Jesus said "Follow Me" This is what we are called to do...
The Ministry Blog of Pastor Jack Maddox, Southside Baptist Church, Henderson Texas
A plea for gospel centered forgiveness
March 29, 2018
Last night our church prayed for a man who has served as a leader in our denomination (SBC) for many years and had a longtime ministry as a Pastor long before that. He is a nationally known preacher, author, and denominational statesman. He even served as President of our Convention for two years. I have personally prayed with this brother, and he has been a constant and consistent encourager to Pastors for years!
The other day he announced his retirement from his denominational position. He is 65 years old. He began to receive a steady stream of congratulations and well wishes from all around the country...deservedly so. It was later in the day that he announced that his retirement was due to more than just his age. He shared that it was only right that he confesses that he was previously involved in an extramarital, inappropriate relationship. He was stepping down from any form of ministry and coveted the prayers of God's people for his wife, his daughters, his family and himself. I was...
Then, just sad.
However, also very quickly I realized that I should also be just as heartbroken, just as shocked, just as grieved and sad over my own sin. You see guys; I am a HORRIBLE sinner! A wretch! A scoundrel! A rotten guy!
I am also a Christian. I am in a right relationship with God only because of the substitutionary death of Jesus on my behalf on the cross. The Bible teaches that Jesus made atonement for the sins of His people. Atonement means that those sins are no more...gone...erased...covered...obliterated! Anyone who repents and believes the gospel is in a right relationship with God. They are, simply put, forgiven.
Praise God! I need that. My brother who sinned needs that, and we both have it in the gospel! It does not excuse our sin nor does it alleviates us from the temporal consequences and pain of our sin. From the hurt, we may cause others, our family, and our ministry. However, it does not change our relationship with God. In fact, the brokeness that comes with sin may draw one closer to God. Paul was very clear when he asked the question "Should we sin more so that God's grace can be made more obvious?" (Romans 6:1) His response...NO WAY!!! Don't even think about it! However, my sin nor your sin takes away one iota from God's work of grace in our life through the atoning work of Jesus on the cross. Thank you, Lord! The truth of the gospel is applicable whether the sin is as scandalous as the one which is the subject of this brothers confession or if it is the more straightforward and less apparent sins of anger, slothfulness, pride, prayerlessness...well, you get the idea.
So what about the man in question? He will have some tough, challenging, difficult days ahead. The ones that he hurt including thousands of preachers but most importantly his wife and his family are also significantly damaged, and he has to own his responsibility in all of this. 45 years of ministry will be swept away, and this is more than likely how he will be remembered.
A fallen preacher...
He does not need us to remind him of this. I am sure he is painfully aware of this reality in a way that he never imagined he could be.
However, the truth of the gospel remains. Yes, like me, many having heard this news were; heartbroken, shocked, grieved and just sad...but they, like me, need to understand these truths and feelings as well.
The joy that the gospel is not just for the most obvious malicious transgressors and dregs of society...but it is also for those of us who really ought to know better. Those of us that God has given and entrusted with so much.
The gospel is for sinners...like you...even preachers...like my friend...and like me...
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