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My Pastor Was Caught Laundering Money; Is It Time to Find a New Church?

Core Christianity / Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier
The Truth Network Radio
January 9, 2024 5:53 pm

My Pastor Was Caught Laundering Money; Is It Time to Find a New Church?

Core Christianity / Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier

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January 9, 2024 5:53 pm

Episode 1398 | Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier answer caller questions.

Show Notes

 CoreChristianity.com

  1. Why do I need to be forgiven if it's Adam's fault I'm a sinner?   2. Is my regular Christian fellowship the same as attending church on Sunday?   3. How can I navigate the grief process after our pastor fell in sin?     Today’s Offer: TOUGH QUESTIONS ANSWERED   Want to partner with us in our work here at Core Christianity? Consider becoming a member of the Inner Core.   View our latest special offers here or call 1-833-THE-CORE (833-843-2673) to request them by phone.

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My pastor was caught laundering money. Is it time to find a new church? That's just one of the questions we'll be answering on today's edition of Core Christianity.

Well, hi, this is Bill Meyer, along with Pastor Adriel Sanchez, and this is the radio program where we answer your questions about the Bible and the Christian life every day. And based on that first question, we get some sticky ones. Feel free to call us right now. with your question. I think that one is pretty straightforward, Bill. Probably, but we'll get to that. Okay, we'll find out exactly what the details are in just a few minutes.

But you're right. Here's the phone number to call if you have a question for us. It's 833-THECORE.

That's 1-833-843-2673. By the way, you can also post your question on one of our social media sites, and you can always email us at questions at corechristianity.com. First off today, let's go to Michelle, who's calling in from Ohio. Michelle, what's your question for Adriel?

Hi, Adriel, thank you for taking my question. I've called in before, and I've been battling why I haven't really given my life to Christ. And I think one of the questions I've really been struggling with is, why do I deserve hell?

Not to argue or anything. And why do we have to really repent of that? And how is that against God if I have Adam's sin nature? And how can I be broken over my sins and come to Christ when I don't really feel broken over them at all?

Michelle, good to get another call from you, and thank you for those very honest questions. And this one in particular is a good question. I think one especially that we are more prone to struggle with, and when I say we, I mean Americans, Westerners, where we really do emphasize the individual and autonomy and freedom. And so the idea that we're responsible for the sin of another person in any way really bothers us.

We don't have that sort of corporate identity that people in the ancient world were more likely to have, just culturally viewing things more as a group or as a unit, and one unit as opposed to one single individual. First, I think we have to understand that we're tied together. Biologically, we might say. You think of Adam as our first ancestor according to the Bible, but even more than that, spiritually. There is this sense in which the Bible teaches that Adam was a representative head of humanity, of mankind, called as the first human, as the first man to follow after the Lord. And it was his sin, through his sin and rebellion, that sin entered the world. And that sin, this tie together with humanity, that sin was passed on, the guilt of that sin was passed on to Adam's offspring, and not just the guilt of that sin, but also corruption. This is why we don't love each other like we should. This is why we're inclined inwardly so often to be selfish.

It's not hard to convince people, I would say, Michelle, whether they're Christians or not, that there are problems in the world. That it is a problem that we harm one another, that we steal from each other, that we're selfish, that we're not loving, and so forth. And all of that can be traced back to that original sin. And so we are guilty. As Christians, we believe, according to what the Bible teaches in places like Romans 5, verses 12 and following, for example, that we are guilty of Adam's sin, but that we also, on top of that, we add our own actual sins.

And it's not just that those are light things, those are small things. Sometimes we think about our lives and we say, well, I'm not as bad as this person, I'm not as bad as that person, I've never murdered anyone, I've never committed adultery. But Jesus made it very clear in his Sermon on the Mount that God is looking at our heart, that God is looking at your heart. And before God and before God's perfect law of liberty, each and every one of us falls short. We haven't loved God like we ought to, and we haven't loved our neighbor like we should.

And our neighbor isn't just the people that are easy to love, you know, our family and our friends, our neighbor consists, Jesus said, of even those people who persecute us, even those people who we dislike. And so not one of us can perfectly keep God's law, and that's why we need to repent. I think that the more we see ourselves in the light of God's perfect law, the more we realize, yeah, I have sinned, I'm guilty of sin, not just Adam's sin, but my own sins. I've added my own sin to that heap of sin. It's one of the things, you know, Paul, in the early chapters of Romans, and maybe Michelle, that would be a good book for you to spend some time in if you're willing to, just saying, you know what, I'm going to go over the next week or two weeks, and I'm going to slowly and prayerfully read through the book of Romans, because it really talks about and gets to the heart of some of these questions that you've brought up with regard to sin, you know, being guilty of sin, but also original sin, and Adam in particular in chapter five. But in the early chapters, Paul is making the point that everyone is guilty of sin, not just the Gentile world, those who didn't have the word of God given to them from the beginning, like the Hebrews did, God's special revelation, but even the Jews were guilty of breaking God's law because they had it, but they didn't obey it. And Paul's conclusion there in Romans chapter three, in verse 21, is this.

This is what he says. That's the universal problem that humanity faces. It's sin, and each and every one of us has sinned against God's law, against the Lord.

And so what can we do? Well, the answer is given in verse 24. We're justified by his grace as a gift through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he has passed over former sins.

It was to show his righteousness at the present time so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. And so, look, I would say, one, you asked, you know, how can I have even a sense of conviction over sin? Because I'm struggling to even believe that I'm guilty of Adam's sin.

How is that fair? I would say, one, faith comes by hearing and hearing through the word of Christ. Listen to the word of the Lord, Michelle. Maybe I mentioned the book of Romans, maybe sit down also with the Gospels, with Matthew in particular, chapters five through seven, the Sermon on the Mount. I would read that prayerfully and hear the voice of Christ speaking to you by the power of the Holy Spirit through the word of God. I found so often in my own life that that conviction of sin comes as I sit at the feet of Jesus, as I hear his word.

And I can see his word illuminating the dark parts in my own life, the ways where I've not been faithful to obey him or to serve him. And that should lead us to repentance, not to despair, but to say, I need your grace, Lord. I need your forgiveness.

I can't pull myself up by the bootstraps. I can't save myself. I need your grace and mercy. And Michelle, I believe that the Lord Jesus is at work in your life.

I think that's, even with all your questions, I'm grateful that you've called in with this question. I believe that the Lord is at work in your life, drawing you to himself through his word and giving you that free and gracious offer. Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Rest for your soul. And so I would just encourage you, Michelle, to embrace that, to believe it, and to agree with God, confessing your sins. And if you're struggling to understand what those are, again, let the word of God illuminate your heart and your mind.

And as God does that, as you open yourself to that, and as God by his Spirit opens you to it, don't hesitate, don't delay, but say, Lord Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner, and he will have mercy on you. That's so well said, Adriel, and I'm guessing there are a lot of people like Michelle who basically say, look, I don't feel like I've done a lot of bad stuff. I feel like I'm a pretty good person, and so I don't get this whole Adam sin stuff. Let me ask you, one of the things I think a lot of us forget is there's really two types of sin. There's the sin of commission and the sin of omission. In other words, there's the sins from things that we should be doing that we don't even do. Can you talk about that for a second?

Yeah, that's a great follow-up, Bill, because this is one of the reasons I think you're totally right why a lot of people think I'm pretty good. And we don't define sin properly. Sin is any want of conformity to or transgression of God's law. In other words, it's not just when we transgress the law. When I hurt another person, when I murder, when I commit adultery, I'm breaking, I'm transgressing the law. It's also when I fail to live up to the righteous requirement of what God calls me to.

It's not just negative, don't do this. We're actually called to something. What are we called to? We're called, Jesus summarized the law by saying, love God and love your neighbor as yourself. If you're positively loving God, loving your neighbor as yourself, well, that's the fulfillment of the law.

It's not just, hey, I'm isolated and I haven't done anything to harm anyone. No, it's the positive requirement of the law that we all, again, we're not just transgressors of the law, but we fail to live up to its righteous requirements. And that's precisely why we need the gospel, why we need Jesus to forgive our sins. And, you know, going back to that question Michelle had with regard to, well, is it fair that I'm guilty of Adam's sin?

Sometimes it's also helpful to see the flip side of all of this. Jesus came as the second Adam so that in him we would no longer be characterized by death and corruption, but by the new life given to us by the new Adam, the second Adam, so that he might be our representative, our hope, our salvation. And again, if you're looking for a Bible passage that highlights this, it's Romans chapter five, just read all of Romans chapter five, because Paul gives us that great contrast there between Adam, the first Adam, through whom sin entered the world, and Jesus, the second Adam, the last Adam, through whom there is and we find righteousness and forgiveness. And so friends, I just want to, let's take a moment right now to pray for Michelle, just that the Lord would bless her and continue to be at work in her life and would do for her what we all need, really every day, just grant that illuminating grace to see her own sin. We all need this, each and every one of us, to see that clearly, but then to see the love of the Savior, Jesus, who has made that perfect atonement for our sins so that believing in him, we might have eternal life. Father in heaven, thank you for our friend Michelle. We thank you for her sincere and honest question. And Lord, we pray that you, by the power of your Holy Spirit, would continue to be at work in her life, drawing her closer to you, that she would have a sense of two things. Lord, one, her own need of you because of sin, God, that you would illuminate her mind and her heart to see those areas of her life where she does need to confess and come to you, but that she wouldn't be despairing as she sees those, Lord, but hopeful, knowing Jesus, that there is grace and forgiveness in you through your gospel. And so be at work in her, Lord, bless her, draw her to yourself, give her a sense of your presence and of the new life that you give Jesus through the work that you accomplished on our behalf in dying on the cross and in rising again on the third day to give us the hope of everlasting life. Jesus be with Michelle, we pray, and we ask these things, gracious Father, in Jesus' name, amen. Amen. Thanks for that, Adriel. Such a great explanation for anyone who's listening that may have the same sort of struggles as Michelle is dealing with.

We'd love to hear from you. If you have a question about the Bible, the Christian life, doctrine, theology, something going on at your church that concerns you, here's the phone number. It's 833-THE-CORE.

That's 1-833-843-2673. Let's go to Martha calling in from California. Martha, what's your question for Adriel?

My question is, what is exactly the difference between a fellowship and a church? I am an avid listener of family radio. I listen to a lot of teaching throughout the day, every day.

I hear different, expanded ideas, readings. A lot of comfort comes out of that. I think it's a true blessing. But I heard yesterday on your program that we really should be in a church. I'm aware of continuing the fellowship, but it's only like a handful of people. There's no church, no pastors. It's just people that come and expound the Bible teaching to people. And it's like I said, it's only a handful of people. What is one to do then? Okay.

Martha, thank you so much for giving us a call. And great question. So it sounds to me like you're in a situation where you are getting filled up with Christian teaching on the radio, where you're a part of fellowship with other Christians, and you're able to encourage each other. But you haven't got plugged into a particular church. You're not a member of a church somewhere where you go on Sunday and there's preaching and they're serving the Lord's Supper like churches should be doing, administering Holy Communion. And so the question is, well, is that okay?

What's the difference? I feel like I've got a lot of fellowship and Christian fellowship and I can listen to Bible teaching on the radio all day long. Do I really need to go to a church or to be a member of a church?

And the answer is yes. Jesus said, I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against her. Jesus is at work in and through the church and the church. The community of faith that Christ has been building and is going to continue to build is manifested on earth through local congregations that are cared for and kept by the Lord through ordained officers like pastors, elders, deacons who are raised up by the Lord to serve the body and to minister to the body. So this is what Christian fellowship looks like ordinarily in the New Testament. And oftentimes, Martha, you have these calls to believers in the New Testament to submit to their elders who are keeping watch over the souls of the people that are entrusted to their care. I mean, you think of Paul in the book of Acts, in Acts chapter 20, as he was speaking to the elders of the church in Ephesus, he says to them, he exhorts them, shepherd the flock of God, which he has purchased with his own blood. In other words, these elders called to particular congregations to care for the believers there were charged with overseeing the flock. And I think it's important for each of us as Christians, individual Christians, to be able to answer that question, who is keeping watch over your soul?

It's not just you by yourself. I mean, you could say, well, Jesus is, but ordinarily Jesus does that through called and qualified pastors and elders in the context of a local community of faith. And we need that. It's not that the other stuff, the other fellowships that you're a part of and whatnot and listening to the radio, it's not that that's bad. It's just that the promise of Christ wasn't attached to the radio ministries, it was attached to the local church. That's where we're called to gather with other believers, to hear the word of God faithfully taught, to partake of the Lord's Supper, to be encouraged in our relationship with the Lord. It's so important for us and there's a danger to not having that because we don't have the spiritual accountability that we need. This is why the author to the Hebrews said in Hebrews chapter 10 verse 23, let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering for he who promised is faithful and let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another all the more as you see the day drawing near. And so it sounds like you are meeting together with other Christians.

I would love it, Martha, if you could encourage them. It sounds to me like maybe, I don't know if all of you together are just sort of doing this on your own, but if you could say, you know what? It's important for us to be a part of a church where we're going to be able to receive the means of grace. It's not just important for us. It's something God calls us to. He wants us to be a part of a local body where our gifts can be used for the building up of the church and the gifts that are there at the church can be used for our encouragement. And so my encouragement to you, my exhortation to you is find a good church where the word of God is taught faithfully and you can gather together and grow with other believers. And that doesn't have to be, you know, in the place of this other fellowship stuff that you have and enjoying good teaching on the radio.

It doesn't have to be in the place of, but it should be the priority. And if you want to do those other things in addition, great if they're edifying you and encouraging you in your relationship with the Lord. But don't neglect to be a part of a local church where the word of God is faithfully taught and where you can be held accountable and where you're going to be cared for by pastors and elders who are seeking to serve the Lord. And if you stay on the line, Martha, we can help you with some resources or at least send you some information about how to find a good church. God bless.

This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez. Just to note, we're going to be recording a second episode of the Core shortly after our live program ends here in a few minutes. So if you weren't able to get through, you can still call us for the next 35 minutes or so. Here's the phone number. It's 833-THE-CORE.

That's 1-833-843-2673. You know, at some point, you're likely to have a conversation with someone who doesn't believe in Christianity and asks you some tough questions about your faith. And we want to help you be ready to respond. Yeah, the resource that we're offering today is called Tough Questions Answered, and it's a short, about 50-page resource that digs into some of the tough questions that people outside of the church ask, but also that Christians wrestle with that we can struggle with from time to time as we think about our relationship with the Lord and what the Bible has to say about science and world religions and so forth. So get ahold of this resource. Again, it's called Tough Questions Answered, and you can get it over at corechristianity.com. I think it'll be a big help to you, especially if you have a friend, relative, a work associate who might call themselves an agnostic or an atheist and is constantly peppering you with questions about your faith, and you're like, gosh, I don't know how to answer this.

Well, this booklet would be great. It's called Tough Questions Answered, and again, you can find it at corechristianity.com forward slash offers. Well, we do receive voicemails here at the Core, and here's one that came in from one of our listeners named Sue. My question is, we are trying to find a new home church. We were at our last church for just under two years, and our pastor was removed from the pulpit for money laundering, sadly, and we're really struggling. Like, I feel like it's a grief process.

We've tried other churches, but we just can't seem to get through this, and so I'm just wondering if you have any advice for us as we seek and wait on the Lord. God bless you. Thank you.

Bye-bye. Sue, your question just breaks my heart, and it is a grief process because there's that sense of betrayal, there's a sense of seeing somebody that you love. I imagine you loved your pastor. Commit a sin like this, and your heart breaks for them, but there's also the anger, there's also the sense of loss, needing to find another church or wanting to find another church and get a fresh start. That's going to take time. That healing is going to take time.

You don't need to feel guilty or ashamed about the way that you feel. The comfort that I would give to you is knowing that Jesus Christ, the chief shepherd of the church, of the flock of God, has not abandoned you and has not abandoned his church. And when ministers fall, I think it's a sobering reminding for all of us of the reality of sin, of the frailty of man, of the need for church accountability and structure. And so maybe as you look for another church, that's going to be something that's really important, having good structures and encouragement and accountability for the leadership there. But also remembering that promise that I already shared earlier on the broadcast, the promise that Jesus gave to Peter that he was going to build his church. Jesus is the one who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands, in the midst of the churches. He is grieved by the sin in the church as well.

So you're not alone with that. And may the Lord comfort you and guide you to a place where you're going to be encouraged and built up. And may the Lord bring more and more healing in your life. God bless you, Sue. You
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-09 19:22:54 / 2024-01-09 19:32:27 / 10

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