Forgiveness, or the lack thereof is a
critical issue in the Body of Christ.
I recently read a
of secretly taped conversations between George Bush and
Doug Wead when Mr. Bush was considering entering
national politics in 1998. You may not know Doug, but he's a good man and a former Assemblies of God minister. He wrote a book in 1972
titled, Father McCarthy Smokes a Pipe and Speaks in Tongues. It was
pretty controversial then, but it also was true. Doug is a former aid to President George W. Bush.
In the tapes Wead revealed, Mr. Bush talks about meeting with James
Robison and James' advice: "What you need to say
time and time again is not talk about the details of your
transgressions but talk about what I
have learned. I've sinned and I've learned."
"I said, 'James' - he stopped - I said, 'I did some things when I
was young that were immature,' "Mr. Bush said." He
said, 'But have you learned?' I said, 'James, that's the difference
between me and the president (Clinton). I've learned. I am prepared
to accept the responsibility of this office.'
question becomes," is it appropriate for Christians to forgive
George Bush and elect and re-elect him as
President while refusing to forgive another person and to accept him
as a brother or sister?"
James Robison struggled with lustful thoughts and sexual temptation
until he wanted to die. He awakened to his sin. He
repented. He sought counsel and prayer and forgiveness from his wife
and from his God. God forgave; Betty
forgave; James' friends forgave and James' life and ministry were
restored and he is now touching and helping millions of people. It
is possible that the same people who are condemning someone of lesser fame also are receiving some
level of ministry from James Robison.
King of Israel, sinned. He committed adultery with a young girl and
arranged for her husband to be killed. Yet David is known as "a man after God's own heart"
because he repented of his sin.
I have sinned. You have sinned. The Pope has sinned. The General
Superintendent of the Assemblies of
God has sinned. The President of the Southern Baptist Convention has
sinned: All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.
Is one person required to attain to some spiritual level greater
than another? Must he or she achieve and maintain a
higher standard of spirituality and holiness than James Robison or
any other respected leader within the Body in order to be received
What is required in order to obtain forgiveness? The Bible indicates
that repentance - an acknowledgement of past sin and a
heart-decision to turn away from that sin and to go another way
is the key to unlocking the door to forgiveness.
Works cannot be the determiner of when forgiveness is given, because
Jesus said to the woman taken in adultery, "Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no
one condemned you?" She said, "No one,
Lord." And Jesus said to her, "Neither do I condemn you; go and sin
no more." Forgiveness was issued at the point of repentance,
not after a period of appropriate behavior.
Another question regards restoration. What are the criteria by which
we determine when a man or woman is "restored?" Is
there a one-year waiting period? Does it require three years to
restore a sinner? Religion wants to neatly
organize spirituality into a manual complete with a quick-reference guide. Religion wants to establish rules and regulations to cover
every conceivable sin and failure so that we can
just flip to the appropriate page and find the solution to our
problem. But God doesn't operate within the pages of an "operating
manual." God operates in the arena of the heart. God knows when a
heart is sincere. God understands when a "broken and contrite heart"
appears. God is the restorer; not man. And when a man or a woman has
confessed sin (to God and to one another) and has repented of sin and has begun to live "another way" and has
demonstrated to someone to whom he or
she is accountable that he or she is indeed living "another way" it
is incumbent upon all Christians to
underscore God's love, forgiveness and acceptance by their actions
and by their acceptance of such an one. As God has
forgiven, so must we. As God has accepted, so must we. As God has endorsed a life by the provision of His grace, so must
For what and for whom was the precious blood of Jesus spilled at
Calvary? What is the blood of Jesus intended for? Is the story of
the cross merely a wonderful story of love and of sacrifice? Does
the blood avail only for the "special ones"
who have not committed public and grievous sins? Or is the
blood of Jesus made available for those desperate, guilty, wicked,
evil and wretched sinners such as you and me?
To favor or to forgive one person above another is as great a sin as
adultery or murder. To judge any man after the flesh is a
transgression of God's law and an assumption of God's authority:
"Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge,
for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same
things." (Ro. 2:1)
Who are you to judge another's servant? To his own master he stands
or falls. Indeed, he will be made to
stand, for God is able to make him stand. (Ro. 14:4).
Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who
both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will
make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man
have praise of God. (1 Cor. 4:5).
The Body of Christ rises and falls on this solitary issue: In what
manner will we treat any sinner who has repented?
If we reject a repentant sinner, God will reject us. If we receive a
repentant heart, God will receive us.
If we say we hunger for revival, we must begin by forgiving those
whom God has forgiven, and then He will
If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and
pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will
hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
If we err in our judgments, let us err on the side of grace