C.H. Spurgeon

Sinners, let me address you with words of life; Jesus wants nothing from you, nothing whatsoever, nothing done, nothing felt; he gives both work and feeling. Ragged, penniless, just as you are, lost, forsaken, desolate, with no good feelings, and no good hopes, still Jesus comes to you, and in these words of pity he addresses you, "Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out."

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Friday, August 03, 2012

Having An Issue With Someone or Their Sin

Recently I have seen a swarm of communication across Facebook in reference to a pastor of Baptist Church and his apparent inappropriate behavior. Who the pastor is and his sin (or alleged sin) is not important enough to the lesson to mention, but the message we can take from the situation is, in my opinion. I would like us to step back away from that current situation, and see how we can apply scripture to our own lives.

Since it was a pastor (elder, bishop, etc.), we will begin with:

1 Timothy 5:1-2
Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren; The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity.

Now, does this mean that a pastor can never be corrected; even if they are living in sin?

1 Timothy 5:17-20
Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. For the scripture saith, thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward. Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses. Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.

We see that if a pastor rules [and by rule, we do not mean as a dictator – Mark 10:42-44] then they are worthy of “double honour”. We are to support them appropriately financially, and not try to tell them what they can and cannot say in their preaching. The Holy Spirit can and will direct their minds and sermons.

We are not to quickly judge and rebuke an elder – BUT if there is undeniable proof by way of multiple witnesses, then they are to be rebuked before all.

Notice it says “rebuke BEFORE all” and not “rebuked BY all”.

Who was this written to? Timothy – another bishop (elder, pastor)

Why should they be rebuked? What is the purpose? “that others also may fear”

Is that so others will fear certain people, the deacons, the accusers, or the church – meaning that those would have power over the pastors to have them fear them? No.

It is for the purpose of bringing to remembrance to everyone their sins may also be brought forth for the whole congregation (or the whole world in our modern day) to see.

1 Timothy 5:24
Some men's sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after.

Just because your sin remains secret while another’s is broadcasted does not mean [1] theirs is worse than yours, [2] you are okay with God, [3] or that yours too will not be shown before men likewise.

The fear of seeing ones sin exposed should cause us all to confess and repent of our own sins to God, and ensure our fellowship with Him is right.

We must also notice these verses fall on the heels of Paul telling Timothy:

1 Timothy 4:12-16
Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.

To those of us who would like to rebuke the elder, do we likewise give “attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine”? Why? So we can spiritually discern a matter BEFORE we talk about it. When we are told or read of something about someone, we need to think before we instantly cast judgment and start spreading it on Facebook and elsewhere.

Proverbs 18:13
He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.

And “heareth it” doesn’t just mean you have heard ABOUT it.

Do we also “continue” or walk in the doctrine we learn from scripture? If we don’t, then what gives us the right to speak of someone else not living right? We are to live right to be a testimony of Christ to others. Going around telling everyone else they are wrong does not make us right.

When we spread the news of another’s sin, are we doing it “in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity”?

Paul also tells Timothy:

1 Timothy 5:21
I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality.

We are not supposed to show partiality. So, if you want to spread the sin of a pastor across every avenue available to you, then you should likewise share the sins of your spouse, family, and friends – and even your own. Most of the time our problem is we want some person’s sins exposed, while wishing to hide those of others. That’s hypocrisy.

So, we’ve just glanced at the idea of rebuking an elder – which may not have actually committed any sin directly against us – but what about when we have issues with fellow believers?

What do we do about that?

Do we likewise display our issue with them across the avenues of social media, and through gossip in our church family?

Matthew 18:15
Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.

Scripture says we should go to that person – not to Facebook or other church members. But, before we can go to that person, we need to go to God.

Why? To ensure we go to that person in the right spirit [in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity], praying the Holy Spirit may have them in the right spirit as well.

If we go in the flesh, we will just have a mess which will lead to more hurt, anger, and bitterness.

So, what if they don’t want to resolve the issue?

Matthew 18:16
But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.

We are to bring witnesses. This could be witnesses to the facts, but these will be witnesses to what all is being said between the two parties: gossip control.

What if they still do not wish to resolve the issue?

Matthew 18:17
And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

If a person refuses to get right with God and fellow man, the church is supposed to treat them as a lost person.

Why? To hopefully draw them back into humble repentance, to restore their fellowship with God and man.

Just as with elders, although those who live in sin should be rebuked, that does not mean they are to be rebuked by everyone and through every outlet available to shout out their sin.

If you have an issue with someone or they have sinned against you, you are to first try to resolve the issue in private, then with spiritual witnesses, and then the church. If you haven’t gone to them, why are you going to everyone else?

If someone has not personally sinned against you, why are you spreading it around in circles and social media?

Romans 14:12
So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.

We will be judged by the way we react to one’s sin, just as they will be judged by their sin.

And if you have spread one's sin, will you also spread their repentance and reconciliation to God and man with the same amount of enthusiasm? I pray so.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Can I Divorce

A friend of mind recently asked me two questions, and I figured I would share my responses here. Please do share your thoughts, whether you agree or disagree.

The second question was:

Can I divorce [in reference to fighting or abuse]

Now, concerning divorce, I likewise find the answer both simple and complex. It is simple in the idea that I believe Scripture gives two reasons when divorce [can] occur, but are never spoken of in terms of [reasons to] divorce. [1] reason is because of fornication, as written in Matthew 5:32. The [2] reason seems to be in the unbelieving departs, as recorded in 1 Corinthians 7:15. Although, does “the unbelieving” pertain to them professing they are lost, or they claim to be saved but their actions proclaim they are lost? Now, Scripture clearly teaches [Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. - Matthew 19:6] Scripture also compares marriage to the relationship of Christ and the Church [Ephesians 5] which teaches security of the believer, in that Christ will never forsake the Church. When a man leaves his wife or a woman her husband, they are breaking that picture. Once saved, Christ cannot separate Himself from His sheep, nor can the sheep totally separate themselves from Christ [even if they try, for He will go get them – Matthew 18:12-14] Such is why a saved person is considered to be committing spiritual adultery when they choose to disobey God.

When it comes to questions like “two people fighting all the time” and “physical and/or emotional abuse”, I don’t find anywhere in Scripture that says it is okay to divorce. I know this goes against man’s nature and our initial knee-jerk reaction, but it simply isn’t in the Bible [at least not straight forward] as justifiable means to leave your spouse. Remember Christ said [Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. - Matthew 19:8] Sin is what causes two persons to always fight [or sometimes it could possibly be just one as the “main” cause over time] or to abuse one another [which can sometimes be the woman over the man]. We must remember that two persons choose to get married, and sometimes their choices were not soaked in the knowledge and wisdom of God but in fleshly appeal and desire. Then divorce is merely adding sin to the initial sin of getting married without God in the first place [even if held in a church]. So, a lot of factors play into the actual finalization of seeking divorce, which is why it is a hard question to answer when it comes to what may be permissible and what is not; at least to us, because God clearly knows.

With that said, I think there is wisdom we can glean from Scripture regarding the abuse [at least the physical type]. Scripture is clear to talk about how we are to treat people as we want to be treated, and for those who abuse people [whether physically, or steal from, murder, etc.] we have law enforcement, etc. [1 Timothy 2] So, I believe a person is biblically justified in calling the police and filing charges against their spouse if they are truly being abused. I also believe they would be justified no longer living with that person until there was a guarantee [by whatever means necessary] that it would be safe. Though, the question still remains: where in Scripture does it say they can divorce? Possibly, the Scripture about the unbelieving departing could be used, but I see no other references.

Same holds true with spouse who seems to fight all the time. We would like to say “God doesn’t want us to be alone” or “God doesn’t want us to be unhappy”, but that is not biblical teaching. That is man’s emotions.

Paul said, [Art thou bound unto a wife? seek not to be loosed. Art thou loosed from a wife? seek not a wife. But and if thou marry, thou hast not sinned; and if a virgin marry, she hath not sinned. Nevertheless such shall have trouble in the flesh: but I spare you. - 1 Corinthians 7:27] Once we have chosen to marry [regardless as to why or what transpires due to our sin or that of our spouse] we are commanded to stay married. Even fornication is not a reason [to] divorce, as there are many marriages when have been dealt that blow yet survived through forgiveness and reconciliation to God and each other. Nor is the unbelieving departing a [necessary to divorce], for it also says [Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. - 1 Peter 3:1-2]

I once had a friend of mine ask if it was okay for them to get a divorce, and I told them they had two options to consider:

[1] They could forget God and the Bible, and do whatever you want to do.


[2] They could [a] examine their own hearts in light of Scripture and the Holy Spirit, [b] confess and repent of any sin in their own life [regardless of what the other person is or isn’t doing], [c] obey God by submitting to or loving the other person [because God says so in Scripture, not because the other person deserves it], [d] choose to forgive the other person [whether they deserve it or not], [e] and beg God to help change them and that other person to renew their marriage.

They [easy] thing to do in our minds is to just leave, because we think we will be leaving the entire problem behind; but that’s not the case. We will [1] have our own issues of sin [because we are not perfect] even in another relationship, [2] if we have kids we will always have contact with the other person, [3] the kids will suffer and not understand, and [4] surely there will be financial, emotional, possibly other family and friend issues for many years to come [if not for as long as we live].

The first question we need to ask ourselves is: Why do I want a divorce?

That will expose our hearts.

Am I Forgiven

A friend of mind recently asked me two questions, and I figured I would share my responses here. Please do share your thoughts, whether you agree or disagree.

The first question was:

“How do I know that God has truly forgiven me when I ask Him too?”

I agree that Christ does forgive, but I also believe that with sin comes chastisement (especially when not confessed) and consequences (with some sins more than others). I think in man’s mind we have little sins and big sins, but in God’s view every sin leads to the same judgment.

“How do I know that God has truly forgiven me when I ask Him too?” can be both a simple and complex question, in my opinion. It can be simple, because Scripture promises [If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. - 1 John 1:9] However, this is only for the saved person – as one must first acknowledge they are a sinner, repent, and put faith in Christ for salvation. What if someone believes they are saved, but aren’t really saved? God isn’t [nor can] forgive a lost person for a sin, because they have not been covered by the blood of Christ – since [without shedding of blood is no remission. - Hebrews 9:22] Also, this is when one seeks true repentance, and not merely says “I’m sorry” because they have been caught. It is a heart issue, and the [The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? - Jeremiah 17:9] So, I think they only way to know if you are forgiven, is to daily [1] fellowship with God through prayer, [2] communicate with God through reading and meditating on the Bible, [3] walk with God in our lifestyle, and [4] repent of sin as soon as we are convicted by the Holy Spirit or confronted with it by ourselves or other persons. Because – most often – our “knowing we are forgiven” is to “feel like we have been forgiven”, and if we aren’t in touch with God daily we will surely [1] not confess and repent of sin and [2] will doubt His promise to forgive us when we do.

John Bunyan

To be saved is to be preserved in the faith to the end. 'He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.' (Mt. 24:13) Not that perseverance is an accident in Christianity, or a thing performed by human industry; they that are saved 'are kept by the power of God, through faith unto salvation.' (1 Pet. 1: 3-6) But perseverance is absolutely necessary to the complete saving of the soul…. He that goeth to sea with a purpose to arrive at Spain, cannot arrive there if he be drowned by the way; wherefore perseverance is absolutely necessary to the saving of the soul.