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29 August 2012

Wie is geroep?

“En hoe kan hulle preek as hulle nie gestuur word nie?  Soos geskrywe is:  Hoe lieflik is die voete van die wat die evangelie van vrede verkondig, van die wat die evangelie van die goeie verkondig!” (Romeine 10:15).


Charles Spurgeon skryf oor sy eie frustrasie voor sy bekering.  Hy het nie geweet hoe sy sondes vergewe kon word nie.  Hier is sy eie woorde in groot detail (uit sy autobiografie op die Puritan Hard Drive):

“While under concern of soul, I resolved that I would attend all the places of worship in the town where I lived, in order that I might find out the way of salvation.  I was willing to do anything, and be anything, if God would only forgive my sin.  I set off, determined to go round to all the chapels, and I did go to every place of worship ; but for a long time I went in vain.  I do not, however, blame the ministers.  One man preached Divine Sovereignty; I could hear him with pleasure, but what was that sublime truth to a poor sinner who wished to know what he must do to be saved?  There was another admirable man who always preached about the law; but what was the use of ploughing up ground that needed to be sown?  Another was a practical preacher.  I heard him, but it was very much like a commanding officer teaching the manoeuvres of war to a set of men without feet.  What could I do?  All his exhortations were lost on me.  I knew it was said, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved;’ but I did not know what it was to believe on Christ.  These good men all preached truths suited to many in their congregations who were spiritually-minded people; but what I wanted to know was,—‘How can I get my sins forgiven?’—and they never told me that.  I desired to hear how a poor sinner, under a sense of sin, might find peace with God; and when I went, I heard a sermon on, ‘Be not deceived, God is not mocked,’ which cut me up still worse; but did not bring me into rest.  I went again, another day, and the text was something about the glories of the righteous; nothing for poor me! I was like a dog under the table, not allowed to eat of the children's food.

I went time after time, and I can honestly say that I do not know that I ever went without prayer to God, and I am sure there was not a more attentive hearer than myself in all the place, for I panted and longed to understand how I might be saved.  I sometimes think I might have been in darkness and despair until now had it not been for the goodness of God in sending a snowstorm, one Sunday morning, while I was going to a certain place of worship.  When I could go no further, I turned down a side street, and came to a little Primitive Methodist Chapel.  In that chapel there may have been a dozen or fifteen people.  I had heard of the Primitive Methodists, how they sang so loudly that they made people's heads ache; but that did not matter to me.  I wanted to know how I might be saved, and if they could tell me that, I did not care how much they made my head ache.  The minister did not come that morning; he was snowed up, I suppose.  At last, a very thin-looking man,[i] a shoemaker, or tailor, or something of that sort, went up into the pulpit to preach.  Now, it is well that preachers should be instructed ; but this man was really stupid.  He was obliged to stick to his text, for the simple reason that he had little else to say.  The text was, ‘LOOK UNTO ME, AND BE YE SAVED, ALL THE ENDS OF THE EARTH.’  He did not even pronounce the words rightly, but that did not matter.  There was, I thought, a glimpse of hope for me in that text.  The preacher began thus:

‘My dear friends, this is a very simple text indeed. It says, ' Look.'  Now lookin' don't take a deal of pains.  It ain't liftin' your foot or your finger; it is just, ' Look.'  Well, a man needn't go to College to learn to look.  You may be the biggest fool, and yet you can look.  A man needn't be worth a thousand a year to be able to look.  Anyone can look; even a child can look. But then the text says, ' Look unto Me.' Ay!" said he, in broad Essex, ‘many on ye are lookin' to yourselves, but it's no use lookin' there.  You'll never find any comfort in yourselves.  Some look to God the Father.  No, look to Him by-and-by. Jesus Christ says, 'Look unto Me.Some on ye say, 'We must wait for the Spirit's workin'.'  You have no business with that just now. Look to Christ.  The text says, 'Look unto Me.Then the good man followed up his text in this way :—‘Look unto Me; I am sweatin' great drops of blood.  Look unto Me; I am hangin' on the cross.  Look unto Me ; I am dead and buried.  Look unto Me; I rise again.  Look unto Me; I ascend to Heaven.  Look unto Me; I am sittin' at the Father's right hand.  O poor sinner, look unto Me !  look unto Me !’

When he had gone to about that length, and managed to spin out ten minutes or so, he was at the end of his tether.  Then he looked at me under the gallery, and I daresay, with so few present, he knew me to be a stranger.  Just fixing his eyes on me, as if he knew all my heart, he said, ‘Young man, you look very miserable.’  Well, I did; but I had not been accustomed to have remarks made from the pulpit on my personal appearance before.  However, it was a good blow, struck right home.  He continued,’ and you always will be miserable—miserable in life, and miserable in death,—if you don't obey my text; but if you obey now, this moment, you will be saved.’  Then, lifting up his hands, he shouted, as only a Primitive Methodist could do, ‘Young man, look to Jesus Christ.  Look!  Look!  Look!  You have nothin' to do but to look and live.’  I saw at once the way of salvation.  I know not what else he said,—I did not take much notice of it,—I was so possessed with that one thought.  Like as when the brazen serpent was lifted up, the people only looked and were healed, so it was with me. I had been waiting to do fifty things, but when I heard that word, ‘Look!’ what a charming word it seemed to me!  Oh!  I looked until I could almost have looked my eyes away.  There and then the cloud was gone, the darkness had rolled away, and that moment I saw the sun; and I could have risen that instant, and sung with the most enthusiastic of them, of the precious blood of Christ, and the simple faith which looks alone to Him.  Oh, that somebody had told me this before, ‘Trust Christ, and you shall be saved.’  Yet it was, no doubt, all wisely ordered, and now I can say,

E'er since by faith I saw the stream

Thy flowing wounds supply,

Redeeming love has been my theme,

And shall be till I die

Daar is baie mense in die wêreld soos Spurgeon; mense wat wonder:  “Hoe kan sondaars gered word?”  Paulus antwoord daardie vraag in redelike detail in Romeine 10:14-17.  Die begin van die proses van hoe God sondaars na Homself toe bring, is deur predikers te roep en uit te stuur.  Paulus gebruik die Jesaja 52:7 om die begin van hierdie proses vir ons in te kleur.  In Jesaja 52 lees ons van Jerusalem wat gedurige deur haar vyande verdruk is.  In hierdie konteks voorspel Jesaja spesifiek hoe God se volk onder die Assiriese en Babiloniese juk gaan kom.  Hy beskryf ook hoe hulle daarvan sou vrykom.  God sal sy boodskapper stuur om sy oorwinning oor die vyand aan te kkondig.  Die boodskapper sal op die berge rondom Jerusalem aankom om hierdie goeie nuus te bring.  As gevolg van sy goeie nuus gee niemand om vir sy vuil stowwerige voete nie.  Sy voete is eintlik lieflik, want al wat saakmaak is die goeie nuus wat hy saam met hom bring:  die Assiriërs is oorwin (Jesaja 52:7, <st1:bcv_smarttag>Nahum 1:15)!  Daar is nie meer vyandskap tussen God en volk as gevolg van hulle sondes nie.  God se straf is gelig.  Die oordeel is verby.  Vrede en blydskap word aangekondig in Jerusalem en ook vir al God se kinders in die toekoms (Jesaja 52:7).  Israel is nie meer slawe in Babilon of Assirië nie.  En ons is nie meer slawe van ons sonde nie.  Jahwe is die Koning wat oor ons en oor die nasies regeer (Jesaja 52:7).  Die wagte op Jerusalem se mure sien haar Koning wat in triomf aankom op die horison.  “Hy het die oorwinning behaal!”, roep hulle uit (Jesaja 52:8).  Daar word lofliedere gesing omdat God ons sondes vergewe het en omdat Hy die vyand oorwin het.  Met hierdie woorde troos God sy volk.  Die ruïnes van Jerusalem en die tempel sal herbou word (Jesaja 52:9).  Ja, God se volk sal uit ballingskap uitgered word (Jesaja 52:10-12), maar die oorwinning en verlossing waarvan Jesaja praat is veel groter as dit.  Dit is 'n oorwinning oor God se vyande; 'n oorwinning oor sonde, dood, en hel.  Dit is 'n verlossing van sonde (Jesaja 53).  En dit is híérdie boodskap wat aangekondig word.  Maar wie is die predikers van hierdie goeie nuus?  En hoe stuur God sy evangelie predikers om vrede aan te kondig?

Charles Spurgeon vertel van 'n man wat gesê het hy is geroep om te preek, omdat hy die letters G.P.C. in die wolke bo sy koringlande gesien het.  “Waarvoor staan dit?” het Spurgeon gevra.  Die man het geantwoord:  “Go Preach Christ.”  Toe Spurgeon gehoor het hoe die man preek het hy vir hom gesê:  “Ek dink jy het verkeerd gehoor.  G.P.C. staan nie vir Go Preach Christ nie, maar vir Go Plant Corn.”  Hoe weet 'n persoon dan of hy geroep en deur God gestuur is of nie?  Ek het gedink dat ek tot die bediening geroep is omdat ek verse soos Jesaja 6:8 oor en oor op verskillende geleenthede gehoor en gelees het.  “Dit kan tog nie toevallig wees nie?”, het ek gedink.  Vir die eerste nege jaar van my bediening het ek nie met sekerheid geweet dat ek geroep is nie.  “Hoe kan ek weet?”, het ek gewonder.  “Ek het tog nie 'n stem uit die hemel gehoor nie?”  In Januarie 2010 was ek by 'n konferensie.  Daar is die vraag oor roeping aan een van die sprekers gevra.  Dáár het ek my antwoord gekry en geweet dat ek tot die bediening geroep is.  Kom ons kyk na wat die Bybel sê oor hoe God mense roep en stuur om sy boodskap te preek.

Nêrens in die Bybel leer ons dat iemand geroep moet voel tot die bediening nie.  Dit gaan eintlik glad nie oor gevoel nie.  God het deur 'n direkte openbaring met die apostels en profete gepraat.  Só is hulle geroep.  God het uit die brandende bos met Moses gepraat.  Jesaja het 'n visioen van Christus op sy troon gesien.  God het direk met Jeremia gepraat.  Samuel het drie keer God se stem gehoor toe hy in die aand in sy bed lê.  Jesus het in menslike vorm sy twaalf dissipels geroep.  Jesus het op die Damaskuspad aan Paulus verskyn en hom geroep.  Maar nou is die Bybel voltooi.  God gee nie meer direkte openbaring aan ons nie.  Hy praat nie meer in 'n hoorbare stem met mense nie.  Hy hét so gepraat in die verlede, maar doen nie meer so nie (sien Hebreërs 1:1).  Hoe roep God dan vandag predikers?  Hy doen dit deur in die Bybel met ons te praat.  As enigiemand homself aan die volgende Bybelse vereistes meet en kwalifiseer, dan kan hy weet dat God met hom gepraat het en dat hy deur God self geroep is.  [i] Jy moet die begeerte hê om 'n leraar van die Skrif te wees (1 Timoteus 3:1).  [ii] Jy moet bekwaam wees om die Skrif vir ander te kan leer en moet die gawe van lering hê (1 Timoteus 3:2, 4:14).  [iii] Jy moet moreel kwalifiseer, sodat jou lewe kan pas by die boodskap wat jy verkondig (1 Timoteus 3:2-7).  [iv] Die kerk en sy leiers moet hierdie gawe en kwaliteite in jou raaksien en dit bevestig (1 Timoteus 4:14).  God se roeping aan predikers van sy Woord kom dus nie meer direk van God af soos met die apostels en profete nie.  Dit kom deur mense.  Dit kom deur die kerk.  Selfs in Handelinge 13:1-3 sien ons hoe die Heilige Gees deur sy kerk sendelinge roep en uitstuur.  In <st1:bcv_smarttag>2 Timoteus 2:2 sê Paulus vir Timoteus:  “en wat jy van my gehoor het onder baie getuies, vertrou dit toe aan getroue manne wat bekwaam sal wees om ook ander te leer.”  Duidelik het die roeping aan Timoteus deur Paulus en die ander ouderlinge gekom.  So moet Timoteus ook mense identifiseer en leer om die evangelie te verkondig.  Tony Payne en Colin Marshall skryf:

“Search as we may, we don’t find in the Bible any example or concept of an inner call to the ministry.  There are some who are called directly and dramatically by God (like Moses and Isaiah), but it is not a matter of discerning an inner feeling.  Almost universally in the New Testament, the recognizing or ‘setting apart’ of gospel workers is done by other elders, leaders and pastors.  Just as Timothy was commissioned in some way by the elders (1 Tim.4:14), so he was to entrust the gospel to other faithful leaders who could continue the work (2 Tim.2:2).  Likewise Titus was given responsibility by Paul for the ministry in Crete, and he in turn was to appoint elders/overseers in every town.  Perhaps it is right in this sense to speak of people being ‘called’ by God to particular ministries or responsibilities – so long as we recognize that this ‘call’ is mediated through the human agency of existing recognized ministers.  Luther puts in like this:  ‘God calls in two ways, either by means or without means.  Today he calls all into the ministry of the Word by a mediated call, that is, one that comes through means, namely through man.  But the apostles were called immediately by Christ himself, as the prophets in the Old Testament had been called by God himself.  Afterwards, the apostles called their disciples, as Paul called Timothy, Titus, etc.  These men called bishops as in <st1:bcv_smarttag>Titus 1:5ff; and the bishops called their successors down to our time, and so on to the end of the world.  This is the mediated call since it is done by man.’  We shouldn’t sit back and wait for people to ‘feel called’ to gospel work, any more than we should sit back and wait for people to become disciples of Christ in the first place.  We should be proactive in seeking, challenging and testing suitable people to be set apart for gospel work.” (The Trellis and the Vine; Matthias Media; KINGSFORD; 2009; pp.133-134).

Wat is dan die kerk se taak in hierdie saak?  Ons moet almal die evangelie aan verlore sondaars preek, maar ons spesifiek bid dat God geroepe mense sal uitstuur om ‘voltyds’ die evangelie te verkondig (sien Matteus 9:37-38).  Ons moet uitkyk vir mense wat volgens die Bybel kwalifiseer vir hierdie taak.  Ons moet hierdie mense uitstuur en hulle in hul werk bystaan en ondersteun.  Ons moenie gretig wees om mense wat hierdie toets druip, uit te stuur net omdat hulle geroep voel en glo dat die Here vir hulle gesê het om te gaan preek nie.  Stuart Olyott sê tereg:  “Freelance preachers, commissioned by nobody, and answerable to nobody, are a prostitution of the New Testament’s understanding of the work of gospel preaching.” (The Gospel as it really is; Evangelical Press; DARLINGTON; 1979; p.94).  Ons moenie ons tyd, energie, en geld mors om súlke mense te ondersteun nie.  Hulle sal niemand baat nie.  Jeremia sê:  “...Ek [het] hulle nie gestuur en aan hulle geen bevel gegee nie, en hulle [sal] vir hierdie volk hoegenaamd geen voordeel bring nie, spreek die Here.” (Jeremia 23:32).

Is jy geroep?  Moenie wag tot jy geroep voel nie, maar toets jouself aan die vereistes wat die Bybel stel.  As jy geroep is móét jy gaan, want sonder predikers wat gestuur word kan daar geen redding vir sondaars wees nie (v.14-15).  Jou koms sal vir verlore sondaars wees soos koue water in die woestyn (v.15, Jesaja 52:7).  Jou koms en prediking sal 'n antwoord bied aan sondaars wat hopeloos, soekend en gefrustreerd vra:  “Hoe kan sondaars gered word?”

[i] It is remarkable that no less than three persons claimed to have been the preacher on this occasion, but Mr. Spurgeon did not recognize any one of them as the man to whom he then listened.