Remain Stedfast and Unmoveable Even When Others Don’t

In case you haven’t noticed yet, one of the things I like about the “Today in Christian History” enewsletter that I receive, is all the quotes that it provides from heroes of the faith. For example, the one I received yesterday quotes Francis Schaeffer on a topic that hits home with me. Here’s the quote: “‘You must not lose confidence in God because you lost confidence in your pastor. If our confidence in God had to depend upon our confidence in any human person, we would be on shifting sand.” This hits home because of an experience my father had many years ago. My father doesn’t go to church. But he is among the many who certainly do watch plenty of “Christian television.” When I was a kid I remember watching Oral Roberts and Jimmy Swaggart with my dad on Sunday mornings before Mom took my sister and I to church. My mother’s opinion then was that it seemed to work, for a while, to soften my dad to the idea of going to church. But then it happened. Swaggart was arrested for doing you know what with you know who. And it was back to square one for my dad.

In the aftermath of the Swaggart scandal, as well as Bakker’s, I heard lots of talk from the pulpit along the lines of Schaeffer’s quote of the day. It helped me steel my resolve that the behavior of Christians was not going to affect my faithfulness to God. It comes in handy nowadays when faves of mine like Hank Hannegraaff are accused of less than honorable behavior regarding his ministry’s money and R. C. Sproul’s recent problems swirling around his son (whatever those problems are–I haven’t followed it very closely for obvious reasons). Both of these men have been tremendous influences in my life, but fortunately for them and me, I’m not God, so for now, I judge them for the benefit to me they’ve been over the years and don’t throw it all away because they’re less than entirely sanctified. They may be sinners–it only takes one, but hey, so am I.

Now, I’m not a Pollyanna, but, you know, if they robbed a bank or something extreme, maybe I’d start looking for greener pastures or pray that their ministries are led by men with better testimonies, but I’ll always owe a debt of gratitude to those men and others like them for the contribution they’ve made to my theological and spiritual development over the years.

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11 responses

  1. Well, John, as I was saying,

    more than 60 percent of our educated masses cannot read and when they do they don’t comprehend what they read!

    Your point is almost well taken with me.

    Psa 130:1 A Song of Ascents. Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD!
    Psa 130:2 O Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy!
    Psa 130:3 If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?
    Psa 130:4 But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared.
    Psa 130:5 I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope;
    Psa 130:6 my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning.
    Psa 130:7 O Israel, hope in the LORD! For with the LORD there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption.
    Psa 130:8 And he will redeem Israel from all his iniquities.

    I have been to Israel.

    I have in my home, “a good Christian home” an Israeli flag I bought at a store just two doors down from the pizza place that days later was the place a terrorist bomber blew themself and multiple others to pieces wounding a bunch of other afternoon shoppers in downtown Jerusalem.

    That flag, hmmmmmm, stands for the ideals of some mighty inspired Jews trying to make sense out of why there is such a fuss over that place!

    I just know the depths of me and I find it hard to square your reasonableness here in light of Psalms 130.

    Just consider Abram’s come back?

    And then can we forget Jacob?

    How about the tales of the personal lives of let’s say Judah, David and and and down through the ages now captured in the cannonized versions of the Bible.

    One preacher recently said that the Bible is the only book he knows of it’s kind that captures the personal good, bad and ugly of my soul and flesh using the personal good, bad and ugly of other souls and flesh as their personal records of their good deeds, bad deeds and ugly deeds have been accurately written down for all to read and hopefully by reading gain hope in a God who quite literally does not take into account our personal iniquites when blessing us.

    It takes a lot of humility to rise from scandalous shame and admit the sins of your fathers had nothing to do with it and go on and become mighty leaders for multiple generations to come seeing when you breathe your last, you go before them to what then becomes your secure place of ETERNAL FAITH, HOPE AND LOVE and will hopefully, by the legacy you will have undoubtedly left them as you too struggled with Adam’s race in your own flesh.

    I have a pile of stones gathering dust!

  2. Cap’n,
    Of course you are right. Of course I know it to be true. However it is hard to actually “do” what you are calling for here. Some of these men have hurt God’s people, God’s sheep. Some of them have purposely led sheep astray. Some of those men are public figures, like your picture. But some of these men’s crimes are no different to me then robbing a bank. Are you putting your head in the sand a little? There are no greener pastures obviously, just more pastures with the same kinds of problems. That’s not my point…but when we stick our head in the sand, it is not easily lopped off. Sometimes we have to stick our necks out of the sand, call a spade a spade, and then get killed for it. Even the best of men need other discerning men to watch their life and their doctrine for them. That includes me, you, Sproul, Horton, Hank, Swaggart, everyone. That can’t happen when good men have their head in the sand and are just grateful for what they have gleaned from them.

    Gage Browning
    Post Tenebras Lux

  3. John D. Chitty | Reply

    Gage,

    Though I could get a rise out of you on this one!

    I do not argue with anything you say. As far as parachurch ministries go, these modern American justified sinners who’ve built great empires are bound to screw up, as are you and I. I know they’ve hurt people in the past. So have we and so will we. If you want to go picket outside their offices, be my guest. Call for their repentance. Most of all, pray for them and for their victims, whoever they may be. As for me, I’ll continue benefiting from the information they’ve gathered while God’s mercy allows them to live and their “ministries” to continue producing material from which this sinner can benefit.

  4. John D. Chitty | Reply

    Gage,

    I just re-read the Francis Schaeffer quote which inspired this post. The point is not, “anything goes in evangelical ministry.” The point is that I as an individual need to make sure that when leaders fail, fall or harm the sheep, our faith is not so tied to that particular leader that we don’t recover from the bitterness that it may otherwise provoke. My point is not that we all need to have low standards, but strong faith in Christ, and a balanced, healthy appreciation for his servants.

    My reference to Hank and R.C. does not mean that I condone their flaws, it means what I’ve been saying, these are examples of leaders who mean a lot to me, and while I am saddened by their flaws, I’m not so dependent on their sterling example that their sins are going to blow me out of the water. That does not mean I think they’re above criticism, or proper church discipline. I’d be all for it, and support it when it’s necessary. Don’t forget the point of the post by focusing on my illustrations, just because RC broke your heart.

  5. Captain

    I want to jump in here quoting you:

    ”[That does not mean I think they’re above criticism, or proper church discipline. I’d be all for it, and support it when it’s necessary.]”

    Two thoughts,

    one:

    proper church discipline, aaah, it is vain when the one that needs it does not receive it!

    two:

    I will never support church discipline nor deem it necessary unless the one it is for accepts it from the Lord! I be wastin’ me time otherwise!

    Here’s a most powerful group of proverbs!

    It stops me every time:

    Pro 26:3 A whip for the horse, a bridle for the donkey, and a rod for the back of fools.
    Pro 26:4 Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself.
    Pro 26:5 Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes.
    Pro 26:6 Whoever sends a message by the hand of a fool cuts off his own feet and drinks violence.

    Only runners win the race!

  6. John D. Chitty | Reply

    But is it a waste of time if church discipline is intended to bring about repentence? If the recipient does not repent, does this not bring his salvation into question, which is why anyone would be excommunicated. Sounds like the system works, even if you don’t get the more favorable response, as harsh a reality as that may be. No one would want that, be we all know Western churches are lousy with chaff.

  7. John

    when is the last time you heard of a 1 Cor. 2nd Cor. discipline/resolution in any Church of any persuasion?

    I want to know?

  8. John D. Chitty | Reply

    The last time I heard of one was when you told me about the one you underwent.

    I know biblical church discipline has fallen out of favor with Western churches by and large, but in the confessional denominations today, they do have procedures in place, and it does go on from time to time. Those persuasions that have gotten away from their historic, confessional roots have generally allowed church discipline to fall by the way side, since the spirit of the age is to keep as many “souls” in our pews as possible, for as long as possible–after all, discipline would be counterproductive on a statistical level.

  9. You are spot on…our confidence is not in men, their chariots or their reputations… our confidence is in the risen Christ!

    For the record, RC did not break my heart. I’m disappointed with much that has gone on with his son and his ministry…but I don’t know everything..so I won’t act as if I do. There aren’t many people who can break my heart Cap’n, but there are a few. The one’s you minister with, minister to, the one’s you evangelize with, pray with and for, they are the ones who can break this man’s hard heart. It’s easy to view parachurch ministry from afar, and cry “Repent”. I’ve done it. It’s also easy not to get to emotionally attached, no matter how many radio lectures I’ve heard that was Renewing my mind, no matter how many Ligonier conferences I’ve been to… I’m not emotionally attached to RC’s ministry, although I have benefitted greatly from it. I guess the point is this… I know I am not to put my confidence in princes…or their chariots, but when you pray, sweat and bleed with some, it’s easy to be crushed and disappointed. My confidence is in the Lord, and I have not lost heart…although…I thought I was going to. Keep the faith brother.

    Gage Browning
    Post Tenebras Lux

  10. I like the Francis Schaeffer quote. I know a several Christians who need to heed that advice.

  11. John D. Chitty | Reply

    Which is why I posted it. People need to learn not to allow the fact that Christians are less than entirely sanctified to prevent them from remaining faithful themselves. It happens so often . . . An sixty-something lady I used to work with always says, “If you let a hypocrite get between you and God, then the hypocrite is closer to God than you are!”

    Thanks for posting! How did you find my site? I’ll catch up with yours this afternoon.

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