August 2017

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What religion says about Jesus

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I have found that a good way to determine the integrity and truth of religious, sectarian, or cultic teachings is to first determine what they say about Jesus.

The teachers of many religious systems claim that they worship the same God as the God of the Bible, and that their system of belief is just another way of approaching Him. Now, according to the Bible, Jesus is ‘the image of the invisible God…the exact representation of His being… for in Christ all the fullness of the deity lives in bodily form’ (Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:3; Colossians 2:9). The Lord Jesus is therefore the primary yardstick by which we should measure the validity of all spiritual truth claims. What a belief system teaches concerning His deity, uniqueness, and Lordship is an excellent indication of whether or not their god is our God, and their way of salvation the biblical way of salvation. So, let us have a quick look at what five major religious systems have to say about Jesus.

Islam

In terms of Islamic teaching, Jesus is only a messenger of Allah (and a prophet). Muslims deny that Jesus is both God and man and they also deny that he was crucified. However, they affirm that He was born of a virgin and that He was sinless. Islam has a high view of Jesus, but denies His divinity.

Hinduism

Although there are numerous sects within Hinduism, most of them hold to certain core teachings. For instance, Brahman is the name they apply to what they believe is the divine essence of all that exists. Brahman is impersonal, eternal, and beyond all human comprehension. There are many hundreds of gods and goddesses within Hinduism generally believed to be manifestations of the divine essence (Brahman). An Avatar is the name given to an appearance on earth of one of these deities and some strains of Hinduism claim that Jesus was an Avatar. However, most hold that he was simply an enlightened teacher (a master or guru).

Buddhism

Perhaps the best way to understand Buddhism is as a philosophy of how to live a happy life. Although it does include a concept of reincarnation, each new appearance of life on earth does not represent a specific spiritual entity or being. Because Buddhism predates Christianity by some six hundred years, its basic teachings take no account of Jesus. If they have any view of Jesus at all it would be as an enlightened teacher.

Mormonism

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints claims to be ‘the church of Jesus Christ’ but the big question is, ‘is this Jesus the same of the biblical Jesus of Nazareth or is he the Jesus of the latter day saints?’ Their Jesus was birthed in a pre-earthly existence (on another ‘planet’) by a flesh and bone divine man and his wife. He was the first of many sons and Satan was his younger brother. This alone evidences that the Jesus of Mormonism is not the Jesus revealed in the Bible.

Jehovah’s Witnesses

According to Jehovah’s Witness’ theology, God is a single person, not a Trinity. He does not know all things and he is not everywhere. He first created Michael the Archangel through whom He created all “other things,” including the universe. When the time came for a messiah to redeem humanity Michael the Archangel became a human in the form of Jesus. Jesus was created and was therefore not ‘god’ and he is not part of any supposed trinity. The Jehovah’s Witness doctrine of salvation sets out three requirements for salvation – a proper knowledge of god and Jesus, obedience to god’s law, and membership of and loyalty to the one true church (theirs). This neither the Jesus of the Bible nor the way of salvation it reveals.

It is reasonably clear from all of this that the Mormon or Jehovah’s Witness Jesus is not the Jesus revealed in and through the Bible. Nor is the Jesus acknowledged by Hinduism, Islam, and Buddhism the Jesus of the Bible. The Jesus of these religions cannot save anyone in and of himself and cannot be worshipped as God.

Here are links to the source documents of the five religions I have listed, for those of you interested in verifying this information or studying further:
Islam: The Quran
Hinduism: The Vedas
Buddhism: The Dhammapada and others
Mormonism: The Book of Mormon
Jehovah’s Witnesses: New World translation of Holy Scriptures
The Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry (CARM) has a lot of information on these and other religious systems.

PS: Listen to my forthcoming TruthTalk and the Q&A that follows it if you want to know what I think of Roman Catholicism’s take on Jesus and His saving work.
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TruthTalks Sermons

Inverting Rejection

All of us have experienced rejection in one form or another, but for some people rejection can be devastating. Unless we deal with it in a healthy manner, feelings of rejection can blight our lives and can even result in depression or a total breakdown of our sense of worth.

1 Peter 2:4-10 contains three antidotes to the negative effects of rejection:

1. Develop a biblical understanding of our identity in Christ Jesus
2. Forgive those who have rejected us
3. Receive God’s mercy so that our wounds can be healed

Listen to this encouraging sermon and then share it with others.

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TruthTalks: 2 special women in the Bible

TruthTalks 2 special women

Doctrinal damsels and dames

In this TruthTalks audio recording, Dad (Dr Christopher Peppler) and I change up the format a little and instead of having an overview of the post to open with we both dive headlong into talking about a couple of women in the Bible and what made them special.

It is a somewhat light-hearted take on this issue and I do hope you enjoy it! Listen now by clicking on the link below:

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Two special women in the Bible

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When we think of special women in the Bible, names like Mary, Ruth, and Esther usually come to mind. However, I want to focus on two less likely candidates.

Wednesday 9th August is Woman’s Day here in South Africa and so I have chosen biblical characters with whom the average woman is more likely to relate.

Eve

The first woman I will feature is… the first woman… Eve. But, isn’t she the cause of all of humanities problems? Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 2:14 that ‘Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner’. So why am I citing Eve as someone special?

Adam and Eve were innocent and naive. Moreover, God created them to function as one unit (Genesis 2:24). Satan was highly intelligent, cunning, and charismatic. He approached Eve through a lowly serpent to beguile and mentally seduce her. But, where was Adam? Why was he not protecting and coming between her and the great tempter? And he ate the fruit willingly enough when Eve offered it to him.

When God confronted them, Adam blamed both his wife and God. He said, “The woman you put here with me gave me the fruit, and I ate it.” (Genesis 3:12) Way to go Adam! Eve, on the other hand, immediately confessed what had happened. God pronounced punishment for the serpent, Adam, and Eve, but in the process, He made the promise that Eve’s offspring would crush the serpents head. This was a reference to the Messiah born of Eve’s line thousands of years later to defeat Satan once and for all on the cross of Calvary. Paul alluded to this in the much-misunderstood statement that although woman was the one who originally sinned, she would be ‘saved through childbearing…’ (1 Timothy 2:15). Eugene Petersen’s paraphrase of this verse provides a more natural and understandable interpretation; ‘On the other hand, her childbearing brought about salvation’ (The Message). In other words, although Eve sinned, God still determined that hers would be the genetic line that would eventually birth the saviour into the world. Paul was making this point to ensure that his readers would understand that although he was insisting on proper order in the church he was not suggesting that women are inferior to men.

So Eve, whose name means ‘life’, was indeed deceived, but she also had the honour of being the mother of all humanity and therefore the means by which the Lord Jesus Christ was born into the world… now that is pretty special! She made a terrible error of judgment but God redeemed her failure through the most gracious and momentous way possible.

Eve’s story is one of gracious redemption and is an encouragement to us today. Even if we sin, as Eve did, we can confess our sin and God will not only forgive, but He will also redeem; He will bring good out of the situation.

Priscilla

The other noteworthy woman I want to mention was Priscilla of Acts 18:2-26. Claudius expelled her and her husband, Aquila, from Rome, along with their fellow Jewish citizens. They travelled to Corinth where they earned their living as tent makers. Paul stayed with them when he visited Corinth and they became friends and fellow workers. After a year or two, all three of them departed Corinth for Ephesus where Paul left them and continued his journey. Sometime later, a man named Apollos came from Alexandria to teach about Jesus. Although he was learned and eloquent, he did not have a full understanding of the Gospel, and so the couple took him in and ‘explained the way of God more adequately’ (Acts 18:27-28).

Now, interestingly, when Luke recorded these things in the book of Acts, he mentioned Priscilla’s name before that of her husband. This was a break with convention but we would probably not read too much into it if Paul had not also given Priscilla pre-eminence in his greetings in both his letter to the believers in Rome and in his letter to Timothy.

The one time Paul mentioned Aqilla first was when he wrote to the Roman Christians that ‘the churches here in western Asia send greetings. Aquila, Priscilla, and the church that meets in their house say hello (1 Corinthians 16:19).

What we can infer from this all is that Aquila played a strong role in both teaching Apollos and leading a house church together with her husband.

I am more than a little irritated by those who attempt to keep capable women out of key ministry roles in the church. The overall testimony of scripture does not support this.

So, to all the women reading this post, thank you for your valuable contributions to homes, churches, and the Kingdom of God. All children of God are special to Him, all have a role to play, and all are of equal worth to the church and society.
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TruthTalks Sermons

TruthTalks (Sermon): Dependence on the Holy Spirit

In this sermon, based on Acts 10:38, Dr Christopher Peppler, drawing on the gospels, talks about our dependence on the Holy Spirit and what that means. He shows us that:

  1. As we learn to depend on the Holy Spirit we can grow both to be more like Jesus and to minister as He did.
  2. We can experience both the person and the power of the Holy Spirit – as Jesus did.
  3. And more

He also talks about HOW we respond to this truth… so give it a listen and do subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or whatever service you would like.

May it be a blessing in your life. Click below to listen now

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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.