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It’s Time to Get Stoned!

The Covenant Life pastors are beginning to acknowledge what they have known for a long time - the most significant problems in Sovereign Grace Ministries are of an ethical nature not a political nature.  Yesterday they told the church, “While the focus recently has been on the polity process, we see that the differences are not only issues of polity.”  They went on to ask for prayer during their upcoming retreat because “Your pastors want to walk in integrity before the Lord and to honor our Savior.”

Integrity is always about honesty, transparency and accountability.  The Covenant Life pastors need to be open and honest with the church about their dealings with C.J., the Interim Board, and the current Board.  The congregation needs to know what they know.  What they have experienced.  What they have gone through.    

There is no doubt Covenant Life Church will leave Sovereign Grace Ministries if the Board of Directors adopts an apostolic or Presbyterian form of extra local government next week.  They’ve been crystal clear on this point.

But concerns about polity are becoming secondary to them.  The CLC pastors no longer trust President Mahaney, Chairman Loftness and the Board of Directors.  They have seen and experienced their proud and deceitful ways over the past 15 months.  They now realize you can’t stay in a movement whose leaders are reproachable, blameworthy and untrustworthy on many fronts.  In order “to walk in integrity before the Lord and to honor our Savior” they know they must leave SGM over its leader’s unethical conduct.    

Joshua also says they “need to be refreshed with the Holy Spirit.”  That is true.  When you are filled with the Holy Spirit you speak with boldness and courage.  You are not concerned about the opinions of men or the consequences you will suffer for confronting unrighteousness.  You are God centered in your focus.  The CLC pastors need to speak like prophets and expose fruitless deeds of darkness. 

Prophets are always filled with the Holy Spirit.  It is the source of their courage.  We must define “cordial and God glorifying” in biblical terms, not humanistic ones.  Jesus was “cordial” when “he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables” (John 2:15) at the beginning of his ministry.  He was “God glorifying” when he “entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there.  He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves.  “It is written,” he said to them, “’My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it a ‘den of robbers’” (Matt 21:12-13) at the end of his ministry. 

These zealous expressions were the bookends of Jesus ministry.  His ministry was characterized by a zeal for righteousness in his Father’s house.  He taught, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” (Matt 16:33).  I know C.J. is not the high priest, and the Board is not the Sanhedrin, but the principles of these verses still apply.  Where is the righteous indignation that compels men to confront hypocrisy and corruption in the church?  In Sovereign Grace Ministries?   

The Bible is “useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Tim 3:16).  Consider the “tone” of Stephen when he confronted the High Priest and Sanhedrin in Acts 7.  Read the entire account (if you own it, F.F. Bruce’s commentary is an excellent read in The New International Commentary on the New Testament).  Observe Stephen’s use of the OT.  That is what the Covenant Life pastors need to do with the SGM Leadership Team and Board of Directors who have demonstrated a willingness to twist Scripture for their own ends.  The CLC pastors need to be filled with Holy Spirit and teach, rebuke, correct, and train in righteousness.  Like Stephen the martyr.

Acts 7:51-58

[51] “You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears!  You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit! [52] Was there ever a prophet your fathers did not persecute?  They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One.  And now you have betrayed and murdered him— [53] you who have received the law that was put into effect through angels but have not obeyed it.”

[54] When they heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. [55] But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. [56] “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”

[57] At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, [58] dragged him out of the city and began to stone him.

C.J. and his circle of enablers have been covering their ears and yelling at the top of their lungs.  They have rushed upon critics to stone them.  This passage is so descriptive and applicable.  Stiff-necked ... uncircumcised hearts and ears … resist the Holy Spirit … persecute … furious … gnashed their teeth … covered their ears … yelling at the top of their voices.

The Bible says, And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit.  Pray the Covenant Life pastors get drunk on the Holy Spirit next week.  It is time for them to get “stoned”! 

Pastoral Letter to Covenant Life Church

Friday, October 5, 2012

Dear Members of Covenant Life,

Grace to you in the name of Jesus!  I hope you’re living today in the hope and joy of the resurrection.

Next week our pastoral team will be setting aside four days for prayer, study, planning and fellowship. We’ve found these retreats to be an important time of connecting as a team and seeking God’s guidance for our church.  I’m writing to ask you to pray for us during the retreat.  Here are a few of the areas we will pray about, discuss, and plan to establish or improve:

Lay Elder Training
Small Group Ministry
New Membership Process
Our individual ministry goals and plans for the year

In addition to these items, we will be considering our partnership with Sovereign Grace Ministries.  Recent interactions we’ve had with the SGM Board (which have all been cordial and God-glorifying in tone), along with a letter they released stating their views on six key events of the past year have helped us see that significant differences remain.  While the focus recently has been on the polity process, we see that the differences are not only issues of polity.  During our retreat we want to prayerfully consider what this means for our church’s involvement in SGM.

We need God’s help, so we are asking you to pray.  Your pastors want to walk in integrity before the Lord and to honor our Savior.  We need to be refreshed by the Holy Spirit.  We need God to speak to us.

Would you please purpose to set aside time to pray for us during our retreat October 9-12?  I’d even be so bold to ask you to consider fasting a meal during that time to intercede for us and the church family as a whole.  We would all be very grateful for your partnership in asking for God’s will to be done.

I’m encouraged by these truths: Jesus is building his church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it (Matt. 16:18).  And Jesus is the Chief Shepherd of the church; he will be faithful to guide his people (1 Peter 5:4).

Sincerely for the pastors,

Joshua Harris


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