"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

Giving Others Endless Mercy and Unrelenting Love

We sing a song in REFUGE written by our friend Lauren Daigle. It's entitled Dry Bones, and it's much easier to vocalize with our singing mouths than it is to actualize in our sinful lives.

God of endless mercy,
God of unrelenting love.
Rescue every daughter,
Bring us back the wayward sons.


God of endless mercy. "The Lord does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities" (Psalm 103:10), and therefore, "We approach the throne of grace with fullest confidence, that we will receive mercy for our failures and grace to help in the hour of our need" (Hebrews 4:16).

God of unrelenting love. Unrelenting is defined as "never softening, or never letting up in vigor." The Scripture tells us God demonstrates His unrelenting love for us "In that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8). We who are wayward sons and reckless daughters (Dry Bones) are made alive "...because of His great unrelenting love for us and His rich mercy" (Ephesians 2:4-5).

We will often hear the word "godly" at church. "He's such a godly man," or "She's such a godly woman," or "They live such godly lives." We use the word, but I'm not sure we understand it. A godly person is one whose life mirrors God's endless mercy and unrelenting love. That's godliness. The Apostle Paul begs us in Ephesians 4:1 "to live a life consistent with our calling." Paul has spent the first three chapters of Ephesians describing God's endless mercy and unrelenting love toward us while we were yet still sinners.  Paul then begs us to live our lives consistent with (Greek: axios) our calling.

A few years ago a young man in our church left his wife. For a few weeks he pointed his finger at his wife as the cause for the break-up of their marriage, but he hid the fact that he had a secret girlfriend. When he finally revealed to me that there was another woman in his life, we asked him to step down from his leadership position at Emmanuel. He totally stopped coming. His shame was intense.

In a few months his divorce was finalized. This young man moved in with his girlfriend. His weight ballooned. He was in hiding from his former friends and from his former life. By his own admission, he was severely depressed. He eventually married his girlfriend, and he became the topic of conversation around many dinner tables, coffee shops, and community groups. People talked about him, but not to him.

I disciplined him.

The word discipline is rooted in the word disciple. For a year I discipled this young man. I texted him words of encouragement. I sent emails letting him know I missed him in church. Monthly I would ask him to lunch. Over barbeque sandwiches I would talk with him about his sin and how to reconcile with those he'd harmed. I was unrelenting in my love and endless in my mercy toward him. Discipline is not punishment; it's the same word used by the Greeks when mending a broken limb. After the mending, the broken bone is stronger than before it's brokenness.  

People might ask, "But did you disciple the people he'd harmed?"

People in pain don't need discipline, they need healing. Unrelenting love and endless mercy is for sinners. Those who see themselves as innocent victims and believe that the source of their pain and trouble is the sin of others need "the balm in Gilead" and "the leaves of the Tree of Life" (Jesus Christ) to bring healing.  So, the answer to the question is "Yes," I encouraged those wounded by the actions of this young man to find their security, identity and happiness in Christ alone. I desire always to be compassionate, patient and encouraging during the process of their healing. When life brings a left-hook that knocks us flat, the process of getting back up is seldom easy.

God seems to allow hurtful and painful events to bring me to the place of finding my personal security, identity and happiness solely in Him. When people I love, material possessions, or possibly even my stellar reputation is lost, I am forced to find my source in Christ.  The good news is that after Christ brings me healing, His power begins to flow through me. When my cups is truly filled up by Him, I find His endless mercy and unrelenting love for me beginning to spill out from me toward others.

When I am in pain, I will sometimes mistakenly attribute my healing to the actions of another person (e.g. the sinner).  "If he would only truly repent..." or "If she would only change her ways." For this reason, unrelenting love and endless mercy toward sinners sometimes will sometimes offend me, particularly if it is toward someone whose hurt me. It feels right (and natural) to run and shun. But God's ways are different than my ways. He's a God of endless mercy and unrelenting love.

My father recently shared with me that he tells people that "we should say what needs said, do what needs done, and live the way we ought to live with our focus "Never About The Outcome" (NATO)."  If we focus on the outcome - for example, whether other people are really changing, or whether my terrible circumstances are improving, or whether the sinner is sincerely repenting - then our focus is misplaced. Our gaze should always be inward, looking to see if we have within us  "His divine power that has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness" (II Peter 1:3). If I can't give unrelenting love and endless mercy to sinners, as well as patience and compassion to the wounded, then somethings out of kilter within me.

One year ago, over lunch at a restaurant in North Enid, I asked this young man where he and his new wife were attending worship. He told me that recently they'd begun praying together, but they weren't attending corporate worship anywhere. I invited him to Emmanuel.

He looked at me intently and said, "Wade, if I walk in those doors, people will be offended. I've caused a lot of hurt."

I told him that worrying about the reactions of others is to ignore what is needed in his own life. Then I suggested, "When you come, walk down to the front of the church and you and your wife sit in the first three rows of the center section."

He looked at me incredulously. "Wade, people will be upset that we are even in church, not to mention we have the gall to walk to the front and sit."

I responded, "We bring prisoners to church every Sunday - we call them offenders. They sit on the first three rows. If anyone says anything to you about where you are sitting, just tell them, 'Wade invited us to come and we are sitting where the offenders sit.'"

Last Christmas this young man and his wife came - and sat where the offenders sat.

The process of bringing this man to repentance has been long and arduous. I have encouraged him to take ownership of his sin - quit blaming others for it - and seek forgiveness, resting in God's forgiveness of Him.  He has, but of course, there will be some who question whether his repentance is real or sincere. We can only live our lives consistent with our calling. God is responsible for the outcomes.

At least from my observation, through endless mercy and unrelenting love, this wayward son's dry bones have come alive.

Dry Bones should be more than just a song we sing on Sunday.


47 comments:

Bob Cleveland said...

I could almost believe that too many preachers espouse the guilt that they say should accompany lives that "don't measure up", which would deprive the guy in the pew the real joy of absolute forgiveness. And if they don't experience it, they're unlikely to demonstrate it in how they treat others.

How many times have we heard "If there was ever a time when you felt closer to God than you do now, you need to (A) repent (B) come to the altar (C) confess ... fill in the blanks.

I no longer buy it, thanks in no small part to a blogging trustee from Oklahoma.

Wade Burleson said...

Bob,

"I no longer buy it." Well said, Bob.

The gospel is radical. Many churches are not gospel churches and many people are not gospel people.

When I lose sight that I am the greatest sinner in desperate need of "God's endless mercy and unrelenting love," then I find it difficult to give the same mercy and love to sinners ("They don't deserve it," I think).

Well, the truth is, neither did I.

That's the gospel.

Anonymous said...

Bob, just wanted to let you know you don't need a Pastor for anything or even a church. Pastors are supposed to be teachers, guides and Shepard to Christ's flock. Church is a hospital for souls and a place to heal emotionally. You are encouraged to go to be around other Christians for fellowship. I have a very personal relationship with God at this point in my life. At 69 I have seen and experienced many miracles performed by God. He opens many doors but will never force you to enter. I always looked at it this way. Are you happy with everything about your live now? If not I stepped through the door. Every time my life got better and God provided more blessings than I ever expected or deserved.
Pastor Larry Dillon, retired.

Christiane said...

'God of endless mercy, God of unrelenting love'
Amen, Amen, Amen

During Advent, we pray: 'Revealer of God, Come'
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=POm7_WBMJTI

Anonymous said...

While we are members of a local church where we live, I consider us de facto members of Emmanuel at Enid. Thanks for this article, this blog, and for the ebook Radically New

It is about the only place we can find true Baptist teaching a preaching these days. Not liberal, not fundamentalist, just Biblical.

Thanks and keep on keeping on!

Linda

Wade Burleson said...

Linda,

,Your comment was a particular blessing to me today.

Thank you.

Rex Ray said...

Wade; old friend,

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/19/health/19really.html
“Healed bones are not stronger than they were before a fracture. Lack of exercise during the healing process makes the whole bone weaker.”

The idea of ‘repenting from sin’ makes us stronger is ridicules. Paul agrees: “…Shall we continue in sin that race may abound? God forbid…” (Romans 6: 1-2 KJ)

Did the girlfriend not know he was married, or didn’t she care?

If the guy wanted to repent, he’d go back to his first wife. Oh I forgot; she doesn’t need him to heal her broken heart as she now has Jesus.

I know God loves sinners, but: “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap.” (Galatians 6:7 KJ)

It seems to me if you’d been John the Baptist, you’d never lost your head.

Rex Ray said...

Oops!
“…grace may abound…”

My human spell checker (Judy) would have caught that, but she is sleeping. Last Saturday, she and her son put flowers on their parent’s grave. Nearby was a huge statue saying, “Remember Pearl Harbor…They live as long as you remember.”

Anonymous said...

Wade, I'm grateful for the encouragement to show others the endless love and mercy we've been shown in Christ. Would you mind addressing how you also live out Paul's counsel to the body of Christ in a half-dozen different places in his letters to have nothing to do (disassociate/stay away from, etc.) those who say they love Christ but are continuously unwilling to repent? thanks! Wayne

Wade Burleson said...

Rex,

The wicked (Herod) do not receive endless mercy. :)

But because God will sort "the wheat from the tares" on that Day (judgment), I will treat every spiritually dead person (the wicked) as if they will become the righteous, and pursue them the way God pursued me.

Would I have lost my head to Herod?

Hmmm. Maybe not. I'm not John the Baptist either!

Wade Burleson said...

Wayne,

You ask a remarkable question.

Would you "define repentance" for me?

My definition is "I have sinned, by merciful to me a sinner."

That is my definition, and I've rarely met anyone whom I love the way Christ loves me who is unwilling to say such a thing - for "it is the goodness of God that leads to repentance."

However, IF a person has NO AWARENESS of sin, or even worse, PRETENDS SIN IS NOT SIN, then I will simply love that person as a lost person -

The running and shunning that so many people claim is CHRISTIAN is simply not Christian at all. In terms of any specific text, I would have to ask "To which ones you refer?" Maybe Corinthians where a boy BRAGS about sleeping with his father's wife, and the church laughs at the sin? Doesn't sound like love is being practiced. True love will tell the person the truth about their sin, love them in it, and bring them to confession and repentance.

Don't know if that helps, but it's off the top of my head how we handle things around here.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the response, Wade.

Your definition of repentance seems incomplete. I've crossed paths with folks who say they love Jesus and acquiesce repentance after they've sinned (theft of reputation or goods...you pick the poison), but yet are constantly unwilling to make restoration on any measure. That would be spurious repentance in my book.

I've also known several people who were in leadership in the body of Christ leave their wives for another woman and never admit any wrong doing.

It's hard to mince the strong words (stay away, have nothing to do, keep away, avoid, etc.) used by Paul in his instructions on how to deal with people who say they love Jesus, but yet who live in a continual state of unrepentant behavior.

II Thess. 3:6,14,15

6 In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers and sisters, to keep away from every believer who is idle and disruptive and does not live according to the teaching[a] you received from us.

14 Take special note of anyone who does not obey our instruction in this letter. Do not associate with them, in order that they may feel ashamed. 15 Yet do not regard them as an enemy, but warn them as you would a fellow believer.

Not looking for a formula, just looking to see how you've lived it out. Wayne

Wade Burleson said...

Wayne,

I understand the difficulty.

You speak of "restoration" - I completely get restitution of things stolen, and would advocate - BUT

How does a gambler restore his and his wife's lost saving's account?
How does an adulterer who has married his girlfriend restore his former marriage?
How does an immoral young man restore the virginity of his girlfriend?
How does a pastor restore his church's reputation after his conduct has brought the church into disrespect in the community?

I could go on, but you get the point.

Restitution is appropriate where restitution can be made. Restoration is an act of God, not man. At times, things lost may never be restituted, but that does not mean you don't forgive the sinner who says he or she repents and find restoration in Christ.

In regards to Paul's teaching in II Thess. 3:6,14,15 -

Is Paul's teaching not grace? Did Paul not teach us to love the sinner as Christ loves us? To imitate God and forgive the way God in Christ forgives us (Ephesians 4:32). In other words, maybe the "brother" referenced in the Thessalonians passage is the idle religious person who cares nothing for sinners and is only disruptive (condemning) of others who are not as good as he thinks he is.

Could it not be the people to keep away from are the self-righteous?

Just asking.

Anonymous said...

Wade, I totally understand some sins would not have such an either quantifiable or qualitative repentance as others. Seems more do than don't.

Yes, I absolutely believe in grace, but not a grace disconnected from power as the two concepts seem to embrace each other throughout the New Covenant. The prophets of old even hinted at this when they said the NC would be unlike the OC because God would cause them to walk in his ways....obviously not perfectly. Seems being part of the new creature (the bride) brings an expectancy that grace will eventually win the myriad of battles we all face in dealing with our fleshly lusts.

Part of that equation seems to be the willingness to love in a way that gives up (hopefully temporarily) an intimate friendship centered in Christ when repentance clearly doesn't manifest itself to be genuine. "Don't even eat with them". The daily meal was the pinnacle of fellowship in the early church.

Obviously easier to discern in some cases versus others.

Always appreciate your thoughts especially on such a tough issue.

Wayne

Aussie John said...

Wade,

In your article and in your response to Wayne I'm reminded of the words of Marin Luther," We are capable of receiving his works and his counsels only when our own counsels have ceased and our works have stopped and we are made purely passive before God."

At 77 years of age I have to admit that, quite a few years ago now, it was a hard lesson to learn that if anyone looks critically at another man as a sinner, sin still rules him all the more.

Wade Burleson said...

Powerful, Aussie John. Using your quote Sunday.

Anonymous said...

Aussie John - thanks for your thoughts. I must be missing a huge section of brain matter due to the fact that I can't seem to grasp how your quote and comment expounds on Paul's clear directives in the passages I am referring to. Paul is saying I should not be looking critically at someone's actions? I realize *hypo*critically would be sinful.

Am I really missing the picture big-time like I feel I am? Wayne

Anonymous said...

You are welcome Pastor Wade.

I think maybe this post is rubbing some raw because they have experienced the pain sin can bring to others, not the sinner. So it sounds like you advocate cheap grace to them.

Not to me. In the first place you are clear that those that profess repentance but never live repentance are still to be loved as unbelievers. And secondly, this radical grace came at the high cost of the life of the Savior. Nothing cheap about it.

It makes me think of a SS class where one gentlemen remarked that he remembered when we taught folks not to be Pharisees. Now we brag about being one. Total change of view in 40 years in the church.

I long to be sinless and yearn for that day, but in this life I get downright giddy knowing that I am dressed in HIS righteousness alone faultless to stand before the throne.

If I could earn salvation I wouldn't need Jesus. Thank God, literally, He loves us messes!

Linda

Rex Ray said...

Wade,

Do you believe this man has repented? How can he repent if he chooses to keep on sinning?

I see it the same as everyone knowing he had stolen a lot of money from your church and refuses to give it back. Would that hurt your church? (I’ve heard of a person saying, “If she's a Christian, I don’t want to be one.”

I think it’s admirable that prisoners sit in the front three rows.

Would you let a practicing homosexual join your church? I see no difference.

In the paper today, there’s a story of a wife (Anita) divorcing her husband. In their home was spray-painted on the kitchen counter: “VOW BREAKER”. All the walls of the five room house had messages such as “Anita, it’s all your fault.”

Daniel Randall had been an Air Force Chaplin and pastor at First Congregational Church in Bristol, Rhode Island for 12 years. He was also a Chaplin at Roger Williams University in Bristol.

He spoke a farewell to the church in 2014:

“My family; Anita, Molly, Claire, and Gabe have shared a wonderful spiritual journey with you for 12 years. You are dear to us all. You are a community of faith that has been on a remarkable and historic path…This is why my decision is so challenging at this time, but also is flavored with a hopeful and peaceful feeling.”

Last Thursday, Anita called a neighbor to check on her daughter since she didn’t answer the phone. She didn’t know her husband at age 56, had completed a 90-day program for alcohol abuse, bought a shotgun, broke a door down to get in his house, killed the only person there (27 year old daughter, Claire) and then himself.

Wade, I guess “Christ alone” was not sufficient for this man and failed to pray “…Please don’t give up on me.” (Psalm 119:8 NLT)

Wade Burleson said...

Rex,

I believe this man has repented. He can't "give back" the money he stole, because he's remarried, but I've heard him take ownership of his sin to his ex-wife and her family and seek their forgiveness. That's enough for me.

Would we allow a "practicing homosexual to join our church?" Define "practicing." We have believers in Christ who occasionally sin by lying but I don't call them liars), we have believers in Christ who occasionally sin by gossiping (but I don't call them gossipers), we have believers in Christ who occasionally sin through being sexually immoral (but I don't call them adulterers), and we have believers in Christ who occasionally sin by having sex with others of the same sex (but I don't call them homosexuals). We also have believers in Christ who occasionally over-eating but I don't call them gluttons. I think you get the point. I call them saints, and through the Spirit's help, they eventually will conquer their sinful patterns, but it is a process. We encourage openness, brokenness, and faith, hope, and love.

Prisoners of all sorts and "homosexuals" are always allowed to attend. To become a "member," there is simply an acknowledgment of their sin, a profession of faith in Christ, and a surrender of their lives to Christ. We never demand perfection for membership; only continual faith in Christ, honesty about our failures, repentance of those failures, and rest in the grace of God in Christ.

I feel compassion for Anita - great compassion. Daniel Randall was most likely never approached by someone who loved him enough to confront him with HIS SIN. Spraying VOW BREAKER on the wall, pointing his finger continually at Anita for the break-up of their marriage, and refusing to take ownership of his own sins, including pride, self-righteousness, anger, and a host of other sins Southern Baptists don't like to talk about (but we'll sure go to town on "the big sins"), this former chaplain shot and killed his daughter and himself. So sad.

It's not Anita's fault.

It's not the fault of people who didn't confront Randall.

It's Randall's fault. We ask believers to own up to their sin and stop pointing the finger at others.

Thanks Rex.

S

Anonymous said...

Wade, define "ocassionally".

At some point ocassionally crosses into habitually and in order to carry out Paul's specific instruction (not just with idleness but he referenced his entire letter) critical thinking must be applied to a situation (no formulas).

Which brings me back to my original inquiry...how have you lived out Pauls instruction to put a relationship on hold with a person who was considered to be a brother or sister in Christ?

Wayne

Aussie John said...

Wade,
In churches where I have ministered I often asked the congregation, "Is there anyone in this building who has NOT sinned in the last twenty-four hours?"

I am pleased that no one made the claim! The Man Jesus was the only one who could, according to Scripture.

The old adage which says, "If you point an accusing finger, literally or by word, at anyone be reminded that there are three pointing back at you."

You know, I still forget that!

Anonymous said...

Aussie John, sounds like you need to take scissors to the scriptures and trim it down some. My intent is to live out what specific instructions are found in all of Paul's letters, regardless of whether it's commonplace. Tough stuff I do say at times to figure out due to the costly nature of walking in the Spirit.

Wayne

Wade Burleson said...

Wayne,

I will let Jesus define "occasionally" and how often occasional sin which turns habitual should be forgiven."

Peter - "If my brothers sins against me, how often should I forgive. Seven times?"

Jesus - "I say to you not seven times, but seventy times seven."

Jesus uses a Hebrew idiom (seventy times seven) which represents "infinity." So, it seems Jesus is saying if your brother sins against you an infinite number of times, you are to forgive him an infinite number of times.

Makes sense to me.

It doesn't mean you think your brother knows Jesus, it just means we are to forgive our brother in the manner Jesus forgives us. Completely, eternally, personally and unconditionally.

It seems to me - and this is the point of my story - when a sinner SEEES, FEELS, and EXPERIENCES goodness and love from you, then "IT"S YOUR GOODNESS THAT LEADS THE SINNER TO REPENTANCE."

I have a hard time understanding how judgment, condemnation and shunning leads anyone to repentance. My goal is for the sinner to not need his sin. To shun and run from the sinner is to leave the sinner in his sin.

It can get messy. It can get ugly. But in my experience, self-righteous people don't need a Savior, only sinners do. This is a statement worthy of our full acceptance, Christ died for SINNERS.

So if he died for sinners, I am going to hang around sinners who need Him.

Rex Ray said...

Aussie John,

I believe you should have been more proud if everyone had stood. I mean good preaching draws people closer to Jesus. And the closer we are to Jesus, there will be less sin; right?

At least you didn’t do what one pastor did. He walked through the congregation and put a microphone in the face of several people so they could be heard and asked: “Have you ever lied? Have you ever stolen? Have you ever had immoral thoughts?” Then from the pulpit said with a laugh, “You can see we are nothing but liars, thieves, and adulators.”

People come to church not to be browbeaten.

Jesus said, “When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself. He said this to indicate how he was going to die.” (John 12:32-33)

I believe Christians come to church to hear Christ lifted up.

Rex Ray said...

Old Topic

https://www.yahoo.com/style/students-are-protesting-a-ban-on-confederate-flag-clothing-185731948.htm

Noah Leech was one of the students dismissed from school. “Our bloodline comes from West Virginia,” he said. “They were helping move slaves from the South into the North under the Confederate flag, so that’s what I stand for.”
Two freshman female students so strongly disapproved of the school’s ban that they held a protest in front of the high school and held up Confederate flags before classes started.

What our country including the Southern Baptist Convention needs is an education on the truth for what the Confederate Flag stands for.

ScottShaver said...

Shouldn't our attitudes be one of constant confession of sin exposed by the Holy Spirit. And under the promise of Christ's propitiation, shouldn't we be confident that the blood of Christ is sufficient to cover our sins whether we realize them or not?

anita said...


7months ago I met a guy in my final year exam. He was cool, caring and loving. I love him but I never wanted to tell him so I pretend loving him by refusing to pay attentions because I thought he just wanted sex with me…and I have been telling my friend margaret about him and unknowing to me that my friend Margaret was falling for him. Two months ago I started loving him much and I want him badly in my life but then, it was a little too late because my friend has already destroy me to him so he would date her and love her instead of me she did everything she could to get him from me and I never knew I was even telling her to help me talk to him because he was not calling me again. ..last week, I decided to pay him a visit to my greatest surprise I met my friend cooking in his kitchen she was sexually dressed. When he saw me he was shocked and couldn’t speak then my friend came out of the kitchen and she started judging me as if that was not enough she was kissing him in my presence. I was speechless and I couldn’t speak not because of my man but because of my friend I trusted so much how she broke my heart… I was totally hopeless because I never thought I could get him back again… I give all thanks to jai mata sunlight for reuniting me with the love of my life. after using lovespell on him. We will soon be getting married. And I want you readers to know to be careful with the kinda friends you are keeping. But till my experience I realize that nothing can harm but your friend…if you need lovespell for your man/ probably your ex... contact jai mata sunlight on her email sunlightmata@gmail.com. Don’t just contact her explain yourself to her and you will get a positive result. She is a goddess. And indeed a great mother of love. Thanks to you queen mother of love jai mata sunlight.

Anonymous said...

Did you realize the singer has a nose ring? In a SBC church. Horrors.

ScottShaver said...

I'm not so sure that those of us overly worried about nose rings aren't the ones with the real rings in our noses.

Aussie John said...

Wade,

I think I'm still in context with some of the discussion, but I get the idea that there are some folk who think they are able to live their lives without sin, or in a quantifiable way, withless sin.

We tend to forget that we aren’t sinners because we sin. We sin because we are sinners. Being a sinner isn't differentiated by how much we sin, or by how bad we think certain sins are.

We are sinners! I'm so very thankful that the certainty of my salvation has nothing to do with what is in me, but everything to do with what is outside of me.

C.H. Spurgeon once wrote: My faith rests on not what I am or shall be, or feel,or know,but in what Christ is,in what He has done, and in what He is now doing for me"

"Remember, sinner, it is not thy hold of Christ that saves thee–it is Christ; it is not thy joy in Christ that saves thee–it is Christ; it is not even faith in Christ, though that is the instrument–it is Christ’s blood and merits; therefore, look not to thy hope, but to Christ, the source of thy hope; look not to thy faith, but to Christ, the author and finisher of thy faith; and if thou doest that, ten thousand devils cannot throw thee down"…


Rex Ray said...

Wade,

You asked me to define “practicing homosexual”.

I believe that would be two of the same sex living together as man and wife.

“Later, he turned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into heaps of ashes and blotted them off the face of the earth, making them an example for all the ungodly in the future to look back upon and fear.” (2 Peter 2: 6 Living Bible)

You say this man has asked forgiveness from his ex-wife, and “That’s enough for me.”

That makes about as much sense as a bank robber gets caught and police are to forgive him because he’s asked forgiveness.

You say “he can’t give back the money he stole because he’s remarried.”

Which marriage was from God and which one was from the devil?

“…Whoever divorces his wife and marries someone else commits adultery…” (Luke 10:11)

“…It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the smallest point of God’s law to be overturned. For example, a man who divorces his wife and marries someone else commits adultery.” (Luke 17-18 NLT)

Wade, it looks to me like you are trying to “overturn” God’s law on the basis of forgiving the sinner. He doesn’t commit adultery once but every hour he lives.

Six days ago, I saw flowers put on a grave marker that said, “Together Forever”. On one side: name “Feb. 6, 1923 – July 2, 1914”. The other side: “Judy Oct, 13, 1934”.

Someday that grave marker will be complete. Wonder what grave marker your friend will have?


Maybe I’m being a hypocrite about a situation that we did not have to solve in our church. A married couple lived four miles away attended our church for a month. His wife of 55 years had passed and after a quick courtship they had married. She was 10 years younger. She joined but he did not want to leave his church where he’d been a deacon 40 years. After a month he stopped coming and soon filed for a divorce. Everyone felt sorry for her. We helped move her furniture to another town where she could work at Walmart. He asked me to go with him to consult with our pastor. He’d heard she’d been married a couple of times but didn’t know he was her ninth husband. He had agreed to go together for marriage counseling and after the first session the woman counselor told him he need not come back but his wife needed help. After 8 visits she quit going saying the counselor didn’t know anything. He said he still loved her and would marry again if she got well but she kept him upset all the time. Her main problem was as a young girl she had been abused by her father. Neither attends anymore, but I guess she is still a church member.

Victorious said...

I've always been amazed at the way believers interpret Jesus' words about marriage and adultery. I've said it before, but it's worth, in my opinion, saying it again. We have done to marriage what the Pharisees did to the Sabbath. We have made it so burdensome that it surprises me that anyone would want to marry having sat under the teachings today relating to marriage and adultery.

So I present my thoughts....Jesus' words about adultery in the gospels must be taken in context. He is speaking to the Pharisees who have continually tried to catch Him in mistakes and/or misunderstandings about the Law of Moses regarding the Sabbath, fasting, tithing, hand-washing, etc. Jesus always rebukes them and at one point tells them that He desires compassion rather than sacrifice.

When the Pharisees tested Jesus about the Law of Moses permitting divorce, Jesus makes specific mention of the "Certificate of Divorce" as well as the hardness of their hearts. That certificate in Deut. 24 was a "concession" if you will made out of compassion for the women who were being sent away for any reason and left with little or no resources for survival. The certificate would be proof that should they want to marry again, they could not be charged/accused of adultery and stoned. So again, it was God's mercy and long-suffering solution to a widespread practice by the Jews and the effort to justify it in the Gospels in their confronting Jesus.

While I don't believe the story about the adulterous woman in the gospel of John was in the oldest manuscripts, it does nevertheless show the hypocrisy of the Pharisees in that there is no intention of stoning the man involved.

I hope in the future Wade will tackle an in-depth teaching on this topic as many fail to see the subject of marriage, divorce, adultery and remarriage in the context of the whole counsel of God as well as the cultural implications. I'm sure he would do a better job of making sense of it than I have..... :)

Just my 2cents....


Victorious said...

P.S. My conclusion based on my previous comment is that today we require a certificate proving two people are married to one another and a certificate of divorce proving they are no longer married to each other. Therefore, the same principle applies in my opinion.

Neither party is guilty of adultery when they have possession of that certificate. I realize some may strongly disagree, but based on the fact that God, Himself, mentions that important document when He presents His people with a Certificate of Divorce in Jer.3:8 shows it's importance.

Also, Jesus did not accuse nor mention the word adultery to the Samaritan woman at the well when He knew she had had 4-5 husbands as He (speculation here...) likely knew the prevalent practice of sending women away without a certificate of divorce and leaving her without resources for survival.


Anonymous said...

Wade, I looked at this issue many years ago and had to go back and read the scriptures that touch on this subject once again. I remember there were around 6 passages so I think I'm missing one or two.

As much as I respect your opinion (been following your blog for the past 5 years or so) I still think your theology is not comprehensive in the way that you're arguing that mercy and love should never cease in an immediate or intermediate sense. Just as a spouse has the right to walk on a marriage on certain grounds, so too can a believer walk away from a relationship with a fellow believer on certain grounds in hopes that it will bring about genuine repentance.

BTW, your comments above about II Thess 3 applying to the self-righteous - all of us will struggle with self-righteous thoughts as long as we live. To what degree does a person has to exhibit a self-righteous attitude that would cause you to pull away from them?

And your comments that we are to forgive an infinite amount is qualified by the words "sins against you" which seem to indicate a personal offense. Applying it in a sense of never giving up on someone regardless of their behavior seems to be stretching it too far.

Rom 16:17 I urge you, brothers and sisters, to keep your eyes on [watch out for] those who cause dissensions and create obstacles or introduce temptations [for others] to commit sin, [acting in ways] contrary to the doctrine which you have learned. Turn away from them.


I Cor. 15:11 What I meant was that you should not associate [keep company with] with a person who calls himself a believer but is immoral or greedy or worships idols or is a slanderer or a drunkard or a thief. Don't even sit down to eat with such a person.


II Thess 3:14 Now if anyone [in the church] does not obey what we say in this letter, take special note of that person and do not associate with him, **so that he will be ashamed and repent**.

Titus 3:10,11 After a first and second warning reject a divisive man [who promotes heresy and causes dissension—ban him from your fellowship and have nothing more to do with him], well aware that such a person is twisted and is sinning; he is convicted and self-condemned [and is gratified by causing confusion among believers].

Aussie John - In order to carry out the wishes of Paul in the above Scriptures a person needs critical thinking first of himself to make sure there is no beam in his eye, then of his fellow believer to get the speck out of their eye. Obviously, this is not the mainstay of life in the Spirit, but it is absolutely part of the the journey in Christ. To refuse to follow theses clear commands would be unloving (unchristlike) and ultimately unproductive in promoting true fruit of the Spirit. To accuse someone of living out these commands as self-righteous would be silly, imo.

Wayne



Anonymous said...

One other thought Aussie John - I Cor 6:3 Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life!

In the world to come you'll be tempted to use your finger to identify the bad angels parading in front of you so I imagine you might want to use a nod and a wink instead. :)

Wayne

Aussie John said...

Wade,

I apologise for using your blog to respond to Wayne. I don't believe it is courteous to use a blog to seek to speak to individuals other than the blog owner, but Wayne seems to find me a good target for his learned thoughts.

Wayne, I learned as a young pastor that context is a most important matter when interpreting Scripture. All of Pauls words were written to churches facing specific situations. It far too tempting to make Scripture fit a preconceived idea. In Romans and Galatians, for instance he was seeking to keep the Roman Christians aware of the attacks by the Judaizers who were legalists who demanded the utmost obedience to the Mosaic law with its rules and regulations. The Roman Christians had been given the utmost treasure of spiritual freedom via the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The protection of that treasure was Pauls concern, and was the afterthought he added in Romans 16:17-20.

The other passages you mentioned also were written for a purpose in context, as was Jesus words in Matthew 7:3,which you mentioned, and were addressed to these very same legalists. Jesus knew that those who are most most critical of the weaknes they observed in others, are usually most regularly guilty of even worse failings themselves.

Jesus knew that Pharisees are too busy looking at the failings of others to notice their own infirmities, often much worse than chips. We who expect God to look upon us with a compassionate eye,through the precious blood of Jesus,have hardly a leg to stand on to justify setting ourselves up as the sheriff of others tasked with extracting logs.

I can assure you that there is no better way to teach us to exercise grace and love towards fellow sinners than to exercise severity in judging ourselves. Those who are recipients of Gods great grace in Jesus Christ will live out the grace they have received as they leave all judgement to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.



Rex Ray said...

Aussie John,

You said, “Wade, I apologize for using your blog to respond to Wayne. I don't believe it is courteous to use a blog to seek to speak to individuals other than the blog owner…”

Are you trying to suggest to Wade to add new rules to his blog?

I believe his rules are:

1. No profanity or foul language.

2. Anyone may ‘speak to anyone in a courteous manner.

3. He prefers comments to stay on topic.

Anonymous said...

Thought of this discussion when reading from II Cor 7 (JB Phillips trans)

"5-11 For even when we arrived in Macedonia we had a wretched time with trouble all round us—wrangling outside and anxiety within. Not but what God, who cheers the depressed, gave us the comfort of the arrival of Titus. And it wasn’t merely his coming that cheered us, but the comfort you had given him, for he could tell us of your eagerness to help, your deep sympathy and keen interest on my behalf. All that made me doubly glad to see him. For although my letter had hurt you I don’t regret it now (as I did, I must confess, at one time). I can see that the letter did upset you, though only for a time, and now I am glad I sent it, not because I want to hurt you but because it made you grieve for things that were wrong. In other words, the result was to make you sorry **as God would have had you sorry**, and not merely to make you offended by what we said. The sorrow which God uses **means a change of heart and leads to salvation**—it is the world’s sorrow that is such a deadly thing. You can look back now and see how the hand of God was in that sorrow. Look how seriously it made you think, how eager it made you to prove your innocence, how indignant it made you, and in some cases, how afraid! Look how it made you long for my presence, how it stirred up your keenness for the faith, how ready it made you to punish the offender! Yes, that letter cleared the air for you as nothing else would have done."

Genuine repentance is always accompanied with an eye towards righteous activity to make amends where applicable. A repentance that merely feels sorry and begs for mercy may very well be spurious or worldly, and needs to be repented of.


Matthew 7:21-23J.B. JB Phillips

21 “It is not everyone who keeps saying to me ‘Lord, Lord’ who will enter the kingdom of Heaven, but the man who actually does my Heavenly Father’s will.

22-23 “In ‘that day’ many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we preach in your name, didn’t we cast out devils in your name, and do many great things in your name?’ Then I shall tell them plainly, ‘I have never known you. Go away from me, you have worked on the side of evil!’”


True friendship in Christ sometimes requires us to ask the hard questions first of ourselves, then of others around us who claim to love Jesus. It also requires us to receive the loving questioning from others in a spirit of humility. Assumptions destroy relationships faster than a tick can suck blood on a dog's back. :)

Wayne

Rex Ray said...

Victorious,

Correct me if I’m wrong but long ago did you reply “LOL” when you realized I wasn’t asking Wade to marry me?

Your last comment: “…it surprises me that anyone would want to marry having sat under the teachings today relating to marriage and adultery.”

I don’t think anything being taught today would be any harder than Jesus saying, “…anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has committed adultery in his heart.” (Matthew 5:28)

I like what Martin Luther said: “You cannot prevent birds from flying over your head, but you can prevent them building a nest in your hair.”

Victorious said...

Rex,

Correct me if I’m wrong but long ago did you reply “LOL” when you realized I wasn’t asking Wade to marry me?

LOL!! Yes, that would be me....since I was fairly certain you weren't directing that to me, there was only one other person....LOL! I still laugh at that and am glad you can too!!

I don’t think anything being taught today would be any harder than Jesus saying, “…anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has committed adultery in his heart.” (Matthew 5:28)

Yes, that's what Jesus said and that's what is taught today as a deterrent to committing adultery. That's a perfect example of "selective literalism" imo. The very next verse, on the other hand, is NOT taught to be practiced literally. Again, the context is what must be considered and understood.

What Jesus was saying is that "out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders." (Matt. 15:19) These particular sins are not just "passing thoughts" but for the most part require some planning and continual thought to process the desired outcome.

It isn't a literal adultery Jesus is speaking of, but rather one that is born out of a propensity to entertain lustful thoughts. In other words, He's showing the root cause of the sin.

That's how I see it....




Victorious said...

I should have added the "next verse" mentioned above that is not taught as being literal:

"If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. Matt 5:29

and

"If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell. Matt 5:30

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Rex Ray said...

Victorious,

I’m glad you remember. :)

It makes it easier to agree with you on what is a ‘passing thought; “…looks upon a woman…” I believe Martin Luther dwelled on that.

Say does that apply to women also?

One of my uncles was know as the strongest man in the county as he won all the contest lifting logs as a lumberjack; also a handsome guy. One day he asked his mother what a stranger meant that he met on a train. She had said, “I’d like to be with you between sheets.” .

Your quoting: “"If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off…” brought back mixed memories.

While in the Air Force, I’d been selected to preach at ‘youth week at a church. After the service, an Airman named Hope, talked to the preacher and gave his life to the Lord. He said he wanted to make the decision before his father came to talk with him. His father was very stern and had intentionally cut his right hand off with a skill saw.

Hope asked me if I believed ‘once saved; always saved? I said yes.

He started going back to Oklahoma and getting drunk. I couldn’t talk him out of it.

I got married and we went to Alaska for a year. The first day we returned the local paper located near the Air Base had: “…Hope xxxxx killed in car wreck in Oklahoma.

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