Dear brothers and sisters what an indescribable privilege to greet you all in the of our mighty, all powerful, omniscient and sovereign Triune God.
Firstly a big hearty and warm thank you to Goodwood Baptist for being such splendid hosts. Everyone was welcomed and made to feel at home. If something was amiss it was not noticed. All involved worked tirelessly to fetch, carry, feed and take care of delegates during their stay. Well orchestrated, executed and appreciated. Musicians well done! Jubilant cries, hugs and warm handshakes was at the order of the day as friends greeted and were reunited. What a glorious picture.
Blessed, convicted, challenged, pushed outside of ones comfort zone, hammer blows, instruction, confronted are but a mere few words to describe what our speakers presented each and every one with attending the conference.
Joachim Rieck for Nambia, Isaac Makashinyi for Zambia and Kobus van der Walt for South Africa were responsible for Mission reports, Friday and Saturday respectively. Thank you gents, a splendid job. Photographs put faces to names and maps “lit” up as the conference delegates heard how our Lord is calling, equipping and increasing the work for His glorious name. Please make use of the following link in order to obtain the complete reports, messages, and prayers requests mentioned by the different congregations. What an opportunity to keep in touch and encourage congregations. I strongly urge you to use this network.
Session 1: Thursday (03 September 2015)
Christo Beetge, George Baptist Church spoke on: God-Centredness, Our Common Passion for the Glory of God.
This is but a brief summary and we urge you to follow the above link to download and or listen to the complete sermon/messages.
10 Years ago God used the Spurgeon fraternal and a floundering Reformed Baptist Association to establish Sola 5 ( see Sola 5 booklet for full details). Christo referred to North America (FIRE), Europe and UK that has similar organizations. He explained why Sola 5 was formed. He referred us to the Sola 5 handbook and its contents. Please avail yourself to the recordings and listen to this very important information and explanation of Sola 5 s origin. Our churches must be squarely built on a vertical God centeredness, an overt God centeredness.
Read first core value, God-centredness. This core value are based on the fact that over arching and all encompassing primary commandments found in 1 Corinthians 10:31, Mark 12:30. Christo asked us to turn to Isaiah 48:9-11 Asked us to listen for the 6 hammer blows in the text. Isaiah makes it extremely clear of the centrality/focus of God in His own affections. Ponder on this, let it sink in! Quotes John Piper. Gods ultimate goal is to uphold and display the glory of His own name. Sola 5 exists for the glory of the name of the Triune God of the Bible. The founders believe that God sovereignty allowed for Sola 5 to be formed for the glory of His own name.
Christo’s desire was to make the point of God and His glory affectively and forcefully. Our sole purpose/passion is to pursue, forcefully and affectively, the Glory of God. We need to push ourselves to this end and let it be our passion. Do we believe that we were not only created BUT chosen for His glory?! God is urgent regarding His own glory, therefore we should be as well. Christo used Pharaoh as example. We clearly see that it was all for God’s glory, Rom 9:17. The exodus from Egypt was for God’s glory, Ps 106, Exodus 14:4, Red Sea account, Ezekiel 20, conquest of the promised land, Israel, God’s people 2 Samuel 7, 1 Samuel 12, Ezekiel 36. This theme ought to shape your world view. Jesus came for His Fathers glory, how much more should we seek His glory? Jesus instructs us to live and act for His Fathers glory. God’s glory is displayed in service, fellowship, answered prayer, being involved with each other. 1 Pet 4:11. We bear fruit for the glory of God, when we share the gospel truth. Do the hammer blows bring conviction and boldness? What a glorious purpose for living? All displays of God’s mercy are designed for the greater glory of His name. Does the disturbing news on television and in the newspapers affect your perspective or do you believe Rom 11:36? What a glorious, over arching theme, not to be ignored. This theme ought to form our theology, Revelation 21:23. Do we ponder and meditate sufficiently on the glory of God? We are to be focused on self and our gaze is just horizontal. Are you truly a new creation, focussing on Christ and finding fulfillment and enjoyment in the Trinity or are you down cast, self centered? Lift your gaze and focus on the mercy and grace of God, what a glorious picture. We rejoice in the hope and glory of God and our blessed hope is the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. Are you persuaded from scripture that this is a theme that is not to be ignored, but ought to be primary in our thinking?
Practical implications that flows from the above: Seeing and sharing in God’s glory is our ultimate hope through the gospel of Christ. These convictions regarding the glory of God holds the following things, referring to the affirmation and the denial in core value. Positively we find ourselves asking what it means to live practically under authority of God? How do we please God in every aspect of our lives? Negatively, what dominates your conversations, are you reforming continually, do care enough about sin, that of your own and others? We must have a healthy doctrine of God. Quotes RC Sproul.
Reformed theology is firstly theocentric. Are you constantly reforming or obeying the natural man? The centrality of the doctrine of God becomes a chief controlling factor in our theology. Are you willing to articulate that God alone is sovereign? Man can never experience true freedom but in God alone. Any distortion of the character of God poisons the rest of our theology. Quotes DA Carsons, de Godding God. How does this happen? Christians, with the best intentions, systematically and progressively dismantle Christianity, one conviction, distinctive at a time, when we let go of clear convictions regarding absolute truth. Scripture is sufficient, absolute truth and we need to live accordingly. We cannot compromise our clear convictions nor allow God’s glory to be attacked. When we begin to downplay the abiding significance of the moral law as a description of God’s perfect character, as a definition practically of what love looks like, vertically and horizontally.
Examine yourself, what is your view of the Sabbath, is your attendance ho hum and sporadic? We need to guard that we do not become blasé regarding ordinances, corporate worship becoming secondary, communion, baptism, blurring gender, gay and homosexual marriages. The last mentioned is a ticking bomb in ZA, be prepared! Divorce is the norm, overthrowing our vows. Do we put men on a pedestal, Christian celebrity culture? People are doubting God and have no hope. All these issues diminish the glory of God. Hold onto the glory of God! Cast yourself before God. A spark of desire is all it takes. Our only reason to live, ought to be for the glory of God, a sovereign God, and not our circumstances.
Churches are facing increasing difficulties but the Holy Spirit enables us to be passionate regarding the truth. Are you? Despite all of life’s circumstances, it is to the Glory of God. Plead for God s blessing on our labors.
May God help us to treasure His glory of God above all things. May God enable us to live out the increasing measure of credibility and passion our reformation cry, Soli Deo Gloria.
That concluded Christo Beetge’s message.
Session 2: Friday (04 September 2015)
Joachim Rick, Eastside Baptist, Windhoek, spoke on: Our Common Delight in the Doctrines of Grace
He opened his message pointing out that Sola 5 is at a point of needing a directional change. In 2 Corinthians 5 Paul instructs us to examine ourselves. He pointed out should a ship be 1 degree off course the results can be disastrous. The Word of God was inspired by God thus it is Sola 5’s compass. The one and only! We live in an extremely sinful world, it does affect us. It is of utmost importance that we continue and stay on course! Why are we here, what is the purpose of Sola 5 and you as an individual? We need to guard against the gospel being lost from one generation to the next. The truth needs to be restored. As likeminded people in Sola 5 it enables us to do exactly this. It ought to move us, in total dependence, having correct motives, upon God’s word and in His grace to achieve this. Do you dispense grace? In this group we can be objective and assist each other with theological training, printing, church planting etc. What kind of legacy are we leaving for those following behind us? Are we faithful? We only carry this torch for a very short period!
Geographically it is a challenge to achieve the above goals. Communication is key….. technology has very distinct advantages! We would do well to examine Paul’s life. He worked hard, we need to work harder. He was constantly accompanied by various people. Read Romans 16. People can and ought to be encouragers, prayer partners and it creates accountability to each other. The letters that Paul wrote pointed to the truth. It highlighted the heart of the gospel, what threatened the gospel and created awareness of needs that existed. Jesus Christ was/is the centre and key. Problems were not solved on a social level but by the gospel. The heart of Sola 5 is the doctrines of grace…… Tell me the old old story! Be vigilant against subtle revisions. Here Joachim shared what happened between J Armenium and J Calvin (please avail yourself to the download to hear the full explanation). It is not the radical deviations but the one degree deviations that causes your core to weaken. What relevance does this have for us? There is an ever present danger of loosing the gospel truth. Stay committed to careful and prayerful exposition of the gospel.
Be vigilant to whom you listen and follow. Paul pointed out to the Corinthians how quickly they followed false doctrines. Are you wise? Sola 5 holds us accountable to the Word of God “Let God be true and man a liar” Influential men do not know more than God, quoted: Sola Scriptura, Sola Gratia, Solus Christus, Sola Fide, Soli Deo Gloria. He pointed out in Ephesians 2:1 we were dead., totally blind. Only Christ could accomplish the miracle of regeneration!
Preach in and out of season! Holy Spirit will use us at His Will. John 3:1-8 and many other scriptures were used to point that our own ability has absolutely nothing to do with our salvation. We are born of God, elect from every nation. We struggle with the fact that we can not trust in our own ability. It creates huge nominal Christianity and this equals twice hardened hearts. Only Gods sheep will hear His voice! It is a tremendous evangelical tool. We need to be obedient in spreading the gospel. God is in control! His grace is irresistible to His sheep. We need to persevere despite adverse circumstances. We were bought with a price…. Read Hebrews 6.
Tell me the old old story!
This concluded Joachim Rieck’s message
Annual Business Meeting: Friday (04 September 2015)
Scripture was read from Acts 15. It was brought to our attention that some decisions needed to be taken. The meeting was opened in prayer and all the requirements for such a meeting was met. It was announced that G Gage resigned.
Stilfontein needs a new pastor. Some delegates were sent from churches that are interested in joining Sola 5 (Bedford). One new application, Neil Anderson, Grace Bible Church, Port Elizabeth, was received. Christo Beetge prayed for them. A list of current members was shown on the overhead projector.
Doug van Meter gave a brief update of the finances. Stuart Chase from BBC has been keeping record of finances. Currently there is a balance of R35 000.00. Average income per month is R2500.00 and expenditure R2800.00. An appeal was lodged for churches to contribute more. R20 000.00 was donated to Goodwood Baptist for the 2015 conference. Amounts escalate due to economy.
A brief overview of the Steering Committee was given. These men normally step down after a two year period. It was proposed to keep all current members to come alongside new members and to help with continuity. Joachim Rieck was added as a Steering committee member.
Next years Sola 5 will be hosted by Lusaka Baptist in Zambia. Specific date to be announced.
There were a few positive and negatives highlighted by Doug van Meter from the past year:
Why do you desire to be a member: Being on the same page, safe doctrinally, likeminded fellowship;
Expectations: church planting, co operation, partnering in planting churches in Southern Africa, promoting the gospel.
Lack of communication amongst churches,
More fellowship needed,
Feeling of disconnectedness,
More pulpit exchanges needed,
More an association of pastors than churches,
What does your church contribute ie funds, practical help, teaching etc.
Suggestions: Committee members to visit other churches,
Work hard to help in church planting,
Only 10 out of 31 churches gave feedback on a questionnaire. Chris Wooley driving more commitment.
All steering committee members were asked to step forward. Attending delegates of Sola 5 was asked to choose someone they do not know, break up in small groups and do brain storming.
Feedback from the groups summarized:
Major areas: leadership;
Activities and programs.
Associations outside Sola 5 can be meaningful,
Regions in countries have different needs including geographically,
Maybe a representative to represent different regions should be chosen,
Not just for pastors and elders, members from congregations to be active, what role should women have,
Gather information from other churches in form of prayer requests, needs etc,
Committee members should have a profile,
They should serve 4-5 years, clause to be added in constitution. On serving longer periods they can cultivate or groom others. Old and new minds to be blended and draw on their experience.
How do we overcome geographical barriers in order to fellowship with others.
We must not focus on problems or be overly concerned nor undermine programs,
Visitation to other congregations in churches should be promoted,
Overflow of pastors, an inventory should be kept to assist in areas of need,
Women: are information gatherers, share news gathered with the appropriate people
The meeting was closed in prayer.
Session 3: Friday (04 September 2015)
Errol Wagner spoke on: Authority: Our Common Submission to the Three Spheres of Human Government
We tend to get discouraged as we compare numbers. Our reformed churches seem insignificant with the bigger countries. God is doing amazing work in South Africa and Zambian reformed churches are ahead in Zambia. Reformation comes at great cost! Errol referred to some very disturbing and bizarre phenomena, snake pastor, Methodist bishop reacted that we need legislation/standard to curb this kind of behavior. Others suggested rules to govern by which is worst false doctrine. The Muslims said it would impact on the freedom of religion. We are faced with dilemmas such as whether a Methodist lesbian “bishop” who has been living with her partner has the right to marry. The case is being heard in the constitutional court after the Methodist church put her out. Discipline issues with children, staff refusing to assist in abortions, Zizi was asked to resign from the Cape Town University council for her stand on gay marriages (praise be to God she was re-instated and attended the conference!) The examples are endless. What is your response to these matters? Do you think it through Biblically? This is reality, this is what we re facing daily. These issues touches our core values on authority, it concerns our faith and our lifestyles as Christians. We need to unite in the gospel and realize at which point the gospel is being attacked. Scripture alone is sufficient, the absolute authority and we need to submit to it. The Reformation was about authority, do we still believe that today or do we adjust to what suits us personally? If we do not understand the core values we will not be able to fight the real battles but only get involved skirmishes.
The third core value (Authority) was read, please refer to the Sola 5 booklet.
Over the years another sphere of authority has reared its head namely business corporations, employers. Our time is determined by our work either as an employee or employer. We only need look at the recent scandals in the financial world, corruption, greed, unemployment and trade unions. Man’s vocation is his ministry, however, that conflicts with prevailing human authority. What is of utmost importance, i.e. fundamental, God is our authority. It arises from understanding God’s nature and is woven into scripture. We need to start with the nature of God. How has God revealed Himself? There are many ways to describe the attributes of God but essentially one single attribute, God is, God is Trinity, the very essence of God. This is where authority and submission begins! God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, the source of authority. Reflect on the different roles of Trinity. God reveals Himself in creation. All authority belongs to God, He is King and Sovereign.
Authority is delegated by God in 3 spheres of government . Firstly family. Adam saw that the animals had partners. He did not but God gave Eve to him. Marriage begins in creation… a helpmeet. Adam is the head, thus family government is established. Note one man and one women! This is how God intended for man and woman to relate from the very beginning. Sin corrupted these God given roles. Adam to have biblical dominion and to raise children. God gave dominion to Adam to rule over the earth according to His will. See Genesis 1&2. This was in essence the start of the church. God’s glory and will must be reflected in every aspect of your life. Leadership in the church should reflect the same. Errol explained what we have to look forward to based on these roles. We look forward to God ruling His Kingdom, His people in the future. If we consider this sphere of government, family and the church, in the beginning, it seemed to overlap. There has been a separation in these relationships due to sin. Adam failed as head, he lost fellowship with God, fell under condemnation. It caused disorder, confusion starting with marriage, spilling over into all other relationships. Despite sin the authority and God given roles had to be continued. Families continued, it is creational. This dominion and rule was repeated to Noah.
Civil Government: God instituted civil government after sin and the fall as it caused a chaotic state. Genesis 4-6. God saw that man could not govern himself. Errol quoted the sad words recorded in Genesis 5:5. We need to ponder on this verse! We think times are dreadful, it was infinitely worse than it is now. Genesis 6:11&12 God now institutes human government see Genesis 9:5-7. Take note of these verses! God lays out principles for Godly civil government to protect and punish crime. The primary human institute God uses to hold back evil is still civil government. Paul refers to this in Rom 13 during Nero’s reign. Whilst abiding on earth there is no perfect human government nor political system. The problem is not the system but the people that invent the systems, neither can there be thus we yearn for the time of Isaiah 9:6&7.
Let’s move on. We see that God chose a people for Himself and enters into a covenant relationship with them. God will provide all they needed. This is a prototype of the church, elect from every nation. They were to to be the salt and light of the earth to declare Gods glory to the nations. Peter quotes from Exodus in 1 Peter 2:9-12. Israel was chosen as we are today, transformed and a new people by God’s grace and mercy. We need to proclaim the gospel to all. Church is missional! We are to make disciples and extend the Kingdom of God. Sub conclusion: This is the biblical framework for our world view: creation, fall, redemption and consummation. We have to relate the 4 spheres of authority to our worldview based on creation. In the beginning the 4 spheres were unified. God delegated that authority to Adam. He was head of the family, corporation, business, king under God, ruler, chief elder in the church. The fall separated all this. God in common grace delegated authority to the family which is continues to be responsible for education, the formation of character and nurturing, particularly in a fallen world. We are to continue to be fruitful, create, ie jobs and wealth. Then there is the special grace of which the church is responsible for the ministry of grace ie the transformation of people. The plan of redemption has been woven into the whole of scripture, see Ephesians 1:9&10. The plan of redemption is to unite all things under Christ by being the salt and light. It is with this attitude that we approach the challenges we face today. There are only two world views, a biblical view that centers and glorifies God or the humanistic, atheistic pagan that only seeks man’s glory. Everything changed radically when God’s authority was rejected. No matter what the moral issue may be, your approach will be determined by your source of authority. Humanistic worldview has infiltrated every aspect of our culture and morality over the past 40 years. Change is taking place at an alarming pace. Schaefer accused Christians that we see in bits and pieces, we missed the boat.
Errol quoted from Sola 5 booklet, what we deny. We are seeing an undermining of those separate spheres of authority. This has wreaked havoc on our families. We need to get proactive. The biggest attack against family is from the feminist movement that speaks disparaging of mothers and wives roles. Today it is politically incorrect to put marriage above any other arrangement. Men abdicate their roles to elevate women. This has devastating consequences, rebellion against authority. Authorities are surprised at the consequences. Go back to basics. We here in South Africa are reaping the consequences of the past laws in our families, we broke up families. As you undermine the family, the place of nurture , education, values internalized and character forming, they have no self control, you need more laws. The state, a shift has taken place. No longer are law abiding citizens being protected but the rights of criminals. When do you disobey the authorities: quoted Norman Gysler, when government prohibits worship of God, when it requires the taking of innocent life, when it demands killing God’s servants, worship of idols, when it commands prayer to a man, when it prohibits the propagation of the gospel, when it demands the worship of a man as God then added his own when it goes against our conscience.
Tragic that we did not see the writing on the wall and did not get involved. We are fighting skirmishes, we do not have the proper view. This worldview has sadly affected the church. The real war is a cosmic struggle between world views between the Christian world view and the various secular and spiritual world view are against it. The disturbing trend among evangelical churches is that we do not project the authority of the scripture, we just say we cannot be sure of your interpretation. God wrote the Word. Do not undermine its authority. We can and need to understand the Word and interpret it correctly, how? The Holy Spirit was given to us to instruct and teach as well as teachers, we do have the answers and God given minds to understand it. Lack of knowledge will cause people pleasing, your world view and source of authority to shift.
What are we to do? Understanding the culture has become a matter of evangelical urgency. We need to engage the world with Biblical truth, ie Scripture. To fulfill scripture we need to get involved beyond our salvation and our little worlds. We need to be wise, evaluate where we need to get involved, example Kelvin (mentioned a number of others) and get involved, personally and as a church. Christians as individuals can be used in politics but never should a church associate itself with a political party. Education of the next generation is KEY! They ought not be overwhelmed by humanistic, world view. Equip them, yourself, the church and then mobilize action. Churches are blessed with a broad spectrum of people with influence, teachers, doctors, professors, etc use them. Help them, educate them to understand their workplace is their ministry field. Parents: be involved in your children s lives, educate them, governing bodies, act/live out the salt and light, make a difference. Stop being intimidated, afraid or that we re only a small group. Get involved, speak up, use your right to speak up. Use your congregation. Let’s unite in Sola 5 and make use of the resources within Sola 5. Use the networks available and do not be a hypocrite.
What does the future hold? Face the fact that we will face opposition and perhaps prosecution. Are you prepared to pay the cost? It will greatly benefit the church. As it’ll sift out easy believism and us for that matter let us follow Habakkuk, it is the best time to evangelize. People are hurting, get involved, be there and come alongside. Imagine being able to invite someone into your home and showing them the correct spheres. What a God given opportunity!
This concluded Errol Wagner’s message.
Session 4: Saturday (05 September 2015)
Chris Wooley spoke on: Inter-Dependance: Our Common Commitment to the Local Church
Mark read from Revelation 7:9-12
This is window into the consummation of history, a climax of God’s plan of Redemption. This represents a picture of many diverse people united in the worship of God in Christ according to God’s plan. This should then be reflected in the church.
Chris wanted this picture to imprint this picture into our minds: Many diverse people united in the worship of God in Christ, that is why Sola 5 exists. Read introduction from the Sola 5 handbook. The only way to live this out in a fallen and sinful world is to put forth our salt and light, we will be encouraging each other by doing this and filling a great need. Encompassing the whole of Southern Africa true believers and true churches need not feel frustrated nor isolated by the definite weakening of the church.
Chris then told us of the inter dependence of the church and how it relates to the local church. Nowhere does the Bible describe an independent Christian. Read from Ephesians 2:1-10, reminds us that God’s plan of redemption applies personally and individually. Verse 11 and following, looks at God’s plan corporately, placed into one body, the church. Picking up from 17-22 refers to Jew and Gentile all has access to God, all nations. God’s dwelling place and glory are manifest on earth when every tribe and nation, diverse backgrounds are joined in unity in this one body, the church. Need Matthew 16. Salvation equals unity thus no individual Christian can nor ought to live independently.
Asked the question does the NT know such a thing as an independent local church? Isolated from other churches? For the glory of Christ and by His command, it is essential that individual believers unite to the local church, the local church unite with other like minded churches, expression of our common faith.
Biblical basis for inter dependence:
What better place to look at for an example than the Bible. Corinth struggled with exactly this issue. 1 Corinthians 1:2 on, chap 3:1 on, chap 6:1 on, chap 7:1 and chap 12 answers these questions. Paul had to remind them what the church is , how it came into being and why the church existed, made up of diverse people, united in one Spirit and in unity. Paul settled disputes and gave them guidelines. OT church were distinctly different. They were united by geography, culture, dress, celebrations, common worship at the temple. They were distinct from the pagan nations in speech, their looks and their actions. God placed Israel central for all the pagan nations to behold the difference of belonging to Yahweh. NT testament church is diverse on every aspect of their lives, scattered throughout the world. Though so diverse we are united in one Spirit. One faith, one Lord and one baptism i.e. not water immersion but into the Spirit. This is God centered and established unity. This is what Paul focuses the church on, unite despite geographical, language and cultural differences, united in love for Christ. Paul uses the metaphor, the body to describe the church, 1 Corinthians 12:12. Paul uses the human body that consists of many different parts, so it is with the body of Christ. Although many metaphors are used in the NT but this is Paul’s favorite, the human body. Paul uses as a basis for instruction from Ephesians 2, 4, Colossians 2, Rom 12 and here. Christ the Head and the church is His body. This is a picture of the church universally dating as far back as Pentecost.
Every single person, from every tribe or nation that has been brought into this body, the church, v13. Though we are many we are one body which equals unity. We are diverse, read 1 Corinthians 12:14-20. We are not exactly the same but we belong for God willed it so. You do not need uniformity to have unity, that is not God s design for the church at large. Inter dependence, verses 21-26: We cannot live in isolation, in our own little circle and not care for the rest of the body. We have need of each other, we should care about the church across the world. We ought and should care and it should affect us, inter dependence. God created us distinctly different even some weaker than others. V26 explains: we need to so care for one another that we we will identify our own weaknesses and respond them. We use our differences for good. Synergy is created when we come alongside and support each other in the weak areas. This strengthens the weaknesses. This is not just for your local church but the church at large. Who does not understand the human body’s failures, aches and pain? This is what should spur us on to feel the hurt, challenges and needs of the church at large. Gifts are to be used for God s glory everywhere.
Christ is the Head, Lord, Ruler, directs the whole body. v18 God gives gifts, arranges them as He chooses for the good of the body. It cannot be kept just for our local church. It is for the benefit of all of the body. We read from gifted teachers that has passed away. Share what you have. What a marvelous body God has constructed! Do you feel the pain of the persecuted church? God asked Paul on the Damascus road “Why are you persecuting Me?” Christ did not give His life blood for us to be selfish.
Paul sacrificed having Timothy tend to his needs whilst in prison. He released him, the best of the best, sending him to Phillipi. Paul was not focussed on his personal needs but was concerned for the church at large. In 2 Corinthians 11:22-27, Paul can say despite all his physical suffering his concern is for the church at large.
Read Philippians 2:25-30, what happens matters greatly. Honour men who is willing to sacrifice themselves for Christ’s cause. Have you considered why the Holy Spirit would inspire men to write a lengthy greeting? It took time and effort, what would the function be? It demonstrates our interdependence. Colossians 4:7&8. This was not planted by Paul yet he was concerned for them. Sent a brother to encourage, devoted time in prayer for them, verses 10-13. We’re to welcome visitors from other churches, it is encouraging to hear how it fairs with the likeminded body elsewhere, equals inter dependence. 2 Corinthians 8:1-4, give sacrificially and joyfully from the abundance of the grace from God. God will supply your needs in the future. Roles do reverse. What is your mindset, do you give within this unity? God allows different stages of maturity and wealth in our local church in order for us to be a blessing to others in the one body of unity. This demonstrates our love for Christ, it should move us to act unnatural, we can be unselfish and sacrificial for the glory of Christ.
Practical suggestions: 1 Corinthians 12:31 – chapter 13:1 God gets to the heart of the matter. Unless our hearts change nothing else can. Heart problems is the root of division within our local church and wider, a lack of real genuine love. Change starts within us! Sola 5 should not be known for a critical spirit, slanderers, gossips, puffing ourselves up. This includes Christians from all walks of life including the Charismatic Movement. Obviously error needs to be corrected, truth needs to be spoken, we need to address deviations from scripture BUT truth must be spoken in love and grace. What does your attitude display? Christ died for all saved, they are precious to Him. Do we treat them with love? Let’s examine our own hearts within Sola 5, what are reactions at conferences like this one? Do we feel inadequate, jealous, envious, the urge to boast? That is not love. Unless heart issues are dealt with, differences among ourselves overcome, there can not be a way forward. Find the way to work together. Prayer: we are commanded to pray unceasingly. Hearts are changed at the throne of of grace.
Make information available, finances, share prayer requests, personnel (the best), ministry needs, out reaches; what are you willing to sacrifice? Building ties and relationships: visitation even though there are geographical challenges. Work hard at all levels to build ties i.e. members across the 33 churches. Unity is built this way. Challenge: working within Sola 5 is challenging. It takes time, people, money, energy and sacrifice. This is the ultimate goal that everything is to come to fruition, many diverse people. United in one purpose, to be worshiping as one under One, Jesus Christ. Our love for Christ will compel us to overcome ALL barriers. Plead with God to change your heart and to repent for His glory alone.
This concluded Chris Wooley s message.
Saturday 5 September, 19:00, there was a Q&A session. Moderator was Chikondi Phiri; panel consisted of Christo Beetge, Joachim Rieck and Errol Wagner. To do this session justice please download the session.
Session 5: Saturday (05 September 2015)
Mark Lillie spoke on: Discipline: Our common Commitment to Holiness
God called us to faithfully preach His word. Do we need churches displaying God s holiness? Are our churches striving to be holy? Mark pointed out that he came not as an academic but as a shepherd with a shepherds heart. The sheep needs to be led, protected, cared for, nurtured, guarded and fed.
Shepherding God s people through discipline for holiness:
Read Romans 12:1&2
Why did God save and justify us? Paul gives the answer in the above verses. We need to please God by presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice, to live holy and righteous lives daily. We were dead but are now alive. The first 11 chapters of Romans teaches us that we are set apart unto holiness for God, holy lives prepares us to meet God. Unholiness separates us from God, Hebrews 12:14. Quotes Calvin “Believers are justified for the purpose of worshipping God in holiness of live.” We are an elect, chosen people, we cannot live as we please. We ought to be holy and blameless before Him in love thus reflecting God’s glory in a perverse world bearing His image. Mark used Job as an example. Job did not have a Bible but he had a relationship with God. If we have a relationship with God he will nurture and grow us in grace and our knowledge in Jesus Christ. Mark wanted to stir up and encourage fellow pastors in shepherding their flock in four aspects as Peter did. Even though not all delegates were pastors, we could all learn an examine our own hearts.
Holiness and the people of God:
Let’s define holiness, it is not the absence of sin. It is not negative but positive, active, accomplishing His perfect nature and work and His perfect will. In both the Hebrew and Greek language holiness equals to be set apart. This means: negatively set apart: the call of holiness is being separated from sin. Positively the call of holiness is to be consecrated unto God. Where is our holy Gods abode and where does he reign? Micah 1:2 Our holy God, Holy King on His throne and holy temple rules the earth. Isaiah 6:3 talks of the riches of God’s holiness, the whole earth is filled with it. God’s holiness is the very nature of His whole being. God called the Israelites out to be a holy nation. God provided a pattern, the whole book of Leviticus, to live by. How to avoid sin and live holy lives unto a Triune God. Do we hear Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty. God is a covenantal God, His presence was made known in the most holy place, Ark of the covenant, it cannot be shared with evil. Currently if you are saved through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, Christ Jesus became to us wisdom from God for us, righteousness, sanctification and redemption, how? God reconciled us through His Son’s death, in order to to present us before God, how? Holy, blameless and beyond approach. Mark referred to 1 Peter 1:15&16, we re commanded to be holy, walking in holiness, in obedience and not as we please. God graciously saved us for holiness. Should we not obey God will discipline us.
God will discipline:
Gods discipline is rooted in the wider biblical theme of God. God expects obedience and has the right to expect obedience to Himself and His word. God will chastise us when we are wandering and disobedient. Satan and his angels were cast out of heaven due to rebellion and pride. Adam and Eve were created in God’s image, placed in the Garden of Eden as His representatives to reflect His glory, His holiness into all the earth. They sinned willfully and freely, thus rebelling against God, with disastrous consequences. Expulsion from the Garden of Eden. God is serious regarding obedience. Israel to was disciplined after apostatizing. They were supposed to be a light to the nations and to portray God’s holiness but instead rebelled and disobeyed God’s covenantal promises. They failed to live holy lives, ignored the true prophets that called them to repentance, they stubbornly refused. The NT church, we, are called to be the salt and light of the world. Christ’s glory is revealed through the church to the world! Christ loves and gave Himself up for the church. In Acts we read how God adds to the church, calling His chosen ones to Himself. 2 Peter 2:5 shows clearly our being chosen by God needing to live holy sacrificial lives. We are called to repent, referring to the seven church’s in Revelation. Disobedience caused the lampshade to be removed out of its place. God is serious regarding holiness. Let’s examine our own churches, our hearts. It’s easy to point fingers at apostate churches. How are we to remain holy, not loving the world, the lust of the world i.e. Lust of the flesh, eyes, boastful pride of life.
Shepherds: Shepherding Gods people through discipline for holiness.
Read 1 Peter 5:2&3. Holiness begins with the shepherd, the pastor leading by example. Pastors are not perfect and are used of God despite the human imperfections. What does your conduct portray to your congregation?
Mark posed the following questions to pastors specifically but is applicable to all. Are you growing in the Word, being sanctified, growing in holiness? The Holy Spirit is given to us to teach us the truth, sanctify us, guide, illuminate the Word, cultivate the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22&23). We live in exciting times, there is no love in the world. Is the church displaying holiness and dispensing the love the lost so desperately need or are they repulsed at us? Isaiah 66:2, do we come trembling at God’s word, with a broken and contrite heart, have a humble spirit. We should plead for mercy as we come to the scriptures. The right spirit and attitude will rub off on others, draw us to each other to help each other. Does preaching from the pulpit allow the Spirit to admonish God’s people from the pulpit. Do not elevate self, it is for the sake of the flock, out of love for them. Does your walk reflect your talk of God’s sovereignty? All of us need to be convicted and transformed by the power of the scripture, transformed more and more into Christlikeness. Trust the Holy Spirit to work/discipline in individuals as shepherds exhort, reproof, encourage, teach, convict them by the sacred scriptures for the sake of holiness. Members of churches need to be taught to come alongside each other, put into practice Matthew 18. Confront and teach lovingly at all levels, not just for pastors.
Teach, equip and encourage members to grow and mature and to be involved in each other’s lives. Be patient, teach, equip and encourage each other, do not lose heart nor grow weary as we face difficulties and face trials. Focus on Christ, the author and perfecter or of our faith. This should be done solely of holiness, always in love. Matthew 18:15-17 gives clear guidelines. Often love, guidance, discipleship and counseling is all that is needed. Confronting someone should be done in great humility and tender love and care. Bear in mind that you are, accompanied by the Holy Spirit who is part of the Trinity. The restored member, or ex communicated member, should see Christ and Christ alone. It is emotionally draining, requires effort and dedication. We will do well to remember we are only instruments in Gods hands. Reach out in Sola 5…. glean and benefit from mature Christians to encourage you. We all stumble, fall and sin. Freely ask and grant forgiveness.
Shepherds should encourage fathers in our churches to discipline their children for the purpose of holiness:
Both parents are encouraged to fulfill their God given roles, disciplining their children. Fathers are the head of the home, ultimately the disciplining falls on his shoulders. Fathers sets the tone of discipline in the home AND of love, Ephesians 5:25. Disciplining of your children should not provoke your children to anger. Bring them up in the nature and instruction of the Lord. Teach them why discipline is necessary and to enable them to think on their feet in the future. The rod gives wisdom, do not listen to worldly philosophy. Refusing to consistently, in love, discipline your child cultivates a disobedient spirit. King David’s failure to discipline his sons had disastrous consequences. Parenting is difficult, we need someone alongside us. Do you take your children to church? Your child needs the gospel, you and I need the gospel. A child needs a Christlike loving home of encouragement, loving heart, a watchful eye, listening ear, a helping hand, where needs are met and people are cared for. What an opportunity to show the world a loving Christlike family. Mark quoted Richard Baxter.
Mark left all delegates with this challenge. Will we learn, be encouraged and allow our hearts to be shepherded for holiness? He encouraged and challenged pastors to teach and equip and shepherd their members to offer up their bodies as a holy and living sacrifice to God. They will become witnesses and live out their salt and light in a perverse world. Mark quoted Spurgeon. Please listen to this very stern warning of an unholy church. We can and ought to embrace Christ Jesus, what he accomplished on the cross for us, purified. Will His love compel us to live holy lives?
This concluded Marks message.
Session 6: Sunday (06 September 2015)
Conrad Mbewe closed the 2015 Sola 5 conference. His subject: Unity: Our Common Commitment to the Universal Church
Conrad asked us to turn to Ephesians 4. As an introduction he stated that the joy of this years conference theme is taking us back to basics. Why do we exist? What is it that brings and keeps us together? Asking such questions is life sustaining and enriches us. This in turn pushes us in the same direction for the same purpose. We exist because of our God centeredness. We have come to understand that life revolves around God and for His honor and glory.
We would love for all God’s people to be there, for the common cause of God’s glory. The doctrines of grace brings us together, it is the heart of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the message God gave to His church to be spread across the world. We will look at the issues of submission and authority, do we live according to God’s commands in the world? Interdependence will be discussed, Conrad was rather disturbed that Chris Wooley might’ve stolen his sermon. All the delegates had quite a giggle. Referred to Mark Lillies sermon off the previous night on holiness and the disciplines needed for that.
Unity: Conrad said that unity ties everything together that has been spoken of during the conference. He posed the question as to why do we gather, go beyond geographical and cultural borders, fellowship around meals? He read Ephesians 4:1-3, pointed out that verse 3 is the heart of his message. Gave a brief overview of Paul’s circumstances whilst writing Ephesians. Paul wrote a number of letters. Ephesians can be divided into two sections. The first contains doctrinal content, indicatives, how Christians are brought to salvation by God. The second part, chapter 4 onwards, Paul deals with the practical applications, the “therefores”. The first application Paul deals with is unity. We ought to have unity as believers but this is not a normal thought pattern for humans. We normally focus on the vertical relationship with God. Paul, an accomplished and gifted teacher starts the practical section off with unity. Pointed out that this message is not for the super spiritual among, for all ordinary Christians.
Unity ought to be a living reality for all of us. Paul, simply put, says unity is the way we walk our talk in the world, what we show we claim. Our claim is contained in verses 4-6, one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God our Father, universally, one truth! Do you walk the talk? If so then it makes sense that we will want to do it in unity, especially if you claim that the Christian overrides everything, every prejudice. Everything else should become secondary if you believe this. Repeated the Ephesians 4:5 It is easier said than done.
Our cultural baggage creates a blind spot. This only comes to the fore when we mix with others that is different to us, outside our context. Firstly we are put off by our experience, that is when questions will be asked. We then begin to ask questions, why, because we want to know why everybody is not like us. Paul urges us to do it with all humility, gentleness, patience and bearing with one another in love. Conrad used the example of African time which is a cause of irritation, they like more lively music. If you do not display humility, gentleness, forbearance, patience and tenderness it will splinter relationships. When Paul referred to this, he referred to Jews and Gentiles, their differences, what a concrete wall, as far as their religious practices where concerned. For the first time in history they were united, igniting dynamite. These were issues the apostles were constantly dealing with, repeatedly. It would be have been very easy to opt out by having separate congregations. What example would that be setting to the world, that our culture is more important than Christian faith. Paul pleaded from prison to rather than being in your comfort zone, to put your Christian Faith first. Let the grace of God that produces the fruit of the Spirit, deal with these issues. The Holy Spirit will enable you to smile at the issues thus not pretending you do not notice the issues. Over the years this will enable you to live in this context and bear with one another, it becomes a lifestyle to maintain unity. Conrad took us back to verse 3, God created unity, we are to maintain it being enabled by the Spirit. What effort are you personally making and your church, to be an example to the world? Referred again to verse 5. Thankfully the Lord Jesus Christ, in His infinite wisdom, engineered His universal church to ensure true spiritual unity.
This was done not only with the foundation of redemption but His super structuring of the universal church. Paul refers to this in verses Ephesians 4:7-13. Jesus Christ’s redemptive work equals the founding of the universal church. What did He do? Gave us gifts which makes us interconnected, locally and further afield. V11, gift of teaching. If we have merely organizational unity it’ll be weak, rely on laws and regulations, pushing you from the outside in.
Just do’s and don’ts which results in expulsion. It only serves as a threat, laws and regulations will grow in numbers for the wrong reasons, hemming people in as well as suffering from every wind of doctrine. The Lord Jesus Christ not only founded this unity but continues to build on it. How? By giving gifts of teaching to those that are called to shepherd His church. Consequently truth in righteousness becomes an ongoing solid foundation that holds us together, v12. Our unity grows as we understand, referred again to verse 5. Appreciation of this creates a sense of belonging, we have a common confession and believe. This in turn will create the desire to be together in order to express it. When churches and church organizations spend all their time on laws and regulations as well as minimizing their doctrine to its lowest level, you loose true Christian unity. Ecumenicalism is dangerous. They do not appreciate being challenged regarding doctrine, example baptism, which baptism? If you cannot ask questions, how can you have the heart of the Christian faith? Paul wrote 13 chapters of instruction before attempting the unification of Jew and Gentile. Differences will be part of our lives till Jesus Christ returns. Christian faith is about being taught.
Conrad quoted from Sola 5 booklet s introduction. Read the first two paragraphs. Christ secured unity for us through these teaching roles. If we want our churches to grow in unity, they need strong teaching ministries. God’s people as they come in from the world with their worldly baggage must soon realize, the are holding up little candles in the midst of the Son, in its full strength. They will be embarrassed holding their little cultural and traditional candles in light of what God has said and done in Jesus Christ. This is what Paul is talking about here when he says Christ has given these, so that we may all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God. To mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. This will enable you to recognize true Biblical unity. Conrad pointed out that we will all soon be departing back to our own churches. Is that a place where the whole council of God is being proclaimed?
As the congregation is being taught it should spark a desire to be a part of this unity, not just the leadership of the churches. Referred to v14, do not be vulnerable. We must be rooted in the truths of God and not led astray by anything. It is not about us, it is all about God. One should be able to immediately identify false teaching. Is your ship anchored in a storm? Encourage each other with the truth. Paul used the human body often as an example, v16, each and every part of your body contributes to its function. So it is within the church, does your church body promote growth for God’s glory and honor? This desire for unity should stretch across borders. What are you prepared to sacrifice to fulfill your commitment to contribute to this unity, the universal church? Visit other churches, encourage them, pray for them. Once a year, 3 days out of 365 leaves us with 362, it begs the question to be asked, really? What will you do with the other 362? What example are you setting? Will others want to emulate us? Refers to v4 again.
We need to show the world that Christ has a living vibrant body. Are you willing to be actively involved?
This concluded Conrad Mbebwe’s message and a most blessed Sola 5 Conference of 2015.
In conclusion of this report, the prayer times that was included at the year’s Sola 5 necessitates a few words.
The committee instituted a 15 minute or more prayer time at the conclusion of each speaker’s message. Very wise indeed. What an awesome experience to not only get to know others but to hear prayers being offered up in unity! Peoples from all walks of life and cultures, different accents but truly united in our precious Lord Jesus Christ. The quiet buzzing of voices across the whole church, what an enormous blessing. What struck me was the deeply thankful and dependent spirit that prevailed before the petitions were brought to our Lord. One cannot but ponder on both the Old and New Testament words: sweet savor or fragrance. May this spirit and practice continue until we meet again. Amen.