What Would God Say to the President of South Africa?

PJ Smyth of GodFirst Church in Johannesburg recently preached a sermon called “What Would God Say to the President of South Africa?

And who should happen to have been in attendance that day?

Jacob Zuma, President of South Africa.

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The sermon notes can be found here. His three points were as follows:

  1. I have made you the President of South Africa
  2. Anticipate submissive and prayerful followership by Christ-following South Africans
  3. In view of me appointing you, lead confidently and humbly

This comment, speaking of our need to submit to the authorities God has placed over us, really stood out to me:

Check out the progression in 1 Timothy 2: I urge…that prayers be made for kings and all those in authority, (why?) that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness which pleases God our Savior, (why? Because he wants) all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth. Wow! Did you see it?

Paul wants prayers for governments ultimately because he wants the gospel to advance, because he knows that Governments, like all aspects of creation, ultimately exist to facilitate the spread of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Men and women responding to the gospel of Jesus Christ is the goal of creation. Jesus used the phrase ‘You must be born again’ (John 3).

The Duchess of Huntingdon once asked D.L. Moody why he always seemed to speak on the John 3 text ‘You must be born again’. He replied, ‘Because Madame, you must be born again’. Being born
again means receiving the forgiveness of God, and the lordship of God into your life. Or, to use a phrase that we find so helpful, to begin to ‘put God first’ in your life.

There is another reason Paul ultimately places a higher value on the gospel than on government, because he knows that it is ultimately only the gospel, not merely a government that can produce a truly godly nation. Think it through: The government can outlaw racism, but only the gospel can deal with hatred. The government can ban corruption, but only the gospel can deal with greed. The government might subsidize the poor but only the gospel can make the rich compassionate. The government might ban porn, but only the gospel can deal with lust.

We thank God for the government and Laws of RSA because they keep a lid on sin, but only the gospel can change the heart of a man or woman.

I am in awe of Pastor Smyth’s boldness. Well done.

HT: The Resurgence

I Know They're Not Trying to be Funny, But…

Emily was listening to the CBC on Thursday morning and they were doing a story on a new book: The Armageddon Factor: The Rise of Christian Nationalism in Canada by Marci McDonald.

McDonald is one of Canada’s most respected journalists, the winner of several awards & having held numerous influencial positions in her field. I think it’s fair to say that she’s kind of a big deal.

So when Emily told me about this book, we immediately looked it up on Amazon because it sounded so interesting.

Here’s what the publisher says:

An urgent wake-up call for all Canadians who think that this country is immune from the righteous brand of Christian nationalism that has bitterly divided and weakened the United States.

In her new book, Marci McDonald documents the startling extent of the influence that the religious right already wields in Canada and shows how, quietly, often stealthily, it has provoked far-reaching changes in Canadian policies and institutions, including our public service, our schools and our courts. [Read more...]

Book Review: Once An Arafat Man by Tass Saada

Title: Once an Arafat Man
Authors: Tass Saada with Dean Merrill
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers

Tass Saada was born in Gaza City in 1951. He was born in a tent. His family one of the many groups of refugees moved out of Palestine.

Moving from Palestine to Saudi Arabia and eventually to Jordan, Saada grew to be a young man characterized by rage. He found a channel for it: He joined the PLO and was trained as a sniper.

He became a murderer. And he trained others—including children—to be the same.

Eventually, Saada left the PLO and came to America. He married, had a family, a successful career… but his life was a wreck. He was a terrible husband, a worse father. While he didn’t actively practice the Muslim faith of his youth, he still identified with it.

Then, his friend Charlie told him about Jesus, and his life was changed forever.

Grace Abounding

Saada’s story as told in Once an Arafat Man, is powerful. He’s very transparent about his past, how he relished in the death and destruction he caused, his selfish motives for marrying his wife, Karen, and his unfaithfulness to her… Saada makes it very plain that he was a very bad man. He’s not a man deserving of God’s grace, and he knows it. That, in large part, is what makes his story so powerful. God had no need to save Saada, yet He did. The same is true for you, if you’re a Christian, and me.

A Dangerous Decision

Converting from Islam to Christianity is a dangerous thing, far more dangerous than I think most of us would realize. To do so brings dishonor to the family, a crime punishable by death. [Read more...]

Book Review: When a Nation Forgets God by Erwin W. Lutzer

Title: When a Nation Forgets God
Author:
 Erwin W. Lutzer
Publisher: Moody Press

George Santayana (along with numerous other philosophers over the centuries) said, “Those who do not learn from the past are condemned to repeat it.” By understanding the past, you can see the trends that lead to specific trends that transform a culture—for good or for evil.

In When a Nation Forgets God, Erwin W. Lutzer takes this sentiment to heart, revealing to readers seven societal trends that led to the rise of Nazi Germany, and how Christians should respond.

Considering Trajectory

The purpose of this book is not to fuel anyone’s political agendas, nor is it saying that America today is like Nazi Germany or ever will be. Rather, with great skill, tact and wisdom, Lutzer is showing readers the importance of trajectory—in particular, showing where certain trends could lead America, though, as he stresses, not necessarily would.

As religious faith is increasingly privatized, particularly with regard to Christian belief and practice—as church and state are increasingly separated, laws creep in that actually circumvent justice and morality. Freedom of speech is lost in the name of political correctness and a confused view of tolerance. As economies melt down, people can become increasingly willing to give up their civil liberties in exchange for comfort. Media is increasingly used to define the cultural norms of society and sets the moral boundaries. Public school systems increasingly take over the role of training children from parents and in the process have the potential to indoctrinate them with groupthink.

These are the techniques that Hitler used to gain control of Germany. An economically crushed nation, desperate for some glimmer of hope latched onto what it perceived to be a strong leader, one who promised to give the people their national pride back. And he did. In the process, he systematically took complete control of the creation of civil law, made it government-sponsored education compulsory (homeschooling was illegal), turned the people against the Jews, put laws into place that made it not only legal, but acceptable, to murder them.

In essence, he sought to create a Germany in his own image, after his own likeness. [Read more...]