IN CHRIST WE HAVE ENTERED A DIFFERENT WORLD
The man who reaches the pinnacle is seldom happy for very long. He soon becomes eaten by fears that he may slip back a peg and be forced to surrender his place to another. Examples of this are found in the feverish way the TV star watches his rating and the politician his mail. Let an elected official learn that a poll shows him to be two per cent less popular in August than he was in March and he begins to sweat like a man on his way to prison. The ball player lives by his averages, the businessman by his rising graph and the concert star by his applause meter. It is not uncommon for a challenger in the ring to weep openly when he fails to knock out the champion. To be second best leaves him completely disconsolate; he must be first to be happy.
This mania to succeed is a good thing perverted. The desire to fulfill the purpose for which we were created is of course a gift from God, but sin has twisted this impulse about and turned it into a selfish lust for first place and top honors. By this lust the whole world of mankind is driven as by a demon, and there is no escape.
When we come to Christ we enter a different world. The New Testament introduces us to a spiritual philosophy infinitely higher than and altogether contrary to that which motivates the world. According to the teaching of Christ the poor in spirit are blessed; the meek inherit the earth; the first are last and the last first; the greatest man is the one that best serves others; the one who loses everything is the only one that will have everything at last; the successful man of the world will see his hoarded treasures swept away by the tempest of judgment; the righteous beggar goes to Abraham’s bosom and the rich man burns in the fires of hell.
Our Lord died an apparent failure, discredited by the leaders of established religion, rejected by society and forsaken by His friends. The man who ordered Him to the cross was the successful statesman whose hand the ambitious hack politician kissed. It took the resurrection to demonstrate how gloriously Christ had triumphed and how tragically the governor had failed. Yet today the professed church seems to have learned nothing. We are still seeing as men see and judging after the manner of man’s judgment. How much eager-beaver religious work is done out of a carnal desire to make good? How many hours of prayer are wasted beseeching God to bless projects that are geared to the glorification of little men? How much sacred money is poured out upon men who, in spite of their tear-in-the-voice appeals, nevertheless seek only to make a fair show in the flesh?
The true Christian should turn away from all this. Especially should ministers of the gospel search their own hearts and look deep into their inner motives. No man is worthy to succeed until he is willing to fail. No man is morally worthy of success in religious activities until he is willing that the honor of succeeding should go to another if God so wills. God may allow His servant to succeed when He has disciplined him to a point where he does not need to succeed to be happy. The man who is elated by success and cast down by failure is still a carnal man. At best his fruit will have a worm in it.
God will allow His servant to succeed when he has learned that success does not make him dearer to God nor more valuable in the total scheme of things. We cannot buy God’s favor with crowds or converts or new missionaries sent out or Bibles distributed. All these things can be accomplished without the help of the Holy Spirit. A good personality and a shrewd knowledge of human nature is all that any man needs to be a success in religious circles today.
Our great honor lies in being just what Jesus was and is. To be accepted by those who accept Him, rejected by all who reject Him, loved by those who love Him and hated by everyone that hates Him. What greater glory could come to any man? We can afford to follow Him to failure. Faith dares to fail. The resurrection and the judgment will demonstrate before all worlds who won and who lost. We can wait.
WAARAAN DINK JY AS DIT STIL RAAK?
“As ek aan U dink op my bed, in die nagwake oor U peins.” Psalms 63:7
Op watter paaie loop jou gedagtes snags wanneer die dag se geluide stil geraak het? Loop hulle terug op die pad van die verlede na mislukkings en verwyte wat jou hede versuur en waaraan jy in elk geval niks kan verander nie? Loop hulle vooruit op die pad van die toekoms na skimbeelde en vrese van alles wat verkeerd kan loop?
Waar gaan staan jou gedagtes stil in die oggend voordat die geraas van ‘n nuwe dag begin? Hardloop hulle sommer dadelik na al die probleme wat die nuwe dag kan bring en die bekommernisse wat so maklik in ‘n bondel vergader om jou vrede te verstoor? God nooi jou en my uit om soos Dawid van ouds in ons harte en denke by Hom te kom rus. Daar is ‘n onbeperkte, onsienlike wêreld van vrede en heerlikheid in die wese van God en ons het die onuitspreeklike voorreg om te mag dink oor Hom. In elk geval lê al die antwoorde van die verlede, hede en toekoms net in Hom, die tydlose, ewige God.
HUMILITY IN DAILY LIFE
The only humility that is really ours is not that which we try to show before God in prayer, but that which we carry with us, and carry out, in our ordinary conduct; the insignficances of daily life are the importances and the tests of eternity, because they prove what really is the spirit that possesses us. It is in our most unguarded moments that we really show and see what we are. To know the humble man, to know how the humble man behaves, you must follow him in the common course of daily life.
Is not this what Jesus taught? It was when the disciples disputed who should be greatest; when He saw how the Pharisees loved the chief place at feasts and the chief seats in the synagogues; when He had given them the example of washing their feet,-that He taught His lessons of humility. Humility before God is nothing if not proved in humility before men.
It is even so in the teaching of Paul. To the Romans He writes: “In honor preferring one another”; “Set not your mind on high things, but condescend to those that are lowly.” “Be not wise in your own conceit.” To the Corinthians: “Love,” and there is no love without humility as its root, “vaunts not itself, is not puffed up, seeks not its own, is not provoked.” To the Galatians: “Through love be servants one of another. Let us not be desirous of vainglory, provoking one another, envying one another.” To the Ephesians, immediately after the three wonderful chapters on the heavenly life: “Therefore, walk with all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love”; “Giving thanks always, subjecting yourselves one to another in the fear of Christ.” To the Philippians: “Doing nothing through faction or vainglory, but in lowliness of mind, each counting other better than himself. Have the mind in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, and humbled Himself.” And to the Colossians: “Put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, long-suffering, forbearing one another, and forgiving each other, even as the Lord forgave you.”
It is in our relation to one another, in our treatment of one another, that the true lowliness of mind and the heart of humility are to be seen. Our humility before God has no value, but as it prepares us to reveal the humility of Jesus to our fellow-men. Let us study humility in daily life in the light of these words.
GOD IS BO ALLES BESORG OOR DIE KONDISIE VAN ONS HART
Ons is almal baie besorg oor die kondisie van ons fisiese hart, maar is ons ook so besorg oor die kondisie van ons geestelike hart? Niks is belangriker nie.
“Want ons beveel ons nie weer by julle aan nie, maar ons gee julle aanleiding tot roem oor ons, sodat julle iets kan hê teenoor die wat hulle op die uiterlike beroem en nie op die hart nie.” 2 Korinthiërs 5:12
Met die wedergeboorte word “die liefde van God in ons harte uitgestort” deur die Heilige Gees. Van daardie dag af verwag God dat ons, ons harte sal bewaar (Spreuke 4:23) en versterk deur dit met geloof te hou onder die invloed van die evangelie van genade (Heb. 13:9).
Hierdie geloofsposisionering van ons harte onder genade dra altyd, maar altyd verhoudingsvrug. Dit is dan ook die toets of ons harte nog as’t ware “op die regte plek” is. As geestelike groei gemeet word aan enige ander maatstaf as ‘n verruimde hart is dit ‘n illusie en misleiding!
Kyk ‘n bietjie hoe Paulus dissipels aanmoedig om immer-verruimende harte te hê deur die krag van die evangelie.
“Julle is ons brief, geskrywe in ons harte, geken en gelees deur alle mense.” 2 Korinthiërs 3:2
“Ons mond het teenoor julle oopgegaan, Korinthiërs, ons hart het verruim geword.” 2 Korinthiërs 6:11
“Maak vir ons ruimte in julle harte…” 2 Korinthiërs 7:2a
“… want ek het vantevore gesê dat julle in ons harte is om saam te sterwe en saam te lewe.” 2 Korinthiërs 7:3b
“Maar neem jy hom, dit is my eie hart, aan.” Filemon 1:12
“Soos dit vir my reg is om dit van julle almal te dink, omdat ek julle in my hart dra, aangesien julle almal in my boeie sowel as in die verdediging en bevestiging van die evangelie my deelgenote in die genade is.” Filippense 1:7
Hoe gaan dit met jou hart?
IN CHRIST THE INVISIBLE GOD BECOMES VISIBLE
God made man in his image—this is clear from both Old and New Testaments. But the Bible also teaches us that Jesus Christ is the perfect man—the unsurpassed example of what God wants us to be like. It is therefore exciting to see that in the New Testament Christ is called the perfect image of God. In 2 Corinthians 4:4 Paul writes about those who “cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” The word translated here as “image” is eikōn, the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word tselem. What is meant by the identification of Christ as the image of God is further elaborated in verse 6: “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.”
God’s glory, in other words, is revealed in the face of Christ; when we see Christ, we see the glory of God. To the same effect are Paul’s words in Colossians 1:15: “He [Christ] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.” So, though God is invisible, in Christ the invisible God becomes visible; one who looks at Christ is actually looking at God. According to John’s Gospel, Christ himself made the same point when he walked on this earth. When Philip said to Jesus, “Lord, show us the Father,” Jesus replied, “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:8-9). Jesus’ words come down to this: If you look carefully at me, you will have seen the Father, since I am the Father’s perfect image.
A remarkable passage containing a similar thought is found in Hebrews 1:3, “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being.” The glory that Christ the Son radiates, according to the author of Hebrews, is not his own but is the glory of God the Father. The word translated here as “exact representation” (charaktēr) is a very interesting one. According to W. E. Vine, it denotes “a stamp or impress, as on a coin or a seal, in which case the seal or die which makes an impression bears the image produced by it, and, vice versa, all the features of the image correspond respectively with those of the instrument producing it.” As one can tell by looking at a coin exactly what the original die that stamped out the coin looked like, so one can tell by looking at the Son exactly what the Father is like. It is hard to imagine a stronger figure to convey the thought that Christ is a perfect reproduction of the Father. Every trait, every characteristic, every quality found in the Father is also found in the Son, who is the Father’s exact representation.
THE REPRODUCTION OF THE CHURCH IS NOT ITS DUPLICATION
The reproduction of the Church is not its duplication. It is a fatal mistake to try to form ‘New Testament Churches’. That is the policy of sectarianism: to have churches everywhere of a pattern and technique. The Church was born, out from heaven, as all its members have to be, and it is just the same with churches. It is the violation of a fundamental principle to try to form churches after any pattern, and so to duplicate — even if the original was born of God and represents His mind. Every next one must be born in the same way. Everything with God takes its rise and its form from life — and that Divine life!
In so far as we crystallize truth into a set compass, measure and limited interpretation, we make it minister death rather than life; bondage rather than liberty; letter rather than Spirit. God’s way is once, and once only, to create — the prototype — and then to generate from that; not copy it by imitation, either mass-production or otherwise. The Holy Spirit is in charge of this dispensation and everything has to be born of the Spirit if it is of God. We may have all the truth that is in the New Testament and seek to reproduce things according to it, but that is no guarantee that we shall have the living organism.
We hear people speaking, of ‘standing for’ this truth and that; meeting on the ground of such-and-such a truth; but this can only engender divisions and exclusiveness. Christ is the ground of meeting, and we should contend only for this ground. It is significant that the majority of divisions, and these the most acute, have come about in directions where ‘the one Body’ has been the truth contended for. We can well understand that the enemy would make it his business to bring such a vital matter into dishonour and reproach; but there will always be this possibility, if truth — even the most important truth — is put in the place of the Person. Even the truth or doctrine of the Person can obscure the Person Himself. Hence even fundamentalism can be very un-Christ-like in spirit and behaviour.
All this, and so much more of its kind, represents the need for that basic and drastic work of the Cross, as an abiding power, so that what is presented is not ‘Christianity’, as it has come to be so largely known, but Christ, in terms of life, light, power, love, liberty, and glory. It is not this or that ‘church’, but Christ expressed, as present in the corporate organism — His Body. Hence it is no particular teaching, company of Christians, ‘work’, or ‘Fellowship’ that is the object of this ministry, but only and always the Fulness of Christ.
DIE AFDRAAIPAADJIES VAN MAMMON
Die woorde van Jesus oor finansies en materiële dinge pyl soos ‘n missiel op ons harte af en konfronteer ons onverbiddelik en onverskrokke met die eis van Sy koninkryk. Om Jesus te volg beteken in ‘n sin heel éérste dat ons die afgod van geld en veral vertroue op geld permanent moet versaak (renounce). Hoekom? Want niks toets die hart se ware fokus soos Mammon nie.
“Moenie vir julle skatte bymekaarmaak op die aarde, waar mot en roes verniel en waar diewe inbreek en steel nie; maar maak vir julle skatte bymekaar in die hemel, waar geen mot of roes verniel nie en waar diewe nie inbreek en steel nie; want waar julle skat is, daar sal julle hart ook wees.“ Mattheüs 6:19-21
“Niemand kan twee here dien nie; want òf hy sal die een haat en die ander liefhê, òf hy sal die een aanhang en die ander verag. Julle kan nie God én Mammon dien nie!” Mattheüs 6:24
Jesus draai nie doekies om nie. Hy is dodelik ernstig oor die gevaar van vertroue op geld. Omtrent ‘n derde van al Sy gelykenisse handel oor hoe geld en materiële dinge die menslike hart beïnvloed en hoe dit mense kan weglei van die koninkryk van God. Mammon het baie slinkse afdraaipaadjies wat ons harte probeer verlei en Jesus weet dit, want Hy ken ons harte beter as wat ons dit self ken.
As jy jou dissipelskap wil toets is die eerste en beste plek om te begin jou werklike hartsgesindheid oor geld. En let op, dit is nie net welgestelde mense wat ‘n hartsprobleem het met geld nie!
Is jy bereid om die Heilige Gees te vra om vir jou te wys of jy in hierdie saak heeltemal rein en vry is? Besit jy geld of besit geld jou? Is jou vertroue werklik op God alleen? God gee vir die dissipel “Mammon-toetse” in teëspoed én voorspoed. Slaag jy daardie toetse? Laat elkeen sy eie hart ondersoek.
PARTAKERS OF THE NEW CREATION
Now that Christ has come and has launched a new cosmos, the old cosmos has begun to be destroyed. The only element or fundamental building block of the new creation is Christ.
And since there is only one Christ, of whom the new creation consists and upon whom it is built, there can be only one newly created people subsisting in that renovated creation. In what sense can it be said that the old world has already begun to be destroyed?
The elements of divisiveness that sustained the sinful structure of the old world have been decisively decimated by Christ, and He Himself has replaced them as the only foundational pillar of the new world.
This is what Paul has in mind in Gal. 6:14–16, where he says that through the cross of Christ ‘the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. And those who will walk by the elements (stoichēsousin) of this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, even upon the Israel of God.’
That is, those who conduct their lives on the foundational ‘elements’ of Christ, who is the inaugurated new creation, are partakers of the new creation, and they will experience the peace and unity promised to occur in the new heaven and earth.
DIE HEMELSE EKONOMIE VAN VRYGEWIGHEID
Een van die mees verrassende aspekte van die dissipel se lewe in die koninkryk van God is die feit dat ons nou reeds kan leef uit die hemelse ekonomie m.b.t. ons finansies en die materiële wêreld.
“God wat saad verskaf om te saai en brood om te eet, sal ook aan julle saad gee en dit laat groei en julle vrygewigheid ‘n ryk oes laat oplewer. Hy maak julle altyd in alles ryk genoeg om by elke geleentheid vrygewig te kan wees. Deur ons bemiddeling het julle vrygewigheid tot gevolg dat God gedank word.” 2 Korinthiërs 9:10-11 (NAV)
Paulus lig ‘n absoluut wonderlike geestelike beginsel uit in hierdie gedeelte. God is nie net die Voorsiener van brood nie, maar ook van saad vir die volgende oes. ‘n Koringboer wat al sy saad gebruik om brood te maak om te eet, gaan groot probleme hê wanneer dit weer tyd word om te oes.
Ons maak ons somme volgens die aardse ekonomie en dit is sekerlik nie verkeerd om verantwoordelik om te gaan met ons finansies en bates, om te begroot, ensovoorts nie. Solank jou kop net nie vashaak by die aardse ekonomie en jy vergeet dat God van jou verwag om uit die hemelse ekonomie te leef nie. Die aardse ekonomie werk net met salarisse, debiete, krediete, rentekoerse, groeipotensiaal van ‘n produk of besigheid, ensovoorts.
* Die hemelse ekonomie werk volgens die beginsel van saai en maai. In die koninkryk is ons in ‘n sin almal boere. Die belangrikste element in die hemelse ekonomie is die vrygewige hart wat onder die invloed van genade net aanhou vergroot. Wanneer jy leef in hierdie krag van genade en jou hart en hand vrygewig saai word die hemelse ekonomie as’t ware geaktiveer! So begin die beloftes van God realiseer in die lewe van die dissipel en kom hy agter dat hy nodig het om te onderskei wat is brood en wat is saad in terme van dit wat God voorsien.
Die hemelse ekonomie werk op die beginsel van vrygewigheid. Daarom is dit moontlik vir ons om die voorreg te hê om vanuit die hemelse te leef, maar steeds beperk te wees tot ‘n aardse ekonomie. Ons kyk dikwels heel eerste na syfers, somme en bedrae; ons Vader kyk eerstens reguit in die hárt van die dissipel in om te sien of Sy eie vrygewigheid binne-in ons ruimte het om te groei. Die vraag vir die dissipel moet dus heel eerste wees: “Leef ek in en uit die vrygewigheid van die hemel?” Dit verander alles. Uit watter ekonomie leef jy?
* Die Voorspoed teologie het hierdie boodskap ongelukkig so verdraai en die beginsel van vrygewigheid met hebsug (greed) vervang dat die Skrif-gefundeerde dissipel sukkel om te hoor wat die Bybel regtig te sê het oor hierdie sake.
THE POWER OF HIS FRIENDSHIP
“No longer do I call you servants . . . I have called you friends.” John 15:15.
If we ask, “What is the best that Christ’s friendship can be to any soul?” We may answer, “It is shelter, comfort, rest, inmost refreshment, guidance, and far more. Christ is an atmosphere about us—an atmosphere of love, warm with all tender influences, all healthful inspirations, all holy impulses. Christ comes into all our life—as our friend—so really, so fully, that he becomes “an unconscious part of every true beat of our heart.”
As the summer sunbeams enter into the flowers, and reappear in their lovely hues and sweet fragrance—so does Christ enter into the lives of his people, and permeate and transform them, until they become like him in spirit, in character, in disposition, in every feature. “Christ, who is our life.” Colossians 3:4. “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Colossians 1:27. “Until Christ is formed in you.” Galatians 4:19
We know what Christ’s friendship was to his disciples. He found them crude—and left them refined. He found Matthew a publican, unjust, grasping, an outcast—and made him an apostle, then a writer of a Gospel. He found Peter profane, rough in manner, impetuous—and made him an eloquent preacher, a man of marvelous power, whose influence lives today wherever the Christian church has gone. He found John a son of thunder, with a strong, fiery temper—and made him the apostle of love, the human embodiment of all the sweet, gentle, tender graces of his own life. The friendship of Christ, can do the same for us!
DIE HOË RISIKO VAN HAASTIGE OORDEEL
Konings, priesters, skrifgeleerdes, geestelike leiers, politici, en selfs Sy eie familie het almal vir Jesus van Nasaret verkeerd gelees. Vandag nog mis ons maklik Sy voetspore en oordeel ons dikwels veels te vinnig in situasies.
Uit tien haastige gevolgtrekkings oor mense se motiewe en die waarheid van ‘n situasie is nege gewoonlik verkeerd. Pasop vir aannames! Jesus gee vir ons Goddelike insig hieroor en ‘n opdrag om te gehoorsaam in Johannes 7 vers 24: “Moenie oordeel volgens wat julle sien nie, maar oordeel ‘n regverdige oordeel.”
“Do not form superficial judgements, but form the judgements that are just.” (Weymouth)
JESUS IS BETTER
MANY PEOPLE HAVE SUGGESTED that a suitable summary of the theme of Hebrews is “Jesus is better.” In chapters 1 — 2 he is better than the angels; in chapter 3 he is better than Moses. In Hebrews 4, the rest he offers is better than the rest provided by the Promised Land. In chapters 5 and 7 his high priesthood is better than the Levitical priesthood; in chapter 8, the new covenant over which he presides is better than the old covenant. In chapters 9 — 10, he officiates over a better sanctuary than the tabernacle, exercises a better ministry, and offers a better sacrifice. In short, “Jesus is better.”
The message is designed to strengthen the hearts and minds of Jewish Christians who, though they have willingly suffered for Christ in the past, at this point are tempted to return to the Jewish rites and practices they inherited. The writer of Hebrews is afraid that they are abandoning exclusive confidence in Christ, somehow succumbing to the temptation to think that, although Jesus Christ is all right, one may gain a bit more substance, or spirituality, or historical depth, or acceptance among the kinfolk — whatever — thereby sliding toward an implicit denial that “Jesus is better.”
None of this means the old covenant was bad; it simply means it was not ultimate. Thus in the brief comparison of Moses and Jesus in Hebrews 3:1-6, Moses, we are told, “was faithful in all God’s house” (3:2); he “was faithful as a servant in all God’s house, testifying to what would be said in the future” (3:5). There is not a word of reproach.
But Jesus is better. It helps to understand that in both Hebrew and Greek house can mean “household.” Like Moses, the author of Hebrews avers, Jesus “was faithful to the one who appointed him” (3:2). Nevertheless, “Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses.” Why? Because “the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself” (3:3). That seems to suggest that Jesus’ role with respect to God’s “house” or “household” is radically different from that of Moses. Moses was faithful as a servant within the household, and his most important role was testifying to what was to come. Jesus is faithful as “a son over God’s house” (3:6) — and that household is the community of believers (3:6). Moses appears as one servant within the household, looking to the future; Jesus appears as God’s Son over the household, building that household (3:3) and proving to be the very substance of that to which Moses was pointing in the future.
However important the comparisons between the two men, the differences are the more striking.
DIE AANBIDDING VAN SUKSES
Een van die mees subtiele dinge wat dissipels van Jesus dikwels ongemerk laat afwyk van God se koninkryksplan is die manier wat ons dink oor sukses. Ons waardesisteem is dan in baie gevalle eintlik maar dieselfde as die wêreld s’n.
Roem, prestasie, finansiële voorspoed, groter en beter is die doel en die maatstaf. Ons sukkel om uit te styg bo ons tydgees, en in baie gevalle besef ons nie eers dat een van die grootste redes hiervoor is dat ons net soos die wêreld ‘n afgod van “sukses” gemaak het nie!
Ware sukses het volgens Jesus baie meer te doen met nederigheid, gebrokenheid, gehoorsaamheid en die oorwinning van die liefde. Dikwels ongemerk en weg van die oë van die skares speel die drama en die stryd vir ware sukses in families, huwelike, gemeentes, en werksituasies af.
Hoe dink jy oor sukses? Het jy al vrede gemaak daarmee dat dit dikwels diegene is wat “verloor” in die wêreld se oë wat werklik wen in God se boek, die wat gee wat werklik ontvang en die wat dien wat ryklik deur God beloon word? Daar is geen groter sukses in die koninkryk as om God werklik te ken en gehoorsaam in Christus nie. Die gehoorsame dissipel meet nie meer sy lewe aan uiterlike standaarde van sukses nie, selfs al beleef hy ‘n mate van wat selfs die wêreld beskou as “sukses”. Lees Filippense 3:3-16 en dink bietjie oor hierdie gedeelte in die konteks van sukses.
KRAG IN SWAKHEID EN GEBROKENHEID
Ons probleem as dissipels van Jesus is in ‘n sin nooit dat ons te swak is nie, maar dat ons te sterk is in onsself. Daarom kry ons die opdrag in Efesiërs 6:10 “word kragtig IN DIE HERE en in die krag van SY Sterkte”. Pasop vir boodskappe wat subtiel die idee skep dat God dissipels as’t ware meer en meer self-vertroue wil gee sodat hulle kan oorwin en wenners kan wees in hierdie lewe. Ons sien ‘n heel ander prentjie in die Bybel. Ons hemelse Vader se skool van genade werk andersom. Hy wil ons al hoe meer vry maak van enige vertroue in onsself sodat ons toenemend kan leef uit die algenoegsaamheid van Jesus Christus ons Here.
“En Hy het vir my gesê: My genade is vir jou genoeg, want my krag word in swakheid volbring. Baie liewer sal ek dus in my swakhede roem, sodat die krag van Christus in my kan woon.” 2 Korinthiërs 12:9.
Lees bietjiedie hele gedeelte in 2 Korinthiërs 12:1-10 in hierdie konteks.
DOING EVERYTHING AS OUT FROM HEAVEN
I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13 NLT)
Christ’s spirituality was not that He was remote from what was practical in everyday life. It was that He was bringing heavenly forces and resources to bear upon the practical matters of everyday life. You can wash doors, or clothes, or floors, or do any of these ordinary domestic things, in spirituality. People seem to think that spiritual work and ordinary work, household work for example, are two different things. They talk about the spiritual work and the other work. Now, you can bring heavenly resources in to do anything that is legitimate, and the doing of those things may be a testimony.
The majority of people have no occasion to draw upon heavenly resources for a platform ministry. For the most part their work is of some regular, daily kind, and very often they feel utterly unable for it, and they are tempted to think that if they had some spiritual ministry to fulfill, if they had to go and take a meeting, or speak to some souls about spiritual matters, they could make a claim upon the Lord for help and He would carry them through. For the trivial round and common task such a thought is all too often wholly absent from the mind. Now, exactly the same resources have to come into the ordinary work as into what we call spiritual work. It has all to be done on a spiritual basis, and therefore to be a testimony. To get through an ordinary day’s work often requires something more than ordinary human resources. Spirituality consists in our doing everything as out from heaven. Let us be careful how we draw a line, lest we make a distinction between the spiritual and “the rest.”
NOT THE PLASTIC FRUIT OF RELIGION
God calls every member of the body of Christ to abide in the Vine and to “bear much fruit.” But what is fruit? Fruit isn’t a busy branch. Fruit isn’t a gifted branch. Fruit is always the increase of a seed! God is not seeking the fruit of our individual labors, ideas, and abilities. He desires the harvest of the Seed that has been planted in our soul.
In John 15 Jesus explains: As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing.
Unless Christ is the substance and source, there is nothing in us that God considers true fruit. I believe Jesus could have said it this way: “For apart from me you can do many things, but from My Father’s point of view they will all amount to nothing.” Though we are often confused on this issue, the Vinedresser has no problem discerning between the plastic fruit of religion and the true increase of His perfect Seed.
THE DESIRE TO POSSESS AND CONTROL
If you look again at Paul’s revelation of the church, the Body of Christ, you will see how he lays down the principle of dependence, interdependence, mutual dependence, and how he strikes strong blows against anything in the nature of independence, separateness. The Body is one, and no member in the Body can say to another, I have no need of you. Every member must say, I am dependent upon you. The hand cannot take the place of the foot. The whole body is constituted to demonstrate the law of dependence. That is humility. The opposite of that is striking out on your own, being a freelance and snapping your fingers at anybody and everybody else, and doing without them. That is pride, and it is deception.
Pride is shown in possession or possessiveness; that is, taking hold of things to govern them ourselves, to be in possession of them. It is the work in Adam, and it is in all of us. It is shown in the desire to have in our own possession, to have in our own power, to have under our own hand, under our own influence, and it is a terrible thing. It is in us all by nature more or less, and the ruin of the church has come along this line of men wanting to take charge, men wanting to possess, men wanting to bring their influence to bear upon things, so that the thing comes into their hold. It is the ruin of the church. It was the ruin of the race. It was the ruin of Satan.
There is nothing like that about the Lord Jesus. His was a letting go to the Lord, a letting go to the Father all the time. Listen to some of the sublime things that He said: “All that the Father gives me shall come to me…”. There is no fret about that, no strain, no hurried, feverish, excitable rushing about to get people, to get members, to build up something, to get people to join, to make a success of things: “All that the Father gives me shall come…”. It was a letting go to the Father. It is faith. That is not mere passivity, but faith in the Father. It is our inborn desire to have a sphere of power, of influence, of domination, of government, that causes us to try to get something, to get hold of something, to possess something, to see something, to have something, to see the work grow, to see a success. We are really out all the time in some way or other to bring people to our end, under our influence, to dominate them. There was nothing of that about the Lord Jesus.
THE CHURCH IS NOT OUR CREATION
The church is not our creation. It is not our business. We are not called upon to manage it. It is not there for us to advance our careers in it. It is not there for our own success. It is not a business. The church, in fact, was never our idea in the first place. No, it is not the church we need to rethink.
Rather, it is our thoughts about the church that need to be re-thought. It is the church’s faithfulness that needs to be re-examined. It is its faithfulness to who it is in Christ, its faithfulness in living out its life in the world, that should be occupying us.
The church, after all, is not under our management but under God’s sovereign care, and what He sees as health is very often different from what we imagine its health to be. The church, let us remember, is called the ‘church of God’ (Gal. 1:13; 1 Cor. 15:9).
Churches are ‘the churches of Christ’ (Rom. 16:16) because they are His, bought by His precious blood. Christ not only constituted the church (Matt. 16:18), but God has given us the blueprint for its life in Scripture.
What we need to do, then, first and foremost, is to think God’s thoughts after Him, think about the church in a way that replicates His thoughts about it. We need to ask ourselves how well, or how badly, we are realizing our life in Christ in the church, how far and how well churches stand as the outposts of the kingdom of God in our particular culture.
EK SAL GEE WANNEER EK MEER HET OM TE GEE
Ons het verlede keer gesien dat die hemelse ekonomie funksioneer op grond van die beginsel van vrygewigheid; die vryelike vloei uit ‘n hart wat oorloop van dankbaarheid en vervulling in Christus.
Net hier is daar egter ‘n baie algemene beswaar wat opkom in die menslike hart, naamlik dat sommige dissipels meer as genoeg het en daarom kan bekostig om vrygewig te wees, maar ek sal gee wanneer ek meer hét om te gee. Eintlik wil ek baie graag gee, maar ek het net nie nou om te gee nie. Wat is Jesus se respons op hierdie beswaar?
In Lukas 21 verstom Hy weereens Sy dissipels deur vir hulle te demonstreer dat die koninkryk van God anders werk as die wêreld.
“En toe Hy opkyk, sien Hy die rykes wat hulle gawes in die skatkis gooi. En Hy het ook ‘n arm weduwee daar twee geldstukkies sien ingooi. En Hy sê: Waarlik, Ek sê vir julle dat hierdie arm weduwee meer as almal ingegooi het. Want hulle almal het uit hul oorvloed by die gawes van God ingegooi, maar sy het uit haar gebrek ingegooi alles wat sy gehad het om van te lewe.” Lukas 21:1-4
Weereens sien ons dat God kyk na die kondisie van die menslike hart. Mense kyk na die uiterlike, maar God wil weet wat in ons harte aangaan. Die arm weduwee het uit haar hart uit gegee en sy het opofferend gegee. Ons sien presies dieselfde in 2 Korinthiërs 8:
“Broers, ons wil hê julle moet weet van die genade wat die gemeentes in Masedonië van God ontvang het. Al was hulle swaar beproef deur verdrukking, hulle blydskap was oorvloedig; en al was hulle baie arm, hulle was ryk in hulle oorvloedige vrygewigheid.” 2 Korinthiërs 8:1-2 (NAV)
Wanneer ons daai beswaar voel opkom in ons harte is dit tyd om ons oë weg te draai van mense en ons moeilike omstandighede en net vir Jesus, baie eenvoudig te vra of ons wel leef uit ‘n dankbare en vrygewige hart. Leef ons in die hemelse ekonomie? Leef ons uit “oorvloedige blydskap” en is ons “ryk in oorvloedige vrygewigheid” selfs in die aangesig van “verdrukking” en “armoede”? Jesus sal vir ons wys waar en hoe ons moet gee, maar die eerste orde van die koninkryk is die hart; vrygewig of ingeperk en self-gerig?
EVERYTHING BEGINS AND ENDS WITH THE PERSON OF JESUS CHRIST
“It does not matter what your personal deficiency, God has always one sufficient answer, His Son Jesus Christ and He is the answer to every human need.” Watchman Nee
As we discover our identity by looking to Jesus in faith, so also, we live the Christian life by looking to Jesus. Our identity is defined as JUSTIFICATION. The life we live by looking to Christ Jesus is defined as SANCTIFICATION. While these two important doctrines cannot be divided or separated, they must be distinguished. It is of great importance for us to realize that God has given to us one gift: HIS SON. In that one gift, God has given to us everything. There is a profound simplicity in Christianity.
Everything begins and ends with the person of Jesus Christ. God does nothing in us directly! He has done everything in Christ Jesus! We have been included in Christ. This grants to us a new identity. Through the hearing of the Gospel, the Holy Spirit brought us to faith in Jesus. He now dwells in us. This grants us a new life.
Because I AM IN CHRIST, I have a new identity in the heavenly places. Because CHRIST IS IN ME, I can live a new life. Jesus is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. In answer to all your questions, God has given to you Jesus! It is that simple. I believe the simplest expression of a person’s Christian faith is simply to declare, “I have Christ.” Experiencing the joy, peace, hope and contentment that is a part of the Christian life is the spontaneous result of the life of Christ dwelling within us through the Holy Spirit.
While our identity is in the heavenlies, the indwelling Christ is our life. Jesus promised in John 15 that if we abide in him (find our identity with him in the heavenlies) and He abides in us (stay connected to his life within us), together we will bring forth much fruit. In Colossians 1:27, the Apostle Paul speaks of the glorious mystery that has been revealed to the saints, which is “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Seeking to live the Christian life means that we find ourselves in Christ and seek an on‐going, life‐effecting experience with the Christ who dwells in us.
GOD SE PLAN VIR SY GEMEENTE: GEREFLEKTEERDE HEERLIKHEID
Die heerlikheid van die Nuwe Verbond is ‘n gereflekteerde heerlikheid.
“Ons almal weerspieël die heerlikheid van die Here, want die sluier is van ons gesig af weggeneem. Ons word al meer verander om aan die beeld van Christus gelyk te word. Die heerlikheid wat van ons uitstraal, neem steeds toe. Dit doen die Here wat die Gees is.” 2 Korinthiërs 3:18 (NAV)
Soos wat ons wegkyk van onsself, wegkyk van ander mense, wegkyk van ons omstandighede, wegkyk van sorge en die verleiding van Mammon, wegkyk van alle afleidings (distractions) en albei ons oë plaas op Jesus, die Leidsman en Voleinder van ons geloof (Heb. 12:2), begin ons om die heerlikheid van hierdie onvergelyklike Jesus toenemend te reflekteer.
“Julle is ons brief, geskrywe in ons harte, geken en gelees deur alle mense.” 2 Korinthiërs 3:2
“En terwyl almal wat in die Raad sit, hul oë stip op hom hou, sien hulle dat sy gesig soos die gesig van ‘n engel was.” Handelinge 6:15
Hierdie heerlikheid is nie van ons, uit ons of deur ons eie toedoen nie, maar dit is wel ín ons, omdat Christus in ons leef (Gal. 2:20).
“Maar ons het hierdie skat in erdekruike, sodat die voortreflikheid van die krag van God mag wees en nie uit ons nie.” 2 Korinthiërs 4:7
Daarom is die groot oproep van die Nuwe Testament, geloof! Die Heilige Gees probeer ons aandag kry sodat Hy daardie aandag eksklusief op Jesus kan fokus. Dit verg onwrikbare en amper hardkoppige geloof om weg te kyk van die honderde dinge wat daagliks skree vir jou aandag.
Die tyd raak min. Gaan ons generasie van gelowiges die moed van ons oortuiging (geloof) hê om weg te kyk van die antieke vérleidings plus al die moderne áfleidings (bv. elektronika ad infinitum) sodat ons met groter krag die heerlikheid van Jesus kan reflekteer aan ‘n bose geslag?
FOR YOUR LOVE IS BETTER THAN WINE
Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! For your love is better than wine. Song of Solomon 1:2
Nothing gives the believer so much joy as fellowship with Christ . He has enjoyment as others have in the common mercies of life—he can be glad both in God’s gifts and God’s works; but in all these separately, yes, and in all of them added together, he does not find such substantial delight as in the matchless person of his Lord Jesus.
He has wine that no vineyard on earth ever yielded; he has bread that all the cornfields of Egypt could never bring forth. Where can such sweetness be found as we have tasted in communion with our Beloved? In our esteem, the joys of earth are little better than husks for pigs compared with Jesus, the heavenly manna. We would rather have one mouthful of Christ’s love and a sip of his fellowship than a whole world full of carnal delights. What is the chaff to the wheat? What is the sparkling paste to the true diamond? What is a dream to the glorious reality? What is life’s merriment compared to our Lord Jesus in His most despised estate?
If you know anything of the inner life, you will confess that our highest, purest, and most enduring joys must be the fruit of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God. No spring yields such sweet water as that well of God, which was dug with the soldier’s spear. All earthly bliss is of the earth earthy, but the comforts of Christ’s presence are like Himself, heavenly. We can review our communion with Jesus and find in it no empty regrets; there are no dregs in this wine, no dead flies in this ointment. The joy of the Lord is solid and enduring. Vanity has not looked upon it, but discretion and prudence testify that it abides the test of years and is in time and in eternity worthy to be called “the only true delight.” For nourishment, consolation, exhilaration, and refreshment, no wine can rival the love of Jesus.
JESUS IS THE GLORIOUS CENTER OF THE ENTIRE BIBLE
As testifying of Jesus and His salvation, the Word of God must ever be transcendently precious to the believer. The Bible is, from its commencement to its close, a record of the Lord Jesus. Around Him the divine and glorious Center – all its wondrous types, prophecies, and facts gather.
His Promise and Foreshadowing, His holy Incarnation, Nativity, and Baptism, His Obedience and Passion, His Death, Burial, and Resurrection, His Ascension to heaven, His Second Coming to judge the world, and to set up His glorious kingdom, are the grand and touching, the sublime and tender, the priceless and precious truths interwoven with the whole texture of the Bible, to which the Two Witnesses of Revelation the Old and the New Testaments bear their harmonious and solemn testimony.
Beloved, let this be the one and chief object in your study of the Bible the knowledge of Jesus. The Bible is not a history, a book of science, a poem, it is a record of Christ. Study it to know more of Him, His nature, His love, His work. With the magnanimous Paul, “count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus your Lord.” Then will God’s Word become increasingly precious to your soul, and its truths unfold.
You will trace the history of Jesus, see the glory of Jesus, admire the work of Jesus, learn the love of Jesus, and hear the voice of Jesus, in every page. The whole volume will be redolent of His name, and luminous with His beauty. Oh, what were the Bible to us apart from its revelation of a Savior! Is there not great danger of studying it merely intellectually and scientifically, of reveling among its literary beauties and its grandeur, blind to its true value, and without any desire to know that precious Savior who died for sinners, that Divine Redeemer who purchased the ransom of His Church with His own blood; that Friend who loves us, that Brother who sympathizes with us, that enthroned High Priest who intercedes for us within the veil?
May we not resort to it as mere controversialists, polemics, and partisans, searching it but for weapons of attack upon a Christian brother’s system or creed, or quoting it but to give countenance and complexion to a favorite dogma? But do we study the “Word of Christ” spiritually and honestly, as those whose souls hunger and thirst for this the bread and water of life? Do we search it diligently and earnestly as for hid treasure—treasure beyond all price?
VERANDER JOU PERSPEKTIEF, VERANDER JOU LEWE
Kyk jy na die hemel van die aarde af of na die aarde van die hemel af?
“En Hy sê vir hulle: Julle is van benede, Ek is van bo; julle is uit hierdie wêreld, Ek is nie uit hierdie wêreld nie.” Johannes 8:23
Jesus verklaar onomwonde vir die Jode van Sy dag dat Hy nie uit hierdie wêreld is nie. Jesus het nie na die hemel gekyk van die aarde af nie, maar na die aarde van die hemel af.
Een van die mees verstommende waarhede van die Nuwe Testament is dat alle wedergebore mense nou in ‘n sin presies dieselfde kan sê. Oorweeg net die volgende tekste as ‘n voorbeeld hiervan:
“Julle het saam met Christus gesterwe…Waarom lewe julle dan nog asof julle aan hierdie wêreld behoort?” Kolossense 2:20 (NAV)
“Bedink die dinge wat daarbo is, nie wat op die aarde is nie.Want julle het gesterwe, en julle lewe is saam met Christus verborge in God.” Kolossense 3:2-3
As jy na die hemel kyk van die aarde af is al jou belange en jou “skatte” steeds hier in die tydelike en dan is jou hart ongelukkig ook op die verkeerde plek (sien Lukas 12:33-34). Dan leef jy maar jou “eie lewe” in die hier-en-nou en vra God om jou planne en projekte te seën; jy *”trek kort op sestig pensioen en raak met God en mens versoen”. En dan daar in die ouetehuis het ons mos baie tyd om te begin dink oor die hemel. Of hoe?
Ware dissipelskap is iets totaal anders. Dit begin by ‘n radikaal ander perspektief. Gaan kyk maar hoe Jesus in die evangelies mense roep om ‘n hemelse identiteit te omhels en aanvaar, soos wat hulle wegdraai van die aardse. Dit gebeur natuurlik eers volledig wanneer ‘n mense geestelik weergebore word (Johannes 3). Daarom word die briewe van die Nuwe Testament geskryf uit die perspektief van die hemelse. Daar word gekyk na die aarde van die hemel af. As jy hierdie punt mis, gaan jy regtig nie veel verstaan van die Nuwe Testament nie en jy gaan gevolglik ook nie werklik verstaan wat dit beteken om Jesus te volg nie.
Die hele Nuwe Testament roep ons op om ons perspektief te verander. In die proses van bekering sien ‘n mens skielik jou lewe uit God se perspektief. Na wedergeboorte verwag God dan van ons om nooit weer terug te val na ‘n aardse perspektief nie. As jy eers die Nuwe Testament in hierdie lig begin lees, maak dit vir jou al hoe meer sin en raak hierdie “vernuwing van denke” vir jou kosbaar en lewensveranderend.
* Aangehaal uit ‘n gedig van S.V. Petersen.
WE URGENTLY NEED THE ETERNAL PERSPECTIVE
Have you ever seen a fly in a bottle? Round and round it goes, beating itself from side to side, rising, falling, until you really ache as you watch that fly. You saw it rise a little and your hopes rose with it, and then you saw it go down, trying to find a way out, beating itself to death. Then up, up, climbing and reaching the top, out and away! That is the difference.
You and I with all our head knowledge, our mental knowledge of a great spiritual realm, find it a hopeless thing if in reality we are living down in this creation. Today it would be easy to despair, to drop down into things as they are. Look out into the world for prospects for the Church, prospects for the Gospel, prospects for the Lord. Look at the state of the Church itself. Bring the Letter to the Ephesians down into this world! You will give it up and say: It is a wonderful conception, but impossible.
Try to realize it down on this level and you beat yourself to despair. Note Paul as he looks out over the churches which he had seen brought into being and sees them breaking up, and the men for whom he had suffered turning against him. Paul would have despaired in his heart, had he been living down here. What were the prospects in such conditions? But he got up into the heavenlies in Christ Jesus and saw that this was a heavenly thing, an eternal thing. Read the Ephesian letter again and mark how it starts: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ; even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blemish before Him in love: having foreordained us unto adoption as sons through Jesus Christ unto Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved: in Whom we have our redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace…” (Eph. 1:3–7).
These are the words of a man with his life-work tumbling to pieces and all his old friends for whom he had sacrificed himself turning against him. What has he seen? The eternity, the universality of Christ, ALL THINGS IN CHRIST. Paul is not living in this world now, but living in Christ. It is the only way out. It is the way of life, the way of hope, the way of assurance in a day like this when things close down. Christ is the way out: “…in the heavenlies in Christ…”; “…chose us in Him before the foundation of the world….” Again we say: What a Christ! Let us dwell much upon the Lord Jesus, for everything for us is in Him.
TOETS JOU GEESTELIKE GESONDHEID HIERAAN
Bybelse redding en gevolglike geestelike gesondheid en groei gaan nie net oor ‘n belydenis (Mt. 7:21) of ‘n geloofsoortuiging (Jak. 2:19) nie. Dit gaan ten diepste oor dit wat vir ons waardevol is en die manier wat ons dan omgaan met hierdie “skat” wat ons ontdek het, relatief tot die skatte van die wêreld.
“Verder is die koninkryk van die hemele soos ‘n skat wat verborge is in die saailand, wat ‘n man kry en wegsteek; en uit blydskap daaroor gaan hy en verkoop alles wat hy het, en koop daardie saailand.” Mattheüs 13:44
“Want wat baat dit ‘n mens as hy die hele wêreld win, maar aan sy siel skade ly? Of wat sal ‘n mens gee as losprys vir sy siel?” Matthew 16:26
Daar is geen aardse skatte wat ‘n mens se siel kan loskoop van die ewige verderf nie, maar die manier wat jy aardse skatte hanteer wys wel of jy al die “skat in die saailand” ontdek het. Christus is die “skat in die saailand” en as jy hierdie skat werklik ontdek het, is jy bereid om alles op te gee om te groei in kennis van Hom.
“Maar wat vir my wins was, dit het ek om Christus wil skade geag. Ja waarlik, ek ag ook alles skade om die uitnemendheid van die kennis van Christus Jesus, my Here, ter wille van wie ek alles prysgegee het en as drek beskou, om Christus as wins te verkry.” Filippense 3:7-8
As Christus werklik vir jou die “skat in die saailand” is, sal jou gesprekke, die manier wat jy omgaan met tyd en geld, en elke aspek van jou lewe getuig van dit wat vir jou bo alles kosbaar is. Ware dissipels se waardestelsel is radikaal anders as die wêreld s’n. So radikaal dat dit baie gou sigbaar word vir almal rondom hulle. Is jou geloof (waardestelsel) so sigbaar?
Jim Elliot het gesê: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
A TREASURE CHEST OF HOLY JOY
This parable [Matthew 13:44] describes how a person is converted and brought into the kingdom of heaven. He discovers a treasure and is impelled by joy to sell all he has in order to have this treasure. You are converted to Christ when Christ becomes for you a treasure chest of holy joy. The new birth of this holy affection is the common root of all the conditions of salvation. We are born again — converted — when Christ becomes a treasure in whom we find so much delight that trusting him, obeying him, and turning from all that belittles him becomes our normal habit.
Someone may say against Christian Hedonism: “It is possible to make a decision for Christ without the incentive of joy.” I doubt that very much. But the issue this morning is not: “Can you make a decision for Christ without the incentive of joy?” Rather, the issue is: “Should you?” Would it do you any good if you could? Is there any evidence in Scripture that God will accept people who come to him out of any other motive than the desire for joy in him?
Someone will say, “Our aim in life should be to please God and not ourselves.” But what pleases God? Hebrews 11:6: Without faith it is impossible to please God. For whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. You cannot please God unless you come to him in search of reward. What did Jesus say to Peter when Peter focused on his sacrificial self-denial and said, “Lo, we have left everything and followed you” (Matthew 19:27)? Jesus saw the seeds of pride: “We have made the heroic decision to sacrifice for Jesus.” And how did he banish that pride out of Peter’s heart? He said: There is no one who has left anything for my sake who will not receive a hundredfold . . . now, and in the age to come, eternal life.
Peter if you don’t come to me because I am a greater treasure than all those things you have left, then you don’t come to me at all. You are still in love with your own self-sufficiency. You have not become like a little child basking in the beneficence of his Father. It is pride that wants to be anything more than a little baby branch sucking righteousness, peace, and joy from Christ the vine. The condition of salvation is that you come to Christ in search of reward and that you find in him a treasure chest of holy joy.
AVOIDING PLASTIC FRUIT
When God sent Paul out on His missionary journeys, He did not send Him in the strength and honor of what we now call the apostolic ministry. He didn’t send him out with pomp and pageantry and confidence and gifting. No, that’s how we do it today. If you have a big enough church, we’ll send you an apostle to do a weekend conference for the right price. And we’ll send him first class and we’ll expect a back exit out of the conference center so that He doesn’t have to get bogged down with all the questions and needs afterwards. When God sent a man or woman He sent them to go somewhere in weakness and in the fear of the Lord. He sent them to go and bear in themselves the death of Christ so that the life of Christ would work in what is true ministry. Listen to how Paul describes Himself:
And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God (1 Cor. 2:1-5).
Why? What was Paul’s expectation in ministry? Paul’s expectation was quite simply that if the cross was able to get him out of the way, there might actually be fruit amongst these people. If He would bear in Himself the decrease, the death of the Lord, then there might actually be an expanding of the boundaries of Israel in those to whom He ministered. Here’s how he puts it.
For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So then death is working in us, but life in you. Death works in me, but life in you (2 Cor. 4:11-12).
That’s Paul’s understanding of the apostolic ministry. I am conformed to His death so that there is something of Christ that can be seen and shared and ministered. If you are going somewhere, whether its to a huge conference or just across the street to your neighbor’s house, and you are expecting to minister according to one of these offices, then you can be sure of one thing. You can be sure that you’re going to get plastic fruit unless you go there as a dying seed.
But Jesus answered them, saying “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. 24 Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. 25 He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also (John 12:23-26).
Notice how right after mentioning the dying seed, Jesus shows them that he’s not just talking about himself alone as that dying seed. Certainly He alone is the Resurrection and the Life. He is the life of all things or they have no life. But, unless we bear in ourselves His death, and come to abide in Him, we will bear nothing of His fruit. Unless we lose our life and follow Him, then there will be no fruit at all.
IS ONS WERKLIK DISSIPELS VAN JESUS?
‘n Ware dissipel van Jesus is iemand wat in die mees intieme verhouding denkbaar met Jesus self, bo alle ander, leef. Dit is iemand wat Jesus se stem ken (Joh. 10:4, 27) en wie se gewete aan Jesus gebind is bo alle ander op hierdie aarde.
Geen gemeente, leier of leiers mag op hierdie heilige grond indring nie, maar mag hoogstens die dissipel se vertroue in hierdie verbintenis met Jesus versterk. Toe Jesus die opdrag gegee het dat Sy eerste dissipels van al die nasies dissipels moet maak, het hulle baie goed verstaan dat hulle opdrag was om mense se verhouding met JESUS te vestig en versterk. Hulle het nie probeer om mense dissipels van hulleself te maak nie.
Handelinge 9 vers 1 sê Paulus het die “dissipels van die Here” vervolg, nie die dissipels van Petrus of Jakobus nie. Nadat hy self ‘n dissipel van Jesus geword het, waarsku hy in Handelinge 20 vers 30 dat daar manne sal wees wat dissipels gaan wegtrek “agter hulle aan” en in Galasiërs 4 vers 17 dat diesulkes se doel is om dissipels “vir hulleself” te laat “ywer”.
Enige leier, gemeente of denominasie wat mense se gewetes aan hulleself probeer bind in plaas van aan Christus en Sy Woord is besig om dissipels “weg te trek” van Jesus af, selfs al gebruik hulle Sy naam en haal skrifte aan. Toets jou hart en maak seker dat jou gewete net aan Jesus en Sy Woord gebind is. Slegs diegene wat mense se vertroue in Jesus alleen vestig en versterk en hulle anker in Sý Woord is ware dissipelmakers. Alle ander is besig om teen God se meesterplan met die mensdom te werk, selfs al doen hulle dit in onkunde en met goeie motiewe.
NEVER UNDERESTIMATE JESUS
One of the great failures into which even believers sometimes fall is the tendency to underestimate Jesus (Matt.17:1-8). Jesus takes the inner three of his twelve disciples — Peter, James, and John — to a high mountain, just the four of them. “There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light” (17:2). Suddenly Moses and Elijah appeared, “talking with Jesus” (17:3). It is as if the ultimate identity of the eternal Son is allowed to peep through; the three disciples become “eyewitnesses of his majesty” (2 Peter 1:16). It is hard not to see here also a foretaste of the glory of the exalted Son (cf. Rev. 1:12-16), of the Jesus before whom every knee will bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, every tongue confessing “that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:10-11).
But Peter misunderstands. He rightly recognizes that it is an enormous privilege to be present on this occasion: “Lord,” he says, “it is good for us to be here” (17:4). Then he puts his foot in his mouth: “If you wish, I will put up three shelters — one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” He entirely misunderstands the significance of the presence of Moses and Elijah. He thinks that Jesus is being elevated to their great stature, the stature of the mediator of the Sinai covenant and of the first of the great biblical prophets.
He is utterly mistaken. Their presence signified, rather, that the law and the prophets bore witness to him (cf. 5:17-18; 11:13). God himself sets the record straight. In a terrifying display, God thunders from an enveloping cloud, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” (17:5). By the time the three disciples recover from their prostrate terror, it is all over: “When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus” (17:8) — a pregnant conclusion to the account.
Jesus brooks no rivals. There have been, there are, many religious leaders. In an age of postmodern sensibilities and a deep cultural commitment to philosophical pluralism, it is desperately easy to relativize Jesus in countless ways. But there is only one Person of whom it can be said that he made us, and then became one of us; that he is the Lord of glory, and a human being; that he died in ignominy and shame on the odious cross, yet is now seated on the right hand of the Majesty on high, having returned to the glory he shared with the Father before the world began.
DISCIPLES WHO MAKE DISCIPLES
From the beginning of Christianity, the natural overflow of being a disciple of Jesus has always been to make disciples of Jesus. “Follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men” (Matt. 4:19). This was a promise: Jesus would take His disciples and turn them into disciple makers. And this was a command: He called each of His disciples to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them and teaching them to obey Him (Matt. 28:19–20). From the start, God’s design has been for every single disciple of Jesus to make disciples who make disciples who make disciples until the gospel spreads to all peoples.
Yet we have subtly and tragically taken this costly command of Christ to go, baptize, and teach all nations and mutated it into a comfortable call for Christians to come, be baptized, and listen in one location. If you were to ask individual Christians today what it means to make disciples, you would likely get jumbled thoughts, ambiguous answers, and probably even some blank stares. In all our activity as Christians and with all our resources in the church, we are in danger of practically ignoring the commission of Christ. We view evangelism as a dreaded topic, we reduce discipleship to a canned program, and so many in the church end up sidelined in a spectator mentality that delegates disciple making to pastors and professionals, ministers and missionaries.
But this is not the way it’s supposed to be. Jesus has invited all of us to be a part of His plan. He has designed all of His people to know His joy as we share His love, spread His Word, and multiply His life among all of the peoples of the earth. This is the grand purpose for which we were created: to enjoy the grace of Christ as we spread the gospel of Christ from wherever we live to the ends of the earth. And this purpose is worth giving our lives to seeing it accomplished. It’s worth it for billions of people who do not yet know the mercy and majesty of God in Christ. And it’s worth it for you and me, because we were made to be disciples who make disciples until the day when we see the face of the One we follow, and together with all nations we experience His satisfaction for all of eternity.