Joy

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TruthTalks (Sermon): The Joy of our Salvation

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Greetings and welcome to 2018. May you all be blessed in this year and the ones to come.

Today’s post is a TruthTalk sermon called ‘The Joy of our Salvation’, which Dr. Christopher Peppler preached at Lonehill Village Church on Christmas day. In this TruthTalk we hear about what is described as ‘a silver river of joy running through the bible’  called JOY.

This is a wonderful message for those of us who need to remember what it is to be joyful and, more importantly, WHY. 1 Peter 1 is the main reference for this happy and hopeful sermon, so give it a listen now.

 

Please CLICK HERE if you would like to listen to more of Dr. Christopher Pepplers sermons online or peruse his sermon notes.

Happy and blessed 2018 to all!

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Christmas Time feature image

It’s Christmas time again!

It's Christmas Time again

It is hard to believe, but another year is ending and it’s Christmas time again.

What a year it has been! The flood of change coming upon the world threatens to wash us out into deep waters, and so we need to focus on the rock of our salvation, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Here are three articles from the truthistheword.com archives to read and ponder during this festive season.

I wrote ‘The Word became flesh’ in 2010 to consider the mystery and miracle of God coming to live among us. Then, in 2013, I wrote ‘Something MAGIcal’ as an exposure of the important historical significance of 25th December. It probably wasn’t when Jesus was born, but it was when the wise men came to bow before the King of Kings. Last year, 2016, I wrote ‘Mary did you know’ to reflect on Mary’s role in the drama and glory of the incarnation.

The political and financial world offers us little joy at this time, but the Gospel offers a message of great joy to all upon whom God’s favour rests. I intend preaching on Luke 2:8-14 on Christmas day this year and I will share this message as a post and a podcast early in 2018.

Despite the darkness around us, be joyful in Jesus this Christmas!

‘The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.’ Isaiah 9:2
 

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The Privilege of Prayer

In an article I wrote for Joy! in August 2009 I asked why we, as Christians, are generally so passionless and powerless. I suggested that one of the reasons was that so many of us are confused concerning the nature of prayer, the stewardship of spiritual power, and the need to proclaim in word and ministry – Prayer, Power, and Proclamation.

Part of the problem, as I see it, is that we have separated these three elements instead of integrating them into one – three yet one. Conversely, we tend to confuse these elements with each other.

A well known adage is, ‘there is power in prayer’. But there is no power in prayer. Prayer precedes power, but in itself, prayer is simply communion with God. Prayer is the communication component of our end of an intimate relationship with our heavenly Father. God is certainly powerful, but how can the act of speaking to him have power in itself? Yet preachers often tell us that prayer ‘works’ (another expression which confounds me). Powerful results of prayer are simply evidence of God’s response.

We confuse the response with the request when we say that there is power in prayer. Even more seriously, we confuse the object with the method. God is the one to whom we pray (object), and prayer is the method of communicating with him. Yet prayer is foundational to both power and proclamation.

In prayer we express our dependence on God and our willingness to proclaim His will in word and deed. In prayer we ask Him to fill us with power from on high so that we are able to powerfully proclaim His word.
As children of God, we also ask Him, in prayer, to exercise His power to achieve what we perceive to be valid kingdom endeavors. It might appear on the surface that our prayers have released power, but it is actually God who chooses to manifest His power. An example of this is in Acts 4:29-30, where the disciples prayed, “Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” Verse 32 records that “After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.” The disciples prayed, and God responded with a mighty demonstration of his power.

P3 Book CoverHowever, the text also reveals that God went further than just demonstrating His power; He also filled the disciples with spiritual energy so that they could speak His word with boldness. This is the second level connection between prayer and power. God may respond to prayer with direct acts of power, but He may also respond by imparting power to us, His children, so that we can act in His name. This seems to be the Father’s preferred response to our prayer requests. Why? I think it is because He wants us to grow up to be responsible and mature members of his household; children who have learned both dependence on Him and responsible stewardship of His authority and power.

As always, let’s take our queue from Jesus. Matthew chapter seventeen records how Jesus went up a mountain to pray. Whilst He was praying, He had a dynamic spiritual encounter, heard the voice of the Father, and received an illuminating anointing.

Jesus then went down the mountain and cast out a demon from a suffering boy – Prayer, followed by the receipt of power, followed by proclamation.
Prayer precedes power, and power is essential to effective proclamation. To find out more, please download my latest book ‘P3’ concerning power from on high.

 

 

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The Mystery of the Trinity

The doctrine of the tri-unity of the Godhead is a mystery! We can create symbols, diagrams, and analogies to try to explain it, but we really do not understand how God can be three, yet one. It is not a revealed doctrine. It is implied in the references to Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the Father as… God. Yet the doctrine of the Trinity is central to how we define orthodox Christianity.

Genesis 1:26 states, ‘Let us make man in our image’. The Hebrew word Elohim is a plural name used of God. God is more than one. In the New Testament, the Father is called God, the Son is also called God, and so is the Holy Spirit. Yet the consistent Old Testament declaration is that God is one. So, if God is one yet the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are God, then God must be three-in-one, a trinity.

Over the years, people have come up with many analogies to try to explain the three-in-oneness of God. Perhaps the best of these is the reference to H2O. Imagine a sealed glass jar, half-filled with water that has just boiled. Three cubes of ice float in the water. Steam fills the upper portion of the jar. For a short time, the H2O in the jar co-exists in three different forms – water, ice, and steam. In this analogy, the water represents the Father, the ice represents the Son, and the steam represents the Holy Spirit. Then the ice melts, and the steam condenses, and all you have is a jar half full of tepid water. In the same way, the analogy fails to satisfy us intellectually and creates as many problems as it perhaps solves.

A better idea is to focus on our lack of comprehension. Rather than seeking to understand how God can be three yet one, we can try to grasp why we cannot comprehend tri-unity.
We exist in three dimensions of space. God, on the other hand is multi-dimensional. He does not seem to be limited to time or place. In any event, if he created this 3D universe then he must logically exist in more than three dimensions. [As I write this, I am smiling wryly to myself because here I am trying to explain God. Forgive me Lord; I am just trying to find a way to appreciate you better.]

In the early twentieth century, a man by the name of Edwin Abbot Abbot came up with an innovative way of helping us to comprehend higher dimensions. He reasoned that although we have no idea of what higher dimensions are like, we do know what lower dimensions consist of. A line is a two-dimensional construct and a dot is one-dimensional. His idea was to invent a 2D world, which he named Flatland, populated by 2D people. They had length and breadth but no height. In Flatland, a square would appear as a straight line. A circle would look like a straight line that blurred at both ends. A triangle would be a line that appeared to be darker in the middle. Remember, there is no dimension of height in Flatland. Edwin reasoned that a 3D creature entering Flatland would resemble a multi-dimensional creature entering our 3D world.

Now, what would the citizens of Flatland see if a 3D object, like a sphere, were to pass through the 2D plane of their world? As the sphere made contact with their 2D plane, they would see a dot. Then, as the sphere passed through their world they would see a line. At first, the line would grow in length. After the circumference of the sphere passed through Flatland, the line would shrink back down to a dot. Do you get the picture?

What would they see if a three-legged stool were to pass through Flatland? At first they would see it as three dots and then as three lines. As the seat passed through their world, they would see just one long line. At first, they would see it as three, but then they would perceive it as one. But how would  3D creatures see the stool? They would describe it as one object with a seat and three legs.

The Holy Trinity is not a mystery to the angels. They exist in higher dimensions of space and time. It is only a mystery to us because we cannot comprehend higher dimensions. We are like Flatlanders.
Fortunately for us, God understands our limitations. God the Son came into our world of limited dimensions to reveal to us the mystery of the Godhead. In essence, this is what Jesus said; “If you want to see God, look at me” In answer to Phillip’s request that he show them the Father, Jesus replied “…anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” (John 14:9) Hallelujah! The concept of ‘trinity’ may be mysterious to us but we can comprehend Jesus. He is the revelation of the Godhead to humanity. ‘For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form…’ (Colossians 2:9). As always, when things appear mysterious… look to Jesus.

 

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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.