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September 2016

Jesus Preaching

How Jesus preached

How did Jesus PreachWe should all be interested in homiletics because what is preached to us is of great importance, and how it is preached affects how we comprehend what we hear.

Incidentally, if you would like to hear this post as spoken word, please scroll down to listen.

In a previous article,  I gave a very brief evaluation of the three main styles of preaching currently popular – narrative, expository, and topical. However, I didn’t deal with how Jesus preached. He is our model in all things and so in our appreciation of preaching we need to be guided by His methods and practices.

We all know that Jesus often used parables and in essence, a parable is a story and so we could think that Jesus was simply a narrative preacher. But He didn’t just tell stories, He also asked questions to lead into his subjects, on occasions He expounded Old Testament scriptures, and at other times He just addressed a topic in a straightforward manner. Jesus was a narrative preacher, an expository preacher, and a topical preacher. But here is the thing, each time He preached He chose the method best able to meet his objectives. For instance, in his well-known Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) He addressed topics and also expounded on Old Testament scriptures. (Other examples of topical and expository preaching are in Matthew chapters 11, 12, 23, and 24). What is more, when Jesus preached/taught in a style other than parables, He did so with authority and clarity. Matthew 7:29 notes that He taught ‘as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law’. The Pharisees derived their authority from what previous theologians had taught and Jesus criticised them for this when He quoted from Isaiah 29:13, ‘their teachings are but rules taught by men’. (Matthew 15:9). But when Jesus spoke He used words like “I tell you” and his interpretations and declarations were definitive.

Why then did Jesus speak in parables so frequently?
Man sowingThis question was obviously on his disciple’s minds for they asked him, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?” (Matthew 13:10-17). His answer was surprising and even shocking; “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you but not to them” And then Jesus paraphrased Isaiah 6:9-10, ‘though seeing they do not see; though hearing they do not hear or understand’. A parable is a story that can be understood at more than one level. At a superficial level it can, for instance, be a story about a farmer sowing seed in his field, but at a deeper level, it teaches important kingdom truth. Those antagonistic to him and his teachings would understand the story but not the underlying truth, but his disciples would have insight into the truth. The parable of the types of soil is a good example of this. After Jesus had told this parable to the crowds the disciples came to him and asked him why he spoke in parables. I have quoted his answer above, but then He added, “But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. For I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it. “Listen then to what the parable of the sower means:” (Matthew 13:16-19). Jesus then went on to explain to his disciples the spiritual truth that the parable contained.
The purpose of the parables was not just to hide truth from the opponents of the Gospel, but also to present truth to disciples and genuine enquirers.
For the disciples, they form the rich soil for the seeds of revealed truth, and to the uneducated and uninformed they present a way to gradually and progressively comprehend. Often Jesus would conclude a parable with a clear statement of the main point (i.e Luke 12:40) but on other occasions, He would tell similar parables that when taken together would make it easier for an enquiring soul to comprehend the sub-surface truth. This revelational aspect of the parables is captured in Mark 4:33-34; ‘With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand. He did not say anything to them without using a parable. But when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything’.

Today’s church preachers and teachers don’t often deal with hostile crowds of unbelievers, but we do have to allow for enquirers and believers who have little education or exposure to typical westernised teaching methods. Narrative preaching (story-telling) is most beneficial to such people, while on the other hand, when communicating with mature believers or well-educated folk it is probably better to use an expository style and reserve narrative for vivid illustrations within the sermon structure. This dual approach seems to be as close to Jesus’ example as we can get.


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Homeopathy and Dr. Hearsay

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The two worst diagnosticians in the world are Dr. Google and Dr. Hearsay.

Dr. Google gives so much information that it is easy to believe that you only have days left to live from whatever ailment you manifest. Dr. Hearsay, on the other hand, gives no information at all and consists entirely of recommendations such as “It worked like a charm for me”.

Towards the end of my fourth run-in with the vicious viral infections that have been raging this winter, my wife arrived home with a Dr. Hearsay remedy which, according to a friend, was guaranteed to fix me up. I looked at the description on the box and immediately recognised it as a homeopathic formulation. It appears that this form of quackery has now attained the level of acceptance required for it to go commercial on a grand scale, so I decided to write a short article of caution. And I have to say that writing has proved more therapeutic than ingesting the sugar pills.

A decade or two ago I tended to accept ‘naturopathy’ while rejecting ‘homeopathy’, but the definitions have changed over time and I now reject both. Naturopathy has become a catchall category for alternative medicine, including homeopathy. I don’t have any problem with the idea that natural plants and minerals can serve as valid medications, but I have several problems with the non-natural holistic pseudo-medical ‘sciences’ that fall into the naturopathy basket.

Homeopathy is based on two scientifically disproven claims – firstly, that like cures like, and secondly that the substance used as the basis of the cure imprints itself on the water used to carry it even when there is no longer any observable trace of the original substance. To use the ‘medicine’ that I was given as an example, the producer claims that it is an extract of Muscovy duck liver and heart diluted to 1 part to 10 to the power of 400 parts of water. Yes, that is ten cendotrigintillion times dilution!

I am not going to comment on the scientific invalidity of homeopathy because there are many articles available that do this most ably.

For instance, a recent article in starts with the words ‘a major Australian study analysing over 1,800 papers has shown that homeopathy, the alternative treatment that relies on super-diluted substances and the principle of “like cures like” is completely ineffective’.
Read more HERE.

As my reading audience consists mainly of Christians, I want to pose a question from that perspective that goes to the heart of the homeopathy delusion. If, as science ably demonstrates, there is no logical or medical support for homeopathy, why do so many followers of Jesus Christ not only accept it but swear by it? The usual response is, ‘It appears to work’ and ‘Dr. Hearsay recommended it’. But this is a ridiculously naïve and uninformed view. Let me illustrate this with a story that has been around for decades:

pills for genderA man wanted to make some quick money so he advertised his special ‘pregnancy prediction pills’ for just $10. If a woman took a blue pill each morning for the first 40 days of pregnancy, then she was guaranteed a boy baby, and a pink pill would produce a girl child. If, in the unlikely event that it wasn’t effective then he would give a full refund. What a scam! For starters, there was a 50:50 chance that it would appear to work, and if it didn’t then there would be very few ladies prepared to admit that they had been silly enough to believe that it would work, and thus the refunds would be very few indeed.

Along the same lines, I was amused to read the claims on the packaging of my Dr Hearsay homeopathic sugar pills: No drowsy (sic), no side effects, no drug interactions.’ Duh!… they are just tiny sugar pills after all!

But there is a darker side to homeopathy. What if there was some validity to the idea that like cures like and that diluting sufficiently while hitting the solution repeatedly against a leather block releases a spiritual essence/imprint with the power to heal? If this was indeed so then we are talking about manipulating untraceable ‘spiritual’ energy… and that is called occult magic!

Why would a follower of Jesus want to get involved in this any more than consulting Tarot cards, crystal balls, or occult spiritual healers!?
Now here is a shocking thought – those who claim that prayer has power in itself to heal or to bring about prosperity are also practicing occult magic.I say this because the notion that the act of saying words of prayer releases spiritual energy is no different from believing that incantations, charms, and homeopathic ‘imprints’ have power in themselves. Spiritual power is real, but it is God the Holy Spirit who is its source and it is He who sometimes releases it in response to the prayer requests of His people. God cannot be manipulated and to attempt to manipulate His power is surely a form of witchcraft.

So, my best advice to Christians is not to waste money on homeopathic sugar pill placebos and not to put their faith in any unseen power that man can manipulate… because that is ‘occult magic’ and ‘witchcraft’.

I have written quite a bit on the subjects of prayer and healing and all you need to do if you are interested is to use the search facility at the top right-hand corner of the site’s Home Page.

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Homophobic Hate

Homophobic Hate

 The South African social media is currently buzzing with comments about the planned visit by an American homophobic ‘pastor’.HateTopBannerNoWords

By the time you read this article he might already have been banned from entering the nation because of his reported hate speech, but whether he comes or not, the issues he is stirring up still need to be addressed.

I do not have the stomach to spend hours listening to the man’s pronouncements, but the statement of faith of the church he leads gives me enough information to go on for the purposes of this post. Their doctrinal statement consists of 11 clauses, but only two are statements of orthodox Christian belief; the other nine concern fringe rather than fundamental issues. For instance, that the King James Bible is ‘the Word of God without error’, and that ‘life begins at conception’. Three of the clauses are rejections rather than affirmations and one of them reads ‘We believe that homosexuality is a sin and an abomination which God punishes with the death penalty. [See HERE for the full statement]

The book of Revelation (22:15) contains a statement of those excluded from the fellowship of heaven and its earthly shadow, the church. It reads,

‘Outside are the dogs, the sorcerers, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying’.HCSB
So first off, if we consider ‘exclusions’ then we should not treat sexual immorality differently from the other items in the list. Those who love to lie, for instance, would include a horrendous number of politicians, salesmen, and others. In my opinion, homosexuality would certainly be included in the ‘sexual immorality’ category, but then so would fornication and adultery… oops, there goes another huge percentage of the population.

A second consideration worth thinking about is the supposed duty of Christians to pass judgement on non-Christians and their behaviour. This is just plain wrong thinking because Paul writes very explicitly; ‘What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside’ (1 Corinthians 5:12-13). When it comes to those who profess to be Christians and who seek church fellowship then we certainly have an obligation to correct, counsel, admonish, and even exclude – if all else fails. Paul deals with this in an equally forthright manner:

‘’I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people – not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case, you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat” (1 Corinthians 5:9-11).
Of course, for me, the model for our attitude towards the perceived sins of others is… Jesus. His attitude towards sexual immorality, in particular, is captured in His interaction with the woman caught in the act of adultery. His final words to her were,
“Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
“No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8:10-11).
He neither condemned nor condoned, but instead He saved… and that says it all. In fact, Jesus seems to have reserved His condemnation exclusively for the Pharisees who regarded themselves as the pious servants of God yet were filled with religious hate… men much like the American ‘pastor’ who triggered this article.

Just in case I am misunderstood or misquoted, let me place on record my attitude towards homosexuality:

  • I do not regard homosexuality (and that includes lesbianism) as a natural, normal, or biblically supportable practice.
  • However, I do not regard it as worthy of being singled out and raised into a category of misconduct more detrimental than other practices such as drunkenness, lying, cheating, fraud, bullying, spousal violence, rape in any guise, and so on.
  • I think that people who, for whatever reason, feel strongly drawn to any of these destructive behaviours, but refuse to practice them and seek to overcome their urges, are commendable and should receive my love and support.
  • I do not think that I have any business judging those who are not members of the Christian church, but should rather treat all people with respect and dignity.
  • However, I resist the calls by secular society to regard homosexuality as a natural and normal alternative lifestyle.
I cannot, for the life of me, understand how anyone who is born again of the Spirit of God into a life of following Jesus can be either homophobic or hate-filled, any more than a disciple of Jesus can be anti-Semitic – it seems such an impossible contradiction.
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If you have been enjoying the narrative sermon style that The Village Church has been using to go through the book of John then CLICK HERE to listen to Christopher’s sermon on John 9. You can also find lots of his other sermons to listen to HERE.

Of course if you prefer reading short articles, there are a wealth of them HERE for you to enjoy.

Do visit and leave a comment which are always welcome. Until next time, Admin






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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.