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The final (published) version of the Acts of Synod 2006 is available as a single PDF file here.
The Acts available in HTML format are an "Approved Draft", and contain spelling mistakes, grammatical errors and typos.
These draft acts are being retained online for convenience and ease of access. Quotes should not be taken from these draft acts.
 
Meditation text of Reverend A Veldman
Chairman of the convening church of West Kelmscott
Monday 10th July 2006, Synod West Kelmscott, Western Australia, 2006 (Acts Article 1)

Esteemed Delegates and Overseas Guests, Brothers and Sisters in the audience,

In this evening's opening's address, I would first like to focus on the passage of Scripture we have just read, in particular the verses 7 - 9 of 1 Corinthians 3. We must read these verses against the background of Satan's attack on this newly instituted church. The congregation in Corinth was instituted during Paul's second missionary journey, when the apostle stayed in Corinth for a year and a half, which was some two to three years before the apostle wrote his first letter to this congregation. As I have already mentioned, this congregation was under severe attack by Satan, not only by way of enmity from outside, but also by strife from within. What kind of strife was this?

From this letter, we learn that after Paul's departure factions had formed and divided the congregation. One had sided with this preacher and the other with someone else. In doing so, they looked at people rather than on high to Christ, something that happens more often in the church, when, for example, some speak highly about a certain minister with special gifts, or are siding with his view on certain matters, whilst at the same time they criticize other ministers very negatively.

Well, this was exactly what was happening in Corinth. Some members of the congregation no longer saw the Lord at work, at work also in the variety of gifts distributed to particular office bearers, each having his own special gifts. Satan was busy among the membership, using this variety to destroy the unity within the congregation. Factions had developed. Personality cults were emerging, each member of the congregation rallying support for the person he favored. Some favored Paul. Others liked Apollos, whilst a third group supported Peter. When the apostle Paul hears about this, he takes up his pen and writes the Corinthians a letter, in which amongst others he admonishes them also about this divisive group forming. In Ch. 3:5 he writes, "Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one." In other words, Paul, Apollos, or Peter, they are merely servants who came to you on behalf of their heavenly Sender. His word they spoke and through that word, you came to faith. The fact that you came to faith was not their doing, but Christ's doing. So don't look at people, because the church is neither Paul's nor Apollos', but Christ's. The church is a plant from His hand. We as preachers of the gospel are merely servants in the service of Christ. The same applies equally as much to ministers and elders today. They are merely servants, through whom God wants to build His church.

In 1 Cor. 3, the apostle Paul thus puts the office bearer in his proper place. As a servant of God, the office bearer is allowed to plant and to water, but ultimately only God can give the growth. Within this process, some servants do the planting, whilst others are called to give the plants water. That's how the Lord distributes the work among the office bearers assigning to each his specific task. In Corinth, it was Paul, who had planted, whilst Apollos had watered. In most of the newly instituted churches, Paul had done the pioneer work, preaching where no one had ever preached before, whilst Apollos followed later to work in the established church edifying those who had come to faith under Paul's preaching. Both of these activities were equally important to Christ's congregation at Corinth. On the other hand, both activities were useless unless God would give growth. In other words, both Paul and Apollos had done their work in the midst of the congregation of Corinth simply being servants of God.

In vs. 9, the apostle Paul writes, "We are God's fellow workers." This term 'fellow worker' has often been misinterpreted, since the original Greek allows for two different translations. The first words of vs. 9 do indeed allow for a reading that means, Christian workers are co-laborers with God. They are God's fellow workers. However, these words can also be translated, "Christians who are co-laborers with one another belong to God." Comparing Scripture with Scripture and comparing Paul's other use of the expression 'God's fellow worker', he speaks here in 1 Cor. 3:9 about himself and the other workers as 'co-laborers who belong to God'. He does so in response to the question he is dealing with in this chapter, viz., how the congregation should view the relationship between himself and Apollos. Says Paul, we are no rivals who are competing with each other, but fellow workers in the service of Him to whom we belong, not as co-laborers with God, but together servants of God. We each must fulfill our own specific task, but at the same time, we might differ in character. Paul was a person totally different to Apollos. Furthermore, Apollos came from a totally different background than the apostle Paul. Yet both came with the same Word, the same gospel. And that's just what counts, today as well.

Brothers delegates, we likewise are servants of God, as we constitute synod. We have been delegated by the churches to make decisions on the matters that are set before us. It's quite an agenda we have to deal with. Some of the issues may even cause heated debate, which in itself is not wrong, as long as in such a heated debate we guard against fighting to establish our own opinion. We are here to fulfill our mandate and not to represent the voice of a certain number of people within the bond of churches.

Later on this evening, we shall rise to show our agreement with Scripture and the confessions based on Scripture, as well as the adopted Church Order. That's the basis on which we do our work and this binds us together in Christ, even though on certain matters we may not agree regarding the direction that should be taken. In the unity of faith that binds us together, we are here as servants called to seek the well-being of Christ's churches here in Australia, and as regards our contacts/relationships with other churches, we should think of the furtherance of God's kingdom in this world. Working together on the basis, which I mentioned before, we are bound to respect each other's viewpoint. Therefore, we should guard ourselves against hastily branding a different point of view, for example, as being no longer Reformed. We should respect each other's integrity, even when disagreeing on certain matters.

Let us remember throughout the coming fortnight, also here at synod, we are merely servants in the service of our heavenly Sender. This should make for a spiritual attitude, which differs from a worldly attitude that one may find, for example, in parliament, where members lobby and put pressure on other members to vote a certain way. Nothing like this should be found among us. I mention this, because such dangers are always present.

We are called to serve, to serve in faithfulness towards God. It's with this attitude that we are called to defend the truth, each of us in his own place with the task God has given him around the synod table. Having carried out that task faithfully, we may also confidently leave the outcome of this synod in the hands of Christ, the King of the Church. As long as we are faithful in the place where God has set us, He will preserve His church, also at those times when decisions might not be taken in the direction we would like them to go.

During synod, as delegates we should daily remind each other of this. First of all, this will keep us humble. Secondly, it will also provide inward rest and harmony among the delegates, knowing that as long as in the place that the Lord has given me, I am faithful towards the Lord also here at synod, I may leave the outcome of the decisions that will be taken in His almighty hands.

It is with these words that I open the twenty third Synod of the Free Reformed Churches of Australia. Let us now ask the Lord for His blessing upon this synod.



last updated 21 Jul 2006
 
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