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Restoration of Fallen Ministers to Full Ministry (A Negative View)

Restoration of Fallen Ministers to Full Ministry (A Negative View)
By James Kilgore

Restoration Committee Report to the General Conference September 25, 1990

This report concludes the work of the committee formed to “conduct a thorough examination in the light of the Word of God of our position concerning sin, repentance, forgiveness, and restoration of the ministry as set forth in the Constitution and By-laws and Judicial Procedure.”

From the Garden of Eden to the New Jerusalem, the Bible traces God’s plan to restore fallen man to Himself. The focus of the plan is Jesus Christ, who as God manifest in flesh was the substitutionary sacrifice that opened the door to forgiveness, justification, regeneration, sanctification, and reconciliation. “To wit, that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself” (II Corinthians 5:19).

The parables of the lost sheep, lost coin, and lost son illustrate that God wants to restore to Himself that which was lost by man’s sin. All three parables emphasize the recovery of something lost, and while they may merely reflect God’s desire to save lost humanity, they may equally reveal God’s desire trestore back-slidden Christians. This is especially true in the parable of the lost son, who left home, lived sinfully,repented, and returned to ask forgiveness and to be a servant.Of course, the father restored him to be his son, illustrating that restored backsliders have the same status as before they backslid.

John wrote, “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world” (I John 2:1-2). In this passage he stated that the same “propitiation” takes away the sins committed by both Christians and sinners who are coming to God for the first time.

John also wrote that Christians are to pray that a brother who sins be forgiven: “If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it. All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death.” Since Jesus said that there was only one sin that cannot be forgiven, the sin of blasphemy against the Holy Ghost (Matthew 12:31; Mark 3:28-29), almost all fallen Christians can be restored.

Galatians 6:1 specifically instructs “spiritual” Christians to restore brethren who have been “overtaken in a fault.” Prayer, perhaps the first and most important step in restoring a fallen brother, should be followed by other steps to help the fallen person regain his standing with God and the church.

In I Corinthians 5:1-13 Paul addressed a problem in the church that concerned a brother who committed fornication with his father’s wife. Apparently, the church did not condemn the sin or remove the sinning brother from the church membership. Therefore Paul reproved them harshly and instructed them to “deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh . . .[to] purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump . . .[and] not to company with any fornicators: yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world . . . but now have I written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a raller, or drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one, no, not to eat.” The church was to sever its relationship with the brother who fell into the sin of fornication.

The question arises: should a fornicator be restored to the church if he repents? It appears that Paul’s stern rebuke caused the church to shun the fornicator even after he repented. Thus Paul in his second letter to the church in Corinth instructed the church to restore the repentant fornicator to the church as a fellow Christian: “Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many. So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow. Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him” II Corinthians 2:6-8).

Jesus told us that the forgiveness of our trespasses depends upon our forgiving others their trespasses (Matthew 6:14-15). The Bible admonishes us to be kind “one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32). Only in a climate of kindness, tender heartedness, and forgiveness can restoration be accomplished; a harsh, judgmental climate acts contrary to the love and mercy of God.

The Bible clearly teaches that every Christian who fails God, except those who blaspheme against the Holy Ghost, can be restored to salvation (Matthew 12:31; Mark 3:28-29). Restoration therefore includes both laymen and ministers, even if they commit fornication, fall prey to greed, become a drunkard, lose self-control, or turn to the worship of idols. Moreover, all who are restored become free from condemnation before God and should be welcomed and trusted by the church.

The Bible is not so clear about restoring a person to a place of leadership in the church. Although the word restore indicates a return to the original position, favor, and acceptance, its use in Galatians 6:1 deals with the restoration to salvation and not with a restoration to a position in the church. To use this verse to teach more than a restoration to salvation extends it beyond its scriptural context.

Restoration of a fallen minister to his ministry finds at best weak support in the Old Testament. It is true that King David was restored to God after his sin with Bethsheba, including both adultery and murder, and that he was not removed from his role as king of the nation. But the position of king is not a type of the New Testament ministry, which is patterned more after the priests and the prophets. Although David prophesied and wrote prophetic Scripture after his restoration, even his psalm of repentance, David was not recognized as a prophet as was Nathan. He did not occupy the office of a prophet. In other words, during his life David was known as a king, not as a prophet. Perhaps his prophetic writings can be compared with the spiritual gifts in I Corinthians 12 and 14, but it is doubtful that his life can serve as a type for the New Testament ministry.

One looks in vain for a prophet who backslid and was restored to his office or a priest who became corrupt and was restored to his priesthood. While some restoration of these religious leaders may have occurred, the Old Testament is silent on the restoration of prophets and priests.

The same silence prevails in the New Testament, for there is no example of a minister who backslid away from God and the church being restored to his ministry. This does not mean that ministers did not fail, for all the disciples failed Jesus in some way during the time of his trial and crucifixion. John Mark left the mission field apparently because of a character flaw, and Peter showed prejudice against the Gentiles in order to appease Jewish Christians.

At the time of the Crucifixion, the failure of two disciples stand out, Judas’ betrayal of Christ and Peter’s
denial of Him. To both of these men Jesus apparently offered the opportunity to be restored, but only Peter found restoration. Judas tried to undo his deed and, having failed, he committed suicide. On the other hand, Peter wept bitter tears of sorrow and regret over his sin and was restored to God’s favor and even to his apostleship. The restoration of Peter is the nearest example of a restored minister in the New Testament, but the example is not perfect since the sin and restoration predate the Day of Pentecost, the birth date of the church.

What can we infer from the silence of the Bible on the subject of restoring ministers? At least three answers are possible: (1) The silence indicates that ministers are to be restored to salvation in the same manner as other backsliders, and this restoration means to his ministry in the church. (2) The silence indicates that restoration of a fallen minister to the ministry is not possible. (3) The silence indicates that God has delegated authority to the church to set the limits and develop the process of restoring fallen ministers to the ministry. The United Pentecostal Church International has followed the third interpretation.

Several questions confront an organization in deciding who can be restored to the ministry: (1) Can a minister who commits a sexual sin such as fornication and adultery be restored to the ministry? In other words, are sexual sins so different from other sins that they forever disqualify a person from being restored to the ministry? Further, if a sexual sin committed by a minister forever disqualifies him from the ministry, does committing a sexual sin disqualify a sinner from becoming a minister? (2) Are all sexual sins to be treated the same? (3) Can a minister who commits a serious violent sin such as murder or attempted murder be restored to the ministry? (4) Can a minister who commits a serious crime against society be restored to the ministry? (5) Can a minister who turns from the faith to a false religion such as idolatry be restored to the ministry?

The New Testament lists several qualifications for ministers in I Timothy 3:1-7, I Timothy 6-11, II Timothy 2:22-25, Titus 1:5-9, and various other places. These biblical qualifications serve as guidelines for issuing licenses and restoring a fallen minister to the ministry. Moreover, New Testament ministers serve as examples for us to follow. One minister, Demas, who forsook Paul and returned to worldly pursuits, serves as a warning against loving this present world. With these qualifications and examples, and with the guidance of the Holy Ghost, a church governing body can establish Qualifications for the ministry and set limits and procedure for restoring fallen preachers to the ministry.

One of the qualifications for the office of bishop is that he “must have a good report of them which are without” (I Timothy 3:7, indicating the importance of the reputation of a minister. The committee noted that according to Proverbs 6:32-33 adultery brings a reproach that can never be erased: “But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul. A wound and a dishonor shall he get; and his reproach shall not be wiped away.”

If a comparison of 1 Timothy 3:7 and Proverbs 6:32-33 is interpreted to disqualify a fallen minister from being restored to the ministry, the same interpretation would also exclude any person who commits adultery before he enters the ministry, even if the sin is committed before salvation. To interpret the phrase in I Peter 4:17, “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God,” to mean that the reproach of adultery is removed by the blood of Jesus when a person comes into the church but the same blood cannot cleanse the reproach of a Christian who commits adultery fails to correctly interpret the verse. While the new convert begins a new life with his sins washed away, it is equally true that a Christians who sins and repents also has his sins washed away.

After the committee searched the Scriptures and examined the position taken by the United Pentecostal
Church, the committee feels that this organization has followed the scriptural guidelines in both granting ministerial credentials and in its policy toward restoring ministers to the ministry. At present, restoration of a fallen ministry is limited to those who do not commit sexual sins: “Any minister affiliated with our organization proven guilt of adultery or fornication, or committing any other immoral offense shall forfeit his or her papers immediately. . . . Such minster shall never be qualified for reinstatement into the ministry of the United Pentecostal Church” (Article VII, Section 9, Paragraphs 2-3, UPCI Manual). The committee does not recommend a change in this policy.

The committee does recommend that the General Conference adopt the resolution that will allow a fallen minister to be used in his local church under the direction of his pastor. Although he may never again hold ministerial credentials, he can feel restored not only to God but also to an active role in the church.

The committee also urges all ministers to extend a hand of mercy, compassion, and love in an effort to restore fallen ministers. We are to restore them not with harsh judgment but in a spirit of meekness and love, taking heed that we will not fall God ourselves. This is the admonition of the Bible.

“Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, Ye which are spiritual, restore such a one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. But if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For every man shall bear his own burden. Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things. Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; But he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not be weary in well-doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:1-10).

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Servant or Master

By James L. Kilgore
“And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.

“And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more. Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.

“Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them” (Acts 20:22-30)

“The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for  filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock” (I Peter 5:1-3).

“But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.

“But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted” (Matthew 23:8-12).

There are times when the organization plays the role of the servant. At times the organization plays the role of part servant, part master. Then at other times it assumes the role of master. However, we must never look upon the organization as our master lest the very thing designed to promote the work of God becomes a great hindrance in the hearts of many people.

Machinery is a wonderful thing, jut it takes more than just putting it together to get it in motion. A great German general said that there were four reasons why the German nation lost World War II: (1) lack of air power; (2) lack of oil; (3) broken communications; and (4) failure at the source of supply. They had the machinery, but they did not have the oil to run the machinery. They had the organization, but there were broken communications. And they experienced failure at the source of supply.

As an organization we need the air power of prayer, the oil of the Holy Ghost, and good communication with one another. There will never be a failure at the source of supply as long as we strive to please God.

The image we project to our people and the world as a whole is very important. Unless the Pentecostal church has a reason to exist, it has no right to exist. The major reasons for the existence of the United Pentecostal Church can be summed up in the following four goals:

1. To carry out the Great Commission. This is our commission as well as it was to the disciples and apostles. This is our mandate from the Master Himself.

2. To edify the body of believers.

3. To foster the work of the ministry.

4. To be guardians of our priceless heritage.

Our bylaws and Articles of Faith are an outgrowth of these four reasons for the organization being formed as we know it today.

I shudder to think of where we would be today if we did not have a rich heritage. Our people know there are certain standards and that they must measure up to them. We have been able to look to the United Pentecostal Church organization and its good, strong, capable leadership. This has been a source of strength for us when new issues would arise. When the Latter Rain came in, there were no bylaws to avoid that movement. There were no mandates from the organization. There were no iron-clad rules.

The one thing that saved us in that hour was a message and a messenger at the time we needed it. We were able to rally around the message brought to us by capable, able leadership. During the middle of the Latter Rain controversy, Brother S. G. Norris preached a sermon at the St. Louis convention in Kiel Auditorium that helped unify and stabilize us. We were able to rally behind good, strong, clean, authoritative leadership.

We are living with a generation now that does not appreciate its history. The history of this country means nothing to many people. They have tried to demolish and destroy it because they were reared in a tradition and form and concept in which they could not look up to their leaders. This generation has been deceived in four dimensions : (1) government, (2) politics, (3) religion, and (4) the home. That is why we are seeing the revolt that is present in our land today.

Our Pentecostal young people do not resent the history of the United Pentecostal Church. They love and appreciate it. Many denominational churches are trying to incorporate Pentecostalism into their churches to save them from wreckage. They call themselves Pentecostal Catholics, Pentecostal Methodists, etc. They are having young people by the hundreds to come in, but these young people often wear shorts, sit on the floor, and meditate about life. They get an experience, but church to them is an informal event. They receive no teaching or training, yet they call themselves Pentecostals.

Why are churches going in the direction of Pentecostalism? Because they have been able to look at the Pentecostals and see our tremendous growth. Our young people have served as a good example. The rich history of the United Pentecostal Church is meaningful to them. They have been able to get their feet on solid biblical ground. They have been satisfied; they have found in Jesus Christ what they wanted and
needed in life.

The United Pentecostal Church has contact with both the Bible and the time in which we live. We have come a long way. By trial and error, by rebuff, by setbacks, by rebuke, by correction, by love and concern, by weeding out, by tearing down, by building up, we are where we are today.

The United Pentecostal Church is desperately trying to meet the needs of our people. We are assuming the role of servant. If our people could walk through headquarters, look at every department, listen to the typewriters, watch the activity, see the open doors, see the workers, they would fully realize our efforts.

It is a healthy sign when we are more interested in building a church a day than fussing about losing members. Churches are willing to see families move to new areas to help start churches or to help a preacher. That is a step in the right direction. It is a healthy sign when our churches are outgrowing all their facilities and having to rebuild or sponsor a mission church somewhere else. It is a healthy sign when churches are inspired by programs that are produced by a good organization, which gives our people a restless urge like the New Testament church must have had. Those programs instill a burden in the hearts of our preachers and our people, pushing them to excel and do great things for God. It is a healthy sign when men have confidence in a system that provides tools to help us do the job quicker and better than we have ever done. It is a healthy sign when we see a great building erected as our international headquarters.

Now, our alternatives should be examined. Our people are desiring the United Pentecostal Church to go full speed ahead with more action. We should strive for the feeling that this is my organization, and I am a part of it. This will help our image.

It would be good to have an open-door policy toward those with whom we have differences. There was a time when Abraham and Lot realized that their differences could not be settled by staying together, so Abraham said to Lot that they were still brothers, that whatever area Lot wanted he could take it, and that he would take the other area. They did not draw a line between them and start firing at one another. We can operate as a good, clean organization and live and act in such a way that anyone could feel free to discuss his differences with us. We should be accessible, available, and willing to listen.

All of our preachers must feel that they are in fellowship at all times. Some who are carrying cards may get the feeling that they are out of fellowship since they are never called on for anything. Or there may be personal feelings, personality conflicts, and other problems. But as long as a man carries a United Pentecostal Church fellowship card, he should be just as much in fellowship as the next man. Our ministers are looking for fairness and justice.

As men who are at the head of our organization, we should be careful that we are not looked upon as rulers instead of leaders. We should try to keep ourselves in the background as much as possible and promote the work of God through others. This will also help our image.

God chose Israel as a nation for a fourfold purpose. God wanted them to be (1) a witness, (2) an illustration, (3) a channel, and (4) a repository. He wanted everyone to look at that nation and see the blessedness of serving Jehovah. He wanted them to be an illustration to all the nations around about them that serving God makes a difference. Through that nation would come the Messiah. They were to be that channel. And they were the repository that held intact and in trust the sacred truth that had been passed on to them. They took good care of it, preserved it, and passed it on.

We have the good Word of God today because the nation of Israel became a bank vault of God’s Word. Truths were deposited in the vault, and many devout people died so that those truths could be handed on to us intact. Our lives are enriched because of them. The United Pentecostal Church can be an illustration. We can be a channel. We can be a witness. And we need to be a repository to hold to truth with all of our hearts.

We need to recognize preachers for what they are, not for what we think they ought to be. We need to recognize special ministries. If a man has a special calling and a special gift in certain directions, we need to allow that man to use that gift, to be a blessing to promote the work of God. If he is blessed of the Lord to pray for the sick, God bless him! If he is blessed of the Lord to go into a church seething with troubles with a message from God that will help straighten it out, let that man be free to minister. We can recognize that he has a special ministry and a special calling. Our brethren want a fivefold ministry, and if we could recognize special ministries we would enjoy greater blessing. These brethren would be accepted for what they are as long as their lives are clean, their message straight, and they believe and love the doctrine.

We need to be an organization rich in literature. If God delays His coming, we should pass on a lot of good writing to our younger ministers and church members.

In conclusion, I have seen some districts who have used organization to serve their people. You can feel the unity, you can feel the revival, and you can see the growth. They cooperate with every program. They do not mind the offerings that are taken; they are just glad to be a part. I have also been in districts where I saw, heard, and felt that they were using the organization as a master. They were instilling a certain amount of fear in the hearts of ministers. There was little or no growth, coerced cooperation, and a spirit of unrest.

An organization works almost like a local church. The best thing to keep a smooth operation and to keep the machinery running is to have a Holy Ghost revival. If people enjoy the blessings of God when they come to church, they do not have time or the inclination to go away fussing. We should use the organization to serve our districts and our general body, and not use it as a master to instill fear.

I would like to paraphrase Matthew 23:12, using the United Pentecostal Church for “whosoever.” “If the United Pentecostal Church exalts itself, it shall be abased; but if the United Pentecostal Church will humble itself and assume the role of servant, it shall be exalted.”

Let us be careful to give glory where it really belongs. The great God we serve has brought us together in the United Pentecostal Church. Let us give Him the praise. Instead of worshiping our Pentecostal services and the way we worship, let us worship God.

(The above information was published by FORWARD, October/December 1993)
Christian Information Network

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