A Bad Example and The Apostolic Contrast
Five months ago Vision Forum Ministries (VFM) had to close its doors because of the sin of its founder and president, Doug Phillips. Confessing to a “lengthy inappropriate relationship with a woman”, Phillips admitted that his sin was serious and “absolutely does merit my resignation” (World Magazine, April 5, 2014).
Sadly, this is only the latest in a seeming never ending list of outstanding Christian leaders who fall into this particular sin. In the same issue World notes that it “had the sad task of running stories on Bill Gothard leaving his ministry” for the same reason. It is not necessary to document a list of such dreadful events, but important for us to confess that this is far too frequent in recent evangelicalism.
The presence of such sin among us should profoundly humble us. We must be crying out to God for forgiveness and for the grace to resist this ever present temptation. I join my brothers and sister in this urgent prayer, this cry for his enablement to help us overcome this particular sin.
At the same time I believe it is of great value to us to notice the kind of example the Apostles left us at this very point. There is no evidence that any one of them ever fell into any kind of sexual mis-conduct. As a matter of fact there is little to no evidence that any of the Apostles ever stepped aside into any kind scandalous mis-conduct. Yes, Peter sinned when he temporarily refused to eat with gentiles, as indicated in Galatians 2:12. But this temporary relapse into his former Judaism was quickly corrected and does not compare to the marital infidelity so frequent in evangelical ministry today.
So, we really ought to be asking ourselves what kept the Apostles so unblemished of this particular sin, and for that matter, so unblemished of any notable or scandalous behavior. I am convinced that there is a good answer here. The Apostles were in the grip of RESURRECTIONISM! They were so captivated by the BODILY RESURRECTION of Christ and its immense implications for their lives that they were held to holy living in the “iron grip” of the Holy Spirit. The Savior’s RESURRECTION joined to his ASCENSION and sealed to their hearts by the baptism of the Holy Spirit kept control of their lives, using them to minister powerfully to their age of the church. The word “awesome” should be reserved for these wonderful redemptive acts of God in Christ and then we should be bold to add that the lives of these men were filled with the “TRULY AWESOME” power of Christ the Lord to live as the Savior lived in loving obedience to God.
This is seriously lacking in our evangelical world today, and I am not accusing any of these fallen leaders of failing to believe in the RESURRECTION of Christ. There is good evidence that most of these men do believe this great truth. But it should be evident that they do not have the RESURRECTIONIST MENTALITY that characterized the apostles. To the apostles the RESURRECTION of Jesus filled their minds and hearts with a wonder that never faded. They saw the entire world from the perspective of his RESURRECTION. The RESURRECTION was a grand radiance that flooded their lives with true light, the meaning of the cross, of forgiveness, of all the wonders of their salvation. It held them spellbound for a lifetime. That is why they could be true to their wives and true to every other duty in this life.
The light of the RESURRECTION so illuminated the law of God that they could see it as the only reasonable way of life. Any other kind of behavior was pure foolishness, so obviously destructive that only a mad man would engage in it. They were not heroes. They were just smart.
My fear is that it is not just fallen ministry leaders who have lost this RESURRECTIONIST mentality. It is a rare thing among us. We see it here and there among God’s people, but we need to be praying that “radical RESURRECTIONISM” will become a prominent force among us. It is the only road to restoration for fallen leaders, for dysfunctional families, for floundering churches. Jesus baptized us with the Holy Spirit in order to make us this kind of joyful RESURRECTIONISTS. Let’s open our hearts to this beautiful reality.