Sunday service 28 March 2021 – God’s plan of salvation

Introduction Michael Ngubane
Good morning. We thank the Lord that we can meet and have the Holy Spirit and the Lord Jesus in our midst. What would we be without the Gospel? What would the state of the earth be like without the Gospel? If it is in this state while we can call upon the name of the Lord, just imagine what it would be like without the Gospel. Where there is no Gospel, there is no law. If the Lord and His word is absent, there is violence, wars, frictions, and fights. When the light came, the darkness had to flee which is why we celebrate Easter. The Son of Man came into this world, He died on the cross so that things can change. The Gospel came, the Lord Jesus came and that changed everything. Therefore, we greet you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ wherever you might be.

There is much we can thank the Lord for. On Tuesday, last week, the new hothouses were officially opened by Rev Stegen when he planted the first plants. We trust that everything will grow well and that God’s mercy and blessing will be on that place. May the Lord also be with us in today’s service and speak to us.

Dietmar Joosten
This morning Rev Stegen asked me how the plants were growing. He wanted to go and see them. Do you see what a person is like who has given his life for God’s work? He cannot just neglect things. Spiritually, it is the same. We must not neglect the planted seedlings. They need to be watched and cared for. They need to know that there is somebody to help. What does your life look like? Does it just revolve around yourself or do you care for others?

We prepare ourselves for a very important time in the history of Christianity during this week before Easter. COVID has closed many doors but it will never close the doors on our Lord Jesus Christ.

There are two different portions of Scripture for today: the fall of man, and redemption plan of God. As man fell, God immediately had the antidote. (Not like a vaccine that might work and overcome the virus, but this vaccine will eradicate the virus in our lives.) After the service we should ask ourselves: what has the redemption plan of Christ changed in my life? Is this power at work in me?

There are two very important verses in the Bible: the first one is John 3:16 which is God’s character – His plan and love for mankind, the second one is Genesis 3:15 which we will read later.

This morning’s text is taken from Genesis 3. but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’ (These are the words of Eve speaking to an animal.) But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Genesis 3:3–6

It was then when Satan destroyed mankind. But God was there, wide awake, and said these words 15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” Genesis 3:15 This is the first Gospel message to mankind. This verse is known as the proto-Gospel – the first Gospel ever preached. It was the start of the Gospel which God had planned for mankind. As we prepare for Easter, I thought it would be fitting to look at this. This was the preparation for the Christ to come which would mean the ultimate triumph of man over sin because of what Christ the Saviour came to do.

In the garden, man was perfect. God visited him there. But God knew that Christ was needed to change man because man was vulnerable in that state. That is why when Christ came, it was the ultimate triumph. Do we understand what Christ came to do and what God planned for us?

God commands absolute obedience in our lives. It was forbidden to eat of fruit which He said they should not eat. This is where the devil entered. ‘Do you think it is true? Do you think you can live a life like that? It is impossible to live like that.’ The devil caused doubt. When Peter doubted the power of Christ, he sank. But when Christ picked him up, he knew, this is my Saviour, I will keep myself close to Him. Through doubt Satan has caused much evil. We cannot believe what Christ came to do. Thomas doubted and said, ‘It is impossible!’ But the Lord taught him and said, ‘Thomas, it is not by your physical experience, it is by your faith in Christ that you are able to test and believe what is right.’ Do you want to be obedient? Then live by faith. You slumber, sleep and fall backwards because you doubt. You do not hold onto that which Christ has done for you. You must ask yourself, ‘Do I really believe? Do I really accept? Do I really experience what Christ has done for me on the Cross? Can I partake in it?’

The Lord warned Adam and Eve not to eat. He also said neither touch it. There are certain things that you might hear that do not pertain to you. Things may not be an issue in your life but it may be an issue in the lives of others. The devil knows our weaknesses which is why he knew that he would get Eve to listen to what he said through flattery. The devil knows where to strike and destroy.

Friends, concerning this gospel through the revival, it is the same. The Lord saves man and man casts doubt on what the Lord has taught. Have you brought that doubt to the cross? Must one really confess one’s sin? (The devil spoke through a serpent, how much more when he speaks through a human being.) The devil brings doubt: Why must we confess our sins? It’s not right. It’s not the gospel. The Bible says confess your sins one to another, pray for one another. You cannot deny the fruit of such a life. You may have made a law in this regard and followed your own inclinations. The devil comes, like Asaph, and tells you that things go well with those around you – so you should not go overboard, do not be fanatical. This is the doubt the devil casts in your heart. What? You must learn to know each other before marriage, there should be a ‘spark’ between the couple. You must know how to answer the devil and you should be convinced in your own heart and have no doubts about how to enter marriage. Not that you do it because someone said you should but because God has taught you that way.

Eve was initiator of everything we read right in the third chapter. If you look at today’s way of dressing, is Eve not the initiator and promotor of it? Eve knows the consequences of this type of clothing and what it does in men’s hearts.

17 And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; Genesis 3:17 God condemned Adam, but Eve should have been wide awake. Eve knew what she was doing, the snake knew. Satan knew where he could start. God created a woman to be clean and holy, the backbone of the family. So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. In this verse, it was the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes that caused her to fall. Do you hear that? These are weaknesses. God must save us from them which is why he sent the Lord Jesus Christ. The pride of life is how Satan flattered Eve. Satan knew that if he said this and that he would win her heart and she would start doubting. The pride of life for many people, is their beauty. This is a great weakness in the flesh of a human being. It must be used in a godly way. If it is used by Satan, you do not know what the end will be. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life —is not from the Father but is from the world. 1 John 2:16 These things played a role. This is a weakness. Is this part of your modus operandi?

 

I doubt that Adam was present at that time because Eve came with her interpretation. She knew how to flatten and overpower her husband. (Before God we are all equal. One is not better than the other and often a man is worse than a woman and he lives like an animal. All of us need the Lord.) The first disunity and division that ever took place, was in a family, between a husband and a wife. This was also the cause of division from God. In a church, division is caused mainly in the home between a husband and his wife. The initial problem lies in the home.

The Bible says that Eve was the initiator. Why? Satan knew that a woman, a wife, can manipulate her husband. A woman can control her husband. This is the problem. They manipulate because there is something they want. They want things to go their way. If they want something, they sometimes use verses. They nag like dripping water. The daughters learn it from their mothers and that is why they do it when they are older. ‘My husband, did you hear what was said in the service? My husband, do you know what I read?’ She knows what she wants. God opened the curtain to us and spoke to Adam, ‘Adam, you listened to her.’ You need to differentiate what is from God and what is not. If nagging does not work, then it is tears, then sulking. Everybody who comes to the house knows that something is going on – someone must have died. If she does not get things her way after this, the next step is … Adam knew that Eve would behave like this and he did not want to go through all the trouble. He knew that if he did not listen to his wife, she would ignore him. This is what the devil uses to bring disunity in the church. When another man enters it is, ‘Oh, can I make you some coffee?’ Her husband had just requested coffee, but she did not hear it, she ignores him as if he does not exist but the other man is treated so well. This is generally why the church is like it is. The snake knew that flattery would be his strength. He flattered Eve. The husband’s weakness was that he was easily overcome, convinced, and flattened. Women have all the excuses under the sun - I am sick, I have a headache, my back is sore. God said to Adam, ‘…because you listened.’ It is not that the husband must not take these things into consideration, but he must be careful. He must be responsible when the devil wants to enter.

Adam, poor man. All of us are poor men. There are times when we say, ‘Why did I do it – why did I allow it?’ A good wife is one who is open, upright, straight. There is no hidden motive behind things. Adam allowed it. That was his weakness, ‘My poor wife, I must listen to her.’ He was convinced by her. Men are weakened which is why they look at pornography. Do not look. You are told a million times not to, but you still do it. Where is the power of Christ in your life? Men are manipulated by a woman’s beauty. In that beauty lies a slyness. Husband, that is why you are a weakling. You cannot stand your man. You cannot have a word because she has you where she wants you. The husband tries to ‘get back at her’ by belittling her in front of the children. He will say, ‘Jy is a domkop! You are stupid! That’s a stupid question!’ He aims to show the children that he is wise, and she is useless. He always knows better. If his wife says something, he contradicts her because he is the man in the house and he has the last word.

There was a man whose wife never cooked correctly. He always complained about the food. He always said that his mother cooked better than she did. (Do you know how this destroys your wife? When you only insult her and there is never a thank you. If you have been like this make it right otherwise there is no blessing on your life and that is why you are what you are. If you want to break someone, talk in that manner.) One day while she was preparing the food, it got burned. She was afraid, her knees knocked, and she did not know what she would say. (Instead of a wife being happy a husband comes – such a life I wish on nobody.) But her husband praised her. The food tasted just like his mother used to make it. Who was the domkop?

This is where man found himself. It started in the family, not in an individual. It was a family problem. The first thing the Lord God said was, 14“Because you have done this, “Cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. Genesis 3:14 Then God says: 15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” You will be enemies from now to the end of the world. You will never be able to bring these things together again. (Eat the dust of this earth – that is if you crawl on the ground spiritually. You should never be lying on the ground.) Then he said to the serpent, “… you will strike the heel of the women’s seed.” That is what the serpent is repeatedly trying to do. He is trying to strike the heel where it hurts so that you cannot walk as you used to because of the pain and what you have experienced. The serpent will lie in wait for man to come along. If you walk through grass or bush it is very difficult to notice a snake. If it is open, you can see it from far. The bush is like the world, if you walk according to the principles of this world, according to your feelings, likings, and own will, you will be struck by this serpent. If you walk in the light where it is open, you are protected, you can immediately see. If you walk in darkness, you will be struck therefore walk in the light. God was also referring to Christ here and the nails that were going to go through His feet. This strike was not fatal although it was a strike and it hurt. Christ suffered. He experienced a lot of pain but it was not fatal. It was not the end. Some interpretations say that He will crush the serpent’s head which will happen - destruction and victorious Christ.

 

17 I appeal to you, brethren, to be on your guard concerning those who create dissensions and difficulties and cause divisions, in opposition to the doctrine (the teaching) which you have been taught. [I warn you to turn aside from them, to] avoid them. 18 For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ but their own appetites and base desires, and by ingratiating and flattering speech, they beguile the hearts of the unsuspecting and simpleminded [people]. Romans 16:17 – 18 [Amplified]

 

The New Testament refers to this message of flattering speech. It is clear that this has happened. The Bible calls you simple-minded. The Bible says check all spirits.

20 And the God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah) be with you. Romans 16:20

Satan will be crushed at the end of the ages but here on earth Satan can be crushed as well. “It would be a mistake, however, to see the Lord’s promise to crush the serpent as referring only to the devil himself. Martin Luther comments … that Satan refers to “the devil, and whoever follows him.” Even when the foes of God’s people seem to flourish, their ultimate loss is assured. This is an incredible encouragement for us to persevere under opposition.” (https://www.ligonier.org/learn/devotionals/satan-crushed-under-our-feet/)

Allow me to play an extract of a sermon Rev Stegen took in Europe:

The apostle John writes in his third letter in verse 9 I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority. I could ask the holy apostle who leaned against Jesus’ breast, how can you write such a thing about another person, how can you talk like this, is it not gossip? The apostle’s response would be, ‘Erlo, how foolish you are, people need to know. You spoke to the people at the time but they would not listen so keep away from these people and warn the others against them, otherwise the poison of these people will spread among them and they will be led astray. Do not be foolish, unwise Christians who only further the cause of Satan.

15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. 16 But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, 17 and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some. 19 But God's firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.” 21 Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonourable, he will be a vessel for honourable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work. 2 Tim 2:15–18, 19, 21. Paul write to Timothy that we should not only purify ourselves from sin but also from people who have gone astray. Do not keep silent about them, uncover them, and talk about them so that other may recognise now wrong they are.

Read what the Lord Jesus says about the Pharisees and the scribes who were not present when He spoke about them. He said that we should be on our guard against the leaven of these Pharisees and scribes. He said terrible things about them. It was not gossip. He wanted to protect the church of God against these evil people. Dear brethren, let him who has an ear to hear, hear. If you do not pay close attention to the word of God, you will be swept along with these people into damnation.

I thought it would be good to hear what Rev Stegen said. It would be good to listen to his sermons which have great wealth. Do not just cleanse yourself from sin but cleanse yourself from people who talk in your ears. Satan spoke to Eve. Cleanse yourself from such people. ‘Oh, no,’ you say, ‘I have got to be friends.’ He says be separate and cleanse yourself. They will influence you. You will not influence them. Friends, that was said many, many years ago and who knew that it would be so relevant today?

In conclusion: 15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” You will never be able to bring those two together again. From her offspring came Christ and He crushed the head of the serpent. What I will say now does not pertain to everyone. There was a time in my life when I was so afraid of the serpent. I was afraid to turn left or right because I thought I would sin. I always had a piece of paper and every so often I would take it out and write down, ‘I have sinned.’ I had the wrong end of the Gospel although I meant it right. I did not know the power of Christ to save me from my sin. I was bound. I always had to write things down otherwise I might forget that sin until someone said to me, “Stop. Stop. The devil is hanging a dead snake in front of you. He is scaring you with a dead snake.” If I see a snake I just freeze. I have a fear of snakes. But the Lord opened my eyes when I was told, “The devil is playing with you with a dead snake. He is dead and crushed. The Lord has saved you long ago from those things.” Years ago, Rev Stegen used this example: If battery chickens that are kept in cages to lay eggs for months are removed from the cage and put on the ground, they will stay in one spot as if they are still caged. To get the chicken moving it must be thrown into the air. God does this in many ways in our lives. Suddenly you can pray and overcome. Suddenly you can experience a life in Christ which you never experienced before. Guinea fowl sometimes run up and down the wire fence. They want to reach the other side. It is only when you come along and because of its fear of people, it suddenly flies and gets over the fence. Do not waste your time. You can fly over the fence. You are a free person in Christ.

But there are those who take the dirt and the stink and wipe their faces with it. Those are evil people. They dress like the world in tight jeans. The Lord speaks clearly about this – we cannot be the same as the world.

Here is some homework for the husbands: Proverbs 31. This chapter explains what a wife of noble character is like. Read what a woman of noble character should be like in your home. Read it prayerfully. I said to someone, “I cannot tell my wife what to do during working hours. There are times, there are ways and people do not always like it but I cannot go between my wife and God. I say, ‘Let’s go here,’ and she says, ‘I’m sorry but I have got to do this or that…’ she is not overruling me because I know in my heart that is what God wants her to do and I will not stop her. Proverbs 31 tells us what a wife of noble character is like, but some men do not allow their wives to become like this. They control them so much and limit God in their lives. When Christ comes, He makes everything new. A wife of noble character will respect and honour you much more than you ever thought because you allowed Christ to work in her and create something which you would be unable to create.

Conclusion Jabulani Dube
When I heard the voice of Rev Stegen, I said to myself, ‘If only they had listened, they would not have gone astray. If only those in Europe and even in our country had listened, things would not be as they presently are.’ Rev Stegen said in 2019 that one will see amazing things. Some thought that he was hallucinating.

But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 2 Corinthians 11:3 Perhaps COVID-19 has deceived you. Are things still as they were in your life, or have you been deceived by this thing, this serpent? Have you grown ice-cold? Nowadays a snake will not deceive you but a person or a cellphone or the TV. Last week we spoke about Jonah who found himself in the belly of a great fish. There are perhaps some who have been swallowed by that fish because they do not go to services and hear God’s word so they find themselves in the belly of that fish. Since we do not meet regularly, there are signs that some people have been swallowed by COVID-19.

 

If only they had heeded and listened, we would have been with them and things would not be as they presently are. They have been deceived and led astray. Where are they today? Perhaps you have been deceived.