Sin and salvation

Introduction Albu van Eeden
A hearty welcome to everyone who has tuned in and to those who are present. I am open to what the Lord has on His heart for us this morning. It is our prayer that the Lord will speak in whichever way He wishes and that we will humbly accept it. God wants us to be salt and light in the world. If God wants to enlighten and instruct us on how to do this, we are keen to listen - even if we must find the fault within ourselves.

I recently spoke to some people who seem overwhelmed by the extent of evil in the world and have lost hope. Let us not be afraid to stand up and be salt and light in the world.

In the late 1980s, we showed a video in this auditorium of a gay pride march in the USA. A group called NAMBLA (The North American Man/Boy Love Association) was part of the march. At that time child molestation and pedophilia were not social issues. The NAMBLA representatives marched with 5/6-year-old boys on their shoulders. They were unashamed about their sexual relationship with these small boys. People were shocked and this resulted in public opposition to man/boy relationships and child molestation. However, the world is becoming more liberal on the issue of child molestation. At that time the world was more conservative. Many Christians and other groups opposed NAMBLA. Pedophilia became a monster and laws were put in place to protect children. President Ronald Regan put in strict legislation against these issues and the world followed. Now, however, this issue is on the rise like a snake with seven heads – chop off one head and more heads appear. Is this not happening because Christians have become passive and lost their saltiness and light?

Jabulani Dube
Rev Stegen told some of us that we would take the Sunday services and at that time the shoes we tried to fill seemed too big. The shoes still seem too large. Those who can pray, please carry us in prayer.

In the early church when Peter was imprisoned, they prayed for him. The angel woke him up and led him out. When he was outside, he was not sure whether he was dreaming or not. Peter arrived at the house and knocked on the door. Rhoda heard a knock on the door and told the others that Peter was outside. They did not believe her and said she was crazy. Once inside, Peter related what had happened. It is important that the church prays as they did in the early church. Rhoda did not respond by saying, ‘You are crazy, it is Peter! You are praying for him to come, and he is there.’ She was respectful. (Rebekka watered Abraham’s servant’s camels. She respected even the servant.) Would we have done the same? This is so important when we are God’s children. The Lord Jesus rode on a donkey. He was respected even when he was on a donkey. I am like a donkey as I stand here. Be like the prophet who ate the food brought by the crow. Allow me to share what has been laid on my heart.

God is working. We see things happening as they did when Rev Stegen was a young man. Congregations join for services and tents are raised in the places we visited when we were young. Efaya, Kingscliff, Swayimane. At Efaya the building was too small. It was like this before we received the Holy Spirit. Last Sunday, there were 7 branches together. The church was full and the children had to sit on the floor. At the end of the service many remained behind to make their lives right. I thank the Lord because Rev Stegen said that it was his desire that the work would continue, and it is. The youth sang and served the food and cleaned up. The Gospel is going forth amongst the youth. They preach the gospel. The Gospel is going forth in such strength.

Overseas too. A certain person told me that a farmer asked for rain which he was prepared to pay for. This person said that they would pray but there was no rain thereafter. This person asked us to pray and the rain arrived from a direction it did not normally come from. The rain fell on his farm and another one. He received more rain the following day. He realised that the Lord sends rain when we ask Him for it. This is not something small. The prophet prayed in the Old Testament for no rain and there was none. When he prayed again, the rain fell.

It is frightening to see how busy Satan is. While someone was working, he was instructed by Satan to leave his work and commit suicide. Satan is penetrating schools where children just shout and scream. Prayer works in these situations.

21 For although they knew God, they did not honour him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools… Romans 1:21,22

If you do not thank the Lord, your heart turns black. They did not thank the Lord in the way they should have, so diseases and sins entered them.

We thank the Lord because people come to mission with needs and they leave having been helped. People phone for help with sicknesses and they are helped. If I asked the people who counsel to speak about what they face daily, they could say many things.

Rev Stegen told the people how the revival came about. He did not want the Gospel to be preached just as everyone else did so. He took the Acts of the apostles and the word from John 7:39. He asked us whether rivers flowed out of us and he admitted that he did not see any rivers flowing from his life. Instead of rivers of living water, there were rivers of anger, hatred, jealousy. The Lord then revealed to us what it meant to confess our sins and part from them. The Lord began to work in our lives and then He sent His Holy Spirit. People came with different needs. Witches and witchdoctors wanted to get right with the Lord. There are young children and congregation members who have recently joined who do not know what this revival means. If God wants to use you, He will work in your life first. If you uplift yourself, the Lord is unable to use you. Look at Jesus on the donkey – He was their Lord. Jesus as the king, washed their feet. Jesus wants to work through people who are nothing in their own eyes. If you see yourself as significant, the Lord cannot work through you.

Saul persecuted the Christians and thought he was doing good. He had no conscience. Jesus stopped him and asked, ‘Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ His conscience did not reprimand him. When you speak to someone, do you hurt him/her? You preach and sing but search your life and see whether you have hurt anyone through the way you speak. Then you will not be like Saul who thought he was doing something good, but he hurt people. Have you hurt someone through what you have said? You may be a chosen vessel, but God cannot use you in the way he wants because of what you do.

The text today is about sin and salvation.

Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear;
but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear. For your hands are defiled with blood and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies; your tongue mutters wickedness. Their feet run to evil, and they are swift to shed innocent blood; their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity;
 desolation and destruction are in their highways. Isaiah 59:1-3,7

This word was read to man whom the Lord has since taken home. He once had a dream in which there was a very high brick wall. As he confessed his sins, the bricks began falling out of the wall. He heard a voice on the other side of the wall. He went to Rev Stegen and explained the dream. Rev Stegen read this word to him. Your sin causes a separation between you and God. As you confess your sins, the wall breaks brick by brick. If you sin, you build a wall between yourself and God. If you do not confess your sins, that wall remains and God cannot hear your prayers. The man thanked for the explanation. We have heard many sermons on this text. As children, we learned not to steal pens and if we did, we built a wall between God and ourselves. This is what sin is like.

For your hands are defiled with blood and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies; and tongue mutters wickedness.

Do we have blood on our hands? What do you do with your fingers? Are they defiled before God? Have your lips spoken lies? If your lips tell lies and you lie to your counsellor, you build a wall between yourself and God.

If you are asked where the money or the cell phone is and you reply that you don’t know but you stole it, that is sin. Where is the money, you are asked? It’s lost, you say, but you gave it to your friends. Where do you come back from so late, you are asked? The car broke down, you say, but it is not the truth.

Their feet run to evil, and they are swift to shed innocent blood; their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity…

Look at how people and children are killed through abortion and molestation today. Men and women are murdered. Innocent blood is shed. People run to shed blood just as in the time of Isaiah. Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save… Whether you are a believer or not, the Lord’s hand is not shortened that it cannot save. Behold, see what God is saying. The Lord stretches out His hands through Jesus that we can be saved from our sins. He has sent his Son so that you can be saved.

or his ear dull, that it cannot hear…

We are thankful for those who were there when the revival started, and they joined with Rev Stegen in that prayer. Some left because it was too difficult. The Lord gave his servant those who could stand with him in this prayer. They stood with him and revival came down. The Lord worked in people’s lives as He can work because the Lord’s hand is not shortened that it cannot save. If we have sin in our lives, we are separated from Him. Evil separates us from God. What is in you that the Lord’s hand cannot save you? If a Chirstian says that he has repented, how can he live in sin? With anger, stubbornness and grudges in your life, where is the salvation? What have you been saved from?

When I was at school, Rev Stegen told me that if I was sent to the shop, I should only buy what I was sent to buy and not put sweets into my pocket. He also said that if I find an orange on the ground, do not take it because people will think that I had stolen it. I listened to his advice.

Timothy listened to Paul’s instructions about idle words and pride. Paul told Timothy to flee youthful lusts. If an older person reprimands you, listen, do not get angry. When you give a child R5, that child should say thank you.

Consider this: has salvation come to you? James 5:16 confess your sins one to another that you can be saved. How can you oppose that when you are in a work of God? For some it is so difficult to say sorry. Can you admit that you broke a saucer or a cup?

In the 1960s this word was read to us.

15 When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood. Isaiah 1:15

Even though you may spread out your hands, the Lord will not hear because your life is full of sin.

15 When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you…

God hides His eyes from us if there is sin in the heart. even though you make many prayers, I will not listen… We pray every day, and we may pray often but if there is something between God and us, God will not hear the prayer. Your hands are full of blood. You say you have never murdered anyone but if you say you hate your brother, you have killed him through your tongue. God will not hear your prayers. Is there no iniquity on your hands? What are our fingers and hands like before God? When you point at someone, 3 fingers point back at the person. You point at your parents – you say that they are wrong. You have been told to be back at home by a certain time and when your parents ask you where you have been, they are helping you. ‘What’s their problem?’ you ask. ‘I have my things to do.’ The Bible says that you should honour your father and mother so that your life can be long.

18 “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. Isaiah 1:18

We heard this text in Msinga. When the Zulus reason together, they discuss something, they sit and talk about it. Let us reason together. As we sit here, listen: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. 19 If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land…

There is no sin that God will not forgive: I killed a person, a child. I cast a spell on someone. I poisoned someone. Whether your sin is small or large, God will forgive it. You can be forgiven. How can you say that you are saved but you still live such a life? Has God’s hand touched you? You are still troubled by apartheid. You bear grudges against white people or white people bear grudges against black people. Matthew 6 says that it is good for us to forgive each other so that God in heaven can forgive us. You say you have confessed your sins, but you have not forgiven others. We need that forgiveness because we need to forgive others. Nehemiah confessed the sins of their fathers in Nehemiah 9. Daniel also confessed his sins in Daniel 9.

 I prayed to the Lord my God and made confession, saying, “O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, we have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and rules. We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land. 20 While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my plea before the Lord my God for the holy hill of my God…

Daniel knelt and prayed three times a day. He was thrown into the lion’s den but they did not devour him because he was a child of God. It is important to pray. They confessed the sins of their people.

It is important to confess your sins and part from them. Some confess their sins and return to them. Peter says we should not be like a dog that returns to its vomit. If a person has eaten breakfast, vomits it up and eats it again, you would regard that person as insane. If you do the same spiritually, you are crazy in God’s eyes. We must be known as people who live for God. If people say negative things about you, your life and testimony should disprove them. If you are painted in a bad light, others will refute that testimony because your life is upright and clean. We need this kind of salvation. If God has saved us, may that salvation be seen every day at work. May it be clear to your colleagues that you are saved. (Not that the person whom you thought was a Christian, is seen with a bottle of beer.)