October 2017

Transformation in Christ

The transformative power of failure

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So many people fear failure that there is an actual word describing it… atychiphobia. Perhaps failure would not be so fearful a prospect if we realised its inherent redemptive power.

I have long believed that failure is a great teacher and that we cannot really claim to have learned something completely until we have failed at mastering it at least once. Failure has the power to change us for the better and to redeem us from unproductive ways of life. Yet, the other day I listened to a Pastor declaring that the ‘word’ God had given to him to live by and to teach was; ‘There shall be 100% success, zero failure, for everyone who comes to him in faith believing’. Hmmmm.

Consider some of the qualities we can gain when we fail; qualities like humility, perseverance, and patience. You must have heard that old line “God, please give me patience, and give it to me now!”, but how do we learn to be patient without repeatedly failing to be patient?

Perseverance too is a quality acquired only through repeated failures. Thomas Edison, the inventor of the light bulb, was fired from two jobs for being ‘non-productive’. Years later, someone asked him how he felt about failing 1,000 times before he succeeded in producing a working light bulb. He answered, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps”. Of course, he did fail over and over again, but he understood that these failures were necessary steps to achieving his goal.

Elon Musk, the South African born wonder-child of the 21st century is a modern example of failure-wrought perseverance. He created a company, which he named SpaceX, to build rockets, but the first three failed at launch. Later, he developed the electrical Tesler car but it brought him to the verge of bankruptcy. Today he is worth in excess of 2.2 billion dollars!

In addition to patience and perseverance, we only learn humility and dependence on God when we fail to achieve real life success in our own strength. Carefully read Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 12:7-10:

‘To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong’.
This powerful declaration brings into focus the real nature of success. We sometimes fear failure because we see it as denying us success, yet failure is actually a potent means to true success. Paul defines success in terms of humility and dependence rather than arrogant independence, and in weakness rather than strength. Why? Because he understood that a major part of our life’s goal is to become like Jesus, and Jesus was the epitome of truly ‘successful’ qualities. J.I Packer wrote in ‘Knowing God’ that ‘so many in our day seem to have been distracted from what was, is, and always will be the true priority for every human being – that is, learning to know God in Christ’.

William Lane Craig tells the story of how he failed his oral examination for his doctor of theology degree. He and his wife had relocated to Germany so that he could study under the great Wolfhart Pannenberg, the same man who gave him a failing mark. William returned to the USA humbled and disheartened. However, the German higher education system allowed a failed candidate to retake the oral examination after a further year of preparation. He recounts how during that year he learned more theology than he had acquired in all of his formal education to that point. A year later, he was re-examined by professor Pannenberg and passed Cum Laude. William Lane Craig has now written or served as editor for over 30 books, he debates the sharpest minds in the non-Christian world, and was named as one of the 50 most influential living philosophers.

“Success is often the product of failure and great success the product of many failures.”

If you would like some examples of monumental failures recorded in scripture then examine the lives of people like Gideon, Jonah, and Peter. I believe that Peter would have been unfit to lead the early church if his flawed character had not been redeemed through failure. Of course, the greatest example of all is the Lord Jesus Christ. John 6:66 records how after hearing Jesus teach some difficult concepts ‘many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him’. After His crucifixion there were only 11 disciples and 109 other men and women left (Acts 1:15), yet the ‘gates of hell’ (Matthew 16:18) have not prevailed against His church and as of 2010 there were over 2.2 billion Christians worldwide – one for each dollar acquired by Elon Musk, yet inestimably more valuable.

If atychiphobia is the word for the fear of failure, I wonder what word would describe the acceptance of failure as a means to true success. Let me know if you come up with one.

‘Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards’ Søren Kierkegaard, Danish Christian philosopher and theologian, 1844

 

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TruthTalks: Judgement Day

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Dad (Dr. Christopher Peppler) and I discuss Judgement Day, after THIS post last week.

Well, I say discuss, but it’s more me trying to understand certain things, and asking Dad some of the most difficult questions I can think of. If you have any questions about the post, please give this a listen, and if you still have questions then let us know so we can find your answers for you.

You can stay up to date with the TruthTalks podcasts by subscribing to iTunes HERE, or with any other podcatcher HERE.

We also post regular updates to Facebook, so follow TruthIsTheWord by clicking HERE.

 

Until next time

Karen (admin and non-theologically minded questioner)

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Judgement Day

Judgement Day

The prospect of a Final Judgement should not threaten any true Christian, for it is the final earthly act in God’s redemptive plan for all who believe. Judgement Day completes the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross; The Day of Atonement resolves Passover.

In my last article, I wrote about the Feast of Tabernacles, which Jewish folk all around the world have recently celebrated. The commemoration consists first of Rosh Hashanah, the blowing of trumpets, followed 10 days later by Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. Then comes 7 days of living in out-door ‘tabernacles’.

For Christians, the immediate relevance of the Day of Atonement is that it presents aspects of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary. Hebrews 9:11-14 makes this clear:

When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation. He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption. The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!

However, some clues in the Day of Atonement rituals point to a deeper level of meaning.

  • John referred to Jesus as the Lamb of God (John 1:29, 36). Paul likens Him to the Passover Lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7) and effectively links the crucifixion to Passover, not the Day of Atonement, as does Peter in 1 Peter 1:19. Why then did they sacrifice a GOAT on the Day of Atonement? Jesus used goats to represent those who were condemned, not those whom He saved: “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left” (Matthew 25:31-33).
  • There was a second goat involved on the Day of Atonement and this animal was called Azazel (Leviticus 16:8), which most probably means ‘complete sending away’, but which some Jewish scholars regard as a name for the devil. The High Priest laid all the sins of the people of Israel upon this goat and sent it off to be lost in the wilderness. How does this relate to the Crucifixion? The most likely connection I see is to the banishment of Satan from Heaven when Jesus died and then rose again.

Jewish tradition places the full emphasis of the Day of Atonement on averted judgement. For them, Yom Kippur is the climax of ten days of repentance, called the ‘Days of Awe’. After this, the names of the righteous are written in the Book of Life while the unrighteous are inscribed in the Book of Death.

The book of Revelation contains a graphic reference to the Judgement Day of God;

Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life’ (Revelation 20:11-12). Earlier, Revelation links this Book of Life to Jesus with the words, ‘the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world’ (Revelation 13:8).

There are further connections between the Day of Atonement and the Final Judgement. The Blowing of Trumpets precedes the Day of Atonement and in the book of Revelation, the Seventh Trumpet announces the Day of Judgement. Jesus spoke of this when He said that the nations of the earth “will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other“ (Matthew 24:30-31). Paul echoed his master’s words when he later wrote that ‘the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God’ (1 Thessalonians 4:16).

After the Day of Atonement came the 7 days of the Feast of Tabernacles commemorating God dwelling with His people during the wilderness exodus. In the book of Revelation, the final dwelling of God with His people is described in terms of a new creation, a HeavenEarth:

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” ‘ (Revelation 21:1-4)

The great Day of Atonement holds no fear and trepidation for those born again of the Spirit of God, for Jesus referred to himself when He said that “whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son” (John 3:18). Hallelujah!

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TruthTalks: Tabernacles 2017

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Dr. Christopher Peppler and I (his daughter Karen) discuss Jewish Celebrations and in particular the feast of Tabernacles which is happening right now. Find out why YOU should find this important, hear about Christopher’s supernatural experience in Israel, and (hopefully) have any questions you may have answered from this weeks audio post.

My apologies for any clicks you may here in the audio, we have discovered the problem and hope to fix this for the next TruthTalks podcast, so please bear with us 🙂

Listen now by clicking the play button below, or subscribe by clicking HERE and subscribe to TruthTalks on iTunes or your favourite podcatcher.

 

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Tabernacles 2017 and Jesus

Jewish Feasts

To help the Israelites remember His goodness, God gave them three feasts to celebrate every year; Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles. As I write this, Jews all over the world are celebrating Tabernacles, but we Christians should pay attention to it too because it also speaks truth to us.

Many years ago, our local church invited a visiting British Pentecostal to preach at a Sunday service. He asked for two lecterns to be set up about three meters apart, and then proceeded to put his bible on the one and his notes on the other. He spent his whole thirty minutes or so prowling between the two and shouted out “Glory!” as he approached the one and “Hallelujah!” as he neared the other. The sad thing is that I remember his antics so vividly, but I cannot tell you the subject matter of his sermon. It would be a lot sadder if we acknowledge Tabernacles as an ancient biblical festival, but fail to receive the message it conveys to our generation.

The feast is a drama in three parts. Rosh Hashana, the blowing of trumpets, took place on the 22nd of September 2017, followed by Yom Kipor, the Great Day of Atonement, on Sunday 1st October. Both of these significant days have great meaning for Jews and Christians alike, but I want to focus on the third part of the drama, Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles that starts on the 5th and ends on the 12th of October.

To Jews, Sukkot is a remembrance of how their ancestors lived in tents in the wilderness, and how Almighty God was present to protect, guide and sustain them. To Christians, the Feast of Tabernacles is a reminder of how God ‘tabernacled’ among His people as Jesus Christ of Nazareth. It is also a recognition that through the Holy Spirit He is with us now in the tabernacle of His church, and a reminder that He is coming again soon to dwell permanently with His children. The appropriate response to this is “Glory hallelujah!”

There are many facets of wonderful truth embedded in the Feast of Tabernacles, but in this article, I want to develop just one aspect, which Haggai 2:2-9 introduces.

“This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. I will shake all nations, and the desired of all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the LORD Almighty. ‘The silver is mine and the gold is mine,’ declares the LORD Almighty. ‘The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,’ says the LORD Almighty. ‘And in this place I will grant peace,’ declares the LORD Almighty.”
Significantly, Haggai uttered this prophecy on the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles in the year 520 BC.

The ‘former house’ was Solomon’s temple, built 438 years earlier and dedicated on the last day of Tabernacles 958 BC. This temple was a magnificent structure adorned with silver and gold, but its true glory was something much more than gold. 2 Chronicles 7:1-3 records what happened when the temple was dedicated to God;

‘When Solomon finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple. The priests could not enter the temple of the LORD because the glory of the LORD filled it. When all the Israelites saw the fire coming down and the glory of the LORD above the temple, they knelt on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped and gave thanks to the LORD, saying, “He is good; his love endures forever.” ‘
Its true glory was the presence of Almighty God.

Now, in Haggai’s day, Zerrubabel was restoring the temple and the prophet was trying to encourage the people because it was obvious to all that this restored temple was but a shadow of its former grandeur. But, in reality, the glory of the Lord had departed from Solomon’s temple just 46 years after it was dedicated and this restored temple never did ‘contain’ the glory of the Lord. History records that successive nations plundered this temple, and that its final shame came in 167 BC when Antiochus Ephinies slaughtered a pig on the altar and erected a statue of Zeus in the Holy of Holies. ‘Ephinies’ means ‘the god who appears to reveal himself’ – what blasphemous irony!

In 20 BC Herod the Great rebuilt the temple, but still it did not manifest God’s glory… until between 5 BC and 27AD when The Glory returned to it three times. More than 500 years after Haggai the prophecy he uttered came true and the glory of Herod’s temple indeed surpassed that of Solomon’s temple. In 5 BC Jesus was brought as a baby to this temple to be dedicated– glory! Twelve years later, He came again to the temple to teach the teachers of Israel – glory! Then, when he was 33 years of age Jesus came again to this temple to fulfil all righteousness and to bring to an end the sacrificial system – glory! Antiochus called himself ‘the appearance of God’ and slaughtered a pig. Jesus, the true revelation of God, offered himself for slaughter, a lamb without blemish – Hallelujah!

In Jesus’ day, they celebrated the feast of Tabernacles for seven days and regarded the 8th day as a special Sabbath marking the first day of a new period of grace and mercy. On this ‘last and greatest’ day, a priest went down to the pool of Siloam, filled a golden pitcher with water and then led the procession back to the Temple. They then walked around the Great Altar of Sacrifice 7 times singing and joyfully shouting out “Hosanna” (Save us now). The climax of the ceremony came when the priest raised the golden pitcher and poured the water onto the Altar. As he did this, the people recited Isaiah 12:3 “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.”

At that very moment, Jesus cried out in a loud voice; “If a man is thirsty, let him come to me and drink!” Perhaps the priests knew the whole passage of Isaiah from which they were chanting, but Jesus certainly knew that it ended with ‘Shout aloud and sing for joy people of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel among you!’ To those with ears to hear Jesus was saying “I am the fulfilment of that scripture; I, the Holy One of Israel, am among you.”

The trumpets of Rosh Hashana announce the coming of the King of Kings, Yom Kipor signifies the great act of atonement of The Saviour on our behalf, and Sukkot reminds us that Jesus was, is, and will be with us. Glory Hallelujah!

 

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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.