By John MacArthur
The following message was delivered at Grace Community Church in Panorama City, California, By John MacArthur Jr.. It was transcribed from the tape, GC 70-9, titled “Questions and Answers.” A copy of the tape can be received
by writing, Word of Grace, P.O. Box 4000, Panorama City, CA 91412.
I have made every effort to ensure that an accurate transcription of the original tape was made. Please note that at times sentence structure may appear to vary from accepted English conventions. This is due primarily to the techniques involved in preaching and the obvious choices I had to make in placing the correct punctuation in the article.
It is my intent and prayer that the Holy Spirit will use this transcription of the sermon, “Questions and Answers” to strengthen and encourage the true Church of Jesus Christ.
Scriptures quoted in this message are from the New American Standard Bible.
Questions and Answers #1
What I am going to try to do is to get into some of the questions that you asked, and do as many as I can, in just 40 minutes or so that we have.
“I see that someone is speaking on MacArthurism. Could you let us know from the pulpit, what your belief is on the Blood of Christ?”
I have done that in the past, and just in order to “touch base” with the fact that he may have created some questions in your mind, [let me say]. Through the years there has been no question about what I believe, regarding the
Blood of Christ, none at all. For twenty years that I have been preaching here, and all the myriad of books and tapes, and things that have come out of the Church, and out of my ministry, no one needs to question anything that I
believe about the Blood of Christ.
I believe that Jesus died on the cross and literally shed His physical blood. He died as a sacrifice for sin. I saw a letter, the other day, from someone who said, that Christ could have died “any other way,” as long as He died.
That is not correct, that is not true, I do not believe that. He had to die by being lifted up. He had to die shedding blood in a sacrificial way to fulfill the pattern of Old Testament prophetic truth.
I believe what the Church has always believed. And somebody always says to me, “Well, why are they always attacking you on the Blood of Christ?” And I need to tell you what I have mentioned before, that this basically has very little to do with theology. It has very little to do with the Blood of Christ and everything to do with trying to discredit me. And so, they are trying pick an issue that is volatile, misrepresent what I believe, just for the sheer sake of attacking me.
I will never forget, of course, when this first came out. It came out in a magazine put out by Christian College, that I denied the Blood of Christ. I called the president of the school, and I said, “You know better than that, you know me, you know exactly what I believe, you know what I teach. Why would you do that?” He said to me on the phone, “We have made a terrible mistake.” I said, “Well, is there some way that you could correct it?” He said, “No, we could never do that.”
So, he admitted to me it was a mistake, personally to me, over the telephone. But what was curious about it was, that I heard from a faculty member, that there was a faculty prayer meeting there, a prayer meeting with the administration, in which the request that was given for the prayer meeting was, “Lord, help us to find a way to discredit the ministry of John MacArthur.” Now, that was the prayer request. Now if you are seeking to do that, you can find some way, I suppose, to do it.
For some reason, perhaps unknown to me, these people have decided to try to discredit our ministry, and to attack our belief in the Blood of Christ, that is, the sufficiency of the atoning work of Christ for salvation, would
definitely be a way to upset people and that’s what they have done.
But what we believe about the Blood of Christ, is available for all to see, in fact, I gave a special communion message on that, a number of months ago. And I believe exactly what the Bible teaches and what the church has always
believed. And I just think, that we have to just keep dealing with this onslaught, because of the effort to discredit. And I realize there are ramifications of this, I realize that. I realize that people have left our church over the last couple of years. It has been a tough two years, and part of it has been the endless attacks on our church. I know there has been attacks on our church, but we just keep trying to be faithful to the Word of God and moving ahead. If you have question about what we believe on the Blood of Christ, you can read the New Testament and we believe that. Exactly what it says.
“This week in the newspaper, it was reported that some experts,” in fact they called them Biblical Scholars, I read the article,” met to discuss the Scriptures, regarding the Second Coming of Christ. And they voted. And twenty-seven out of thirty, of the scholars, voted that Christ did not promise to return a second time. So the article in the Daily News, I think it was, said that, ‘Bible Scholars now agree, that Christ will not return a second time, and its foolish for us to start a cult of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, because Biblical Scholars now know, He never said that He would
That’s difficult to understand in the light of the fact of several things, but one Scripture that comes to mind, that seems to me to be rather significant, Jesus said this, “Heaven and Earth will pass away, my words will not pass away, but of that day and hour knows no one, not even the angels in Heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone, for the coming of the Son of Man, will be just like the days of Noah” Then he goes on to describe the coming of the Son of Man, and then that’s Matthew 24, in Matthew 25, we find again that He’s going to come, and when He comes, He is going to bring about judgment on the earth.
Verse 31, “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him . . . .” Now how can twenty-seven Bible Scholars vote that, that’s not in the Bible? You say, “How can they do that?” Well, they just eliminate that verse. They just say, “Well, that doesn’t mean what it says, and Jesus didn’t really say that, somebody fabricated that, someone said He said that, and so forth and so on.
You know, one of the distinguishing marks of the Christian Church, from the very outset, has been a hope in the Coming of Christ. In 1Thessalonians Chapter 1, it says, “For they themselves report about us what kind of a
reception we had with you. How you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven.” That’s basic to the life of the Church. Peter calls it, “A living hope.” We have a living hope in Christ’s return, in spite of what these men say. We have to come up with a new definition of scholars, I think.
Here’s another question of a different nature. And by the way, these are not necessarily related, I want to cover as many as I can. So I won’t take a lot of time on them.
“Should Christians drink Wine Coolers?”
Perhaps some of you were hoping that this question didn’t come up. “Should Christians drink Wine Coolers? Let me give you just a brief response to that.
A Wine Cooler is an alcoholic beverage. It is my own personal conviction that I do not drink alcoholic beverages, of any kind, at any time. And there are several reasons why. And they are not in a particular spiritual order.
Reason number one is the fact that, I believe the Bible warns very, very strongly about drunkenness, and very, very strongly about losing control and dissipation, Ephesians 5:18, “Be not drunk with wine, in which is dissipation,
but be filled with the Spirit.” If I am going to be under the control of something, I want it to be the Holy Spirit, not some substance.
Beyond that, I am convinced after studying the Word of God and studying the backgrounds around the Word of God, that the wine which was imbibed in the time of the New Testament, and even in the Old Testament, was highly diluted with water, 5 to 1, 6 to 1, 7 to 1, 8 to 1. They really drank water if you want to see the true picture, and they simply purified the water, by putting a little bit of fermented wine in it, because it killed whatever else would
be in the wine, that might cause them some physical problems.
It was not the normal drink of the time of our Lord, for people to drink unmixed wine. You read in the Bible about two kinds of drink, wine and “strong drink.” “Strong drink” was unmixed, and those who drank “strong drink” drank it for the purpose of drowning their problems. The wine that was consumed in the Bible was very definitely mixed with water extensively. Because you lived in a warm climate, the Land of Palestine was hot, the very fact of thirst could contribute to a high consumption of wine. In order to prevent drunkenness, they mixed it with water, so that your body could not hold the amount that it would take to inebriate you.
So that is simply to point out to you, that I don’t think you can advocate wine drinking from the Bible, unless you have diluted it sufficiently with water, as they did in Biblical times.
The other reason, that I will give to you, as to why I don’t believe that Christians should drink wine, is simply because of what the Apostle Paul says, “The Kingdom of God is not food and drink,” Romans Chapter 14. And he says, “If anything that I eat and drink offends my brother, I won’t do it.” Now I have lived long enough, to have dragged enough people out of saloons; to have tried to “patch up” enough shattered devastated lives; to have tried
to put together families and marriages that have been devastated by alcohol, to have a healthy hatred for it.
And since we live in a culture where alcohol is only an option and not an necessity, it seems to me, without particular constraint, for us to consume that kind of beverage. I certainly would not want to be responsible for giving someone else the idea that it was ok to drink alcoholic beverages and then watch them, in an out of control way, be destroyed by what they saw me do.
And so in deference to a weaker brother, and in deference to not making someone stumble, I choose not to do that. And since there is no compelling reason to do it, because there are so many other things to drink, it has no place in my life.
“What is Dominion Theology?”
Have you heard about that? Dominion Theology, that’s a new label, for a new kind of theology, and there is always new theologies. Dominion Theology comes in a lot of forms, but I think what you are probably talking about is
John Wimber, who is now advocating a new kind of Dominion. Let me give you this very simply, ok?
Dominion Theology, espoused primarily by John Wimber, who is networked through a group of churches called “The Vineyard Churches,” basically is saying, “That as believers, we are to take power over Satan and demons, we
are to exercise dominion over them.” There is another kind of theology, that is existing today, that is called “Liberation Theology.” It is a form of theology that says, “That the Church is to take dominion over the institutions of the world.” That’s another form of Dominion Theology, or Kingdom Theology.
And what it basically says is that the Church’s mandate is to take over the institutions of the world, that’s the Liberation Theology side. What Dominion Theology says is that we are to take over the Powers of Darkness;
we are to take over the demons; and we are to take over the spirits; and we are to dominate Satan. We are to take dominion, and that’s why they talk about “Power Evangelism” and “Power Healing.” In other words, he trains
people, supposedly, to invade the Satanic World and take dominion over demons.
That we as Christians, by living in the natural world, and by just moving around in the visible world, have failed to exercise the power that we have, to literally take over the Satanic World. You hear them talk about, “Binding
Satan,” have you heard that? “Binding demons; Pleading the Blood on demons; Pleading the Blood on Satan; Taking dominion over, not only demons, but all of the institutions of the world, that are infiltrated and influenced by
And they believe that whatever people’s problems are, tend to be demon introduced. And it gets extreme, no matter what it is, its a demon, and you have to take dominion over these demons. And that is why they talk about Power
Evangelism. They say that you cannot evangelize without signs and wonders. You have to overpower the demonic world, and demonstrate your divine power to the lost, in order for them to be saved. Power Healing, break the bondage of demons and so forth.
It is unbiblical. We are never told, never told, to take dominion over demons. We are told by James, “Resist the devil and he will” what? “Flee from you.” We are never told to bind Satan. We are never told to bind demons. We are never told to plead the Blood on Satan and demons. Listen to Jude 9, “Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you.'” Even Michael, who is “super-angel,” did not dare rebuke Satan. But rather said, “Lord, you take care of him.” And if Michael, as a holy angel, does not take to himself the exercise of authority over fallen angels, where would we find a mandate to do that?
The Bible simply tells us, that if you want to deal with the enemy, you put on the whole armor of God, right? You put on the whole armor of God, and you’ll be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. We are not called to take dominion over the institutions of this world. We are not called to take dominion over demons and over the devil. We are called to get on our spiritual armor, to resist that demonic world and trust in the power of God, who does take care of them.
“Isn’t it true that only the ‘Regenerated,’ that is, only the ‘Born Again,’ the ‘Saved’ people can communicate with God, for the purpose of solving their problems?”
The answer is yes. The only ones that have access to God are those that are His own. Because the only access to God is through whom? Christ. It [Bible] says, “No man comes to the Father, except by me.” You can’t go to God on any terms, for any reason, unless you come through Christ. The way has been opened for us. And that’s what the writer of Hebrews means when he says, “Let us come boldly unto the Throne of Grace, to find help in time of need.”
No, there is no promise in the Bible that God will answer the prayer of an unsaved person, no promise at all. God is not obligated. God is not bound. God has made no such promise, because there is no access to God. Access only
comes through Christ.
You say, “Does that mean that God never does for a person what they ask done?” That’s a very difficult question, and it’s been asked a number of times. I would venture to say, that an unbelieving, unsaved person might pray a prayer to God, “Well, God, I wish I had a wife.” And three months later find a girl and marry her. Or he might pray, “You know, I wish my mother would get well,” and maybe his mother get well.
So it is possible that circumstances could appear to look like God answered a prayer, when in fact, it was just the working out the providential plan of God anyway, and the prayer was irrelevant to what God was going to do. I
mean, if you pray, “Lord heal my mother,” only one of two things can happen. Either she does or doesn’t get healed, and if she does, it does not mean that God answered your prayer. It just means she got better.
But, it also true, and I want to say this, that God may for His own purposes, hear the cry of an unregenerate person. The point is this, He is not obligated to do that. There is no claim on that. Because, you see in John it says, “if you ask anything,” Jesus said, “in my NAME.” If you come in Christ’s name, if you come in Christ, then the Father will do it. He has no obligation to answer the prayer of an unregenerate person, though sometimes He may in His sovereign choice. And sometimes, it may appear as if a prayer has been answered, simply by the way things turned out.
In 1Corinthians 7:29, someone asked, “What does Paul mean when he says, “Those who have wives should be as though they had none.”
Now, you can really preach on that passage and get into a lot of trouble. Those who have wives are to be as though they had none. What he is talking about there, is in context. He is talking about the significance of living a godly life in an ungodly culture.
And as the apostle Paul is talking about marriage and singleness, he says basically, verse 27, “Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be released. Are you released from a wife? Do not seek a wife. You’re a Christian, you are living in the end times, don’t seek to get married. If you should marry, you haven’t sinned. And if a virgin marries, she hasn’t sinned. Yet such will have trouble in this life, and I am trying to spare you.
You know what he simply says, you get married, you complicate your marriage. Is that true? Yes, Yes. Now wait a minute, wait a minute, hold your wife’s hand so she feels good. You do complicate your life, because now all of a
sudden you cannot do strictly what you would desire to do, you must be sensitive to the needs of a life partner.
There is a complexity. You have introduced a very, very significant factor into the quotient of living your life. So you are going to have some trouble. You are going to have some distress. I’ll tell you one way you have it. Before you were married, you had the pain, for the most part, of your own troubles, and now when you got married, you have the pain that you bear in your heart, because you bear the pain of the one you love so much. Marry someone, and I’ll make you a promise, somebody is going to live with grief, because someone in that marriage is going to die, and that’s pain, deep pain.
Get married and I will tell you something else that’s going to have very likely, children. You say, “Children are a blessing.” Yes, you have children and I’ll promise you something else, you’ll have pain, you’ll have trouble. You’ll have anxiety that you wouldn’t have if you didn’t have children. It’s just built into it. Multiply the people who are in my heart and in a troubled world you multiply the trouble of my heart.
It doesn’t mean that I don’t love them, it’s the fact that I desperately love them. There’s so much anxiety and such a burden to carry. He says then in verse 29, “I say this brother, and the time has been shortened, so that from now on, those who have wives should be as though who had none; and those who weep, as though they didn’t weep; and those who rejoice, as though they didn’t rejoice; and those who buy, as though they didn’t possess; and those who use the world, as though they didn’t make full use of it, for the form of the world is passing away.”
What he is saying is, “Look, if you’re married, don’t consume yourself in the matters of that marriage.” That’s what he is saying. “Don’t get all embroiled in that.” Why? Verse 32, “I want you to be free from concern. One who is unmarried is concerned about the things of the Lord.” Verse 33, “One who is married is concerned about the things of the world–how he may please his wife–and his interests are divided.”
So Paul is simply saying, “If you can stay single you have an undivided interest in the Kingdom. As soon as you get married, you have a divided interest, the Kingdom and your wife; the Kingdom and your kids. And so he is
saying, “If you can do it, and you’re married, try not to lose yourself in all of the details of your life. That’s what he means by, “Be as though you had no wife.” In other words, “Don’t lose yourself.”
He is not saying, “Get rid of your wife; he is not saying be indifferent to your wife, because that would contradict many other Scriptures. But what he is saying is, “Live your life as if this world and this marriage isn’t the end of everything; isn’t the purpose for everything.
And this is what I have been saying recently, “Consume yourself on the Kingdom together.” You know, this is such a basic point, and I shared this with you a few weeks ago. You watch the day in which we live, and you watch how all this data about marriage is telling two people how to adjust to each other, and you spend all of your time doing that.
And when the real issue is, if I live for the Kingdom; and if I am consumed with the Glory of Christ; and if my wife is consumed for the Glory of Christ; and the will of God; and the purposes of Scripture; and we lose our lives in
that, then marriage is rich and wonderful because it is not focused on us, it is focused on Christ. And Christ pours back into that marriage all of the Spiritual Blessings that a marriage must have.
But today the trend is to focus on each other; and find out what your husband ought to know about you; and what your wife ought to know about you; and how you can adjust; and move; and shift; and get along, and you spend your time being consumed with that. He’s simply saying, “You’re married, you’re married in a difficult time when the Kingdom must advance, and sin is rampant, try to keep your focus on the Kingdom, don’t be consumed with the
things of this life.
“Can the people in Heaven see what we are doing? Do they know what we think?”
There is nothing in the Bible to indicate that they know what we think. And there is every reason to assume that they could care less. There is nothing in the Bible to indicate that they could see what we were doing and there is every reason to assume that they could care less about that.
Let me tell you something folks, when you go to Heaven, you are lost in wonder, love, and praise. And you will gaze on the Glory of the Lord Jesus Christ. And you will be taken into the rapture of having reached perfection. There will be no desire on the part of anybody to look back here. And there is no indication that they can see back here anyway. There is none.
And I know it is kind of a whimsical thing to think my saintly grandmother, who is now in Heaven, is looking over the edge and watching me. Don’t you believe it. Your saintly grandmother isn’t the least concerned with you and
your daily routine. Your saintly grandmother is totally captive to the majestic, unimaginable glories of the eternal dwelling place of God.
“Is there such a thing as a Carnal Christian?”
Yes, in fact, there is no such thing as a Christian who is not at times carnal. Did you get that? And if you’re saying to yourself, “I have never been carnal,” then, “God have mercy on you.”
But let me tell you what people mean by that. There was a definition of a Christian as a Carnal Christian, as if that was a permanent condition. The people in the Church used to teach that there were three kinds of people, Natural, Carnal, and Spiritual. And they would define the Natural person as unregenerate, unsaved, self on the throne, life in chaos, and sin everywhere.
Then there is the Carnal person. What’s that? That’s the Christian who still has self on the throne. Christ is still in there somewhere, running around, but He is not in charge, and the life is still in chaos. So the only difference between a natural and a carnal person is that Christ is in there somewhere, but the life hasn’t changed.
And then thirdly, there is the Spiritual Christian. Self is off the throne, Christ is on it, and the life is all in order. And so people came up with the idea that you could be either a Carnal Christian or a Spiritual Christian. You know, once you are saved you could say, “Well, I am going to stay a Carnal Christian, I like it better.”
And that brings in this whole idea of Lordship, because those are the people who accepted Jesus as Savior, but not as Lord. Those are the people who said, “I don’t want to go to Hell, and I want you to save me from Hell and I want you to forgive my sins, but I just don’t want you to run my life.
And the old definition of a Carnal Christian was a person who believed in Jesus for salvation, but didn’t let Him be Lord, and didn’t let Him run his life. That’s not what a Carnal Christian is. That isn’t at all what Paul had in mind in 1Corinthians 3, not at all. Let me show you what it is.
There is only two kinds of people in the world. My grandfather use to say the “saints” and the “aints,” that’s it, Christians and Non-Christians, Believers and Unbelievers. Now listen, the Natural man is the unregenerate.
The Spiritual man is the regenerate man. Read Romans 8, the Spiritual man is the regenerate. But the Spiritual man can act in a fleshly way. Anytime you disobey the Lord, you are carnal. Anytime you obey the Lord, you are Spiritual. Anytime you do what you ought not to do, you are carnal. That means fleshy, you’re operating off the principle of sin. Anytime you do what the Lord wants you to do, you honor the Word.
So carnality is not a permanent state of Christians who have not given Christ Lordship. Carnality is simply a momentary experience of the Believer who is disobedient to God. So it is not a state, it is simply a kind of behavior.
And all Christians at any given moment, right now, this moment here, are either Carnal or Spiritual, depending on whether you functioning in the Spirit or in the flesh. If you are sitting there and the Spirit of God is teaching you, and you are enjoying what’s happening, then the Spirit of God is at work, you’re a Spiritual person.
If you’re sitting there saying, “I don’t like what he is saying, I don’t buy any of this stuff. I reject all this stuff. This stuff isn’t true.” And you have hostility in your heart, and you may be dealing with sin, and you don’t like what I said, maybe you are still on the “Wine Cooler” thing, I don’t know. Your flesh is reacting, that’s Carnality. Understand?
“Although a Christian’s sins have been forgiven,” that’s true, 1 John 2, “My little children, He has forgiven you all your trespasses.” “Will Christians still have to give an account for their bad deeds at Judgment?”
You know I remember when I was a little kid, hearing some guy say, “You know, you may be a Christian, but someday all your sins will be flashed on a big screen.” Did you ever hear anybody say that? Boy, that scared the life out of me. I thought to myself, “Well, what’s the sense of forgiveness if all that stuff going to happen then?” And I have heard people say that, but that is not what the Bible teaches.
Your sins are forgiven and even God Himself says, “Your sins and iniquities I will remember no more.” They are removed as far as what? As far as the East is from the West. How far is that? That’s far! The East is from the West;
they are buried in the depths of the sea; they are forgotten by God, because of the Blood of Jesus Christ.
You say, “Well, wait a minute, doesn’t it say that we have to give an account?” Yes, but listen to 2 Corinthians, this is very important, Chapter 5, it says, verse 10, “We must all appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ.” Now the word here is not “krino” verb or “krima” which means condemnation, or even “katakrima” which is even a stronger word. It is not damnation, condemnation, judgment, or punishment. But, the word is “bema.” And it is the “bema” that was speaking of a reward.
I was in Corinth, the ruins of Corinth, and they took me to the “Bema” that was there. And whenever they had the Corinthian games, which was the major athletic event, they would take the winners up on the “Bema.” And what it
was, was a place of rewards, not a place of punishment, only the winners went there. So he is saying here, “We will all appear before the “Bema” of Christ, so that each one may be rewarded, for his deeds in the body. The only evaluation for us future, will be the level of reward that we should receive.
And then he says this, “According to what he has done, whether it is good or bad,” and would you please note that word bad. That is the word in the Greek “phaulos,” it really means useless, worthless. It is not “kakia,” evil, wicked. Its useless. And what is left then to evaluate there, our sins are forgiven, our sins are covered? The only thing to evaluate is what, out of our life, was spiritually valuable and thus worthy of reward, and what was just worthless, useless, inconsequential, like mowing the lawn, or whatever. Not evil, you just don’t reward it spiritually.
So I believe that our reward in the future is going to be a reward related to what we have done and that the dross will be burned away. The useless things burned away, and what is left, will be the gold, silver, and precious stones. The other things are not bad, remember 1Corinthians 3, “Wood, hay, and stubble?” Wood isn’t bad, you build things out of it. Hay isn’t bad, horses eat it. Even stubble is used to make bricks. But it just doesn’t have any spiritual value, and when fire gets to it, it burns it up.
So there will be a reward for us, but it will be the gold, silver, and precious stone, that is left after the rest is set aside, by which we will be rewarded. And the Apostle Paul looked forward to that, with all of his heart. He said, you remember that as he looked to the future, “There would come a time when God would reveal the hidden things of the heart,” 1 Corinthians 4:5. And then he said, “Then shall every man have,” what? “Praise from God!”
The only thing that will be at the coming “Bema” will be praise and reward, sin will be already done away with. It is already been exposed, and it has already been covered at the cross of Jesus Christ.
“The Bible is clear on the fact, that we should not use images of the Lord. Why do we use pictures of Jesus to teach our children?”
Well, that is an interesting question. Are we disobeying the Word of God? No, let me give to you what I think might be a helpful answer. By the way, I wouldn’t mind, if someone wanted to believe that you should never have a
picture of Christ at all. That’s fine, I don’t argue with that at all, in fact, personally, I don’t like pictures of Christ. I don’t know why, I just don’t care for them personally.
I don’t think they are wrong, in this sense, it is one thing to have an image of Christ, which is worshiped. It is another thing to have a representation on paper, which is clearly not worshiped. And it is the heart attitude that is the issue.
When the Old Testament commandment said, “That we are not to make images of God, and we are not to make idols, the point was for the purpose of worship. And of course, remember now, that is the Old Testament, and God was a Spirit and had no image. But even God made Christ into an image that could be seen, right? He is the visible image of God, Hebrews 1. God actually appeared in a visible form.
And so if, in children’s books, there are pictures of Jesus, as long as we don’t worship the picture, as if it were Jesus or God. As long as we understand, that it is simply a representation of a man that really did walk on the earth, and really did live on the earth, I think we can make a distinction in the minds of children.
We are not worshiping the picture. We are not drawing an image of God. God Himself came in the form of a man, and we are simply reproducing the form of a man, in which God came. Not that the form is to be worshiped at all.
“If a man is chosen, by God, for the Ministry, and later, has to step down because of some sort of moral indiscretion, will God ever restore this person to the Ministry?”
Well, let me have you look at 1 Corinthians 9:27, and just briefly give you a comment. The answer, I believe, depends on what the ministry is. I believe that a person could fall into moral sin, and be restored to some kind of ministry. But I believe that there is some ministry, in which a man cannot engage himself, and that would be the ministry of “preaching and teaching the Word of God,” as a pastor or elder.
I want you to look at 9:27 of 1 Corinthians, Paul gives us a very important statement here, please notice verse 27, “I buffet my body,” that’s buffet not buffet [buf-fey], same spelling, different meaning. “I buffet my body, and make it my slave.” Literally, the word buffet means, “to give a black eye,” it means to punch.
“I subject my body, make it my slave.” Why? “Because, I have this fear, that after I have preached to others, that I myself should be “adokimos,” in the Greek, disqualified. And the word literally means, to have been tested and tried and found inadequate. Paul says, “My great fear is after I have preached to others, that I myself should be disqualified.”
I believe that it is possible, after having preached, to be disqualified. You say, “What disqualifies you?” It is very clear from the verse, “I beat my body into submission,” because it is my body that will disqualify me. Misuse of the body is a disqualifyer from ministry. I have never heard anyone who talks about restoration deal with that verse.
Paul says, “I have to beat my body into submission, because it is those sins of the body.” You say, “Well, what are the sins of the body?” Well, he has already talked about them in this very same Epistle. Verse 18, of chapter 6, “Flee immorality, every other sin that a man commits is outside of the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body.”
And so Paul says that, “It is immorality that is the unique sin of the body.” So it is, that I must control that immorality, so that my body doesn’t fall into immorality, and in so doing render me disqualified. From what? From
preaching. From the role of leadership. Now maybe a person could come back in some ministry, in some other way, sure. Restoration to the Church, yes. Restoration to usefulness to God, yes. But restoration to a pulpit, restoration to an elder, how can it be?
A man is to be blameless and above reproach. A man is to be a “one woman man.” It says it as clearly as that in 1 Timothy and Titus. That man is not blameless who commits adultery, that man is not above reproach, that man is
not a “one woman man.” And the model has been shattered. You see, Spiritual leadership is not just a question of what you say, it is a question of what you are. It is the integrity of life.
If you think Spiritual leadership is just preaching a good sermon, raising the budget, moving the Church, keeping things going, then you can get anybody in the pulpit. But if standing in the pulpit and Spiritual leadership is all
about the life you live, then the integrity of the man is crucial.
So yes, persons who fall into sin can be restored to the Church, and to fellowship. They can be restored to some level of usefulness and serve the Lord. But I believe once they have shattered the model, they cannot step back as an elder, as a pastor, because they are no longer blameless, they are no longer above reproach, they have shown themselves not to be a “one woman man.”
And that puts a heavy burden on the ministry. It really does. But it is one which the Spirit of God gives us the power to bear.
“How do I know the Will of God for my life?”
I had about ten people ask that. “How do I know the Will of God?” “I’m trying, I’m praying, I’m asking how do I know if its me or if its God, and so forth and so on?” How can I know the Will of God? I have a simple little formula, and if you get this in your mind, I think it will help.
The first thing you do is to go to the Bible. Sound reasonable? You go to the Bible and find out what the Will of God is. Good, let’s look very quickly.
1Timothy, chapter 2, verses 3 and 4, and I will quote it from the King James Version, verse 3 and 4, “God our Savior, who will have all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” The first thing that God wills, is that you be what? Saved. You be saved. Do you want to do the will of God? Then get saved, come to Christ.
Second thing, Ephesians chapter 5, verse 17, says, “So then, do not be,” what? What is it? “Foolish.” Can you think of a word that means the same and starts with “S”? Right. Don’t be Stupid. “But understand what the will of the Lord is.”
Now, let me ask you a question, if you don’t know what the will of God is, what are you? What are you? You say, “Is that in the Bible?” It says, “Don’t be stupid, know the will of God. If you don’t know the will of God then you are stupid. You say, “Well, now wait a minute, it should say, ‘Don’t be foolish, but try to find the will of God.” No. You say, “I’m looking, I’m looking.”
Well, don’t look too far its in the next verse, “Do not get drunk with wine for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit.” The first thing God wills is that you be saved, the second thing He wills is that you be Spirit filled.
“Spirit filled,” what does that mean? Controlled by the Holy Spirit. That’s God’s will. That’s God’s will. 1 Thessalonians, chapter 4, verse 3, you know it is amazing to me, people running around looking for God’s will. I
have seen this through the years, “You know I am trying to find God’s will. I am searching for God’s will, you know.” And they get real mystical, they think they are going to run down the street, slip on a banana peel and land on a map of Argentina. You know, that’s a missionary call. They are waiting for God to say something out of heaven.
Look, verse 3, “This is the will of God, your,” what? “Sanctification.” God wills that you be saved; God wills that you be Spirit filled; God wills that you be sanctified. What do you mean by that? “That you abstain from,” what? “Sexual immorality.” That’s God’s will. Stay away from sexual immorality.
You see God’s will is very, very specific. Look at 1 Peter, chapter 2, verse 13, “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake, to every human institution, whether to a King as one in authority, or to governors as sent by Him for the punishment of evil doers, and the praise of those who do right. For such is the will of God, that by doing right, you may silence the ignorance of foolish men.”
Fourth thing, be submissive. Submit to the authorities, be a model citizen, do right, that’s the will of God, that’s the will of God. Very basic, that’s God’s will. God’s will is that you be saved; God’s will is that you be Spirit filled; God’s will is that you be sanctified; God’s will is that you be submissive.
And then would you notice in chapter 3, verse 17, “It is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer, for doing for what is right.” How committed are you to doing what is right?
Five things, Saved; Spirit filled; Sanctified; Submissive; willing to Suffer for doing what is right. You say, “That doesn’t help me to know God’s will.” Sure it does. Let me tell you something. If you are saved, Spirit-filled, sanctified, submissive, and doing right to the degree that you would even suffer, do you know what the next step in God’s will is? Whatever you want!
You say, “You are kidding.” No, because, who is controlling your desires? Do you know what it says in Psalm 37:4? “Delight in the Lord, and he will give you,” what? “The desires of your heart.” Do you know what that means?
That doesn’t mean, “Delight in the Lord, and he will give you what you want.” What it means is, “Delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” He will put His desires in your heart.
People say, “Well, why did you go to Grace Church?” And I say, “I wanted too.” “Oh! You wanted too! That’s not very Spiritual.” Well, it is if you are saved, Spirit-filled, sanctified, submissive, and suffering, because who is in control of my wants? God leads through your desire, beloved. But don’t trust you desire unless the things you know of God’s will are true.
Simply, this is the system: If I am doing what is already revealed as God’s will, then I am not going to have any trouble with the part that isn’t revealed. Right? He’s going to lead me to the right place; lead me to the
right people; lead me to the right relationship.
Guys always say, “How do I find the right wife?” Very simple, be the right husband. You be all that God has called you to be, you be living in the will of God, saved, Spirit-filled, sanctified, submissive, suffering if need be
for what is right, and if you are the person that God has designed you to be then God will lead you the next step and give you the desire of your heart for the woman that he wants you to marry.
God moves through desires in the heart of the person that is committed to Him.
Well, I hope those few questions were helpful. And there were many, many more, and we will have another question and answer time in the future.
Let’s pray together, “Thank You so much, Father, for the joy of being together tonight. We love You. Thank You for saving us through Christ. And thank You for the clarity of Your Word. Thank You for the joy of the Spirit, who is in us. And for the fellowship we enjoy with each other, because of Him. In Christ’s Name. Amen.
Bible Bulletin Board
Shreveport, LA 71110-5000
and broguht to you by:
Southern MD Christian Info Service
(301) 862-3160 3/12/24/96 HST
Sysop: “Buggs” Bugnon
P.O. Box 463
California, MD 20619