Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Ake Green acquitted by Sedish Court

Good news is that Ake Green from Sweden had been acquitted in a 5-0 decision by the Swedish Supreme Court of hate speech against homosexuals.
Green preached a sermon in which he proclaimed the Biblical viewpoint concerning homosexuality. Ake Green concluded his message on that day like this:
"We must never think that some people, because of their sinful lives, would end up outside of grace. Paul says about himself that he was the foremost of all sinners, but he encountered an abundance of grace and mercy. He also states in First Corinthians 6:9-11, when he lists sexual immorality with other sins, that you can be saved from all the listed sins, including sexual immorality. What these people need, who live under the slavery of sexual immorality, is an abundant grace. It exists. It is valid also for them. Therefore we will encourage those who live in this manner to look at the grace of Jesus Christ. We cannot condemn these people -- Jesus never did that either. He showed everyone He met deep respect for the person they were, for instance the adulterous woman, in John 8, or the woman at the well in Sychar, according to John 4. Jesus never belittled anyone. He offered them grace. We must never belittle anyone who lives in sin."
Read the full English translation of the sermon script here.
Just thinking...

Elisabeth Elliot

Josh Harris gives a "thumbs up" to Elisabeth Elliot.
He quotes from a letter she wrote:
"The world cries for men who are strong—strong in conviction, strong to lead, to stand, to suffer. I pray that you will be that kind of man—glad that God made you a man, glad to shoulder the burden of manliness in a time when to do so will often bring contempt."
Just thinking...

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Cheap victims

South Africa keeps showing itself as one of the most liberal governments and most liberal judicial systems in the world.
It makes me wonder where it all will end. With a government and judicial philosophy such as this, without the clear intervention of God Himself, I cannot see how this country will not end up in anarchy. Perhaps that is exactly what this government wants. Since, if that happens, they will have to come out in force to restore order. In this event, they will prove themselves as "saviours" in a mobocratic country, thereby installing themselves as sole rulers of this country. They will become tyrants and rule with an iron fist, crushing anyone who disagrees with them under the guise of "keeping order."
In a recent case, a pervert from Switzerland who had sex with a 14-year old boy, received a R10,000 smack on his wrist and was sent back home to Switzerland! "Sorry my boy! You are a cheap victim! This nice Swiss man will pay us for destroying your life!" This seems to be the attitude of our judicial system.
It saddens me to know I live in a country where victims, on a daily basis, are being re-victimized by our own judicial system when the criminals get little slaps on their wrists!
"Come on planet Earth! Come to South Africa! Come violate our little boys with your perverted sexual lusts! Simply pay us, the big judicial pimps for the service of our boys!" In this case the government became the Big Pimp, declaring to the world that we do not value our own children.
Once again, it shows that justice does not rule in this country! All you need is money and you can get off! Even from being punished for such a heinous crime! It is disgraceful!
The chief whip of the ACDP (African Christian Democratic Party), Cheryllyn Dudley, MP released this statement:
29 November 2005
ACDP’s disgust at sodomy of minor
The ACDP finds it repulsive that Peter Zimmerman, the man arrested for sodomising a 14-year-old boy in Gauteng has been let off with a measly fine.
This action sends a strong message that anyone with financial means and a good legal team can commit a crime with no consequence. It also has the possibility of sending the message to foreign nationals that building South Africa’s tourism takes priority even at the expense of our children.
This is the price South Africans are expected to pay for promoting Pink tourism.
The long awaited Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Amendment Bill tabled in Parliament earlier this year which seeks to broaden the definition of rape to include male victims has been inexcusably delayed because instead of protecting minors, attempts are being made to lower the age of consent to have sex with an adult from the current 19-years-old to 16-years-old for boys. This will make conviction of the perpetrator impossible as it will place the burden on victims to prove that they did not consent to having sex. Furthermore, bribes and other forms of intimidation may come into play.
The Gauteng police department spokesperson Senior Superintendent Mary Martins-Engelbrecht was reported to have said that the arrest of Zimmerman was a warning to other foreign nationals that this kind of behaviour will not be tolerated. The ACDP finds it hypocritical of the department to make such statements and at the same time letting Zimmerman off virtually scot-free whilst his victim will suffer a life sentence of consequences and is not even assured of relevant counseling and necessary health care.
This action reveals the real state of affairs in South Africa, where the value of a child depends on the whims and convenience of those who should protect minors and even the justice system is apparently prepared to turn a blind eye for the right price. Or is it the homosexual agenda being protected at any cost?
The ACDP will be raising these questions with the Department of Justice.
Thank you to the ACDP for standing up against this immorality of the judicial system not standing up for the defenseless. The Bible makes it clear that as Christians it is our duty to stand up for the defenseless, to ensure justice for the poor, the widow and the stranger.
If Christians do not stand up for what is right objectively, based on the Bible, then who will? Sure, there are some "human rights" organizations that might stand up for these people, but who knows; in time they may change their minds with the drifting sands of human opinion and no longer stand up for the defenseless.
I am of the opinion that this ANC government needs to be voted out as soon as possible, but even that is not soon enough.
The ANC government may have said in their hearts that they would cast off God's rule over the nation, but God will not sit back and let injustice and evil prevail.
(1) Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?  (2)  The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his anointed, saying,  (3)  "Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us."  (4)  He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision.  (5)  Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying,  (6)  "As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill."  (7)  I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, "You are my Son; today I have begotten you.  (8)  Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.  (9)  You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel."  (10)  Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth.  (11)  Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.  (12)  Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him. (Psa 2:1-12 ESV)
God will not let the wicked go unpunished, and if that includes a wicked government that does not fulfill its God-given duties, then He will provide for the defenseless. If that means ridding the earth of evil governments, then He will. He has done it once with the Eastern Communistic block and He will do it again.
The sooner governments acknowledge God's sovereignty over the affairs of all spheres of life, including politics, the sooner these governments will stay God's judgement upon them.
If the ANC government has not heard the call to repentance yet, then accept this as its call to repentance.
Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand!
Just thinking...

Monday, November 28, 2005

Last Week's Highlights

Just thinking...

Friday, November 25, 2005

Thanksgiving prayer

This might be a Thanksgiving prayer to remember for next year.

Father, bless us according to our thankLESSness, lest Thou bless us according to our thankfulness, and we starve.

Just thinking...

Don't you just love the U.N.?

A picture paints... 10 U.N. slogans?

Just thinking...

How low can you go?

There is a slogan that goes as follows:

Know Jesus
Know Peace

As far as slogans go, this one is not that bad. It is very reductionistic, though, since it in no way explains what knowing or peace means, to the non-Christian. But,... that is not my gripe today!

When it comes to selling Christian paraphernalia, it seems that those that create these "Christian?" oddities, are doing their utmost to keep up with the s
leaze of the world.

I came upon a website that sells clothing to the unexpected Christian. This is one of the articles of clothing that they sell!

What in the world were these people thinking? Don't they realize that they have turned the Great Lord Almighty, the King of kings and Lord of lords into a mere commodity? And to crown it all, Jesus is banished to the nether regions of some guy's crotch! How ridiculous is that?

These people have simply lost respect for the greatness of Jesus Christ and are definitely not in the business of glorifying Him, but rather in the business of abusing His Name for profit!

Just thinking...

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Finding my blog

I was reading Carla Rolfe's blog post on Do I Need to be Needed? She mentioned that some people are in blogging for the stats. I must admit, the only stats I really see are the stats sent to me on a weekly basis by Site Meter. She then had this to say:
"I find it extremely cool that people from the Pentagon, Israel, Disneyland, Grace to You, my hometown, the next town over, and even, are coming to this site. I like looking at the map, to see where some of these places are. They're stats, and I've been fascinated by stats for as long as I can remember. Stats represent people, and since I'm a people watcher, I find it educational, entertaining, and just plain cool."
Now I was wondering how to check this as I've only once checked the map on Site Meter to see where my blog readers come from. Well, I finally found out how to check how people find my blog. Here is a list of words or phrases that people used in search engines to find my blog. There are certain words and phrases here that reached my blog, but I am not going to supply the actual links to the search engines on these words or phrases. That might just give the devil a tool for temptation.
I find it very interesting how my blog is reached via search engines.
greekscholar (I got this hit because of misspelling greek scholar)
dicks (Believe it or not! It is my surname - last name)
"john piper" (Even John Piper brought me a visitor)
home made porn (Linking to my article)
porn (Linking to my article. I actually got several hits from different search engines on just this one word)
celebrities breasts bouncing (Link to same article above)
cycling (I actually got several hits from different search engines on just this one word)
arguments for euthanasia (This led them to the wrong site!)
fred price church (You have to page forever to find my blog, so this guy was very persistent)
I find Carla's post, mentioned above, very interesting. Who do we blog for? If we are blogging simply for ourselves, then we might as well just keep a diary at home. Blogging is specifically there for other people to read. If someone therefore says they do not blog to get hits, I have to wonder why they blog at all then? Carla, you have a point! If we blog without wanting people to read what we write, then what is the use? Especially, as Christian bloggers we need to get people bleading our blogs.
Just thinking...

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Apartheid gets the blame again!

Whenever the current ANC government in South Africa gets blamed for something, they always point back to the previous apartheid government and blame them. It is now already 11 years since the ANC took over government in South Africa, yet they still keep looking for scapegoats.
This is the case again now at the release of a report on HIV/Aids by the UN and the World Health Organisation (WHO). In this report South Africa is shown to have a high rate of infections and it seems to be increasing. It was claimed by the ANC government that government inaction before 1994 was the main reason why HIV infection had not been curbed.
The following statement was made by the ANC government:
"It was only after the advent of democracy that tangible efforts were made by government to curb the spread of HIV infection; provide treatment, care and support for those infected and affected; and address the stigma associated with HIV and Aids."
There you go! If someone murders others, blame the apartheid government. If someone gets raped, blame the apartheid government. When people carry on like dogs on heat running around having sex when they are not supposed to, blame the apartheid government.
When is this government going to take responsibility for its actions, or dare I say, inaction?
So, it was only after the 1994 'democratic' elections that tangible efforts were made by government to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS. That is 11 years! In 11 years they haven't been able to curb the rate of infections while other African countries with much less resources than ours have done so in less time!
The government must simply accept that they have created a nation without any morals. God was kicked out of the constitution, pornography was legalized, the premeditated murder (abortion) of babies was legalized and same-sex marriage was given the green light.
"(18) For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.  (19)  For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.  (20)  For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.  (21)  For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.  (22)  Claiming to be wise, they became fools,  (23)  and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.  (24)  Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves,  (25)  because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.  (26)  For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature;  (27)  and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.  (28)  And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.  (29)  They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips,  (30)  slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents,  (31)  foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.  (32)  Though they know God's decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them." (Rom 1:18-32 ESV)
The ANC government must stop blaming the past for all evils in this country and start taking responsibility for all the dumb decisions they make. If they for once can stand up and say that they are willing to be held accountable, then perhaps they will start thinking before they do things. But no, they think that the law must adhere to their desires and cockeyed reasonings.
Please understand this: I am not a racist and I think racism is from the pit of hell! However, the ANC government perpetuates racism on a continuous basis by blaming the previous apartheid goverment. Everytime they blame something on the previous government, they simply drive the dividing wedge of racism deeper into the ground. It is time that they receive a wake up call! How long will you keep on blaming the past for your current blunders? Forever? Or, will you only take credit for the good things?
It is time this government humbles itself under the mighty hand of Jesus Christ. Christ is the One who sets up governments and also the One who will tear them down!
Just thinking...

HIV+ man on trial for murder

In an article about an HIV+ man who had unprotected sex with women without letting them know he was HIV+, a judge in Canada ruled that this man must stand trial on first-degree murder.
It is about time someone has the guts to take these HIV+ people to court when endangering others lives and indeed when even killing others!
Just thinking...

Spiritual mentors

Tim Challies, I think, has touched on one of the most important aspects of Christianity. That of discipleship!
Tim starts his article quite humorously by stating how jealous he is of Josh Harris who was mentored by CJ Mahaney. It might be funny to start reading Tim's article, but he hits an important point when he writes:
"I am desperate for a mentor. I am absolutely desperate to have someone who will invest in me. I am desperate to find a person, or have a person find me, who will play Paul to this Timothy."
One thing that the church has definitely neglected is the issue of discipleship. Many churches today, and it seems more so in the mega-churches, are into church growth and numbers and getting people saved and listed on their membership rolls. Once these poor people become part of a church they are kind of left on there own. They are simply told to attend church, attend Bible study/cell group, read the Bible and pray.
These days there is almost no mentoring or discipling going on. Many pastors preach fluffy sermons from the pulpit, calling it God's word for the day, and think that they have now deserved their salaries. Pastors are so busy in meetings with this new business style of running their churches that they do not have time to disciple anyone! Pastors are no longer shepherds, but have become managers! And,... we all know that managers are not leaders, they simply manage! Pastors are supposed to walk in front of the flock, leading the way in doctrine and life. Instead, they are sitting in some office or meeting discussing how the church is growing instead of discipling the people of the church.
The cry of my heart is very similar to that of Tim Challies. I would also love to have a mentor. Yet, the sad fact is that in my own church, I think very differently to the rest. I am Reformed, they are Arminian. I am mildly charismatic. They are overtly charismatic, and may I say, somewhat overboard.
From what I have read and heard from these men, I would love to be mentored by someone like John Piper or Al Mohler. The sad fact is that I live in South Africa and from where I sit, I do not see anyone here of that calibre.
It is in times like this that we simply need to throw ourselves into the loving and caring arms of our heavenly father. Since we are so desperately in need of mentorship, perhaps by mentoring others we will grow?!
Just thinking...

Attitude in cessationist debate

The cessationist debate, whether spiritual gifts are still continuing today or not, is raging on and many are making categorical statements that tend to put either of the sides on the opposite side of Biblical Christianity.
Millard J. Erickson, in his systematic theology called Introducing Christian Doctrine, 2nd Ed., Baker Academic, Grand Rapids, MI, 2001, p284, looks at this issue in a very level headed way. Here is the quote:
"In my judgment it is not possible to determine with any certainty whether the contemporary charismatic phenomena are indeed gifts of the Holy Spirit. There simply is no Biblical evidence indicating the time of fulfilment of the prediction that tongues will cease. Nor is the historical evidence clear and conclusive. There is a great deal of evidence on both sides. Each group is able to cite an impressive amount of data which are to its advantage, bypassing the data presented by the other group. This lack of historical conclusiveness is not a problem, however. For even if history proved that the gift of tongues has ceased, there is nothing to prevent God from reestablishing it. On the other hand, historical proof that the gift has been present through various eras of the church would not validate the present phenomena. What we must do, then, is to evaluate each case on its own merits. This does not mean that we are to sit in judgment on the spiritual experience or the spiritual life of other professing Christians. What it does mean is that we cannot assume that everyone who claims to have had a special experience of the Holy Spirit's working has really had one. Scientific studies have discovered enough non-Spirit-caused parallels to warn us against being naively credulous about every claim. Certainly not every exceptional religious experience can be of divine origin, unless God is a very broadly ecumenical and tolerant being indeed, who even grants special manifestations of his Spirit to some who make no claim to Christian faith and may actually be opposed to it. Certainly if demonic forces could produce imitations of divine miracles in biblical times (e.g., the magicians in Egypt were able to imitate the plagues up to a point), the same may be true today as well. Conversely, however, no conclusive case can be made for the contention that such gifts are not for today and cannot occur at the present time. Consequently, one cannot rule in an a priori and categorical fashion that a claim of glossolalia is spurious. In fact, it may be downright dangerous, in the light of Jesus' warnings regarding blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, to attribute specific phenomena to demonic activity."
I think that in this discussion of cessationism vs continuationism it would be in the interest of all to remain civil to one another and not to resort to ad hominem attacks against one another.
The fact is that on both sides there are people who have gone through the hermeneutical process and have come to different conclusions. A case in point is Phil Johnson and Adrian Warnock. They disagree on this point; however, they both treat each other as brothers in Christ.
So, remember, when tackling this issue, that the group of people that disagree with you are people, not demons or Satan himself. Therefore, treat them with the love that Jesus demands from us as clearly shown in the story of the Good Samaritan.
Just thinking...

Spiritual Gifts

Having read Jonathan Moorhead's Spiritual Gift Tests: A Rational Pneumatology, I thought to add my little bit to that conversation.

As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. (1 Pet 4:10)

The gifts are not to be used to gain more prestige in the church, since the fleshly manipulation of the gifts is not "for the common good." (1 Cor 12:7).

But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills. (1 Cor 12:11)

If we simply allow the Holy Spirit (as if He needs to be "allowed"), to send His gifts when He wants to, there will be more "common good" in the church and less fleshly outbursts of a demonic nature.

A spiritual gift is any ability that is empowered by the Holy Spirit and used in any ministry of the church. [1]

What could the purpose be of the gifts?

, as we have noted from 1 Cor 12:7, the gifts are "for the common good" of the church. As soon as we believe that we can use a gift at our own will, it loses its "common good." It then becomes a tool for the upliftment of our own egos.

, the gifts are given to the church for the period between Pentecost and the return of Christ. We can see how Paul connects the return of Christ and the time period of the gifts when he says that the Corinthians "are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Cor 1:7). Later (1 Cor 13:10), Paul tells us that the gifts are imperfect, "but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away." The perfect comes when Christ returns for us on that great and glorious day!

, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost was for much more than the gifts. The ultimate purpose of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit is to "receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses"(Ac 1:8) wherever we go.

, the gifts are for "the edification of the church." (1 Cor 14:12)

The question is always asked, "How many gifts are there?" [2]

1. Apostle 1 Cor 12:28; Eph 4:11
2. Prophet 1 Cor 12:28; 1 Cor 12:8-10; Eph 4:11; Rom 12:6-8
3. Teacher 1 Cor 12:28; Eph 4:11; Rom 12:6-8
4. Miracles 1 Cor 12:28; 1 Cor 12:8-10
5. Kinds of healings 1 Cor 12:28; 1 Cor 12:8-10
6. Helps 1 Cor 12:28
7. Administration 1 Cor 12:28
8. Tongues 1 Cor 12:28; 1 Cor 12:8-10
9. Word of wisdom 1 Cor 12:8-10
10. Word of knowledge 1 Cor 12:8-10
11. Faith 1 Cor 12:8-10
12. Distinguishing between spirits 1 Cor 12:8-10
13. Interpretation of tongues 1 Cor 12:8-10
14. Evangelist Eph 4:11
15. Pastor Eph 4:11
16. Serving Rom 12:6-8
17. Encouraging Rom 12:6-8
18. Contributing Rom 12:6-8
19. Leadership Rom 12:6-8
20. Mercy Rom 12:6-8
21. Marriage[3] 1 Cor 7:7
22. Celibacy 1 Cor 7:7

In 1 Pet 4:11 two gifts are mentioned.

hoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

"Speaking" here covers several vocal gifts and "service" covers gifts of service.

The fact is that the way Paul has enumerated the gifts in the different texts shows us that he did not intend giving us an exhaustive list of all possible gifts. The other point is that to categorize the gifts into different groups of gifts is simply folly. Not even Paul did that.

The church in the modern era loves tinkling with worldly ideas. We can see this especially clearly in all the tests out there that can be used to ascertain what one's gifting is.

How many of you have done some kind of motivational gifts test at your church, Bible study group, or elsewhere? It is quite the in thing to do at many churches to help people find their motivational gifts. The idea of motivational gifts come from our text for this study: Rom 12:3-8.

These gifts are enumerated as:
  • prophecy, 12:6
  • serving, 12:7
  • teaching, 12:7
  • encouragement, 12:8
  • giving, 12:8
  • leadership, 12:8
  • mercy, 12:8

The gifts mentioned in the New Testament are broken into basically three groups:

Ministry gifts, Eph 4:11 (This is a valid grouping. This passage does not use the same word for "gift" as the following passages. Our concern, therefore, is not with this passage.)
  • apostle
  • prophet
  • evangelist
  • pastor
  • teacher.

2. Spiritual gifts, 1 Cor 12:8-10
  • word of wisdom
  • word of knowledge
  • faith
  • gifts of healing
  • effecting of miracles
  • prophecy
  • distinguishing of spirits
  • various kinds of tongues
  • interpretation of tongues

3. Motivational gifts, Rom 12:3-8
  • prophecy
  • serving
  • teaching
  • encouragement
  • giving
  • leadership
  • mercy

The idea behind this is that each one of us was born with one or more of these motivational gifts inherent in our natures. These gifts are not seen as Holy Spirit empowered gifts, but as gifts given at birth. They can almost be seen as character traits by those who espouse them as motivational gifts. One could be motivated by the prophetic motivational gift, which in this case is not the same as the gift of prophecy from 1 Cor 12. This prophetic motivational gift helps one to see everything in black and white, right or wrong. A person motivated by this gift sees things as they are and they call a spade a spade. In this way we can go down the list.

The question, however, is the idea of the gifts mentioned in Rom 12 as motivational gifts a valid one, or should we look for a proper hermeneutic of this passage? The answer to this question is that we need to look for a proper hermeneutic of Rom 12:6-8.

How could this passage in Romans be interpreted in a more consistent Biblical way?

Remember, we want to discover from the text of Rom 12:6-8 if the gifts mentioned there are motivational gifts; gifts that we are more or less born with that we carry with us through life, or as Holy Spirit empowered gifts.

In order to find out the meaning of this passage, the first thing we need to do is look at the context. I remember someone telling me many years ago: A text without a context is a pretext. This has proven so true in the church today. Much of what is preached from pulpits today are mere overlays of the preacher’s preconceived ideas, onto the text of Scripture. This creates a complete distortion of the proper meaning of the Bible into a deception forced upon the church.

We already know how the other passages on gifts are interpreted, especially the spiritual gifts from 1 Cor 12. On the most part, interpretations for 1 Cor 12 are correct. In order to find out what Paul meant by this list of gifts, we will compare the Rom 12 passage with the passage in 1 Cor 12.

We have already seen the gifts mentioned in 1 Cor 12. Now we will look at the broader context of the setting of this "gifts" passage. As we look at the 1 Cor 12 gifts in their context, we will keep referring back to the Rom 12 gifts passage.

Many members

When we look at 1 Cor 12 and the context of the gifts in this passage, the first thing we notice is that Paul puts the use of the gifts in the context of the many members of the church. We see this in 1 Cor 12:15-27. Here Paul illustrates how the eye cannot be the ear, and the hand cannot be the foot. The importance of this passage is highlighted when the Corinthians are notified of the necessity of even the weaker members of the body. Each member of the body has an important task. When last did you kick your little toe against a chair? Even though you never give your little toe the smallest of thoughts, when you kick your little toe, your whole body is in pain together with your toe. In this way, each of the members of the body of Christ has an important place. The one with the gift of prophecy is not more important than the one with the gift of discernment. In fact, each manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good, not for the personal use of the one with the gift (1 Cor 12:7). The Spirit does the distributing of gifts when it is needed to whomever He wills (1 Cor 12:11).

Now, let us go back to Rom 12. Have a closer look at Rom 12:4-5! Remember the context! Paul writes that we are all members of one body and "all the members do not have the same function" (v4). We "are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another" (v5). As in 1 Cor 12 the gifts of Rom 12 find themselves in the same context of the "many members" with all having different functions.

Loving members

Next, we find the gifts passage of 1 Corinthians in the context of love. Paul ends 1 Cor 12 with "earnestly desire the greater gifts. And I show you a still more excellent way." (v31). He then proceeds with showing the Corinthians a more excellent way. The way of LOVE! Chapter 13 of 1 Corinthians is one of the most well known passages of Scripture of all time. No matter how many gifts you perceive yourself to have and to lay claim to, without love, they mean absolutely nothing. It is then that the gift of tongues will lose its validity by simply sounding like a "noisy gong or a clanging cymbal" (v1). Even if I somehow know everything, perhaps through the gift of prophecy, "I am nothing" (v2). Giving to the poor does not guarantee that we have love. Paul writes that we can give to the poor without love, but "it profits me nothing" (v3). The passage then carries on about the perfection of love and that all gifts will cease, yet love will never fail.

How does this fit into the context of the gifts mentioned in Romans 12?

As soon as Paul finishes the list of gifts in Rom 12, he proceeds with "Let love..." (v9). He then carries on with the topic of love till the end of the chapter in verse 21. Once again, the contexts in the two different passages are the same.

The use of gift

Let’s jump back to 1 Cor 12! The Greek word for gift in 1 Cor 12 is charisma. "Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit." (v4) We see it again in verse 9 "to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit" and also in verses 28 and 30. Finally, Paul writes in verse 31 "But earnestly desire the greater gifts." The gifts that the Spirit distributes to the church when needed are free gifts. The meaning of this word is "free gift."

Which word for "gift" is used in Rom 12? "Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly" (v6). The word for gift here is also charisma. These gifts are given to us according to the grace given to us. The word for grace here is charis. Grace in the New Testament is always free and can not be worked for. This grace is a grace bestowed on us by God.

So, what have we learnt from our little study of Romans 12 in conjunction with 1 Cor 12?
We have learnt that Romans 12 has exactly the same context as that of 1 Corinthians 12. The gifts mentioned in both passages are surrounding by the same two topics:

Many members in the body (Rom 12:5-5; 1 Cor 12:15-27)
2. Loving members in the body (Rom 12:9-21; 1 Cor 13)

We have also learnt that the same Greek word for gift (charisma) is used in both passages to teach on their respective list of gifts.

So what is our conclusion?

In the final analysis of these two passages, we have to conclude that the gifts mentioned in Rom 12 are not motivational gifts, but spiritual gifts. These gifts are not motivational gifts that we are born with, but gifts that the Holy Spirit distributes to us.

Just thinking...

End Notes
1. Grudem, Wayne, SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY An Introduction to Biblical Theology, Intervarsity Press, Leicester, England, 1994, p1016
2. Grudem has this list of the gifts on p1020.
3. If the word “gift” (charisma) in this one verse has absolutely no bearing on this chapter in which Paul clearly contrasts being married and being celibate, then somehow we will have to bend this verse to point to some “gifts” outside of this chapter. Paul just wished that all men were as himself (celibate) in verse 6. Then two verses after verse 7—the verse in question—in verse 9, he concedes that if they did “not have self-control” they should marry. In the midst of this he writes that “each man has his own gift from God, one in this manner, and another in that.” If this “gift from God” does not relate directly to either being married or being celibate, then surely context has no meaning!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

James White's cycling

I see that James White is chatting a little about his cycling around Tucson where they attracted almost 8000 riders.

Well, last weekend (20 Nov), it was the local 94.7 Km cycle challenge here in Johannesburg, South Africa. It was only the race's 9th year and 28,000 riders took the challenge. It is the second largest timed cycle race in the world after the Argus Cycle Tour.

My wife and I participated on a tandem, but alas, we weren't even half as prepared as we should have been. My wife struggled with flu this year, contracting it no less than 4 times, plus she had vertigo which kept her off the bike for at least 6 weeks. There are no flat parts on this race and the flattest section is still a hill. So, it was up and down, up and down,...

The uphills are oh so awful on a tandem, but the downhills are so sweet. We reached 80Km/h (49.7mi/h) on one of the downhills. On another race we actually reached 91Km/h (56.5mi/h).

Because we weren't fit enough for the race this year, I battled especially on the hills. I hate being beaten by those upside down downhills, so I try to put effort in. As a result, from about 40Km onwards it felt like I was riding with a knife in my leg. With about 10Km to go I was very close to tears because of the pain. Yet, I pushed on and ensured my wife that we WOULD finish, since I could not deny her the satisfaction of crossing that line because I was in pain.

Well, the Argus Cycle Tour is looming (35,000 riders), so off I go....

Just thinking...

Monday, November 21, 2005

Last Week's Highlights

Happy bleading!
Just thinking...

Friday, November 18, 2005

Proud dad!

Two nights ago we attended my daughter's annual awards evening for her phase in school.
Before we left for the event, my wife clearly spelt out to my daughter that we love her no matter what. We do not love her because of awards she may or may not get and that no matter what, she will still be our daughter and we will always love her. My wife was trying to prepare our daughter for an evening in which we really thought that she would not get any awards.
Well, the evening progressed and the first awards (Merit Award for Academics) handed out for each class in the phase (senior phase for primary school - grades 4 - 6) were for those kids that received an average of 75% or higher in their academics for the year. We were not that surprised when Nicole received this award since we thought that she would at least fall into this group.
When all the grades were done with the Merit Award for Academics, it was anounced that the next awards were what the evening was really about since these were the top awards to be handed out. It was the Order of Merit Award for Academics. This is handed out to the top three students in each class. The top three were called in the first class and we all applauded enthusiastically! They called them out with the third student in order of merit first. Next came my daughter's class.
"Third in order of merit is... Nicole Dicks!" I almost fell off my chair! The parents sitting around us laughed at me and my wife that we were so surprised! We didn't expect this, so our camera was not even ready. We ended not getting a picture of the principle handing out the certificate to her. My daughter's best friend was first in their class.
The reason why we were so surprised is that at the end of the third school term a list was released via the school newsletter of the top three students in each class. Our daughter was not on that list! She must have worked really hard this last term and overtook the person that was third after the third term!
All I know is that my wife worked really hard with my daughter in this last term, especially on my daughter's assignments to make sure that Nicole knew exactly what was expected of her. My wife also helped Nicole to study and to memorize important facts. I on the other hand, helped Nicole with maths, science and history.
So, all in all, Nicole did it! She made her parents proud!
She accomplished something that I never accomplished at school! To me school existed so that I could participate in sport.
Congratulations, Nicole! You certainly accomplished more than your daddy ever did!
Just thinking...

Thursday, November 17, 2005

MacArthur on church growth

Here is an excellent quote from John MacArthur in the church growth debate.
"Perhaps the dominant myth in the evangelical church today is that the success of Christianity depends on how popular it is, and that the kingdom of God and the glory of Christ somehow advance on the back of public favor."
-- John MacArthur,
Hard to believe,
Thomas Nelson Publishers,
Nashville, TN,
Just thinking...

Celebrities supporting abortion

Do you know these names?
Christina Aguilera
Cyndi Lauper
Della Reese (I always thought that perhaps this is a fallen angel!)
Matthew Sweet
Melissa Etheridge
Pearl Jam
Sarah Mclachlan
Sheryl Crow
Sinead O'Connor
Tori Amos
Tracy Chapman
Alanis Morissette
Alec Baldwin
Amy Brenneman
Ashley Judd
Beau Bridges
Blair Underwood
Blythe Danner
Brittany Murphy
Calista Flockhart
Charlize Theron
Charlton Heston (supports Planned Parenthood but claims to oppose abortion)
Christian Slater
Cindy Crawford
Demi Moore
Ed Harris
Edie Falco
Ellen Degeneres
Ewan Mcgregor
Goldie Hawn
Heather Graham
Helen Hunt
Jane Fonda
Jennifer Aniston
Jodie Foster
Julia Stiles
Kelsey Grammer
Kevin Bacon
Kim Basinger
Kirsten Dunst
Kristin Davis
Marg Helgenberger
Martin Sheen
Mary Steenburgen
Matthew Broderick
Morgan Freeman
Robin Williams
Rosie O'Donnell
Tyne Daly
Uma Thurman
Whoopi Goldberg
Bill Gates
Bill Maher
Carol Burnett
Hugh Hefner
Jay Leno
Madeleine Albright
Phil Donohue
William Jefferson Clinton
These are some celebrities that support Planned Parenthood (PP) in their murderous schemes with their money. Life Decisions International (LDI) keeps an eye on the abortion group Planned Parenthood. LDI keeps a list of companies and individuals that support PP. It is time we wise up to whom is supporting evil, and perhaps we should stop supporting them!
Just thinking...

Liberals seem like cowards

I am getting so sick and tired of liberals wanting to take every Tom, Dick and Sally (just to be PC!) to court over some kind of so-called religious promotion of religion (a.k.a. Christianity).
These people are such cowards that they would rather run to court, big daddy, to slap some unfortunate Christian on his wrist for promoting religion (a.k.a. Christianity) than deal with the issues in the public square. They are all for free speech, but not by Christians! They are all for promoting their anti-Christian rhetoric in the public square, but no pro-Christian rhetoric, please!
It is amazing that they are so quick to jump on the first amendment of the US constitution about "the separation of church and state" (which is a misnomer BTW), but refuses to read the next 6 words of the same amendment which says "or abridging the freedom of speech." This freedom of speech should not be "abridged," even on public property! They will fight for the freedom of speech for pornographers, pedophiles and other depraved and sick individuals, but not for someone who loves Jesus Christ and wants what is best for society, not the worst! When they speak of protecting "free speech" it is simply a euphemism for protecting vile and horrible acts of deviancy expressly forbidden by God. "Free speech" to them is protecting their own selfish and depraved lifestyles. It has NOTHING to do with the constitution, but has everything to do with their own egocentric, narcissistic and egomaniacal corrupt desires!
Oh, yes! They do not believe in God! Yet, if they do not believe in God, then why in the world are they so scared of Him?!
Here in South Africa in some black cultures they believe in the "tokolosh." They believe that the Tokolosh comes out at night and climbs into their beds. Then he takes their souls and travels around with them at night and returns their souls in the morning. They believe that the tokolosh is only one foot tall and because of this many African people place their beds on bricks in order to make their beds as high as possible. Therefore, the tokolosh cannot climb onto their beds.
Now we all know (maybe the liberals don't know this) that there is no such thing as the tokolosh. Those in the black cultures here that have come to the realization that there is no tokolosh no longer raise their beds with bricks. Now, it really amazes me that liberals who do not believe in God, will put their beds of ideas on the imaginary bricks of American runaway judicial courts!
Secretly, I believe, these people know there is a God, but they also know that if they have to acknowledge that, they would also have to start living by His decrees! That just will not do, since then they have to give up all their "wonderful" sins!
Even the film, "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe," is now taboo by some.
Just thinking...

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Lounging around with porn

Next time you are lounging around your home here in South Africa, it would be better to stay away from your TV remote.
Last night as we were preparing for bed, my wife was clicking through all of 5 channels on TV and came upon a show called the L-Word on one of our pay channels M-NET. My wife quickly called me over to see what was going on in this program. Here were two women having sex all over the screen with breasts bouncing and heavy breathing. The whole nine yards! For those who do not know, this is another of "those" shows where the sanitized lifestyles of lesbians are up for viewing. I cannot imagine why people would sit through a complete episode of such depraved lifestyles. Such a person must be so depraved and at the bottom of the human rung that something like this could be acceptable!
Then, one of our other channels, eTV (free channel), will be subpoenaed to appear before the South African parliament's home affairs portfolio committee after failing to attend a hearing on pornography on Tuesday. eTV loves putting all kinds of smut on the air calling it "advertising."
I am glad to see that African Christian Democratic Party MP (Member of Parliament) Steve Swart called for the subpoenaing of both and The Voice (newspaper) - a motion which is backed by the rest of the committee.
This is the problem I have with legalizing things like pornography. Because it is now legal, people will start thinking that it would be OK to shove it down everybody's throats. It seems that legalizing something empties people of their own ethics. Free speech without accountability is not free speech. It is equal to theft! When such vile offensive "speech" is shoved down my throat via a medium that is paid for by society, then society's "hearing" space was stolen! If I have a piece of ground and you park your vehicle on that piece of ground, you are in effect stealing ground from me. The same applies to this so-called free speech. If you shove your vile "free-speech" into my living room (enter your own space here) you are in effect stealing part of my living space!
Back in 1996 when parliament was hearing recommendations from interested parties about the prospects of making porn legal in this country, only 4% of these groups recommended that porn be made legal and 96% were against it. Yet, the wonderful liberation party (ANC), decided to go against the wishes of the people and made porn legal. The facts of porn are quite open for all to objectively study. The majority, by far, of sexual offences and murders related to sexual offences are preceded by the consumption of pornography!
If TV and radio stations are not willing to be responsible and accountable for what is being put on the air, they should not be fined... No, that is too easy! They need to lose their licences to air their wares!
Divorce society from the Bible and you end up with a society which finds Jesus offensive, but finds vile, disgusting, corrupt, degenerate, evil, filthy, nauseating, abominable, abhorrent, atrocious, awful, beastly and contemptible acts as acceptable!
In the end evil will be called good and good will be called evil!
It is happening right in front of our eyes!
Just thinking...
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