Vocab Rehab

Have you ever pondered about the vocabulary followers of Christ seem to use. Below is a list of vocab that you might have heard, and possible responses that might have entered your mind.

  • ‘Born-again’

“…my poor mother; I currently weigh 80kg…”

  • ‘Saved’

“…from what must I be saved? I’m not in any pool at the moment…”

  • ‘Redeemed ‘

“…I haven’t won the lottery lately…”

Okay, I know my humour is a bit dry, but you get the idea. We can also add words like ‘believer’, ‘disciple’, ‘Christian’, ‘child of God’, ‘saint’, etc. All these words have different meanings, but in the broadest sense, they point to a spiritual metamorphosis. The Christian believes this transformation is something God initiates, and we willingly participate in it.

For the outsider, these terms may seem archaic, old-fashioned or too religious. Yet just as a medical student immerses herself in the terminology of medicine, otherwise she would not be able to mature as a doctor, so also does the believer immerse himself in the vocabulary of the Bible.

In order for him to grow as a saint, he must understand the language of the Bible, which was written about 2000-3000 years ago. But this understanding is not just on the natural plain! We need super-natural help to UNDERSTAND this ancient language. It is a vocabulary to be SEEN with our hearts, and not just our heads. It is the language we will speak in Heaven. John Newton hit the nail on the head when he sang,

Amazing grace, how sweet the SOUND

that saved a wretch like me

I once was lost but now I’m found.

Was BLIND but now I SEE

Who opens the eyes of our heart to SEE the reality of God? What enables us to HEAR the sweet sound of God’s grace? Who grants us the understanding to grasp divine concepts? Well, Scripture is quite clear on who gives us spiritual insight. Paul, the apostle, speaks to his protegé, Timothy, and says, “Think about what I am saying, because the Lord will enable you to understand it all.” (2 Timothy 2:7 GNB) On the one side, he is asking Timothy to use his brain to think hard about the truth-claims of Jesus. And on the other hand, he tells Tim that it is only by a divine act of revelation that we can UNDERSTAND the teachings of Christ.

So the question that begs to be answered is,

“What does God use to OPEN up our spiritual understanding?”

In short, God uses the Gospel to open our blind eyes. Jesus said in the Gospel of John, ‘’Truly, truly, I say to you, Unless a man is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3 MKJV) We cannot SEE (understand, comprehend) the things of God without a supernatural transformation in our hearts.

If God uses the Gospel to give me spiritual understanding, what is the Gospel?

Whole libraries can be filled with literature dedicated to explaining the Gospel. And I would encourage you to make a proper study of it. But see my explanation below as a brief introduction to wet your appetitie for more.

The Five F’s of the Good News

  1. Framed

God framed the universe at Creation. What He made was good (Genesis 1&2). He made humans as His image-bearers, and walked in constant relationship with them.

      2. Fall

Man & woman fell in sin because they disobeyed clear instructions from God. Their fellowship with God was broken because of their rebellion (Genesis 3; Romans 3:23; 6:23).

      3. Forgiveness

Nothing humans try can restore the broken relationship between themselves and God (Romans 3:10-12). But God knew mankind would not be able to save itself, and that is why He sent the only acceptable solution to our greatest problem. God’s solution for our sin was to offer up His Son, the perfect Lamb, in order to wash our guilt away. Through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ we receive forgiveness for our sins (Isaiah 53; John 1&3; 1 John 1:9).

      4. Faith

I cannot earn God’s forgiveness. No, it is purely a gift (Ephesians 2). All I have to do is to RECEIVE the gift. We receive the gift from God by TRUSTING that He is not trying to fool us, or manipulate us, but that He did what the Bible claims He did. In other words, I must put my FAITH in God in order to receive what God has done for me (John 1:12; Romans 10:8-11).

     5. Future

My future is secure in God! I will spend eternity with God in Heaven, where there will be no tears nor sorrows (Revelations 21). I don’t have to fear death, ‘cause Christ has defeated death (2 Timothy 1:10). I don’t have to fear eternal separation from God, ‘cause Christ has restored our fellowship with God. Jesus clearly said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life! Without me, no one can go to the Father.”

So, my question to you is, “HAVE YOU ACCEPTED GOD’S GIFT?”

Let us pray:

Father God, I have sinned against Heaven and earth

I have broken Your holy Law

I have rebelled against Your instructions

I have tried, but I cannot save myself!

 

You know my sinful heart, and still You love me

You sent Your Son, Jesus Christ,

To die for my sins

To wash me white as snow

To restore fellowship with You

 

Please forgive me for my wickedness

Wash  me clean from all guilt

Enable me to live for You

Walk with me from now till eternity

For Your glory and name!

Amen

Please leave a comment if you have more questions about the Good News, and its implications for your life. And we will get back to you.

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Will the Springbok and Protea save South Africa?

I am a great fan of sport! As a child I remember countless hours playing cricket, rugby, soccer, hockey, tennis and golf either at school level, or socially with family and friends. Sport teaches us so many valuable life principles like respect, teamwork, enjoyment, selflessness, physical health, discipline, hard work, commitment, patience, dealing with success and loss, etc.

Having said that, I have observed a worrying trend among some of South Africa’s professional sportsmen and politicians of late. These men are making promises that sport of no nature can deliver. Minister of Sport, Mr. Fikile Mbalula, made the following statement at the Commonwealth Bid being awarded to Durban for 2022, “Sport continues to unite South Africans, healing past wounds and creating a better future for all.” Our cricket captain, AB de Villiers, was talking to the media during the Cricket World Cup earlier this year, “There is also expectation from ourselves as well. It’s a wonderful opportunity to make a big difference, to make South Africa a better place. We are playing for the bigger picture tomorrow, not just for ourselves, it’s for the entire nation.”

I do admit that sport has the power to inspire people. We as South Africans are well aware of the impact of the Springboks winning the 1995 Rugby World Cup had on our young democracy. It has been well documented in the popular film Invictus, directed by Clint Eastwood. However, the effect that the World Cup and ‘Madiba Magic’ had on our country is one side of a many-faceted story. Our country experienced a miracle transitioning from an Apartheid Government to a Democracy. And we owe our gratitude to those who paid a price for our peace and unity – men, women, students, churches, activists, political prisoners, spiritual leaders, foreign nations, etc.

With the Rugby World Cup being in the headlines, I’ve heard similar claims from some Springbok personnel. Springbok coach, Heyneke Meyer, said the following after the Boks defeated Samao, “We really want to make the country proud. Our country needs a lot of hope and the Springboks are the hope of the country.” Some of these claims are worrisome for me as a follower of Jesus for two reasons.

  1. They are making claims that only God can fulfil, therefore deceiving themselves and the public.

For our sports minister to say that sport can ‘heal past wounds’ is quite naïve. He is not talking about physical wounds, but hurts to the soul of man. How can sport heal the soul of man? How can sport take a heart of stone and replace it with a heart of flesh? The Bible is clear that it is only God that can do such a miraculous act. God is speaking through the prophet Ezekiel, “And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.” Ezekiel 36:26 (NLT)

Heyneke Meyer’s proclamation that the ‘Springboks are the hope of the country’ is even more disturbing. If that is the case, then every Springbok loss diminishes our hope, whereas every win increases our hope. A win by South Africa on the sports field will make us happy for a while, but eventually it wears off. The question is, “Will these sports teams or individuals cause everything to work together for the good of every single South African (Romans 8:28)? Will these sporting gods give us a wonderful hope and eternal comfort         (2 Thessalonians 2:16)?”

Do they have the power to perform what they promise? I think the resounding answer is ‘NO’.  The Christian believes that God is the Hope of the world. The Holy Scriptures are quite clear on this, In his (Jesus) name the nations will put their hope.” (Matthew 12:21)

“Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him.” (Psalm 62:5)

As a spiritual leader, I would be arrogant to think that I can give people hope. The only thing I can do is to POINT people to Christ, the Hope of the World. The hope God has poured into me, I can share with others. “…If someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it.” (1 Peter 3:15b NLT) Yet I would be deceived, and deceive others, to think that I can manufacture and reproduce hope. God is the SOURCE of HOPE for South Africans.

  1. They are putting undue pressure on themselves, and creating unrealistic expectations among the sporting public.

International sportsmen and women are under immense pressure to compete at the highest levels of their respective disciplines. Their performances are widely reported on the front and back pages of newspapers around the world. One missed tackle, or dropped catch, or mediocre game, or wrong decision by the referee, can alter the course of their careers. They can be dropped from the team, receive criticism from the public and media, and lose their income or endorsement deals.

Why would they add to these pressures an unrealistic endeavour which they don’t possess the means to fulfil? Why would they promise their fans something which they can’t deliver? Why do they take up a burden on their shoulders which they were not made to carry? Why do they presume to take the place of God in the lives of people through the statements they make?

I realize these are some confrontational questions! The reason I am confronting this line of thinking, is because the souls of men and women are at stake. God’s Word decrees that we must have NO other gods before us (Exodus 20:3-5). God is the only being able to fulfil our deepest needs. David says it so well in Psalm 16:11,

“You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence

                 and the pleasures of living with you forever.”

 May we ENJOY our sport, yet ENJOY our God even more. I leave you with this question, “Do you show more exuberance when Habana scores a try, or when you thank God for what He is doing in your life?” Let our bodies, minds, emotions, words, thoughts and actions SHOW that we LOVE God with everything we’ve got. (Matthew 22:34-40)

 

Sources:

http://www.sport24.co.za/OtherSport/South-Africa/Mbalula-Commonwealth-Games-will-be-a-success-20150902

http://www.sport24.co.za/Cricket/CricketWorldCup2015/AB-Were-playing-for-a-bigger-picture-20150323

http://www.supersport.com/rugby/springboks/news/150927/Boks_won_through_honesty_about_defeat