Gospel Restoration Workshops

We have announced many news reports for many years concerning the outreach ministry of the Gospel Restoration Workshops. We have, however, been somewhat negligent in explaining to people the exact nature, purpose and function of the Workshops. It is this nature, purpose and function that defines the need for such Workshops throughout South Africa, and in particular, throughout the world. Therefore, we thought it would be good to present a brief statement concerning the GR Workshops we conduct in order that everyone have a better understanding of what we are trying to accomplish, and thus, inspire others to do the same in their own nations.

• Restoring our focus on the good news of God’s grace.
When we conduct a GR Workshop, we are expressing our appreciation for the grace nature of the gospel. Therefore, when we use the word “gospel,” we are not referring to a canonized legal system of theology whereby one would seek to justify himself or herself before God through perfect law-keeping. We are not teaching a legal system of “church,” but church as the serendipity of the gospel. We are not, therefore, rejoicing over our law-keeping, but over grace (See Rm 6:14; 11:6). We are rejoicing over the grace of God that was revealed through the incarnate Son of God. We are thus seeking those who would rejoice with us in our efforts to restore the preaching and teaching of the grace of God (See Ep 2:4-10).

Everyone understands that the word “gospel” is an English word that is used to translate a Greek word that simply means “good news.” This good news is in view of the fact of our problem of both moral and legal sin. The gospel motivates us to repent of moral sin, and thus turn to the instructions of God. However, the gospel news is also in reference to repenting of our wayward self-righteous systems of religious laws through which we have also brought ourselves into bondage. We have brought ourselves into bondage by attempting to justify ourselves before God through perfect law-keeping. According to Galatians 5:1 and Colossians 2:6-23, the bondage of supposed perfect law-keeping, through which we have led ourselves into meritorious self-righteousness, also separates us from God (See Rm 10:1-3). From this sin of self-righteousness we must also repent and be converted to the grace that was revealed through the Lord Jesus at the cross (See At 3:19).

Some have freed themselves from the problem of moral sin by repentance and baptism for the remission of sins (At 2:38). But this is only part of our deliverance from the bondage of our past. For example, some today still remain in bondage as many self-righteous Jews of the first century who were also baptized into Christ. However, these Jewish “Christians” often remained in the bondage of their past legal theologies of perfect law-keeping that they practiced while in Judaism. They subsequently brought such thinking and behavior into the church when they were baptized.

Some of the baptized Jews in the first century, therefore, tried to turn the gospel into “another gospel,” thus make the gospel of God’s grace another religious system of meritorious law-keeping (See Mk 7:1-9). They did this by imposing legal rites and rituals of Judaism on their fellow baptized Gentile brethren—specifically, they tried to impose circumcision and other statutes of the Sinai law on the Gentiles. “Truth” in the word of God was thus presumed to be a self-righteous meritorious performance of supposed legal requirements, rather than a road map to freedom for those who seek God for guidance out of the bondage moral sin and self-righteous religiosity. There is a vast difference between a religion of self-righteous keeping law, and a faith that is in response to the incarnational offering of the gospel of God’s grace.

Systematic theologies of law in reference to the righteousness of sinners are simply bad news. They generate sin every time an adherent convinces himself or herself that he or she has successfully (meritoriously) kept all the laws of the system. Systematic theologies are doctrinal outlines to which adherents have convinced themselves that they can legally perform everything on the required list in an effort to self-proclaim their own righteousness.

If we make the “truth of the gospel” a legal system of theology to which one must meritoriously subscribe perfectly in order to be saved, then we have joined the audience to which Paul addressed the entire letter of Galatians. We have, though we may have a “proof text” under each point of our canonized systematic theology, actually produced something that is another gospel, and thus contrary to the grace of God (See Gl 1:6-9). We have turned the law of Christ into a legal system of meritorious self-justification.

We conduct the GR Workshops in order to help people to study themselves out of this quagmire of human religious traditions and self-imposed ritualistic righteousness. In order to accomplish this goal, the Workshops are centered around the simple gospel of Jesus Christ. Essentially, our purpose in conducting the GR Workshops is mandated in the following statement that was originally inscribed by the Holy Spirit: “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage” (Gl 5:1). That “yoke” is any canonized legal system of theology that is composed of meritorious religious rites and rituals, as well as experiential religiosity that is focused on ourselves. Obedience to the gospel delivers us from such a yoke of self-imposed bondage, and thus in GR Workshops we remind people that in their obedience to the gospel they have been set free from self-righteous religiosity, and thus they must stay free.

• Restoring knowledge of and purpose for historical posterity.
When we refer to the gospel in reference to restoration, we are referring to an historical event, the core of which was revealed for posterity in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4: “I declare to you the gospel … that Christ died for our sins … that He was buried, that He rose again ….” The death, burial and resurrection of Jesus is the center core of the gospel from which we must spiral out in study of the whole gospel in the word of God. We do so in order to understand the entirety of what was offered in those few hours Jesus was on the cross, and the three days He laid dead in a tomb.

The totality of the good news, therefore, required a body to be offered, crucified and resurrected, and the same body to ascend into heaven. Put in titular single words, therefore, the gospel is the incarnation, atoning death, resurrection, ascension, present kingdom reign, and eventual consummation of all things (See Ph 2:5-11). When we speak of gospel restoration, therefore, we seek to workshop each of these subjects in order to clearly understand the purpose of these historical events in reference to our transition from our present state of eventual carnal termination in this world into the opportunity of an eternal existence with the One who came in the flesh into this world for us.

• Restoring focus on the incarnate Son of God.
Restoration of the gospel events, with all the salvational gems that surround these events, is the central focus of a GR Workshop. We must be clear on this point in reference to what Jesus cautioned in John 16:13,14. In His personal promise to the twelve apostles, Jesus said that “when He, the Spirit of truth has come, He will guide you [apostles] into all the truth.” We understand this. But what is so often confused in the religious world today is what Jesus said in verse 14 in reference to the work of the Holy Spirit. Because Jesus knew that many would turn their focus from Him as the Savior of the world to the Holy Spirit, who was only a messenger of the truth of the gospel, Jesus added, “He will glorify Me ….”

When we speak of restoration, therefore, we are not talking about restoring the Holy Spirit in our lives. On the contrary, we are reminding people that what the Holy Spirit accomplished when He came upon the apostles has already been fulfilled. We have Bibles in our hands, the historical report of the gospel. We thus call for gospel restoration by studying the Holy Spirit’s report on the matter. Our obsession is with the Lord Jesus Christ. We assume that the Holy Spirit will do His work in our lives today regardless of our knowledge thereof. Restoration is in reference to our beliefs and behavior in response to the gospel.

We are on a mission to restore gospel study that is focused on the incarnate Son of God. As a disciple, it is understood that we study the Spirit-inspired word of God in order to understand God’s eternal plan of redemption. We are thus trying to help people to fulfill the mandate of 2 Peter 3:18: “Grow in grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” We are on a restoration mission, therefore, to encourage people to get into the word of God that the Spirit produced in order to better our understanding of the atoning death of the incarnate Son of God, His resurrection, His present kingdom reign, and His eventual coming again to fetch us out of this world. A GR Workshop is all about Jesus.

• Restoring the ministry of gospel-driven disciples.

Gospel Restoration Workshops are conducted by gospel-driven disciples. This is not a group of ordained “professionals.” On the contrary, these are ordinary members of the body of Christ with an extraordinary faith in the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These are those who sincerely feel that they must do something because the gospel of the heart of God is burning deep in their souls.

The GR Workshop team is composed of disciples throughout the church in Cape Town. These are those individuals who seek to live an incarnational life after the One who was incarnate in the flesh for them. These are those heart-motivated disciples who have allowed the gospel of Jesus to transform their lives (See Rm 12:1,2). They thus seek to work within the boundaries of South Africa, the people for whom they feel responsible as teachers. At the same time, they seek to encourage others to do the same in their nations.

If a GR Workshop outreach does not evolve among the disciples in any particular nation of the world, then that nation must fall under Jesus’ mandate of Mark 16:15. That nation has not heard the true good news of the incarnate Son of God, and thus not had the opportunity to in turn reach out to their nation with the gospel. People who are not gospel-driven will find it comfortable to sit on benches and pews Sunday after Sunday without being energized into action by the gospel. But those who truly understand the empowering nature of the incarnate and offered Son of God cannot sit idle. They are emotionally driven to help others on their gospel journey.

If the gospel has not motivated a team (“church”) of people locally, then it may be necessary to invite a “church” of dedicated gospel-driven people to workshop the gospel locally in order that the local disciples take ownership of their own nation. At least this seems to be the case in reference to Paul going to Roman in order to workshop the gospel among the few first generation disciples who lived there, which disciples still did not fully understand all the implications of the gospel (See Rm 1:13-16). But just in case he could not make it to Rome, Paul wrote a Spirit-inspired letter of the gospel of grace in order that the disciples in Rome connect the dots between the incarnation, cross and their baptism into Christ (Rm 6:3-6).

What we are encouraging is that the gospel-motivated disciples in every nation must generate a GR Workshop team effort in order to do what we are trying to do in South Africa. If a nation of disciples have not been motivated by the gospel to reach out to their own nation with teaching on the gospel, then they may have led themselves into the bondage of a legal system of self-righteous religiosity, and thus have no good news of freedom to proclaim to others. They have thus moved away from the simple freedom of the gospel. And having moved back into the bondage of law-keeping religiosity, they are, as some of the early Jewish Christians, trying to convert others to some system of legal religious theology to which possible converts must meritoriously adhere. And thus, they may be preaching their church as a legal system of salvation, rather than the church being serendipitous of the gospel of God’s grace.

In 2 Corinthians 4:15 Paul explained that it is the gospel of the grace of God that causes thanksgiving for all things that Son of God has done on our behalf. This is the driving force of the GR Workshop team. Our response to all these salvational sacrifices that the incarnate Son did for us causes us to go forth to conduct GR Workshops. What the South African GR Workshop team members are saying, therefore, is that they will take ownership of South Africa as far as conducting workshops, but they want to encourage other nations to be caused by God’s grace to take ownership of their own nations.

• Restoring unity among gospel-believing people.
Regional members of the Western Cape make up the GR Workshop team. In other words, this is not the work of one “local church.” The team is composed of those who attend different assemblies of the church throughout the metropolitan area of Cape Town. These are gospel-motivated members who have determined to explain to others that God works with us as individual members of His one universal church in order to motivate gospel living and to accomplish His mission. Therefore, the Cape Town disciples, regardless of where they sit on Sunday morning, are working together as a “team” in order to reach out to other cities, towns and villages in South Africa.

One of the beautiful serendipitous blessings of the GR Workshop ministry is that the outreach presents an opportunity for every member of the body in a region to work together in a united effort to teach the gospel. Individual members must not allow autonomous theologies to keep them separated from one another as they seek to work together in a team effort. Both Timothy and Luke did not allow such divisiveness to hinder them from joining Paul’s evangelistic team when Paul’s team first passed through the churches in Lystra and Iconium and Troas (See At 16:1-3; 20:4-6).

In order to give and example of this gospel behavior of oneness, disciples throughout the city of Cape Town send their contributions to a single bank account in order to pay for the petrol, housing, literature and equipment that is necessary to conduct the GR Workshops. The team does not ask for any contributions during any GR Workshops. If a city, town or village hosts a Workshop, then team seeks to inform the host that they are not responsible for any expenses in reference to a local GR Workshop they may host. Cape Town disciples willingly pay all the bills. Therefore, local hosts can be assured that there will never be a request for contributions during any GR Workshop.

Please keep in mind that the GR Workshops are not a ministry of any one local group of disciples. Members of the body of Christ in Cape Town have “joined the team” through their contributions. This is gospel behavior. In other words, one does not have to go personally on a GR Workshop trip itself in order to be a member of the team. One can be a member of the team as the Philippian disciples when they sent contributions to the gospel team that went to Thessalonica from Philippi (See Ph 4:15-17). Through their contributions, the Philippians thus became a part of the team that went to Thessalonica, though the contributing members stayed in Philippi.

As mentioned by James, not everyone is a teacher (Js 3:1). Therefore, when there are teachers throughout a region who are gospel driven, then they seek to work together in order to restore gospel teaching in other regions. In our case, several gospel-driven teachers throughout Cape Town seek to work together in the region of South Africa. They do so by actually going on GR Workshop trips. Their collective desire to accomplish what Paul explained in Roman 1:13-16 is realized in the GR Workshops. This is possible because the extended GR Workshop team of many in Cape Town seek to send the “traveling teachers” on their journey (See 3 Jn 5-8).

• Restoring a call for unity that is based on the gospel.
If there are those of any religious faith in a particular city who believe in Jesus as the resurrected, ascended and reigning Son of God, then it is time to call for a GR Workshop in that city in order to encourage people of faith to focus on the unity that is produced by a common obedience to the gospel (See Jd 3). A GR Workshop is focused on calling together all people of faith in a particular city, town or village who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. The Workshops are a call to all the “Apollos” and “eunuch” disciples in any region who are studying the word of God, and thus seeking to link with others who are on the same gospel page. The purpose of a GR Workshop is to encourage people to grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus (See At 8:34,35; 18:24-26; 1 Pt 3:18). For this reason, it is the focus of a GR Workshop to call together and encourage all those who believe in Jesus as the incarnate and resurrected Son of God who is now reigning from heaven over His body of obedient subjects.

As the GR Workshop Team of Cape Town, it is our prayer that this statement will encourage you to conduct GR Workshops in your nation. Workshops are being conducted in South Africa because there are those throughout South Africa who have allowed the power of the gospel to work in their hearts. Because they realize that others are having some difficultly in working themselves out of religious bondage, they are willing to share with others the tremendous motivational power that is inherent in the gospel (Rm 1:16). These grace-motivated disciples are seeking to go from synagogue to synagogue (At 17:1-3), and into every desert place in order to open their mouths for Jesus (At 8:35). They are thus pleading with others to join them in making King Jesus the center of reference throughout the world. If you want to understand better the material that is presented in the GR Workshops, please download the following books. These books will give you more than enough material to conduct a three-hour GR Workshop in every city, town and village in your nation.

Download from www.africainternational.org,
or Whatsapp +27 82 452 8100 for the following books:
Book 33: 21st Century Restoration; Book 34: A Call For Restoration; Book 73: The Gospel Of God’s Heart; Book 76: Escape From Religion; Book 79: Gospel Restoration; Book 92: Releasing The Gospel; Book 103: Living The Truth Of The Gospel

New Testament Commentary