ushered it in with his first advent, and it will be succeeded by the final state at his second coming. I believe that Almighty God has only one plan of salvation, based on the finished work of Calvary. God saved specific Old Testament saints through their trust in his grace, and all other believers since have been saved by faith in Jesus Christ. I believe that there are just two ages – this present age, and the age to come referred to as the new Heaven and Earth. I believe that at the cross Jesus Christ bound Satan from having authority over humankind, but that he will loose the devil on Earth near the end of time. Actually, I think that Satan will incarnate as the final anti-Christ. I believe that the church lives in a world of tribulation, but that this tribulation will grow progressively worse. At the very end, Jesus will come again, in a single cataclysmic event, to bring history to its close, and to usher in the final state. He will come with those believers who have previously died and have been with him in Heaven. As he comes again to Earth, the believers still on this planet will join him (be raptured) and accompany him to the planet’s surface, where he will judge all mankind. God will resurrect all humanity with immortal material bodies, both the saved and unsaved, and all will stand before the judgment seat of Christ. He will banish forever from his presence those whom he does not know, the unsaved. Those who are his disciples will receive rewards in accordance with what they have done during their earthly lives. Then this present world will be purified by fire, destroyed, and remade without the limitations of space and time as we know them. Heaven and Earth will be one, and God will at last dwell within his creation with his beloved children.




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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.