Pray for the Bennetts in Australia as they with God's help and for His glory are seeking to establish: Western Plains Baptist Fellowship, and Gilgandra Baptist Fellowship as New Testament Baptist churches.
JUDGMENT MUST BEGIN AT THE HOUSE OF GOD
David C. Bennett, D. Min.
February 9, 2007
Peter 4: 17 "For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?"
1 Timothy 3: 15 "But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest tobehave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
The responsibility of being a pastor of one of Godís flock is a "good work" which is not to be taken lightly. Godís Word says in 1 Timothy 3: 1-7 that "This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. 2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; 3 Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; 4 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; 5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) 6 Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7 Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil."
WHY THIS PAPER:
This paper is written as a warning to both churches and preachers. Preachers must understand that their depraved heart is capable of all sorts of vile sins and that they are not immune to committing the vilest of sins. Paul warned the pastors in Ephesus to "Take heed therefore unto yourselves" Acts 20: 28. The pastor has been entrusted with the sacred oversight of Godís people! Also the churches must be warned for it is the churches that are "the pillar and ground of the truth" whom God "hath purchased with his own blood."
Now, before you object too loudly against this warning this writer knows all too well he should be sure his own house is in order. Spurgeon well said in his sermon ACCOMPLICES IN SIN that "There is so much dirty linen in our own house needing to be washed that none of us need to take in our neighbourís washing. ĎMind your own businessí is a command that might have been spoken by Solomon himself, and the apostle Paul was inspired to write to the Thessalonians, ĎStudy to be quiet, and to do your own business;í and he and Peter very sternly condemned those who were Ďbusybodies in other menís matters.í So it is not my intention to bid any of you to cease to look to your own affairs; but, at the same time, I want to remind you that we cannot, in this world, live altogether to ourselves. He who is most bent upon minding his own business cannot help knowing that his next-door neighbour has something to do with his garden" (Emphasis added). As usual the prince of preachers stated it superbly.
2 Timothy 4:10 "For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present worldÖ"
Sadly, it is not a new thing to hear of a pastor loving the sins of this world more than loving Christ. In my thirty some years in the ministry I have known many preachers who have fallen. Many of these have been removed from the ministry by committing adultery. Although adultery is ungodly and to be abhorred and avoided, today rather than adultery with a woman not his wife, it seems to becoming more and more frequent to hear of a pastor carrying out the "unseemly" act of sodomy. It is almost unimaginable to comprehend men lusting "Ö one toward another."
IT IS A SAD DAY INDEED WHEN MINISTERS OF THE GOSPEL ARE DISQUALIFIED FROM THE MINISTRY DUE TO SIN, LET ALONE THE SIN OF SODOM.
Last year the president of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) had to resign as pastor of his church and as president of the NAE amidst accusations of a sodomite relationship. It has now come to light that in December of 2006 an independent Baptist pastor had to resign his ministry due to the same "unseemly" SIN, sodomy. How many others were exposed and how many there are that will be exposed, for they will be, I do not know. But, I do know of these two.
The National Association of Evangelicalís former presidentís immorality stirred the waters far and wide via the mainstream media. This is to be expected. However the independent Baptist pastorís immorality only sent ripples, and those were mainly through the independent Baptist pond. It is interesting that here we have a "new" evangelical and a fundamentalist Baptist committing the same "unseemly" sin. In spite of their theological differences both men have drank the waters of Marah. Both have offended the thrice Holy God and have deeply affected their families, their churches, and their community.
Preachersí falling into sin is not new but why is this "unseemly" sin of Sodomy occurring among so many preachers today? We do know that Paul said "This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selvesÖ" 2Timothy 3: 1, 2. That is what most sin is about, loving oneself. If it feels good do it!
Jeremiah, being led of the Spirit of God, wrote in chapter 17 and verse 9 of his book that "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" The heart is DECEITFUL and DESPERATELY WICKED. Proverbs 28: 26 tells us that "He that trusteth in his own heart is a foolÖ" but we are to rather "Trust in the LORD with all thine heartÖ" Proverbs 3: 5.
Then in the New Testament we read the words of the Saviour in Mark 7:21-23 "For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22 Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: 23 All these evil things come from within, and defile the man."
There is therefore, because of the Adamic nature, in the hearts of all men a love for sin and everything that is contrary to God! In the deep recesses of the old manís "heart" lies deceit and wickedness. Let it be understood that this deceitfulness and wickedness lies in the hearts of ALL MEN; Christ possessors, Christian professors and non-believers!! That condition which Jeremiah and Mark speak is not applicable to only some, but to all! All men are susceptible to the vilest sin!
The vilest of sin! Just the thought of a man performing the "unseemly" act of sodomy is repulsive but to think of a preacher of the gospel participating in such is most nauseating! These men were deceivers! They were living a lie! When they stood behind the sacred desk and opened the Book they were living a lie! The prince of preachers said in his sermon THE DEEP-SEATED CHARACTER OF SIN, preached on the Lordís day morning 17th May, 1868 "Into our churches there will come men who, like Demas and Judas, intrude themselves, uncalled, sitting at the Masterís table, baptized into his name, and yet for all that, being hollow and rotten, deceivers and deceived." That, I believe, is a description of these men and others who are doing the same but have not yet been exposed. These men present themselves as one thing but what is given is altogether different.
Proverbs 20:17 says "Bread of deceit is sweet to a man; but afterwards his mouth shall be filled with gravel." These preachers lied to their wives, their congregations, and their associates in the ministry. Their participation in the "unseemly" life of Sodom was "sweet" while they thought they were getting away with it. They were able to fulfil their "lust of the flesh" for a time. They were deceiving others but they were also being deceived, thinking they could live a life of duplicity. They were able to enjoy the "pleasures of sin for a season" but then the day of reckoning came and their mouth was "filled with gravel". These preachers along with all sinners think they can continue defying God but God says "be sure your sin will find you out."
How do preachers preach the very Word and Words of God with no discernment, no realization, no conviction, no guilt that God is speaking to them as well as to those under the sound of their voice? Are these preachers so self confident they think Godís Word is for others but not them? For instance did these men believe 1 Corinthians 6: 9 and 10 "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, 10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God." was pertinent to all others but them? They undoubtedly forgot Galatians 6:7 "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap."
Spurgeon said "Nothing can be more absurd than for a man to take his hoe, and weed everybody elseís garden, and leave all the thorns and thistles to flourish on his own plot." That is exactly what these two preachers and other preachers who have not yet been exposed are doing.
How did these two preachers come to the situation they now find themselves? How did they open the door to a life of committing such "unseemly" acts? The sin these two preachers were committing takes its name from the Biblical city called Sodom. Those in Sodom who practiced this "unseemly" sin were never called "gay" or "homosexual" but they were known as Sodomites.
THE LAW OF FIRST MENTION:
The first mention of this place, Sodom, is Genesis 10:19 "And the border of the Canaanites was from Sidon, as thou comest to Gerar, unto Gaza; as thou goest, unto Sodom, and Gomorrah...." So Sodom was located within the borders of the Canaanites and inhabited by those God would later have Israel destroy when they eventually enter to occupy the Promised Land. These were the vilest of sinners.
The Canaanites were the off spring of Canaan. In Genesis 9: 22 we read "And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father." It was Ham that mocked his father when Noah became drunk and therefore a curse was pronounced. Merrill F. Unger says in ARCHAEOLOGY AND THE OLD TESTAMENT page 74 "The patriarch, by the Spirit of prophecy, foretells the inevitable outworking of this lascivious tendency in the curseÖ" Whether Ham committed an act of Sodomy or not: we are not told specifically in the Genesis passage. However, Unger on page 75 quotes H. C. Leupoldís Exposition of Genesis pages 350ff saying "Sodom left its name for the unnatural vice its inhabitants practiced." It is this perverted vice, along with other vices that the Canaanites were to be cast out of the land. Their sins were a stench to the holy God of heaven and earth.
The people of the land were sinners of which one sin was sodomy. In Leviticus18: 22 and 24 we read "Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination. 24 Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you." A MAN LIEING WITH ANOTHER MAN IS DEFILEMENT SO SAYS GOD! God did not want His people to be involved in or associated with the sin of Sodomy.
The first reference to Sodom was Genesis 10: 19 and the second reference to Sodom is Genesis 13:10. Here we are told "Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar."
The sins of Sodom would be a known fact to both Abram and Lot. It may be sure Lot had often looked out his tent flap at the well watered "plain of Jordon". He could see great potential in living there in spite of the sins of the inhabitants.
In Lot and his wife a type of todayís Christian can be seen. Look at Lot. All was fine as long as he walked with Abram, who was walking with God. Many look fine as they walk with others in the church. They shake hands, they tithe, they participate in many of the activities, and often they occupy the place of leadership. In the Lot family it may have even been mentioned there is ministry potential in that couple. They mix well with those who love the Lord.
Lot and his wife represent a fine Christian couple. They are living in very close proximity of Lotís godly uncle Abram. That is until a decision of utmost importance had to be made. This was not a decision of what tie to wear but this was a life changing decision. This decision came about because of the wealth both men had. Rather than foregoing financial loss and abiding with godly Abram Lot would decide to keep the earthly and move away from his uncle. This decision would be the biggest mistake in Lotís life. This decision held detrimental consequences for him and his family.
It can be assumed Lot had often looked upon the plain of Jordon before his decision was made. When the time for that decision came Lotís heart had already decided. Lotís fall and failure did not just suddenly happen but took place over a period of time. Sadly, Lot looked with the physical eye and not the eye of faith. Lotís decision was made based on advice from the deep recesses of his heart. Looking out onto the plains before him and making this decision by sight led to his earthly walk separate and opposite from Abram. This decision ultimately led him and his family down into Sodom itself.
Genesis 13: 12 "Öand Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom."
These two preachers were also faced with a decision one day. However, that decision as with Lotís did not come upon them out of the blue one sunny day. There were days in their lives before this decision that they may have been at Barnes and Nobleís looking at books and magazines when their eyes were drawn to a magazine or book that was selling the "unseemly" lifestyle of Sodom. They made a decision one day to read one of those books and then to read more of them. Or they may have been on the computer and their fingers and eyes wandered, not aimlessly but purposefully, onto those sites where those who live and engage in the "unseemly" lifestyle of Sodom hang out. Only God and these two preachers know what brought them to that day of decision but when it came they were primed and ready for they had pitched their heart toward Sodom. When they made that final decision it led them from being an onlooker into a participant of the vile sins of Sodom. So much rests upon the daily decisions we make in life! Job 31:1 "I made a covenant with mine eyesÖ"
When Lot left Abram he didnít rush headlong down to Sodom but the Scripture saith he "dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom." When Lot finally moved into Sodom everything did not go wrong all at once. Lot and his family were in Sodom for some time and all was going well, or so it seemed at least to Lot. However, one day Lot and his family were taken captive by "Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of nations." Lotís life had taken another turn. But fortunately Lotís captivity came to an end when he and his family were rescued by uncle Abram. Was this a wake up call to Lot? Perhaps it was. 1Corinthians 15:34 "Awake to righteousness, and sin notÖ"
Upon being rescued Abram was offered a reward from Sodomís king but being a man of God Abram told the king of Sodom he would not "take anything that is thine" Genesis 15: 23. In spite of what his uncle Abram did, Lot did not change direction and go back to live in fellowship with Abram and God. Rather Lot took his family back to live and work in Sodom. 1Kings 19:9 "Öthe word of the LORD cameÖand he said unto him, What doest thou hereÖ"
It is also of interest that wherever Abram moved he built an altar. Not so with Lot. Still, God was watching and when the sin of Sodom had grown so "very grievous" to the God of heaven and earth the time of judgment was about to arrive.
So it was with these preachers. When these two preachers began their lives of deception; all continued as it was or so they thought. For as Proverbs 9:17 says "Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant." The prohibition of Sodomy, as with any sin, makes itself most appealing to the fallen nature. These preachers thought they were getting away with it but "Öthe ways of man are before the eyes of the LORD, and he pondereth all his goings" Proverbs 5:21.
These preachers had their wives, their families, their churches AND THEIR SIN! The bread eaten in secret was pleasant and the stolen waters were sweet but "There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death" Proverbs 16:25. Perhaps these men thought they could play around with this "unseemly" sin for a season and then quit but the tentacles of sin had wrapped itself around their hearts and it was not long until they were taken captive by the snare of the devil; "And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will" 2 Timothy 2:26.
What circumstance or person may have been brought into their life that was meant to be a wake up call? Was it their wife who inadvertently heard them talking on the phone to their sodomite lover? Was it someone on the church staff who accidentally walked in while they were engaged in a conversation in a sodomite chat room on the computer? One wonders how many opportunities, how many wake up calls; these two preachers were given to forsake, to repent of their "unseemly" life in Sodom.
There is one thing that can be said for Lot and that is he never attempted to hide his living among the godless of Sodom. He was right down there mixing it with the Sodomites, living and doing business. Lot was a public official it seems, for he sat in the gate. He had done well in the world of Sodom.
Now on the other hand these two preachers only visited Sodom in the dark of night. These two engaged in their "unseemly" life away and out of sight of those that trusted them and looked up to them for spiritual leadership. Lot was not hiding his attraction to Sodom as these two preachers were. Lot didnít sneak about but was open in all his dealings. These two deceiving preachers talked spiritual talk at church and home but it was a different talk with their sodomite friends. Colossians 3:8 "But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth."
Psalm 90:8 "Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance."
These two preachers were living double lives. The one preacher rose to be president of the National Association of Evangelicals. He undoubtedly had leadership ability and communication skills for thousands gathered to hear him preach. But in the blackness of the night when he was away from home he would meet another Sodomite to commit the "unseemly" acts of Sodom. Proverbs 7: 9 "In the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night."
The independent Baptist preacher as well lived two lives. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from a well known independent fundamental Baptist Bible college. He was a man in demand and was often asked to speak in other churches, at conferences, and even occupied a position on an independent Baptist mission board. In contrast to Lot those around these two preachers never smelled the odour of Sodom on their clothing. Until they were "found" out they hid their visits to Sodom. Psalm 90:8 "Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance."
In contrast to these two preachers one would not look at Lot thinking here was a spiritual man. Nonetheless, the Bible says in 2Peter 2:8 that Lot was a righteous man and for that reason God sent His angels on a mission into the very heart of that vile and wicked city, Sodom. That mission was to extricate Lot from that place so judgment could come.
Once there they told Lot that the place he now called home was going to be destroyed because Sodomís wicked and vile sin had finished its course. Of all his family only he, his wife, and his two single daughters were ushered out of Sodom before judgment was sent from heaven. However, Mrs. Lotís heart was still in Sodom and she turned around and in her apostasy "she became a pillar of salt". Well saith the Lord Jesus "Remember Lot's wife" Luke 17:32.
Luke 17:28 "Likewise also as it was in the days of LotÖ"
Lot and his wife characterize for us, all those who profess Christ but are caught up in all sorts of worldliness and sin including this "unseemly" repulsive sin of Sodom. Again, if it was not for Scripture (2 Peter 2:7) telling us, we would have never been able to comprehend that Lot was a just man. His life was being lived among those whose sexual acts are repulsive to even many of those who know not God. Peter even tells us in his second epistle, the second chapter and eighth verse that Lot "vexed his righteous soul from day to day" while living among the sodomites and seeing firsthand their "unlawful deeds". A just man living in such a sin hole! Hard to believe isnít it. 1Corinthians 5:1 "Öand such fornication as is not so much as named among the GentilesÖ"
Romans 15: 4 "For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning."
The personal, individual relationship of Lot and his wife to the God of heaven is seen from their departure from Sodom. Lot walked on not looking back for he had "vexed his righteous soul from day to day" but not so Mrs. Lot. In Luke 17: 32 the Lord Jesus says to "Remember Lot's wife." Paul wrote in Romans 15: 4 "For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning."
Spurgeon put it this way in his sermon A FLIGHT TO ZOAR that "wherever, my brethren, I find our Lord Jesus Christ, or any of his apostles, referring to an incident in the Old Testament, I always think it is our business to look at that event to which they refer." Mrs. Lot was content living in Sodom with the Sodomites and all their vile wickedness. She had her house; she had her friends, she had the parties, the balls, the dances, the bridge club and the malls. Her heart was back in Sodom. Her reward was on earth and she was sad to leave it behind. Philippians 3:19 "Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things." Therefore as she looked back she was judged by God and turned into a pillar of salt. Matthew Henry remarks that "by the example of Sodom the wicked are warned to turn from their wickedness, so by the example of Lot's wife the righteous are warned not to turn from their righteousness."
1Corinthians 3:15 "Öbut he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire."
Lot lost his wife but he along with his two daughters were delivered. 1Corinthians 3:15 "Öbut he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire." The Lord Jesus said that "the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all" Luke 17:29.
All the counterfeit professing Christian Mrs. Lots, will be overtaken by the wrath to come on this earth but all the just Lots will be delivered. 1Thessalonians 1:10 "Öeven Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come." All Lotís wealth and material possessions were now gone but does Lot now get right with God, build an altar and go back and walk and fellowship with godly Abram? No! He is delivered from Sodom but his testimony does not get any better. In spite of his deliverance Lot continues to walk by sight rather than by faith. God told him to go to the mountain but Lot argued "I cannot escape to the mountain, lest some evil take me, and I die." So the Lord graciously allowed him to go to Zoar. But once he entered Zoar, Lot decides to go to the mountain. Lot is a just man but also a self willed man. His walk through this world was not a bright light for others to see the glory of his God. Philip Bless admonishes us to:
Let the lower lights be burning! Send a gleam across the wave!
For to us He gives the keeping of the lights along the shore.
Now, once in the solitude of the mountain the hearts of Lotís two daughters are revealed. They had learned well the lessons of Sodom. We need never think our sins as parents are not observed by our children. Fanny Crosbyís song BUILDING DAY BY DAY relates how we should live for;
We are building day by day
As the moments glide away,
Our temple which the world may not see;
Every victory won by grace
Will be sure to find its place,
In our building for eternity.
Every deed forms a part in this building of ours,
That is done in the name of the Lord;
For the love that we show and the kindness we bestow,
He has promised us a bright reward.
Then be watchful and wise, let the temple we rear
Be one that no tempest can shock
For the Master has said, and He taught us in His Word,
We must build upon the solid rock.
Luke 8:17 "For nothing is secret, that shall not be made manifest; neither any thing hid, that shall not be known and come abroad."
In this out of the way place Lotís daughters do something they had never thought to do before. They go about getting their father drunk and then each of them have an incestuous affair resulting in their bearing his children. Proverbs 21:16 "The man that wandereth out of the way of understanding shall remain in the congregation of the dead."
1Corinthians 5:9 "I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators."
Now all that happened to Lot in and after Sodom doesnít change the fact that the Bible tells us Lot was a "just" man. But what an appalling testimony he left behind for all to read. Now from the Scriptures it doesnít seem that Lot participated physically in the sin of Sodomy. Nonetheless he did live and work among them who did commit such acts. Also from all outward appearances he did not verbally show his disapproval.
John 16:8 "And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment."
What of these two preachers? Unlike Lot they did commit the acts of which Sodom was known! Only God and they know if they are saved for "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God" Romans 8:16. However the Scriptures also tell us in 1 John 1: 8 and 10 that "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us." Stuck between these two verses is verse 9 which says "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Whatever our sin He will forgive us. But first we must admit to the sin and confess it.
If these two preachers are saved there should be conviction, repentance and an outward change in their lives. They will know in their hearts they have mocked the God of Heaven and transgressed His law. They will cry with David "Against thee, thee only, have I sinned" Psalm 51:4. If they are a blood bought child of Godís they will with Job say "Wherefore I abhor myself".
Consider the man in Corinth of whom Paul says was living in immorality by having his fatherís wife. After the Corinthian church disciplines this man, and this takes place only after Paul admonishes them to, the man repents and his lifestyle changes for he no longer is living in an immoral relationship with his fatherís wife. A child of God will not continue living in sin, 1 John 5: 1, 18 "Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not."
1Corinthians 6:9 "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?"
The Bible is clear that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God and those who continue in sin will not occupy heaven. Are these two preachers being exposed a wake up call to others? It should be. How many more preachers are there living in open defiance to the holiness of God? How many Bible preachers are walking "after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness" and "Presumptuous are they, selfwilled..." 2 Peter 2:10? How many Bible preaching pastors are out there living with one foot in the church and another in the world? How many Bible preachers are living double lives? How many Bible preachers are there standing behind the sacred desk on the Lordís Day but sneaking down to Sodom in the darkness of the night and "Who leave the paths of uprightness, to walk in the ways of darkness" Proverbs 2:13.
I well remember a pastor friend who told me he was having stomach problems but blamed the stress of ministry. It was stress alright for it eventually came to light he was committing adultery with a woman in the church. Those around the preacher may not see him slipping into Sodom under the cover of darkness but God does! Proverbs 15:3 "The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good." How long must the testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ be drug through the mud in the face of a lost and dying world? The Christianís heart should be rehearsing often the words of Isaac Watts;
All mortal vanities, begone,
Nor tempt my eyes, nor tire my ears
Now, most of us who are saved have a little of Peterís pride when he said "Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee" Matthew 26:35. Being one of His, Peter was rebuked by the Lord and told exactly what he would do when the crunch came. When the crunch did come, we are told that Peter "went out, and wept bitterly" Matthew 26:75. The point is, we are not sinless this side of glory but the Holy Spirit which resides within (Romans 8:11 "Öhis Spirit that dwelleth in you") brings to light the knowledge of sin which brings conviction and in turn repentance. This results in a continual growing and changing in the life of Godís child. This change in us is our growing "in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ" 2 Peter 3:18. The song Higher Ground can be and should be the Christianís song as they walk through this old world.
Iím pressing on the upward way,
New heights Iím gaining every day;
Still praying as Iím onward bound,
"Lord, plant my feet on higher ground."
My heart has no desire to stay
Where doubts arise and fears dismay;
Though some may dwell where those abound,
My prayer, my aim, is higher ground.
I want to live above the world,
Though Satanís darts at me are hurled;
For faith has caught the joyful sound,
The song of saints on higher ground.
I want to scale the utmost height
And catch a gleam of glory bright;
But still Iíll pray till heavín Iíve found,
"Lord, plant my feet on higher ground."
Lord, lift me up and let me stand,
By faith, on Heavenís tableland,
A higher plane than I have found;
Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.
As a preacher, as a Christian, our desire ought to be planting our spiritual feet on higher ground each day! This growth in practical, personal sanctification allows us to be closer to Him "who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens" Hebrews 7:26.
Psalm 7: 15 "He made a pit, and digged it, and is fallen into the ditch which he made."
These two preachers rather than seeking HIGHER GROUND "made a pit, and digged it, andÖ" are "fallen into the ditch which" they "made" Psalm 7: 15. Now all the circumstances surrounding these two preachers, their being exposed and their dismissal from their churches were not revealed for all outsiders to read but the Scriptures do say something about what should take place when a pastor sins. The Bible in 1 Timothy 5: 20 says he is to be rebuked "before all, that others also may fear".
1 Timothy 5: 20 "Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear."
The web page of the well known preacher and former president of the NAE said the former pastor made a video which was broadcast to the church admitting his sin. Whether he ever stood before the church to be rebuked or not was not told. My understanding is the independent Baptist pastor was allowed to slip out of town to a place far away. Two things are reported concerning this independent Baptist pastor. First, he expected the church to pay his salary for several more months! What hypocrisy. Then it is reported that this independent Baptist preacher had committed the same sin in his former church.
If this is true, this former church became a partaker of this manís sin! Now if this present church that he has just left has allowed him to slip out of town to live elsewhere and have counselling without rebuking him "before all" they too are guilty.
Acts 5:5 "And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things."
A video is not sufficient. Allowing a pastor to walk away is not Biblical. A pastor is a member of the local body of Christ just as every other member. He is to be rebuked before all so "that others also may fear". When Ananias and his wife Sapphira lied to the Holy Spirit judgment from God fell quickly. Because judgment was dealt swiftly on the perpetrators the Bible tells us "great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things" Acts 5:11. Outsiders do not fear God because all too often those who profess Christ and are found to be living in sin are not Biblically disciplined.
Hebrews 12:8 "But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons."
God does not allow his children to continue in sin without chastening. Paul writes in Hebrews 12: 6 - 8 "For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. 7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? 8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons." A child of God cannot "sing the LORD'S song in a strange land" Psalm 137:4 and the streets of Sodom are very strange to a child of God.
God deals with His children and He has given instructions on how His churches are to handle sinning members of that local body. For instance Paul wrote to the Corinthian church "Önot to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat" 1 Corinthians 5: 11. The purpose of church discipline is "that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus."
The church is not to allow a preacher who has gone down into sin to flee town and later take up another post. How many preachers have scattered the sheep of God by going from church to church and committing adultery in each! He should be rebuked before all and put under church discipline. A church cannot force a man to stay in the local area even though he is under church discipline. Church discipline does not mean house arrest. If the man will not confess his sin, repent and accept church discipline he will not have any remorse in leaving the area. If he continues as he is, unrepentant, and another church gives him a call without checking his credentials first that makes them a partaker of that manís sin, of which Paul said "Be not ye therefore partakers with them" Ephesians 5:7. A church will not be a partaker of another manís sin by following the Scriptures in church discipline.
Spurgeon in elaborating on 1 Timothy 5: 20 said "you may be Ďpartakers of other menís sinsí if the discipline of the church is not carried out as it should be. If we know that members are living in gross sin, and do not deal with them either by way of censure or excommunication, in accordance with the teaching of Christ and his apostles, we become accomplices in their sin." That goes for the pastor as well.
Godís Word says in Ephesians 5: 3 that "Öfornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints". These are sins of the world but not of Godís people for as Jesus said "They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world" John 17:16. How do these sins continue to be allowed to take place in the lives of pastors and members of our churches? Paul declares in Ephesians 5 and verse 7 "Be not ye therefore partakers with them." Godís people are to "have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them" Ephesians 5: 11. When a church allows a pastor who has been exposed to be in sin, to be dismissed without church discipline, they are "Öpartaker of his evil deeds" 2 John 1:11. In the words of James 3:10 "My brethren, these things ought not so to be."
Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 13:5 "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?" There needs to be more self-examination in our churches.
Ephesians 6: 13 "Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand."
In three Pastoral Epistles, Paul likens the preacher unto a soldier and that he is in warfare.
2 Timothy 2:3 "Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ."
2 Timothy 2:4 "No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier."
1Timothy 1:18 "This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare."
May we as preachers heed what Charles Wesley wrote in his song SOLDIERS OF CHRIST, ARISE.
Soldiers of Christ arise,
and put your armor on,
strong in the strength which God supplies
thru his eternal Son;
strong in the Lord of Hosts,
and in his mighty power,
who in the strength of Jesus trusts
is more than conqueror.
Stand then in his great might,
with all his strength endued,
but take to arm you for the fight
the panoply of God;
that having all things done,
and all your conflicts passed,
ye may o'ercome thru Christ alone
and stand entire at last.
Pray without ceasing, pray,
(your Captain gives the word)
his summons cheerfully obey
and call upon the Lord;
to God your every want
in instant prayer display,
pray always, pray and never faint,
pray, without ceasing pray.
From strength to strength go on,
wrestle and fight and pray,
tread all the powers of darkness down
and win the well-fought day.
Still let the Spirit cry
in all his soldiers, "Come!"
till Christ the Lord, descends from high
and takes the conquerors home.
"Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to
present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy"
Missionaries David and Pamela Bennett
The Bennetts Serving the Lord in Australia Since 1979.
Address: Dr. and Mrs. Bennett, PO Box 1241 Dubbo NSW 2830, AUSTRALIA
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