depression

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Another Question

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In my previous article I addressed three questions raised by our local Friday Ladies Group and in this post I address another question.

‘A few years ago, after the service, I went up to the front and one of the Elders prayed for me and I received an anointing by the Holy Spirit.  The elder kept repeating “Let it come” and I went down … Is ‘slain in the Spirit’ the correct thing to say?  He said I would be able to talk in tongues which I am able to do.  It was a fantastic experience.  However.  so many negative things have happened to me since.  Does Satan try and get to one more after an anointing as I feel as though I am being severely tested – more so than before.  I have not had the desire to attend Church or Friday Ladies Group or any social occasion.  There have been times when I have made up my mind to attend a particular event and something always happens to prevent it.  I appear to have developed a mental blockage.  How can I overcome this?’

This actually consists of three related questions, so I will separate them and respond to each in turn.

(a) Being slain in the Spirit:  You won’t find this expression in the bible but it is often used by Pentecostals and Charismatics to describe the experience of being overcome by the power of the Holy Spirit. What they mean by this is the phenomenon of falling to the ground usually in response to someone praying for them to receive God’s power. This is why the experience is also often referred to as ‘falling under the power’. This is a complex subject and I will not be able to discuss it fully in a short article such as this, so I will, in the main, just give my understanding.

When a person is born again his/her dormant/dead spirit comes alive. This is an act of the Holy Spirit, but it does not necessarily entail empowerment. Shortly before ascending into Heaven, Jesus breathed on his disciples and said “Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:22). Then Luke records that in that same period between the resurrection and the ascension, Jesus told his disciples: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 1:4-5). Luke expands on this a few verses later when he records Jesus as saying, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” ( Acts 1:8).

In these two events, we have a type of model of what we should experience, that is:

  1. Rebirth of the spirit and a separate and logically subsequent
  2. Infilling of spiritual energy.

The day of Pentecost experience was intense and overwhelming for the first disciples and it often is for those receiving the infilling of the spirit, especially for the first time. A reasonable analogy is what often happens if someone comes into contact with an electricity source – they shake and fall to the ground overwhelmed by the surge of power going through them. Falling ‘under the power’ is neither normative nor always evidence of the work of the Holy Spirit. Unfortunately, and shamefully, some ministers fake this phenomenon or attempt to help the person to ‘receive’ by shouting, pushing, or strongly encouraging the person to fall to the ground.

Paul reinforced what Jesus modelled when he asked a group of disciples in Ephesus, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” (Acts 19:2). They stated that they had not and, after explaining to them the difference between John the Baptist’s immersion and the baptism associated with the rebirth experience, he baptized them in water. The account continues with the words: ‘When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied’ (Acts 19:6). This both connects the receiving of power from on high/infilling of spiritual energy/empowerment by the Holy Spirit with the laying on of hands and with the manifestation of tongues and prophecy.

I have written about this HERE

(b) Speaking in tongues: Pentecostals make an error of logic when they claim that speaking in tongues is the only definitive indication that a person has been ‘filled with/by the Holy Spirit’. It is certainly a common manifestation when a person receives spiritual power, but the passage from Acts that I have already cited includes prophesying as another manifestation. The apostle Paul does not appear to have spoken in tongues when he was born again (Acts 9:17-19), yet years later he declared that he spoke in tongues more than other believers (1 Corinthians 14:18). The logical error of the Pentecostal position is that while tongues are certainly one of the manifestations of the Holy Spirit, they are not the exclusive evidence that someone has received power from on high.

Another misunderstanding of scripture and of confused logic is the Charismatic teaching that there are two types of tongues, one being the evidence of spiritual baptism and the other a gift of the Spirit that when accompanied by the gift of interpretation substitutes for the gift of prophecy. When the first disciples received power from on high on the day of Pentecost, they rushed out into the street speaking in tongues. However, these were not words articulating the Gospel in different languages, nor were they words of prophecy, because the Acts account described them as ‘declaring the wonders of God’ (Acts 2:11). In 1 Corinthians 14:2 Paul wrote that ‘anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God. Indeed, no one understands him; he utters mysteries with his spirit’. On the Day of Pentecost the sceptics present claimed that the disciples must have been drunk because they did not perceive the utterances as human language.

In 1 Corinthians 14 Paul used the following words to describe tongues: ‘pray’, ‘praising God’, ‘giving thanks’ and in vs 2-3 he wrote that ‘anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God (while) anyone who prophesies speaks to men’. Tongues are prayers, praises and thanksgiving to God while prophecies are words spoken from God to believers. In a congregation, tongues need to be interpreted or else they will be unintelligible to others. They are not a form of prophecy requiring the gift of interpretation of tongues to be intelligible.

I have written about this in a short book titled ‘The 9 Spiritual Gifts & How to Find Your Ministry’ that you can obtain at Amazon.

(c) Testing:

While it is true that Jesus was tested directly after the Holy Spirit anointed him at his baptism, it is not true that the one always follows the other.

Jesus’ testing in the wilderness was directly related to his anointing as the Son of Man. The three tests (Matthew 4) were:

  1. Will you use your power to satisfy your needs, will you use it to aggrandize yourself,
  2. Will you use it to obtain authority over men, or
  3. Will you use it to serve mankind to your Father’s glory?

No, my experience and the example of the Lord Jesus tell me that the Holy Spirit imparts his anointing to enable us to overcome trials and to minister to others – how else would Jesus, as a man, survive in the wilderness for 40 days without eating anything?!

The lack of desire to go to church services or other Christian gatherings has probably got more to do with depression than testing. When we are depressed we often avoid company, become critical, and just have little energy or desire to do anything. The lady who posed the question received the empowerment of the Holy Spirit during a church service and the best place to seek additional energy for life and ministry is often a church service. So perhaps she simply needs to just decide to go and when there ask for hands to be laid on her.

 

Do you have a question or opinion? Post it here or on my facebook page and I will endevour to respond here or privately.

Another Question Read More »

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TruthTalks: Darkest Before Dawn

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Last week Dr Christopher Peppler wrote on it being darkest before dawn.

This gave us a different perspective on the current situation in South Africa and the world. You can read that HERE.

Now you can also listen to this message in Audio form by clicking on the play button below.

If you feel hopeless or helpless about the state of things this is something you should listen to as well as pass it on to those who can benefit.

As always, we love to hear from you so please Like, Subscribe, Share, or get in touch.

Until next time, Admin

TruthTalks: Darkest Before Dawn Read More »

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The Power of Purpose

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Even when I was in the banking world, when accountants still used the Abacus, managers acknowledged the power of purpose.

The bank had a corporate purpose, the branch had a statement of purpose, and all managers had a stated purpose that aligned with the hierarchy of purpose above them. Then in 1995, this concept invaded the Christian world through Rick Warren’s book, ‘The Purpose Driven Church’. Now, in 2021, ‘purpose’ has resurfaced in the spheres of both business and church.

If you were to ask the average Christian, “What is your purpose in life?” they would probably respond with something like, “To succeed at X”, or “To earn or own Y”, or “To do Z”. The common theme in such responses is that they are all descriptions of DOING something. Yet we are all ‘humanBEings’ not ‘humanDOings’ and we are ‘BEleivers’, not DOleivers’.

So, what then is YOUR purpose, and just how important is that purpose to you? To assist in answering this question, I want to turn to the Apostle Paul, a Jesus-follower with a clear sense of purpose.

Paul’s Purpose
When we consider someone like Paul, we tend to compare his clear purpose with our lack of purpose. Was he not the Apostle to the gentiles, the prolific church planter, and the author of much of the New Testament? But did the Apostle see these things as his purpose or as missions and ministries flowing from his real purpose in life? 

In Philippians 3:12, Paul wrote, ‘I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me’. This sounds to me like an indication of his sense of purpose. He also wrote to the Philippians, ‘I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ’ (Philippians 3:8).  So, Paul’s overriding purpose was to know Christ. A few verses after this (Verse 10), he wrote, ‘I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.’ Then, writing to the Roman believers, Paul expanded on and included us in his purpose statement by telling us that we are ‘predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son’ (Romans 8:29). The word ‘conformed’ means ‘moulded’ and the word ‘likeness’ means ‘image’. This is why the Amplified Bible translates this verse as ‘to be moulded into the image of his Son’, and his Son is Jesus. This, then, should be at least a part of every believer’s Purpose of Life statement.

Note well that Paul understood his purpose, and ours, as being and becoming and not doing and getting.

Your Purpose
So, is your purpose, your reason for being on planet Earth, perhaps about leaving a legacy, or making the world a better place? These are excellent results of a life lived, but they should not be a purpose and motivation for living. Even outcomes like serving God, making disciples, excelling in Christian ministry, are not THE God-given purpose of life.x
Let’s return to what Paul wrote to the Philippians:

I want to know Christ’: This was Paul’s foundational statement of purpose and should also be ours. Not just to know about Jesus, but to know him, how he feels, what he says, and how he regards people. Knowing Jesus starts with what he referred to as the ‘new birth’ experience. We cannot know God, who is a spiritual being, unless the Holy Spirit quickens us and makes us alive spiritually. Having met Jesus, spirit to spirit, we then continue to get to know him better throughout our earthly lives. Therefore, ‘To know Jesus’ needs to be the first clause in our statement of life purpose.

Paul went on to write of ‘becoming like him’ and so the second clause of our purpose statement should also be ‘To be like him’. We are called to become as much like him in this life as we can, and this means that our minds need to be transformed: ‘Don’t copy the behaviour and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect his will really is’  (Romans 12:2 NLT).  To the Corinthian church, Paul put it this way: ‘And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit’ (2 Corinthians 3:18).

Our Purpose Statement Completed

So, in Romans 8:29 Paul wrote of ‘conforming to the likeness of Jesus, in Philippians 3:10 he wrote, ‘becoming like him’, and in 2 Corinthians 3:18 he wrote of us being ‘transformed into his likeness.’

However, there needs to be a third and final clause in our statement of purpose. The first two clauses are about being and becoming but the third clause is about doing: You see, doing flows from being and is the evidence of becoming. This third clause was part of Jesus’ purpose, it is part of the Holy Spirit’s purpose, and it certainly was part of Paul’s purpose. This third clause is ‘to help others to know and become like Jesus’.

Therefore, the full statement of purpose for all Jesus-followers is ‘To know Jesus, to become like him, and to help others to do likewise.

For some, this purpose seems too simple to be true and too abstract to be of practical value. Yet it is true and it is of great practical value! Can there be anything for a person to aspire to more worthy than to be like Jesus? No. Is anything in this world more valuable to others than a Christ-like person? No. The statement is simple, but it describes a life-long endeavour more worthwhile yet more demanding to apply than any other does. Yes, by being more like Jesus we do become more content, less stessed, and so on, but discipleship is not a transactional trade-off. We want to become more Christlike becuase it is the highest ideal of humanity and the very best for both ourselves and others.. even though it often requires sacrifice and even persecution – ‘Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did’ (1 John 2:6).

Purpose is Important

Over the centuries, philosophers have been telling us that there are three big life questions that all people seek to answer in some way or another. They are,

  1. Where did I come from?
  2. Why am I here?
  3. Where am I going?

All born-again believers know the answer to Question Three – we are going to be with Jesus in Heaven. Question Two is the only one about the here and now and so it is a pressing question demanding an urgent and compelling answer – Why am I here on Earth?

Tragically, many, if not most, people cannot answer this question and as a result, they live their lives without any satisfying purpose and often with an underlying sense of hopelessness. As a result, an alarming number of people suffer from depression or even attempt suicide. During the current COVID-19 Pandemic, the number of suicides has doubled over previous years. The group most affected is teenagers, the very youth who should be looking with bright and expectant eyes into the future. It is not hard to figure out why suicide has become a teenage pandemic all of its own. Little to no prospect of a job, separation from friends and often family, educational aspirations thwarted, parents who are without income, and so on. No wonder that some answer the ‘why am I here?’ question with, “Nothing worthwhile that I can see!”

But I wonder just how many teens and others would respond so negatively to this question if they could grasp that the overall purpose of life for all people is to know Jesus, to become like him, and to help others to do likewise. Moreover, once they understood and accepted this, it is easy for them to see how every life situation, no matter how difficult, can contribute to achieving this purpose. This is why Paul wrote in Romans 8:28 that ‘we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.’

Purpose is important: It is vitally and critically important!

Conclusion

I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose’.

Do you believe this? Well, if you are born again of the Spirit then you should believe this! However, for someone who is not born again, there is no real basis for living out this statement of purpose. So, if you encounter someone who is feeling hopeless, and perhaps suicidal, then the first question to ask is “Are you spiritually born again into an eternal relationship with Jesus?” Then, based on this, explain what the purpose of life really is. 

If a Christian, who claims to be born again, is feeling hopeless, then the likelihood is that they do not grasp God’s purpose for their life on earth. So, explain it, pray for them, and encourage them to pursue this purpose.

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus’. Philippians 4:7

The Power of Purpose Read More »

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TruthTalks: A Psalm Today

Top ImageIf you are struggling to stay upbeat in the strange landscape that is the World and COVID-19, and if you even sometimes feel a little hopeless, then do yourself and favor and listen to this TruthTalks episode. It  gives us not only hope but also direction on how to keep your spirits up.

How are YOU dealing with it?

How do you think God wants us to deal with it?

The original post is HERE, otherwise, take a listen to Dr Christopher Peppler talking on this subject by clicking on the play button below.

TruthTalks: A Psalm Today Read More »

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TruthTalks: Depression

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Dad (Dr Christopher Peppler) and I discuss depression and how Christians can deal with it.

So if you, or anyone you know is suffering from this malady then this TruthTalk could be very helpful to you.
Listen now by clicking the play button below and do subscribe (buttons at the top of the www.truthistheword.com.

 

Blessing to you all until next time

Karen (daughter and site admin)

TruthTalks: Depression Read More »

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.