On this page I will post sermons that impacted me or explain my theology better than I can do in my own words. I might even make some comments from time to time.

Truth About You by Chad Holtz

This message was preached by my freind Chad Holtz on the 15th of June 2008 and explains much of how I feel about the Good News Jesus came to bring us.

The Truth about You

Romans 5:1-11

 As I look out at all your faces this morning I am aware that each one of you has a story.  Each of us is here this morning for different reasons.  Some are here because they are desperate.  Someone is here because they are hungry.  Someone is here because they have hopes and dreams that are unfulfilled.  Some are here this morning and are happy, others sad, others indifferent.  Some are here because they long to be closer to God and walk with God more deeply.  Some are here because they are in a crisis and are at the end of their rope.  Some are here hoping to save their souls.  Some are here who don’t even know they need saving.  Some are here simply to honor their fathers while some are here because they can’t imagine being anywhere else on a Sunday morning.     Yet despite all these differences and despite the many paths traveled or reasons that have brought you to Marrow’s Chapel this Sunday morning there is one thing that is true of each and every one of us here today whether we realize it or not.  This truth, this common bond that unites us all, is so huge, so significant, so monumental that no matter what brought you here this morning- whether it be pain or joy, longing or hopelessness, loneliness or family, sinfulness or saintliness, a soul that is feasting or one that is famished- God’s Word has something to say about who you have been, who you are right now and who you will be when you are sitting down to lunch 30 minutes from now.  And friends, this is true of you whether you realize it or not and whether you have been raised in the church or have spent your life hating the church.   Hear the words of the Apostle Paul, a witness to the resurrected Jesus Christ, who tells us who we are in his letter to the Romans. 

Read Romans 5:1-11

Now if you didn’t hear it, don’t worry.   We will walk through this together.  Paul has a gift for saying much with few words, a gift that unfortunately for you today, your pastor does not share.   I want to draw your attention to whom Paul is writing this letter.  If you turn with me to the first chapter of Romans, the first few verses, you will note that Paul begins his letter claiming to be a servant of Jesus Christ, one who has been set apart to proclaim the good news that through Jesus grace has been given so that he and others, in verse 5, can bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles, including you, who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.  Now, if you are not sure who a Gentile is look beside you.  Gentile is an easy way of saying anyone who is not a Jew.   ALL non-Jews are Gentiles.   That means Christians who are not Jewish are Gentiles.  Americans are Gentiles.  Muslims are Gentiles.  Buddhists are Gentiles.   Pagans and atheists are Gentiles.  Even Methodists and Baptists are Gentiles.  Every one of us here this morning, unless you are Jewish, is a Gentile.  Paul is writing to you and I, and he says in the opening of his letter than you and I are called to belong to Jesus Christ.   

You and I and all the world, both Jew and Gentile, are being called to belong to Jesus Christ.   Why are we being called to belong to Jesus Christ?  There are many reasons.  We could say because God who created us and stamped us with his very own Image desires that we have life and life abundantly, as Jesus said.  We could say it is because God does not want us to live in fear of death, but to know that death was defeated on Easter morning when God raised Jesus from the dead and promised to do the same for all the world.  We could say that it is because God, the perfect Father in Heaven, wishes to be for us what we so often fail to be for one another.  We could say that it is because we so often fall short of the glory of God, we so often fail, we so often sin, that God wants us to know that in our belonging to Christ we will be brought home, we will always be loved, we will never be left behind.  We could say all of this and it would be true, but the main reason we are being called to belong to Jesus Christ is that thing that is true of all of us here this morning regardless of circumstance:  we are being called to belong to Jesus Christ because we already do.  Paul wants the Romans and us to realize a truth about ourselves that God already knows and has made possible.  Paul, in other words, is calling all of us to wake up and live into the reality about you that is true, whether you believe it or not.

Look with me again at the picture Paul paints of all of us and the love God has for us.  He writes in 5:6 that while we were still weak Christ died for us, the ungodly.  He then writes in verse 8, in case we missed it the first time, that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.  And yet, in case you are still not getting the point, Paul hopes the third time is a charm by writing in verse 10, for while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son.  See the progression?   We were weak, we were sinners, and we were even enemies of God, and yet, Christ died for us, thus proving his love for us as verse 8 proclaims.   And by the way, did you catch how each of those is in the past tense?  You were weak, you were sinners, and you were enemies of God.  This, friends, is the Good News of the gospel!   This news is not dependent on whether you acknowledge it or not – it is a fact about you that you cannot run away from and will one day have to reckon with.  The truth about you is that you are loved by the God who knew your name before you were ever born, who knows every hair on your head and who stepped out of heaven and all its glory to take the penalty of death on his own shoulders so that we can be saved through his life.  You and I and all the world are being called to belong to the God who loves us so much that even while we were weak, while we were sinners and while we were even enemies of God, God rescued us.  This is the truth about you today.  

So if that is the truth about us, what then?  A German pastor and theologian living during Hitler’s rise to power had a wonderful way of describing this truth about us and how we ought to respond.   Karl Barth is his name and he is one of the pastors in Germany who spoke forcefully against Hitler and refused to back him.  Barth asks us to imagine being in a bomb shelter during WWII for the duration of the war.  It is dark and crowded in the shelter below ground.  One day, a day unlike all the rest, an amazing thing happens. The locked doors above fling open and an Allied soldier stands at the top of the ladder, light streaming in from around him.  He announces to all of us in the bunker that 6 months ago they defeated Hitler and freed the country and that we could come out now and live in the freedom that had already been won.   Many will scamper up the ladder and run into the light of the day to live in this freedom that has been won for them.  Sadly, there are some who will not.  They will choose to stay in the darkness of the bunker, refusing to believe what is in fact true about them – they ARE free, yet they reject that identity and choose to live in bondage.    It is a tragic thing to live in rejection of the truth about us and to snub the God who has done everything on our behalf to free us. 

Paul is like the allied soldier standing at the top of the ladder speaking truth into the lives of those below.  He is calling all of them out of the bunker and announcing that Jesus Christ has set us all free, that death no longer has the final say, that the cross was God’s resounding “NO!” to evil and his triumphant “YES!” to all of Creation.  And this is the same message that we, the ones who have stepped into the light, are called to share with the rest of the world that does not yet know the truth about themselves- they still live in the bunker. 

Turn with me quickly to 2 Corinthians 5:18-20.   Here, Paul is writing to the church in Corinth, a city known for its idol worship and hedonistic lifestyle.  It was the Las Vegas of the ancient world – what happened in Corinth, stayed in Corinth.   Paul writes to these people to tell inform them of a number of things, least of which being that they are children of God and should therefore live like it.  5:18 reads, All this is from God (the “all this” is that we are new creatures now – we who have stepped out of the bunker now see things and others differently) all this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ (and like he said to the Romans, he did this while we were still weak, sinners and enemies towards God), reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation (what does this mean?  Paul anticipates that question and goes on in verse 19), given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, (in other words, while we were dead in sin God loved us enough to die for us, and since he did this for us), he entrusts the message of reconciliation to us.  So then, we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, BE RECONCILED TO GOD.  Paul is saying that we need people to scramble out of that bunker and be the ambassadors, the bearers of Good News, for Jesus Christ.  Because you have already been reconciled, live like you are!  Because of Jesus Christ you are free, you are reconciled, and you do not have to continue living in the bunker – come out and LIVE so that others might see the light that is in you and live as well! 

This past week I was in Greenville at our annual conference.  Meetings and worship services make up much of the day but by about 8PM I get to unwind in the dormitory where I stayed with fellow pastors, several who I am proud to call great friends, from around the conference.  One evening 3 of us were discussing this text, Romans 5, and really digging into it so that we could preach it well on Sunday to our respective congregations.   During our study a question came up that I think we all should ask if you are not already, and that is: why bother? Why should I want to come out of the bunker?  

I suspect that Paul knew his friends in Rome might ask a similar question.   So let me direct you to where my friend Cleve directed us that evening, to Romans 6.  Let’s read verses 1-4 together… 

Jesus did this for us; he died and was raised from the dead by our Father in heaven so that we too might walk in newness of life.  Paul had a number of words he could have used for “life” in the Greek language and I was fascinated with the one he chose: Zoe.  Zoe, as it turns out, is the Greek word used for the name Eve in the very beginning.  Eve, or Zoe, means life.   I don’t think Paul picked this word haphazardly but is using it to describe something beautiful and radical:  the life we are given in Christ, the life we are welcomed to enter into because of what he has already done for us, is an invitation to reclaim, renew, and rebuild creation – just as Adam and Eve were called to do.  We do not have to live under the curse of Adam and Eve who chose wrongly but we can walk in newness of life, in the light, and begin today to live in such a way that has eternal implications.   This word zoe has a very earthy feel to it – it is a calling to a newness of life for the here and now – today, you can begin fresh.  Today, you can step out of the bunker.  Today you can step into the light. Today you can stop living a lie.  Today you can stop chasing things and dreams that will only leave you empty.  Today you can start dreaming the things God dreams.  Today, you can know and live the truth about you – you have been reconciled to God, therefore, BE reconciled.  Lord, make it so.  In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, AMEN. 

  
 

Fields of the Fatherless by Chad Holtz 

I have to confess that my message for today did not come easy.  In fact, I procrastinated in writing it even though I am talking about something very close to my heart.  Perhaps it is because this is so close to my heart that I am having trouble finding words that can adequately describe God’s heart for orphans and the church’s need to respond.  Also, as I told Amy the other day, I struggle with this because the last thing I want to do is give an impression of “look at me and what we are doing” or to imply that what we are doing everyone else should do as well.  I am certainly no one special (those who know me well can affirm that) and I certainly don’t think that everyone should run out of here and adopt.  But some of you might be called to do just that.  And even more, I have become convinced that every single one of us has a responsibility to listen to the beating (or breaking) of God’s heart on this matter and then respond in the way God leads. 

 The last many weeks I have used the words “journey” and “story” and “path” to describe life with God.  I mention them again now to remind you that life with God is never about “arriving” but always about “pursuing.”  When I was a kid the perplexing philosophical question of the day was, “how many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie roll Pop?”  Today I can’t tell you the answer to that question anymore than I can tell you at what point do we arrive at the center of God’s will for our lives.  My guess would be never.  Not on this side of heaven.    I am reminded of just how deep this journey goes and how rich the story of God is when I read scripture and worship with all of you.  It is during those moments I am reminded that I am always pursuing God and what it means to be one of his children and that I should never feel as though I have figured it all out or “arrived.”  Guys, how many of you would claim that you have women all figured out? Exactly.   It would be foolish for me to assume I have Amy all figured out and how much more so does that apply to God?   

Ok Chad, what is your point?   I’m glad you asked.  I was raised in the church – was in the church every time the doors were opened.  I have read the Bible from cover to cover several times.  I have a Bachelor’s degree in Bible and Theology from a Christian university, served as an associate pastor for 2 years and am now a seminary student at Duke as well as (for better or worse) your pastor.  And somehow, during all that time I completely missed the fact that all through God’s Word there is a cry for the orphan.   God’s heart breaks for children, especially those without a home, all throughout the Bible – and not only that, but God calls those whom He has adopted as His own children to have hearts soft enough to be broken for them as well.    I have been part of the church most of my life and am only now discovering this.  You see, had Amy and I thought we had “arrived” already our hearts would not be open to pursuing a bit deeper the kind of life God is calling us to.  God asks that we have soft hearts – He asks that we allow him to be the potter and we be his clay.   It would take weeks to cover every passage found in scripture that deal with God’s passion for the orphan, but let me highlight just a few for you now…

 In Leviticus 19:9-10, 23:22 and Deut. 24:19-21 there is a provision made for those who are hungry.  God told the Israelites that when they harvest their land each year they are not to harvest the edges of the land or the corners.  This area, God said, was to be left for the poor, the orphan and the widow so that they would have food.  This was called “gleaning” and only the gleaners could take food from these outer portions of the land.   Every land owner was required to have these “fields for the fatherless,” as they were called.  It was not optional, but an integral part of God’s plan to help care for the orphans and widows.   Not only did God give the outside edges of the land to the gleaners but he also commanded that once a land owner had harvested his land he was not to return later and harvest that which might have ripened at a later date.  That too was to be left for the gleaners.  The dividing line between the inner and outer edges of the field was called the “ancient boundary.”  Some farmers attempted to move this “boundary” to make their harvest area bigger.   God called this sin.  In fact, he declares in Proverbs 23:20 “do not move the ancient boundary and do not go into the fields of the fatherless.” 

 

In addition to God establishing the fields for the fatherless He also set up what is known as the Sacred Portion.  Deut. 14:28-29 commands us to set aside a special tithe every third year for the Levites, the resident aliens, the orphans and the widows.  Let me just read this passage to you: “Every third year you shall bring out the full tithe of your produce for that year, and store it within your towns; the Levites, because they have no allotment or inheritance with you, as well as the resident aliens, the orphans, and the widows in your towns, may come and eat their fill so that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work that you undertake.”  This command was such a vital part of what it meant to be a follower of God that it is repeated again in Deut. 26:12-15.  It is here that God calls this tithe a “Sacred Portion” and we are told that if we heed this command faithfully God will bless us and the land.   

 Let me pause here for a moment and share with you some brief statistics:

 ·         Every 15 seconds another child becomes an orphan in Africa due to AIDS.

·         Every DAY 5,760 children become orphans in Africa, which amounts to 2,102,400 children per year. 

·         143 million of the world’s orphans spend an average of 10 years in an orphanage or foster home.

·         Every YEAR 14 million children grow up as orphans and “age out” of the system (means they are released into the world alone, with no place to call home).

·         Every day 38,493 children age out. 

 These numbers, in my opinion, reflect a world that snubs its nose at God’s numerous commands to care for the orphan.  But the world, to a degree, has an excuse.  What is the church’s excuse?  My own ignorance of all of this until just recently is a clear sign, I think, of something terribly wrong.  We have neglected the unwanted and the marginalized for so long it becomes second nature – and all of creation groans under the weight of our inaction.  Think about it:  every single day 38,000 children turn 18 and are released into a world that has given them little if any hope, convincing them that they are unloved, unwanted and undeserving.  How do we as a church tell these kids that God loves them when we have failed for so long at keeping the very commandments God gave us that show them love? 

 Love for children, for orphans, is at the very center of God’s heart.  The psalmist sings out, “Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and the oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy.” (Psalm 82:3-4).  And again the psalmist calls God, “A Father to the fatherless,” (Psalm 68:5).  And when Jesus steps on the scene we see the heart of God in action in various ways.  Amazingly, set in a culture under the Roman Empire where it was legal to discard your infant baby if they were born with a defect or were not the gender you wished for Jesus picks up a little child in the midst of a crowd arguing over who is the greatest and says, “whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me,” (Mark 9:37).  And again, when children were running up to Jesus and his disciples tried to shoo them away Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs” (Matt. 19:13-15).  Did you hear that?  The kingdom of heaven belongs to the little children!  Interestingly, according to Jesus children are not simply the “future of the church” as they are often called; they are the church.  One last passage of scripture worth mentioning comes from James, the brother of Jesus.  James 1:27 reads, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this:  to look after orphans and widows in their distress.”  James doesn’t beat around the bush, does he?  We might make excuses about everything else – I know I did for a long time – such as, “well I’m not a farmer so that field of our fatherless thing doesn’t apply to me” or “of course Jesus liked children – he was a nice guy like me!” Maybe James anticipated people like us.   Religion that is pure – a journey with God that is following the right path is a journey that begins with a heart soft enough to be broken by the plight of the orphan.  God asks that we soften our hearts and then listen for what He might be calling us to do about it.  And did you catch how James referred to God in that verse?  “God our Father,” he says.  It is as if James is saying, “God, who adopted us and became our heavenly Father, expects us to learn from and follow His example.” 

 When you get right down to it that is what slaps me in the face.  God, in his infinite love and grace, saw fit to adopt me into His family and call me a child of His.  I, nor any of you, have done anything nor will we ever do anything to warrant the kind of love God has shown us through Jesus Christ.  There is a verse that Amy has written out and stuck to our fridge that has become for us a sort of mission statement.  It is Luke 12:48 and reads, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” All of us who call ourselves children of God have already been given so much.   We have been given a place in this world and a place to come and in between we have been given a job to do.  That job, friends, is to allow our hearts to beat and to break with God’s heart and find ways to bring the kingdom of God “on earth as it is in heaven.”  God’s heart breaks for the orphans of this world.  How might we, as God’s children, become a “Field for the Fatherless?” 

I haven’t said much this morning about the adoption Amy and I are in the process of doing.  As I said in the beginning I don’t want this to be about us.  Nor do I believe everyone is called to adopt.  On the same token, I do believe God is raising up people and laying it on their hearts to adopt, whether it is here in our own backyard or around the world.  If you are one such person I would be honored to begin a conversation with you. Others might feel led to open their home to foster kids, allowing them to experience a loving environment while they wait for a permanent home.  What an opportunity for young people to be reached with the Good News of Jesus!  In addition to these there are countless opportunities to help and support others who are in the process of adopting – for instance, your attendance at this benefit chili lunch is not a social meeting, but a very real ministry.  To find out more, a simple internet search for blogs of adopting families will open your eyes and touch your heart when you read the stories of thousands of families just like you and I who are answering God’s call to adopt.  And when you read these stories, you will quickly realize that God does not call the equipped, He equips the called.   Also, there are orphanages in our area that would love to have people come volunteer a few hours a week – what a great way to tell a child before they “age out” that they are loved and cared for.  All of this begins though with prayer.  All of us can begin there.  As you pray for the children who break God’s heart, pray that God might open yours – and then step out in faith into the journey He calls you to.  It promises to be quite a ride.

 

 

 

No Condemnation.. Really? by Chad Holtz

Riding with my friend Marcus to our quaterly pastor’s meeting was an enlightening experience for two reasons.  One, because Marcus drives like a bat out of hell.  Second because of the conversation –  conversation that was theologically driven perhaps for no other reason than to assure me that should we die in this car at that at least we went down with holy words on our lips preceeding the expletives. 

We talked about how powerful the church could be and how much more healing she could be if we actually lived out the commands to confess our sins before each other. In otherwords, we both recognized the lack of honesty and transparancy in our respective churches and longed for a sanctuary – a place where everyone, new and old, would feel welcome to be real with not only God but each other.   If there is any place in the world we should be able to do this (and welcomed to do this!) it should be the Church.  

Instead, many of us come to church, myself included, with smiles plastered to our faces and offer the pat answers of “I’m great!” or “Just fine, thanks,” or “Blessed,” or any host of other descriptives that more than likely describe what we hope to be rather than what we presently are.   I am all for giving voice to the hope that lies within us, that this too shall pass and God will reign – but I fear we will not fully arrive to the promised land tomorrow if we do not first grapple with who we are today.  God has given us a great gift, a place for us to practice this out in the safety of “family” who are called to forgive others just as we have been forgiven so that, being uplifted among the saints we might be fully alive among the lost.  That gift, that sanctuary, is the Church.   The verse that kept coming to mind as we drove was Romans 8:1:  There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  Sadly, many Christians feel as though they are still condemned – if not by God than by their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.  

What if we do not live this out?  The effects can be drastic.  Broken people longing to find healing and yet not being able to be real in the one place that should be embracing of all people, even the “least of these,”  hide their sin, shame, guilt and fears in a cage of religiousity and conformity.   Fear of judgment keeps them silent both in and out of church and their silence becomes self-sufficiency and their self-sufficiency becomes their god.   An endless cycle ensues where we become entangled by a deep desire to be freed and rescued while being seduced by the lie that no one cares and I am better off fixing it myself.    Rarely do these stories turn out well.   Most of us turn to something else to try and heal us, something else that we can co-opt to share our shame and guilt.   To read about one such story go to my post titled CONFESSIONS, where my mom, author of Confessions of an Adulterous Christian Woman,  shares her story as a pastor’s wife trapped in a world where she could not be real with the very people she ministered to and in the end turned to an affair.   

As a pastor I need to be sure to foster a community of grace and forgiveness.   A place where people feel safe to confess their sins and shortcoming and the demons they have long been trying to slay all alone.  They need to know that it doesn’t have to be this way.   

More often than not I preach from the lectionary.   Returning from the meeting I opened the readings for this coming week and wouldn’t you know it, Romans 8:1-11 is up to bat.   Thanks to that little chat with Marcus I already had my sermon written before even writing the first word.

What are your thoughts on this?  Have you seen the effects of “caged Christians”?   Have you witnessed the liberating power of being confessional?   What if the Church was a haven of grace and projected this posture at all times?  

grace and peace.
Chad

 

 

14 Responses to “Sermons”

  1. Chad Says:

    You shouldn’t post such garbage on this respectable blog, Eugene 😛

    grace and peace to you, my brother.


  2. Hey Chad,
    Watch out there is more garbage coming from this particular preacher. 😉

  3. jerry Says:

    Eugene,

    Looking forward to more garbage. When can we see some sermons?? 🙂

    jerry


  4. Jerry,

    I think I’ll go and lurke over at your site and steal some real sermons 😆

  5. Amanda Says:

    Eugene

    I left it too late to answer you at PPP. The comments are now closed. So I will just past my answer to you here for what it is worth.

    I don’t like prancing around with my spiritual status. I often find that proclamations like “I repented and believe Jesus died for my sins…” come over prideful and self righteous and only serve to alienate people.

    What you have just said certainly alienated me.

    Can you support the accusation that I preach the works of the law with any evidence?

    Yes. You preached the law at DTW. By the way, I see on you blog you said:

    On this page I will post sermons that impacted me or explain my theology better than I can do in my own words.

    And posted are three sermons by Chad Holtz, the first one being ” The Truth about You”. Are you a Christian Universalist?

    If you do not agree with what they wrote, say so and with what points you disagree but to stretch your disagreements with them (or me) to the point where you declare them outside the body of Christ is just wrong.

    Eugene, I said:

    If the statements made on this site’s mission page reflect your own beliefs; if you support and are in agreement with what is taught at the sinking Mosaiek; and most importantly, if you believe in the Jesus taught by Dr. Johan Geyser, Trevor Hudson, Ron Martoia and Dr. Stephan Joubert, then you are lost and outside the Body of Christ…

    If … then. It is about what they teach, a Christ that cannot save.

    You take things said and written out of context and then make your claims of false teachers.

    I posted the links. But tell me what would the correct context be for saying something like:

    So I rejoice at the presence of the Trickster in a barren land of closed thought, for quite apart from being the bringer of death and destruction, he in fact is a catalyst for life and salvation. I now look at Jesus as embodying (amongst all things divine) this trickster, as well.

    You have read the article. How does the full context change the meaning of what Nic clearly said in his description of this Jesus?

    Don’t you realise that we all fall far short from presenting the full Gospel? Do you realise this about yourself? Do you realise that you not getting it all right does not mean that you are not a true Christian?

    Come on, Eugene. It is not as if Nic stumbled in presenting the full glory of Jesus Christ. He described another Jesus and the emergents applauded him for it. Dr. Stephan Joubert is a lecturer in New Testament studies at the University of Pretoria. He has written many books. He knows exactly what he is doing when he replaces Jesus Christ the Savior with Jesus the Sage. He said at Mosaiek:

    And then I end by saying we need to understand God is everywhere. And the dangerous, the most dangerous place to do this is in a church. They will chase you away when you bring this, when you talk, when you share this story, this new spirituality, because they want certainty. They want boring lives. They want to go on as they always did. They want to do the God thing as they did. It doesn’t change the world.

    In session 5 Willem Nicol led the participants in guided meditation, the new spirituality. But then again, your church also does Lectio Devina, so you won’t have a problem with that.

    Amanda, there is grace for you. Grace enough to cover all your shortcomings.

    I am not in the least concerned about my shortcomings. It is my grievous sins against the living God that will send me to hell. It is too late to preach to me “love God and neighbour”. I have broken the Law already. And you and the crew at e-church do not have any Good News for me. And believe me, bringing Stephan’s beloved Ron Martoia to South Africa again next week is not good news.

    Signed
    Alienated.


    1. Hello Amanda,
      Thank you for visiting.

      I left it too late to answer you at PPP. The comments are now closed. So I will just past my answer to you here for what it is worth.

      The policy at PPP.Info is to close the comments after 10 days to stop the comments from going on and on and on… Thank you for posting your answer here.

      I don’t have much time today to respond but I will do so in the next few days.

      Mag die genade en vrede van God, ons Vader, en die Here Jesus Christus met jou wees.
      Eugene

    2. Amanda Says:

      Thank you. And if you would rather continue the discussion via e-mail, we could do that.


    3. Hi Amanda,
      We can continue the discussion here.

      You quoted me from here (comment #49):

      I don’t like prancing around with my spiritual status. I often find that proclamations like “I repented and believe Jesus died for my sins…” come over prideful and self righteous and only serve to alienate people.

      What you have just said certainly alienated me.

      In the very next sentence I say:

      However, for your benefit I will say the following: I do believe in daily repentance (turning away from sin) by the power of the Holy Spirit and that right standing and life with God is only available to us by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

      What do you think I was trying to say? What is it that you feel alienates you in this?

      Let me explain what I meant with the bit that you quoted… I find that the statements I repented and I believe place the emphasis on what I do to get into right standing with God and it often comes over as very prideful and self righteous. I am trying to align myself with what Paul says in 1 Cor 1:30-31

      God alone made it possible for you to be in Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made Christ to be wisdom itself. He is the one who made us acceptable to God. He made us pure and holy, and he gave himself to purchase our freedom. As the Scriptures say, “The person who wishes to boast
      should boast only of what the Lord has done.”

      Perhaps I am over sensitive to this issue but that is because previous experience where people placed emphasis so much on how well the person repents and how every block is ticked in the “what you believe test” that it becomes a work of the law again.

      Let me make what I believe very clear here: There is no law, no work no amount of trying on our part that can bring us into right standing with God. Our right standing with God has been achieved by Christ Jesus’ death and resurrection. We can however choose to accept or reject this. Repentance is necessary in our lives but this is a result of the work of the Holy Spirit in us as it is He who convicts and it is He who gives the ability to repent. Repetance requires humility which I believe is a fruit of the Spirit.

      I ask you, please, if you ever quote that bit again to quote the second sentence as well. The first sentence on its own gives the impression that I do not believe in repentance or that Jesus died for my sins.

      I will get to your other questions later in the week.

      May God’s peace guard your heart and mind as you live in Christ Jesus.
      Eugene

  6. Amanda Says:

    Got it. And yes, even repentance is a gift from God. That was not my line of thinking, though. We you hear I I I, I hear something like this:

    Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! …
    (Romans 7:24-25)

    You hear someone boasting about himself and I hear someone stripped of all his pride and selfrighteousness, clinging to Jesus Christ who died for him, not because he has any goodness in him, but because he is a total wretch deserving God’s wrath and in need of a Savior:

    For one will scarcely die for a righteous person–though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die– but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
    (Romans 5:7-8)

    Our confession of faith is also a confession of our continued wretchedness.

    You said that the reason you don’t like doing it is because it alienates people. I assumed you meant unbelievers. Throughout the ages Christians have been persecuted and martyred for their confession. But still they do it, knowing full well what the cost will be. Withholding your confession because you do not want to alienate people seems like a great insult to the Christian martyrs.

    No rush. I am hoping to have more time available over the weekend myself.


  7. Hello Amanda,
    I have about 5 minutes…

    You preached the law at DTW.

    What do you mean by this?

    When I hear “preaching the law” I understand what is meant is some kind of justification in the eyes of God by doing something is preached. I have no recollection of doing that at DTW. As you can gather from my previous comment that would be the opposite of what I believe to be true about justification before God.

    If you mean that I said that a Christian is expected to act in a certain way i.e. live like God says in his Word we should then, yes. But that has nothing to do with attaining salvation. It is because we are saved, justified and in right standing with God (all acts of God appropriated by faith) we are able to be obedient to God’s Word. We can encourage each other to do as God says just as Paul did it, Peter, John, James… That is my objective not trying to get anyone saved by doing the right things.

    May God’s goodness and mercy follow you today
    Eugene


  8. Amanda,

    And posted are three sermons by Chad Holtz, the first one being ” The Truth about You”. Are you a Christian Universalist?

    I believe it to be true that Jesus Christ has paid the price for all to be free. If they live in that reality is a different story. People can choose to continue to live in that “bunker” to their own detriment and possibly with eternal consequences. What I know of Christian Universalism is that it teaches that all people will be saved in the end no matter how they choose in this life time. I cannot with a clear conscience say that I believe the Bible teaches this. So, no I am not a Christian Universalist. That said I do find Scriptures like Col. 1:20 interesting and have discussed that and others like it at length with Chad and others.

    It is about what they teach, a Christ that cannot save.

    I think you misunderstand what they teach.

    But tell me what would the correct context be for saying something like:

    So I rejoice at the presence of the Trickster in a barren land of closed thought, for quite apart from being the bringer of death and destruction, he in fact is a catalyst for life and salvation. I now look at Jesus as embodying (amongst all things divine) this trickster, as well.

    You have read the article. How does the full context change the meaning of what Nic clearly said in his description of this Jesus?

    Nic is into poetry and he sometimes speaks in images that someone like me who don’t read much poetry find hard to understand. I asked him what he meant with that piece (like you should have done before pouring your own meaning into that piece). His answer was (in my own words as far as I can remember what he said) that sometimes things happen in our lives, even brought into our lives by God, that we cannot see how it can be to our benefit. We think that happens now will be our end (bringer of death and destruction) but in the end it works out for our best (catalyst for life and salvation). We are sometimes tricked into thinking that what happens in that moment of testing comes from an evil source but when all is played out we find that it was actually God allowing this so that we can grow in Him. It made me think of Rom 8:28.

    That is what I can remember from our conversation which was some time ago.

    In session 5 Willem Nicol led the participants in guided meditation, the new spirituality. But then again, your church also does Lectio Devina, so you won’t have a problem with that.

    No, I don’t have a problem with Lectio Devina or Christian meditation which is nothing new.

    I am not in the least concerned about my shortcomings. It is my grievous sins against the living God that will send me to hell. It is too late to preach to me “love God and neighbour”. I have broken the Law already. And you and the crew at e-church do not have any Good News for me. And believe me, bringing Stephan’s beloved Ron Martoia to South Africa again next week is not good news.

    Ron Martoia cannot save you I agree. Only Jesus Christ, the Son of God can save. He has done the work in full and He will stay faithful to the end. Trust Him not me, Ron Martoia, Stephan Joubert, Deborah (DtW), Chris Rosebrough, John McArthur…

    May God’s grace and peace be with you
    Eugene

  9. Amanda Says:

    I apologize for my two week [?] long silence. Since we last spoke, your friends paid us a visit and Brain McLaren’s book got published. I understand how the visible church sees us. I am resigned to the reality of the division in the visible church. I have no compromise to offer to those on the other side. I will answer some of your questions, as they interest me and also to demonstrate the division between us. You asked about preaching Law. Dr. Stephan Joubert’s recently wrote on e-church:

    God dreams new dreams. And the good news — you have a place in God’s dreams. He noticed you when He dreamed big about people and his creation. He wants to use you to make his dreams reality. You should report for duty at once. He’ll take care of the rest. The Lord will use you by causing streams of living water to flow through you. He’ll use you to touch the lives of those around you. He will give his dreams wings in your life. So, what are you waiting for?

    It is all law – what we must do. He goes as far as to say that the good news is that we must make God’s dream a reality, that is: fix the world. That is not a Christian message. To hell with it!

    The typical response to me saying something like that is: “we must love our neighbour as ourselves”. In other words I get reprimanded with the Law for criticizing Stephan’s anti-Gospel message.

    It is because we are saved, justified and in right standing with God (all acts of God appropriated by faith) we are able to be obedient to God’s Word.

    God’s Word was never intended to be used to provide safe passage to the pulpit for false teachers who will not preach Jesus Christ and Him crucified. The Christian message is not “love God and love neighbour’, but Jesus Christ who died to save sinners from the wrath of God.

    We can encourage each other to do as God says

    That is Law.

    just as Paul did it, Peter, John, James…

    They proclaimed the Gospel of Jesus Christ dying on the cross first and foremost. They taught the third use of the Law, which is to show Christians what a good work is. Good works are the fruit of the preaching of the Gospel. They never used the Law to protect false teachings.

    I believe it to be true that Jesus Christ has paid the price for all to be free. If they live in that reality is a different story.

    No, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”. We are saved by faith and not ‘the reality” that we choose to live in.

    I said: It is about what they teach, a Christ that cannot save. You think I misunderstand what they teach. No, I don’t. They would even disagree with me that we need to be saved from the wrath of God for breaking His Law. Their god only gets angry at Christians like me. According to Stephan, Jesus did not buy into the priestly story, the ‘who is in’ and ‘who is out’ story.

    Nic is into poetry and he sometimes speaks in images that someone like me who don’t read much poetry find hard to understand.

    His images are clear, at least in this case. He is describing a Yin Yang type god. Jesus Christ does not embody the trickster:

    This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. (1 John 1:5)

    Nic is not getting anywhere close to Rom 8:28.

    And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

    You said:

    No, I don’t have a problem with Lectio Devina or Christian meditation which is nothing new.

    An altered state of consciousness is not the same as actively thinking on God’s Word and the goals are not the same. Christian meditation is studying God’s Word to understand Him. Meditation is to seek transformative union with god.

    Ron Martoia cannot save you I agree. Only Jesus Christ, the Son of God can save. He has done the work in full and He will stay faithful to the end. Trust Him not me, Ron Martoia, Stephan Joubert, Deborah (DtW), Chris Rosebrough, John McArthur…</blockquote
    Amen! But you are defending those who teach another Jesus a different spirit and a different gospel in the church and you accept them as brothers. I will leave you with this:

    For you gladly bear with fools, being wise yourselves! For you bear it if someone makes slaves of you, or devours you, or takes advantage of you, or puts on airs, or strikes you in the face. To my shame, I must say, we were too weak for that! (2 Corinthians 11:19-21)

  10. Amanda Says:

    Sorry about the blockquote mess.

  11. Amanda Says:

    And please check out Nic Paton’s Abide In Me.

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