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Resurrection Sunday

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Walking With Jesus

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The events of the first Resurrection (Easter) Sunday started just before dawn when the Lord of life broke out of the tomb, and it ended at dusk after two disciples had the privilege of walking with Jesus on the road to Emmaus.

Every year at this time, we commemorate the most important day in human history. Peter stated its significance when he wrote that God ‘has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead’ (1 Peter 1:3).

Early in the morning of 6th April 30 AD Jesus of Nazareth rose up through his burial clothes and walked out of a sealed tomb. By the way, the angels did not roll away the stone securing the tomb to let Jesus out, but to let the disciples in to see that Jesus was no longer there.

Later that day, two disciples left Jerusalem to go back to their home in the little village of Emmaus some 11 kilometres away. The story of their journey is told in Luke 24:13-22, but let me recount it to you.

On the Road to Emmaus

One of the disciples was Cleopas and we can deduce that the other was his wife, Mary, because John 19:25 records that Cleopas’ wife Mary was with the other women observing the crucifixion. Although tradition holds that the ‘Clopas’ of John 19 is not the same person as the Cleopas of Luke 24, I believe that they were a married couple walking with Jesus to Emmaus.

The two of them were sad and confused and as they journeyed they were discussing the events of the weekend. Jesus walked up and joined them but they did not recognise him.

He asked them what they were talking about and Cleopas rather rudely retorted that he must be the only person in Jerusalem that didn’t know what had happened there.

They told him that they had hoped that Jesus was the one who was going to redeem Israel. Then they recounted all that had befallen him, Jesus… while he, the risen Lord, was walking with them. Jesus responded by rebuking them: “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!”

Then comes a most significant statement in Luke’s account:

‘And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the scriptures concerning himself.’

What a bible study! What a privilege to have the author and subject of scripture teaching them! It is no wonder that later on, they said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the scriptures to us?”

Just as it was getting dark, they arrived at Emmaus and the couple invited Jesus to stay and eat supper with them. They gave him the honour of breaking the bread. The account merely says that as Jesus was breaking the bread and giving it to them ‘their eyes were opened and they recognised him’. It is quite possible that as Jesus did this his wrists were exposed to view and they saw the fresh nail wounds. Jesus broke open through the grave clothes, broke open the scriptures, and opened their eyes as he broke the bread.

Recognising Jesus

We need to recognise that this Jesus, who opened the scriptures to those two disciples, is the same Jesus who opens them to us today.

This Jesus is ‘the fullness of the Deity living in bodily form (Colossians 2:9), and ‘the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being (Hebrews 1:30. This same Jesus stands before us today and says something like: “Here I am! I am your creator and the source of all knowledge and wisdom. So listen to me, copy me, obey me; and welcome my living my life in and through you.” Now, what would you call a bible-believing Christian who disregards this? We would have to call such a person what Jesus called the two disciples who walked with him; foolish and slow of heart to believe. For surely, what HE said, did, modelled, and revealed MUST be our primary guide to faith and life!

The Christocentric Principle

What I call this the Christocentric Principle is an approach to understanding the bible and life from a Jesus-perspective.

To be Christocentric, Jesus-centred is not just a matter of talking about him, or adding his name to the end of our prayers, or wearing a WWJD (What Would Jesus Do) bracelet. Nor is it just trying to find references, types of, or actual appearances in every book of the bible.

No, it is more about viewing the bible and life through Jesus-spectacles, the lens of what he said, did, modelled, and revealed. I do want to stress to you the importance of interpreting the bible Christocentricaly.
Other Lessons from Luke 24
While this is my main learning point for this article, we can draw several others from the narrative of walking with Jesus.
  • Firstly, God initiates encounters and we respond. He is neither evoked nor persuaded to appear to us. It was Jesus who approached the disciples on the road and not the other way around.
  • Sometimes we fail to recognise him when he does approach us because we don’t expect to encounter him. I remember, many years ago, what happened when I flew down to Cape Town to conduct my niece’s wedding. As I drove into the venues parking area in my rented car I spotted my elderly father being helped out of the car that had brought him and my mother. I rushed over to him and said “Hello there!”. I guess he hadn’t been told that I was flying in to conduct the wedding because he looked at me quizzically and asked, “and who might you be young man?” He didn’t recognise me at first because he wasn’t expecting to see me.
  • Thirdly, when we do encounter Jesus we tend to talk too much and listen too little – just like the two disciples.
  • Something else to note is that bible study is not just about Jesus but with him. We should commune with him as we read the bible, interacting with him in the context of the text and our lives.
  • Lastly, the Lord’s Table, Holy Communion, is not a ritual tagged onto the end of a church service. It should be what its ascription implies, communion with the living Lord of all – and it can be an eye-opening experience.
Examples and Applications

I want to move Christocentricity from the realm of theory to practice by giving a few examples of how it is applied. The main idea is to determine what Jesus taught or modelled either directly or indirectly concerning the text or life situation before us.

One issue that Jesus addressed directly is ADULTERY. As part of his Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 15) he explained the extent of the 7th Commandment, ‘you shall not commit adultery. So we don’t need to go further than this to know what it is and that it is prohibited.

But what about an issue that Jesus did not address directly, like HOMOSEXUALITY? Well, he didn’t teach on it but he did model how we should treat people involved in sexual sin. John 8 contains the story of how the Pharisees tried to trap Jesus by bringing him a woman caught in the act of adultery. The question was would he condemn her to death by stoning or would he pardon her? Jesus challenged any among them who was without sin to throw the first rock at her. They pondered this and then slunk off leaving the woman lying among their discarded rocks at Jesus’ feet. He asked her where those who had condemned her were and she observed that they had all gone. Then Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin.

If we apply this to the issue of homosexuality, the lesson is quite clear; extend dignity and human worth, refrain from condemnation, but challenge clearly for changed behaviour in the future.

One last example that is also relevant to us today: May Christians arm themselves for SELF-PROTECTION. Well, just before he was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane he told his disciples that their lives were about to change radically. He said that if they didn’t have a sword then they should sell their cloak if necessary to acquire one. (Luke 22). The disciples responded with “See Lord, here two swords” and Jesus retorted with “That is enough”. A short while later when the rabble came to arrest Jesus, Peter drew his sword and cut off the High Priest’s servants ear. Jesus immediately rebuked him with the words, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” (John 18:11).

I know that there have been several attempts to reinterpret this text, but for me the message is clear: We may protect ourselves but we may not attack others: self-defence but not aggression.

In these and other matters, there are many other aspects we need to consider and other scriptures we need to reference. However, we are bound to start with what Jesus said, did, modelled, and revealed and to use this as our primary method of determining correct interpretation and practice. If we did this consistently there would be less confusion and fewer squabbles over doctrine.


So then, Easter Friday is all about Jesus dying for our sin of rebellion so that we could be forgiven and restored. Resurrection Sunday morning is all about his rising from the dead to provide us with the template for new spiritual birth into eternal life.

Resurrection afternoon is all about Jesus walking with us and us with him along the road of life.

Jesus died for us and all we can do is believe and accept. He rose for us and his spirit alone gives us new birth into a living hope. Our life with him on this planet starts with our salvation and ends with our passing on into glory. However, between the start and the end, WE need to walk with him in trust and obedience. This walk would be so much more significant if we would make it too all about Jesus – walking out life by living out a Jesus-centred understanding and application of scripture.

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TruthTalks: What Happened After the Resurrection?

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There is an elaborate forty-day liturgical build-up to Easter, but very few people ask themselves:

Who did Jesus choose to talk to in the forty days after His resurrection  – and why did He choose them?
In this TruthTalks podcast, based THIS post, Dr Christopher Peppler takes us through the accounts of Jesus’ appearances during the few precious days before he returned to be with his Father in heaven. Could some have been to ordinary folk like you and me?

Listen to this TruthTalk by clicking on the play button below and please like, subscribe, and pass this on to anyone who you think may need to hear this uplifting message.

Best wishes, Admin (Karen)

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TruthTalks Sermons

TruthTalks Sermon – The Easter Earthquakes

Passover weekend is fast approaching, so it’s time to consider again the wonder and glory of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

In this sermon, I give some fascinating evidences of the validity of the resurrection as well as insight into one of the strangest passages of the Bible, Matthew 27:52-53.

Be blessed and encouraged as you celebrate again the earth-shaking event that changed our world forever.
Kindest regards,


You can listen to or download the sermon by clicking on the play button below or subscribing to the podcast. You can also listen or download other sermons HERE.

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Feature image food for thought

Articles for Easter

Three of the articles I wrote for Joy! Magazine between 2008 and 2014 are worth repeating as a build up to the Passover season of 2019.

The first article concerns Passover, or what many now call Good Friday, and links it to the Lords Table we regularly celebrate in church. The second covers territory not often traversed because the Bible does not directly address what happened between Crucifixion Friday and Resurrection Sunday. And the third article focuses on an Easter phenomenon often debated in the media this time each year; the Shroud of Turin.

I have written dozens of other articles relating to this time of year, but I have selected these three because they are not the usual ‘bread’ served up at Easter, and could therefore provide new ‘food for thought’. I do hope they nourish your spirit as we approach the most sacred time on the Christian calendar.

Passover, Good Friday, and Communion

Last Supper PicThe death of their firstborn was the final judgement that persuaded Pharaoh to let the Israelites leave Egypt. God instructed the Israelites to paint the blood of a lamb on their doorposts. He said that when He saw the blood, He would pass over that household and not strike their first-born.

Passover gets its name from this ‘passing over’ the homes of the people of God.

It is a graphic foreshadowing of how Jesus, the Lamb of God, would shed His blood for the salvation of all who believe.
Every year thereafter, through to the time of Jesus, the people of God celebrated Passover with a special meal. On the Thursday evening that started what we now call Good Friday (the Jewish day starts at six pm the previous evening), Jesus met with His disciples to celebrate Passover with them.

From the details given in the Gospels, it seems they reclined at a low table arranged in a typical Roman format; a sort of square U shape with two short sides and a longer middle section. According to the custom of the day, the one responsible for the meal would sit at the extreme end of one of the short lengths, next to him would be the host, and next to him the guest of honour. The other guests would then sit in order of importance, with the least important sitting at the end of the other short length, directly opposite the organizer. For the Last Supper, the organiser would have been John, the host Jesus, and the guest of honour Judas. Yes Judas! It was protocol for the host to have the guest of honour seated on his left, and to demonstrate favour by serving him with a piece of bread dipped in the stew. Jesus announced to his startled disciples that one of them was about to betray him. John 13:21-26 records how Peter signalled to John to catch his attention and then asked him to inquire of Jesus who His betrayer was. John leaned back against Jesus and asked him. Jesus replied, “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” Then, dipping the piece of bread , he gave it to Judas Iscariot, son of Simon.’

What incredible grace! Jesus knew that Judas was going to betray him yet he chose to make him the guest of honour.

He placed Judas, the least of all, in the highest position, and poor Peter, the leader elect, in the lowest position at the very end of the table. What a lesson for us. Before starting the meal, Jesus had washed his disciples’ feet. He had made it clear that He was setting them an example of servant leadership (John 13:15). Peter must have been very ashamed because he was sitting in the least important seat, and custom demanded that the least at the table serve the others. Jesus had nominated Peter as His successor yet He afforded Peter the least privilege and expected of him the greatest service.

Jesus went from the Upper Room to the Cross. In the Upper Room He washed His disciples’ feet with water, but at Golgotha He washed their souls with His blood. And not just them but all of us who accept His sacrifice.

In the Upper Room, Jesus gave up His dignity to serve, and at Golgotha He gave up His life to save.
When we take communion, we should remember its origins and ponder the depth of the message it conveys. Communion is a stylised recreation of the Last Supper, which was itself a commemoration of the Passover. The wine of Communion reminds us that Jesus gave his lifeblood for us, and the bread reminds us that we are part of the body that He birthed through His death. In Communion, we honour Jesus and serve each other.  We, who are by nature rebels and betrayers, are given the highest honour, yet we are called to take the place of least honour and to serve each other.

Between Crucifixion Friday and Resurrection Sunday

Empty tomb picI wrote this article on the day after Resurrection Sunday. I don’t usually like to call it Easter Sunday – why should we give the pagan goddess Ishtar any credit. Friday embodies the glorious truth that Jesus settled the penalty clause of the violated covenant between God and humanity. I guess that is why some call it ‘good’ Friday. Sunday represents the equally awesome truth that through Jesus we can be born-again of the Spirit. On the cross of Calvary Jesus Christ brought to an end the line of Adam’s sin. As He walked out of the tomb, He started a new spiritual lineage for all who will believe. ‘So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit.’ (1 Corinthians 15:45)

The message of Friday is clear. The truth that Sunday conveys is equally obvious. What, though, is the significance of Saturday?

According to The Apostles Creed, as we now have it, after dying on the cross Jesus ‘descended into hell’. However, the earliest versions of that creed do not contain this clause. When Rufinus introduced it in 390AD it seems that he understood the word ‘hell’ simply to mean ‘grave’. Notwithstanding this, some theologians have developed a complex doctrine of Christ’s decent into the devil’s abode. The primary texts they use are Acts 2:27, Romans 10:6-7, Ephesians 4:8-9, 1 Peter 3:18-20, and 1 Peter 4:6. Wayne Grudem has an excellent section on this topic in his ‘Systematic Theology’ (pages 586 – 594). His concluding sentence reads, ‘concerning the doctrinal question of whether Christ did descend into hell after he died, the answer from several passages of Scripture seems clearly to be no.’

From the descent into Hell doctrine has come the teaching that Jesus had to die both physically on the cross and spiritually in Hell. Saturday, for those who believe this, stands for Jesus’ torment in Hades and his eventual victory, as He was ‘born again’ from the devil’s dungeon. There are plenty of problems with this view. Was Jesus then less than ’God’ that He could be tortured by the devil? Was His death on the cross less than adequate for our salvation? (See 1 Corinthians 1:17)

Colossians 2:13(b) -15 contains a more satisfactory explanation of what Passover Saturday represents. ‘He forgave us all our sins, having cancelled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.’ The language used in this passage evokes the scene of a military court-martial. They bring the offending officer to stand before his troops. The supreme commander then strips him of the symbols of his authority and expels him. Jesus settled the death penalty of the ancient covenant and proceeded to the heavenly throne room of God the Father. There Satan stood in shame before all the angels of heaven. Jesus stripped him of his authority and expelled him from heaven. The accuser of the brethren no longer has access to the presence of God. Hallelujah! This is what the Saturday between Crucifixion Friday and Resurrection Sunday stands for.

So, instead of descending into Hell, Jesus ascended into Heaven! Instead of the devil tormenting Him, He expelled the devil! How could some get it so wrong? Part of the answer lies in how we interpret the Bible. I deal with this in the second half of my latest book ‘Truth is the Word – restoring a lost focus’.

The Sign of Jonah – or a Whale of a Tale

Shroud pic“A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.  For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”’  

Over the years, I have been keeping reasonably up to date on the findings and theories concerning the shroud of Turin. Every year something new emerges as various scientists seek to understand this enigmatic burial shroud.

The shroud put in its first recorded appearance in 1356 at a time when religious relics and superstitions were rife in medieval Europe. Some researchers claim to be able to trace it back to the sixth century and one even claims that there is reasonable evidence for it coming out of the first century. Whatever its recorded history, many religious people think it is the authentic burial cloth of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Recently the Pope went to pray before the shroud, so clearly he believes it has significance.

No matter what one thinks of the shroud, it certainly is a mystery. In 1898 it was photographed for the first time and this led to an intriguing discovery: the image in the shroud is a ‘photographic’ negative. Up to that time, most sceptics had thought that the image was simply the work of a skilled medieval artist trying to cash in on the relics market. However, the discovery that the image was actually a negative put this idea under a lot of pressure. More recently, artists and scientists have attempted to reproduce such an image using pigments, dyes, rubs, heat treatments, and so on. Their results are interesting, but far from compelling. Besides, current microscopic examination of the fabric shows no evidence at all of any pigments.

In 1988, carbon 14 dating seemed to indicate that the shroud originated in the middle ages. More recently, however, facts have immerged which prove that the dating process was seriously flawed and that the cloth could well date back to the first century.

Since 2003, a number of articles have appeared in reputable scientific journals seeking to make sense of the shroud and its image. A popular hypothesis is that the image was formed by ammonia derivatives from a human body interacting with carbohydrate residue in the fabric (the Maillard reaction). But, this doesn’t fully explain the remarkable image. It seems that the image in the shroud is a sort of 3D terrain map of the body it covered. Because of this quality, researchers have been able to use modern computer techniques to develop a full reproduction of the body. In 2010, the History channel aired a documentary showing the results of this process. The resultant 3D image shows a man with abrasions in his face, shoulder, and knees. The scourge marks of a cat-o-nine tails are visible and the wound in the side, wrists and feet are unmistakable.

The consensus opinion at this time is that the shroud of Turin is genuine in that it carries within its fibres the image of a man who died by crucifixion and that in all probability the material can be dated back far earlier than the medieval era. Is it the burial shroud of Jesus? No one can be sure of this, but it is true that the wounds shown in the image conform to the Gospel record of the crucifixion.

Some scientists are still not satisfied with the chemical interaction theory of how the image was formed. They claim that a catalytic event must have caused such a reaction. They theorise that some form of energy must have passed through the fabric to trigger a chemical reaction. One hypothesis is that the units of matter called nuceons must have decoupled causing a dematerialisation of the body. Simply put, the body passed through the fabric of the shroud.

All this is interesting but far from conclusive, so why am I interested in it, and why should you be? Luke 11 and Matthew 16 record Jesus’ words concerning the only sign He was prepared to give an unbelieving generation. Matthew 12:38-41 records, ‘Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, “Teacher, we want to see a miraculous sign from you.” He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.  For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”’  Whether or not scientific evidence of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the sign for our age is debateable. What is certain however is that research continues, TV channels continue to produce documentaries, people write books, but the mystery remains. The crucifixion and resurrection remain in the public’s eye.

Every Easter, the Christian church remembers the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. I am grateful that scientists and sceptics, although they may not believe, continue to wrestle with the possibility that this pivotal event in biblical history may well be historically and scientifically verified. If it was verifiable, would this effect my faith in any way? No, but it sure would make an unbelieving world sit up and take notice.

For anyone interested in learning more about the shroud, HERE is the January 2019 updates to the major site on the subject.

Some mages courtesy of Brooklyn Museum / and wikipedia/commons

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Revelation Revisited Christ victory

Easter Victory

Revelations Revisited Series

A woman clothed with the Sun, an enormous red dragon and a victorious male child, equals an Easter Victory.

Chapter Twelve of the book of Revelation starts Part Four which, like the other parts of the book, covers the full period between the first and second coming of Jesus. At a cursory read, it seems as if the chapter is just about a woman and a dragon, but there is another character embedded in the narrative who, although seemingly invisible, is central to the whole story. I am writing this post during the week leading up to Easter and so I am going to focus on this ‘hidden’ character and then double back and describe the full scene to you in my next article.

I have already pointed out in my previous post that the woman in Chapter Twelve is linked to the constellation of Virgo and the dragon to the constellation of Hydra. Although this is important to understand, it is far more important that we fully comprehend the glorious drama that these representations depict. Virgo symbolises the people of God, more specifically Israel, and Hydra symbolises Satan, the great adversary of the people of God. The primary reason the Old Testament people of God existed was to provide the means by which the saviour of humankind could come into the world. The devil’s only hope of vindication and continued freedom was to prevent Israel succeeding in birthing the Messiah, and if he couldn’t do that it was to kill the Christ Child himself. The intensity and scope of this drama require an article of its own, so I will return to it at a later time.

Israel’s greatest moment came, not when it received the Ten Commandments, and not when she occupied the Promised Land, but when Mary, her finest offspring, gave birth to Jesus Christ. The history of the chosen nation is replete with great figures such as Moses, King David, and Solomon, but none as fine, noble and worthy of honour as Mary. This is why she herself declared, “From now on all generations will call me blessed” (Luke 1:48)

Virgo and Hydra Revelation Revisited Series 42Mary gave birth to ‘a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron sceptre’ (Revelation 12:5), and his name was Jesus. Verse five then goes on to record that ‘her child was snatched up to God and to his throne‘. But what about His 42 months of miraculous deeds and sublime teachings? Where is the reference to His atoning death on the cross of Calvary and His glorious resurrection on the third day after that? Well, it’s not that John regards these things as unimportant, it is because in this section of Revelation he wants us to grasp something else – the stupendous victory over Satan that Jesus’ ascension back into heaven completed.

The cross is implicit in the narrative of Chapter Twelve in words such as, ‘they overcame him (Satan) by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony’ (Revelation 12:11). These words take us right back to the ‘Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the centre of the throne’ in Revelation 5:6, and “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honour and glory and praise!” (5:12). The word of testimony of disciples of Jesus Christ has always been, “It is true! The Lord has risen!” (Luke 24:34). Incidentally, a movie has just been released and for the first time in years I can recommend a Hollywood production to you; it is called ‘Risen’.

Because of His sacrificial death on the cross and His rising from the tomb in death-conquering glory, Jesus vanquished Satan, stripped him of all authority, and expelled him from Heaven! Revelation 12 describes Michael and his angels casting the devil out of Heaven (12:7-9), and as this happens a loud voice declares: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down” (12:10).

In this eternity changing victory at Calvary, the Lord Jesus Christ settled the penalty of the broken covenant between God and mankind, bringing the human race back into a position of potential peace and fellowship with the Godhead. He removed all and any grounds for accusation by the devil against the children of God. He expelled Satan from his presence and denied him access to the throne of the Almighty. Then, in a sealed tomb in the Garden of Gethsemane, this same Jesus broke the power of death, rose bodily from its clutches, and in so doing created a new resurrection template of eternal life for all who believe in Him.

So, this ‘Good’ Friday and this ‘Easter’ Sunday, remember His death and celebrate His resurrection, but also be so very grateful for His VICTORY… for His victory is our life now and the assurance of the glory to come.


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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.