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Jul242018

New Evidence Exposes Corrupt Actions of Steve Teter, Adam Campbell & Matthew Williams in Letting Gene Emerson Off from Church Discipline Despite No Repentance for Intentional Lying & Solicitation of Prostitution

Gene Emerson was on C.J. Mahaney’s apostolic team and a prominent pastor in Sovereign Grace Ministries.  Mahaney called upon Emerson to build a false case against me in order to oust me from ministry in 2009.  It is an unbelievable story.  Mahaney did this because of my attempts to address serious patterns of sin in his life.      

I was therefore not surprised when Emerson solicited an undercover police woman he thought was a prostitute.  Nor was I surprised when he tried to cover up his solicitation with an elaborate scheme that included false allegations against law enforcement.  I had observed this same kind of hypocrisy, scheming, and use of false allegations in his attempts to frame me.  I wrote all the leaders and pastors in Sovereign Grace Churches, Inc. about it but they did nothing.         

An Open Letter to the Sovereign Grace National Council of Elders Regarding Gene Emerson
Tuesday, October 27, 2015 at 2:13PM

Emerson was arrested for solicitation of prostitution in May 2015.  He was sentenced in July 2015.  In November 2015, a three-man Judicial Review Panel for Sovereign Grace Churches, Inc. (SGC) heard the evidence against Emerson and ruled that he must confess to intentionally seeking out a prostitute and intentionally lying to cover it up.  Without these ingredients in his confession, Emerson’s church was exhorted to proceed with the fourth step of church discipline - excommunication.  

Matthew 18:17 “If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.” 

Emerson didn’t listen to anyone.  He refused to confess his actions were intentional.  Instead of proceeding to excommunication, however, two of the three members on the Judicial Review Panel (i.e., Steve Teter & Adam Campbell), dropped their just demands and accepted a defective confession at the request of Matthew Williams, Emerson’s young protégé pastor.  Only the third member of the panel, Eric Holter, stood his ground.  All of this happened under the supervision of Mickey Connolly, the Sovereign Grace Regional Leader.  

As a result, Emerson was never put out of communion with Christ’s Church and treated like a pagan or tax collector in need of repentance.  He went free and continues to deceive people about what happen.  Not only does Emerson deny intentionality, he also maintains he cannot remember what happened in Room 505 at the La Quinta Motel in Midlothian, VA on May 29, 2015.    

I continue to be amazed at the on-going corruption that characterizes Sovereign Grace Churches, Inc.  For instance, the recent libel of Rachael Denhollander by the Leadership Team (i.e., Mark Prater, Bob Kauflin, Jeff Purswell, Mickey Connolly, et al.) and their refusal to do an outside investigation of the probative evidence regarding the conspiracy to commit and cover the sexual abuse of children despite calls from national leaders like Mark Galli and Al Mohler.  Nothing has changed, except for the worse.   

I want to assure the reader, I’ve not written this post because Gene Emerson did me harm.  I am writing because it is other example of God’s active determination to expose and oppose the systemic corruption that exists in Sovereign Grace Churches, Inc. and becasue I care about Gene.

Steve Teter, Adam Campbell, and Matthew Williams were all close “friends” of Gene Emerson.  As will be apparent, they treated him with partially and favoritism; but far worse, they let him lie and deceive and get away with it.  So did Mickey Connolly, another one of Emerson’s closest friends.  

Eric Holter, on the other hand, honored God, obeyed the Bible, and righteously pressed for the agreed upon “standards” for repentance to be followed.  He acted with courage and integrity.  Eric was the senior pastor of Redeeming Grace Church in Durham, NC.  The church left in March protesting abuse and corruption in SGC.  I’ve not had any contact with Eric and he did not ask me to write this post.  

I’ve written this post because Gene Emerson continues to deceive and Sovereign Grace leaders let him.  People in KingsWay Community Church (the church he pastored) need to know the truth and see the evidence.  The same is true of people throughout the denomination who know Emerson or left the denomination because of Emerson.  It is also important to expose the corrupt actions of Matthew Williams, Steve Teter, and Adam Campbell under Mickey Connolly’s leadership.  These men should be disciplined. 

The above statements represent my opinions and the comments below do the same.  I’ve worked hard to be accurate in all I say.  I have no malice.  My intent is to glorify God, obey Scripture and help those who were once my friends. 

 

Important Excerpts from Previous Posts Regarding Gene Emerson’s Attempt to Cover Up His Crimes & Deceive His Church 

By way of further introduction, let me excerpt some of my past writings.     

Gene Emerson, Former Regional Leader for SGM, Found Guilty for Solicitation of Prostitution
Saturday, August 22, 2015 at 9:06AM 

Gene Emerson, former regional leader in SGM and senior pastor of KingsWay Community Church in Midlothian, VA, was arrested on May 29 [2015] for the solicitation of prostitution in Chesterfield County, VA.  He was arraigned on June 9.  He was found guilty and sentenced on July 9.  He is a close friend of C.J. Mahaney’s and known for carrying out vengeful assignments given him by Mahaney.   

From the time of his arrest to the present, Emerson has sought to deceive everyone around him, including his dear wife and family, with a myriad of lies.  That is not surprising.  He has a history of deceit well known to former and current Sovereign Grace leaders like C.J. Mahaney, Dave Harvey, Bob Kauflin and Mickey Connolly who have actively covered up for him since 2008. … 

Now everything is crashing down around Emerson because the evidence is coming out.  For 3½ months he has sought to deceive people by claiming he stumbled upon a prostitute in his pursuit of a massage because he was under stress from work.  That is nothing but a wretched excuse and cover.  He has also insisted he is innocent of all legal wrong doing and blamed the police for setting him up and making an unlawful arrest.  

Emerson was intent on having sex with a prostitute and there is reason to believe this was not the first time he sought out a prostitute.  The evidence suggests he was familiar with how to set up an appointment and follow through with his intentions. … If Gene comes to repentance, he will return to them [the police] and ask forgiveness for maligning their methods, which were entirely in keeping with the law.  The undercover operation was carried out with skilled professionalism. 

Emerson deceitfully hid his arrest, arraignment and conviction from his family and the KingsWay elders.  Matthew Williams wrote ABC 8News on August 25, 2015, “Our pastoral team did not learn of Mr. Emerson’s conviction until July 21, 3 days after he left for Bolivia. When we confronted him upon his return from Bolivia, he immediately tendered his resignation.”  You can read the newspaper article here

Brent Detwiler says:
August 20, 2015 at 6:09 pm 

Over the past week and a half, I have interacted with Detective N. Necolettos [who arrested Emerson] and his supervising officer over Vice and Narcotics, Lieutenant J. Profita, regarding Gene Emerson’s deceitful misrepresentation to Kingsway Community Church that he was purportedly entrapped by the vice squad for the solicitation of prostitution.  Nothing could be further from the truth as is clear from this arrest report and other evidence including a video of his words and actions.  Emerson was intent on having sex with a prostitute that was an undercover police woman.  The operation was carried out with the highest legal integrity.  The Chesterfield County Police Department is not a hole in the wall operation.  It employs over 600 men and women.  It is a first-rate force. 

Emerson has now fabricated a story that he stumbled onto this operation in pursuit of a simple massage.  He attempted to use this lie with Detective Necolettos and he is doing the same with the people of Kingsway Community Church. 

Last Sunday [Aug. 9, 2015], Matthew Williams, interim sr. pastor, told the church, “And in light of his claim of innocence, we support his right to consider taking further legal action.”  I can assure you, the Chesterfield County Police Department does not fear a lawsuit from Mr. Emerson.  Gene is not innocent and he will not be taking any further legal action.  This is all part of his attempt to deceive and cover up.  It is an empty boast. … 

Brent Detwiler says:
August 21, 2015 at 8:33 am 

By the way, I’ve always sent my posts to former and current pastors in SGM since July 2011 when I sent them the orginal documents.  That includes this one about the hush fund [set up to keep a victim of sexual abuse from suing SGM].  Matthew Williams knows SGM is corrupt and yet he has chosen to remain and be a staunch defender.  He cannot claim ignorance when it comes to all the abuse, hypocrisy, lying, and deceit that exists in the denomination.  Like all remaining pastors, he has intentionally set aside thousands of pages of evidence.  Kingsway should have left SGM long ago.  Instead, they have promoted it. …

The day Gene Emerson was arrested for solicitation, Mickey Connolly (Regional Leader over Kingsway and Board of Director for SGM) and Matthew Williams should have required he step down and take a leave of absence until they and others could thoroughly investigate.  That means telling the church and setting up a meeting with the police as soon as possible especially since Gene claimed he was innocent and the police were guilty of wrong doing.  That is so basic!  You don’t accept as true the version of events put forward by someone [Emerson] who has just been arrested! … 

Instead, Matthew put the police in a bad light and Gene in a good light before the entire church.  And keep in mind, Mickey Connolly was managing everything that was said and done from the time he became aware of Gene’s arrest.  Matthew was not acting independently.  He was following Mickey’s lead and direction.  As a result, Matthew (and Mickey) put Gene forward as a man of humility and integrity who was now suffering affliction like Christ and needed to be comforted and accepted, not judged. 

Last Sunday [Aug 9, 2015], Matthew also highly commended Gene for not leaving the church.  I thought to myself, when the truth comes out Matthew will be forced to confront Gene in no uncertain terms.  That means holding Gene accountable to come before the entire church and confess not only his intent to solicit but also all the associated lies he has been telling the past three months.  I doubt that will happen but maybe he will be the first.  I hope so. 

Here are some excerpts from Matthew Williams post on Sunday, August 9, 2015.  He later removed the second paragraph from his statement. 

Gene’s Resignation
August 9, 2015

Last month [July 9], Gene was found guilty in Chesterfield County [District] Court of soliciting a prostitute.  To this day, he continues to maintain that he is innocent of any illicit [or illegal] activity, though he has humbly acknowledged a significant lapse in judgement regarding his conduct throughout the situation.  While we respect the courts as an authority established by God, we know they are not perfect.  And in light of his claim of innocence, we support his right to consider taking further legal action. …

Truth be told, many of us have done far worse.  The Lord has been infinitely merciful to us.  And it is our privilege both today and in the days to come to show the same mercy to Gene.  He remains a member in good standing and both Gene and his wife Liz have communicated that there is nowhere they would rather be than at Kingsway.

In his public comments to KingsWay, Williams used the words, “innocent of any illegal activity.”  In the post, he used the words, “illicit activity.”  Ten weeks after his arrest, and a month after his sentencing for the solicitation of prostitution, Emerson was still claiming he was completely innocence except for “a significant lapse of judgment” that he “humbly acknowledged.”  This acknowledgment had to do with not realizing a hotel room probably wasn’t a good place to get a massage.  I kid you not!  Matthew Williams, and the other elders, Chris Deloglos and Josh Kruger, were totally duped!  They even supported “his right” to file a lawsuit against the Chesterfield County Police Department or take legal action against the Chesterfield County District Court because “we know they are not perfect.” 

 

My Interaction with the Chesterfield County Police Department & Their Transcript of Criminal Solicitation by Emerson 

Three days later, I talked with Detective Nathan Necolettos of the Chesterfield County Police Department in Virginia.  He was one of the officers conducting the altogether legal undercover operation.  He was also the officer who arrested Gene Emerson in the hotel room for the solicitation of prostitution.   I asked him about the evidence and he informed me that Emerson’s solicitation was on video.  He said, “It was no bogus arrest.”  He also asked his superior officer, who was in charge of the operation, to contact me. 

Thirty minutes later I received a call from Lieutenant James Profita.  Both men were extremely professional and filled me in on the facts.  They were also incredulous that Emerson was claiming innocence and making reference to legal action with the backing of the KingsWay pastoral staff who did not talk to them.  Lieutenant Profita told me. 

“I am not worried, people file erroneous lawsuits all the time against the police department, so it is one of those things when you know you did everything legitimately correct.  We did not bring Mr. Emerson to that location, nor did we ask him to do any of those things.”  

He also said, 

“If I were a member at large in the church I would certainly be trying to have the church attorney trying to FOIA the information to discredit Mr. Emerson by any means.” 

FOIA was a reference to the Freedom of Information Act.  In context, he was referring to the police reports and the video of Emerson’s solicitation and arrest that would surely discredit him and his lies.      

From: Necolettos, Nathan 
Sent: Saturday, August 22, 2015 3:40 PM
To: Brent Detwiler
Cc: Profita, James; Young, Michael B.
Subject: RE: Preserve Video / Details of Operation 

Mr. Detwiler, 

I have located the video and have provided the copy to Lt. Profita.  He would be in a better position to answer your questions about what did or did not happen. 

Thanks, 

Detective Necolettos 

From: Necolettos, Nathan 
Sent: Saturday, August 22, 2015 3:44 PM
To: Profita, James
Cc: abrentdetwiler@gmail.com
Subject: FW: Preserve Video / Details of Operation 

Sir, 

The video dated from May 29, 2015 at 3:03 p.m. that contains the Eugene Emerson has been placed in your office. 

Thanks 

I followed up the conversations with this email to Necolettos. 

From: Brent Detwiler
Sent: Wednesday, August 12, 2015 6:12 PM
To: Necolettos, Nathan
Subject: Gene Emerson’s Claim of Innocence & Right to Legal Action 

Detective Necolettos, 

As I mentioned on the phone, Gene and Liz used to be dear friends.  He worked for me for many years.  In 2009, however, I left Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM) due to the systemic corruption I was confronting in its top leaders including Gene.  I was the #2 man in the denomination.  It breaks my heart to see its demise, but it is necessary.  A new lawsuit will be filed in VA by the victims of sexual abuse against the organization this fall or winter.  That is not public knowledge. 

What you are about to read will disturb you.  It is the official statement posted on the KingsWay Community Church website by Matthew Williams who is now the interim senior pastor.  I’ve included the text and link below.  I will be addressing it in a forthright matter.  It contains the kind of lies, deception and cover up, I’ve been confronting and exposing for the past several years.  Yet it continues. 

My post from March 30, 2015, entitled Hush Fund Set Up by Top SGM Leaders to Meet the Demands of a SGM Pastor Whose Son Was Sexually Abused, is a prime example.

See  http://abrentdetwiler.squarespace.com/brentdetwilercom/hush-fund-set-up-by-top-sgm-leaders-to-meet-the-demands-of-a.html.  

The hypocrisy is ever so great.  Pastors should be some of the most trustworthy people in the world. 

When I talked with the Lieutenant this afternoon, I was not able to catch his name he said it so fast.  Could you provide it? 

Thanks for your good work.  I have no doubt Gene is guilty.  I hope he comes to his senses. 

Brent Detwiler 

Our interaction continued after this email.  A week later, I came into possession of the transcript below (see the original here) detailing Emerson’s interaction with the undercover police woman, Detective Troxell, and with Detective Necolettos.  It is graphic, but necessary to share because Emerson continues to deny intentionality and even memory of the event with the support of Matthew Williams, Steve Teter, Adam Campbell and Mickey Connolly. 

I’ve added comments to the transcript in brackets [ ]. 

Detective N. Necolettos  Unit-825 

Detective Necolettos advised EMERSON of his Miranda rights and EMERSON stated that he understood them.  EMERSON stated that he just wanted a massage from the female (Detective Troxell).  EMERSON stated that he was a pastor for 25 years and is currently a pastor at the Kingsway Community Church in the Midlothian area.  EMERSON said he was at the hotel to get a massage.  Detective Necolettos asked EMERSON why would he engage in conversation about a condom.  EMERSON said he was “just playing along” with the Detective Troxell.  Detective Necolettos asked EMERSON where he found the number for the female and he said that he found her on “Backpage”.  Detective Necolettos asked EMERSON why he would look on Backpage, under “escorts” for a massage.  EMERSON said he wanted a massage because he was under a lot of stress at his job and all the problems that he has to deal with.  Detective Necolettos asked why EMERSON would not look for a massage at a reputable business instead of the “escorts” section on “Backpage”.  EMERSON said “it was wrong”.  EMERSON was praying and kept saying “Lord almighty please forgive me” and “Jesus please forgive me” numerous times over and over again. 

[Comment: Since his arrest over three years ago, Emerson has insisted he didn’t do anything intentionally wrong and doesn’t remember any of the above to boot.  Not even his prayers to Jesus!  Emerson feels condemned for his disgusting actions, but he is not repentant.  He interaction with Necolettos is full of lies.]  

## 

EMERSON offered to show Detective Necolettos his cell phone with the texts that were exchanged with Detective Troxell.  The following are the text messages that were exchanged. 

EMERSON at 2:33 p.m.  “Hey its Sean.  I only have an hour, so I need to know if you’re going to be available before I come.” 

[Comment: He is on a first name basis.  He is probably using a burning phone to conceal his true identity.  He goes by Sean.  You don’t use a fake name for a professional massage.  Moreover, if you have an appointment with a professional masseuse you don’t worry about availability or time allotments.  “I only have an hour…going to be available.”  He is on a tight schedule.] 

## 

TROXELL at 2:34 p.m.  “avail right no [now]…u close?” 

EMERSON at 2:38 p.m.  “15 min. will that work?  I won’t have time to wait…” 

[Comment: Emerson is in a hurry.  If this was the first time he solicited a prostitute, I doubt he would be cramming it into his schedule.  He is efficient.  These arrangements were made on a Friday afternoon when everyone is busy at the church office.  He is probably concerned about his alibi holding up if he is away for an extended period of time.]     

## 

TROXELL at 2:41 p.m.  “perfect" 

EMERSON at 2:43 p.m.  “30 min body rub right?” 

[Comment: This is well-known slang for sex with a prostitute.  Emerson knows the lingo.  Next, Troxell gets Emerson to reveal his true intent.] 

## 

TROXELL at 2:46 p.m. “I don’t really do massads [massages] like I don’t have all them oils and lotions and stuff” 

EMERSON at 2:48 p.m.  “That’s ok, I’ll be there in 5 min” 

[Comment: Emerson isn’t there for the “oils and lotions and stuff.”  He is there for sex.] 

## 

EMERSON at 2:53 p.m.  “I’m here.  La Quinta?  Room#?” 

EMERSON at 2:57 p.m.  “Ready?” 

TROXELL at 2:58 p.m.  "505 baby” 

[Comment: Professional masseuses don’t set up operations in a hotel room or refer to their client as “baby.”] 

## 

EMERSON found the ad under the “escorts” section of Backpage.com. 

[Comment: From what I’ve read, you only go to the “escort’s” section when you are looking for a prostitute that performs all kinds of sex acts including intercourse.  One person made this comment on a blog. 

Jimmy says:
August 26, 2015 at 6:07 pm 

I took a look at backpage out of curiosity since it was described in the police report as the link that GE used.  I would not recommend this site to anyone since it appears to have more sexually explicit advertising than even craigslist.  There is a restricted link to “escorts” and a separate unrestricted link to “massage”.  The massage link, which is what GE said he was seeking, is a listing of a number of questionable but also legitimate massage business locations.  The escorts section is restricted by a warning that no one under 18 is allowed to view as there is nudity and other graphic content.  If GE was looking for a massage then there is not any reason to look at the escorts section.  In any phone book there are very legitimate therapeutic massage professionals that can be contacted if you truly wanted an honest massage.  I did not open the escorts section of backpage but the massage section was suggestive enough without the more graphic section.] 

## 

Detective L. M. Troxell: 

A few moments later Emerson knocked at the door of room #505.  I said “hi” to him and he said he was, “Sean”.  I gave him a quick hug and he said “you’re beautiful.”  He then asked, “Are you from around here?” 

He told me, “You look really good.”  I replied with, “So do you, so do you.” 

[Comment: Emerson uses an alias identity for obvious reasons.  He goes by “Sean” and wants to know if she is from the area.  He says, “You’re beautiful. … You look really good.”  He appears shocked.  As explained to me, this likely indicates Emerson had previous involvements with unattractive prostitutes which is the norm.  Apparently, this attractive woman was a new experience for him.]   

## 

I then asked, “How much of my time did you need?  And I made a remark about another person talking to me by text about coming by.  Emerson replied, “Just a half hour, that’s what we talked about.”  I replied, “Yeah, is that still okay?”  I said well you know that’s $60 and he said “yes”.  I asked him what he wanted and if there was anything he didn’t like and he shook his head and said “No”.  He said what about you and I smiled and said, “I like everything” and I asked, “Do you like to fuck from behind?”  He said, “Whatever”.  At that point I stood and walked toward the nightstand asking if he had brought condoms or wanted to use some of mine.  He indicated he hadn’t brought any.  I again asked then do you want to use mine and he pointed to the box of condoms I showed him and said, “those are fine”. 

[Comment: There isn’t any kind of sex Emerson didn’t like including anal intercourse.  This suggests familiarity.  He also asks if she doesn’t like certain kinds of sex.  In other words, he is asking if there are any sex acts she doesn’t perform which can be the case from what I’ve been told.  This too seems to convey a knowledge of prostitution.  He agrees to pay $60 and they talk about using her condoms for intercourse.  After he is read his Miranda rights, he lies to Necolettos and claims he is “just playing along.”]      

## 

I asked, “Do you want me to start off sucking your dick?” he replied, “Maybe, we’ll see about that.” 

[Comment: This is a partial transcript.  There is more but that is enough.  It is some of the evidence used to convict Emerson.  It was a professional operation.  There was no entrapment.  No grounds for a lawsuit against the police.  No basis for contesting the court’s verdict.  Emerson is guilty.] 

 

Emerson’s Pursuit of Prostitution While Pretending to Fight Against Prostitution    

A week before Emerson was arrested, his church did a special fund raiser for organizations fighting against sex-trafficking and prostitution by helping women find honorable work.  Within days, he would agree to underwrite prostitution.      

Fighting Against Sex-Trafficking & Prostitution 

On May 22 at 7:00 pm., Kingsway is hosting a Fashion Show / Sex Trafficking Awareness Event. 

This will be a collaboration of efforts and talents highlighting the needs of Suti SanaElegantees and The Gray Haven Project.  Our church has served both Suti Sana and The Gray Haven so this event is just another creative way of service.  The purpose of this event is two-fold: 

1. Finding ongoing sales avenues to support these organizations thus providing financial stability for the women who are working now and job openings for those who are waiting to work. 

2. Understand the nature of the problem and learn how to help locally. 

We have multiple opportunities to serve for this event.  One prominent and easy way is sending out personnel invitations to 5-10 people.  We have a letter ready for you to only personalize with recipient and sender info.  Look for the table in the foyer for more information or contact me at deneiltb@yahoo.com or 804-536-3934. 

Posted by Tammy Bishop 

Posted on Fri, May 1, 2015 by Matthew Williams filed under Service Projects, Missions 

The Sunday before his arrest, Emerson highlighted the SutiSana ministry in his message.  He would visit the ministry seven weeks later in Bolivia after his arrest.      

Unbelieving Faith
Gene Emerson
May 24, 2015 

I also just wanted to ask that you be in prayer for the Bolivian team that is assembling for the last two weeks of July.  We have about 20 folks right now that will be part of that team.  Part of that team is a medical team.  They will be focusing on caring for the children at an orphanage.  And part of that team are folks going to serve alongside them and they will also be serving the SutiSana ministry.   Andy Baker, who was here a few weeks ago, leads that ministry in El Alto and that is a ministry that just reaches out and cares for women coming out of prostitution and is a gospel witness and a provision for them.  So if you are interested in being a part of that team, please by all means let us know.  Please pray because as we go, we go for you.  We go as a part of this church.  We are sent on your behalf and we are very excited to do that.  

While Emerson is putting on a front that he cares about prostitutes, he will visit one in five days and offer to pay for sex.  He fully understands the horrific and destructive nature of prostitution.  It doesn’t matter to him.  These evidences of willfulness compound his guilt. 

 

Emerson Gets Five Month, All Expenses Paid, Sabbatical for Spiritual Weariness from Elders 

I used to oversee Gene Emerson and KingsWay Community Church.  For many years, I worked with the local leaders in trying to help Gene grow in grace.  For instance, I thought we were making progress in 1998, when Gene shared the following “Areas of Sin” with me and Steve Whitman, who was on staff with him.  These were “the root issues” I was discussing with him.  

From: Gene Emerson
Sent: Tuesday, June 9, 1998
To: Steve Whitman
CC: Brent Detwiler
Subject: Areas of Sin 

Steve, 

As I have prayed and sought the mind of the Lord over the past week to clarify the issues we discussed with Brent, I believe God has graciously helped me to enlarge the list of sins I shared in the meeting and to be more specific about the root issues.  I am very aware of God’s conviction on each issue.  

I hope this contributes to our discussions.  I look forward to the input you and the other brothers can provide. 

With appreciation, 

Gene 

Sins of Which I’m Presently Aware

1. Pride in self-righteousness.
    a. Being large in my own eyes.
    b. Not recognizing or communicating that I am “cut from the same cloth” as others.
    c. Being slow to identify and confess my sins and weaknesses.
    d. Not recognizing my need for others.

2. Pride in not honoring and respecting the men God placed around me. 
    a. Feeling superior because of position.
    b. Not recognizing my need to be “pastored” by those around me.
    c. Not seeking their input into my life and my family’s life.
    d. Considering my own judgment more highly.
 
3. Pride in a critical, legalistic attitude toward others.
    a. Fault finding…being more aware of other’s sins & faults than in their strengths.
    b. Lacking love, affection and compassion for people.
    c. Majoring on performance rather than motivating by grace.
    d. Neglecting regular encouragement and affirmation.
    e. Being an “agent of change” rather than a “means of grace” in leading and counseling.
    f. Pressuring people to change rather than leading and entrusting them to God.
    g. Withholding friendship or affection from people who are unresponsive or unteachable.
 
4. Pride in trusting in human effort to accomplish God’s purposes.
    a. Asking people to respond to my leadership rather than insisting that they respond to God.
    b. Allowing people to respond by duty rather than by leading them into faith.
    c. Trusting in counseling & leadership rather than in God to change people’s lives.
 
5. Pride in placing my agenda before the interests of others (being self-serving).
    a. Basing my relationship with others on their performance rather than on grace.
    b. Valuing accomplishment over relationship.
    c. Leading as a director rather than as a shepherd. 

Gene had illumination of his sins but it didn’t result in the transformation of his character which comes through consistent Spirit led obedience for the glory of God.  

1 Peter 1:14-16, As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.  But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”  

As a result, these same issues were back in the forefront a decade later.  Three of the same leaders were still trying to help Gene.  I commended them for their persevering love and humility.  Their contribution to the conflict with Gene was minimal.     

From: Brent Detwiler
Sent: Saturday, February 05, 2011 8:51 AM
To: Bob Dixon; Buddy Moreland; Steve Whitman
Subject: Persevering Love 

Thanks for the persevering love you have demonstrated for our Lord Jesus, the leaders at KW’s, and all the dear folks in KWs.  While aware of your own sins, you nevertheless provided an invaluable service [to KingsWay by addressing Gene].  You and your families sacrificed so very much.  Like you, I pray for permanent change in Gene’s heart and true plurality.  And thank you for your humble response to the Lord when convicted of sin.  Blessings to each of you! 

Love in Christ,

Brent

From 2009 to 2011, attendance dropped from over 700 to 250.  Many outstanding people left KingsWay.  This was after the events of 2008 and 2009, when Gene sought to frame me and oust me from ministry on trumped up charges to please C.J. Mahaney.  Emerson was also causing divisions through his abusive apostolic leadership in other churches like Southside Church of Virginia Beach.  

During 2009-2011 at KingsWay, Bob Dixon, Buddy Moreland, Steve Whitman and others were bringing up to Gene the same kinds of issues as in 1998.  They were also addressing examples of lying, deception, and manipulation in his life.  Emerson made some superficial acknowledgements to the church after Peacemakers Ministry got involved but he never dealt with the root issues.  Thereafter, Dixon, Moreland, and Whitman left the church having tried their best.  

Emerson’s lack of repentance and abusive leadership did great harm to KingsWay.  So did Dave Harvey from Sovereign Grace Ministries who defended Emerson and publicly condemned “the tyranny of the aggrieved party” in a message on September 6, 2010.  That was a wretched reference to Steve Whitman, and by inference others, who were raising legitimate examples of spiritual abuse by Emerson.   

These long-term patterns of serious sin can destroy anyone and invite the judgment of God especially for teachers of God’s Word.  “Weariness” was only a consequence.  

James 3:1 Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. 

To reiterate.  Emerson was arrested on May 29, arraigned on June 9, and convicted on July 9 in 2015.  He told no one.  Instead, he began to talk about “spiritual weariness and discouragement in his soul” just days after his arrest with fellow elders, Matthew Williams, Chris Deloglos, and Josh Kruger.  This was the same ploy he used with Detective Necolettos.  “EMERSON said he wanted a massage because he was under a lot of stress at his job and all the problems that he has to deal with.”  He lied about wanting a massage and the reason he was there – sinful pleasures with a prostitute. 

Emerson knows what the Bible teaches about prostitution in passages like Proverbs 5:1-23 and 7:1-27.  He has probably taught from these texts.  He is no simpleton.  He also has outlines from a series he heard me teach on 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8 which is the central New Testament text about abstaining from sexual immorality.  

Proverbs 5:20-23 Why should you be intoxicated, my son, with a forbidden woman and embrace the bosom of an adulteress?  For a man’s ways are before the eyes of the LORD, and he ponders all his paths.  The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him, and he is held fast in the cords of his sin.  He dies for lack of discipline, and because of his great folly he is led astray. 

Proverbs 7:21-25 With persuasive words she led him astray; she seduced him with her smooth talk. All at once he followed her like an ox going to the slaughter, like a deer stepping into a noose till an arrow pierces his liver, like a bird darting into a snare, little knowing it will cost him his life.  Now then, my sons, listen to me; pay attention to what I say.  Do not let your heart turn to her ways or stray into her paths. 

These passages point out the seductions of the prostitute.  They are tempting but never an acceptable excuse for sexual sin.  The man being seduced is fully accountable to God for his actions.  In Gene’s case, however, he was not seduced!  He arrived ready to engage the prostitute as soon as he entered the hotel room before there were any “persuasive words” or “smooth talk.” 

“Gene’s initial words upon entering the room, before the officer made any explicit sexual offers, indicated that he was not interacting with her as a mere professional masseuse. His initial words upon entering the room indicate a mutual exchange of some kind was anticipated.” (Mid-South Judicial Review Panel, Nov. 12, 2105)  

He went looking for a prostitute.  And yet he uses an evil ruse to cover his transgressions.  He is “weary and exhausted spiritually, physically and emotionally in the midst of a dark and hopeless season.”  That is not his problem.  Here is a biblical diagnosis and remedy. 

1 Thessalonians 4:1-8 Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more.  For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus.  For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you.  For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness.  Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you. 

Around July 7, 2015, Williams sent out a letter to all the church members about Emerson needing a sabbatical.  He wrote, “Gene needs unhurried time to rest, meditate on the Word, talk with God, and consider what’s happened over the last few years in his own soul, especially in the heels of 2010.”  

Here are some additional excerpts.  I’ve added underlining. 

Hi family, 

I have a brief update to share on some work God is doing in Gene’s life.  I’ll share a more detailed explanation during the sermon this Sunday, but want to make sure none of you are caught off-guard or surprised if you happen to be out of town. 

Those of you who have been members for more than 5 years know that 2010 was a hard year for Kingsway.  Half our members left.  We said goodbye to some of our pastors.  … 

Last month, Gene began to perceive an underlying level of spiritual weariness and discouragement in his soul.  I think it’s been present in one form or another since 2010, but largely unnoticed or brushed to the side.  Joy in preaching and counseling have persisted, but discerning God’s will for our church, planning ahead, and situational wisdom have become increasingly difficult.  To use Gene’s words, it’s like “living in a spiritual fog.” 

I appreciated his honesty.  It’s not an easy thing for a leader to say, especially if you’re a pastor like Gene and are all too happy to “spend and be spent” for the good of the church.  I’m grateful he didn’t try to hide his weakness or put on a “happy face” for Sunday morning.  He realized he was leading on empty and needed help, help from us and ultimately help from the Lord. 

Our eldership believes he needs an extended sabbatical.  If you’re unfamiliar with the term, a sabbatical is not a vacation.  It’s time dedicated to doing a different kind of work.  Gene needs unhurried time to rest, meditate on the Word, talk with God, and consider what’s happened over the last few years in his own soul, especially in the heels of 2010. … We’ll dive into more details this Sunday. 

As I’ve told Gene on many occasions, we’re committed to helping him finish well to the glory of God.  I know you have the same heart.  Thank you in advance for loving him in his time of need. 

I’m convinced the outcome of a sabbatical will be nothing but positive for Gene and Kingsway. 

With much affection,

Matthew 

Williams commended Emerson throughout the letter.  That continued on Sunday, July 12.  Emerson received a standing ovation for his honestly, humility, suffering and perseverance.  The church was also asked to give money to help cover the expenses of a five month sabbatical with his wife starting August 1.  Emerson allowed all this to transpired even though he was convicted and sentenced three days earlier but no one knew.  He was planning to take a long vacation, I mean sabbatical, so he could “finish well to the glory of God.” 

In another deceitful twist, Williams posted this letter on the KingsWay website on July 21.  That was the day Williams, Deloglos, and Kruger found about his arrest and conviction probably from an investigative news reporter asking for comment.  Williams was not honest with the church.  He made no mention of it.  The church did not learn about the arrest and conviction until August 8.  A news report would soon be coming out. 

Emerson continued to deceive at the family meeting on August 8. 

“During the churchwide family meeting Gene presented the situation a miscarriage of the legal system and that his role as largely of being a victim of a series of unfortunate circumstances.  The reason for his resignation was solely related to a formal criminal conviction, not his actual guilt. There was no acknowledgement of sexually immorality of a criminal nature at that meeting.  Rather there was an emphatic defense of his morality with his only guilt being poor judgement.  Given the facts of the case, this was a false assertion.” (Mid-South Judicial Review Panel, Nov. 12, 2015) 

 

Gene Emerson’s Hearing before the Mid-South Judicial Review Panel – November 12, 2015 

Emerson’s Sovereign Grace hearing before the Mid-South Judicial Review Panel made up of Steve Teter (moderator), Adam Campbell, and Eric Holter took place on November 12, 2105.  The panel decided “to discipline Gene Emerson in the following ways.”    

“a. Public Rebuke. 

“b. Removal from office, and revocation of ordinaion. 

“c. Excommunication. NOTE: This decision will only be enacted following a process of appeal from the church, according to Mt. 18:17, and a lack of repentance in response that process.”  

The material that follows is found in the document, Decisions of Panel.  I have not used quotation marks.  Nor have I interspersed comments.  I’ve added a few notes in brackets [ ].  You can read the entire report here.   

[Section 1

This Panel notes the following facts that it learned through testimony: 

Concerning the charge: Sexual immorality of a criminal nature: propositioning a prostitute. 

We find Gene guilty of this charge. This Panel heard testimony and evidence that confirmed this charge including: 

(1) Gene was convicted in a Virginia criminal court in July 2015.  After reviewing many of the facts of the case we found no reasons to believe that Gene’s conviction was an error on the part of the court.  

(2) Multiple police testimonies show that Gene met a woman through the adult escort section of the website backpage.com. This website makes unambiguous offers of sexual services.  

(3) Gene’s text messages to an undercover officer posing a prostitute, and her responses, made it clear that what was being offered did ​not include a professional therapeutic massage.  The evidence demonstrated that Gene was responding to an offer for physical interaction with a prostitute, which may have included a 30 minute body rub (as his texts mention), but that more was clearly going to be available.  Gene continued to pursue this opportunity with that information.  

(4) The use of a pseudonym throughout this exchange also demonstrates an awareness of the illicit nature of this transaction. 

(5) Gene’s initial words upon entering the room, before the officer made any explicit sexual offers, indicated that he was not interacting with her as a mere professional masseuse. His initial words upon entering the room indicate a mutual exchange of some kind was anticipated.  

(6) There was graphic talk of sexual activity between Gene and the officer once inside the hotel room.  

[Section 2

Concerning the charge: Lying to the elders and members of Kingsway Community Church. 

We find Gene guilty of this charge. This Panel heard testimony and evidence that confirmed this charge including: 

(1) When Gene acknowledged to the elders that he had been arrested, when he recounted the results of the trial, and when he publicly offered his resignation to the church, Gene’s statements included many false assertions and false denials.  

(2) After his arrest Gene informed the elders and leadership team of KingsWay Community Church that he was only seeking a therapeutic massage, was not tempted sexually in any way, and that this was essentially a misunderstanding.  He failed to address his use of backpage, his use of a pseudonym, or the sexually explicit nature of the conversation.  However, after the police report was publicly posted [on SGMSurvivors on August 20, 2015], he acknowledged to Josh Krugar (part of the leadership team) that he had been tempted sexually when the opportunity presented itself.  

(3) During the churchwide family meeting [August 8, 2015] Gene presented the situation a miscarriage of the legal system and that his role as largely of being a victim of a series of unfortunate circumstances.  The reason for his resignation was solely related to a formal criminal conviction, not his actual guilt. There was no acknowledgement of sexually immorality of a criminal nature at that meeting.  Rather there was an emphatic defense of his morality with his only guilt being poor judgement.  Given the facts of the case, this was a false assertion. 

(4) During the same family meeting he said, “I have done absolutely nothing immoral or illegal.”  Given that the court’s verdict was correct, and given the numerous facts surrounding the case, this statement is misleading, false, and constitutes a lie to cover up the true nature of the event. 

(5) Gene continues to make false assertions and denials in the face of hard evidence.  These statements confuse and misdirect issues and bring harm to Gene, and those around him.  

[Section 3

This Panel has found the defendant guilty of the charges.  We have decided that the following forms of discipline are necessary based on the facts we learned through testimony: 

(1) Public rebuke.  1 Timothy 5:20, “As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear.”  Since Gene was an elder, sins of this nature require public rebuke.  With respect to the requirement of “persisting in sin” our BCO [Book of Church Order] rightly notes that there are some sins that are disqualifying and require public rebuke even when there is only one instance.  “Therefore grounds for removal are patterns of sinful and impenitent behavior, not isolated events. ​ Exceptions to this include behavior that is automatically disqualifying with a single occurrence (e.g., sexual immorality) (BCO 24.1).  Additionally, as our summary of facts has shown, Gene continues to make false statements in order to cover up the true nature of his sin.   

(2) Removal from office and revocation of ordination.  Our guilty verdict requires removal from office and revocation of ordination. (See the following section for our decision not to provide detailed conditions, or a fixed date, for a restoration hearing at this time.) 

(3) Excommunication.​  On the two charges that Gene has been found guilty of we do not see evidence of repentance.  While he confesses many other sins that may have contributed to the sins he’s charged with, ownership of having pursued illicit sexual involvement with a prostitute, and ownership of having deceived the elders and the church, have not been clearly confessed to date.  Indeed, he denies having memory or knowledge of the nature of these actions and statements.  Gene acknowledges that he has effectively solicited and that he effectively lied (that his actions and statements had those effects) but he denies knowledge or clarity about these events and therefore says he cannot own or confess the intentional nature of these charges. 

Repentance from sexual immorality of a criminal nature: propositioning a prostitute - must include confession of having sought a prostitute, and having responded favorably to her offers of sexual activity for money.  

Repentance from ​lying to the elders and members of Kingsway Community Church ​- must include a confession of having lied to the elders in order to cover up the sin of having sought out a prostitute and having lied to the church in order to cover up the nature of his sin in his public resignation. 

We find that Gene’s current repentance is insufficient to the charges he’s been found guilty of because while he acknowledges other sins, he denies all intentionality relating to the sins he’s been charged with.  

Therefore the church needs to move forward with the process of excommunication. This would include offering the church an opportunity to appeal to Gene to repent.  If, after an appropriate period of time for the church to appeal to him, Gene remains unrepentant, the elders should finalize the excommunication.  Should Gene respond to the appeals, this Panel will reconvene in order to hear Gene’s confession and evaluate whether his repentance meets the standards outlined in this decision. 

## 

All of the above sections from Decisions of the Panel are excellent but now a horrendous “note” is added by the Judicial Review Panel (i.e., Steve Teter, Adam Campbell, Eric Holter) for when “a member…denies knowledge of his intentions.”  The note is pure lunacy as it pertains to Emerson.  It sabotages all their fine work above.  I find it hard to believe it represents the thinking of Eric Holter.  I have added comments and underlining.      

[Section 4

A note on calling a member to repentance when he denies knowledge of his intentions with respect to the sins he is charged with.    

Gene’s claim of having no memory of the key indicting elements presented into evidence, that make the intentional nature of his sins clearest, makes it hard to hold him to standards of repentance that require him to confess intentionality in committing these sins.  

[Comment: “No memory of the key indicting elements” included going to the wretched website, checking out the prostitute section, getting a phone number, making an appointment, texting about the details, driving to a hotel, using a fake name, talking about a “mutual exchange of some kind” as soon as he enters the room,  commenting on the undercover cop’s beauty, agreeing to a $60 payment, discussing oral and anal sex, deciding to use her condoms, etc.  And yet Emerson claims at his hearing “no memory” of these “key indicting elements.”  Emerson had been lying to his family, the KingsWay leaders, and the church for months leading up to this hearing as documented above but now his lying intensifies and takes on a new dimension – he can’t remember what happened!]    

## 

Adding to this difficulty is the evidence this Panel heard, from both parties, that support a context of significant psychological distress, confusion, and spiritual darkness preceding and following his first sin of going to a prostitute.  Such conditions do not excuse this behavior, but they can help to explain how someone with an exemplary moral history could fall into such a sin. 

[Comment: They are doing exactly what they claim they are not doing – making an excuse!  That is, Emerson’s “fall into such a sin” was because of “significant psychological distress, confusion, and spiritual darkness.”  He did not fall into anything!  It was all premediated and motivated by the desire for illegal sex with a woman that was not his wife.  He was about to break his marriage covenant and commit immorality.  Don’t blame his betrayal of his wife on anything but willful sin of the most serious kind.  At this hearing, Emerson continues to deceive.  Why would anyone believe his testimony that he has “an exemplary moral history”?  That is nuts in my opinion!]   

## 

We would want to note that the cumulative testimony regarding Gene’s life, by both parties, and all witnesses, is consistent in two important and pertinent areas: 1) Gene has no prior history of illicit sexual behavior whatsoever.  2) Gene was experiencing  ongoing and increasing depression accompanied by decreasing mental acumen before and after his initial sin.  Gene’s wife testified that there have been no issues of sexual immorality in any way throughout the many years of their marriage.  Matthew Williams also has communicated that to his knowledge the area of sexual immorality has never been called into question.  There is no evidence, charge or testimony that would indicate that this event is not a singular occurrence

[Comment: Gene has no KNOWN prior history.  Once again, they are making excuses for his sin which entails ongoing lying and deceit.  His supposed “increasing depression” and “decreasing mental acumen” did not hinder (or cause) his crafty performance over the previous five months or at this Judicial Review Panel hearing where he claims loss of memory.  He is outfoxing everyone from my perspective!  Furthermore, I believe there is evidence this was “not a singular occurrence.”  He is at ease and well-versed in his illicit dalliance.  More later.] 

## 

Nevertheless, we believe the objective evidence indicates Gene’s guilt, including his intentionality of sin, as described in the charges.  The extent to which memory loss, confusion, and despair may have contributed to his actions, and to how much he can recall today, must be left for the Lord, Gene, and his counselors to process.  Since we cannot discern the condition of Gene’s mind speculating on what he knows or does not know is unwise. 

[Comment: No, no, no!  This is pure deception.  There is nothing wrong with Emerson’s memory.  He remembers using Backpage, saying it was wrong, setting up the appointment, driving to the hotel, using a fake name, remarking about Troxell’s beauty, agreeing to a $60 fee, talking about oral and anal sex, agreeing to use her condoms, interacting with Necolettos and trying to deceive him, being read his Miranda rights which he understood, and then being arrested! And he remembers praying over and over, “Jesus please forgive me.”  If he doesn’t remember, all he has to do is read the transcript!  It will come back to him immediately!  But of course, he remembers all of the above.  He also remembers the charging document read at his arraignment.  And the hard evidence and testimony presented by the prosecutor at the hearing before the judge.  

Emerson tells Detective Necolettos, “He wanted a massage because he was under a lot of stress at his job and all the problems that he has to deal with.”  He is lying about a “massage” and he is using “stress” and “problems” as an excuse.  These challenges are common to all people.  Actually, Emerson had an easy and good life.  

Moreover, he was preaching a series of messages, before and after his arrest, about what it means to pick up your cross, deny yourself, and follow Jesus.  Honestly, I have never heard anyone preach with more hypocrisy.  In soliciting a prostitute, he was doing everything he was commanding the church not to do.  I’ve included transcripts of these messages below.  They drive home the fact his actions were willful acts of rebellion against God.        

“Memory loss, confusion, and despair” had no bearing on his transgressing of God’s law in seeking out the services of a prostitute and lying about it afterward.  There is nothing unwise or speculative about this assessment.  That is reserved for the panel’s folly in forbidding such an assessment.  These men are concerned about “the condition of Gene’s mind,” when they should be concerned about the condition of Gene’s heart.  I believe, he is flat-out deceiving them.]

## 

The church, as they make their appeals to Gene, will need to wait upon the Lord to bring clarity to Gene’s mind, and lead him into full repentance.  It would be most helpful to those closest to him to focus on his current, ongoing, specific denials of his intentionality since these denials are objectively incompatible with his claim to have no memory of these key moments.  Either he knows and remembers the facts, in order to make such definitive claims, or he does not remember them, and therefore cannot make definitive statements about what he did or did not desire, or what he did or did not intend to do.  He cannot claim to have no memory of the key moments, yet also make absolute denials about his desires and intentions at those same key moments. Such denials are spurious at best, and are possibly evidence of willful self-deception.  Such self-deception can cause him to continue to lie to others in an effort to deny the evidence against him. 

[Comment: Emerson needs no clarity regarding what he has done.  He knows and knows clearly.  What he needs is a strong rebuke from “those closest to him” to stop lying.  His “current, ongoing, specific denials of his intentionality” and “definitive statements” are nothing but a determined effort to deceive.  This paragraph must have been demanded by Eric Holter as will be seen later.  The logic is simple.  You can’t deny something you don’t remember thinking, saying or  doing!  In Gene’s case, he can’t deny he intentionally sought out a prostitute and lied about it afterward, if he doesn’t remember either action!  Or so, he emphatically claims.  What a hoax!  “Such denials are spurious at best” and that is an understatement.  Moreover, there is no “self-deception.”  That is, Gene actually believes the lies he is telling.  No, there is only deception – not of self but of others!  Gene knows exactly what he is doing.  It is not self-deception that causes him “to continue to lie,” it is willful deception.  He is not deceived but he is a deceiving.]       

## 

We cannot know Gene’s internal motives, we can only judge his outward actions and words.  But if Gene claims to have no memory of where, for example, he found the ad for a massage, or if he denies that he had any sexual intention when entering the hotel that day, he is making definitive statements (denials) which, according to his own testimony, he cannot know to be true.  At best he can only claim ignorance due to lack of memory.  Helping Gene to avoid such definitive assertions and denials may help him recognize the objective nature of the evidence against him and to more fully own his actions.  

[Comment: I am reminded of Judge McGann’s words when he sentenced Nathaniel Morales to 40 years in prison for the sexual abuse of boys in Covenant Life Church.  Morales claimed he could not remember his actions. 

“You can’t even bring your despicable self to admit your crime.  So, you hide behind your phony self-diagnosis of amnesia.  Mr. Morales, you are one pathetic human being.” 

Emerson did not sexually abuse boys, but he refused to admit his crime before Judge Hurley.  Instead, he accepted a plea deal of “no contest” on the advice of his lawyer rather than plea “not guilty” because the evidence against him was so compelling.  Now, nine months later, he hides behind the phony self-diagnosis of amnesia.  That is pathetic! 

Moreover, outward actions reveal inward motives.  Immorality reveals a lustful motive.  Murder reveals an angry motive.  Boasting reveals a proud motive.  Lying reveals a deceptive motive.  First, Emerson denied doing anything wrong.  Then he denied doing anything intentionally wrong.  He was just looking for a massage and got entrapped by the evil police and sentenced by an erring judge.  Now he doesn’t remember doing anything.  Not Backpage.  Not talking about sex and condoms.  Not anything “key.”  The overwhelming evidence presented by the police proves he is lying.  What a bunch of malarkey!] 

## 

To reiterate, we’re not saying that his assertion--that he does not remember--is necessarily false.  But we are saying that definitive exonerating statements cannot arise out of such ignorance, especially when there is reliable evidence to the contrary.  Doing so invites confusion and opens one to deception.  Deceptions of this kind, even if grounded in spiritual, physical, and emotional causes, are harmful.  Making, hearing, and believing such false statements not only harm Gene, but also those closest to him.  Under these kinds of circumstances his closest friends should be helping him to scrutinize his statements and carefully discern when he is slipping into denials and affirmations when he has no clear memory.  Under such mental fog they should help him hold fast to the clear evidence that is available.  

[Comment: By way of reiteration, the panel refuses to say Emerson intentionally lied  They allow for him not remembering any of the “key indicting elements.”  That is utterly absurd in my opinion!  Emerson remembers what happened before, during, and after his solicitation in Room 505 of the La Quinta Inn.  His supposed “mental fog” is not “grounded in spiritual, physical, and emotional causes.”  It is grounded in an evil heart out to deceive them.  Do these men have no discernment? 

The panel is only willing to correct the logical absurdity of Emerson’s “denials and affirmations.”  The denials came first.  He did nothing wrong.  The affirmations came second.  He doesn’t remember what he did.  It must be one or the other.  It can’t be both.  But here’s what important.  Both are lies!  “Making [by Gene], hearing, and believing such false statements [by others] not only harm Gene, but also those closest to him [his wife and children].” 

## 

Gene should recognize that these denials have a ripple effect that impacts the reputation of others.  For example, believing his statements could lead those who hear them to mischaracterize a local judge.  Additionally, in Gene’s testimony, he began to discredit a police officer’s report.  Denials, against clear evidence, and denials of the testimony of others, when false, implicitly calls such testimony into question.  It implicitly charges the one testifying with being a false witness.  This does harm to the reputation of others and draws those who hear his denials into confusion

[Comment: Emerson turned his family, the elders, and church members against Judge Keith Nelson Hurly for wrongly sentencing him and against Detective Nathan Necolettos for his “false witness.”  They all believed Emerson’s explicit (not implicit) lies about the Judge and Detective while claiming he was completely innocent of all ethical and criminal wrong-doing.  As I wrote in August 2015, this warrants a public confession by Emerson published in the local newspaper and a private asking of forgiveness by letter or in person.  Mickey Connolly should make certain this happens.  Emerson brought extraordinary reproach, and still does, to the gospel and the church of Jesus Christ.  He has, and continues to harm, many people “who hear his denials” of intentionality.  He has not only sown confusion, he has sown division.  People actually believe his extraordinary lies.  Some write me hateful letters.  That is unfortunate.

 

Eric Holter’s 11-Page Letter to the Mid-South Judicial Review Committee – April 23, 2016 

The Mid-South Judicial Review Committee is comprised of five to seven pastors from the mid-south region of the United States.  Three of these men served on the panel that heard the case against Gene Emerson on November 12, 2015.  They wrote the “Decisions of Panel” after their hearing.  Five months later on April 20, 2016, two of the men, Steve Teter and Adam Campbell, dropped their agreed upon “standards” for an acceptable confession from Emerson.  Three days later on April 23, 2016, Eric Holter wrote the entire Judicial Review Committee, and brought charges against Teter and Campbell.  He also called for Matthew Williams, who replaced Emerson as lead pastor, to be corrected for accepting the woefully defective confession.  Holter displayed exemplary character.  The kind not found in Sovereign Grace Churches, Inc. any longer.  His 11-page letter follows.  I’ve interspersed comments and notes in brackets [ ] and added underlining.  The original can be found here.    

April 23, 2016 

To the Mid South Region Judicial Review Committee,                         

Brothers, 

I believe that the integrity of our region’s disciplinary process has been seriously compromised by Steve Teter and Adam Campbell by prematurely and unjustly disposing of the disciplinary process of Gene Emerson.  I believe that our own judicial review committee is the proper place to locate initial jurisdiction for this complaint and request for correction

[Comment: Steve Teter is the senior pastor of Living Faith Church in Franklin, WV.  I know him well.  Adam Campbell is a pastor at Mercy Hill Community Church near Fredericksburg, VA.  I know him also.  Eric Holter’s opening sentence says it all!  The disciplinary process applied to Gene Emerson was seriously compromised and unjustly disposed (i.e. ended) because Teter and Campbell acted corruptively.  That will be evident in what follows.] 

## 

Our BCO [Book of Church Order] and Rules for Procedure are clear that once a decision is made by a panel with proper authority and jurisdiction, and upheld on appeal, that decision may not be reconsidered or set aside.  It is a binding decision.  Even the panel who made the decision may not reconsider or set aside the decision as written. 

BCO 21.7 “The Process.  All adjudications shall proceed according to the Rules of Procedure for Adjudications (cf. BCO­15.3.1.3).” 

RPA 34.5 “The adjudicators’ decision shall be legally and ecclesiastically binding on the parties, except as provided by law, and may be filed as a judgment and enforced by a court of law.  It shall be the sole responsibility of the parties to file a decision with the court and, if necessary, to have it enforced.” 

RPA 34.7 “The adjudication decision is final and cannot be reconsidered or appealed except as provided by Rule 35 and/or the Book of Church Order of Sovereign Grace Churches and/or civil law.” 

[Comment: Sovereign Grace Churches, Inc. prides itself on its polity (which is nothing like the New Testament) found in the Book of Church Order.  That aside, it doesn’t matter if you have policies for discipline and governance if you don’t follow them.  In the case of Emerson, the “binding decision” that “cannot be reconsidered” was set aside by Teter and Campbell in violation of the BCO.  These men were unscrupulously shielding Emerson from excommunication.]   

## 

On Wednesday April 20th [2016], Steve moved for a vote on accepting a confession written by Gene submitted to us via email through Matthew Williams.  I believe that the confession submitted objectively fails to meet the criteria set forth in the decision.  As a result, by voting to accept it, they acted outside the authority of the decision itself, and overstepped their role as adjudicators for our region. 

I would recommend that Steve and Adam be reprimanded for this breach, and removed from further service on the JRC [Judicial Review Committee].  I would further recommend that the RAE [Regional Assembly of Elders] be informed of this action, and the reasons for it, so that future committee members and adjudicators will act more soberly and circumspectly in the performance of their duties.  Additionally, Matthew Williams should be informed that the panel’s vote was not in keeping with the decision, and though it formally releases Gene from discipline, he should avoid pointing to the panel’s vote as an objective confirmation of Gene’s repentance in any public statements he might make to his church. 

[Comment: Holter, Teter and Campbell decided on November 12, 2015 that Emerson must confess he intentionally solicited a prostitute and then lied about it to the elders and KingsWay Community Church, or else excommunication would follow.   On April 20, 2016, Teter and Campbell violated this binding decision, reversed course without cause,  and accepted a bogus confession put forth by Emerson through Matthew Williams, his underling protégé for years.  The panel’s 2-1 vote released Emerson from the fourth step of church discipline.  It was an altogether corrupt development.  I believe it occurred in large measure because of Emerson’s close relational and ministerial connections to Teter, Campbell, Williams and Mickey Connolly.  

Sovereign Grace Churches, Inc. is divided into eight regions.  Each has their own regional Judicial Review Committee and Regional Leader.  This adjudication took place in the Mid-South Region overseen by Mickey Connolly.  Campbell worked for Connolly as an intern for four years in Charlotte, NC.  Holter rightly called for Teter and Campbell to be reprimanded and removed from the JRC.  Nothing happened to them.  They too were protected by Connolly.  This post is not just about the corruption of Gene Emerson, it is about the on-going corruption of Sovereign Grace Churches, Inc.] 

## 

Why the vote to accept the confession was unjustly made.
In November [2015], after the Emerson trial, the panel [Holter, Teter, Campbell] found Gene guilty not only of the charges brought against him, but also found him guilty of having intentionally sought a prostitute, and of lying to cover up that fact.  Given the nature of the sin, and Gene’s unrepentant state at that time, we found for the remedies of loss of office, public rebuke, and for excommunication.  It is important to note that the reason we found Gene unrepentant was not because he had not been sorrowful in the months leading up to the trial, but rather because he maintained a narrative about his sins that denied the intentionality of having sought out the prostitute and for lying to cover up.  While Gene was sorrowful, and was willing to confess many kinds of sins [all minor], he denied that he intentionally sought the prostitute, and he denied that he lied in order to cover up this fact.  That was the key aspect of why we deemed him unrepentant. 

[Comment: Emerson maintains these “denials.”  That is a nice of way of saying he continues to lie.  It reminds of Bill Clinton.  “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.”  For Emerson, “I did not seek out a prostitute and I did not cover up it up with lies.”  That was, and is, the key indicator he has not repented.]  

## 

In finding for excommunication we decided to allow the church a time to appeal to Gene [the third step of Matthew 18:15-17] before the church finalized the decision of the panel to excommunicate.  And, in hope that these appeals would prevail, the panel set forth the specific minimum requirements that a future confession would need to have in order to ensure that a future confession would exclude his previous false narratives that denied intentionality and cover up.  We wanted to hear him clearly acknowledge the truth about what happened before we would deem him repentant.  The panel also gave itself the authority to review and confirm that any future confessions met the standards set forth in the decision

It is my contention is that Steve and Adam, in voting to accept the confession Matthew delivered, did so despite the fact that the confession objectively does not measure up to the standard.  We have all vowed to submit to and uphold our BCO, which includes the rules for adjudication. These rules oblige us to enforce all binding decisions made by panels with proper authority and jurisdiction.  Once made, and upheld, decisions may not be reconsidered, in whole or in part.  Nor can they be subordinated to any other party.  I believe that Steve and Adam ignored those requirements, reconsidered our decision, and changed the standards in order to accept Gene’s confession. 

[Comment: This letter by Holter was written to the entire Mid-South Judicial Review Committee comprised of five to seven men (BCO 25:1).  Holter, Teter, and Campbell were the three men empaneled to adjudicate the charges against Emerson.  Steve Teter and Adam Campbell compromised themselves “in order to accept Gene’s confession.”  They violated their vows.] 

## 

Here are those standards set forth in the decision, they are found in the section under the remedy for excommunication.  They focus on the core issues and establish the standards for evaluating a confession: 

(3) Excommunication.  On the two charges that Gene has been found guilty of we do not see evidence of repentance.  While he confesses many other sins that may have contributed to the sins he’s charged with, ownership of having pursued illicit sexual involvement with a prostitute, and ownership of having deceived the elders and the church, have not been clearly confessed to date.  Indeed, he denies having memory or knowledge of the nature of these actions and statements.  Gene acknowledges that he effectively solicited and that he effectively lied (that his actions and statements had those effects) but he denies knowledge or clarity about these events and therefore says he cannot own or confess the intentional nature of these charges. 

[Comment: Emerson is a con artist. That is, “a person who cheats or tricks others by persuading them to believe something that is not true.”  He wants people to believe he does not have “memory or knowledge” or “clarity” about his “actions and statements” before, during and after his solicitation of an undercover police woman he believed was a prostitute.  This amnesia explanation is pure deception.  He asserts he “cannot own or confess” something he doesn’t remember doing.  What a demoniac pretense of integrity!]  

## 

Repentance from sexual immorality of a criminal nature: propositioning a prostitute ­ must include confession of having sought a prostitute, and having responded favorably to her offers of sexual activity for money. 

Repentance from lying to the elders and members of Kingsway Community Church ­ must include a confession of having lied to the elders in order to cover up the sin of having sought out a prostitute and having lied to the church in order to cover up the nature of his sin in his public resignation. 

We find that Gene’s current repentance is insufficient to the charges he’s been found guilty of because while he acknowledges other sins, he denies all intentionality relating to the sins he’s been charged with. 

[Comment: Emerson was arrested on May 29, 2015.  He was found guilty and sentenced on July 9, 2015.  His Sovereign Grace hearing by the Judicial Review Committee was on November 12, 2015.  This letter from Holter was written on April 23, 2016.  Eleven months have gone by and Emerson is still lying through his teeth.] 

## 

Therefore the church needs to move forward with the process of excommunication.  This would included offering the church an opportunity to appeal to Gene to repent.  If, after an appropriate period of time for the church to appeal to him, Gene remains unrepentant, the elders [Matthew Whitman, Chris Deloglos, Josh Kruger] should finalize the excommunication.  Should Gene respond to the appeals, this Panel will reconvene in order to hear Gene’s confession and evaluate whether his repentance meets the standards outlined in this decision. 

Since our decision included clear standards by which future evaluations of a confession were to be made­­any setting aside of those standards for new standards, or relocation of responsibility for evaluating the veracity of that confession, constitutes a failure to uphold the binding decision­­and a breach of our disciplinary integrity.  I believe both Steve and Adam set aside the defined criteria and substituted new criteria, namely that of their own opinion of what may be happening in Gene’s heart, primarily grounded in Matthew’s testimony of what what he believes may be happening in Gene’s heart.  These men may or may not be correct in their evaluation of what is happening in Gene’s heart­­but those opinions are clearly not the standard by which the decision required us to base an evaluation. 

[Comment: The decision to proceed with excommunication was based upon objective evidence.  Emerson was unrepentant.  The decision to suspend the excommunication injunction was based upon subjective opinions that something “may be happening in Gene’s heart” even though his on-going denial of intentionality contradicted such irrational (and immoral) thinking.  The Bible teaches that you discern the veracity of repentance by the fruits of repentance.  Matthew 3:8, “Bear fruit in keeping with repentance.”  There was nothing “happening in Gene’s heart” that was resulting in repentance.  He was determined to pressure and/or manipulate Williams, Teter, Campbell, and Connolly.  

I remember hearing, he was telling other people that Sovereign Grace was lording it over him.  For example, these comments from a member of KingsWay who goes by a pseudonym. 

Balaam’s Donkey says:
December 4, 2015 at 7:01 pm 

Apparently, the SGM tribunal [Judicial Review Panel], which Steve Teter/Living Faith Church and Adam Campbell/SGM Fredericksburg [and Eric Holter] were members of, produced a list of “sins” they were convinced Gene needed to repent of before the church.  However, it appears Gene was not of the same persuasion and disagreed with the list.  Therefore to date, Gene has not been back to Kingsway [after the Nov. 12, 2105 hearing] and I suspect will follow the way of his chief mentor, CJ Mahaney, taking refuge in another local church sympathetic to his plight. 

Balaam's Donkey says:
December 29, 2015 at 2:22 pm 

Word on the street is… Gene is now playing the “poor mental health” card, that stress and anxiety was the overwhelming factor that was to blame for his lack of judgment regarding the solicitation of a prostitute. 

Also, it appears that Gene and most of his family believe the SGM committee attempted to “lord over his faith” regarding the list of sins he needed to confess before the church. All of a sudden the focus is conveniently off Gene and is squarely on how terrible the SGM organization has treated him.]

I think this is one of the reasons Williams, Teter, Campbell, and Connolly backed off.  They didn’t want Emerson slandering them for heavy handedness given all the legitimate charges against Sovereign Grace Ministries, Inc. for abusive leadership.  They didn’t want more bad press.  So instead, they negotiated a deal and accepted his confession as sufficient even though they knew it violated every standard of justice and righteousness laid down in the “Decisions of the Panel.”  I think they were also motivated by favoritism.  

## 

In our adjudication training, much effort was spent on how the role of an adjudicator is unlike the role of a pastor, in that an adjudicator must make reasoned decisions based the statements and the evidence, not their opinions of what they think may be the condition of a person’s heart.  Rigorous restraint to the facts, the evidence, and the testimony of witnesses is the task of the adjudicator­­we are supposed to resist the impulse to form opinions based on what we think is in the inner motives of a man’s heart (sinful or pure). 

[Comment: I somewhat disagree that adjudicators and pastor are unalike. You know the “soil” of a man’s heart by what it produces.  Or put another way, you know the roots from the fruits.  That involves adjudication or righteous judgement.  The role of a pastor exceeds that of an adjudicator, but they are not unalike.  Both judge righteously based upon the evidence and show no favoritism.  The pastor, however, goes further than a determination of guilt or innocence based on objective evidence, he helps a person see the internal motivations of his heart, so he can change at the root level.  But Holter is absolutely correct about adjudicators exercising “rigorous restraint” and resisting subjective speculation.]  

## 

In our deliberations on Gene’s confession, before our vote to accept it, Steve said that in his opinion, our voting to accept Gene’s confession was no longer governed by the formal requirements of adjudication but rather we needed to function primarily as pastors to serve the eldership of Kingsway’s in their efforts to care for Gene.  Steve stated that he intended to rely primarily on what their opinions were about Gene’s heart, and their evaluation of his state of repentance.  I consider Steve’s statements to be a reconsideration of the standards we set in how he would evaluate a confession­­relocating the task of measuring the confession to the standards of the decision to the sensibilities [i.e. foolishness] of the elders with respect to the internal status of Gene’s heart and repentance.  While their evaluation of his heart is indeed a helpful and necessary part of our process, it cannot be made to be the basis for evaluating the confession instead of the standards set forth in the decision. 

[Comment: Steve Teter was the moderator of the three-man panel.  He would never have taken this vote to subterfuge the excommunication without Mickey Connolly’s knowledge, approval, and most probably, direction.  There is good reason to believe Connolly was behind this plan to protect his close friend, Gene Emerson.  

In any case, “the standards set forth in the decision” were clear.  More importantly, they were righteous.  The KingsWay elders didn’t “care for Gene.”  They aided and abetted his rebellion against God.  Williams, Deloglos, and Kruger knew Emerson intentionally sought out a prostitute and then lied about it to them and the church for months.  They gave into Emerson.  So did Teter, Campbell and Connolly.  Let me cite again “the standards” laid down for his repentance and restoration. 

“Repentance from sexual immorality of a criminal nature: propositioning a prostitute - must include confession of having sought a prostitute, and having responded favorably to her offers of sexual activity for money.  

“Repentance from ​lying to the elders and members of Kingsway Community Church ​- must include a confession of having lied to the elders in order to cover up the sin of having sought out a prostitute and having lied to the church in order to cover up the nature of his sin in his public resignation. 

“We find that Gene’s current repentance is insufficient to the charges he’s been found guilty of because while he acknowledges other sins, he denies all intentionality relating to the sins he’s been charged with.  

“Therefore the church needs to move forward with the process of excommunication.”] 

## 

During our deliberations, before we voted, Steve stated that he would rather err on the side of showing mercy to Gene.  That sounds kind and gracious, but when it comes to systems of justice we are not to side either with the rich or the poor, but rather only for the truth as best as can be determined by the statements and evidence available.  “You shall not fall in with the many to do evil, nor shall you bear witness in a lawsuit, siding with the many, so as to pervert justice, nor shall you be partial to a poor man in his lawsuit” (Exodus 23:2­3).  Steve’s desire to err on the side of charitable judgment toward Gene, when functioning in this formal role, was not a righteous position.  In our role as adjudicators we are bound to make true decisions based on the evidence at hand, not charitable judgments based on our opinions about individuals.  To see how this is unjust, just consider a situation where the opposite inclination was present.  Suppose Gene’s statement did clearly meet the criteria of our decision.  And suppose there was no objective reason to reject it, but instead an adjudicator just felt that God had not yet done a sufficient work in his heart, even though the confession met the standard.  Would that be just?  Of course not.  Neither is it just to lean the other way.  We are not to lean one way or the other, but limit our decisions (and uphold of decisions) based on statements as written. 

[Comment: Holter is right.  This is a total perversion of justice, not a righteous position.   It is not “kind and gracious” to extend mercy to a man who devises evil.  Nor to a man who conceals his sin.  The Lord condemns such a man.  

Proverbs 12:2 A good man will obtain favor from the LORD, but He will condemn a man who devises evil. 

Proverbs 28:13 Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy. 

Teter’s “charitable judgement” was not at all charitable.  If Teter loved Emerson, he would have rebuked him for his on-going charade.  

Proverbs 27:5 Better is open rebuke than love that is concealed.]  

## 

My contention is that the objective truth value of Gene’s confession clearly fails to meet the criteria set forth in the decision.  And that in order to vote to accept this confession, Steve and Adam had to adjust their criteria. 

Matthew Williams made a clear acknowledgment of the deficiency of the confession when he sent it to us.  Steve adopted Matthew’s opinion during our deliberation, 

“The confession below is the fruit of a number of conversations we’ve had with Gene in recent weeks.  It’s obviously not everything I would have hoped to see, but it addresses the core issues.  As best as we can tell, it represents a good­faith effort on his part to repent of his sin as a man who is very much still in­process.  I don’t think we can ask for or require more at this point.  Can you review with the JRC for us?” 

[Comment: This is an attempt to circumvent justice with bogus claims by appealing to the entire Judicial Review Committee.  Emerson’s deceptive confession did NOT address the core issues and it was not a good-faith effort.  William’s knows that!  And of course, the KingsWay elders should have required what was required!  A confession stating he intentionally sought out a prostitute and intentionally lied to cover it up.  Do these elders have no courage?  No integrity?  No standards?  No discernment?  Of course, they should have required more!  They are like false prophets. 

Lamentations 2:14 The visions of your prophets were false and worthless; they did not expose your sin to ward off your captivity. The prophecies they gave you were false and misleading. 

False prophets are spoken well of because they do not expose sin.  Sovereign Grace Churches, Inc. is full of “false prophets” (i.e. pastors) because they will not confront the corruption that is pervasive among its leaders.  

Luke 6:26 “Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.” 

The ESV Study Bible comments on the verse, “The fourth woe warns that, while true prophets were hated, exclude, reviled, spurned, beaten, tortured, and killed (cf. Heb 11:32-28), false prophets were well spoken of, for they prophesied what people wanted to hear.  This is a warning against seeking the approval of the world rather than being faithful to God.”]

## 

Matthew acknowledges that this confession does not meet the standards of the decision. He thinks it addresses (but does not settle) the “core issues” and he asks if we can require any more.  The answer to that question is we can require no more, and no less, than what the decision requires.  Steve and Adam accepted a confession that was much less than what was required in the decision and thus failed to fulfill their duty, and misused their roles and authority in dispensing with Gene’s discipline. 

[Comment: Excellent!  And they did this intentionally.  They wanted Emerson to escape excommunication, so they corruptly abused their roles and authority in dispensing with his discipline even though there was absolutely no repentance, only defiance, on the issue of intentionality.] 

## 

Matthew’s plain acknowledgement of the weakness and insufficiency of Gene’s statement should have been enough for us to realize that the confession did not meet the requirements of the decision, but we need to evaluate the decision itself to see if that’s that’s case. 

[Comment: I helped train Matthew Williams in the Pastors College.  It breaks my heart to see him lie when he says, Emerson’s confession “addresses the core issues.”  He knows that is not true.  The confession utterly avoids the core issues.] 

## 

A confession is a very formal kind of statement.  Formal statements, particularly confessions, contain truth value.  They are either true or false.  Statements can be evaluated and objectively measured.  Formal statements are not like opinions (chocolate is better than vanilla) whose truth value is in the one making the statement.  Formal statements are objective.  It was our duty as panel members to carefully evaluate the statements in the confession to determine whether or not they met the standards set in the decision. No more, no less. 

Steve and Adam willingly adopted Matthew’s opinion that the confession we had was the best we could hope to get, and also acknowledged that it was not everything we might want.  They also both adopted a new standard namely, that what was most important in our vote was Matthew’s evaluation how the genuineness of Gene’s heart with respect to his repentance. 

[Comment: Williams is either deceiving or deceived or a combination of the two.  There was nothing genuine about Emerson’s repentance.]    

## 

However, in Steve and Adam’s opinion, upon which they cast their votes, they also asserted that they believed Gene’s confession did meet the core issues of the decision. However, as I repeatedly tried to point out the particular statements in the confession during our deliberations, to show how the statement objectively does not meet the criteria, Steve would revert to other arguments regarding our place with respect to excommunication in a local church, not judging Gene’s heart, relying on the elders at Kingsway, and so forth.  He also insisted that one way or the other we were going to vote and that would settle the matter.  He did not engage in any actual evaluation of the confession itself.  He simply asserted his opinion that it did meet the core issues.  But when it comes to formal statements, they are not made true through majority opinion or votes.  A true statement is true because it is true and a false statement is false, regardless of how many people vote that it is true. 

[Comment: Emerson’s confession did NOT address the core issues and Teter knew it just like Williams, Campbell, and Connolly knew it.  I also know Adam Campbell and helped to train him in the Pastors College.  He is not going to stand up to these men.  I have no doubt this was an orchestrated conspiracy (like so many others in Sovereign Grace)!  This also shows the heavy-handed imposition of an outcome by Steve Teter on Eric Holter.  He was not interested in justice.  He was determined to push through injustice.] 

## 

So if it can be demonstrated that this confession objectively falls short of those standards, then their opinions were not only wrong, but their votes were a miscarriage of justice and an overstepping of their authority as adjudicators in this case.  If so, they failed our JRC, and our RAE.  And to the extent that prematurely releasing Gene from discipline by acting outside their authority may have damaging effects at Kingsway or in other churches, our panel is responsible

[Comment: Teter and Campbell are responsible for the damage they have caused to KingsWay and the Body of Christ by allowing Emerson to lie and deceive and by not following through with excommunication.  They have also contributed to the ruination of Emerson.  The fourth step of church discipline is severe but redemptive.  It includes turning over to Satan but even that is for the good of the persons (1 Cor. 5:4-5).] 

## 

Here is Gene’s confession with my reasoned evaluation of its truth content, and I believe it is evident (as it was to Matthew when he sent it) that if fails to meet the standards.  My evaluation and commentary is in red; Gene’s statement is in blue.  [I’ve removed the color which doesn’t transfer to my blog and added their names.  I have also added notes and comments in brackets [ ] and underlining.] 

Emerson:
“I want to confess to you that I am guilty of criminally [effectively but not intentionally] soliciting a prostitute and lying [effectively but not intentionally] to the pastors and to you, my church family, specifically in the statement at the Member’s Meeting that I had not done anything immoral or illegal.” 

Holter:
Gene confessed this much originally, but as our decision points out there is a world of difference between acknowledging the fact of criminal solicitation and confessing that he intentionally sought a prostitute.  Where in this statement is there any confession of intentionally seeking out a prostitute? [nowhere]  Where in this statement is there confession of lying to cover up the sin of intentionally seeking out a prostitute? [nowhere] 

It is also concerning that he specifies his lie with the statements he made at the members meeting [August 8, 2015].  Is he limiting his confession to that?  What about covering up his sin when he originally informed the elders? [July 31, 2015] 

[Comment: He “originally informed” the elders by telling them he was illegally entrapped and arrested by the police on May 29 and unjustly founded guilty by Judge Hurly on July 9; and was therefore, considering legal action against them.  The elders believed him.  Moreover, Emerson told them this hooey story ONLY when they “confronted” him upon his return from Bolivia on July 31.  

“Our pastoral team did not learn of Mr. Emerson’s conviction until July 21, 3 days after he left for Bolivia.  When we confronted him upon his return from Bolivia, he immediately tendered his resignation.” (Matthew Williams, Email ABC 8News)] 

## 

Holter:
The next section just describes Gene’s spiritual condition leading up to his sin.  While it’s pastorally relevant, it is not relevant with respect to the confession meeting the criteria set out in the decision.  Gene was just as broken hearted and confused in November [at the panel hearing], but it was his unwillingness to acknowledge the truth about his sin, and instead assert a false narrative that caused us to find him guilty and unrepentant in the first place. 

Emerson:
“I live with the grief that my [unintentional] actions have brought dishonor to God and have brought pain and hurt to you, those I care about most.  I am sorry and brokenhearted for bringing shame to Christ and for violating your trust in that.  Please forgive me. 

Many people have asked me how this came to be, and the pastors have asked me to share with you some of the issues that contributed to my sin.  Let me be clear — this is not an excuse.  I am fully responsible for my sin, but I think it’s helpful to share some personal issues that were a factor. 

As family, friends and counselors helped me to review the past five years since our church split [which he largely caused], I began to recognize that I had failed to believe God’s promises of goodness in my sufering [he was not the victim].  I was striving every day to do my work and fulfill my call, but in hindsight I was laboring in self­sufciency [which is a serious sin rooted in pride], which led to despair and ultimately to medical depression [self-sufficiency leads to God’s opposition].  I didn’t have a category to realize it [not true, he knows what the Bible teaches about this subject] at the time, but I was weary and exhausted spiritually, physically and emotionally in the midst of a dark and hopeless season in my life.” 

Holter:
Again, while Gene acknowledges sin here, the sins are not specified.  He confessed to many sins in November, but not to intentionally seeking out a prostitute or lying to cover up that fact.  These were the core issues.  The next paragraph is the meat of his confession. 

[Comment: Emerson says, “Many people have asked me how this came to be.”  And he hasn’t told any of them the truth about how and why it came to be that he solicited someone he thought was a prostitute.  If Emerson was truly grieved about dishonoring God, bringing shame to Christ, and hurt and pain to those he cares most about; he would tell the truth!  This is an unbelievably crafty confession but Holter is on to him.  It is also full of emotional manipulation.  He is not taking full responsibility for his sin.  He talks at length about his depressed state and the supposed circumstances that created it, but he doesn’t talk about the extent or true nature of his sin.  

In fact, he talks about “the issues that contributed to my sin” (i.e. he was weary, exhausted, hopeless, despairing, depressed).  But if these symptoms actually existed, they did not contribute to his sin.  At most, they tempted him.  But I doubt these symptoms.  Medical depression suppresses sexual desire.  That was not a problem for Emerson.  He was raring to go with the undercover cop and put a lot of effort into making it happen.  That is not like a clinically depressed person.  They suffer a lack motivation.

Despite his denial, he is using the supposed symptoms as an excuse.  Furthermore, he must take responsibility for the state of his soul.  It was not because of the church split which he caused by his pride and self-righteousness.  Nor did he suffer as though a victim.  He was victimizing others – like Steve Whitman, Buddy Moreland, and Bob Dixon.  These were the three leaders trying to help Gene see his sin, but he was unresponsive to their input.       

Emerson also had a “category” in which to diagnose his soul.  He knows unbelief, self-sufficiency and unconfessed sin often produce the symptoms he enumerates.  He was trained in biblical counseling by the likes of David Powlison from the Christian Counseling & Education Foundation (CCEF).  Furthermore, Gene taught and pastored people regarding weariness and depression for decades.  This passage identifies the cause of his physical, emotional and spiritual dilapidation.  

Psalm 32:1-5, “Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.  Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit.  When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.  For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.  Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity.  I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.’  And you forgave the guilt of my sin.” 

##

Emerson:
“As best I can remember, I didn’t wake up on May 29 planning to solicit a prostitute,...” 

Holter:
This is a statement of denial with respect to intentionality. 

[Comment: It may or may not be technically true that he “didn’t wake up…planning” to solicit a prostitute.“  He was probably planning it (and thinking about it) for a while.  Emerson’s statement doesn’t begin to address the facts.  For example, does he remember accessing Backpage online and going to the escort section which is used to contact prostitutes.  It has no other purpose!  Does he remember making the phone call and texting the presumed harlot?  Does he remember driving to the hotel?  What does he remember?  He does not say.] 

## 

Emerson:
“...but as I look back on that afternoon, that’s what happened.”
 
Holter:
This is a confession that at the end of the day he is guilty of criminally soliciting a prostitute, but he likewise acknowledged that much at the start of the trial in November.  This statement is perfectly in keeping with his original false narrative that while he ended up soliciting, he never intended to do so

[Comment: This confession by Emerson was written in April 2016.  He was arrested 11 months earlier.  Remember, until the police transcript was posted on SGMSurvivors on August 20, 2015, he vehemently denied ALL wrong doing.  That posting forced him to come up with a new story.  Now, as he looks “back on that afternoon,” he acknowledges he committed a crime but he continues to deceive by insisting the crime was not intentional.] 

##  

Emerson:
“In retrospect, it’s evident that I deceived myself:”
 
Holter:
This is the closest this confession comes to showing any movement from his statements in November before the trial.  But it does not specify what his self­deception entails.  Here is where we would have needed to see, and confirm, that this self­deception he is confessing entailed not just unwisely putting himself in a situation where sexual temptation occurred, but that he had deceived himself with respect to having no intentions of seeking a prostitute.  Our decision required that a confession be clear on this point. 

“Repentance from sexual immorality of a criminal nature: propositioning a prostitute ­ must include confession of having sought a prostitute, and having responded favorably to her offers of sexual activity for money.” 

[Comment: Emerson claims he deceived himself into believing he did not commit a crime but has finally come to his senses – “in retrospect.”  I don’t buy it! 
 
Emerson knows he planned a crime, committed a crime and attempted to cover up a crime.  Until now, all Emerson has acknowledged is “unwisely putting himself in a situation where sexual temptation occurred” meaning he stupidly used Backpage to set up a professional therapeutic massage in a hotel room even when the supposed masseuse texted (using her best spelling, grammar and vocabulary), “I don’t really do massads like I don’t have all them oils and lotions and stuff.”]
 
##
 
Emerson:
“I believed that because I had no recollection of wanting to solicit a prostitute, but only to get a massage, that I was innocent, at least in my motives.”
 
Holter:
Rather than specifying what needed to be specified according to the decision, Gene reiterates that he did not have any memory of intentions other than for a legitimate massage (and that he still has no such recollection).  If anything this is a statement that his intentions, as he can recall, were only to get a massage.  This is an unusual thing to reiterate if he is confessing that he intentionally sought a prostitute and not “just a massage.”  Either way it is certainly not a clear statement that meets the criteria set out in the decision.
 
[Comment: Emerson’s lying is out of control and brazen.  “I only [wanted] to get a massage.”  It is also crafty and cunning.  “I had no recollection of wanting to solicit a prostitute.”  While admitting a crime, he denies premeditation, intentionality, and memory of the solicitation and claims he “was innocent, at least in my motives.”  What a scam!] 
 
##
 
Emerson:
“Out of that [belief in the innocence of his motives], I lied to the pastors and eventually to all of you.”
 
Holter:
“Out of that,” out of what exactly?  Out of ignorance that remains intact today?  He is confessing self­deception, and wrong motives, which resulted in lies.  But do these deceptions and lies include covering up his sin of having sought a prostitute?  Or just lies concerning the complete purity of his motives at the members meeting?

“Repentance from lying to the elders and members of Kingsway Community Church ­ must include a confession of having lied to the elders in order to cover up the sin of having sought out a prostitute and having lied to the church in order to cover up the nature of his sin in his public resignation.”

 This statement does not meet the criteria set out in the decision.
 
[Comment: It appears Emerson is acknowledging he lied to the pastors and church when he told them on August 8, 2015, he was completely innocence.  That he did nothing immoral and committed no crime.  And he went further.  He claimed the police acted illegally. 
 
Out of belief in the innocence of his motives and intentions (he only wanted a massage), he justified concealing his arrest, arraignment, and sentence; lying about what happened in the hotel room, falsely accusing the police, and telling everyone he was entirely innocent.  What a deceiver.] 
 
##
 
Emerson:
“But I was justifying myself and minimizing my sin.  I now see that I am responsible for putting myself in a situation of sexual immorality.”
 
Holter:
This seems like a summary statement of his confession. But “being responsible for putting myself in a situation of sexual immorality” is exactly what he confessed last fall.  And it is exactly the false narrative that our decision, and the specific criteria that our decision, was meant to exclude.  Gene didn’t end up accidently soliciting but rather he knowingly sought out a prostitute.  This can hardly be taken as confirmation of repentance in keeping with the decision.
 
[Comment: Holter is exactly right.  All Emerson acknowledges is accidently and unintentionally “putting myself in a situation of sexual immorality.” He doesn’t even acknowledge his reprehensible conduct or grotesque solicitation in the hotel room.  He is still “minimizing” his sin.  That is, covering up his sin.]

##  

Emerson:
“Just so you know, to this day I find myself unclear about exactly what happened in that hotel room, despite having prayed and pleaded many times that God would give me clarity on the details.” 

Holter:
This is a deeply disturbing statement.  Not only does it fail to confess what he did in that room, it seems to imply that the issue was just what happened in that room­­and not how he came to be in the room in the first place.  Our decision, and its requirements, were written in order to distinguish between Gene’s false narrative and what the evidence demonstrated, namely, that Gene sought a prostitute intentionally, and it rules out the narrative that that he only ended up soliciting as an accident to the situation he unwisely put himself in.  That was the core of the decision, and this statement is far from a confession of that requirement, rather it is a reiteration of his original denials.
 
[Comment: Instead of praying and pleading with the Lord God for “clarity on the details,” Emerson should contact his solicitation/prostitution lawyer, Debra D. Corcoran.  She has all the evidence that makes perfectly clear “exactly what happened in the hotel room.”  Actually, I assume Emerson already has a copy of the evidence.  If not, he can get one.  And he has certainly read it!  

Emerson’s lying deceit reaches new heights.  In addition to what Holter has pointed out, he uses the Lord’s name in vain and pretends to have “pleaded many times that God would give [him] clarity on the details.”  I don't believe it!  Here again are the graphic details of his conversation in the police report.  Detective Troxell, the undercover police woman, asks Emerson eight questions in this part of their interaction.  He replies to all of them.  He must be held accountable for every thought, word and intention in this filthy exchange.  This is “exactly what happened in that hotel room.” 

I then asked, “How much of my time did you need?  And I made a remark about another person talking to me by text about coming by.  Emerson replied, “Just a half hour, that’s what we talked about.”  I replied, “Yeah, is that still okay?”  I said well you know that’s $60 and he said “yes”.  I asked him what he wanted and if there was anything he didn’t like and he shook his head and said “No”.  He said what about you and I smiled and said, “I like everything” and I asked, “Do you like to fuck from behind?”  He said, “Whatever”.  At that point I stood and walked toward the nightstand asking if he had brought condoms or wanted to use some of mine.  He indicated he hadn’t brought any.  I again asked then do you want to use mine and he pointed to the box of condoms I showed him and said, “those are fine”.  I asked, “Do you want me to start off sucking your dick?” he replied, “Maybe, we’ll see about that.”] 

## 

Emerson:
“Nevertheless, over the past eight months [Aug. 2015-Mar. 2016] He has given me clarity on the gravity of my sin.  I’ve come to see my actions as grievous and reproachable, and by His grace I have repented and forsaken those sins in godly sorrow.” 

Holter:
Since he has not specified the sins he’s confessing, these final statements can apply to any of the many sins he has freely acknowledged throughout this process.  These statements do not satisfy the specific requirements of the decision. 

[Comment: Emerson has “freely acknowledged” weariness, unbelief, and self-sufficiency but not as sins from my perspective.  They have been put forward as excuses.  In any case, Emerson has absolutely no clarity on the gravity of his sin because he has no clarity (or so he insists) on the nature of his sin.  He is still denying he did anything from evil motives.  His were pure.  All he wanted was a massage.  He is still denying intentionality.  He did not seek out a prostitute.  And he still covering up.  He doesn’t recall his perverse interaction about sex acts requiring condoms in exchange for money.  He can’t begin to claim “clarity on the gravity of my sin.”  Emerson doesn’t know the first thing about godly sorrow (2 Cor 7:8-11).  He is faking sorrow and claiming repentance for “actions” and “sins” he doesn’t even specify.]  

##
 
Emerson:
“The Lord has helped me to press into a new, joy­filled relationship with Jesus.  I am so grateful for the growth and life I have been experiencing in His word and prayer, but I know I have a long way to go. 

I want to thank you for your prayers and support and patience.  I’m sorry my contradictory statements have made the process difcult for the pastors and you.” 

Holter:
I’d say that this confession includes even more contradictory statements rather than clearing any of the previous ones up.  If, in fact, he still has no memory of having any intention other than for a massage, how is it that he is guilty of having “lied to the elders in order to cover up the sin of having sought out a prostitute?”  If his memory only includes intentions for a legitimate massage, and no memory of any other intention, and if that same state of mind has continued to this day­­then he would not be guilty of having covered anything up when he originally informed the elders.  He would have been saying false things in ignorance­­which, while incorrect, would not be lying.  But we found him guilty of lying to cover up his intentions in seeking a prostitute.  And the confession standards required that he acknowledge this fact.  So if he is meeting the standard set then he cannot also be denying any memory of any other intention than ones for a legitimate massage.  

So which is it?  Is it a confession of having no memory of anything other than seeking a legitimate massage­­thus not guilty of a cover up?  Or guilty of lying to cover up his having sought out a prostitute as our decision reflects?  This statement makes the latter option impossible, thus it cannot meet the standard set. 

Note: Our decision anticipated the dilemma that the evidence shows willful cover up, and requires that to be confessed, yet Gene claims no memory and thus is unable to confess that part.  We walked through how we should think about this, and how best to serve Gene until such a time as his memory might clear so that he can make an adequate confession.  We did not however, release him from this obligation, because the evidence was so strong with respect to knowledge and intentionality at the time. 

[Comment:  Holter is driving home one of his main points.  Emerson can’t ask forgiveness for lying because he couldn’t have lied about something he claims not to remember.  All he supposedly remembers is purely and innocently setting up a massage.  

His “new joy-fill relationship with Jesus” is a sham.  A relationship with Christ would result in a full-fledged public confession of his extraordinary deceit.  For example, his “contradictory statements” were not a contradiction, they were lies.  First, he lied by telling the elders and church he didn’t do anything immoral or illegal.  Then he lied by telling the elders and church he didn’t do anything immoral or illegal on purpose.  In the first sentence of his confession he says, “I am guilty of criminally soliciting a prostitute.”  He doesn’t say he is guilty of intentionally soliciting a prostitute.] 

##
 
Emerson
“It’s clear to me that I need the same Savior that I preached to you over the years and I’m finding His mercy to be sweeter and stronger in my failures than I ever imagined.  He led me through a very dark valley and He is restoring my soul. 

I am open to any questions you may have and want to reconcile with everyone where I have failed you.  I regularly ask that God would redeem this situation for His glory and the good of all involved.  I love you, KingsWay Church, and will continue to pray for you.” 

[Comment: This is religious pretense and manipulation.] 

##

Holter
Not only was it clear to me (and Matthew as well) that this confession did not meet the standard, Matthew was, in effect, asking us to change the standard.  “I don’t think we can ask for or require more at this point.”  That might be Matthew’s opinion and his desire for us to lower the bar, but such an option was precluded by the standards in the decision. But Steve and Adam were willing to change those standards and vote to accept the confession, despite its obvious failure to meet the standards set. 

[Comment: This is clear cut compromise.  Teter and Campbell are changing the standards for expedience sake.  There is no “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” (Matt. 6:33).] 

##

One other failure in the vote to discharge this discipline was its hastiness.  Why call for a vote based on this obviously deficient confession?  Why the rush?  Why not wait until Gene gains more clarity, or can more clearly confess?  According to Matthew, the need was grounded in Gene’s need be to out from under the pressure of discipline in order to make further spiritual progress.  In his opinion, Gene could make no further progress than he had, and that he would not or could not make any statements more clear than what he had already written.  Matthew also said that he felt the church needed to be able to move on from this season.  I am certainly sympathetic to wanting discipline cases to end.  But we cannot preempt a discipline process without confirming the repentance of the guilty party.  And that confession of repentance had to meet the standards set by the decision that placed him under discipline. 

[Comment: Once Steve Teter receives the “confession,” he rushes to get the discipline discharged like a patient from a hospital.  Emerson is free to go!  Why?  Because he needed “to [be] out from under the pressure of discipline in order to make further spiritual progress.”  That is the last thing Emerson needed.  Matthew Williams thinks he is wiser than God!  Let me refine my point.  He thinks he is wiser than Jesus Christ who instituted church discipline and gave this command.   

Matthew 18:17 “If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.” 

Moreover, Williams, Teter, Campbell, et al., are tolerating sin in Emerson’s life like the arrogant Corinthians did in the case of an immoral stepson with his father’s wife.      

1 Corinthians 5:1-13 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man [stepson] has his father’s wife. [2] And you are arrogant!  Ought you not rather to mourn?  Let him who has done this be removed from among you. [3] For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. [4] When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, [5] you are to deliver this man to Satan [i.e., excommunicate him] for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord. 

[6] Your boasting is not good.  Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? [7] Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened.  For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. [8] Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. 

[9] I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— [10] not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. [11] But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. [12] For what have I to do with judging outsiders?  Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? [13] God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.  

It is not an overstatement to refer to Gene Emerson as a “evil person” as defined by Scripture.  I don’t say that in a malicious or pejorative sense.  It is the language used in the Bible.  Not simply in relation to his attempted immorality with a prostitute, but in relation to his extraordinary lying and deceit. 

The last thing Emerson needs is to be “out from under the pressure of discipline in order to make further spiritual progress.”  Williams is not submitted to the authority of Scripture.  He is submitted to Emerson’s manipulation and his own self-interest.  “The church needed to be able to move on from this season.”  No, they didn’t!  The church needed to obey Scripture, honor God and genuinely serve Gene by standing strong. 

Let’s be clear, “the pressure of discipline” did not impede Emerson making “further spiritual  progress” but surely his release from church discipline did!  Emerson is a master manipulator in my opinion.  He has Williams’ believing (or conspiring with him) that “he would not or could not make any statements more clear than what he had already written” or “make further spiritual progress” until he is “out from under the pressure of discipline.”  In other words, the discipline imposed by the Judicial Review Panel is the reason for Emerson’s spiritual retardiness.] 

##   

I’m not sure why Matthew thinks Gene could not have made more progress.  That might be his opinion, but even if he’s right, that cannot be a basis to change the standard of our evaluation of Gene’s confession.  But what was most concerning to me was that Matthew, when being asked about the urgency for needing a decision right away (in the next few days at the latest), strongly indicated that he would under no circumstances ever excommunicate Gene, despite what our panel might decide.  That is a different matter of concern.  But with respect to the vote we took, Steve and Adam both adopted Matthew’s opinion that Gene could make no more progress and therefore we might have to accept what we had as sufficient. 

[Comment: Matthew Williams should be removed from ministry.  Period!  He knows Emerson intentionally sought out a prostitute and intentionally covered it up.  He knows Emerson continuously lied for 11 months and he is lying now about no recollection of his actions.  But it doesn’t matter what Williams’ knows to be true.  Under no circumstances will he (and Chris Deloglos and Josh Kruger) ever excommunicate Emerson.  And Steve Teter and Adam Campbell are no better.  This is corruption of the highest order and it is the same kind of corruption that surrounds C.J. Mahaney and so many other leaders in Sovereign Grace Churches, Inc.  I have literally documented over a hundred examples of lying, deceiving and cover-up (included sex crimes) over the past seven years by Mahaney, Connolly, Mark Prater, Paul Buckley, Tommy Hill, John Loftness, Jeff Purswell, and scores of other leaders.  That is not an exaggeration.  This is just another egregious example.] 

## 

Steve seems to have had a strong desire to accept Gene’s confession for some time.  Back in December Gene offered a different version of a confession, much shorter and even more vague than this one.  Steve wanted to accept that one too, and he had many of the same reasons for wanting to do so (leave it to the Kingsway elders, Gene is on a positive path, etc.).  There was also, back then, a strong desire to conclude the matter quickly.  I objected to this in a lengthy email where I made essentially the same case with respect to the authority of the written decision as I have laid out here.  The difference now is that, after we [Holter and evidently Campbell] did not accept Gene’s December confession, he appealed the decision.  Appealing was an odd choice for someone asking us to accept his confession with respect to the decision.  Matthew and Steve were glad we had not accepted that decision after his turn around.  All Steve’s questions about whether or not our decision was proper, correct, including how we positioned ourselves in evaluating a future confession, and the basis for that evaluation ended up being upheld by the Court of Appeals.  So the ratification of our decision, including its standards, should have had even more weight for Steve, but his willingness to lower the standards, and relocate the priority opinions in evaluating the confession resurfaced when he called for a vote on this more lengthy, but not much different, version of Gene’s confession. 

[Comment: Steve Teter was looking for every possible way to get Emerson off and I have no doubt he was working closely with Mickey Connolly.  I have seen Teter act in the same corrupt manner in other situations.  For example, he participated on a panel in November 2011 that heard charges I brought against C.J. Mahaney.  He was so biased in Mahaney’s favor, and so set against me, before the panel even began; his fellow elders, Brad Mitchell and Josh Blount, told he should not be on the panel.  In evidence, I was not allowed to attend the hearing to make my charges in person, call witnesses, or cross examine Mahaney.  The hearing was carried out in secret.  And of course, Teter vindicated Mahaney as predicted.] 

## 

I believe this was a failed disciplinary process.  I hope that the effects of this failure do not cause significant harm to Kingsway, and I hope that Matthew’s convictions that Gene will continue to grow in repentance now that he is out from under discipline are born out.  But should Gene come to a place where­­perhaps with restored clarity our [out] from under the pressure of discipline­­he comes to deny intentionality, reverting to his previous false narrative­­the disillusionment of the members of our churches in the effectiveness of our disciplinary procedures will be valid.  Our regional JRC [Judicial Review Committee], and RAE [Regional Assembly of Elders] will have to own the disgrace of this failure on top of all the others throughout this process.  But this failure could have been avoided if we simply held to our standards, or were less hasty in dispensing with this disciplinary process, or took time to actually walk through the statements in the confession with an eye to do some serious analysis

[Comment: Holter is pointing out that Emerson may claim “restored clarity” in the future and use it to deny intentionality.  In other words, he will conveniently remember he didn’t do anything intentionally wrong.  If that happens, he will revert back from his “no memory” position to his position of doing nothing intentionally wrong.  This will result in more disillusionment.  And the Judicial Review Committee and Regional Assembly of Elders will have to “own the disgrace of this failure on top of all the others throughout this process.”  Holter is correct.  The whole process has been disgraceful, and all those involved, have disgraced themselves.  If only the “standards” had been upheld!  Even more so, the Bible.  And no one ever did a “serious analysis” of Emerson’s confession in comparison to the standards.]  

## 

In my opinion Steve and Adam should be formally reprimanded by the JRC, and removed from further service on the JRC.  Additionally, Matthew Williams should be personally corrected for taking the position that he would not excommunicate regardless of the panel’s decisions and advised to avoid relying on our vote as any objective confirmation of Gene’s repentance. 

[Comment: From what I understand, Steve Teter and Adam Campbell were not formally reprimanded or removed from the Mid-South Judicial Review Committee and Matthew Williams was not personally corrected.  He remains the lead pastor at KingsWay Community Church.  Mickey Connolly also remains the Regional Leader and national Director of Church Care.  Connolly should long ago have been removed from his lofty positions for his own deceit and cult-like leadership.  Read here.  His ongoing leadership is a testimony to the tolerance of evil (like with Emerson) that exists in Sovereign Grace Churches, Inc.]       

Respectfully submitted for your evaluation, 

Eric Holter, Pastor, Redeeming Grace Church, Durham, NC

 

Gene Emerson’s Confession without Comment – April 2016 

Emerson Confession
April 2016 

I want to confess to you that I am guilty of criminally soliciting a prostitute and lying to the pastors and to you, my church family, specifically in the statement at the Member’s Meeting that I had not done anything immoral or illegal. 

I live with the grief that my actions have brought dishonor to God and have brought pain and hurt to you, those I care about most.  I am sorry and brokenhearted for bringing shame to Christ and for violating your trust in that.  Please forgive me. 

Many people have asked me how this came to be, and the pastors have asked me to share with you some of the issues that contributed to my sin.  Let me be clear — this is not an excuse.  I am fully responsible for my sin, but I think it’s helpful to share some personal issues that were a factor. 

As family, friends and counselors helped me to review the past five years since our church split, I began to recognize that I had failed to believe God’s promises of goodness in my suffering.  I was striving every day to do my work and fulfill my call, but in hindsight I was laboring in self­sufciency, which led to despair and ultimately to medical depression.  I didn’t have a category to realize it at the time, but I was weary and exhausted spiritually, physically and emotionally in the midst of a dark and hopeless season in my life.” 

As best I can remember, I didn’t wake up on May 29 planning to solicit a prostitute, but as I look back on that afternoon, that’s what happened.  In retrospect, it’s evident that I deceived myself: I believed that because I had no recollection of wanting to solicit a prostitute, but only to get a massage, that I was innocent, at least in my motives.  Out of that, I lied to the pastors and eventually to all of you.  But I was justifying myself and minimizing my sin.  I now see that I am responsible for putting myself in a situation of sexual immorality. 

Just so you know, to this day I find myself unclear about exactly what happened in that hotel room, despite having prayed and pleaded many times that God would give me clarity on the details.  Nevertheless, over the past eight months He has given me clarity on the gravity of my sin.  I’ve come to see my actions as grievous and reproachable, and by His grace I have repented and forsaken those sins in godly sorrow.” 

The Lord has helped me to press into a new, joy­filled relationship with Jesus.  I am so grateful for the growth and life I have been experiencing in His word and prayer, but I know I have a long way to go.  I want to thank you for your prayers and support and patience.  I’m sorry my contradictory statements have made the process difcult for the pastors and you. 

It’s clear to me that I need the same Savior that I preached to you over the years and I’m finding His mercy to be sweeter and stronger in my failures than I ever imagined.  He led me through a very dark valley and He is restoring my soul.  I am open to any questions you may have and want to reconcile with everyone where I have failed you.  I regularly ask that God would redeem this situation for His glory and the good of all involved.  I love you, KingsWay Church, and will continue to pray for you. 

 

Emerson’s Messages Before & After His Arrest Demonstrate His Lucid Mind, Sound Teaching, Shocking Hypocrisy & Willful Transgressions 

In 2015, Emerson was arrested on May 29 for the solicitation of prostitution.  He was arraigned on June 9.  He was found guilty and sentenced on July 9.  He told no one about these events including his wife and family.  On July 12, Williams announced he would take a 5-month sabbatical due to weariness starting August 1 and paid for by the church.  He went on a short-term mission trip to Bolivia from July 18-31 with his wife and a team from the church.  The pastors learned of his conviction three days after he left for Bolivia on July 21.  They confronted him when he returned the end of July.     

Before and after his arrest, he did a preaching series on what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.  All of his messages have been removed from the KingsWay Community Church website, but I made partial transcripts at the time.  Reading the four transcripts is revealing but doesn’t fully convey the full force of hypocrisy revealed in his voice as he emphatically exhorts the church to follow and obey Jesus Christ.      

Three Sundays before his arrest, he preached the message below on “A Call to Die.”  I’ve included time markers from the recording.  He did not seek out a prostitute because he was depressed, confused, or oppressed.  He sought out illicit sex because he refused to obey God’s word and follow his own teaching.  I’ve added underlining for focus and emphasis.

A Call to Die - Mark 8:22-38
Gene Emerson
May 3, 2015 

34:27  And then we see the second question.  The first is “Who is Jesus?”  We understand who he is and what he came to do.  The second question is “What does it mean to follow him?”  And the rest of the chapter tells us this, that to be a disciple is to follow in his steps.  His call is our call.  The rest of this chapter shows you that these words were not written by men but by the Spirit for man would never have chosen this path. 35:03 

35:35  He is saying that confessing Christ means we must follow him to crucifixion and this begins what is called the Great Discipleship Discourse.  Over the next five chapters Jesus predicts his death three separate times and each time he predicts his death, he immediately instructs about the cost and nature of discipleship. 35:56  

35:57  In other words, Mark wants to be sure that we know first and foremost, who Jesus is, and second, what it means to follow him.  That must be absolutely clear.  And by the end of Mark, we will know without doubt, not only who Christ is, but what it means to follow him.  As we ponder these next chapters together, our lives should be changed.  Our presuppositions should be challenged.  Our desire to blend in, to have a normal life, to add Jesus to our lives, should be eliminated.  For Jesus is speaking to us.  36:44 

36:45  Look at [Mark 8] verse 34.  He calls the crowd to him with his disciples.  In other words, what he is going to say now has significance for everybody.  Most were following him because of their miracles.  And Jesus is saying to them, “This is a matter of life and death.”  Everlasting life versus eternal death.  Everyone must become my disciple to live.  37:12 

37:13  And so he calls the crowd to him and he says, “If any would come after me, if anyone would follow me, if anyone would follow in my footsteps, if anyone would be my disciple, three things have to occur.  Three basics things that will turn your life upside down.  First of all, he says, “You must deny yourself.”  We must fundamentally reorient our lives, hear this, so we are removed from the center of our lives, and Christ is placed in the center of our lives.  We could say place him on the throne of your life.  It is an active decision to let go.  To serve him.  To serve and live for him instead of our own comfort and self-interests.  38:09 

38:27  Denying self is far more than self-denial.  Denying self is placing him in the center.  Depending on God alone for salvation.   Not on God plus what we do but God alone.  It is turning away from sinful thoughts and habits.  To please and treasure him.  In other words, denying ourselves is about as un-American as we could be.  It is turning everything on its head.  Deny yourself.  39:01 

39:02  Then he says, “Take up your cross.”  The cross was not a piece of jewelry.  The cross was a means of horrible death.  The most torturously and painful and humiliating death known to man. 39:17 

39:18  When a condemned man carried his own cross to execution it was a way of demonstrating submission and obedience to authority against which he had rebelled before.  But what the convict does under duress, disciples of Christ do willingly.  Sacrificing, enduring anything because of our love for the Savior.  Putting to death our self-centered life for the sake of the gospel.  Literally losing our life.  Not just feeling like we are losing it.  Losing our lives. 39:55 

39:56  When Bonhoeffer writes, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”  It is a great summary of the gospel.  And Luke’s gospel adds the word daily.  To take up your cross daily because that is how we must do it.  It is not a onetime decision.  It is an ongoing way of life. 40:20 

40:45  “Deny yourself” he said, “Take up your cross and follow me.”  Follow me is just a way of saying obey me!  Walk in my footsteps.  Obey my commands!  This is not like a special message for special disciples or missionaries.  This is a call to the normal Christian life.  And it is so easy in our culture to minimize this, to glaze this over.  To act like this is something for the super saints.  41:23 

42:15  “Living a self-centered life focused on this present world, we will lose our lives.  And think about it.  Think about times in your life where you have compromised in your life to find joy.  To find happiness.  Did you find it?  Think about times in your life where you’ve given sacrificially.  Where you have taken Christ’s words seriously and turned away from sin.  Think about people you know and admire who are following Christ.  What is the quality?  What is the quality that we see?  Men and women who lose their lives save it.  43:08 

43:46  Brothers and sisters this is a weighty call.  It is a call to serve him.  To identify with the one who came to die for our sin.  It separates us from our comfortable version of Jesus.  And these chapters will require us to acknowledge if we have place Jesus on the mantle of our lives so that we can talk to him about how we want to do good things.  Or whether we have embraced the cost of discipleship and whether we are allowing him to convict us and to change us and transform us into a people who are willing to die for him.  Are willing to live for him.  44:36 

45:45  I want to challenge you to think deeply about these things.  To really take these in your heart.  That’s what I am seeking to do.  To really ask a question.  Am I a disciple as defined by Christ?  I find way too often I am not.  Am I embracing his cross?  Am I coming to die or am I seeking to make my own way to live?  46:18 

47:08  What does it mean to follow him?  It means to deny myself, take up his cross and follow him.  For whoever wants to save his life will lose his life.  I want us to ponder that for a few moments.  47:27

47:41  Would you pray with me.  God, thank you that you call us together not just to teach us something new, but to remind us of what is urgent.  You called us together this morning Father, to reveal yourself to us afresh as the Messiah, the very Son of God.  You helped us, along with the disciples, see that it is a call to die.  And that your call to die is ours as well.  And so would you help us.  Lord we need your help.  We need help found by the Spirit.  We need help found in the sacrament of communion.  Thank you for providing them for us today.  48:35 

48:36  Oh God, show us the way to walk and I pray that over these next weeks that you would open our hearts to understand what it means to be a disciple, a follower of Christ, and I prayer for each one of us, beginning with myself, that this would not be simply knowledge, but would transform our lives.  In Christ name.  Amen.  Amen.”  49:07 

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“The Pathway to Discipleship” was preached by Emerson three days after his arrest.  No one had any idea including his family.  He claims he is “freshly aware of [his] need for grace” but doesn’t humble himself to receive grace.  For the next two months, he covers up his sin until he is exposed by the elders.  He immediately lies to them.  And then to the church.  That continues to this day.  

In this message, he preaches about the dire consequences of “causing another to stumble” “by the way we act” but his focus is not on himself.  It is primarily on those who “criticize and oppose another believer” (e.g.,  him).  Emerson has stumble thousands of people over the years in his role as an apostle and pastor.   

After this part of his message, he exhorts the church to “be distinct in the path of discipleship by pursuing holiness because holiness leads to hope,” he teaches on fleeing temptation and putting sin to death.  The hypocrisy is stunning.  

At one point, Emerson says, “I am aware in my own life just this past week of different situations where sin has sought to entrap me.”  He gives the impression he overcame the “difficult situations” that tempted him.  He wasn’t entrapped by sin.  He planned his sin.   

Toward the end of the message, he talks about the need for others in the pursuit of holiness.  “And we are a people helping one another to purse holiness.  We need each other.  We need each other’s prayers and encouragement and exhortations.  We need one another.”  He did just the opposite.  He concealed his sin and then lied about his sin.     

The Pathway to Discipleship – Mark 9:30-50
Gene Emerson
May 31, 2015 

0:00  I want to welcome you this morning for those of you who are here as our guests.  We are just especially honored that you would be with us.  We gather as a people, not because we are perfect, or have arrived by any means, I am so aware, freshly aware of my need for God’s grace.  We gather here because we are Christ’s.  We gather here to worship him and thank him.  We gather here as a foretaste of all that we’ll experience forever and ever.  We gather here as God’s people, to be reminded of who he is, of our need for a Savior, and his amazing provision.  0:49 

29:00  But he [Jesus] also has a very deep concern with causing another to stumble.  So [Mark 9] verse 42, “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin it would be better for him to have a great millstone hung around his neck and thrown into the sea.”  So just as Jesus notices the kindness that we do for one other, if we cause one another to stumble by the way we act, by our lack of love, by our lack of care, or by our active opposition, if we criticize and oppose another believer, it is as if we are criticizing and opposing God himself.  It is a very serious matter.  29:23 

29:24  And he said it would be just like the Roman practice of getting a millstone, these great big stones that are pulled by a donkey to crush grain, that that would be tied around the neck.  And the Romans actually did this, when they wanted to kill some insurrection leaders, they tied millstones around their neck and threw them into the sea.  That would be the appropriate punishment.  That’s how awful that is to God.  30:23 

30:24  And so, serving leads to greatness, serving one another in great ways and small ways, having an attitude of a servant.  But then, thirdly, he says, be distinct in the path of discipleship by pursuing holiness because holiness leads to hope and he says it in a way to us that seems kind of unusual.  He says in verse 43, “If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off.”  Verse 45, “If your foot cause you to sin, cut if off.”  Verse 47, “If your eye causes you to sin, tear it out.”  The Jews personalized sin.  A person has a responsibility for sin to the part of the body that committed the sin.  So if someone stole, they’d say “Your hand stole.  Your hand was guilty.  Your hand sinned.”  Jesus is saying, if that is the case then cut if off!  31:29 

31:30  If your hands cause you to steal, cut it off!  If your feet take you to evil, cut them off!  He is not calling us to self-mutilation but he is calling us to flee sin.  It is a command to deal drastically with sin because sin is to the inner person what a cancerous tumor is to the body.  Whatever tempts a person must properly and decisively be renounced even as a surgeon amputates a limb to save a life.  32:07 

32:08  So he is saying, “Sin is your enemy.  Sin seeks to destroy you.”  And let’s be clear.  He is not saying, “Flee sin in order to be saved.”  He is saying, “Flee sin because you are saved.  To avoid the fires of hell, and he lays before them the very real possibility of hell in verse 43 calling it the unquenchable fire.  Saying in verse 48, “The worm does not die, the fire is not quenched.”  Brothers and sisters, hell is a very real place.  And if as you are listening to this you are aware that you have never turned from your sin and trusted in the Savior.  Apart from that happening you are on your way to hell.  That is your certain destination.  That is what this makes absolutely clear.  Hell is a very real place of eternal torment.  It is held out for us as the most sobering recognition.  The most sobering warning.  That we must turn.  33:21 

33:22  But the truth is for Christians, no matter how many years you have followed the Lord, sin is crouching at the door.  Sin is our enemy.  I am aware in my own life just this past week of different situations where sin has sought to entrap me.  And we need God’s help.  We need God’s help.  We need to hate sin because it seeks to destroy us.  We need to hate sin because it dishonors the Savior. 

34:09 And this is a call to hold tightly to grace.  To run into the Savior’s arms and to recognize that no matter how many years we have followed the Lord, we are all essentially at our core, broken people in need of a Savior.  34:33 

35:18  Salt acts in a believer’s life to preserve and to refine us.  It is part of our life.  It is part of the path of discipleship.  Suffering marks the path of discipleship.  Remember where we started.  Suffering leads to glory. And if we are to follow Jesus we must deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow him.  35:43 

36:45  And then he concludes in [Mark 9] verse 50 with salt in a different way.  He is using salt here in a different understanding.  He says, “Salt is good but if salt has lost its saltiness how will you make it salty again?”  Salt was used as a condiment, as a preservative, it was common in the ancient world, but it also had impurities so salt in that day would lose its flavor.  And he is saying that a believer’s life is marked by the salt.  That we should be distinct!  That we should be salty!  That all these aspects of the path of discipleship: suffering and serving and pursuing holiness; are all with a view toward making us a distinct people, a salty people, a people that are different than the world around us.  And he is saying that “If salt has lost it saltiness, how will it be salty again?”  In other words, our lives are not simply marked by conversion and now I am a Christian and it doesn’t matter what I do.  But our lives must be in continual pursuit of the Lord.  Our walk continually pursuing him.  To be distinct.  To be different.  To be set apart.  38:03 

38:22  And this isn’t just an individual thing.  But actually, in a primary way, this idea of saltiness, this idea of distinctiveness, is what marks God’s people.  It is so important.  It is not just an individual pursuit but our corporate pursuit.  That we are a people set apart for him.  That we are a people that when someone walks in here and they look really bad that we are pursuing them because we see in them an image bearer of God.  We are a people that care for one another and look out for one another and serve one another.  And we are a people helping one another to purse holiness.  We need each other.  We need each other’s prayers and encouragement and exhortations.  We need one another.  God has called us to be a people that are distinct.  Following Jesus radically changes our life as an individual and as a people.  39:28 

40:20  The path of discipleship, church, is rooted in the gospel and I want to remind you of the message we began with this morning that is because of Jesus life, death and resurrection.  It is because he died for ours sins that we can do these things.  We don’t do these things to be saved.  We do these things because God has saved us.  40:46 

40:47  And that is what we are going to celebrate as we conclude today.  We are going to celebrate the Lord’s Supper.  That is a reminder of something that each of us has in common.  We do this together because it is a corporate testimony.  We are saying, together what defines us, you and me, is not our race or our background or our age.  What defines us is that we are brothers and sisters in Christ.    Now if you are not a Christian, if you are not a Christian, I would love the opportunity to pray with you after this meeting.  You are so welcome in this place but please don’t participate in communion.  Communion is something particularly for believers.  And to participate would be to drink judgement to yourself.  But please watch, observe, and see what God is going.  This is a picture of God’s people.  41:45 

41:46  If you are a Christian and you have issues that are not resolved with other believers, please participate by observing.  This is a testimony that Christ body is whole because of what he has accomplished on the cross.  42:03 

## 

In this message, “The Faith of a Child,” he talks about profound weariness being “a present issue in my own life” that the elders and his wife helped him “realize over the past few weeks.”  This will become his main excuse for soliciting a prostitute.  He attributes this weariness to the church split in 2010 that was caused by his pride and self-righteousness in how he related to fellow leaders and church members.  Members who were bringing him correction were labeled as divisive and “aggrieved.”  They were not.  They were true friends.  It resulted in a mass exodus.  Attendance plummeting from over 700 in 2009 to 250 in 2011.  

This message was given on June 14, 2015.  Five days earlier he was arraigned (formally charged) in court.  He didn’t tell his wife or the elders.  Weariness is an evidence of pride.  It results from not waiting on the Lord.  It is not an excuse for sin.

The Faith of a Child – Mark 10:13-16
Gene Emerson
June 14, 2015

32:36  I love the promise of Isaiah 40, “He gives strength to the weary.”  Can you relate to that?  “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak, even youths grow tired and weary and young men stumble and fall but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.”  Oh, what a promise.  “They will soar on wings like eagles.  They will run and not grow weary.  They will walk and not faint.”  This is for us.  This is for us.  If you are a believer this is God’s promise for you.  33:33 

33:34  This is near to my heart.  It has been a present issue in my own life.  Many of you know that as a church we went through a very difficult time about five years ago.  And I came out of that time and just decided to keep on moving because we needed to move forward.  We needed to pursue God and pursue his purposes and renew our hearts.  And I just presumed along the way that somewhere along the way that my soul would be restored.  And what I’ve realized over the past few weeks with the help of my fellow elders, and my wife, is that I never got around to that.  And so the truth is that I have this profound weariness that has remained.  And this Scripture has just afresh shown me that it is God’s purpose and plan to renew, to restore my soul.  It doesn’t go away with a week at the beach.  It requires God’s activity to renew, restore, and refresh our hearts.  34:43 

34:44  So we are considering ways for Liz and I to take some time in the months ahead to come and be renewed and restored because we so want to serve you and to run this race with you.  And to finish the race well.  But we need to encounter God.  And I ask you that for your prayers because I know you care of us and I know that you want that as well.  I just want to ask that you be praying.  Pray that God would meet us and refresh us and restore us.  We need to have focused time to make that happen.  And we’ll share more about that with you as we have more to say.  But I know this that we are not alone in battling weariness.  And I know that like you we need to come with child likeness to the throne of grace to receive help in our time of need.  35:51 

35:52  It is a wonderful promise in 1 Peter 5 where he says, “After you suffer for a while the God of all grace will himself restore you, confirm you, strengthen you, and establish you.”  That is a wonderful promise.  We need that don’t we?  We need God’s help and we have wonderful picture of God’s help in the last verse of this section.  I want you to go home with this in your heart.  Verse 16, “He took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.”  This is an amazing picture of gospel grace.  36:48 

## 

His comments about weariness garnered sympathy from the church.  Little did they know he was deceiving them.  Emerson needed the Lord to restore his soul but that comes through repentance and confession.  He continues his series on discipleship.  He passionately exhorts everyone in the church to answer “The Most Important Question” which is about whole heartedly following the Lord.  He exclaims, “God wants your heart!  All of it!  God wants your heart.  All of it.” 

Less than three weeks after this message, he is found guilty and sentenced by Judge Hurley.  He tells no one.  He planned to cover it up and continue in ministry after a five-month sabbatical.  This is the last sermon, Emerson would give at KingsWay Community Church.  It was his most hypocritical.  It is poignant example of someone demanding others live the truth while boldly and totally disregarding it.  Jesus takes hypocrisy ever so seriously.  He pronounces seven woes of judgement on the religious leaders of his day in Matthew 23:13-36.  Emerson has never confessed his blatant hypocrisy. 

The Most Important Question – Mark 10:17-31
Gene Emerson
June 21, 2015 

0:00  I want to say thanks to so many of you that have encouraged me this week as I shared last week, how God has, how we are in need of God to restore our souls.  And I want to say thanks for the family you are.  It is an amazing privilege to be a part of this community and to serve you.  You are a joy to Liz and I.  Just want you to know how grateful we are.  Mark, chapter 10, let’s read together verses 17 to 31 and see what God’s claim upon our lives is as we read this passage.  0:49 

5:22  I want to just give you this summary, as a summary of the whole passage.  God wants your heart!  All of it!  God wants your heart.  All of it.  Three points we are going to see.  Verses 17 to 22, following Jesus is costlier than you think.  Verses 23 to 27, following Jesus is harder than you think.  And verses 28 to 31, following Jesus is better than you think.  Church if there is ever a passage that absolutely makes a claim on every single one of us it is here.  It is really hard to escape this without the conviction of God.  And here’s what I am so grateful of.  When God brings conviction, he doesn’t do it to condemn.  He doesn’t condemn his people.  He brings conviction to change us.  He brings conviction with hope.  This morning there is conviction with hope but conviction none the less.  For God does not want to leave us the way we came in.  God brings his word like a sharp two edged sword and he applies it to our life in just the right place and then he says, “Now I am going to give you more of myself.”  God wants your heart!  All of it! 6:50 

16:50  Put yourself in this place because we may be in this place.  “Go sell all that you have.”  The one thing that was lacking was undistracted devotion to God.  The one commandment that he had not kept, that he must keep, is you shall place no other god before me.  There can be no other gods besides me.  The call to discipleship is a radical call to trust and commitment to Jesus.  He cannot, he will not, permit anything that competes with him!  God wants you heart!  All of it!  17:42 

17:43  And so he told this man, this wealthy man, “You must get rid of everything.  I want you to imagine life without money.  All you have is me.  Am I enough?”  Imagine life without money.  Am I enough.  See following Jesus costs you everything.  18:16 

18:17  In order to have a childlike trust, a childlike dependence, there must be nothing in our lives that competes with Jesus.  There must be nothing that we hold before him.  Nothing we say, Jesus, you can anything in my life except this!  Jesus says, “Huh, funny you mentioned it, that is the only thing I really want.” 18:43 

18:44  Now for you this morning, it may or may not be money.  It is whatever is in your mind right now.  And whatever that is, God requires it.  God wants your heart.  All of it.  19:01 

19:02  He’s not looking for your money.  He’s looking for your heart.  But if money, or anything else, stands in the way, well, he will not permit that.  And we know that because this greatest question in the Bible is followed by the saddest verse in the Bible.  Verse 22 says, “Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful for he had great possessions.”  Perhaps better said, his possessions had him. 19:40 

22:12  He was the only man that we see in the Bible who came to Jesus who actually walked away worse than when he came because he walked away knowing what he needed to do and choosing not to.  Following Jesus is costlier than you think.  Following Jesus is also harder than you think.  Look at verse 23, “Jesus looked around and said to his disciples,” and there’s the same idea, remember he looked at the man and he loved him, now Jesus looks at his disciples.  Now I want you to note that because he is looking at you.  Jesus is looking at you.  23:00 

40:30  His [Jim Elliot’s] life’s philosophy is summed up in this quote, “He is no fool, who gives what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose.”  “He is no fool, who gives what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose.”  Jim Elliot was wise.  The rich young ruler was a fool.  Now if Jesus were to look in your life this morning, what would he say?  Where is your heart?  41:15 

41:16 Are you tithing as the starting point for Christian stewardship?  Are you in a community group [small group] investing in a local church?  Are you sharing your faith with others?  Or are you living in condemnation thinking well I can’t do that?  41:33 

41:34 Jesus wants your heart.  All of it.  And that’s why I said at the beginning, there is a claim here on all of our lives.  We cannot escape these verses.  Following Jesus is costlier than you think.  Following Jesus is harder than you think.  Following Jesus is better than you think.  And so I want us to end with this thought from George Whitefield, “Go and learn what this means.”  I want us to take a few moments before we move on to just ask these two questions and to allow the Spirit of God to speak to our hearts.  Two questions.  To whom or what are you looking for salvation?  Happiness, comfort, security?  And secondly, what god have you given part of your heart to that needs to be given to God. 42:42 

42:43  Father, I pray for myself and I pray for my brothers and sisters that you would help us.  Open our hearts.  Lord, help us not to water down the gospel.  To be quick to assume that we are radical.  Help us Lord to be radical.  Help us to take these words and apply them to our lives.  To ask without reservation, “Oh God, what does it look like for me to give my whole heart to you?”  Let’s just consider that for a few moments and then we will dismiss.  43:43 

 

Conclusion 

Gene Emerson was once a dear friend.  I want the best for him and best involves the faithful application of Jesus’ teaching.  It is my fervent prayer he comes to repentance.  If he does there will be much rejoicing on earth and in heaven (Luke 15:1-7).  I likewise pray for the repentance of the men referenced above who failed to follow these commands for Gene’s good. 

Matthew 18:15-17 “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you.  If they listen to you, you have won them over.  But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’  If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

 

 

 

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