All practical steps to reclaiming South Africa for Christ must start with ourselves. We must ask ourselves: How well do I know the Bible? Am I right with God? Do I know what God wants? What exactly is the will of God? How do I apply His will to various situations?
I once heard the story of a woman who was converted late in life. Her minister gave her a Bible, and every so often he would ask, ‘how far have you read.’ She was a very slow reader, and he was disappointed. One day he asked her again, and she said: “How can I read on when I have not yet put into practice that which I have already read?”
How much of what we read do we put into practice? For instance, we read: “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7) But when it comes to action, we don’t resist. We rather get out of the devil’s way.
Or we read: “Put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” (Eph. 6:13) But when it comes to action, we don’t stand our ground. We like to appear liberal and reasonable. We compromise and give way.
Or we read: “Fight the good fight of faith.” (1 Tim. 6:12) Paul calls it a “good fight” which leads to eternal life. But when it comes to action, we don’t fight. We rather say: ‘Peace, peace, don’t let us be contentious and controversial.’
For us to reclaim South Africa for Christ means to look at our attitude. We need to study, pray, persuade, resist, stand, and fight. But ‘fight’ is an unpopular word, because this is the age of tolerance and reconciliation. So the big question is: Am I willing to suffer what it takes: the inconvenience, the pain, and the discomfort?
The worldwar of worldviews is not being lost because the enemy is all powerful. No, it is being lost through indifference, timidity, laziness, cowardice, and faithlessness on the part of the Christian.
In the 19 th century Bishop JC Ryle laid down a few rules for reclaiming our world for Christ. He said:
1. We need to resist manfully all the efforts to undermine Biblical Christianity.
2. We need to read the Bible and know what it says. If we want to conduct and win Scriptural arguments, we need to know not only the Scriptures but our entire belief system. - So what is our belief system? It begins with The Ten Commandments, the Apostles’ Creed, and the Reformation Confessions.
3. We also need to know our history, Christian and secular, so that we can fully understand the sacrifices which earlier saints have made. They fought for the truth and freedom which we are enjoying now, and we need to be inspired by their deeds. (Read Foxe’s Book of Martyrs)
4. We need to inform ourselves of world events and interpret them in the light of God’s Word, so that we can resist the ideologies and false teachings inherent in them.
All this means that we need to teach, rebuke, correct and train in righteousness. (2 Tim. 3:16) This applies to ourselves and others.
We know that “where there is no vision, the people perish.” But what exactly is the vision? What is it that God requires of me? How can I know His will?
The Scripture continues: “He that keepeth the law, happy is he.” (Proverbs 29:18) - So we need to look at God’s Law. Keeping the Law is doing His will. Loving, knowing, and keeping the commandments, that is the vision, and as long as the people have it firmly in their hearts, they cannot perish.
Do I have the will to do it?
Our biggest problem is that we are afraid to act. Most of us lack the confidence. We are too shy or too embarrassed to speak up or to act authoritatively. We don’t want to stand out, to offend or make a fool of ourselves. We hate to be called contentious or controversial. In the family we hesitate to discipline. In the church we sit in the back row. In the community we melt into the crowd. The reason is that we think the enemy is all around and all powerful. But he is not! He is only bluffing. And besides, his house is built on sinking sand. One word of Truth can fell him.
We, on the other hand, stand on the rock which is Jesus Christ our Saviour. We serve the Lord of Hosts who has given victory to His people in countless battles. We go in the power of Him who has “all authority in heaven and on earth.” He does not give us a choice. He does not say: Think about it and consider it. No, He says: “Go…” (Matt. 28:18) Go, make disciples. Go and reclaim South Africa for Me. Use My authority, and act by My power. You are not alone. “I will be with you always.”
The battle front is everywhere. It is in the home. But if, in reclaiming South Africa, we do nothing else but recite The Ten Commandments and pray the Lord’s Prayer with our family every day, we have already done a great thing.
The battle front is in the school. But if we do nothing else but request and achieve that a prayer of thanks be given at prizegiving, we have already done a great thing.
The battle front is in the church. But if we do nothing else but speak a word of Truth in season, we have already done a great thing.
The battle front is in the community . But if we do nothing else but insist on decency and order in our neighbourhood, we have done a great thing.
It is no use hoping that, as if by magic, someone will arise to reclaim South Africa for Christ. God looks at us, and we need to say like Isaiah: “Here am I, Lord, send me!” Once the little steps have been taken, the Lord will teach us the big steps.
Goliath is not Invincible
The greatest problem in the world today is that Christians are so disheartened. They believe that the world must become ever more chaotic before the return of Christ. Like Elijah we cry: “I have had enough, LORD… I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty… but now I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me too.” (1 Kings 19) But Elijah had no reason to despair, because the Lord answered: “I reserve seven thousand in Israel – all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal, and all whose mouths have not kissed him.”
So let us take heart, because in South Africa there are many more than 7000! We are not alone, and the people out there are longing for a word of truth, an act of courage from us, the Christians. True enough, the enemy tries to make us despair. He wants to destroy our determination, rob us of our strength, and manipulate us with guilt and fear. Even within the Church he tries to silence us.
Christian Civilisation was built by the Strong and the Bold
The blood of the martyrs gave growth to the Church. Bold men and women built up a Christian civilisation. Valiant believers stood firm for the Lord Jesus Christ even in the face of suffering and death. They were prepared to sacrifice and took seriously His words, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matt 5:11)
We need to be confident of this reward in Heaven. We need to draw strength from the joy of our salvation. We need to stand. Christianity was established by individuals who were called of God. It was not won by majorities. It was not spread by negotiation. It did not grow through reconciliation with other philosophies, but it conquered through the unrelenting, single-minded proclamation of its Truth. It was undergirded by constant prayer and fuelled by steadfast faith. No sacrifice was too great for the saints of old, no suffering too unendurable, no price too high.
Christ is unique. Christianity is unique. Christian civilisation is unique. There is no equal in all the world. The freest, most prosperous nations are those which are built on the Law and the Gospel. We need to revive the vision, the unshakable faith, and the fearlessness which the early Christians and the Reformers had.
We need to pray without ceasing for power from on high.
We need to work hard to reclaim South Africa for Christ. Our homes, our schools, our churches, our universities, our arts, our government, our economy etc, they all need to be reclaimed.
Boldly we must stand in the full armour of God. We need to contend for the Gospel which was once for all given to the saints, expose and challenge ungodliness wherever we find it. We must stand on the Scriptures, on the Confessions, and on our history. And to our enemy we say what David said to Goliath, namely: “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God? - Let no-one lose heart on account of him. Your servant will go and fight him.” (1 Samuel 17:26, 32)
This message was presented by Mrs Dorothea Scarborough, President of the Reformation Society, to the Reformation and Revival Conference in Cape Town on 25 October. The audio CDs of these presentations are available from:
Christian Liberty Books
P.O. Box 358
7450, Cape Town
Tel & Fax: (021) 689-7478
Other Reformation articles are accessible at www.ReformationSA.org
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