13 September 2018
South Africa is in dire straits. Under The African National Congress (ANC) billions have been lost through state capture – money that should have been used to uplift the lives of the poor. Corruption, nepotism, and blatant criminality are synonymous with the ANC. Instead of uniting a fragile nation, the ANC have chosen to polarize the races even further to hide their incompetence and corruption. At this point in history, the nation sits on a powder keg. Our natural reaction is to be fearful, and that’s not difficult when you live in a lawless land such as ours. In their desperation to find hope, many are looking to the church for answers. Unfortunately, a false narrative is on offer and is being propagated by various churches and ministries in South Africa.
Bluntly put – South Africa is in a mess. State-owned Enterprises are bankrupt and government departments are barely functioning. Transport, energy, healthcare, police, defense, water affairs, communications, education, etc have been ruined through mismanagement and corruption. In an effort to steal the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) thunder, the Marxist ANC is implementing land expropriation without compensation – a move that is guaranteed to bring further suffering to the poor. Looting, destruction of property, violent protests, and other criminal acts are part of daily life in South Africa. Babies and grandmothers are raped, farmers are tortured and murdered, and their wives are raped in front of their children. Xenophobic attacks have resulted in foreigners from other African states being burnt alive. Animals are raped and livestock butchered alive as perpetrators hack off chunks of flesh while the animal is writhing in pain. It’s a bleak picture, one that is causing those who have the means to immigrate and escape a country with an average of 57 murders and over 100 rapes per day (keep in mind only 1 in 4 rapes are reported) This is a barbaric land where people of all races are suffering as wickedness increases. The people who thought that the ANC would liberate them and give them a future are beginning to realise that they have been betrayed by Nelson Mandela’s party. The ANC naturally lays the blame squarely at the feet of the “settlers” to disguise their incompetency, criminality, and racism. While the apartheid government believed God was on their side, the ANC government looks to their ancestors for guidance. Superstition and witchcraft are still firmly entrenched in South Africa. South Africa may be the next Zimbabwe or Venezuela or be colonised by China if nothing changes.
False hope is not the solution:
Naturally, many of us are asking the following question – is there hope for South Africa from a biblical perspective? Yes, say those ministries that are a part of the New Apostolic Reformation, as well as many in charismatic circles. There are so many voices in South Africa selling a false narrative (and in doing so a false hope) that it is impossible to name them all. Instead, I’ll offer some suggestions on how to identify the false teachings that many South Africans are falling for, and point out what scripture teaches.
Here is a list of seven fallacies or false teachings:
1. The church needs to exercise its authority.
This mistaken belief assumes that if the church would simply exercise its spiritual authority, the state of the nation will improve. Decrees and declarations are spoken into the wind and spiritual warfare is employed to “turn South Africa back to God.” If strategic level spiritual warfare worked, the earth would have been a Christian utopia by now. Satan and his demons have been bound millions of times by intercessors around the globe, yet wickedness is on the increase. One verse that proponents of the spiritual warfare strategy cite is Matthew 18:18: “Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” This verse is actually about church discipline, not binding Satan. The church cannot bind the “strong man” over South Africa, neither can we bind the “spirit of violence, corruption, racism” or any other negative trait.
Watch out for teachers who bind Satan and various spirits such as violence and racism. They may have godly intentions, but their methodology such as spiritual mapping is unbiblical. The church has no authority over the world and cannot bind Satan. Dominion theology has led some to believe that the church can usher in the kingdom of God. This leads us to the second fallacy.
2. The church needs to extend and enforce its influence.
While the gospel is salt and light, and any nation that implements biblical principles will have a better society, we are not called to transform the world but to transform people through the gospel and by making disciples. The world has its prince, and it’s not Jesus: “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience – among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind” Ephesians 2:1-3
“We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one”.
1 John 5:19
Jesus said that His kingdom is not of this world, yet the goal of the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) is to capture the seven mountains or seven spheres of society. The irony of course is that a movement intent on making the world more “Christian” is in fact contributing to a great apostasy. Those who believe that the church will conquer this world make no distinction between the promises God made to Israel and the promises God has given his church. They will usually refer to the old testament, ignore the context, and claim specific covenantal blessings applicable to Israel alone. The second error is that they hope to usher in conditions on earth that will only be realised during the millennial reign of Christ on earth.
Watch out for references to the seven mountains or spheres of society. Typically, self appointed apostles and prophets will talk about Heaven invading earth. Dreams, visions, and prophecies instead of scripture will confirm their messages. Be careful of those who claim that South Africa will “return to the Lord” or be “born again in a day.”
3. We should repent on behalf of our forefathers and break generational curses over our lives.
We cannot repent for the sins of our ancestors, nor can we repent on behalf of our nation. This idea stems from certain old testament scriptures that have nothing to do with any nation except the history of Israel under the old covenant. That being said, even the old testament confirms that “The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.” Ezekiel 18:20
If we need to break a generational curse, then Christ’s death on the cross was insufficient to deliver us from all evil. Scripture is clear – “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us – for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree” Galatians 3:13
Thank God that the cross did not accomplish half the task: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
2 Corinthians 5:17
Watch out for meetings advertising days of national repentance where certain races confess the sins of their fathers, or ask forgiveness for the sins of their fathers – also known as identificational repentance. This will supposedly bring forgiveness from God and in turn His blessing upon our nation. It may bring goosebumps, but God does not require us to repent on behalf of our nation or ancestors.
4. Revival will change South Africa.
Some “prophets” are receiving downloads, visions, and blueprints for revival. The hope is that a massive revival will influence the nation. What we are witnessing today is by and large manufactured revival; in other words, it’s not a sovereign act of God – it’s fake. Gold dust, Kundalini manifestations, glory clouds, stretching legs, or being mesmerized by Bethel or Hillsong worship do not constitute revival. Revival begins with an awareness of God’s holiness and our own sinfulness. Martyn Lloyd Jones said that revival makes us aware of certain things:
“What are these things of which they become so aware? First and foremost, the glory and the holiness of God. Have you ever noticed, as you read your Bibles, the effect on these people as they suddenly realized the presence of God? Like Job, they put their hands on their mouths, or like Isaiah they say, “Woe is unto me! For I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips.” They have just had a realization of the holiness and of the majesty and the glory of God. That always happens in a revival.” There can be a lot of laughing and lightness, and obvious organization in evangelistic campaigns. Not so in a revival, but rather awe, reverence, holy fear, the consciousness of God in His majesty, His glory, His holiness, His utter purity.”
That is the kind of revival we need, but will we experience it on the scale being promised? Scriptures teaches that the opposite will happen in the last days, not revival but deception that may look like a revival to some:
“The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false.”
“Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons.” 1 Timothy 4:1
“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”
2 Timothy 4:3-4
There have been numerous prophecies over the years to the effect that revival will start in Cape Town and move northwards, influencing the nation, continent, and the rest of the world. We are told that we should “claim these prophecies” and walk in obedience to see them fulfilled. The prophets have indeed spoken, from Genesis to Revelation, and I don’t see anything regarding South Africa or mass revivals that will transform the world.
Watch out for claims of revival from ministries that twist the word of God. Take note of who is promoting revival. You will probably find that they are associated with NAR churches like Bethel, or other churches and ministries that should be marked and avoided.
5. Unity is necessary for revival.
Perhaps you have heard this being said, or you have been a part of a large gathering of believers from various churches or denominations. We are told to ignore our doctrinal differences because if we unite and pray together God will hear our prayers. Those in the NAR/Charismania who advocate unity as a requirement for revival are usually men and women who cannot rightly divide the word of truth, and who wouldn’t know a sheep from a wolf in sheep’s clothing. (in fact many are wolves themselves) Their “unity” really means “compromise.” They will talk about “unity of the faith” (Eph 4:13) and emphasize unity, without defining the faith. Their “unity” means uniting around their vision or cause, and not the Gospel. There can be no true unity when the gospel is not the cause and center.
“Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel.”
Watch out for large meetings bragging of unity among churches and movements but with no doctrinal boundaries. These meetings are usually hosted by “prophets” or “apostles” associated with the New Apostolic Reformation.
6. Social justice will bring peace and stability to South Africa.
No one can deny that apartheid was evil, and to make matters worse some churches used scripture to justify white supremacy. This abhorrent false teaching could only have served to taint the true gospel. The land issue is a critical debate at this point. People who were forcibly removed from their land or homes during apartheid should be compensated, and no sane person would disagree. Some have been compensated, but the ANC has yet again failed in this regard and is using the land issue as a red herring to cover up their incompetency and corruption. The ANC are happy to allow the dangerous rhetoric that all land was stolen, and would gladly rewrite history to avoid having the spotlight shine on their failures and incompetency in redistributing thousands of hectares owned by the state. If every single injustice of the past were to be rectified, South Africa would be no closer to being a “Christian” nation. The bottom line is this – the problem in the world is not inequality, it’s sin! The oppressor and the oppressed are equal sinners. Sin does not respect pigmentation or social status.
Jesus and his disciples lived during the time when their nation was under Roman occupation. One group determined to fight the occupation was known as the Zealots, and it was from this group that Jesus chose what was possibly the first social justice warrior convert of the day – Simon the Zealot. The commission Jesus gave Simon and the other disciples, was to make disciples of all nations (believers from every tribe, tongue, and nation) The social justice movement wants to transform the world, but a functional system of justice does not justify men and women before God, only the gospel achieves that end. Spiritual poverty is far worse than any inequality in the world – “For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see.” Revelation 3:17-18
Watch out for Christian social justice programs that may uplift communities, yet neglect the gospel. The result is that an individual may be happier, self sufficient, and have a sense of self worth, but still, be separated from God for eternity.
7. Staying positive and speaking life into our nation will change things.
Optimism may make you a happier person, but it won’t change the course of the nation. Those who believe we can speak life into a situation are regurgitating word of faith heresy, and their words have zero effect. These folk tell you to stay away from newspapers or bad reports, and while there is some merit to their argument in that the news will generally depress one, ignoring a problem does not make it go away. We all probably know or are even related to a victim of crime in South Africa. We should be weeping and mourning with those who have experienced the wickedness that permeates our society, not isolating ourselves to protect our own comfort. A prime example of the type of optimism based on faulty exegesis and the tales of false prophets can be found in the words of a local pastor. His congregation recently hosted an “Apostolic Prophetic Conference” and afterward the pastor had the following to say: “There’s strong prophetic words concerning the future of the country, some people send me words that are negative and you can chose what you want to believe. In 2 Chronicles 20:20 there’s a statement where the word of God comes and he says, and it’s to me so powerful he says “believe in the Lord your God and you will be established” then it goes on and he says “believe his prophets and you will prosper” now who, which prophetic word do we listen to? You’ve got to decide whether the country has a future or not..”
God will decide the future of South Africa! The apostles and prophets died a long time ago, and God made sure that their messages still speak. Choose to believe scripture – the only peace coming on the earth will be a false peace under the antichrist. The world is headed for greater turmoil, an increase in lawlessness, and a great falling away in the visible church. Apostasy, not revival is where the visible church is headed. Which prophetic word should we listen to? We listen to the only infallible prophetic word – the scriptures! The first duty of a pastor is to give the context of the verse. The pastor conveniently quotes half of a verse and ignores the rest: “And they rose early in the morning and went out into the wilderness of Tekoa. And when they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Hear me, Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem! Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be established; believe his prophets, and you will succeed.” 2 Chronicles 20:20
Jehoshaphat was referring to the prophetic word of Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, which stated that Judah would have victory over the enemy coalition. In this instance, Judah’s prosperity included the spoils of war. This text has nothing to do with South Africa.
The pastor continued: “We look at prophets that have a credible ministry, and he says that if we believe the prophetic word we will prosper….So I challenge you, let the word of God establish you, and take the word of the prophet and confess it because death and life is in the power of the tongue.”
The only prophets with a credible ministry are Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, etc, and they were not present at this conference. If there’s one word I have grown to hate unless the context is given, it’s the word “prosper.” Without a definition, this word can mean anything. The usual connotation is that word means health, wealth, peace, and comfort – none of which are guaranteed in scripture:
“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh” 2 Corinthians 4:8-11
“To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things.” 1 Corinthians 4:11-13
“When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.” Acts 14:21-22
Watch out for prophets who prophesy smooth things and propagate the lie that your words are causative.
Is there hope for South Africa?
I don’t know – my own opinion is that it is unlikely given the current government and the current situation on the ground. I’m certainly not buying into the false hope being given by those who teach the fallacies listed above. Things may get much worse, but even if the situation in South Africa is hopeless, believers should remain hopeful. Not hopeful that a fallen world or secular governments will become more godly, but hopeful because despite any circumstances we should remain unshaken in our faith.
I’m not expecting wickedness to decrease even if the situation in South Africa improves. Scripture gives us a clear indication of what we can expect in the last days: “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.” 2 Timothy 3:1-4
Does this not describe many South Africans?
There are obviously many practical issues that we can take care of to the best of our abilities. Most South Africans know the day to day risks that we need to navigate, and know that we need to take extra precautions. Ultimately, we should be looking to scripture to find out what our response should be to the situation in our land. Firstly, I think we need to ask this question:
1. Which citizenship matters?
We have become far too comfortable in this world. We are more concerned with our citizenship on earth than our citizenship in Heaven. The cares and pleasures of this world have captivated many believers. We trust in our policies, find security in our assets, and feel at ease when we have covered all our earthly bases. Then of course it’s time for the things of God, and unfortunately many spend more time in meetings, leadership seminars, church camps, and the latest celebrity teachers’ bible study than they do in their prayer closets and studying the word of God. Instead of living as aliens and sojourners in this world many believers have exchanged an eternal perspective for an earthly one. The church should of course be pointing us to Christ, and remind us that being conformed into his image and knowing Him should be our priority. Instead, a large portion of the visible church are tickling ears. This is the age of dreaming big and partnering with God who can’t wait to see you succeed and prosper. Job promotions, accelerated finances, increasing favor with the world, and an emphasis on our dreams and destiny have added to or replaced the gospel. James gives us insight as to what the attitude of believers should be regarding our future: Come now, you who say,“Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit” – yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”
A situation like we are facing in South Africa is a reminder that our hope should be in our heavenly citizenship. Our nation may go from bad to worse, and while it certainly affects our lives in various ways, it is a reminder that what matters cannot be taken away: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Secondly, we should devote ourselves to two things:
2. Prayer and studying the scriptures.
It goes without saying that these two disciplines are vital for the normal Christian life. Let the difficult times we live in spur us on to draw closer to God. Scripture instructs us to pray: “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior,who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
1 Timothy 2:1-4
These are the ideal conditions we would like to experience. To that effect, we should pray for our leaders, pray for the gospel to be preached and heard, pray for wickedness to be exposed, and pray that we remain firm in the hope we have in Christ. We must remember that in this world we will have tribulations. Believers are being burnt alive in Nigeria. In various nations around the world, believers are being tortured and imprisoned for their faith. What makes us believe we have the right to escape trials and tribulations? What makes our nation so special that we think we deserve comfort and stability? Why are we so eager to accept prophetic words that speak of prosperity and peace but ignore the promise of tribulations? We are not suffering or being persecuted for our faith as of yet; we are simply reaping the fruits of a lawless land but it’s a form of tribulation nonetheless. Despite these difficult times, we should be rejoicing in the Lord:
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
One of the most comforting passages in scripture reminds us that God is in control of our lives. When the days are dark and life seems unfair, God is masterfully at work :
“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.“ Romans 8:26-28.
Directly after Paul’s description of the ungodly in his second letter to Timothy, he reminds Timothy of the sufficiency of scripture:
“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:14-17.
We should know what scripture teaches about God, ourselves, Satan, and this world. If we fall short in this regard, we fall for fallacies. The level of Biblical Illiteracy in the church is astounding, and it’s not surprising that when trials and tribulations come we cannot withstand the storm. Search the scriptures, immerse yourself in God’s word, study it in context, and you will find that your faith will be built up. Don’t fall for the fallacies of men; put your hope and trust in Christ. Scripture addresses all of our concerns. Let the word of God bring you assurance in difficult times:
“I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.” Luke 12:4-7
“ In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1:6-9
“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5:3-5