Photo : Hannes Britz
The Namib Desert during the "rainy season"

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


[Please find this year's  program at the end of this article ]

As  the 10th  anniversary of SOLA 5, an Association of God-centred  Evangelical Churches in Southern Africa,  is celebrated in terms  of an annual conference, hosted  this year in  Cape Town from the 3rd to the 6th of September 2015,  by the Goodwood Baptist Church   we  desire to once  again  affirm  the relevance of this association  for these present  times.

Below is the   introductory statement taken from our handbook :

Sola 5 is focussed upon bringing together biblically-minded, God-centred churches and believers to encourage one another to meet this need throughout the whole southern African region.  True churches and believers who have been disillusioned and disheartened by the definite weakening of the church need not feel isolated and frustrated. As he had in Elijah’s day, we are persuaded that God still has his people today who are willing to speak up and confront our man-centred culture.  Like-minded local churches can be linked together in productive and supportive association without the development of cumbersome ecclesiastical structures and without the cultivation of personalities that engage in destructive power-plays and pragmatic politics.  It is clear that local churches and individual Christians are searching for identity, and direction and an escape from man-centred administrative structures and mindless tradition.  Practically, isolated local congregations and individual believers are yearning for answers to questions such as:

 • What is the local church really here for?
 • How ought we as a church family to relate to other church families?
 • If we are not meant to lead an isolated and independent existence as local churches, on what basis can we co-operate and associate with other groups of believers?
 • Where can I find a genuine New Testament church?

Sola 5 is an association of like-minded congregations that straddles country borders to embrace churches in the whole southern African region, including Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, Mozambique, Lesotho, Swaziland and South Africa. It enables committed local churches to benefit from (inter alia):
 • an unambiguous shared identity
 • fellowship;
 • prayer
 • accountability
 • theological education
 • mutual support in church planting ventures
 • co-ordination of missionary activities
 • a usable internet website
 • economies of scale in the publishing of sound literature.

The beliefs, values and principles of association within Sola 5 are set out in our Con­fession of Faith, Core Values, and Constitution. 

Sola 5 is a baptistic association, but it is our hope that the Lord will enable us to co­operate with like-minded, non-baptistic church associations as we strive to be channels of God’s grace to our society.

Finally, a word about our name: Sola 5. 
The passing of time erodes and changes the meaning of words.  One word that has lost its meaning in the postmodern world is the word “evangelical.”  In the spirit of the Cambridge Declaration of 1996, we want to affirm our commitment to historic confessional Christianity by reasserting the vital notions of the authority of Scripture, of Christ-centred faith, of gospel grace, of justifying faith, and of God-centred life.  The fivefold Reformation creed of
·         Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone),
·         Solus Christus (Christ alone),
·         Sola Gratia (by grace alone),
·         Sola Fide (by faith alone) and
·         Soli Deo Gloria (glory to God alone)

…summarizes the urgent need of the hour; these convictions must drive the church again as they once did.  All five of these convictions are necessary in order to be faithful to what God has revealed. 
Hence our name, Sola 5.

This Year's Conference Speakers 

This  Year's Program 

Friday, June 19, 2015

30th Anniversary of Eastside Baptist Church

Eastside Baptist Church — 30 years later !
It  was  in the June of 1985  that  the Eastside Baptist Church was constituted  by 21  founder  members under the leadership  of Pastor Charles Whitson .  
God had  blessed us almost right away with  a suitable  property  on the corner of Hebenstreit  Street and Mission Road in Ludwigsdorf. The first phase of our building program was completed in 1987.
Many hands have worked  on the building since then,  and we thank God for them all.  Of greater significance   is the purpose  for which this building  was designed.   Many  people  have   been worked on by God   in these 30 years. Only eternity will reveal  what  has been accomplished in the souls of  men, women and children.
And so it is that  with the passing of the  years  Eastside  Baptist Church  can increasingly claim to  have a history and a heritage!  We  who are  now in the membership of this  church,  remember that  we  are  enjoying the fruit  of dedicated labour of those that have  previously worked here.  May  we be continuously reminded  of  the purpose for which this church was established  -  a center to  bring God’s people to  Christian maturity  and  to be witnesses   to our  Lord Jesus   Christ. 
 In commemoration of this event, on Saturday , the  20th of  June  our congregation will enjoy  a thanksgiving lunch  together, and on Sunday the 21st  June  Pastor Callie Rossouw of the Walvis Bay   Baptist Church  will preach the Word  to us 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Are Churches Right When They Insist Upon A Biblical Standard For Entrance Into Church Membership?

This, in my opinion,  may well be   one of the most crucial issues  facing  the church at all times. Should one  keep the  church doors  wide open for all and sundry  to find a spiritual home there, irrespective of  having a credible profession of faith  or does one  restrict  membership  of the church  to  those  who are able  to  give a credible profession of faith  before the elders and the church  alone?

Our 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith [1] states:

26.2 All people throughout the world who profess the faith of the Gospel and render obedience to God by Christ according to the Gospel, and who do not destroy their own profession by any fundamental errors, or by unholy behaviour, are and may be called visible saints.1 All local2 congregations ought to be constituted of such people.3
(1) 1Co 1:2, Act 11:26 (2) Original: particular (3) Rom 1:7, Eph 1:20-22


26.6 The members of these churches are `saints'1 by calling and they visibly demonstrate and give evidence of their obedience to the call of Christ by their profession and walk.2 They willingly consent to walk together according to Christ's instructions, giving themselves to the Lord and to one another by the will of God, affirming their subjection to the directives of the Gospel.3
(1) i.e. holy ones (2) Rom 1:7, 1Co 1:2 (3) Act 2:41-42, 5:13-14, 2Co 9:13

The  Confession leaves us  in no doubt that  our Baptist Churches  ought to be constituted  on the premise  that only   the converted, regenerate or ‘born again’[2]  ought to be admitted as members of the church.
The  danger  of admitting unconverted people  into  membership  ought to be   evident. When  sheep are replaced by goats, then  it is clear that  goats  will  rule  the flock, and they will rule the flock  not according  to the  Word  of the Great Shepherd, but according to their carnal nature  and desires, replacing the  word and  the authority of the Great Shepherd with their own  wisdom. This is exactly what  has happened in many   former evangelical churches  as they  compromised the standard of entrance into the membership of the church.     

A Historical Example

Recently I acquired   the works  of  Jonathan Edwards  and I am  finding this  to be a fascinating  read. The  introductory section includes the Memoirs of Jonathan Edwards [3] in which  his own  experience in his church at Northampton, New England  is described. 
On the 22nd of June  1750  Jonathan Edwards   preached his farewell sermon to   his congregation  in Northampton, New England. This was  not a farewell  sermon  which he  had preached  upon leaving the congregation  because he had received a calling  to another church.  No! This  sermon was preached because the church had  chosen to dismiss  their pastor!  The reason  why  this happened  was that pastor and people ultimately differed  concerning the qualifications  for church membership.

It all started  in  1744 when he was informed that  some young  people who were members of  the church  had “ licentious books in their possession which they employed to promote obscene conversation  among the young people  at home “ [4].  Edwards was rightly concerned about this since these young people, being members of the church  were corrupting  others. So,  after  preaching  a sermon [5]to this effect , a  committee of inquiry  was appointed. The  enquiry  became guilty of procedural error[6] and thus members  of the church at Northampton whose young people  had been  subjected to this inquiry  began to oppose  Edwards and the inquiry.   Edward’s biographer writes :

“This was the occasion   of weakening Mr. Edwards’ hands in the work of the ministry, especially among the young people, with whom, by this means, he greatly lost his influence. It seemed in a great measure  to put an end to his usefulness at Northampton, and doubtless laid a foundation for his removal …” [7]

There  was however  another difficulty  of a far more serious nature. The church  of Northampton , like many  other early churches  was  formed  on the basis of a ‘strict communion’, that is,  only those that had a credible testimony of conversion  would be admitted to the communion table, and only after  due examination  by the pastor and elders.   Rev. Stoddard[8], Jonathan Edwards’  grandfather  and his  predecessor   in  the church at Northampton  however  made a change  to  this  ruling in  1704[9] and in this  he caused a problem for his  successor.  Stoddard  introduced the notion that  

“unconverted persons … had a right  in the sight of God… to the sacraments of the Lord’s supper;… it was their duty  to come to that ordinance , though they knew they had  no true goodness or evangelical holiness. He maintained that that  visible Christianity  does not consist in a profession and he encouraged  unbelievers to participate in communion  on the principle  that they regard the sacrament  as a converting  ordinance, and partake of it  with the hope of obtaining conversion.”[10]

Although Solomon Stoddard  had faced initial opposition in  departing from this old rule,  yet  due  to his great influence (he had been their pastor for 32 years by then) , his  view  spread and,  by and by, took hold  of  ministers and people  in the  county and other parts of New  England.  When Jonathan Edwards  joined  the pastorate at  Northampton he had some initial  hesitation over this matter, but did not pay  sufficient attention to it until he began to study the Scriptures,  coming to the conclusion that  his grandfather’s position on this matter was wrong .

“ He was  fully convinced that to be a visible Christian , was to put on the visibility or appearance of a real Christian … and as to the ordinance of the Lord’s supper  was  instituted for none but visible professing Christians, that  none but those who are real Christians have a right, in the sight of God , to come to that ordinance… that none  ought to be admitted who do not make a  profession of real Christianity…” [11]

When  Edward’s position had become known in the town there was a great outcry against him  and  calls were made to have him dismissed. When he wanted to  defend  his  cause by preaching upon the  subject  he was  opposed  by the  ‘standing committee’[12]. He then proposed to put his argument into writing[13], but in the end it was  read by a very few, and ultimately  Edwards was dismissed  from his pastoral charge.

Observations  and Conclusion

When Jonathan  Edwards had called the young people  to account in 1744 the seeds of  Christian nominalism  had long been sown,  as the church under Stoddard’s long  pastorate had permitted the unconverted   to participate in the full privileges of church membership. It is not easy to undo  spiritual knots, once they have been tied. Many  a good pastor has lost his pastorate  due to resisting the  unbiblical traditions of their  predecessors.  We saw that Jonathan Edwards did not survive  this challenge, though we believe he was right  in every way to  ensure that the church be  considered  as a body of  true believers.

I  and our congregation  continue to stand on the basis and foundation of our  biblical confession of faith in this regard .

Joachim Rieck 
May 2015

[1] THE BAPTIST CONFESSION OF FAITH OF 1689 Rewritten in modern English by Andrew Kerkham
[2] John 3:1-8
[3] These were compiled by  Sereno Dwight , a later relative of Edwards  in 1830
[4] The works of Jonathan Edwards: Vol 1 , Banner of Truth , p.  cxiv
[5]  For this purpose he preached on Hebrews 12:15,16 ( Works, p. cxiv)
[6]  Edwards appointed the time for  the committee to meet at his house and then read to the church  a list of the names of the young persons  whom he wanted  to come to his house at the same time. Some of the names read were of  the persons accused , and some of them were witnesses. Unfortunately he  did not  tell the church  who was guilty  and  who was merely called upon as a witness. This caused a  big commotion and much anger  in the town of Northhampton.
[7] Ibid, p. cxv
[8]   Rev. Stoddard  had been the minister of this church for  55  years when Jonathan  Edwards was ordained ( p. xxxvii) . He died on  the  11th February  1729 (p.xl)
[9] Ibid . p. xxxvii
[10] Ibid  p. cxv; see also pp  xxvii
[11] Ibid, pp cxv- cxvi
[12] I find it interesting that reference is made here  to a ‘ standing committee’ rather than an ‘eldership’. 
[13] It was entitled : “ An  Humble  Enquiry into the  Rules of the Word of God , concerning the Qualifications requisite to a  Complete Standing and Full Communion in the Visible Christian Church”.  

Sunday, April 12, 2015


How should  we  think of children in the context of the church ? 

There can  be no doubt that  children were present in the meetings of the  early  congregations.  Paul’s letters  to the Ephesians and  the  Colossians contain many instructions of vital importance for the proper functioning of the church.  Among the things taught, some aspects have particular application to children – and therefore children are addressed in these two  epistles[1].   Many of the other things communicated in these letters are equally relevant and applicatory to children  e.g. the prayer of Paul in  Eph. 1:15ff and   4:17ff   where he reminds us  to be  “living as children of the light…”

Remember also  that these   letters were not only read in Colossae and Ephesus – they were general epistles – to be read in all the congregations – see for instance Col. 4:16, where Paul instructs that the Colossian letter should also to be read to the church in Laodicea. It was likely then that such letters were read to congregations in places such as Smyrna, Thyatira, and Philadelphia etc.  These letters are read in every Christian congregation around the world today! They should be read and expounded today in every congregation  where children  are present to hear everything the letter contains.

There is no  doubt that children were  the same then as they are now. They  were fidgety, restless  and often they would not be able to understand what “uncle apostle Paul” was talking about . If  see  2 Peter 3:16 is  true , then many  adults would have been equally challenged.  

The question now  arises: If children are in attendance of  the services of the church - and if they are part and parcel of what we do here, then…
·       Can they be members?
·       How do we know that they are ready for membership?
·       How do we incorporate them  into the life of the Church?

We have already established that Jesus received little children to Himself  (Matt 19:14; Mark 10:13-16). Children, by virtue of them being children (young, inexperienced, ignorant etc.) are not on account of that excluded from the kingdom of God. The Scripture says that God wants all men to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth. (1Tim 2:4).  That  little word  ,  “all”  includes children.
Children are invited by Jesus to become members of the kingdom of God.  We have seen  that  that this text does not teach, that children are automatically members of the kingdom . They too are invited to repent and to submit themselves to  God , just like everyone else. Remember, there is only one gospel  and  only one way to become members of that kingdom.  In fact, we have no reason to believe that children are less advantaged or qualified to come to Jesus. They are probably better suited for coming to Christ, because they come with less ‘baggage’ and with the right attitude - “as little children - the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these…” whereas adults, ‘have to become like little children.”’

Now let us take a step further from there:  If believing children are in the kingdom, then this means that they are also in the church! [2]   When Paul wrote to the Colossians and the Ephesian congregations   he regarded such believing  children as being part of the church. It is evident from the language, which he uses. In Col.  3:20 he says: ”Children obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the LORD. He is assuming that these children want to please the Lord. They have responded to His invitation to come to Him, and they are thankful that He died for them, and they want to show their love for Him by ‘pleasing Him’. Is that not the attitude that a true Christian shows?
Children, do you want to please the Lord Jesus? Well then the best way to show this is by obeying your parents. That is the main thing Jesus wants you to do; it is the main way in which you show your love for God while you are children: “children obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.”

Are such children then not eligible for baptism and church membership? Are they not permitted to take part in the Lord’s Supper? Should such children, who have professed the Lord Jesus, and who have shown  it in the way they submit to and respect their parents not be recognised as believers? And if their parents are part of the church – all the more reason!

This brings  us  to the second issue:

Remember, what we  have said  earlier? There is no special gospel for children. The way into God’s kingdom for adult and child alike is the same: “You must be born again!”  (John 3:1-8). This new birth must be evidenced by a voluntary,  public confession of personal faith in Christ.  Fruit in keeping with repentance should also accompany this profession of faith.
Public acknowledgement  is necessary. If children and adults do not confess the Lord Jesus Christ before men (i.e. in public) then it is meaningless to talk about conversion. Conversion is no small thing! It is nothing less than a resurrection from death to life! The Holy Spiritis a powerful agent for change!  Children   too must expect to be changed by  the power of the indwelling Spirit  and it  shows mainly in the way they relate to their parents!

However, in the case of children, there is one problem.  Children  don’t like to ‘feel out’. They are keenly competitive and ambitious. It means much to them to give correct answers. They (like adults) don’t like to be wrong . They are just a whole lot more honest about it!
So,  if you would ask a child in our church “have you come to Jesus and have you trusted Him for full and free salvation, and does your heart belong to Him now?” ,   very few children will say:  “No!”  Therefore to baptise, receive into membership and allow them access to the Lord’s Table on ground of such a profession alone would be wrong. Where this is done we are sure to  produce a nominal church membership, which has disastrous results for generations to come.
So, we  come back to the same point as before: The best way  to deal with children  is to adopt the same procedure as with adults. Have them understand the terms of the gospel [3]   and have them respond  (without coercion) spontaneously  to confess their faith in Christ. This does not necessarily mean that  they necessarily  must  give a testimony before the whole church . Some children may be able to do that and that is fine . The point however is this: the parents, Sunday School teacher, pastor etc. should hear such a confession. And if a child is able to respond to such questions as may be asked  of them  about their personal encounter with Jesus, we have much reason to be encouraged.

Of course there is no ultimate  guarantee that a child’s confession of faith is genuine. But can the same not also be said of an adult? Therefore we should receive the confession of faith of a child with the same seriousness as we do with an adult.
The basic principle is this: Let us receive those who Christ has received. And if we have some favourable evidence of this fact, let us not withhold baptism, membership and communion from the children on that account.


It is a  fundamental conviction that children should be part of what we represent here – the body of Christ, and its most complete expression, that is,  the assembled church.
The main obstacles to the attendance of children in the public worship services of the church are most often  not children, but their parents! It has been said that when mothers feel cold, they tell their child to put on a jersey!  Modern parents often feel (!) that their children cannot cope with sitting through a worship service, let alone a sermon!  Yes,  it is true that  a few children may be disruptive and  they may have to be removed  for a while, and be taught to sit still .
Of course, the worship service cannot compete with the TV or free play!  Naturally  a  child  will choose that  before  sitting through a worship service. But sitting through a worship service must never be   compared with TV or other entertainment! It is a discipline and no discipline comes naturally to anyone of us – not even adults! You should see how fidgety  adults  can be  even in our own congregation!

It is on the ground of such mistaken perceptions about the church, and especially the worship service ( which  are  not based on  thorough theological reflection) that churches have developed separate activities for children, while the adults go to the worship service. But this simply reinforces the idea that the worship service is for adults only!
Now, the fact that some of the language of the sermon may be above the heads of the children is not a serious problem!  This is only a temporary problem. The discipline of participating in worship ultimately pays dividends!  The children grow in knowledge and soon they will understand if they are encouraged to  persevere , and their presence in the worship service is all preparatory and much more important than parents  will at first perceive.

We believe that attendance of the worship services fosters the child’s spiritual development. They too must learn from young that the worship services of the church are the  one assembly that the Lord loves and blesses.   It is the most complete expression of  the unity of the church.  Children need to see that! They need to be integrated into that. They need to be  prepared to participate in that body. They need to be exposed to difficult theological terms, and even if they don’t understand ‘atonement’ and ‘justification’ etc. yet, with time they will.
The other important aspect about the child experiencing the worship service of the church is that here they see people coming to faith, testifying, being baptised  etc.  Children should be present at the Lord’s Supper. Some of them may not yet participate if they have not confessed Christ. But they should see what happens and they should express  their  desire to participate , whereupon a wonderful  opportunity  for sharing the gospel  with them arises! 

We have  emphasised  the place of the worship service in the spiritual formation of the child, because it is so misunderstood and neglected.  We do not  thereby de-emphasize  the small groups (i.e. Sunday School, children’s groups) which all contribute to the spiritual growth of the child.

Yet another reason for integrating our children fully into the church is the social aspect. At church they will come into contact with other Christians and their families. The local church made up of these families is a wonderful fellowship for kids, and it is a support system and a large family that holds much spiritual gain in the long term. In a gathered church context, the children learn to interact with people of all kinds. A child growing up in this atmosphere will be well protected against the social evils that are tearing so many families apart.   In the church context the child will be nurtured and protected by the stable environment, and the likelihood that this child will set up a good stable home in due time is so much better.

So we say that it is better if parents can persevere and endure hardship for a little while. Please support your children positively, and we the church leaders will do our best to help our children to feel welcome in the church and especially in our  worship services.


  1. Can children become members of the church? Yes of course – provided that they are born again!
  2. How can we know that our children have come to Christ? By observing their genuine repentance!
  3. How shall we incorporate our children into the church? “Incorporating” is the word. We must  make them feel part of the church. They must be allowed to grow (being children) into responsibilities. We will not expect children to be ‘little adults’, but we will entrust them with more and more responsibility as they grow.  May we see MANY mature young people take their seats of leadership in God’s church!  May we see another Charles Haddon Spurgeon, who pastored his first church at the tender age of 18!

[1] Ephesians  6:1-3 ;  Col. 3:20-21
[2] ( Note : kingdom and church are not identical – though the church is the chief expression of the kingdom in this world)
[3]  E.g.  by using  Matthias Media  Tract  :  "Two Ways to Live”