Wednesday, 28 May 2014

What lens do you wear?

By Ess-Jee Rautenbach
We are living in very interesting times. And the way we perceive the Bible and Christ is key to how we construct our lives and make decisions. The way we view the Gospel is also a great prediction of how we perceive marriage, divorce, re-marriage and separation. In this article, I will try to show you that in our generation we can get three types of Gospels. Most Christians fall in one of them.
The Analogy of three Gospels can also be seen as what type of lens you are looking through. Your lens is the filter you look through -- at the Bible, Jesus, etc. This lens also determines the way you experience other believers and how you will act in certain situations. It is also the core of your belief system. Frank Viola names the three Gospels in His book, “Reimaging Church,” and he discusses them in detail. For this article’s purpose, I only touch on them shortly, just to give you an idea of why we do what we do.
“A man's morality will almost always determine his theology, not vice versa. People first choose how they wish to live and then construct and conform their world view to suit their lifestyle. It is a rare person who objectively looks at the Bible in inductive study to see what is said and then brings his life in conformity with biblical standards.” Craig Hill
In the start of the first century and even to the present day, we get three Gospels. They are: Libertinism, Legalism and the Gospel of Liberty and Lordship. Libertinism is where the individual beliefs that Grace covers all his sins. He believes that Jesus dying on the cross gives him a license to sin. He justifies his actions with prophetic words: God told him, etc. Most of his actions are not in line with the Word of God but, in his mind, he is okay because Christ died for His sins. As we read Romans 6, we can see that Paul tackles this Gospel head on, telling the reader that we should not give in to the desires of our flesh because the fruits of listening to our flesh lead to sin, and sin leads to death. The same is true in the book of James. James implores believers not to fall for this type of Gospel. To make James’ and Paul’s cautions relevant to today, we can find this type of Gospel in Hyper Grace movements and also in some Charismatic Churches. Apply this lens to marriage and we find individuals who divorce, re-marry and even commit adultery with no hint of remorse or repentance.
The second Gospel is Legalism. This Gospel is marked by the believer working very hard to earn God’s acceptance. In my own experience, these individuals always dig deep into old covenant scriptures and use the Old Testament to justify their words and actions. They also judge those who do not do what they do or do not have the same conviction they have. They are very prideful individuals who are marked by self-righteousness. In some way or another, they have placed themselves above other people. In marriage, these individuals have all the right knowledge and they even sometimes speak the truth, but what they say and what they do are two totally different things. They use scripture to justify their sinful behaviors. In the Book of Galatians, we can see Paul addressing such a legalistic Church.
“In short, the libertine lives as if there is no God. The legalist lives as though she or he is God to everyone else. Both attitudes are incompatible with the life of Christ.” Viola, Frank. Jesus Now: Unveiling the Present-Day Ministry of Christ
The third and final Gospel is the Gospel of Lordship and Liberty. This Gospel is very scarce in our generation. This is a Gospel where believers take up their crosses and follow Jesus. This can also be seen as the ecclesia of Christ, the church most of the new covenant and New Testament talk about. When there is a reference to Church in the New Testament, it is talking about ecclesia, not the Institutional Church we know today.
“But the truth is, submission to Christ’s lordship is the gateway to the liberty of the Spirit.” Viola, Frank. Jesus Now: Unveiling the Present-Day Ministry of Christ
It is a Gospel where individuals, in cooperation with other brothers and sisters, make Jesus Christ Lord of their lives. They learn individually and corporately how to live from Christ in them. In other words, they learn how to live from Christ inside of them. This is a type of individual whose life will testify of love and all the fruit of the spirit as is described in Galatians 5. His walk is a sacrificial one.  He strives to serve others daily and denies himself as well. In marriage, this individual stays true to his vows until “death do us part.” No matter what his or her spouse does or says, he or she chooses to stay faithful till death even if there spouse isn’t. They choose to stand for their marriages if need arises, sacrificing their lives for a spouse who doesn’t really deserve it, but they choose to love them anyway.
When Christ Jesus is the one who determines our Gospel and lens, nothing else matters. Our priorities begin to fall into place, our values are rightly determined and, most importantly, God is honored and glorified.

Monday, 19 May 2014

Deliver us from eve

by Ess-Jee Rautenbach

Matthew Henry wrote: “The woman was made out of Adam’s side. She was not made out of his head to rule over him, nor out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be loved.”

It seems like, in our generation, we have everything mixed up. It seems that husbands are taking the roles of wives and wives are taking on the role of husbands. Wherever you go, you see this phenomenon. In many cases it seems that the wife misconstrues her calling to be conformed to Christ -- she is called to be conformed to Jesus in character, not in authority. In fact, the Bible tells her specifically that she is not to be like Christ in the exercise of authority, but to be like the Church who submits to Christ's authority (Eph 5:24).

Ephesians 5:22

Amplified Bible (AMP)
22 Wives, be subject (be submissive and adapt yourselves) to your own husbands as [a service] to the Lord.

Ephesians 5:23 24

King James Version (KJV)
23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.
24 As the church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in everything to their husbands.

1 Peter 3:1-6 ESV

Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, 

A wife should submit to her husband, not because women are inferior, but because that is how God designed the marital relationship to function. Submission is not being a “doormat.” 
 "The reason we as wives submit to our husbands is that, in our obedience to them, we are obeying Jesus. He knows men are prideful and He asked our submission for the sake of peace within our marriages. He showed us by example by submitting to us while He was on earth and He loved us even while He suffered. Now He calls us, women, to follow in His footsteps of loving submission. It is a high honor that He bestows exclusively upon women. Whereas men are charged with leadership, we are privileged to follow Jesus as peacekeepers through submission." Beth Durkee, award-winning Christian author

Titus 2:1-15 ESV

But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

Like the book Titus explains. There are not many Godly mentors left in our generation. Young men had to have mentors who could teach them how to train their eyes, to love there wives and to stay pure before marriage. But this is not happening because there are not many real godly men left. By Godly men, I mean men who pursue a life with Christ: Men who live by the leading of the Holy Spirit.

The same goes for women. Most of us learn what we know from our parents and not much of what we learn is really in line with God’s word. Don’t misunderstand me. I know our parents did the best they knew how to do, but that is part of the problem we have in this generation. For example, if a young woman grows up in a home where there is not much respect shown for her dad by her mother, chances are good that she will grow up to follow her mother’s example with her own husband.

God designed marriage to work a certain way. He gave us a blue print on how things are supposed to work. If we don’t follow that blue print, then we will have a corrupt system and the fruits of our system will be perverted. Husbands and wives have individual roles to play in marriage relationships, but evil always tries to corrupt what God has designed. I think this again is a tactic of the enemy to destroy homes and families world wide.

Colossians 3:18 ESV

Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.

1 Corinthians 11:3 ESV

But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.

Genesis 2:23 ESV

Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. ”

Genesis 2:18 ESV

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”

Proverbs 31:30 ESV

Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

1 Peter 3:5 ESV

For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands,

Specifically in South Africa, the resent divorce rates and stats show that 74% of people filing in court for divorce are women. Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that husbands are blameless when a marriage hits rocky ground. But my focus of this article is the role of wives in marriage and how that role is being misinterpreted.

Believers are to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ (Ephesians 5:21). In context, everything in Ephesians 5:19-33 is a result of being filled with the Spirit. Spirit-filled believers are to be worshipful (5:19), thankful (5:20), and submissive (5:21). Paul then follows his line of thought on Spirit-filled living and applies it to husbands and wives in verses 22-33. A wife should submit to her husband, not because women are inferior, but because that is how God designed the marital relationship to function. Submission is not a wife’s being a “doormat” for her husband. Rather, with the help of the Holy Spirit, a wife submits to her husband, and a husband sacrificially loves his wife.
For a wife to go against her husband's desires and leave him, would require that she forsake her biblical responsibility to submit to his authority. If a wife is fully expected to be disobedient to her husband, her disobedience to him is in order that she be obedient to the Lord.Case in point: Most standing wives are doing so against their husbands' wishes.

Here is a short list of the role a wife has in her marriage:
  • Woman was created by God for a purpose.
  • A wife should follow her husband’s leadership
  • A wife should care for her husband 
  • A wife must be careful what she says; love him 

One point I think most men will agree on is that we need our wives to support us in the bedroom. That is an article on its own. But I know that women don’t understand how men work. There are many books explaining how men must satisfy their wives, etc. There are some great books out there, but our women need to understand how we work as well. We are simple and also complicated in our own unique way.

Christian wives must get back to the fundamentals of who is Christ living in them, so that they can be the best wives that God has made them to be. Like I mentioned earlier in this article, God’s design for marriage is flawless. I believe one of the first steps for us to get back on track is for each wife to strive to follow her husband’s leadership, to care for him, to respect him in all manner of conversation and live lives to help meet his needs. The marriage relationship on earth is a living representation of Christ’s relationship to the church, His bride (Ephesians 5:21-33). When a wife unselfishly loves and lives for her husband, she glorifies Christ and teaches the world the true role of a Christian wife.
So what is the blue print for the roles of husband and wife in marriage? It can be summed up in the following scriptures:

Ephesians 5:25 ESV

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,

Ephesians 5:22 ESV

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 
Plain and simple. 
May God bring us back to His original design and may we be a generation that turns things around.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013


By Ess-Jee Rautenbach 
Do you want to know the secret to a restored marriage? I have been blessed to witness many restored and resurrected marriages. It is almost my 5th year in marriage ministry and I'm going to share with you the big mystery and secret I have discovered over the years. This mystery was hidden for thousands and thousands of years. This secret or mystery to marriage restoration has been hidden for ages, but those who find it have restored and resurrected marriages. Not only do they have new life beating in them, their old lives and pasts have been wiped away and everything they now have is brand new.

What would you say is the secret to a restored marriage after divorce? I hear some of you say: “prayer, fasting, be like Jesus or try to copy Jesus Christ, forgiveness, spells, pressuring the one you love, self-help books, follow these easy steps to… etc.” My answer to you is no. I agree that some of them are good to do, but not all of them. In most of those points it is us, a fallen human being, trying to do or create something out of our own wisdom and strength, operating on our terms and doing what we were taught to do when everything falls apart.

Let me start to unpack the secret for you:

26 the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. Colossians 1:26 English Standard Version (ESV)

“Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all [these] things are done in parables.” (Mark 4:11)

God created a plan and kept it a mystery, which was foreordained before the world was created and kept secret for thousands of years. 

God’s mystery (plan), which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: (Col 1:26)

Amos 3:7 Surely the Lord GOD does nothing Unless He reveals His secret counsel To His servants the prophets.

Matthew 13:11 Jesus answered them, "To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted.

Luke 8:10 And He said, "To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is in parables, so that SEEING THEY MAY NOT SEE, AND HEARING THEY MAY NOT UNDERSTAND.

Ephesians 3:9 and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things;

Romans 16:25 according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past,

Ephesians 1:9 He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him

To fully understand this mystery, we must also start to understand God’s eternal purpose from before time. If you read the Bible from Genesis to Revelations, then you will see that there is a golden thread going through the whole Bible. There are four elements in God’s eternal plan and they are: a bride, a house, a body and a family. On those points alone we can spend hours writing and speaking, but I'm not going to do that in this article. I just want to give you a wider vision into God’s timeless mystery. Do you want to know the big secret, the mystery that can change not only your life but your partner’s life as well? Okay, here we go:

Colossians 1:27

To whom God would make known the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:

The resurrected, ascended and eternal Jesus Christ is the answer. I’m not speaking of you trying to be like Christ. I'm talking of Jesus Christ, living through you and you living from the divine life who is Christ Jesus our Lord. What Jesus will do is not the answer. But what Christ is doing through me at this very moment. Jesus Christ is God’s mystery that was hidden for ages and with His death at the cross. His resurrection from the dead and ascension to heaven was made known to us, our generation. He became a life-giving spirit that can live in us if we accept Him as our Lord and savior. Many Christians accept Jesus as there Lord, but then they don’t surrender their lives to Him.

To have a victorious life is for us to completely turn our lives to Him and start to learn how to live with Christ in us. Many of us take a bite of the tree of life but then go back and eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

I know of many standers standing for the healing of their marriages and working their bumpers off praying, fasting, etc. At the end they burn out, and many stop their stands and even give up. Why? Because they are doing it, they are not trusting God to do the heavy lifting. I’m not saying that you don’t have to do anything. Our responsibility is to live married and pursue our indwelling Lord. In this dark time, learn how to grow closer to God. Put your focus completely on Christ. If your spouse has left you or even divorced you, put them in God’s hands and leave them there. Trust Jesus to do what must be done. They are God’s responsibility, not yours.

It seems that in our Christian culture of today we have fallen into a trap. We have taken our focus off Christ and in many cases we have put it on our spouses or what problem we may have. Our foundation isn’t Christ anymore, making our spouses and circumstances bigger than Christ. I challenge you today. Take your eyes off all your circumstances and your spouse. Put them on Christ. Jesus Christ loves you so much. Rest in Him. Let His peace reign in your heart. Let Him love through you, stand through you and become all to you. The changes that Christ wants to make in your heart, only He can do. For us to mess in His plans is actually delaying what He wants for our lives.

Christ resides in you. There is always hope because Christ in us is our Hope and Glory. To Him be the glory forever and ever.

The answer to marriage restoration is the person JESUS CHRIST.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Biblical Grounds for Divorce

by Ess-Jee Rautenbach

This is a question I get almost every day and the sad thing about it is that most Christians who want a divorce ask this very thing. Instead of turning to Christ with this question, we turn to our Church and church leaders, and the answers that they give are for me, personally, sometimes shocking.

To make my point, I will name the six reasons most churches, pastors, counselors and Christians use to advise or even justify how God approves of divorce and why divorce can be a Biblical solution for a dead marriage.
What constitutes the legitimate ending of a marriage? The following are “Biblical grounds for divorce:”

1. Death (Rom. 7:2–4; 1 Cor. 7:39)
2. Adultery (Deut. 22:22; Matt. 5:32)
3. Non-Christian files for divorce and leaves (1 Cor. 7:10–24)
4. Sexual immorality/porneia (Matt. 5:32; 19:9)
5. Treachery or treasonous betrayal (Mal. 2:14–16)
6. Hardness of heart (Matt. 19:8; Mark 10:5)

The scripture in parentheses is what people use to justify the point they want to make. The only point I agree with is number one, death. The other points are rubbish and if you read the context of the scripture used, you will see that its intention is never to justify reasons why people may divorce. The big, big problem we have in our church systems is that we operate like we are still in the original covenant. Instead of pursuing Christ in the new covenant He died for, we are pursuing church leaders and church systems. We are not taking our own responsibility in our spiritual growth. So we call our marriages “covenants” but, in actual fact, we are treating them as Biblical contracts.

“I believe that by exchanging the biblical value of covenant in marriage for the cultural value of contract, we as the church have ceased to be salt and light and are participating aggressively in the wholesale destruction of our society and, more importantly, of the image of God in the sight of others” – Craig Hill.

I hear you asking me: “Okay, Ess-Jee, I hear what you are saying, but where did the, “Marriage ending clause” come from?

It first occurred back in the sixteenth century through a humanist philosopher named Desiderius Erasmus, who had great influence on Martin Luther and other early reformers. Erasmus’ view of re-marriage and divorce was the only historical view of marriage that said that there are more reasons for divorce than death. Because he was also known for his humanist views, his view of marriage was very appealing to our fallen human nature. The other four historical views of biblical teaching on divorce taught that remarriage was not permitted after divorce.

The five historically accepted views of divorce and remarriage are as follows:

1. The Patristic (or early Fathers) view
2. The Erasmian (or traditional Protestant) view
3. The Preterative (or Augustinian) view
4. The Betrothal (or engagement) view
5. The Consanguinity (or unlawful marriages) view

The modernization of the Erasmian view seems to assume that remarriage is automatically allowed if divorce occurs for the permitted reason(s).

All five views presented here agree on some basic points. Paul E. Steele and Charles C. Ryrie have written an excellent book entitled “Meant to Last” in which they discuss the five historical views of divorce and remarriage including that introduced by Erasmus. In summary, all five views presented here agree on some basic points.

♦ God's best is monogamy and He hates divorce.
♦ Divorce under the law was a concession for hard hearts.
♦ Christ taught and upheld God's highest standard in His teaching. The Patristic view and the Erasmian view agree the Porneia may mean adultery. But the Erasmian view is the only one to allow remarriage after divorce. The other views, while recognizing that divorce may sometimes happen for various reasons, are unanimous in their conviction that remarriage is contrary to Scripture, and never permitted.

To be consistent with Paul's understanding of the meaning of Christ's words as given in 1 Corinthians 7:10-13, the believer who suffers the misfortune of a divorce has two clear options: remain unmarried or be reconciled to one's mate. To teach anything else is inconsistent with God's standard for marriage.

When Christian pastors and leaders authorize and condone the remarriage of divorced Christians, they are aiding Satan in misrepresenting the image and character of God.

Breaking Human Traditions, “Mathew 15:1 Then Pharisees1 and experts in the law2 came from Jerusalem3 to Jesus and said,4 15:2 “Why do your disciples disobey the tradition of the elders? For they don’t wash their5 hands when they eat.”6 15:3 He answered them,7 “And why do you disobey the commandment of God because of your tradition? 15:4 For God said,8 ‘Honor your father and mother’9 and ‘Whoever insults his father or mother must be put to death.’10 15:5 But you say, ‘If someone tells his father or mother, “Whatever help you would have received from me is given to God,”11 15:6 he does not need to honor his father.’12 You have nullified the word of God on account of your tradition. 15:7 Hypocrites! Isaiah prophesied correctly about you when he said, 15:8 ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart13 is far from me, 15:9 and they worship me in vain, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’

“Truth is truth, no matter whose marriage it is. God's plan to be faithful "until death do us part" is His marriage covenant.”- Marlyn Phillips

“In our desire to extend short-term mercy and grace to individuals, we are releasing long-term wholesale destruction of our children and grandchildren. We have almost no earthly picture of one who would keep a covenant even in the face of betrayal. Thus a Christian marriage which should portray the covenant-keeping relationship of Christ and His church instead often times portrays covenant breaking, selfishness, and impartation of a deep fear that incorrect behavior will result in rejection and abandonment.” Craig Hill - Covenant or Contract

I hope that you can see that there are no Biblical grounds for divorce. Only death can end a marriage covenant. To sum it up, what choice do you have when you want to divorce or if your spouse has left you? You can remain single or choose to stand for the healing of your marriage and be reconciled with your spouse. This truth I speak with you in love. May there be a God fearing generation that starts to love their spouses like Christ loved us, and may our lives once again portray unconditional love so that the world may know Christ through the love we have for each other.