Unshakable Faith: In light of recent failures by Ravi and Max

The recent failures of Christian leaders/authors is disappointing, and maybe even causing some people’s faith to be shaken… but don’t let the failures of sinful man shake your confidence in our sinless Savior; and don’t doubt the truthfulness of His gospel coming through deceitful lips.  God is sovereign.  He has spoken through a donkey (Num 22), and He prophesied truth through Caiaphas (John 11), who plotted to kill Jesus.  So God has a way of using not only weak and sinful vessels (such as us), but He also uses those who are not even His own beloved children.

There have been several examples over the past years, but two recent ones stand out.  One, Ravi Zacharias, who was a hero to many, and used mightily of God in the area of evangelism and apologetics (defense of the Christian faith)… was so evil in his serial sexual assaults, as well as his denial and slandering of his victims… his clear lack of repentance until the day of his death, that if we have any doubt, it’s not over the truths he communicated, but over his eternal soul. 

That God would choose to use what appears to be a wolf, is a mystery, but that He can, is not.  What I take from this is that God is just; His patience is not eternal, and our sins will find us out.  So, repent while there’s still time.  God is not mocked. 

Also, God has a history of using the evil intents of man for His good purposes (Gen. 50:20).  He is gracious to all who repent and turn to Jesus in faith, but there is a heavy burden on those who teach (James 3:1; Heb. 13:17), and they will be held responsible for those they lead astray.  And oh the damage done by Ravi to the faith of many!

Another recent disappointment has to do with a popular pastor/author who ironically titled one of his many books, “The Applause of Heaven.”  Max Lucado recently spoke out of both sides of his mouth for the sake of earthly applause, as he apologized and asked the LGBTQ community for forgiveness concerning a 17-year old article he wrote, which rightly denounced homosexuality (and gay marriage) as sexual sin.  As he apologized for God’s truth, he then hedged it by inserting a quick comment to appease his Christian audience, saying that he personally holds to a traditional biblical view of marriage.  If so… why apologize for God’s truth? 

I don’t mean to put Max in the category of Ravi.  I don’t doubt his salvation, but I do doubt his priorities as his recent apology seems to come under the pressures of men, and ultimately wanting their applause over God’s.  I have no idea what kind of pressure he bears, and I’m reminded to pray for such people in the limelight, but we cannot compromise biblical truth for the sake of our sinful society’s applause.

So, thank God for the people in your life.  For the ways He uses them to minister and speak His truth.  But test all things according to His unchanging Word, pray for those in positions of responsibility, and look ultimately to our sinless Savior who enables us to receive Heaven’s applause. – Pastor Brian

Ask for Wisdom and Read in Faith

God promises that if you ask Him for wisdom, He will give it to you! But how do you expect Him to give it? The primary means He chose is through the written word. So if you ask for wisdom, don’t expect Him to just “zap” you. Ask and then in faith, go to His Word, and go to good books. We gain wisdom from others, so read biographies, works of theology, history, science, and fiction to name a few.

This reading stat may get your attention, but if you don’t set a time, and decide on a book, then it’ll just be an interesting stat. What’s your recommendation? How about Don Whitney’s modern classic, “Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life,” or “Trusting God,” by Jerry Bridges? Don’t get overwhelmed with the selection… pick one and start!

– pb

Whose Side Are You On?

If I’m not for Him then I’m against Him. But what does it mean to be “for Him?” Certainly it’s more than me just trying to not be against Him. If a soldier doesn’t show up for their duty they’re not simply being neutral, they’re actively being rebellious, and this rebellion gives an advantage to the enemy.

“Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God… as instruments for righteousness” (Rom. 6:13).

Do we fight the battle against sin by simply avoiding it? “Don’t look… don’t do!” Paul’s instruction is active, not passive. There’s no neutral ground; we’re either presenting ourselves to one side or the other, and the battle is not over until we enter into his presence and become like him – sinless, as he is sinless. If we’re not showing up for duty, if we’re not presenting ourselves to God for the sake of His righteousness, then we’re rebelling. So, not presenting ourselves to Him IS an act of presenting ourselves to the other side.

Yes, there’s a lot going on in our 24-hour day. We sleep, we eat, have jobs and errands to run, we exercise, we watch the news, we look at art, we play, we do our hobbies, we may even watch sports and TV. None of these are inherently sinful, but all of these have a greater power to tempt us in sin if we’re not actively about our Father’s will.
Jesus didn’t resist sin by averting his eyes, or avoiding people. No, he was intentionally about his Father’s will – he was so active in presenting himself to God: studying the Scriptures, in prayer communing with his Father, humbly submitting himself to doing the Father’s will – that the lures from the enemy had no power to pull him away from his active duty. And don’t hear “duty” in a negative sense because his duty was also his greatest love and desire. How much more allegiance; how much more motivation is there in our actions when we love the commanding officer? If this is the case: we joyfully present ourselves, we gladly do what he commands, and the temptations to rebel have no place in our minds to linger.
My fight against sin is best won by realizing there is no neutrality in life. As one old saint said, “Be killing sin, or sin will be killing you.” It’s an active fight (in the Word, relying on the Spirit, in prayer, receiving the means of grace at church as we encourage one another), by intentionally presenting ourselves to God for the sake of His kingdom. 
Pastor Brian