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TruthTalks: Imperfect People Among Imperfect People

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Have you ever left a church because it was too imperfect?

In this podcast, Dr Christopher Peppler discusses the matter of finding yourself hurt, angry or in disagreement with your church and leaving. If you, or anyone you know has had this thought, or are thinking of leaving then you need to ask yourself…

…am I perfect?

You also need to listen to THIS podcast.

The original (written) post is HERE, but if you prefer to listen to the posts, please click on the play button below.

Until next time, Admin

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The different Gospel

In 1988 D.R.McConnell wrote a book critiquing the modern Faith Movement titled ‘A different Gospel’,  but there is another ‘different gospel’ that has been around far longer. Paul describes it as ‘really no gospel at all’ (Galatians 1:7) because the Gospel is good news whereas the ‘different gospel’ is not. This false gospel goes under various names but the one we are all most familiar with is… ‘Legalism’.

Legalism, possibly the most pervasive different gospel of all time, is defined most simply as the belief that we can, and should, do something to earn or merit salvation or divine approval. The formula of legalism is Faith + Something = Divine Acceptance. The ‘something’ usually consists of adherence to a specific set of doctrines, practices, good works, or religious observances.

Paul wrote Galatians, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, mainly to counter a certain form of legalism – the imposition of Judaic beliefs and practices on Christian believers. Some leaders and teachers of the time were insisting that for a Christian to be ‘kosher’ he or she had to become a Jew. Nowadays, we seldom encounter this exact form of legalism, yet the discussion around the recent ‘Return of the Judaizers’  article certainly proves that the perceived requirement that Christians observe the Saturday Sabbath and festivals of ancient Israel is still around in some circles.

However, I want to address a more subtle form of legalism that plagues the church communities of our land. Let me introduce it with a couple of questions.

Why do so many church leaders insist that their members give 10% of their total gross income to their local church? I have heard, and read, the arguments in favour of this Tithing practice and I find them all very ‘thin’ biblically. And most of those who advocate Tithing on the grounds of the Old Covenant don’t insist on Saturday Sabbath keeping on the same grounds. The scriptures encourage generous financial giving (2 Corinthians 8 & 9) but to demand a Judaic 10% is to add ‘something’ to the free grace of God (I feel another article coming on). The other day a young man even e-mailed me to ask how he could ensure that he was Tithing his time! And why do some churches make water baptism a membership requirement? I believe in baptism by immersion in water, but are people unacceptable to Jesus and His church if they are not suitably baptised? In my opinion, these are both forms of legalism.

Of course, the different gospel of legalism has infiltrated at a much deeper level than church policy.

At its core is the misconception that God deals with us on a works and rewards basis – we do what God requires and He then favours us.
Sure, the world system works this way, but not the Kingdom of God! We can do nothing to merit God’s favour; He loves and accepts us because of our relationship to Jesus Christ, not because we in any way earn His approval. It is called GRACE, not merit!

As born again children of God, as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, we hold ourselves accountable to the highest biblical standards of life and witness. We do this because we love Jesus and because we appreciate the value of obedience to divine standards for ourselves, our families, the church, our nation, and the world in general. However, legalism goes beyond this, seeks to hold others accountable to the same personal standards, and judges, criticises, and ostracises anyone who falls short. Legalism makes little distinction between perceived sinful behaviours and the people concerned. When a legal-beagle spots a shortcoming in someone else he ‘speaks the truth’ as directly as possible with little or no regard to love and redemption. If the person does not immediately conform, then legalism applies the John 8:11 solution, but with a nasty twist. In effect, Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery “I do not condemn you; go now and leave your life of sin”, but legalism says “I do condemn you; go… now!”

Legalism is a different gospel that is no Gospel at all, and it is a blight on our churches!
I have been involved in pastoring for over three decades, and in that time I have seen the problems that license and hyper-grace can produce, yet nothing compares to the ubiquitous ravages of legalism I have observed in the Body of Christ.


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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.