|Messages By Ovid Need|
Faults - James 5:16 (7-16)
I have been in a great quandary as to whether to preach this message or not. When I think about it, I say, "No, don't." When I review it, I say, "Yes, do." Then when I read James, the choice is made for me.
Here we see that some men's faults are hidden, and some are more open for all to see. You sitting here today can exhibit a fault in your calling, and maybe no one, or very few will notice or see it. I can exhibit a fault in my calling, and the whole community sees it.
This passage is clear, our faults are to be confessed one to another. This will prevent grudges from developing. Then we are to pray one for another. Notice who this is directed to; the brethren within the congregation of the Lord, and no one is exempt.
A short word about this confession of James 5. It has boundaries upon in. No one who is not directly effected is to be included in this confession, and everyone who is effected is to be included in this confession.
This brings us to a strange message for a SM, but I feel it very necessary. I mentioned last SN that I changed my personal study from the OT prophets to the NT, in the Book of 1 Cor.
As you go through the prophets, they have a tremendous amount of doom and gloom, judgment against sin. This appears to be the theme for the first 3/4 of the books, then they talk of the glories of the King and His Kingdom.
My problem is that I am too much inclined along that line anyway, and after a great many hours in those books, it is difficult to see anything else.
I changed my study into the NT, therefore, there is a different emphasis. The message is the same, but the emphasis is on the grace and mercy of God. This message of grace and mercy is the same message as was in the OT, only it is more openly presented in the New.
I do not much like going to preacher's meetings, because most of the ones I know have a few pet doctrines which they will preach on. They seem to be from one extreme to the other. Either good practical, Biblical content with compromise, or no compromise with no practical content. So, I get my preaching from the authors I study with.
I am in 1 Cor. 2 going through it verse be verse. When I got to v. 8, my study led me to Hebrews 6:1-6. This is one of the more difficult and discussed passages in the word of God. When I come accost passages like this, I check to see what the men of God of the past had to say about them. I checked with some different authors to see their thoughts on it.
In Hebrews we are told that once a person has been actively involved in serving the King, and they fall away, it is impossible to renew them. But, Ez. 3 and 33 tells us that the sinner can repent and return. Lk.18:27, tells us that what is impossible with men is possible with God.
The author that seemed to me to deal with it in the most Scriptural manner was Joseph Parker.
He was a English Congregational preacher who was born in 1830 and died in 1902. Because of the pressure to support his family, he was only able to gain an elementary education, but he was very well read and seized upon every opportunity to listen to great men preach, as well as any opportunity to advance his education. God blessed him in a marvelous way, and by the time of his death, the Lord had forced them to build a new building for the increase of the Church, and he had been twice the chairman of the London Congregational Board and twice chairman of the Congregational Union of England and Wales. He wrote many books, including the 27 volumes of Preaching Through the Bible, which my dad gave me. This is a collection of his messages arranged in their Biblical order. They are extremely powerful and practical.
Over 100 years ago he said this about Heb. 6:4-6. "This has been a great battle-ground; innumerable Calvinists have slain innumerable Arminians within the four corners of this most solemn declaration. There was no need for the fray. All the energy was misspent."
Parker went on to explain; "The Apostle's reasoning then is simply this: that if we continue to sin we cannot repent; whilst we are in the very act of crucifying the Son of God afresh, and putting him to an open shame, it is impossible for us to repent, to pray, to return." Thus, this passage as referring to the impossibility of forgiveness of sin for a person who is willfully remaining in sin.
This would be against the Roman theory that one can continue in sin as long as they go to confession.
This appears to be the thinking today. A person thinks they can go ahead in sin as long as they admit they are in sin. Parker points out the impossibility of their renewal to the Lord unless they are willing to admit their sin and return to righteousness.
His thoughts on this would appear to be the best within the context, and would fit well with 1 Cor. 2:8. If we really understood who Christ is, how much different would we act? How much sin would we remain in? To try to repent without returning to the Lord in holy living, is to openly crucify the the Son of God again, and is impossible, 1 John 1:9; Pro. 28:13, 14.
Now, this gave me a good sound answer to this difficult passage. But this is not what brought this message on. The part of his sermon that spoke to me was his introduction to the passage.
Let me chase a rabbit here a moment:
Seeing as how I am being as plain in this message as any I have preached since I have been here, let me mention something which brought this message about.
One of the best investments a congregation can make for their own benefit is in good, hard-hitting books for their pastor, IF THEIR PASTOR READS AND STUDIES. Sad to say, not many pastors do much reading after they get out of college. These books preach to the preacher in the privacy of his study. They allow God to point out sin in his life and, if he will listen, will make the man out of him that the Lord desires him to be. If this doesn't take place, the money spent on books is wasted.
Just about any passage where I am studying, I will look to see what others have to say. I love study and reference material. I find it very difficult to read the modern day fluff which controls the Christian publishing right now. I would love to have a couple of sets, about $500 worth. These old authors preach to me, and usually get me where it hurts.
I have been here long enough for you all to know that the desire of my heart is to be what the Lord would have me to be, and to influence others to be what the Lord would have them to be. My desire is not to offend or hurt folks, but anyone who preaches the whole counsel of God will offend everyone sooner or latter, even the preacher himself. The word of God is very offensive to the fallen nature. It exposes the heart which is so deceitful.
I make mistakes, small and large. They are not hidden from the Lord, and you know most of them. You also know by now, that when the Lord shows me something, I try to deal with it. Just about every time He has shown me something, it has been from my personal study with these old men of God.
All of that to say this about books for the pastor! If you desire the pastor to be less of what he is, and more of what the Lord would have him to be, see that he gets good hard-hitting books to study with.
Criticism, gossip and anger will not help the matter with the pastor anymore than it does with you. So in a pastor's case, it is books or Bible conferences which will speak to him. You can help the pastor be what the Lord would have him to be through prayer and books. We need to take action for one another, do all we can for one another.
Now, to the difficult part of this message.
As I read Parkers message on Heb. 6:4-6, I was completely stopped and struck dead with what he said in his introduction.
As I mentioned, I read this passage last Wednesday. It struck my heart like an arrow. I left it lay on my desk until Thursday morning, as I went on in my study of 1 Cor. 2. I came to verse 10, and it all fell together.
1 Cor. 2:10 raises some very searching questions.
The Spirit of God alone can reveal the deep things of God. This includes the plan of Salvation, the counsels of God, all of the workings of the Tri-Une God in time and space.
Why does He work in the hearts of some and not in the hearts of others?
Why does He not work in in more hearts than what He does?
Why the time table that He uses? Why does He wait, when it would seem to us that it would be far better far sooner?
Only the wisdom of God can explain these things and hundreds more mysteries like these. All of the deep things of God are known only by the Spirit of God. They are revealed to us as God sees fit to reveal them by His Spirit. He teaches us what He wants us to know, when He wants us to know it and in the manner which pleases Him.
I have found in my own life that I cannot learn, or comprehend, or understand, or apply the truth of God until the time is right. I can be confronted over and over again with the same thing, but until the time is right, the Holy Spirit will not apply or allow me to see the lesson to be learned, and action taken. His timetable is indeed strange to us at times.
The plans and purposes of God are unknown to us, other than what is revealed by His Spirit through His method of instruction; His word, His Spirit and the preaching of His men. Man can not search into them, and only what the Lord wants to reveal is shown to man.
The Lord must show to us anything that is of Him. The context of this passage is clear. It is utterly impossible for the natural man to see or understand the things of God, apart from the Spirit of God. And Heb. 6 tells us that one who desires to remain in rebellion to the word of God cannot see the truth of God, either.
The timing of the Spirit of God in revealing the lessons to learn is strange to us. In our wisdom, it is totally uncomprehendable. Why doesn't He show these things to us in a manner that we can understand before so much harm and damage is done?
As I said, Parker statement on Heb. 6:4-6 spoke right to me. Why did the Lord wait so long to call my attention to this.
(Read the passage from the book, pg. 183.)
Parker is talking about me. I could not count the number of people who have said almost these very words to me, my wife included. Nor can I remember when they started saying these this.
I am not bragging, but I need to lay this out to help explain where I am coming from.
The Lord has provided me with the grace to go to His word for my encouragement. I do not get my encouragement from preaching meetings, or fellowship with others. Now, I enjoy going and they are a help, but my primary source is His word. There are some others in here who are the same.
Now, this leaves me in an extremely difficult situation. Because of the personality and the grace which the Lord has given to me because of what He has called me to do, I view every one in the same light which I have. Before you poke at me, every one in here does the same. Therefore, down deep within my heart, I feel that any one who needs outside encouragement is backslidden and not right with God.
Now, to me, this is as true as the day is short. To people of my personality, this is also true, but I am afraid this is not a Scriptural truth.
Others may feel that those who do not feel about God as they do, are also backsliden. It is human nature to view things, God included, from our own personalty and experience. Then we desire to fit averyone into our mold, and in doing this, we offend many.
I respect Parker highly. The messages of his that I have read are very hard-hitting, except for the point on which I disagree with the Congregationalist. He is a passivist.
According to Parker, this person who needs no outside encouragement is an exception to the rule for the child of God.
The grace which God gives to folks of my personality is the exception. After all, what kind of a pastor and teacher would I be if I needed 'outside encouragement?' What would it be like if every time I got down I had to go to a meeting somewhere and hear some preaching? It is nice, but not necessary to keep me going.
On the other hand, where would we be if all others were like we are?
As I look back over my life, I can easily see how the Lord was preparing me for what He had for me to do. He knew that I would have to stand alone on issues, because others who refuse to stand would think I am crazy. There are other pastors who take similar stands on the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ, but not one in this county, or Tipi. Co.
There are some who will stand on the issues, but they are suffering and enduring, waiting for the rapture to get them out of this mess.
God prepared me to stand alone, with only His word as my encouragement. My Jr. year in HS especially, I had to stand alone, plus all the rest of my years growing up.
Now, all of that to say this.
There are very few exceptions to this rule for the need of encouragement, and those exceptions are mostly in leadership or teaching positions. My problem is that I preach as though the vast majority are like me, and continue on because it is right, with only the word of God as their encouragement.
As I looked at Parker, the Lord has shown me that this just is not true. This is a false assumption because I have walked in my own light in this area, rather than in the light of the word of God.
Which brings us to this point.
1. James tells us that we must confess our faults openly. Our confession must be restricted to include only those effected by that fault, and all who are affected by the fault. If only one is effected, then only that one is to be confessed to. If it is a public fault, then the confession must be public. My fault in this area is quite obvious for all to see.
2. I must ask forgiveness of those who have been effected by the fault. The fault is - thinking that the need for encouragement is the exception to the rule of the Christian life.
The fault is - not being the encouragement that is needed by God's people. Rather, far too often I have been a discouragement and laying more upon them than they can handle.
3. I must first, thank you who have stuck with me over the years as I have ignored this need.
Then second, I ask you for your continued patience as the Spirit of God must redirect 25 years of thinking in order to redirect my preaching. This will be a dificult task for the Spirit of God, but His grace is made perfect in our weakness, BUT ONLY IF WE REALIZE OUR WEAKNESS!
Don't get your hopes up that I have changed any convictions, I haven't. I am still just a firm in all of my convictions, except that the need for encouragement is the exception to the Christian rule. The Lord used Parker to reverse this, and it is going to take quite a bit of work by the Spirit to change many years of thinking on this. But His grace is sufficient to overcome all our faults, 2 Cor. 12:9.
4. I must ask for your prayers. This will be extremely difficult for one of my personality and background.
5. As I mentioned. If you believe I am off track in an area, pray for me, and do something like books.
Now, a hard question: Why didn't the Lord show me this before this past week? This I have no answer for, other than He, in His Divine providence controls the timing of His Spirit which reveals the deep things of God, 1 Cor. 2:10.
Ja. 5:7-16. Maybe this is why some are in condemnation, afflicted, depressed, and even sick, in the Body of Christ. Confession of our faults is to be standard practice among the body of Christ, so why is it so seldom practiced? Pastos are not exempt from this, as some might think.
Has this confession been part of your Christian life?
1. You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.
2. Confess and forsake the sin as revealed by the Holy Spirit.
3. Cast ourselves upon the mercy of God.
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