Bruce Collins, Evangelist

The personal website of Bruce Collins

Meditation for the week of June 8, 2008

Jonah 3:1-2
Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach to it the message that I tell you.”

I once worked for a CPA firm where every audit had to be reviewed by a senior partner. One of the accountants used to get the senior partners note’s on his audits and he would say, “We learn by doing—it over!” Jonah learned by doing it over. The trouble is, sometimes we don’t give each other the chance to do it over.

I have listened to teachers who told me that God was the God of the second chance. Their ministry would deal with Peter who denied the Lord but was forgiven and recommissioned in John 21. They would deal with John Mark who left Paul and Barnabus in Acts 13:13 and returned to Jerusalem. Paul and Barnabus disagreed over taking John Mark with them on their next trip and actually went their separate ways over the issue. Later Paul would ask Timothy to bring Mark with him to Rome when he came to visit Paul in prison because Paul said, “he is useful to me for ministry (2 Timothy 4:11).” Paul gave him another chance. Sometimes these teachers would deal with Jonah who was told to go to Nineveh the second time after rebelling against the Lord the first time.

But then, we would also get teaching that said, “An eagle with a broken wing can never fly as high.” This implied that if you committed certain sins, your usefulness to the Lord would always be limited after that. These teachers would point out that David didn’t get to build the temple after his sin with Bathsheba. They would tell us that since elders are to be blameless, they were disqualified from leadership if they committed certain major sins.

I believe that men are harder to please than God on this issue. God tells Christians that If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). When the Lord forgives, he cleanses us from ALL sin, not just from some sins. God considers one who truly confesses his sin to be clean. Peter denied the Lord when the Lord could have used a friend. The Lord forgave him and used him in a most prominent way. David did have consequences associated with his sin with Bathsheba, but it was because of his hypocrisy in judgment. Matthew 7:2 makes it clear that he was being judged in the way he had judged. He held a rich man who had taken a poor man’s lamb to entertain a guest to a higher standard than the standard he was setting for himself. In addition, he had Uriah killed to cover his sin (See 2 Samuel 12: 5,6,9,10 and 1 Kings 15:5). But when David made the confession, “I have sinned (2 Samuel 12:13),” the Lord did not take his life as David would have taken the rich man’s life. Nor did the Lord remove him from being King.

It is true that elders are to be blameless. The qualifications that are listed in the rest of the passage in 1 Timothy 3 define what blameless means. Notice a man must BE blameless. It is his present character that counts, not his past sins. When a person of the world is saved, we tend to give them responsibility and privileges quite quickly even though we should wait until the person brings forth fruits in keeping with their profession of faith. We even unwisely let them glorify their past sins when they tell what about the lives from which they were saved. However, when a person who has had a moral fall after salvation is restored to the Lord through repentance and confession, we tend to assume that they can never recover their reputation and character even though God says that He has forgiven them and that he has removed all their defilement. Why does the blood of Christ provide complete forgiveness in the one case but not in the other? Obviously, the blood of Christ has the same ability to cleanse in both cases, but men have a harder time accepting that fact when Christians sin. While it is true that it would take some time to make sure that a person’s repentance was real, once that is determined we should treat Christians who have sinned the same way God does.

We should give them a second chance.

Bruce Collins

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