On Sunday 15 November 2020, Apostle Gerome Mintoor conducted the morning divine service at Khayamnandi-Despatch congregation. This divine service was conducted in English.
He was accompanied by Bishop Frans Flores, the local ministers from the congregation, a small music ensemble and the NACTV crew. This divine service was made available on NACTV, Cape Town TV on DSTV channel 263, as well as Radio KC, Radio Teemaneng Infinity FM and SABIE stereo. Members could also listen to the divine service by calling in from either a mobile phone or landline. This divine service was also streamed live on the NACTV Facebook page.
For members who were unable to watch the divine service, please find a detailed summary of the sermon:
Opening Hymn: The Father’s house is our delight (EH: 108)
Bible Word: “giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love.” (Colossians 1: 12-13)
My dear brothers and sisters, great is the faithfulness of our God and our heavenly Father. Here we are today as a very special congregation.
AUDIO UNAVAILABLE DUE TO BRIEF BREAK IN TRANSMISSION
When we do a health check, wherever we go, whether it is at our place of work, school, or even coming to a divine service, we do this in order to be safe and all the precautions and all the arrangements need to be in place. Recently, the Chief Apostle encouraged us to do a health check as far as our soul is concerned. And when we do this, what do we measure, and how do we measure this? And maybe one indicator of the condition of the soul is how thankful are we today? Am I thankful that the Lord has done great things unto me today, yesterday, in the past few days, in the past few months and during this time of the pandemic? Am I thankful? And one can see the behaviour and expression of a thankful person. You also see the response of someone who does not appreciate. And if I find myself in a condition wherein which I don’t appreciate or am not thankful, that is also an indication of the condition of our soul. Because in all our situations we look at our great God, our loving Father – He provides for us. And as He provides for us, we accept or we don’t accept, we thank, or we don’t thank. And here the Apostle Paul says, ‘giving thanks to the Father.’ And so, with that health check on the soul, are we here today, or wherever we are connecting from, are we connecting with a thankful heart? Or am I maybe in a position today where my disposition of ungratefulness can be changed to giving thanks?
When we look at the Colossians, there are special letters that the Apostle Paul wrote. There are some letters that are known as individual or personal letters. You know, there is a man named Titus in the Bible – that is a letter that was written to an individual. There is another one called Philemon; someone else named Timothy. So, there are personal letters that he wrote, and there are also some general letters that he wrote. And here we have a letter to the Colossians which is known as a ‘prison letter’ because Apostle Paul was in prison at the time of writing the letter. It is also known as an ‘occasional letter’. There were certain situations in congregations and then there was this occasion – so he had reason to write to the congregation. He was not permitted; he was restricted, and, in this instance, he was in prison and so he had to write a letter to the Colossians.
Those who study the Pauline letters will know the origin – where the letter comes from. And the first verse says, “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God…” so he explains to the congregation so that they know where the letter comes from – it comes from him, Paul. And then, he addresses them and says, according to the NKJV, “To the saints, and faithful brethren in Christ who are in Colosse:” That is a nice way to communicate – to inform listeners or readers as to who is speaking. Sometimes, we get various anonymous calls or letters. Do you sometimes get a call, and the phone says unknown or private number? Do you always answer those calls? When we see that it is an unknown call, we rather don’t answer it. Paul makes it clear in his communication that the letter comes from him. And in his communication, he also makes it clear that he is addressing the congregation of Colosse. And then, he also gives some nice compliments and congratulations to the congregation – “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” – that is a nice way of communicating. But then, there are also issues that he has to address with the congregation. So, it is not only a matter of addressing the issue coldly and clinically but in a nice way of communicating to the congregation. So, there is a way in which we have to communicate dear brothers and sisters.
And there was a particular condition and situation in the congregation of Colosse over which Paul was concerned. And here we can read in Colossians 2:8, “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.” He was concerned over the influence that came upon the people in Colosse. Dear brothers and sisters, please bear that in mind, they were influenced. And the influence was of such a nature that even their Christianity was questioned, or they wanted to mingle Christianity with some other thoughts or some other ideas. And Paul was concerned - it must come from Christ and no one or nothing else. The congregation must not be influenced by whatever the philosophies, knowledge, ideas or thoughts are. And here we are today in our times dear brothers and sisters, influenced by so much knowledge, ideas and information. We find ourselves in a time in which we are overloaded with information. And whenever you make a statement or say something, people quickly go to their phones to check on Google if what you are saying is correct. If you don’t know something, you can just type your question in on Google and you will get an answer. And when everyone has an answer, everyone comes with an argument, viewpoints and discussions because now we need to reach consensus. Paul gave a message in a very nice way and told the congregation that it must come from Christ. And, against that backdrop, let us understand when he says, “giving thanks to the Father…” The message that we receive today and write into our hearts out of this Bible word - Paul gives three reasons as to why we can be thankful. I am sure that as we sit here and wherever we gather, we can also think of a few reasons as to why we are thankful.
Let us come back to our health check – the condition of my soul – am I thankful or am I not thankful. And Paul gives three reasons, while he is in prison, he finds reason for the congregation to give thanks. And while the congregation find themselves in a particular situation, he still gives them reason to be thankful. And we are exposed to so many things, and we have to talk about the conditions of our time – the pandemic, our environment, the spread of the disease. There are so many who go to hospital, so many who pass away and with this comes sadness and sorrow. The unemployment and effects of the pandemic – we are all exposed to this. Our children at school, we think especially of our matriculants in this very special examination which they have to write. So dear brothers and sisters, let us, amongst others, find reason to be thankful.
The first reason the Apostle speaks about: “giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance...” Let us be mindful of our calling and our election. There is an inheritance prepared for us. When Jesus comes, He wants to take us into His kingdom. We will be united with those who have passed on. Those who are on this earth will change, and so we will meet our Bridegroom. And then there is the eternal joy – the eternal fellowship – to be with God and the Father. That inheritance awaits us, and we have been called and chosen. And when we consider this eternal joy, despite the conditions and the situations in which we find ourselves, let us remember that we have been called. We are children of God and Jesus prepares a place for me. Do not lose sight of that goal of our faith. That is why we are here today – to hear the word, to celebrate Holy Communion, to experience the forgiveness of sins. And so, we are being prepared for the return of Christ to enjoy this inheritance: “giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance...” And so, the inheritance is on our mind. Of course, inheritance is also something the parents leave to their children. But, we know, as tradition goes in families, the children need to earn this inheritance. There are some we also know that were disinherited because of problems and disagreements in that particular relationship. We also have to ensure that we earn our inheritance. And this inheritance is not because of who we are. It is not because of where we come from or our origin. No dear brothers and sisters. It is not because of our works, because of our status, our level of education, whether we are healthy or whether we are sick, whether we are old or whether I am young and all those computations that we can add into that mix. This inheritance comes from the grace of God our heavenly Father. And it is His decision to offer us this grace. It is His decision to offer us this opportunity. And today, we give thanks to God for electing us and that through His love and the sacrifice of Jesus that today we can speak about the fact that we have been reborn out of water and the Spirit. And when we are reborn out of water and the Spirit, we have received the Spirit guaranteed. That we find clearly stated in Ephesians chapter one. We have received the Holy Spirit as a guarantee. And when we are mindful of the fact that we have been baptised with water and have received the gift of the Holy Spirit - that is seen as an investment. When you invest something, you often hear that the investment is growing, and what is the interest rate, whether it is going up or whether it is coming down and you always look at the balance. And there must always be an increase for a very good investment. And that is why he says, ‘the inheritance of the saints.’ And if we do something about it, we have to become saints. And when we become saints in our understanding, it means that we need to allow the Holy Spirit to let the new creation in us grow. The new creation in all of us needs to develop so that when Jesus comes, He will find that we have reached that worthiness - that is why we pray for our worthiness. So dear brothers and sisters, the first reason: “giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light.”
The second reason is that He conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son. While we are here, already, He has conveyed us into His kingdom. In the Lord’s prayer, we always pray ‘let Your kingdom come.’ And when we consider the words ‘let Your kingdom come’, we know that as children of God, while we are here, is to prepare us for the kingdom of God. We want to enter His kingdom. And so, we have a reason to give thanks unto God for this kingdom that has been given unto us through this inheritance; through this guarantee of the baptism with water and the Spirit we receive through Holy Sealing. Let us find amidst everything to which we are exposed to that I have reason to be thankful because I will enter into the kingdom of heaven. And understanding our thanks and the kingdom of heaven, Jesus said, ‘My kingdom is not of this world.’ That is a nice qualifying statement – ‘My kingdom is not of this world.’ And so, brothers and sisters, when we think of the kingdom of this world and the kingdom of God, it is two different entities altogether. In the world, there are so many problems, so many situations, and people ask ‘why, but why me and why us, and why do we have to go through this situation?’ And we all need to solve problems. We look at our scientists, we look at our medical profession, we look at the people who are working at the frontlines who expose themselves and who are at great risk, and we wait until they come up with a solution. And we wait for the professionals to do that. On the other hand, there is also sometimes the question ‘can’t the Church find a solution? We have the professionals there.’ And so, Jesus says, ‘My kingdom is not of this world.’ Sometimes we need to understand what the core purpose of the Church is. And when the word says He has conveyed us into His kingdom, we also need to understand that here we need to see the image of the Church of Christ. And how nice to know that we belong to the Church of Christ. How nice to know that we are members of the Church of Christ. And when we are members of the Church of Christ, collectively, we also know the head of this Church is Christ Himself. And we subject ourselves under the leadership of Jesus Christ. And He leads us, and He provides for us. He gave us ministers, and that ministerial authority is the guidance we come under every time we attend a divine service. And dear brothers and sisters, Jesus said His kingdom is not of this world. And sometimes it is unfortunate that when we stand before you today as ministers, we have our faults, weaknesses and shortcomings. And when the congregation looks at the minister, you can make your own conclusions. And you look at the competencies of the brother – what is he able to do and what can he not do – that form of discrimination. And that, sometimes, is just a negative side as far as the visible Church is concerned – when we look and find mistakes. Jesus said, ‘My kingdom is not of this world.’ And if we as ministers stand here today, and we have seen it in many congregations, ministers come and go. It is not about the person or the personality, but the ministry of authority which Jesus has given. And we need to understand that also firstly as ministers. We are not here forever. It will change. God provides the congregation. And with that dear brothers and sisters, He provides for His Church in terms of the leadership and guidance that we need to be prepared and ready for. Apostle Paul speaks to the congregation of Colosse amidst all the circumstances. Find reason to give thanks for the inheritance. We find reason that we are children of God. We find reason because we belong to the Church of Christ. And as active members in the Church of Christ, we are also prepared to make use of our gifts and our talents with all thanks and honour and praise to our heavenly Father. Amen.
Thoughts from Apostle Gerome Mintoor