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His Unimaginable Glory

So far in the series ‘Captivated By Jesus’ we have presented an interview with Alexander Venter in both audio and text forms. What follows in this post is an article on one of the many attributes of the Lord Jesus Christ and picks up on some of the features of the interview.

After that, we will present the podcast version of this article and this will be followed by an interview with another international Christian thought leader… and so on throughout the series.

 

His Unimaginable Glory

This series is called ‘Captivated by Jesus’ and the title of the article is ‘His Unimaginable Glory’, but who is this Jesus, what is his glory, and why is it unimaginable? Is he the Jesus of religious paintings carried in pomp and ceremony on special occasions? No. Is he a historical wise man and healer who lived in Israel two thousand years ago but who is now just an icon? No! The Jesus who captivates us with his unimaginable glory is the one of whom the Apostle John wrote: ‘In the beginning was the Word… Through him all things were made… In him was life and that life was the light of men… The Word became flesh and lived for a while among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.’ (John 1: 1-14)

The Transfiguration

This same John who wrote the Gospel that bears his name is the one who Jesus chose to accompany him, together with Peter and James, up Mt. Hermon. ‘There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light.” (Matthew 17:2)

Can you imagine this? I can’t. I know what bright light looks like but the only time I tried to peep at the sun I was temporarily blinded. I don’t know how I would react if I saw someone, especially someone I knew well, turn into a being of pure light right there before me. It is unimaginable.

In the Old Testament, a bright light was often associated with divine appearances. When God descended on the Tent of Meeting (Tabernacle) to talk with Moses, it looked like a bright shining cloud filling the tent. Moses could not immediately enter the tent because ‘the glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle’ (Exodus 40:34) Also when Moses ‘went up on the mountain’, to receive the Ten Commandments, ‘the cloud covered it, and the glory of the Lord settled on Mount Sinai’ (Exodus 24:15-16). The three disciples who accompanied Jesus up Mount Hermon would have been taught these Exodus accounts from early childhood. Jesus was allowing them to see that he was the very same one who gave the Law to Moses and who talked with him, face to face, in the Tent of Meeting.

This is the Jesus who captivates us but whose glory we just cannot adequately imagine.

This is the one who said to his critics, “before Abraham was born, I am!” (John 8:58) This is the one who Paul called ‘the image of the invisible God’ and the ‘fullness of the deity permanently established in bodily form’. (Colossians 1:14, 2:9). The author of Hebrews wrote concerning this Jesus that he is ‘the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his Being’. (Hebrews 1:3). Now, again I ask, can you imagine this? Can you understand just how glorious he is? I believe this but I cannot imagine it because my mind is just too limited.

I read the words of Jesus, this glorious one, saying “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matthew 28:18) and then I look at graphic representations of the extent and wonder of the cosmos and I try to imagine what ‘all’ is. All authority in every planetary system and every dimension of the unfathomably big creation… and Jesus has all this authority? Wow! My mind short-circuits at this point and I am left gasping for words.

Peter’s Response

On mount Hermon, Peter, James and John saw Jesus transfigured before their eyes, but then, as if this were not shocking enough, things became even more glorious. Moses and Elijah appeared to be speaking with Jesus. Two men who they knew to be in Heaven were talking with their teacher right there before them. Peter’s response seems so very silly because he offered to build religious shrines for each of them, but it is what came next that is important to note. ‘While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from heaven said, “This is my son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him.” (Matthew 17:5) Peter and the other two now responded appropriately because they fell to the ground like people who had been struck by lightning. Now this I can imagine.

John’s Experience of Jesus’ Glory

The three Synoptic Gospels record the account of the Transfiguration, but John omits it from his Gospel. He opened his Gospel by writing of how he had seen the Lord’s glory, so what then did he have in mind? The omission from John’s Gospel has been pondered on by many theologians but the only proposed reason that resonates with me is that the whole of John’s Gospel is a presentation of the glory of Jesus. This makes sense because John recorded the first glorious sign performed by Jesus as

  1. The turning of the water into wine at the wedding in Cana, right at the beginning of his ministry. John wrote that ‘He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.’ (John 2:11) This first marvellous sign revealed Jesus’ kindness and consideration for the wedding host, but John recorded more glorious signs.
  2. The second sign is recorded in John chapter four when Jesus displayed his mercy and the power of his spoken word by healing a man’s son even though the boy was in a different location.
  3. The third sign was the healing of the lame man at the pool of Bethesda.
  4. The fourth was the feeding of the five thousand which was triggered by Jesus’ compassion for the hungry crowd. John went on to record the display of Jesus’ mastery over the elements of nature by walking on water, recreating the eyes of a man born blind, and raising Larazus from the dead.

Now I have never seen someone turning water into wine or multiplying a few small loaves of bread into thousands of pieces. I have not witnessed the healing of a man born blind or one who had not walked for most of his life. Nor do have personal experience of walking on water and things of this nature. I am unable to even imagine them with any clarity, but I believe them because I have come to know Jesus over my lifetime… and he is glorious!

His Glory In And Through The Church

Now, just how does Jesus’ glory manifest in and through the church? In the context of the gathered church, a Sunday service for instance, I think that we can still experience his glory in a  similar way to the disciples on the Mount of Transfiguration. When the glory-cloud appeared and they heard the voice of God the Father, the disciples ‘fell facedown to the ground, terrified’ (Matthew 17:6). The word ‘terrified’ evokes feelings of horror, fear, and panic and I think a better translation in the context of this text would be ‘very much in awe’. They didn’t curl up into a fetal position, or throw themselves behind the nearest rock; they fell forward with their faces to the ground in the universal response of awe and reverence.

When Jesus manifests his glory in a church meeting, the response of all Spirit-filled believers present is unmistakable. Some stand still with faces tilted up and eyes closed, arms raised high, and an expression of reverent attention on their faces. Others kneel with bowed heads, and some fall face down full length on the floor. The glorious presence of the Lord is almost physically tangible to all but the most spiritually insensitive. When Jesus is preached with anointed power and authority, the signs are also easily observed. People sit forward on their chairs in rapt attention, their faces alight. Some cry quietly although their faces reflect no sadness. These are just some of the things that I have observed and experienced, but whatever the particular human manifestations are, the glorious presence of Jesus is unmistakable to all who are born of the Spirit.

His glory also manifests through the church, particularly when disciples of Jesus minister healing, deliverance, or prophetic words to unbelievers. When Jesus performed works of grace in the power of the Holy Spirit, the people were very aware that he was someone exceptional. A great example of this is Matthew 8:27, which records that ‘the men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!“’. Similarly, when believers obey Jesus’ command to proclaim the Gospel in word and deed then “these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18) they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.” (Mark 16:17-18). In this way, Jesus’ glory is manifest not only in the church but through the church.

This is Jesus

This is the Jesus of scripture. This is the Jesus who is the focus and subject of the ‘Captivated by Jesus’ series. This is the Jesus that the people we interview will speak of, and this is the Jesus whom I will lift up in further articles.

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TruthTalks: Spiritual Gifts and the Anointing

TruthTalks Gifts and Ministries top imageIn this third and final part of the Spiritual Gifts mini-series, TruthTalks looks at the differences between Gifts and the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

Please click on the play button below to listen to this podcast.

If you have missed the first 2 TruthTalks on this topic then click HERE for part one and then just click on the “NEXT POST” button at the end of the pist to go to the next one. Please do subscribe to the podcast by going to www.truthistheword.com.

Don’t forget, there is also a book on the subject of Gifts and Ministries written by Dr. Christopher Peppler available at Amazon Kindle now. It is in the QuickReads series (designed especially for folk who don’t have time or inclination to read hundreds of pages on a subject) and is well worth the read. You can find it by clicking HERE or on the image of the cover below.

 

Until next time, all the best and thank you for reading this and following us at www.truthistheword.com,  Admin

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TruthTalks: Wrapping Up – The Church Jesus would Attend Series

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Here is the audio of the last in the TruthTalks series: The Church Jesus would Attend.

In this TruthTalk I take you through my final 3 criteria and give an overview and general conclusion.
If you have missed this series and would like to start from the first post, click HERE, or the first audio post, click HERE. Then to follow the series chronologically simply scroll down to under the “Related Posts” section where you will see the NEXT POST button. Click this and it will take you to the next post in the series.

Do let me know your thought on the topic of “The Church Jesus would Attend” and, of course, all questions are welcome.

Click on the “play” button below to listen to the final word on this matter, for now.

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Ministering in the power of the Holy Spirit: The church Jesus would attend series

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Pentecostal and charismatic Christians are familiar with the term ‘ministering in the power of the Holy Spirit’, but for the benefit of others, let me explain what I think it means.

The Holy Spirit empowers believers to minister to others in the Body of Christ in order to build them up and point them to Jesus, and thisempowermentforms part of the ‘gifts of the Holy Spirit’.
This series is about the things that make a church service welcoming to the Lord Jesus and the indicators of His presence in the corporate gathering. Ministering in the power of the Holy Spirit is one such qualification and sign. Let me explain.

Kings give presents to their guests

In ancient times, kings, or other important people, customarily gave gifts to the guests attending their functions. Today, the practice lives on in the form of ‘party favours’ and more especially the gifts placed at each person’s place at the wedding reception table.

There are hints of this practice in Old Testament passages such as Ester 2:18, which records that ‘the king gave a great banquet, Esther’s banquet, for all his nobles and officials. He proclaimed a holiday throughout the provinces and distributed gifts with royal liberality’. In the New Testament, there are also allusions to this practice. For instance, Matthew 22 records Jesus’ story about a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son (God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son) and ended up inviting people off the street (you and me). The custom was that if someone arrived at a function such as this without the required fine attire then the host would ‘gift’ them with suitable robes. Obviously, in the story, the invited guests were unprepared for such an occasion and so they would have all been offered complimentary clothing when they arrived at the venue. It makes perfect sense therefore that the host, the king, was deeply offended by any guest who refused this gift. So, we would not wish to offend our divine host when He invites us to attend his special function, an occasion which we call the Sunday church service.

Gifts of the Spirit

There is a strong biblical thread connecting the idea of divine gifts with the gathered church. The Romans 12 passage outlining ministries and gifts starts with the words; ‘We have different gifts, according to the grace given us’ (verse 6). Similarly, the primary New Testament passage on spiritual gifts introduces the topic with; ‘There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men’ (1 Corinthians 12:4-6). In addition, the other key passage that outlines aspects of spiritual gifts, Ephesians 4, starts with; ‘grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift’ (Verse 7 per ESV).

I know that charismatic Christians customarily understand ‘Gifts’ as semi-permanent abilities given by the Holy Spirit to believers.

However, I think that there is sufficient evidence in 1 Corinthians 12  to indicate that they are rather special spiritual endowments given through believers to other believers as the Holy Spirit directs on any given occasion or circumstance.
To return to the analogy of the wedding garment, it is better to think of them as something given for the occasion rather than something worn routinely from then on.

Gifts in action

So, see the scene: We all arrive with everyone else at the Sunday Church service expecting to meet with the King of Kings. We also expect to be given something suitable to the occasion that will allow us to participate in the celebration of His presence. As the worship service progresses, you become aware of people there who desperately need to receive something tangible from their Lord. A compelling thought coalesces with your awareness and in it you sense the Holy Spirit saying, “Go to that person over there and minister my gift to them”. You don’t know just what to do or how to do it, but you trust the goodness of God and you appreciate His involving you as a ‘gift giver’, so you approach the person and ask if you may pray for them. As you start to pray, thanking God for His goodness and asking Him to meet the particular need, something wonderful happens. You just know what the root issue is and what to do about it. You don’t know how you know, but you just do. This ‘knowing’ is, as far as I can discern, the gift of Knowledge and the ability to prescribe a solution is a Word of Wisdom. Or perhaps, you might just ‘know’ that the person needs to be healed of a specific physical or emotional condition, so you ‘minister’ this to them with respect, gentleness, humility, and joy; this is a Gift of Healing. Then again, perhaps the Holy Spirit wants to say something to this person, so you speak out as best you can what it is you think The Lord wants to convey, and this would be a form of the gift of Prophecy.

Of course, this is not an exhaustive or complete description of what might take place as the Holy Spirit distributes His gifts among the gathered church members. The principles that emerge are however applicable to all circumstances. (1) The Holy Spirit gives the gifts, which are in fact manifestations of His power and grace, (2) Our role is to be alert to His voice, obedient to His prompting, and joyfully willing to be the ones who ‘carry’ the gifts to their intended recipients.

Signs of the presence of Jesus

Why are gifts of the Spirit signs of the presence of Jesus among us? Because they indicate that the divine host is present and is blessing those He has invited! Because He is tangibly among us to direct the distribution of these gifts of His grace. Because He has invited us into His presence as a group of believers to edify, build up, equip and us fill with sense of wonder at who He is, and the gifts demonstrate this reality.

If you have ever been the recipient of such a gift of grace, then you know without explanation just how it affected you. Someone who has received a genuine gift of healing will always be grateful to The Lord Jesus. To receive words of prophecy that personally encourage and give hope is memorable and when the hope is fulfilled, then it is impossible not to praise God and treasure the gift forever.
Gifts of the Spirit are signs of the presence of God and evidences of His love for His people. They are to be received with joy and not argued over, and they certainly are not to be faked or manipulated. To return one last time to Jesus’ story of the wedding banquet, they are to be ‘worn’ with grateful honour and shared generously with all in need.

I believe that the Lord Jesus is delighted to be present in a gathering where His followers are delivering His gifts to those in need.

Subscribe by emailMy next article covers a possibly surprising indicator of the Lord’s presence in His gathered body – anointed leadership. If you are a leader in the church then you don’t want to miss this, so if you haven’t done so already, why don’t you subscribe and get the articles directly by email (click on the little subscribe icon right at the top left of this post, second from last, or click HERE).

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TruthTalks: An Attitude of Faith – The Church Jesus would Attend Series

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Last week we continued with the series “What kind of church would Jesus attend?” and wrote about Faith and expectation.

If you would like to hear me expand on this topic or prefer the audible version of my posts, then simply click on the “play” button below:

 

If you missed the start of the series and would like to listen to the previous podcasts or read the previous posts on this series, go to THIS link and then click the NEXT button at the bottom of each post to go through them all systematically. God bless you.

 

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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.