Thank you for tuning in to BCNN1’s The Gospel According to Greenleaf. In this brief, weekly podcast, we are examining some of the themes of Oprah Winfrey’s new drama set in a large black church that deals with issues that all churches face. Today we are looking at the issue of pastors and church leaders who have sinned and who need to sit down somewhere and get right with God.
In the 5th episode of Greenleaf, Bishop James Greenleaf sat his son Jacob down for 90 days after it came out that he was committing adultery. As I mentioned before, I think the sentence was too light, and Jacob’s time out of the ministry should be much longer. Nonetheless, it was good to see consequences being meted out for the actions of one who claims to be representing God before his people.
Unfortunately, it seems as though the TV show has the right idea whereas many churches do not. Pastors across this nation who have committed publicly known sins (often gross sins) somehow are able to keep their pulpits — to carry on as though nothing has happened. (Typically, the “sin” is depicted as being an attack of the devil or unnamed enemies of the preacher in an effort to remove all culpability from the preacher.) This sets a terrible example for the people in the pews who get the impression that they can sin without consequences themselves. I believe that if half of the preachers in America would step down, we would have revival in the church.
The first requirement of a preacher is that he be above reproach. As Paul writes in First Timothy and Titus: “A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach.” “For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not self willed, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre.” Similar requirements are made of deacons as well.
Being without reproach is a high standard, and many preachers have fallen beneath it. Unfortunately, these preachers don’t have the respect for God and the church of God to step down themselves. Many who have taken some time away from the ministry are quickly restored. In his book, “The Master’s Plan for the Church,” Pastor John MacArthur laments this trend and writes the following:
“Gross sin among Christian leaders is a signal that something is seriously wrong with the church. But an even greater problem is the lowering of standards to accommodate a leader’s sin. That the church is so eager to bring these men back into leadership is a symptom of rottenness at the core.
“There are some sins that irreparably shatter a man’s reputation and disqualify him from a ministry of leadership forever. Even Paul, man of God that he was, said he feared such a possibility. In 1 Corinthians 9:27 he says, ‘I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.’
“When referring to his body, Paul obviously had sexual immorality in view. In 1 Corinthians 6:18 he describes it as a sin against one’s own body—sexual sin is in its own category. Certainly it disqualifies a man from church leadership since he permanently forfeits a blameless reputation as a one-woman man.
“Where did we get the idea that a year’s leave of absence and some counseling can restore integrity to someone who has squandered his reputation and destroyed people’s trust? Certainly not from the Bible. Trust forfeited is not so easily regained. Once purity is sacrificed, the ability to lead by example is lost forever. As my friend Chuck Swindoll once commented when referring to this issue—it takes only one pin to burst a balloon.”
MacArthur goes on to say that “a major reason [why churches today are eager to restore fallen pastors to leadership roles is because of] the sin and unbelief that pervade the church. If casual Christians can lower the expectations on their leadership, they will be much more comfortable with their own sin. With lower moral standards, the church becomes more tolerant of sin and less tolerant of holiness. The ‘sinner-friendly’ church is intolerable to God — and that is a frightening condition.”
Now, should we love and forgive those leaders who have sinned grossly? Absolutely. But they no longer can be trusted with the shepherding of God’s people. Again, we call on all preachers who have committed disqualifying sins to sit down somewhere and to cease making a mockery of the sacred desk and the sacred office of pastor.
We do not believe that after a serious, respectful time away from the pulpit, a truly saved and called man of God cannot preach the Gospel to those who will listen to him, but he does not need to be the pastor of a church.
In closing, if you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, allow me to show you how you can be forgiven of your sins and begin a relationship with God today.
First, accept the fact that you are a sinner, and that you have broken God’s law. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”
Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”
Now that is bad news, but here is the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.
Romans 10:9 & 13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved… For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. I am sorry for my sins, and today I choose to turn from my sins. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. I trust Jesus Christ as my Savior and I choose to follow Him as Lord from this day forward. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.
If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved from Hell and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! Congratulations on doing the most important thing in life and that is receiving Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door.” Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
May God bless you, and I hope that you will join us next time for The Gospel According to Greenleaf.