August 2016

Rest

Recuperation Notification

Hi all, your Truth Is the Word Administrator here with a little update.

As Christopher has been ill four times in the last 2 months it has been decided that he is going to minimise his appointments, writing, etc. for a short while, so please be patient.  Programming will resume as normal in 3 weeks time.

Meanwhile, if you are looking for something to READ then please feel free to peruse some of the shorter articles Christopher has written HERE or LISTEN to sermons HERE.

I will be updating both of these sections of the www.truthistheword.com website regularily during the next few weeks, so keep checking back in and also watch for the start of a new season soon!

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Jewish Messiah

Jesus the Jewish Messiah

“If Jesus is not the Jewish Messiah then He is nobodies Messiah” Dr Michael Brown.

For the last several weeks we, in Lonehill Village Church, have been preaching through John’s Gospel using a first-person narrative style as posted in my last message, but, If you missed the message I preached on John 4 (from the woman at the well’s perspective) then click here. One aspect of this is the effect it has had on the preaching team. Each of us has found that in looking at the text through the eyes of someone in the story we have come to clearly perceive things that were previously vague. To tell the story effectively we have had to ask questions like “Why did Jesus say that the way He did?” and “What would the people then have understood him as saying?

Two things emerged with real clarity as we progress through the Gospel series:

  1. How Jesus repeatedly declared himself to be God incarnate, and,
  2. how offended the Pharisees were because of this.

Last week someone emailed to me about my position on the future of Israel – i.e., does God still have a special role for them as a physical nation? This, together with a reignited interest in the Jewish Pharisees sparked by our narrative experiences of John’s Gospel, led me to view several debates on YouTube concerning Jesus as the Jewish Messiah.

The three debates I watched are;

  1. Is Jesus the Messiah? Michael Brown vs. Rabbi Tovia Singer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jOifPwOvd58
  2. Who Is Jesus? Michael Brown vs. Rabbi Shmuley Boteach https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_S4X0v-vFpI
  3. Is Jesus the Jewish Messiah? Michael Brown vs. Rabbi Immanuel Schochet  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cz5FY958FvQ

Each of them is very long, but they make for interesting and informative viewing. Dr. Michael Brown features in all three and his main website is https://askdrbrown.org/. I appreciate Dr. Brown very much, not only because he is extremely knowledgeable, but also because of his humble and friendly attitude towards debate opponents who at times are bombastic, rude and dismissive. You can find some information on this remarkable man at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_L._Brown and https://askdrbrown.org/biography/

I don’t intend to rehash or even comment on the substance of the debates. Instead, I want to describe the overriding emotion I experienced as I watched and observed. I want to do this because I think it may influence the way some of my reader’s regard both Jewish people and the nation of Israel.

In the Gospels, the Pharisees displayed extreme offense at what Jesus proclaimed himself to be. Not only was He claiming to be the Messiah but, more than that, He declared himself in many ways to be God Incarnate. The Rabbis I observed debating with Dr. Brown are the modern-day descendants of the Pharisees of New Testament times… and they are as offended by Jesus as were their forefathers.

To them, then and now, Jesus’ claims to divinity were the highest form of blasphemy eliciting emotions ranging from extreme irritation to rage. For them, it is inconceivably foolish to consider Jesus the Jewish Messiah, let alone God in human form. But of course, if Jesus is not the Jewish Messiah then He is nobodies Messiah. No amount of debate and logical argument will convince them otherwise for they are in the thrall of a spiritual blindness. John stated the problem by quoting from Isaiah the prophet; ‘they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere:

“He has blinded their eyes and deadened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn — and I would heal them.” (John 12:39-40).
A major contributing factor to the blindness of today’s rabbis is that they consider the oral tradition of the teachers of Israel to be as God-given as the Old Testament itself. As a result, they place the interpretations of past Rabbis above the obvious context and import of many Old Testament scriptures. Of course, they regard the New Testament as irrelevant.

Flowing from their offense at Jesus himself is an equally passionate reaction to Christians who seek to persuade them that Jesus is indeed the way, truth, and life. Some regard evangelism of Jews as ‘murder of the soul’ while others label it more mildly as disrespectful interference in Jewish faith and tradition. Some Rabbis regard Evangelical Christians as idolaters, because we worship a ‘man’ (Jesus), and thus condemn us to Hell.

Jewish MessiahSo what was my dominant emotion as I listened to these terrible statements? Neither irritation, nor anger, but profound sadness. I realised more acutely than ever why Paul had written; ‘I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen’ (Romans 9:2-5). I felt just something of what Jesus must have experienced when He stood on the Mount of Olives and lamented, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” (Matthew 23:37-39).

I believe that Paul teaches in Romans 9 to 11 that the Jews will one day turn to Jesus in their millions and that the nation of Israel will stand as a testimony to God’s faithful covenant-keeping. But until then I see such a wonderful, intelligent, and industrious people lost in spiritual darkness. I realise that for many Jews these sentiments are in themselves condescending and offensive but I cannot deny how I feel for the Holy Spirit has touched my heart. I pray, and I ask you to join me in praying, for the swift fulfillment of the prophecy of Revelation 1:7;

Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen’.
I sense that the time is near when Jews everywhere, and in Israel in particular, will realise that Jesus is, and always has been, their divine Messiah. The spiritual blindness will lift, and in their millions they will declare, “blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”

If you would prefer to LISTEN to this post (along with a bit more information on the topic) then please click on the play button below.

 

 

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Listening

Storytelling Preaching

Preaching delivery can generally be categorised into one of 3 styles: Narrative, Expository, and Topical. Narrative preaching is basically a fancy name for biblical storytelling. Expository preaching consists of taking a portion of scripture and expounding (presenting and explaining) it’s meaning. Topical preaching consists of selecting a specific subject and then applying the major biblical texts that relate to it.

Narrative preaching takes a passage of scripture and presents it as a story seen through the eyes of either someone observing the action (3rd person) or a character in the story itself (1st person).

StorytellingThe strengths of narrative preaching are:

  • It engages the people listening – who doesn’t like a story dramatically told.
  • It involves the listeners in an emotional or sense-based encounter with the characters in the story.
  • Stories are fairly easy to remember.
  • In an illiterate community, it serves as a partial substitute for the Bible.

But narrative preaching does have weaknesses:

  • It is not at all effective, and sometimes impossible, to present the teaching-rich portions of the Bible. Imagine trying to convey the meaning of chapters 14 to 17 of John’s Gospel, let alone the Letter to the Romans, using only a narrative style.
  • It is difficult to emphasize the key truths of a passage without breaking the flow and interest of the story. The danger is that listeners may benefit to some extent from the story but not comprehend the truth that the story is supposed to incorporate.
  • Application to current living is also mainly absent from narrative preaching and the listener can get lost in biblical time without appreciating how to apply the contents to modern life.
  • Not all topical or expository preachers are good story tells and the style can easily degenerate into amateur dramatics.

In our church, we are currently preaching through John’s Gospel using the first-person narrative style. My contribution to date has been to tell the story of the woman at the well from John chapter four. Have a listen and see if you agree with my analysis of this form of preaching.

To start listening, simply click on the play button below, or click HERE. If you would like to listen to other sermons I have preached, you can find them, along with sermon notes HERE.

 

 

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Westminster Confession

The Westminster Confession through Jesus spectacles

Many are well educated on the history and contents of the Westminster Confession  of Faith. Some may have just a nodding acquaintance with it, while  some may never have heard this term.

New ArticleI recently read an article in Joy! Magazine asserting that the Westminster Confession “has been described as the finest, most Biblical description and definition of Christian life, faith and practice”. Only those adhering to the Calvinist system of theology could assert such a thing so I promptly submitted an article presenting a different view on the subject. The article is to be published in the August edition of Joy! Magazine. If you would like to read the full article then please click HERE, but for those of you who need a bit of background, here is a brief description of the Westminster Confession.

The Western Confession of Faith was commissioned by the Church of England and published in 1646 to set out its essentially Calvanistic understanding of the Christian Faith. It consists of a number of questions each followed by the Church of England’s response.
The condensed version of the confession, usually referred to as the Shorter Confession, starts with three important questions:
  1. What is the chief end of man?
  2. What rule hath God given to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy Him?
  3. What do the Scriptures principally teach?
My article attempts to answer these questions, not from a Calvinistic standpoint, but from a Jesus-centred perspective. l am deeply committed to the idea that the questions of faith and life should be answered, not in terms of systems of theology, but from what Jesus taught and did
You can find “The Westminster Confession through Jesus spectacles”  here at www.truthistheword.com under the PUBLISHED ARTICLES tab, where you can also find other articles I have written over the years.
Please note that the dates shown are not the dates the articles were published (most of them are a lot more recent) but back-dated for archival purposes.

God Bless you!

 

 

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Something New Coming!

An end and a beginning

Revelation Revisited completeWe have come to the end of the Revelation Revisited series which started in April 2015 and consisted of over 60 articles. For those of you who journeyed with me through this wonderful last book of the Bible – thank you. I do hope this series has been of benefit to you.

I will be videoing a summary of the last half of the book, as I did for the first half, but in the meanwhile HERE is a printable document containing all the posts in the series for you to read (offline if you prefer) at your leisure.

Do you have any questions on the topic of Revelation?  If you do, please insert your question into the comment section (under this post) and I will do my best to answer it.

In the near future, I will be starting a series called Truth Talks, which are short essays on topics of interest. These posts will be  linked to audio interviews on the same topic which will in future become podcasts but are currently downloadable in the same way as podcasts. The articles will range over categories like Christian Living, the church, the Bible, Science and Faith, The Lord Jesus, The Holy Spirit, and Doctrinal aberrations. Here are just some of the topics you can expect:Got Questions?

  • Suicide
  • Divorce and remarriage
  • Homosexuality and Gay marriage
  • Women preachers
  • Biblical inerrancy
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Word of Faith teachings
  • Roman Catholicism
  • Islam
  • Suffering and evil

I would love your feedback on these topics, so If you have any specific topics that you think would interest many then please would you comment on this post, describe what you have in mind, and I will give consideration to writing about it.

In any event, if you have any questions please just ask.

 

Read

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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.