Monday, November 21, 2016

When Pastors Renounce their Faith, What Should We Do?

"There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death." -Proverbs 14:12

Recently one of our church members sent me an article from the Johnson City Press about a pastor who has “come out” as an atheist. This former pastor’s “news” leaves some in the church confused and sad. Even sadder is the fact that many of God’s leaders in the bible don’t finish well either. Dr. J. Robert Clinton, professor of leadership at Fuller Theological Seminary, has spent the past 15 years conducting extensive research on the lifelong development of Christian leaders. Dr. Clinton found that only 30% of biblical leaders finished well out of the 1000 that he identified. Here are my thoughts on what happened in this man's life. First, we must think biblically:

What does the Bible Say happened here?

1. According to 1 John 2:19, He never actually believed in the first place. John tells us that some will appear to us to be part of the body; however, they never were part of Christ’s body due to silent disbelief in their heart. The disbelief was always there but unseen by the human eye. Our lack of ability to see their unbelief makes their exit from the body so shocking and jarring for us, but not for God. John even goes on to call them anti-Christ, because they are against Christ.

2. According to Psalms 14:1, He has done a foolish thing. King David warns anyone that to claim there is no God is foolish. How could you know for sure? Do you possess all knowledge from all places and from all times? The answer is a painful no.

3. According to 2 Timothy 3:7, He continues to learn but is never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. He claims to have read X number of books and continues to read and learn. Timothy gives a strong warning to any who remains a seeker but never settles on the Word of God for truth. He stood above the Word and judged the Word, and fond it lacking instead of the other way around.

4. According to James 1:5-8, He sought knowledge in all the wrong places. Be careful what council you take. This man did not surround himself with sound brothers during this search (Proverbs 27:17). Instead he turned to unbelievers with his doubts.

What do we do about him now?

1. Pray for his salvation. He is now verbally and publicly an unbeliever. We should pray for him that God will save him. What a testimony that would be for him to give one day!

2. Pray for his family. They have been thrust into the spotlight a bit though this thing, so we should pray for their safety and spiritual health.

3. Love them given the opportunity. I don’t know this man, but some of you who are reading this might. In the Bible, Jesus is tough and tender. He is tough on Pharisees and tender towards sinners. Showing judgment and anger towards him will not prove an effective evangelism strategy. Instead, treat him as you would any unbeliever point them back to Christ with your words and life.

4. Do not let this shake your faith. As I said earlier, many leaders among God’s people have fallen and will continue to fall in various ways. His was disbelief, but others may be moral failures. We are not shaken by such things if we stand on the ROCK and not men (Matthew 7:24-27).

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