Matthew 11:19 “The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.”
A friend is hard to come by,
Proverbs 20:6 Many a man proclaims his own steadfast love, but a faithful man who can find?
2 Timothy 4:10a for Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica
who shares desire,
Luke 15:6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’
2 Samuel 23:15-17 David had a craving and said, “Oh that someone would give me water to drink from the well of Bethlehem which is by the gate!” 16 So the three mighty men broke through the camp of the Philistines, and drew water from the well of Bethlehem which was by the gate, and took it and brought it to David. Nevertheless he would not drink it, but poured it out to the LORD; 17 and he said, “Be it far from me, O LORD, that I should do this. Shall I drink the blood of the men who went in jeopardy of their lives?” Therefore he would not drink it. These things the three mighty men did.
2 Thessalonians 3:1-2 Finally, brethren, pray for us that the word of the Lord will spread rapidly and be glorified, just as it did also with you; 2 and that we will be rescued from perverse and evil men; for not all have faith.
knows the heart
Deuteronomy 13:6b … your friend who is as your own soul …
1 Samuel 18:1 Now it came about when he had finished speaking to Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as himself.
Who wants his friend to triumph
1 Chronicles 12:18 Then the Spirit came upon Amasai, who was the chief of the thirty, and he said, “We are yours, O David, And with you, O son of Jesse! Peace, peace to you, And peace to him who helps you; Indeed, your God helps you!” Then David received them and made them captains of the band.
Psalm 122:8 For the sake of my brothers and my friends, I will now say, “May peace be within you.”
Luke 12:4 “I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do.
John 3:29 The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete.
Luke 14:10b ‘Friend, move up higher’; then you will have honor in the sight of all who are at the table with you.
A friend who stands beside you,
Psalm 55:13 But it is you, a man my equal, My companion and my familiar friend;
Proverbs 17:17 A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
who understands, will empathize and comfort in the sorrow –
Job 19:21“Pity me, pity me, O you my friends, For the hand of God has struck me.
John 11:33-35 When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled, 34 and said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept.
and Lord, You are…
Hebrews 13:8 Jesus [the Messiah] is the same yesterday and today and forever.
You are a Friend of Sinners,
Matthew 9:10 Then it happened that as Jesus was reclining at the table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were dining with Jesus and His disciples.
Revelation 3:20 ’Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.
You are a friend to me
1 Samuel 20:17 Jonathan made David vow again because of his love for him, because he loved him as he loved his own life.
You are the Friend of Sinners,
Luke 15:2 Both the Pharisees and the scribes began to grumble, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”
John 3:17-18 ”For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18 “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
You are my Friend
Matthew 11:19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.”
Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, [the Messiah] died for us.
I guess I’ll always qualify as long as I’m alive
1 Timothy 1:15 It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that [the Messiah] Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.
Philippians 3:12-14 Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by [the Messiah] Jesus. 13 Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in [the Messiah] Jesus.
As long as I am in this life I’ll know, I’ll know that You are….
Romans 8:31-32 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?
A friend dares to be honest.
Proverbs 27:9 Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel.
1 John 1:8-10 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.
He tells the truth despite the pain
Proverbs 27:6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.
Zechariah 13:6 And if one asks him, ‘What are these wounds on your back?’ he will say, ‘The wounds I received in the house of my friends.’
John 8:40 ”But as it is, you are seeking to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth, which I heard from God; this Abraham did not do.
He presses through rejection
Proverbs 18:24 A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
Isaiah 53:3-4 He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. 4 Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted.
Acts 9:4c ”Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”
A friend loves to be open, reveals his heart, explains his mind
Psalm 25:14 The secret of the LORD is for those who fear Him, And He will make them know His covenant.
Exodus 33:11 Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. When Moses turned again into the camp, his assistant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, would not depart from the tent.
John 15:15 “No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.
He’s there when help is needed –
John 11:11 After saying these things, he said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.”
1 Peter 4:9 Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.
1 John 3:17-18 But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.
James 2:15-16 If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?
and Lord, You are…
Chorus … Bridge 2…
How much more, since I’m justified will You still be my Friend?
Romans 5:9-10 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
John 16:27 for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me and have believed that I came forth from the Father.
And though I know I let You down I’ll still, rely, for You are…
Luke 18:13 ”But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’
Romans 8:1 Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in [the Messiah] Jesus.
Alive and blazing glory
Revelation 1:14-16 14 His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire. 15 His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been made to glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters. 16 In His right hand He held seven stars, and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword; and His face was like the sun shining in its strength.
Acts 9:3-5,17 As he was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; 4 and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” 5 And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” And He said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting, …So Ananias departed and entered the house, and after laying his hands on him said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”
who can express Your holiness?
Isaiah 6:5 Then I said, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.”
It beggars all description
2 Corinthians 12:3-4 And I know how such a man– whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows– 4 was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak.
And when I fall before You,
Revelation 1:17a When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man.
“Get up”, You say, “don’t be afraid,
Revelation 1:17b-18 17b … And He placed His right hand on me, saying, “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, 18 and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.
“Remember what I am. Oh yes, I am”
Galatians 2:20c…the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.
I am the Friend of sinners, I’ll always be your Friend
Matthew 28:19-20 ”Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Hebrews 13:5b-6 … for He Himself has said, “I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU,” 6 so that we confidently say, “THE LORD IS MY HELPER, I WILL NOT BE AFRAID. WHAT WILL MAN DO TO ME?”
I am the Friend of sinners, I’m still Your friend
3 John 1:15 Peace be to you. The friends greet you. Greet the friends by name.
How much more, since You’re glorified will You still be my Friend?
Hebrews 7:25 Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.
And though my motives I decry
Matthew 6:24 ”No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.
James 3:14-16 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.
Philippians 1:15-17 Some, to be sure, are preaching [the Messiah] even from envy and strife, but some also from good will; 16 the latter do it out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel; 17 the former proclaim [the Messiah] out of selfish ambition rather than from pure motives, thinking to cause me distress in my imprisonment.
I still rely, for You are
John 6:67-69 So Jesus said to the twelve, “You do not want to go away also, do you?” 68 Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. 69 “We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.”
Hebrews 13:8 Jesus [the Messiah] is the same yesterday and today and forever.
Romans 4:5 But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness,
You are the King of Glory
Psalm 24:7-10 Lift up your heads, O gates, And be lifted up, O ancient doors, That the King of glory may come in! 8 Who is the King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, The LORD mighty in battle. 9 Lift up your heads, O gates, And lift them up, O ancient doors, That the King of glory may come in! 10 Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, He is the King of glory. Selah.
Transcendent and almighty
Psalm 99:1-3 The LORD reigns, let the peoples tremble; He is enthroned above the cherubim, let the earth shake! 2 The LORD is great in Zion, And He is exalted above all the peoples. 3 Let them praise Your great and awesome name; Holy is He.
Enthroned above the angels
Isaiah 37:16 ”O LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, who is enthroned above the cherubim, You are the God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth.
Revelation 4:4-8 Around the throne were twenty-four thrones; and upon the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white garments, and golden crowns on their heads. 5 Out from the throne come flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder. And there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God; 6 and before the throne there was something like a sea of glass, like crystal; and in the center and around the throne, four living creatures full of eyes in front and behind. 7 The first creature was like a lion, and the second creature like a calf, and the third creature had a face like that of a man, and the fourth creature was like a flying eagle. 8 And the four living creatures, each one of them having six wings, are full of eyes around and within; and day and night they do not cease to say, “HOLY, HOLY, HOLY is THE LORD GOD, THE ALMIGHTY, WHO WAS AND WHO IS AND WHO IS TO COME.”
They trembling bow before You
Job 26:11 ”The pillars of heaven tremble And are amazed at His rebuke.
Isaiah 13:13 Therefore I will make the heavens tremble, And the earth will be shaken from its place At the fury of the LORD of hosts In the day of His burning anger.
Joel 3:16 The LORD roars from Zion And utters His voice from Jerusalem, And the heavens and the earth tremble. But the LORD is a refuge for His people And a stronghold to the sons of Israel.
Philippians 2:9-11 For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus [the Messiah] is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
(You’re holy, holy, holy)
Revelation 4:8 And the four living creatures, each one of them having six wings, are full of eyes around and within; and day and night they do not cease to say, “HOLY, HOLY, HOLY is THE LORD GOD, THE ALMIGHTY, WHO WAS AND WHO IS AND WHO IS TO COME.”
Isaiah 6:1b-4 … I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. 2 Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called out to another and said, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory.” 4 And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke.
Matthew 11:19 “The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.”
David Harwood is a prophetic teacher and worship leader, and author of the book God’s True Love.
In some incredibly twisted logic, a “theologian, seminary professor, and ordained minister” named Patrick Cheng posted an article on Huffington Post entitled ‘Ex-Gays’ and the Ninth Circle of Hell in which, as Randy Thomas of Exodus International (one of the “ex-gays” Cheng is describing) describes, “he basically said that ex-gays were going to hell and really, really deserved it.”
Thomas and Exodus President Alan Chambers both provided excellent responses on the Exodus Blog to the accusations made toward John Paulk (he’s really doing great, despite popular conception) and George Rekers and Jo-Vanni Roman by Cheng. However, there was another point made by Cheng that was of particular interest that I had not seen put forth in gay activist circles previously . Below is a selection from his article that calls for those that have left homosexuality to “repent”:
The good news, however, is that Christian theology teaches us that it is never too late to repent. Michael Bussee and Gary Cooper, the two founders of Exodus International, one of the earliest and most prominent “ex-gay” organizations, ended up falling in love with each other. They have acknowledged that, as a result of their “ex-gay” ministries, many of their former clients had become “suicidal” or resorted to “self-mutilation.” They repudiated their views publicly, separated from their wives, and abandoned Exodus International. They exchanged vows and remained together for another nine years until Cooper passed away.
Nobody knows for sure if traitors are in fact consigned to the lowest circle of hell, as Dante vividly described in the Inferno. I am certain, however, that the grace of God is available even to those who have betrayed their loved ones, the LGBT community, and even themselves through the “ex-gay” movement. It is time for people involved in the “ex-gay” movement to repent of their sinful ways and to proclaim the real “truth in love,” which is that all authentic love between people — queer, straight, or in-between — should be supported and encouraged as a wonderful blessing and unmerited gift from God.
Remarkably, the example of “repentance” Cheng puts forth as the model to follow is two professing Christians who claimed to be ex-gay that left their wives, had sex with each other, and returned to gay lifestyles that ultimately resulted in the death one of them to AIDS! And keep in mind that Cheng is a “theologian, seminary professor, and ordained minister!”
As Bryan Purtle points out in his recent VOR article, “the degree to which we have come into a true knowledge of God is directly related to the measure of our own awareness of sin.” Sadly, that Cheng would put forth that those that have left homosexuality need to “repent” of the “sin” of abandoning their gay lifestyles, and embrace the model put forth by the Exodus co founders of abandoning their wives and diving back into homosexuality, is clearly evidence that he not only has no awareness of sin, but is actively calling people to abandon holiness in pursuit of sin (and perversely calling it holiness!) Whatever religious titles Cheng may have by his name, this act of open rebellion to the clear will of God disqualifies him from the position he claims to hold in the Kingdom of God, and if Bryan is right, is clear evidence that he does not have a true knowledge of God. May his eyes be opened to the truth.
Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. – Isaiah 5:20
“Against You, You only, I have sinned
And done what is evil in Your sight,
So that You are justified when You speak
And blameless when You judge.” -Ps. 51.4
The degree to which we have come into a true knowledge of God is directly related to the measure of our own awareness of sin. There is no true repentance, and thus no true salvational experience in the delivering sense, until the hideousness of our own sin has flashed before our souls, and the radical requirement of Jesus’ crucifixion comes into view.
A great number of Church-going people in our nation have never come to this place, for the most popular message of modern preaching has been totally devoid of this reality. It’s no wonder, since a man cannot rightly call others to this place unless he himself has passed through the press and crisis of conviction and come into the personal event of receiving mercy.
We have heard more about the Gospel than any other generation, and yet scarce few have come into the inward-transaction of the Gospel in the way that David the Psalmist did. It had everything to do with his own knowledge of God as He is, and the corresponding awareness that his sin was not merely a mishap or an accident to be swept under the rug, but a heinous crime committed straightforwardly against the Lord of glory. This acute knowledge of the sinfulness of sin revealed that even though he was the great psalmist of the Holy City, his heart still had the propensity to despise the One to whom he sang.
“Against You, and You only,” was David’s true lament. Our problem is that we do not know the “You.” We have an inward image of a lesser God who is not as requiring. David’s sin was all the more grievous because his knowledge of God was so much deeper.
(Art Katz, The Cross; Forthcoming, Chapter 1; Art Katz Ministries/Burning Bush Press)
If we are inwardly winking at sin, and have grown numb to its hideous nature, it is only because we have had an inadequate revelation of God. If we are self-righteous, and thinking too highly of ourselves without being continually aware of our own propensity for sin, we have fallen just as short of the glory of God.
David could have swept things under the rug, or fallen back on his heritage and anointing as the King of Judah. There were more than enough “yes men” surrounding him to appease his conscience and lull him into a sleepy indifference towards the gravity of his sin. But when the word of the Lord came through Nathan, “you are the man,” the hideousness of his sin flashed before him, and he cried out from the marrow of his being, “Against You, You only, have I sinned….”
Even the anointed King and Psalmist could not play the game of reputation once his sin was disclosed. He did not shift blame or water down the hideousness of his crime. He saw himself as facing the high courts of heaven, and his transgression was not merely against men, angels, saints of old, or the heavenly creatures surrounding the Throne of God. His offense was acutely and directly against the Lord Himself, and he knew that this kind of ultimate confession and repentance was the only gateway to cleansing and redemption.
We need, like David, to come into an awareness of the depth of our own sin. We need to be convinced that regardless of our spiritual history, our religious heritage, and our pious consistency, we still have the propensity to sin, and our blackness of heart is no less black than David’s was. When we are made aware of our depravity, by the grace of God’s speaking, we are then standing upon the proper foundation of truth, by which we are enabled to cry out for purification and restoration. If we have yet to be brought to that place, we have not repented, nor have we been saved from the stranglehold of our sin.
We do not hear sufficient prophetic preaching these days, not the kind that addresses the issue of sin, and we need desperately for that kind of proclamation to be restored. Our ministries have discouraged an adequate consideration of sin, and we have striven to extend comfort to those who have yet to come into a revelation of their own offense against God. We cannot live lives of mercy until we are actively receiving mercy, and if we have failed to cry out to the Lord over our own fallenness, we have not come to that place.
But when we have been convinced of the hideousness of our sin, we will cry with the psalmist:
Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Make me to hear joy and gladness,
Let the bones which You have broken rejoice.
Hide Your face from my sins
And blot out all my iniquities. (vv. 7-9)
We will not only cry out about a particular and embarrassing sin, but about our very tendency to stray from His ways, and when we have cried out from that sacred ground of revelation, God Himself will cleanse, restore, and deliver us to the uttermost, and we will be like Jacob- unable to walk again as we had theretofore walked- awed and jolted by the fact that we have “seen God and lived.” His mercy will be altogether merciful to our souls, and His goodness altogether good. The intimate knowledge of His mercy in light of the hideousness of our own sin is the essence of the Gospel of God. What about you, dear saint? Have you cried out from that place?
Respected Journalist Exposes the Scandals of the Charismatic Renewal–and Offers Hope
Contact: Brett Benson, 952-829-2529
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., April 14 /Christian Newswire/ — Financial scandal. Faulty theology. Moral failure. The last few years have shown that the Church and her leaders are not immune to scandal and corruption. The real problem, however, is that no one is holding them accountable. Until now.
Charismatic insider and contributing editor to Charisma magazine, J. Lee Grady has been a voice crying out against the abuse of the gifts of the Spirit in his weekly, award-winning column “Fire in My Bones.” Though an avid proponent of the charismatic experience, he has observed trends that both distress and anger him. And now he is overturning the money tables.
“Charismatic churches in America today are laden down with tons of baggage that needs to be thrown overboard,” says Grady.
In his new book “The Holy Spirit Is Not for Sale” (Chosen/Baker Publishing Group), Grady exposes and confronts the scandals and problems plaguing charismatic and Pentecostal churches today–including abuse, showmanship, manipulation, and infatuation with prosperity. With extraordinary insight and godly discernment he shows how these problems have led to a watered-down spirituality.
“We have turned the holy fire of God into a circus sideshow,” he says. “But when the music stops, the TV cameras are turned off and the money is counted, what do we have?”
Yet his message is not one of condemnation and finger-pointing. Instead Grady challenges all who call themselves Spirit-empowered Christians to return to their biblical roots. He offers hope, help, and a passion for recapturing the authenticity, power, and integrity of true spirituality.
“There is surely fresh fire available to us today,” he says. “If we would reject our misguided mysticism and smug elitism, and renounce our bizarre infatuation with money and success, I believe our churches would catch fire with holy zeal.”
“The Holy Spirit Is Not for Sale” includes strategies for developing healthy leaders as well as helpful guidelines for accountability structures. Grady also shares numerous examples of previous revivals in history and insights from his own ministry trips to Africa, Asia and Latin America. Compelled by his great love for God and His Church, Grady gives a straightforward and ultimately affirming message that is a must-read for leaders, insiders, and seekers alike.
Praise for “The Holy Spirit is Not For Sale”
“I could not put this book down. It is compulsive reading. This book could be a turning point for the charismatic movement.” — Dr. R. T. Kendall, former minister, Westminster Chapel (London); bestselling author, “Total Forgiveness” (from the foreword)
“No more discerning voice speaks with such clarity and compassion as Lee Grady’s. Today’s Church needs not only to hear but to heed the wisdom set forth of this book.” — Jack Hayford, chancellor, The King’s College & Seminary; founding pastor, The Church On The Way
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
J. Lee Grady is an author, award-winning journalist, and ordained minister. He serves as a contributing editor of Charisma magazine, one of America’s most widely distributed evangelical Christian publications, and as editor of Experience, the magazine of the International Pentecostal Holiness Church. His “Fire in My Bones” column is distributed to thousands around the world. The author of three books, Lee is also the founder of The Mordecai Project, a ministry aimed at confronting the abuse of women around the world. His preaching ministry has taken him to 24 nations. He has been interviewed by numerous media outlets, including “TIME”, “The New York Times”, and “Christianity Today.” He and his family live near Orlando, Florida.
The Holy Spirit Is Not for Sale: Rekindling the Power of God in an Age of Compromise
by J. Lee Grady
Psalms 51:10 “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.”
David was one man personally and intimately aware of the deep darkness that lurks within the human heart. He had, himself, sunk to depths of depravity he would have never thought possible as a harp playing, shepherd boy. But situations, opportunities and regal power had brought to the surface the gruesome reality of the human heart condition.
When Jeremiah said, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jer. 17:9) he spoke like an insurance adjuster who writes off a damaged vehicle as a total loss. There seemed to be no hope for salvaging some good thing in it. Paul declared, “I know that nothing good lives in me”. And in Psalms reads, “All have turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one”.
I used to think that when David prayed, “Create in me a clean heart, O God…” he was asking God to clean his heart. Suddenly I realized that I had been reading it all wrong! David is not asking God to clean his heart, but rather to create a new clean heart…one that will replace the hopeless, desperate, unmitigated disaster he was born with. David wastes no time asking God to heal his old diseased heart. Instead he asks for a new one…a clean one. Such a thing, only God could create.
Spurgeon said, “Human nature is too far gone ever to be mended. It is not a house that is a little out of repair, with here and there a slate blown from the roof, and here and there a piece of plaster broken down from the ceiling. No, it is rotten throughout, the very foundations have been sapped; there is not a single timber in it which has not been eaten by the worm, from its uppermost roof to its lowest foundation; there is no soundness in it; it is all rottenness and ready to fall. God doth not attempt to mend, he does not shore up the walls, and re-paint the door; he does not garnish and beautify, but he determines that the old house shall be entirely swept away, and that he will build a new one.”
David’s words, “Create in me…” conjure eerie images of the pre-adamic earth. A bottomless soup of boiling bedlam reigning unchallenged for untold eons. The thick darkness and horrifying chaos seemed impenetrable. “The earth was without form and an empty waste, and darkness was upon the face of the very great deep…” Then God spoke and His word created order out of disorder, light out of darkness, beauty out of chaos and life out of extinction.
David, like the primordial earth, needed more than a good washing. He cried out to God to give him a heart transplant; to vanquish the old peutrifying horror and create in its place a new heart, as fresh as Eden’s first morning. Unfortunately for David, this was impossible in his day. In fact it is as though you can hear his perpetual frustration in his writings as he struggled throughout his life with that old troublesome heart.
But what a privilege is ours! Today, through Christ, a new heart is available to whosoever will. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Cor. 5:17) It is a wonderful mystery; the greatest “creative miracle” possible.
As a college student I had a job working for Wal-Mart. For those of you who live outside the USA, it is a chain of massive discount department retailers. It is the largest private employer in America and the largest corporation in the world…and for good reason. Whatever may be said of their imperialist business model, Wal-Mart knows how to treat its customers. While I was working there, someone walked up to the customer service counter with an old garden hose, weathered and worn, apparently years old. They claimed to have purchased it at Wal-Mart but had no receipt and now wanted a new one. At any other store this would be utterly unthinkable, but at Wal-Mart the customer got a replacement, because his satisfaction was more valuable than the price of a hose. He walked in with an arm-full of worthless rubber and walked out with a brand new garden hose.
Wal-Mart may be generous, but there is someone more generous still. When we come before God with our worthless, hopeless, helpless hearts, He is willing to accept them. He doesn’t patch up that old rubber hose of our hearts. Instead he offers us a brand new one; fresh and clean. Now that’s a great exchange.
“A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you, and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.”—Ezekiel 36:26.
Idolatry in the West is often subtle, taking the form of addictions, money, power, etc… but in some parts of the world, the ancient forms of idolatry spoken of by the Old Testament prophets are still being practiced, and as people come to the Lord, they literally cast their idols and ritual instruments away from them to be burned!
Daniel Kolenda described for us the atmosphere of curses and idolatry in Afikpo, Nigeria, where he and Reinhard Bonnke preached in October:
We were in a city called Afikpo in Nigeria. It is a remote African village that has been steeped in idolatry, occultism and witchcraft for many generations. The Animists were really the most powerful contingent in the region and also very violent. They had many bizarre and superstitious beliefs that led them to bury and burn people alive for various reasons as well as extremely brutal puberty rites. The witchdoctors kept the people in fear and manipulated and extorted from them through fear. They also were known to kill missionaries, including one top Nigerian bishop who recently came to Afikpo and was killed by the animists who cut him into little cubes.
During five different meetings, Evangelists Reinhard Bonnke and Daniel Kolenda preached the blood of Jesus, repentance, redemption, and actively confronted and broke the curses and idols of the region. Here is part of Kolenda’s account of what happened and its significance:
Every night I called for the people to bring any items associated with idolatry, witchcraft, or occultism to be burned. It’s hard to explain the significance of this. The people are morbidly afraid of the witch-doctors. They believe that if they disrespect these “sacred” items, they will come under a curse or even drop dead. To bring them to be burned publicly is an incredible statement of defiance towards their traditional beliefs and faith towards God. That is what it really is more than anything… a statement; to the people, to the witch-doctors, to the principalities, to God and to themselves, that they are through with these occultic beliefs and practices. It is powerful. This same thing was done in Acts 19 by Paul.
Every night the people brought piles of these items to be burned. The flames would leap 15 feet and higher into the air as these things went up in smoke and then the people would dance until the dust from the field filled the air like a thick fog. The people were rejoicing with great joy that freedom had come to their city.
Following are a picture and video of this momentous event taken by Daniel Kolenda:
The unparalleled freedom that comes through casting aside and even destroying the idols that stand between us and an uninhibited heart-connection to Messiah comes with a joy and lightness that is difficult to imagine until we follow through on our commitment to having no other gods before Him. Is there anything that we have been holding onto that steals our hearts away from devotion to the Lord? Is living wholly for God and receiving true satisfaction and freedom something which is worth exchanging for the bondage and addictions of the idols in our lives? May we take courage from our African brothers and sisters in the Lord, and burn the idols in our lives.
Jesus came to set us free! This is one of the fundamental truths of the gospel, repeated over and again in the New Testament. As expressed by Paul, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free” (Gal 5:1a). In the words of Jesus himself, “. . . if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36).
But what kind of freedom do we have in the Lord? The New Testament speaks of different aspects to our liberty, including these:
We have been released from serving God through an external legal system “so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code” (Rom 7:6)
We have been delivered from slavery to Satan and the fear of death (Heb 2:15)
We have been set free from condemnation and guilt (Rom 8:1-4); in fact, the primary NT word for forgiveness (aphesis) means “release from debt,” in this case the debt of our sin against God.
In Jesus, we are no longer prisoners, and when the Lord announced his mission in what is often called his “platform speech” in Nazareth, he declared, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedomfor the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19).
There is another aspect to our freedom in the Lord, however, one that is stressed more than any other in the NT: In Jesus we have been set free from sin. Look at this well-known passage from John:
To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?” Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:31-36).
The ultimate bondage is bondage to sin. That’s why the root of our freedom is freedom from sin. Jesus is our liberator!
When Paul wrote to the Galatians, he was very concerned because they had fallen into a Judaistic-based legalism, one that taught these Gentile believers that unless they observed the Law of Moses and were circumcised, they could not be saved. Paul confronted this error head on, emphasizing the freedom they had in Jesus. But it was a freedom that could be abused, and Paul confronted this dangerous error as well: “You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love” (Gal 5:13; see also 5:19-5:21, where Paul lists some of the works of the flesh, closing with this warning: “I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”)
In similar fashion (but in a very different context), Peter wrote, “Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God” (1 Pet 2:16; this follows on the heels of 2:11, “Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul”; and this builds on the foundational call to be holy because the Lord is holy in 1:13-16).
Look at how Paul opens this up to the Romans:
You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. I put this in human terms because you are weak in your natural selves. Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness. When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life (Rom 6:18-22).
All this is quite clear and, for the most part, quite obvious. Really, how could Paul or others in the New Testament made it any more clear? And yet in recent years, a very strange message has been gaining momentum, one that claims that Jesus has set us free to sin rather than from sin. To be sure, believers who embrace this concept don’t flatly say that the Lord has set them free to sin – but they say everything other than that. For example, a friend tells you excitedly about a movie he just saw, one which is laced with profanity, nudity, and sexual scenes. You say to your friend in surprise, “But I hear that’s a really filthy movie. Why in the world did you see it?” He replies, “I’m free in the Lord, man. You’re not going to put me under some old legal system. I’m been liberated from that kind of bondage.” What a bizarre concept!
When you are liberated from prison, you don’t go back to live in your prison cell. When the shackles are taken off of your wrists, you don’t put them back on. Why would you? What kind of liberty is that? And who would ever think of saying, “Hey man, I’m free! If I want to put the shackles back on, that’s my right.” Only a demented person says to the doctors who pumped her stomach after a massive drug overdose, sparing her life, “Thanks so much! You pumped my stomach and saved my life so I can overdose again.”
Sin is our mortal enemy, and there is nothing good in sin, only evil and death and deception and bondage. And sin is so ugly that it cost Jesus his very blood. Why in the world would we want to indulge in the very thing from which Jesus delivered us? It not only makes no sense, it also undermines a foundational truth of the gospel, namely that Jesus sets us free from both the penalty of sin and the power of sin. We really have been liberated!
How odd it is that many believers today boast of their freedom in Jesus as if it provided a license to sin – the very thing Paul warned the Galatians about. I would recommend that the next time someone abuses the concept of liberty in Jesus and liberty in the Spirit (“Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom” 2 Cor 3:17b), throwing around the “I’m free” mantra, just ask them: Then why are you making yourself a slave again? If he cleansed you, why are making yourself dirty again? Jesus died to give you a brand new nature, not a license to indulge the old nature that brings only destruction and death.
Wayne Hobson wrote a piece on Dr. Brown and the Coalition of Conscience for the Charlotte Baptist Examiner on the subject “Does God Hate Gays?” His series of articles looks at how various Charlotte groups view the GLBT community, and chose Dr. Brown and the COC to represent an “opposing, yet compassionate message,” comparing and contrasting our group with the approach of others that bring a hateful and arrogant tone such as Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church. Hobson writes:
We will present two views on the gay community. The first view is that of church groups and organizations in Charlotte that represent a conservatively opposing, yet compassionate message.
The second view is that of complete intolerance and rejection of the LGBT community.
Dr. Brown and the Coalition have been a strong voice of opposition to activities that to many, is a sign of moral decay in the Charlotte area. I chose Dr. Brown as a representative of the first viewpoint on the gay community because it was his group, the Coalition of Conscience, that protested the Charlotte [Gay] Pride celebration back in July.
During an interview for the article, the author asked Dr. Brown a pointed question concerning God’s emotions toward the GLBT community:
Q. How do you think God feels about the gay/lesbian community?
A. Dr. Brown: “God loves all people. He sent His Son and Jesus died for them. The same God opposes sins and calls people to repent… But we [the Church community] must do better to convey God’s love. Many gays have felt that they are rejected by the church and given no hope.. [Many gay people] have been hurt and wounded by those professing Christ. If anyone wants to do harm to them [LGBTs], they’ll have to go through me”.
“If anyone wants to do harm to them, they’ll have to go through me” is a bold declaration that shows no hint of any hatred for the LGBT community. In fact, I’ve talked to a number of gay rights opposers over the years and none of them have stated that they would protect gay people while opposing gay activities like Dr. Brown has.
Throughout our 25 or so minute conversation, I sensed no hatred or anger towards the gay community. Instead, I only sensed compassion and conviction.
“Compassion and conviction” are two adjectives that permeate the lives of Jesus followers everywhere. Let’s come out of the closet, and let the world know this is who we really are and how we really feel. Fred Phelps and his Westboro “community” may have their message, but we have ours. Let’s get that message of God’s love into our community!
Here’s a sign that was held at a Boston Gay Marriage Protest from a few years ago:
Here’s the biblical text the sign is referencing in its entirety:
If any man takes a wife and goes in to her and then turns against her, and charges her with shameful deeds and publicly defames her, and says, ‘I took this woman, but when I came near her, I did not find her a virgin,’ then the girl’s father and her mother shall take and bring out the evidence of the girl’s virginity to the elders of the city at the gate.
The girl’s father shall say to the elders, ‘I gave my daughter to this man for a wife, but he turned against her; and behold, he has charged her with shameful deeds, saying, “I did not find your daughter a virgin.” But this is the evidence of my daughter’s virginity.’ And they shall spread the garment before the elders of the city.
So the elders of that city shall take the man and chastise him, and they shall fine him a hundred shekels of silver and give it to the girl’s father, because he publicly defamed a virgin of Israel. And she shall remain his wife; he cannot divorce her all his days.
But if this charge is true, that the girl was not found a virgin, then they shall bring out the girl to the doorway of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her to death because she has committed an act of folly in Israel by playing the harlot in her father’s house; thus you shall purge the evil from among you.
How would you respond? Here are some thoughts Dr. Brown shared on the subject:
There were certain laws that God gave to ancient Israel before Jesus came into the world in order to maintain certain standards of purity and in order to keep Israel separate from the nations. Those laws are not applicable to Christians today. There were other laws based on universal principles of morality and holiness, including the prohibition against murder, the prohibition against child sacrifice, and the prohibition against homosexual practice. Those laws are still in full force today.