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God’s Unbridled Forgiveness

April 25, 2010

A wonderful story of a woman’s faith and love to those less fortunate to her. It is added to the divorce topic because many women are taught that God will not forgive them. There is a strong message in this article for all Christians.

Neither Do I Condemn You

“Pastor is it OK to sell a Bible to a prostitute?”

Laura is a member of a small church in a small town in central Brazil. She has sold Avon products for years in the town to supplement the family income. One of her weekly routes takes here through the red light district, and with those business contacts she often shares her faith in Jesus Christ.

One day after asking her pastor if it is Ok to sell Bibles to prostitutes she took a few Bibles with her on her Avon trips to the red light district.

God opened a door to present Bibles and Christian books in a house of prostitutes. Oddly enough, the house was located directly across the road from a large evangelical church. Ten of these women gathered around a table one afternoon as Laura shared with them the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ. A few Bibles and some books containing testimonies of transformed lives were sold that afternoon.

Several months later there were terrible rains and floods in that part of Brazil, causing several deaths. With the floods came mudslides in communities that had been inundated by the rising rivers. Two prostitutes who had attended the book demonstration earlier that year talked about the danger and decided to read the Bible they had purchased. Perhaps thinking the book to be like an Agatha Christie mystery novel, they started with Revelation in order to find the conclusion of the story. What they read terrified them.

They read with dismay Revelation 21:7, 8: “He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, and the sexually immoral, the idolaters and all liars––their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”

The gal who owned the Bible became alarmed and exclaimed, “We’re lost! We’re lost!” Her housemate replied, “No, you’re lost. I’m not lost because I do penance every day.” Still alarmed and concerned, they continued to read.

A few days later Laura visited her Avon customers. These two women literally pulled her off the street and shoved the Bible into her hands. “Read this part right there! Tell us what it means!” they ordered. Laura read the verses and responded, “It means that when you practice and live in one of these sins, you will not be permitted to enter heaven.” Again, the owner of the Bible cried, “We’re lost! We’re lost! I told you we were lost!” Her friend again assured her, “No, you’re lost. I’m not lost because I repent every day.”

“Repentance,” Laura explained, “is when you confess your wrong and completely turn around. You do not repent. Repenting is turning from your sin. You only feel guilty for your sins.” Again, the prostitute shouted even louder, “We are lost! We’re lost!” After sharing the plan of salvation and trying to pray with them Laura returned home planning to visit again. One week passed by and she made her way down the muddy and rutted dirt streets of that little suburb. On arriving at the home of the two prostitutes, she was handed a note by the one who had been so assured of her false repentance.

Laura,

Enclosed is the money I owe. Thank you so much for help. After your visit last week, I returned to my hometown and am living with my parents. On Sunday I attended an evangelical church and gave my heart to the Lord Jesus. If ever I visit your city again, it will only be to attend your church. Jesus has made me a different person.

Maria Isabel

We can never estimate the power of God’s Spirit working through His Word to convict, regenerate and transform lives in Jesus Christ.

This amazing true story of the power of God’s Word was adapted from Richard Jacobsen, “A Miracle in Ipatinga,” American Bible Society Record, (April 1988, Vol. 134, No. 4.), pp. 12-14.

When Jesus Christ comes into your life, He sets you free! There is no greater freedom in all the earth than having all your sins forgiven and being at peace with God. “If the Son shall make you free, you are free, indeed!”

John chapter eight opens with Jesus teaching a crowd of people who were coming and going in the Temple (8:1-2). It was early in the morning when Jesus began to teach them. Not everyone of course was ready to hear Him teach. A group of Pharisees called for His death, and was ready to trap Jesus. Some were saying, “Never did a man speak the way this man speaks” (7:46). Others were responding, “You have not been led astray, have you?” (v. 47). One of their own, Nicodemus entered into the discussion suggesting that no one should prejudge another without first hearing from him and knowing what he is doing (vv. 50-51). However, the Pharisees as a group was ready to entrap Jesus.

JESUS DEALS WITH SINNERS (8:3-6)

Jesus helps people where ever and in whatever condition He finds them. He was busy teaching when He was interrupted by a group of thugs who crash in on Him. They came dragging into the room a disheveled, hastily clothed, barefooted and humiliated woman.

A woman was taken in adultery (vv. 3-4)

The scribes and Pharisees brought a woman whom they testified was caught in “the very act” of adultery (v. 4). There is no question about her guilt. John repeats the statement twice in two verses, a woman “caught in adultery.” She was “taken with shame upon her.” She has lived in continuous adulterous relationships so long that she is now  characterized as an adulteress.

Where is the man? If I remember correctly, it takes two! Verse four says she was “caught in adultery, the very act.” Should there not have been have been two sinners? Is this a lynching party? Where is the man? Who is trying to get even with the woman? Who set the deliberate trap for her? Her husband, or a former lover? Perhaps the husband set her up to divorce her or have her stoned.

George MacDonald wrote in his poem “Sweet Peril”:

Alas, how easily things go wrong!
A sigh too much, or a kiss to long,
And there follows a mist and a weeping rain,
And life is never the same again.

She was guilty. There is no question about that. But it is also a candid reminder that “all have sinned an come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). No one rises up to meet the divine expectation for mankind. This woman was not the only one who had a problem; we all have a spiritual problem. We have all failed in the sight of God. We all got an “F” on our spiritual report card.

What will you do with this sinner (vv. 5– 6)?

This is a well-rehearsed plot to “test” Jesus with the idea of proving Him false. They were skillfully laying a trap. It was a setup.

The Pharisees demanded, “Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?” (v. 5). I am sure they were ready to misquote Deuteronomy 22:22ff. They stressed stoning the woman in the recorded quotes of their conversation with Jesus, but the Law demanded that both parties be stoned. It was only under the condition of persistence after previous warning and after the actual witness of the act of adultery by two competent witnesses that a couple was to be stoned.

The Pharisees and scribes continued to press their point. They were not after the poor woman as much as they were after Jesus. They were saying this “testing” Jesus (v. 6). They wanted grounds for “accusing” Jesus. He is the one they are really after.

This self-righteous, self-appointed judge and jury were out to hang Jesus. We are determined we are going to get rid of you, one way or the other, no matter what it takes. They were filled with self–righteous hatred toward Jesus.

They kept stressing their point. “They persisted in asking Him” (v. 7a). They kept the pressure on Jesus. Come on, tell us teacher, what do You say?

JESUS THE SAVIOR (8:6-9)

As the Pharisees kept pushing their question, with the intent of trapping Him, “Jesus stooped down, and with His finger wrote on the ground” (v. 6b). I don’t know what He wrote. No one does. I have heard many wild ideas in my life, but none are of any value. We simply don’t know what He wrote in the sand. It is really not important to us. What is crucial is what follows.

Jesus, will you kill the woman or kill the Law of Moses? Will you compromise your religious principles or kill the person?

My wife and I with some friends watched the summer performance of the epic tale of King Author and Queen Guenevere. You will recall in the play that King Author’s most trusted and renowned knight Lancelot gingerly slipped his toe across the marital boundary. It started with an innocent look. Just a look, without premeditation or an evil intent. However, it was a short, slippery step from a look to lust, from infatuation to the bed of infidelity. The look led to a touch. The touch sometime later led to a kiss. The kiss led to adultery. And the adultery led to tragedy.

Mordred, who caught Guenevere and Lancelot in their unfaithfulness taunted the King. Of course, Lancelot escaped, but Guenevere was captured and sentenced to death by the court. In the climatic scene where Arthur is called upon to give the signal to commence the execution, Mordred taunts him with wicked joy.

“Arthur! What a magnificent dilemma! Let her die, your life is over; let her live, your life’s a fraud. Which will it be, Arthur? Do you kill the Queen or kill the law?”

Ok Jesus, what will You do? You are the teacher of the Law. You teach with authority. Let us hear Your answer. Kill the Law or kill this sinner?

Jesus stooped wrote in the sand (vv. 6b-8).

As these religious leaders persisted in questioning him, Jesus stood up and invited any one among them who was sinless, not guilty of general sinfulness, to throw the first stone. By this statement they could not possibly say Jesus rejected the law. Jesus specifically enjoined them to throw the first stone. Go ahead, you are right, the Law says stone her. She is guilty. Now, you, which one of you, is sinless? Moreover, if they threw the stone they would have been guilty of breaking the Roman Law against capital punishment! Only the Roman government in Jesus’ day could execute a criminal. That is why the Jewish religious leaders manipulated Pilate to execute Jesus! They didn’t have the authority to execute Him.

Jesus straightened up, and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her” (v. 7). Then Jesus again “stooped down, and wrote on the ground” (v. 8).

The Silence (vv. 9-11).

I think a deathly silence fell over that crowd. The audience who had been listening to Jesus, the Master Teacher, anxiously listened for His answer. They had been in rapt attention waiting.

Then the Pharisees and scribes who hauled the woman in suddenly abandoned her, one by one. “They began to go out and continued one by one.” They were preoccupied with their own sin! “And when they heard it, they began to go out [and continued] one buy one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the woman, where she had been, in the midst” (v. 9).

What would you say to this poor humiliated sinner? What word of hope would you offer her? Would they be biting words of indignation and scorn? Would you take the opportunity to really scold her and set her straight? How do you deal with sinners, caught in the very act?

JESUS FREELY OFFERS SALVATION (8:10-11)

“And straightening up, Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?’” (v. 10). “No one, Lord” (v. 11a).

Jesus offers forgiveness.

This condemned woman needed grace. (Jn. 8:11, 12:46-47; Rom. 8:1)

I can hear the legalists now screaming, “You liberals preach grace!” Jesus preached grace! Paul preached grace! A world of lost sinners needs grace! We need God’s free gift of eternal life. We need salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.

The woman did not make any excuses (v. 11). She was guilty. She knew it. She stood condemned. She didn’t have to be convinced of that fact. She needed grace. She did not deserve it. “The wages of sin is death.” “The soul that sins will surely die.” She couldn’t earn it. She was a spiritual pauper in the need of the riches of God’s marvelous grace.

Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go your way; from now on sin no more” (v. 11). Let those words soak in. “Neither do I . . . ” “Neither do I condemn you.”

How could Jesus offer such a sinner no condemnation? He did it the same way He does to us. He knew that He was going to the cross to die for her sins. “For while we were still helpless” sinners. That is the way all sinners are. Helpless. A helpless sinner doesn’t merit forgiveness. A helpless sinner doesn’t earn forgiveness. “For while we were still helpless [sinners], at the right time Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6).

Moreover, “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (v. 8).

To every guilt-ridden sinner who puts their trust in Jesus Christ as their savior the LORD God comes today and whispers in your ear “neither do I condemn you.” “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

Do you have that sense of peace and forgiveness? “Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). You can have that peace right now by acknowledging your need of God’s forgiveness and putting your faith in Jesus Christ alone to save you. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not as a result of works, that no one should boast” (Ephesians 2:8–9). Ask Him to save you right now believing that He died for you on the cross and rose from the dead.

Responsibility of the woman.

Now that you are saved what is your responsibility as a saved sinner? It is the same as the woman in our story. Jesus told her literally, “Stop your sinful habit.” Make a clean break with sin. A. T. Robertson observes it is imperative of prohibition, “No longer go on sinning.”

Jesus did not tell the woman to clean up her act and then He would forgive her. He said, “Neither do I condemn you; go your way; sin no more.” He said, now that you are saved, don’t continue with your sinful lifestyle. He didn’t say be obedient and then I will save you. He forgave her. He saved her by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.

When you are saved by grace you want to live Christ now that you have been saved!

Some Abiding Principles

  • Even a wicked sinner can be saved today. There is salvation for all who will put their faith in Christ.

I don’t care what happened last night, last month, last year, or whenever in your life. What I do care is that you will come to Jesus and receive the free gift of eternal life right now. Acknowledge to Him that you need His saving grace and forgiveness. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall saved.” “Whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world; but that the world should be saved through Him” (John 3:17). “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:36).

  • Resolve in your own heart that from this day on to live a life consecrated to Jesus Christ. “Go . . . sin no more.” You live the Christian life the same way you began, by grace through faith alone in Christ alone. You have the Holy Spirit within you to strengthen you and deliver you from temptation.
  • Correcting wrong starts with forgiveness, not rebuke. There is a keen reminder here that whenever we confront wrong we must be truly humble, not proud. We must take a long hard critical look at our own lives. Galatians 6:1 reminds us, “Brethren, even if a man is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; looking to yourselves, lest you too be tempted.” Never were those words truer than in our day. Don’t let the temptation of religious pride ensnare you. If you are in a position where you deal with those who are trapped in sin ask God for wisdom, and do not try to bring healing by yourself. Have an accountability group. The privilege of condemning wrong is based on righteousness, not knowledge. Are you without sin? Any sin? Are you spiritual enough to restore the one caught in a trespass? If you’re not, then don’t. Let a more mature believer be the caregiver (Matthew 7:1-2).
  • Take a few moments right now and celebrate your freedom in Christ. “It is for freedom that Christ set you free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1).

Matthew 5 and 19 Jesus Defends the Divorced WomanChris

April 25, 2010

Many people search the scriptures, searching for an understanding of God’s will concerning divorce and remarriage.

One aspect of Matthew 5 and Matthew 19 is that Jesus defends those who are divorced against their will. At the same time, he apposes those who a) divorce without seeking God’s will, b) start another relationship while still married, c) remarry

It is hard for many Christians to believe that God would support anyone in a divorce. The church has taken strong steps, from shunning and removing from leadership – to throwing them out of the church family.

There is a double standard when it comes to divorce. Women are taught that all sins including lust, murder, fornication are all forgivable – but adultery is not. There is no place in the bible that claims that adultery is the unforgivable sin.

Punishing one person who is forced into a divorce makes as much sense as punishing someone who made a bad investment and lost their money.

Jesus Defends The Divorced Person

One often overlooked aspect of the divorce question, according to Jesus, is that Jesus empowered the Christian to divorce the others.

Jesus said ‘If you divorce’. He did not say that you must wait passively until the other person has hurt you – or threatened your life.

  • Jesus empowered the victim to divorce the other person.
  • Jesus made ‘innocent’ the person who was divorced against their will.

Jesus’ real point, which the hyperbolic image is meant to evoke, is the sanctity of marriage (see also 19:4-6; Efird 1985:57-59). Addressing the hardness of legal interpreters’ hearts (19:8), Jesus opposed divorce to protect marriage and family, thereby seeking to prevent the betrayal of innocent spouses. Do Not Betray Your Spouse With Divorce: BibleGateway

As recently as 500 years ago, great preachers and theologians such as Martin Luther states that to understand the full bible’s meaning concerning divorce, adultery, and remarriage – we need to realize that God’s law stated the adulterer should be put to death. This means, even when the church and state abandon their duty, the offender is dead in God’s eyes.
I have heard people state that they would not consider divorce, or remarriage, because for centuries the church rejected the concept of divorce. However, this is not a truth. In fact, not even polygamy has been considered a sin for most of the church’s life ‘after Christ.’

When you are studying this topic I hope you will consider the following:

Who do the verses refer to? Were they written to Christians, Christians married to Christians, or to the ‘world.’  Do not force yourself to live by a law that was not meant for you.

To understand the concepts we must realize that the ancient culture had legitimate and illegitimate marriage. God had a plan. That plan did not include a union with sin. When learning what God wants in your life, and the truth of the scriptures, remember one truth…

Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled…” (Heb. 13:4).

Matthew 19 – Bible Scripture on Divorce

April 25, 2010

Matthew 19:3 Some Pharisees approached Him to test Him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife on any grounds?”
Matthew 19:4 “Haven’t you read,” He replied, “that He who created them in the beginning made them male and female,
Matthew 19:5 and He also said: For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh?
Matthew 19:6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, man must not separate.”
Matthew19:7 “Why then,” they asked Him, “did Moses command us to give divorce papers and to send her away?”
Matthew 19:8 He told them, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because of the hardness of your hearts. But it was not like that from the beginning.
Matthew 19:9 And I tell you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”


These verses are not the only ones in the bible that discusses divorce. This passage is not the only one that talks about adultery. However, those who want to teach people that Jesus spoke against divorce, use this verse.

First. Let’s look at what this verse does not say:

Divorce

Jesus never says in these verses that divorce is not permitted. Jesus never said, if you divorce and remarry then you are a sinner.

There is no place in this selection of verses where Jesus states that divorce or remarriage are the ‘unforgivable sin.’

Jesus did say that divorce is permitted due to the hardness of your hearts, but if you did divorce, you would commit the sin of adultery.

Jesus never said that remarriage was forbidden. Only that, if you divorce for reasons other than sexual immorality, then you will commit the sin of adultery.

Did Jesus say God was wrong when he permitted divorce?

Did Jesus say that God rescinded the Deuteronomy laws?

Did Jesus say that he came to rewrite the law?

Did Jesus say that God does not accept divorce?

Did Jesus say that God does not accept the second marriage?

No. Jesus did not say any of these. Men ‘add these’ to make the verse fit their cultural and doctrinal teaching.

We can challenge that, without a marriage focused on God, that the marriage doesn’t exist. Where there is no marriage, there is no divorce.

This is a stretch – but no more than saying that Jesus claims that God does not accept divorce when he said …

if you (a divorced man) marries another (remarriage) then you commit adultery.

God’s Perfect Plan

Jesus does make it clear that divorce and remarriage were not a part of God’s perfect plan ‘before the fall of man.’ God did not make man and women to be in conflict, but to create a union in harmony.

Marriage is the blueprint of a relationship with God. The marriage is between a man, a woman, and God. Without God, there is no marriage. Woman completes a man. God completes the couple. This was the first union. This is God’s perfect plan.

This Passage in Context

This verse applies to anyone who lives ‘by the law’ as the pharisees did. They threw Moses and Jewish’ law at him. He threw God’s law back at them. This is a political debate. Jesus was not teaching his children, or even talking to Christians.

He was talking to men who prided themselves – and valued above all – that they obeyed the law to the letter. Some theologians claim that they were so ‘lawful’ that they tithed to the last mint leaf in their garden.

The Pharisees went back to Deuteronomy for his law. Jesus went back to Genesis for his law.

Jesus is only concerned with God’s law. And, when taking God’s law into context it is important to remember that God’s law is for Christians. His children.

When I read this verse one theme resounds through Jesus’ words, “Let him without sin cast the first stone.”  The bible, and Jesus, has so much to say on our relationship with God and with others. It is wrong to pick one single passage and form an entire ‘law’ around it.

What Does The Bible Say to Christians

We are God’s Children. We do have a relationship with God. What does this phrase tell us. I believe that Jesus is telling the pharisees that they should worry more about their relationship with God then being ‘holy’ or ‘perfect.’

Jesus bypassed the law and went direct to God’s will. God’s will is not that a person should be abused or tormented. It was never his will that we should live in misery. Paul teaches directly on this.

Jesus did say ‘If you divorce’ – there were no negative or sinful acts here. It was the remarriage that resulted in divorce. God allowed freedom for his children..

Then wait

Wait on the Lord

Pray for his best

If an act of adultery is committed, then you have your answer.

If reconciliation happens, then you have your answer.

Can Christian’s Divorce – Ebook

March 20, 2010

Christian-Divorce.pdf

Attached is a free ebook that offers bible answers on the topic: Can Chrisitans Divorce and Remarry. 

It is not another anti-divorce or anti-remarriage debate where people pull one or two verses from the bible and cry ‘God Said’ – instead it is an indebth look at the topic of marriage from creation until Christ.

It covers hundreds of years worth of documents, and several schollars participated in the creation of this document.

I wrote this document to give people peace. God is not an uncarring God. There are biblical laws against the abuse of a woman, including a wife. Much of this teaching is ignored – it has to be, because to make a blanket statement that women can’t divorce unless their husbands commit adultery is fundamentally wrong.

Feel free to post comments. Feel free to download and read this document

What Does The Bible Scriptures and Divorce – Remarriage

January 8, 2010

One of the most controversial aspects of bible and scripture teaching is the dogma surrounding divorce and remarriage. The most disturbing aspect is the current teaching that the bible has always taught that divorce and remarriage are wrong. That our current cultural look at marriage has been the fundamental foundation of the family since Abraham.

This is not true. The bible and church here are general. Each denomination is different, and has been. These are only general beliefs

The bible has taught and supported polygamy as recently as the 1600s.

The bible taught that a man could divorce his wife for any cause well into Puritan times.

The church taught that all you needed to do to divorce was to cross the border into another fiefdom or country.

The church believed that a man could have sex with any unmarried woman without committing adultery

The church believed that only a woman could commit adultery – a man could have sexual relations with any woman without committing a sin.

The problem is that many of these beliefs were born in ‘interpretations’, ‘dogma’, denominational beliefs, and man made/cultural and political beliefs.

The goal of this topic is not to challenge anyone’s belief. You will answer to God for your actions, love, and faith. This topic is designed to explore the scriptures in Greek, Hebrew, Latin, and Aramaic and let the Holy Spirit speak to your heart.


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