Pastoral Letter: 2nd Quarter 2023

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AFM of SA Pastoral Letter 2nd Quarter_2023

Dear AFM Family,

On Thursday, 25 May 2023 the AFM of SA celebrated its 115th birthday anniversary. AFM assemblies and members nationwide proudly shared and showcased the AFM logo on all social media platforms. The “cross and the crown” was shared as a symbol of our deep held belief that it is only because of the cross that there is a crown. AFM Logo Day was once again a highly successful action that mobilised the whole church. This year the birthday celebrations grew to include another action – a call to every AFM member to share Christ with at least one other person.

In the early days and to this day, AFM members are powerful witnesses because of openness to the work of the Holy Spirit and a strong missionary focus. Sharing Christ with others is part of who we are as Pentecostals – it is in our Pentecostal DNA. As a missional church, it is our calling to share Christ with others.

As National Office Bearers, and as part of the 115th Birthday Anniversary of our church, we decided to focus on a specific discipleship tool to equip (and teach) AFM members to share the Gospel with another person. This tool is known as “The Bridge Illustration” – showing and guiding a believer step-by-step on how to share the Gospel with another person. There are four sections to “The Bridge Illustration” namely:

God’s Love

Man’s Problem

God’s Remedy

Man’s Response

In this Pastoral Letter of the 2nd Quarter, we will focus more on each of the sections. Each one has appropriate scripture and an illustration to be memorised to ensure that when you share the Gospel it will be full of the powerful Word of God. As you learn and practice presenting “The Bridge Illustration” it will become easy. Remember, this is only a tool to help tell the Good News of Jesus Christ – it is the Holy Spirit who moves hearts and gives understanding. For each section, there is an explanatory video clip available (for which the YouTube links will be shared). As part of the conclusion, I will also tell you more about the available “Pocket Guide” which is a useful synopsis of “The Bridge Illustration”.

Watch supporting Video Clips for Introductory Remarks:

Draw two horizontal lines. On the left write “MAN” on the line and on the right write“GOD” on the line.

Genesis 1:27 says “God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” We were created by God whose unconditional divine love has revealed Himself to be self-giving, self-sharing, and self-communicating. His love is personal and relational. God who comes near to his creatures, seeking fellowship with them. In the Garden of Eden, we see God at peace with man, man at peace with his family, and man at peace with nature. God’s abundant love is demonstrated in His goodness, mercy, grace, compassion, and faithfulness, but also in His holiness, justice, jealousy, and wrath. His love is holy, just as His holiness is loving. Write Genesis 1:27.

John 10:10 says: “…I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” God wants us to live life to the full. We were created to spend time in a close relationship with God. We were created to experience God’s love. Paul prays in Ephesians 3:18-19 that we “…may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.” Write John 10:10 and the word “ETERNAL LIFE”.

God loves, as James would say, not only in word but in deed. His love is His divine disposition to be for His creatures and to act on behalf of their good, even at great cost to Himself. David in Psalm 145:8-9 says “The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion; Slow to anger, and of great mercy. The Lord is good to all: And his tender mercies are over all His works.”

Watch the supporting Video Clip for “God’s Love”:

God loves us but it does not matter how “good” we are, we have all fallen short of God’s standard and have sinned. For some or other reason we think that we can, through our good deeds, impress God and get Him to change the rules and accept us. If I regularly go to church or give money to good charities, I will be fine. The evil one sometimes wants to trick us to think we can do it, that we can solve this problem – but God says nothing that you can do, is good enough. Write Romans 3:23.

We have a sin problem and out of ourselves, we will never be able to solve it. Write “SIN”. The result of man’s sin is eternal death and separation from God. That is why many people fear death because they have no hope. Just a dark and lonely future forever lost and hopeless. Write Romans 6:23. Since God created Adam and Eve, His only agenda was to love us and spoil us with His love. We as the masterpiece of His creation, crave acceptance and intimacy. We search for it all over, but we can never find that deep and intimate closeness we long for. Our sin prevents that relationship. Our sin stands in the way like a brick wall, preventing us from intimacy with God. God is Holy, and only what is holy can come in His presence. This means that eternal death is our future. Draw two vertical lines indicating the separation between “GOD” and “MAN” and write the word “DEATH”.

Each one of us is destined to die. When we die, we will be judged. The Bible speaks of a judgement day that each one of us will face. We will appear before God’s throne. If God does not provide for a Saviour, we will end up in separation from God. We will end up in a place without GOD for eternity. Write Hebrews 9:27 and the word “JUDGEMENT”.

Watch the supporting Video Clip for “Man’s Problem”:

God is a righteous and loving God and man is a sinner – they are therefore apart and separated from each other. But God provided a solution or remedy to bridge this gap. John 3:16 says “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” This life is in His Son. Draw the cross and write John 3:16 on it.

Jesus is the only way to the Father. John 14:6 says “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” When Christ died voluntarily on the cross, He took our place. He paid the penalty for our sins, and He bridged the gap for us. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says: “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.”

Watch the supporting Video Clip for “God’s Remedy”:

In sharing what God our heavenly Father has done for us out of love, we need to make it clear that we as human beings, are the recipients of God’s gift of salvation through the death of His only Son Jesus Christ. We are receiving undeserved grace and forgiveness. Jesus made it possible for us to cross the gap between us and God, but we must take decisive action.

We are all somewhere on the journey towards God. The gift of grace and forgiveness is not automatically applied to our lives. Jesus died on the cross for everybody, but we must make His sacrifice our own. We must receive it and act on it. In doing so, we need to cross the bridge of faith by making a decision that demonstrates that we believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and accept what He has done for us. This is an individual and personal decision. No one can accept the gift of God’s grace and forgiveness on our behalf.

John 1:12-13 says: “Yet to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” Write “BELIEVE” and John 1:12-13. Every person must accept for him-/herself what Jesus did on the cross and decide to follow Him.

Believing in Christ means accepting and trusting in what Jesus did on the cross, to enable you to be forgiven and come into the right relationship with God. By expressing faith in Jesus as the son of God and excepting His sacrifice, we become children of God.  We will then not be condemned for our sins but have passed from death into life. John 5:24 says: “…truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.” Write John 5:24.  

To cross the bridge of faith, “from death to life”, we need to pray a prayer of repentance of our wrongdoing and acceptance of Jesus’ grace and forgiveness. Pray together.

Watch the supporting Video Clip for “Man’s Response”:

1 Peter 3:15 says: “…Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” In discussing and explaining all of this to a colleague, friend, or family member, we must make sure to do so humbly and lovingly. Not condescending or judgemental. We are called to share the Gospel with everyone. It is God’s Holy Spirit that convicts people, we cannot force them to decide, but we must give them an opportunity.

Part of this respect would be to ask the person with whom you are in conversation, whether what you have explained to them makes sense. If there is anything that this person does not understand, take the time and explain to the best of your ability. If you do not have an answer right away, get the information as soon as possible and pass it on to them.

It is good to ask the person where they would place themself on the diagram. This ensures that you are not “judging” or deciding on the person’s behalf but allowing them to decide for themselves where they are on their journey towards God. If the person has not yet decided to accept God’s gift of grace and forgiveness in Jesus, you should ask if anything is stopping them from making the decision. Again, be prudent and ask God for His wisdom in explaining and guiding the person to decide to accept Jesus.

It is very important to pray with the person and assist them to pray a prayer of repentance and acceptance. If the person is not yet ready to decide to follow Jesus, pray with them for God’s guidance, wisdom and courage. You can also tell them that you will be talking to them about this again. “You can be sure that whoever brings a sinner back from wandering, will save that person from death and bring about the forgiveness of many sins.” – James 5:20 (NLT).

For a quick and easy reference of “The Bridge Illustration” you are welcome to make use of the “Pocket Guide” that was developed for this purpose:

https://afm-ags.org/share-christ-with-another-person-pocket-guide/

Friendly Regards
Henri Weideman

Spread the word...