Sunday, September 21, 2014

Do not be afraid Little Flock

Revelation 3:7-13 (NKJV) ~ “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write, ‘These things says He who is holy, He who is true, “He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens”: “I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name. Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie—indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you. 10 Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. 11 Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. 12 He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name. 13 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

The city of Philadelphia was located in the northern parts of Turkey, where you will find the contemporary city of Alashir. It is a mountainous region located with an exceptional climate which makes it very enjoyable to stay in and the ideal climate for growing grapes.

Philadelphia was a young city but the region was plagued by frequent earthquakes, therefore not many people settled there. It was also an exceptionally beautiful city with many marble buildings and therefore was nicknamed "Little Athens".

Not much information relative to the origin of the Philadelphian church are known but we do know that many of the members suffered a martyr's death. From Church history we know that long after this letter was written and despite the fact that the surrounding areas were ruled by Muslims, Philadelphia still existed as a Christian centre and indeed up to 1392 AD.

The fact is that Jesus Christ, singled out the church in Philadelphia by way of sending an important letter to them - a letter of praise, but also a letter with a very serious message.

This letter were not only for the believers in Philadelphia but also applicable to all the churches throughout the ages - even for our congregation today.

In stark contrast to the nearby church in Sardis, the church in Philadelphia was rather small and they seemingly had little power - and yet, the Lord Jesus found nothing in this church's actions that troubled Him and therefore He praised the church for three characteristics they possessed, namely:
·           That ... they were weak (yes, weak);
·           That ... they obeyed and thirdly,
·           That... they had never denied Him.

·           Although the congregation were weak, it was not a negative comment regarding their weakness - in fact, it was more a commendation of their power - the Philadelphian church was small in number and therefore they had seemingly little power available, but they had a powerful impact on the residents of the city and the area surrounding the city.

Many of the members were poor and therefore part of the so-called "lower social class", but despite the fact that they were small in numbers, the spiritual power oozed from this congregation. People were saved; lives were changed and the Gospel of Jesus Christ was proclaimed.

This fact should be encouraging to all small congregations - it recalls the words of Lk.12:32 ~
Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom.
·           Secondly Christ praised this church in Philadelphia for their obedience, because of their obedience to the Word of God, they could echo what Job was saying, "I have not departed from the commandment of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth More than my necessary food" (Job 23:12).
·           Finally, Christ praised the congregation for the fact that they never denied Him, despite the persecution they experienced. In other words they remained faithful to Christ, regardless of the price they had to pay for it - they persisted on a path that yielded Godliness.

Because of their apparent weakness and their obedience and their faithfulness, the Lord Jesus promised that He would provide an open door – one that no one or anything could close or shut. Their salvation was thus assured - their access to Christ's future Messianic kingdom was assured - they would receive the blessing of salvation by grace.

We read in v.7 of an unlocked door. In John 10:9 we see that Jesus referred to Himself as the door or entrance leading His sheep to a "safe pen" - He said
~ I am the door.  If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture." So to be part of Christ's flock, means, you have to be saved. This open door refers to the free invitation to all who are chosen, to enter and be saved. Everyone who enters receives grace, forgiveness of sins and peace with God and therefore eternal life.

In this passage Jesus refers to people who are already saved. They were obedient to His Word and have not denied him. They were faithful followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. They were part of God's children.

What then is this “open door” that John refers to in v.7? Does this “open door” refer to salvation available to the readers as generally meant? The answer is “no”, because the recipients of the letter are saved – therefore from the context of the passage, this “open door” refers to opportunities of service and evangelization.

The Apostle Paul uses this image in Col.4:3 to the church in Colossae, and encourages them to pray for him so "... that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains, that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak." (See also: 1 Cor. 16: 9; 2 Cor. 2: 12).

It seems that a door of opportunity for the small congregation in Philadelphia opened and the Lord Jesus said to them. Go! You can do it. Enter through the door. The Lord encouraged them as a father would his children by saying, it is not as difficult as it seems. I opened the door up for you.

So there was an opportunity for service that had exposed and opened for the church in Philadelphia. But for some reason they did not seize this opportunity. This is why the Lord Jesus sent this letter to them, in order to encourage them.

What makes them hesitant to seize this opportunity? Why did they hold back? We can identify three reasons in verses 8-10 to discern what led to this reluctance. These three reasons are obstacles that many small congregations (and large ones) allow to hold them back.
·           Firstly, it was their conviction that they seemed weak - they doubted their own abilities.
·           Secondly, because they were despised by society and…
·           Their fears were the last obstacle.

·           Let's look at their weakness. Verse 8 says ~ ...I know that you have little strength. They were a small congregation. They questioned themselves whether they were truly equipped and whether they indeed had the necessary resources to Evangelize? Probably they also questioned whether they really cared enough about the people in their area?

We should ask the same of ourselves. What can we do regarding the church situation in South Africa - Three Rivers, Meyerton – here in Vereeniging or wherever you live? What can we do to address this issue? Are we ready and equipped to take this opportunity - to use this door?

The church members of the Philadelphia church were few in number and struggled financially. It may also be true of us, but Jesus still encouraged the church in Philadelphia to make use of every opportunity - through the open door.

Christ reminded them that He and He alone had ALL the power. He encouraged them - He insisted, that they take the opportunity and He assured them that He would provide what was lacking. What's more - it is very often a small congregation that is in a better position to attribute all the honour due to God, especially when He opens the flood gates of heaven!

It only took two men, Jonathan and his armour-bearer, to climb steep cliffs and put twenty men of the enemy to death and created a panic among the Philistines
(1Sam.14:1-15) - to such an extent that the entire Philistine army fled. The result was that everyone knew it was the Lord God of Israel that saved them from defeat (1Sam.14:23). And can you recall what Jonathan told his young armour-bearer on that day? ...It may be that The Lord will work for us. For nothing restrains the Lord from saving by many or by few (1Sam.14:6). What's more, God often prefers to use small groups, thus encouraging the church in Philadelphia with these words: Dare, because I have all power in heaven and on earth - I am with you.

The main issue was that the church was faithful to Christ and His Gospel
(v.8). In turn He will now be loyal to them. Therefore they must dare to reach out, even though they are weak.

·           Secondly, it would appear that this group were despised in their environment - this is particularly clear in v.9. They were particularly despised by those who were ...members of the synagogue of Satan - this (Synagogue of Satan) could have represented any religious group, however it most probably came from Jews in Philadelphia, especially if we consider Rev.2:9 ~ I know your tribulation and your poverty, and yet you are rich. I also know of the troublemaking of people who claim they are Jews, and are not, but are a Synagogue of Satan.

It seems that this persecution and contempt was accompanied by all sorts of insinuations - insinuations such as: Surely God does not love you. See how small and weak you are! You do not know what the Lord's blessing entail. When such things are said of people, it is inevitable that it will undermine their confidence.

This small congregation probably thought there was something wrong with them - they are good for nothing! There was probably even a dark cloud of gloom descending on them. How many small congregations do not suffer the same reputation and only because they are small in numbers?

It was the fact that it was said of them that God did not love them that Christ told this church ~
Behold, I have that of the members of the synagogue of Satan, those who claim to be Jews, and it is not, but lie - behold, I will make them come and bow before you, and know that I love you (v.9).

No, says the Lord Jesus - do not succumb to Satan's lies and his offensive remarks. Do you desire to sincerely love and obey me? If this is the case – know that I
(Jesus) love you. Do not doubt it. He (Jesus) is not like the world just interested in "mega-churches" and "mega money" and glamour and abundance. He is the Saviour that noticed the widow's two small coins, and rejoiced in it (Luke 21. 1-4).

·           Thirdly we notice that this town was wracked or almost destroyed by fear. Throughout the book of Revelation, we see “thunderclouds – storm clouds" of opposition building against this little Church. We read in Revelation of "The Beast" that represented persecution. We cross paths with the "False Prophet" that withstood the Gospel of Jesus Christ with a false religion and ideologies that distorted Scripture and cast suspicion. We also read of the "Great Harlot of Babylon" that will entice the church and usher in worldly behaviour and actions and thereby destroy the church.

The church is exposed to all of these things at one point or another in order to discourage us, and our faith and trust in Christ is undermined. Ultimately, our response to this - especially when we feel weak – will be that we tend to withdraw and say to ourselves - it is best to keep quiet - it is best not to attract attention to ourselves. If a church already has such negative feelings about her own situation, she becomes the laughing stock of the community and even receives threats and persecution and experience actions of fanatical groups – they reach a point where evangelism does not even feature.

Christ however, encouraged the congregation in Philadelphia and tells them that such counsel and such assessments should be rejected - He said unto them, that they should continue and He gives them a promise in verse 10 ~
Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.

Today it's probably not for fear of persecution afflicting small congregations, but rather a fear of failure - failure in e.g. service, or a fear that projects may fail, or a fear of being socially isolated in their community.

However, we learn from Scripture that when we do something in the name of the Lord it is better to try and possibly fail, rather than not to try. In such a case we need to bring to mind the parable of the talents
(Matthew 25: 24-26). The master that gave the gold coins to his slaves was displeased with one slave. He was entrusted with only one gold coin but buried it. In contrast, Christ says in verse 10 - Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. Christ promised that He will allow a period of trial encompassing the whole world, but if we remain faithful to our calling, He will sustain us.

After Christ focused the congregation in Philadelphia's eyes on Him, and provided them with an open door - a door of opportunity, He encourages them to get out of their comfort zone to act and reach out to the outside world.

Now that Christ has challenged the Philadelphian church, He continues in vv.11-12 explaining to them that there is a reward and four promises of blessings awaiting them if they obey and open the door. Vv.11-12 ~ Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one take away your crown. He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God, and he will forever remain. I will write upon him the name of my God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name.

The promise of Christ to them, and therefore also to each one of us who are faithful to the end, is that no one can take away our crown. This is in line with James 1:12 ~
Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love him. Rev.2:10c tells us that this is the Crown of Life.

Together with the fact that they will receive the Crown of Life as a reward, Christ gives a further four promises of blessings for those who persevere to the end:
·           Verse 12a ~ Whoever overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God - This image of a pillar refers to stability; permanence and immovability - this promise refers back to permanent residence in the presence of God, to all saints.
·           We find the second promise of blessing in verse 12b ~ ...I will write upon him the name of My God.... This promise is therefore indicative of the fact that all true believers belong to God.
·           Thirdly - Verse 12c ~ I will write on him ... the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God – This means that believers have an eternal citizenship in heaven, the New Jerusalem in heaven will be the capital – a promise of security and permanence.
·           And finally - Verse 12d ~ And I will write on him My new name. Christ promised that all believers will carry/wear the new name of Christ. Christ's name represents the fullness of His person. According to 1Joh.3:2 believers will see Christ as He is. His new name will be the full revelation of His glory reflected.

This wonderful promises ought to encourage and inspire us, because not one of us and neither any congregation is too small to be in service for Christ. Jesus says at the beginning of this letter - I know your works... (v.8a). Nothing goes unnoticed by Christ, because He is sovereign and omniscient – because He is God. The King of the universe looks full of love and compassion at all of His children, and He says, go out; reach out; go make a difference in the world.

Christ directs this letter not only to the leader, or the elders of the congregation, but to the whole church – in fact, He writes this letter to every church throughout the centuries and therefore to us as well and with a responsibility to heed Christ's challenge and encouragement to go out and make a difference, to go into our towns - our environment, where the need for Christ and the great spiritual need, is increasing daily. We cannot and we dare not close our eyes to the needs around us – the need of salvation.

We have open doors, just as the church in Philadelphia had and so we should venture out into the outside world - the question is whether we are faithful and whether we will be faithful to Christ's call to all of us, in e.g. Matthew 28:19-20 ~
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded; and lo I am with you always, even to the end of the world.

Message by Kobus van der Walt (Vaal Triangle Reformed Baptist Church, Three Rivers –  Sunday21 September 2014)

Sunday, September 14, 2014

“Die Oes is Groot” (“Ons Opdrag”)

       Matt.9:35-38 ~ Jesus het al die dorpe en klein plekkies besoek. Hy het die mense in hulle sinagoges geleer, die evangelie van die koninkryk verkondig en elke soort siekte en kwaal gesond gemaak. 36Toe Hy die menigtes sien, het Hy hulle innig jammer gekry, want hulle was moeg en hulpeloos soos skape wat nie ’n wagter het nie. 37Hy sê toe vir sy dissipels: “Die oes is groot, maar die arbeiders min. 38Bid dan die Here aan wie die oes behoort, om arbeiders uit te stuur vir sy oes.”

       In die voorafgaande gedeeltes van Matteus het die apostel vir ons die reaksie van verskillende mense op Jesus se derde reeks wonderwerke weergegee. Hy gaan egter nou voort en gee hy ʼn verdere opsomming van Jesus se bediening in Galilea. Galilea was ʼn gebied van nagenoeg 7000 km² – ʼn gebied van ʼn bietjie meer as ʼn derde van die grootte van Gauteng (Gauteng is nagenoeg 18000 km² groot), waarin daar so om en by 200 stede en dorpies geleë was en as ʼn mens die gemiddelde grootte van die stede, dorpies en nedersettings in ag neem, kan ons bereken dat daar ongeveer 3 miljoen mense in Jesus se tyd, in Galilea was (in vergelyking met 7,3 miljoen mense nou in Gauteng en 4,6 miljoen wittes in RSA).

       Tydens hierdie gedeelte van Jesus se bediening in Galilea, sien ons dat Hy oral in Galilea rond gegaan het en soos v.35 dit stel, het ...Hy die mense in hulle sinagoges geleer, die evangelie van die koninkryk verkondig en elke soort siekte en kwaal gesond gemaak.

       Jesus het baie tyd in die Sinagoges spandeer, waar hy die mense geleer het. Wat interessant was van die sinagoges, is dat dit reeds gedurende die Babiloniese ballingskap ontstaan het (vanaf nagenoeg 586 v.C.) en hierdie sinagoges het die middelpunt van die Joodse gemeenskappe gevorm. Die Sinagoge was gewoonlik op ʼn heuwel of naby ʼn rivier gebou en is tot ʼn groot mate sonder ʼn dak gebou, sodat die mense kon opkyk na die hemel as deel van hulle aanbidding. Wat ook interessant is, was dat daar gewoonlik ʼn lang paal by die Sinagoge opgerig is (amper soos ʼn hedendaagse kerktoring – wat ook aan die verdwyn is!), sodat vreemdelinge baie gou hul weg kon vind na die Sinagoge.

       Bo en behalwe die Paasfees en verskeie ander feesdae, het die lede van die Sinagoge gewoonlik gedurende die Sabbatdag en ook op die tweede en die vyfde dag van die week in die Sinagoge bymekaar gekom en dan is daar baie tyd spandeer aan die voorlees van die Woord (die Wet van Moses – eerste vyf boeke van die O.T.) terwyl een van die Rabbi’s lering oor die gelese gedeelte gegee het. Omdat daar ook ʼn beleid van “vryheid van die Sinagoge” bestaan het, kon besoekende Rabbis ook vryelik die Woord uitlê en daarom het Jesus (en ook later Paulus) hierdie situasie mildelik uitgebuit en die Evangelie in die hart van die Joodse gemeenskap verkondig!

3.     JESUS SE BEDIENING (Matt.9:35-36):
       Wat was die kern van Jesus se bediening in Galilea op hierdie stadium?
·           Lering: Hy het die Skrifte in die Sinagoges en ander plekke vir die mense geleer. V.35b lees as volg in die NKJV ~ teaching in their synagogues. Jesus het dus lering gegee – Hy het dit gedoen omdat Hy geweet het hoe gebrekkig die mense se kennis van die Skrifte was ~ ...want hulle was moeg en hulpeloos soos skape wat nie ’n wagter het nie (Matt.9:36).
·           Prediking: Ons lees ook in v.35c dat Jesus, ...die evangelie van die koninkryk verkondig het. Die NKJV vertaal v.35c as volg ~ ... preaching the gospel of the kingdom…. Prediking is nie dieselfde as lering nie. Lering is onderrig en verklaring van die inhoud van die Skrif, terwyl prediking meer fokus op die boodskap van die Woord en daarom sluit dit ook die praktiese toepassing van die Woord in. Gebalanseerde prediking sou ek (ek besef dat hierdie ʼn aanvegbare definisie is) dus definieer as lering oor die gelese gedeelte in die Woord, met ʼn sterk, praktiese toepassing van die gedeelte op die toehoorders se lewe, maar die twee kan beslis ook apart van mekaar staan en in die geval van v.35 het die Here Jesus ʼn duidelike onderskeid tussen die twee gemaak.

       Wat is die inhoud van Jesus se prediking? Die Evangelie van die Koninkryk is die Goeie Nuus van Redding en versoening met God die Vader deur die Middelaar en Messias, Jesus Christus en daarvoor het Jesus deurgaans vanuit die Ou Testament die Evangelie gepreek en het Hy die Skrif vir hulle oopgemaak, sodat hulle deur die Profete, die Messias kon raaksien.
·           Genesing: Derdens het Jesus het ook volgens v.35d, ...elke soort siekte en kwaal gesond gemaak. Die feit dat Jesus siektes genees het, was o.a. bewys daarvan dat Hy waarlik die Messias was, dit is waarom Hy later vir die dissipels van Johannes die Doper gesê het ~ En Jesus het geantwoord en vir hulle gesê: Gaan vertel aan Johannes wat julle hoor en sien: blindes sien weer en kreupeles loop, melaatses word gereinig en dowes hoor, dooies word opgewek en aan armes word die evangelie verkondig (Matt.11:4-5).

       Jesus het egter nie net fisiese siektes genees ter wille daarvan dat Hy Sy Goddelikheid daardeur wou bewys nie – nee, Hy het deurentyd ʼn ander genesing in gedagte gehad – die genesing van verlore siele. Wat die mensdom die meeste nodig het, is vergifnis van ons sonde en versoening met God en dit is die kruks van Jesus se sending na die wêreld en dit is presies wat Hy aan die Kruis bewerkstellig het – dit is die ware Goeie Nuus van die Koninkryk wat Jesus gebring het. Dit is wat Hy vir elkeen van ons wat hier teenwoordig is en wie in en deur Hom gered is, gegee het – vrywaring van God se wraak; die verlossing van ʼn ewige verdoemenis in die hel; ʼn geskenk van ewige vrede en versoening met God die Vader – hoe kan ons stil bly daaroor; hoe kan ons selfsugtig daaroor wees as derduisende rondom ons verlore gaan – ons durf nie stilbly nie, want dan is ons uiters selfsugtig.

4.     JESUS SE MEDELYE (vv.37-38):
       In vv.37-38 vind hier egter ʼn keerpunt in Jesus se bediening plaas, want soos wat Hy deur Galilea beweeg het, was Hy diep getref deur die nood wat daar onder die inwoners bestaan het en ons het in v.36 gesien dat Hy ...hulle innig jammer gekry het. Hierdie eienskap van Jesus se persoon, is sekerlik dié uitstaande kenmerk van Sy karakter, nl. empatie en intense medelye (compassion).

       Wanneer ons kyk na Jesus se empatie en dan spesifiek na Sy medelye in hierdie bepaalde situasie, sien ons dat Hy diep getref was deur die massa mense se nood en die primêre rede daarvoor was die feit dat hulle geteister en afgeknou en gebreek en hulpeloos gelaat was, omdat hulle leierloos was – net soos skape sonder ʼn herder – dwalende; drywend en hulpeloos en daarom is hulle blootgestel aan die aanslae van die wêreld; van die wolwe van hierdie wêreld en van die bose!

       Die vraag is, waar is die massas se leiers – is hulle regtig leierloos? Die hartseer is dat baie van hulle wel leiers het, maar dat hulle leiers in dieselfde toestand verkeer en baie dikwels selfs in ʼn erger toestand, omdat hulle as misleiers optree met of sonder bymotiewe en as ek sê “sonder bymotiewe”, dan is dit omdat hulle self oor min of geen kennis beskik, of selfs geen verhouding met die Here Jesus Christus het nie – hierdie leiers is dus geen leiers nie – leiers wat nié voldoen aan die voorskrifte soos o.a. uiteengesit in Titus 3 nie en daarom nie in ʼn posisie om hul volgelinge te lei nie.

       Dit is wat Jesus voor Hom gesien het en Sy hart gaan uit na hulle, dit is waarom Hy in Luk.1:52-53 Sy eie missie definieer met die volgende woorde ~ Die wat gesond is, het die geneesheer nie nodig nie, maar die wat ongesteld is. Jesus is dus by uitnemendheid die Herder vir die herderlose.

       Dit is egter belangrik om daarop te let dat Jesus se medelye met hierdie “dwalende skape” nie tot gevolg het dat Hy hulle onvoorwaardelik vergewe, of oorsien nie – nee, dit sal kontra Sy heiligheid wees. Die lydende massas het dus geen verskoning nie, maar Jesus wil iets omtrent hulle situasie doen en juis daarom het Hy na die wêreld gekom. Die engel wat aan Josef verskyn het toe Josef homself voorgeneem het om van Maria te skei oor haar swangerskap, het Jesus se sending na die wêreld baie mooi opgesom toe hy vir Josef in Matt.1:18 gesê het ~ ...jy moet Hom Jesus noem, want dit is Hy wat sy volk van hulle sondes sal verlos. Hy wil die siekes; die lydendes; die verwarde skare, verlos van hul geestelike siekte, nl. hul gevalle toestand, deur hul sonde te vergewe.

       Jesus weet dat Hy nie meer lank op aarde sou wees om, om te sien na die massas nie en Hy het nie net medelye met die massas en daarby eindig dit nie – nee, Hy rig Homself tot Sy dissipels en rig twee versoeke – nee, opdragte tot hulle (is ek en jy nie ook dissipels van Jesus nie? Daarom rig Hy Hom ook vanoggend opnuut weer tot ons).

       In reaksie op Jesus se medelye met die verwarde en verdwaalde mense verander Hy Sy metafoor van verdwaalde skape, na ʼn oes wat ryp en gereed is om van die lande gehaal te word. Hy sê in v.37-38 vir Sy dissipels ~ Die oes is groot, maar die arbeiders min.

       Wanneer Jesus hier verwys na ʼn “oes”, verwys Hy nié na oestyd wat gewoonlik in die Woord verbind word met die oordeelsdag nie – dink hier bv. aan Openb.14:15-16 ~ En ’n ander engel het uit die tempel gekom en met ’n groot stem geroep na Hom wat op die wolk sit: Slaan u sekel in en maai, want die uur het vir U gekom om te maai, omdat die oes van die aarde oorryp geword het. En Hy wat op die wolk sit, het sy sekel oor die aarde laat gaan, en die aarde is afgemaai, of bv. Joël 3:13 ~ Steek die sekel in, want die oes is ryp! Kom trap, want die parskuip is vol, die kuipe loop oor! Want hulle boosheid is groot. Die oes waarvan Jesus hier praat is ʼn oes van ʼn menigte mense wat gereed is om die Evangelieboodskap te hoor. Die lande van uitverkorenes is dus gereed om geoes te word – om die boodskap van verlossing in en deur Christus Jesus, te hoor.

       As dit dan die geval is, wat moet gedoen word? Moet Jesus se dissipels kursusse doen in Evangeliese metodiek? Moet ons sendelinge begin werf en ondersteun? Moet ons groot bedrae geld begin bymekaar maak ten einde sendelinge te kan uitstuur? Hierdie is moontlik die regte stappe om te volg, maar dit is sekondêre stappe wat eers later gevolg moet word, maar eers moet die primêre stap gevolg word – v.38 ~ Bid dan die Here aan wie die oes behoort, om arbeiders uit te stuur vir sy oes – gebed! Gebed is die beginpunt – gebed waarin ons vra dat die Here werkers sal oprig om die oes in te bring.

       Die probleem is dus dat daar nie genoeg werkers is om die oes in te bring nie. Die werkers is min en daarom moet ons bid dat nog meer werkers opgerig sal word ten einde die oes in te bring.

       Dit is egter ook van kardinale belang om te besef dat ons nie net moet bid vir werkers om uitgestuur te word nie, maar dat ons ook sal bid dat die régte mense uitgestuur sal word en wie is hulle? Hier wil ek op die rug van my swaer ry (my “middel-seun” se skoonpa – Doug van Meter) wat die afgelope Sondag tydens die afsluitingsboodskap van die jaarlikse SOLA5 konferensie juis oor hierdie onderwerp gepreek het (“The Missionaries of Missions”) en ek wil net sy hoofpunte herhaal sonder om in detail daarop in te gaan en hy het dit gedoen aan die hand van Hand.13:1-3 ~ EN daar was in die plaaslike gemeente in Antiochíë sekere profete en leraars, naamlik Bárnabas en Simeon wat Niger genoem word, en Lúcius, die Cirenéër, en Manáen, wat saam met Herodes, die viervors, grootgeword het, en Saulus. En terwyl hulle besig was om die Here te dien en te vas, het die Heilige Gees gesê: Sonder nou Bárnabas en Saulus vir My af vir die werk waarvoor Ek hulle geroep het. En toe hulle gevas en gebid het en hulle die hande opgelê het, laat hulle hul gaan.
·           Wat duidelik uit hierdie gedeelte blyk, is dat sendelinge, eerstens lede van die plaaslike gemeente moet wees ~ EN daar was in die plaaslike gemeente....
·           Tweedens moet hulle betrokke lidmate wees wat in die gemeente bedien – volwasse en geestelike ryp lidmate – nie die oortollige, onbetrokke, geestelik onvolwasse en onproduktiewe lidmate nie, maar die bestes (lees hiervoor maar net weer Hand.11).
·           In die derde plek moet hierdie manne beskik oor die kwaliteite van ʼn ouderling en daarom moet hulle kan preek en leer en in staat wees om gemeentes te plant.
·           Vierdens sien ons in Hand.13:3 dat die gemeente hulle moet uitstuur en derhalwe ook moet versorg. Doug het in sy preek gesê: “It is costly to send out missionaries, because they are the best men in your Church” en omdat hulle die beste is, moet hulle ook behoorlik en voldoende versorg word.
·           Hiermee saam moet ons laastens besef dat mense wat uitgestuur word, geroepenes is wie ʼn geweldige taak op hul skouers het. Eseg.22:27-31 skets vir ons ʼn soortgelyke agtergrond waarteen Jesus na die skare voor Hom gekyk het en hoor dan wat die Here vir ons sê wat die primêre taak van ʼn ware “sendeling” is ~ Die amptenare in die land is soos verskeurende wolwe. Hulle moor, hulle laat mense doodgaan, hulle maak oneerlike wins. 28Die profete in die land pleister alles toe: hulle sien gesigte wat nie daar is nie, verkondig leuens as waarsêery en sê: ‘So sê die Here my God,’ terwyl Ek niks gesê het nie. 29Die burgers van die land verdruk en beroof mense. Hulle buit armes en mense in nood uit en hulle verdruk die vreemdeling asof daar geen reg bestaan nie. Dan veral hierdie gedeelte ~ ...30Ek het iemand tussen hulle gesoek wat ’n muur sou bou en vir die stad in die bres sou tree dat dit nie vernietig word nie, maar Ek het niemand gekry nie. 31Daarom laat Ek my toorn oor hulle losbreek en vernietig Ek hulle met die vuur van my gramskap. Ek laat hulle kry wat hulle verdien,” sê die Here my God.

       In hierdie geval kon God nie iemand kry wat voldoen het aan Sy vereistes nie, maar ons leer wel uit hierdie gedeelte wat God van so ʼn man verwag, nl. dat ook hy in die bres moet staan vir die verloregaande massas – hy moet derhalwe in die eerste en laaste plek, ʼn voorbidder wees. Hier kan ons ook dink aan Moses toe die volk die goue kalf aanbid het en Moses ingetree het vir die volk by God en gevra het dat Hy hulle nie sal uitwis nie, maar genade teenoor hulle sal betoon.

       Hierdie voorbeeld van voorbidding sluit baie mooi aan by dit wat Jesus gesê het, Sy dissipels moet doen, nl. om vir die verdwaalde skape te bid, maar natuurlik impliseer hierdie feit nié dat ons niks anders sal doen as om te bid nie; dit beteken eerder dat ons níks sal doen sonder gebed nie. Ons moet derhalwe altyd onthou dat wat ook al gedoen word in ons uitreiking na die verdwaalde skape, dit in die eerste en laaste plek, God se werk is.

       Die vraag waarmee ons nou gekonfronteer word, is of ons as “gewone gelowiges” net opgeroep word om te bid vir “arbeiders in die oes” en of ons self ook betrokke moet raak?

       Eerstens wil ek maar net weer sê dat ons nié ons verantwoordelikheid en Jesus se opdrag aan ons om te bid oor en vir arbeiders in die oes, mag ignoreer nie, maar tweedens wil ek dit ook kategories stel dat ons as lidmate van die plaaslike kerk, ʼn Bybelse opdrag én mandaat het om die Evangelie met andere – met “die verdwaalde skape” rondom ons, te deel. Op grond waarvan sê ek dit?
·           ʼn Begeerte as gelowiges om gehoorsaam te wees: In Matt 28:19 gee Jesus opdrag aan Sy dissipels om dissipels van alle nasies te maak – dit sluit ook “die Suid-Afrikaanse nasie hier rondom ons” in en daarom het nie een van ons ʼn verskoning omdat ons te oud is, of nie geroep is, of wat ook al nie, want die “verre lande” is hier reg rondom ons.

       Petrus sê in 1 Pet.3:15b ~ ...Wees altyd gereed om ’n antwoord te gee aan elkeen wat van julle ’n verduideliking eis oor die hoop wat in julle lewe (sien ook Kol.4:6). Dit impliseer egter nié dat ons agteroor kan sit en wag tot iemand na ons toe kom en vrae aan ons vra nie – nee, ons moet getuig teenoor almal wat vrae in hul gemoed ronddra (dit is by implikasie al die “verdwaalde skape”) en daarom moet ons sensitief en biddend uitreik na verlore mense – ons moet gereed wees om te alle tye en onder alle omstandighede, gereed te wees om te getuig – om te evangeliseer – maar ook nie net om gereed te wees nie, maar om dit ook inderdaad te doen!

·           Ons moet in die tweede plek besef dat die mensdom se grootste behoefte is om gered te word. Liefde vir die verloregaandes moet dus my dryfveer wees waarom ek uitreik na andere – waarom? Omdat Christus my so lief gehad het dat Hy Sy lewe vir my afgelê het. 1 Joh.3:1 ~ Kyk watter groot liefde die Vader aan ons bewys het: Hy noem ons kinders van God, en ons is dit ook. En die wêreld ken ons nie, omdat dit Hom nie ken nie. In Matt.7:12 sê Jesus dat ons, ons naaste lief moet hê en as dit die geval is, moet ek huil oor sy verlore toestand en daarom, op grond van my liefde vir hom en op grond van Christus se liefde vir my, moet ek uitreik na hom met die Evangelieboodskap.
·           Ons hoogste en finale rede waarom ons moet evangeliseer, is God se liefde vir my en my verantwoordelikheid om Hom in en deur my lewe te verheerlik en die toppunt hiervan is wanneer ons die Waarheid aangaande Christus Jesus met ander deel.

       Daar is nog vele ander redes waarom ons die Evangelie met andere moet deel, maar a.g.v. ʼn gebrek aan tyd kan ons Woensdagaand tyd aan die ander redes spandeer.

       Ons mag nooit agteroor sit en dink dat evangelisasie die werk van sendelinge of die ouderlinge van die gemeente is nie – indien ons so sou redeneer is ons niks anders as arrogant en ongehoorsaam nie. Ons mag nooit ongeërgd wees hieroor nie, want duisende gaan hel toe en hulle móét die Evangelie hoor.

       Hierdie opmerking bring my by ʼn laaste opmerking of vraag. Baie Gereformeerdes wat onvoorwaardelik glo aan die uitverkiesing redeneer en sê dat indien mense uitverkies is, is dit mos nie nodig om die Evangelie te deel nie, want diesulkes sal mos nog “inkom”. As ons so redeneer, dan is ons waar John Ryland was toe hy vir die ywerige en gereformeerde sendeling, John Carey gesê het: Sit down, young man; when God wants to convert the heathen, he’ll do it without your help and mine.

       Ook wat hierdie redenasie betref, kan ons baie redes aanvoer waarom dit steeds nodig is om te evangeliseer ten spyte van ons oortuiging oor die uitverkiesing. Net kortliks die volgende:

       Soos ons reeds gesien het, het Christus ons die opdrag gegee om uit te gaan met die Evangelie (Matt.28:18-20). God sál Sy uitverkorenes “inbring”, maar Hy doen dit deur die verkondiging van die Evangelie – Rom.10:13-17 ~ ...want elkeen wat die Naam van die Here aanroep, sal gered word. 14Maar hoe kan ’n mens Hom aanroep as jy nie in Hom glo nie? En hoe kan jy in Hom glo as jy nie van Hom gehoor het nie? En hoe kan jy van Hom hoor sonder iemand wat preek? 15En hoe kan iemand preek as hy nie gestuur is nie? Daar staan ook geskrywe: “Hoe wonderlik klink die voetstappe van dié wat die goeie boodskap bring.

       Ten diepste dink ons baie dikwels dat die redding van mense afhang van ons kennis; ons optrede en ons inspanning. So ʼn opvatting is natuurlik nie alleen ʼn mistasting nie, maar dit is ook onbybels, want andere se redding hang nie van ons kennis of tegnieke af nie – Hy red en Hy red soewerein – Hy beskik dus oor die besluit wie Hy red en wie nie en tweedens besluit Hy oor hoe dit gedoen word en deel daarvan is dat Hy ons wil gebruik in die proses.

       Laat ons die woorde van Paulus ernstig opneem en deel van onsself in hierdie verband maak ~ Wat my betref, broers, toe ek na julle toe gekom het om die geheimnisvolle waarheid van God aan julle te verkondig, het ek nie met hoë woorde of groot geleerdheid gekom nie. 2Ek het my voorgeneem om met julle oor niks anders te praat nie as oor Jesus as die Christus, en wel oor Hom as die gekruisigde (1 Kor.2:1-2). Om die Evangelie te deel met andere het dus niks te doen met my intelligensie of kennis of metodes nie, dit het net en alles te doen met die mededeling, of verkondiging van die Waarheid – die Evangelie beskik self oor die krag en mag om te red en nie ons nie (Rom.1:16-17) – die Heilige Gees sal deur die verkondiging van die Evangelie werk ten einde die uitverkorenes te red. Die enigste rede waarom ons die Evangelie dus deel, is omdat ons opdrag van Christus self ontvang het om dit te doen – ongeag....
       As ons sê dat ons navolgers van Jesus is, moet ons begin wegkyk van onsself en na andere rondom ons en met medelye en empatie uitreik na die hulpeloses wat soos skape sonder ’n wagter is.

Ek wil graag afsluit met enkele aanhalings:
"The Great Commission is not an option to be considered; it is a command to be obeyed" — Hudson Taylor

“The spirit of Christ is the spirit of missions. The nearer we get to Him, the more intensely missionary we become.”  Henry Martyn

“Don't complain to yourselves that you can't go to the mission field! Thank God for bringing the mission field to you!” 
Brother Andrew, God's Smuggler

"Lost people matter to God, and so they must matter to us." — Keith Wright

"The Bible is not the basis of missions; missions is the basis of the Bible" — Ralph Winter, missiologist

"Any church that is not seriously involved in helping fulfill the Great Commission has forfeited its biblical right to exist." — Oswald J. Smith

"We talk of the Second Coming; half the world has never heard of the first." — Oswald J. Smith

"The evangelization of the world waits not on the readiness of God but on the obedience of Christians." -- Bill M. Sullivan

"The gospel is only good news if it gets there in time" — Carl F. H. Henry

"The best remedy for a sick church is to put it on a missionary diet." — Unknown

"The Church must send or the church will end." — Mendell Taylor

"A God-centered theology has to be a missionary theology" –– John Piper

"Someone asked Will the heathen who have never heard the Gospel be saved? It is more a question with me whether we – who have the Gospel and fail to give it to those who have not – can be saved." – Charles Spurgeon.

Boodskap deur Kobus van der Walt – Vaaldriehoek Gereformeerde Baptistegemeente (Drie Riviere) – Sondag 14 September 2014