The Illusion of Success, Part III

So, good works should not be judged as impotent.  While they cannot save a man, they are important to the balance of the world.  Evil men who do good are at least not doing evil for the time they are doing good.  Still, we have to look into the motivations of the heart.  I know ministers who preach the Gospel and many are lead to Jesus, yet their lives are bankrupt.  I know men and women who have huge television ministries, but their lives are empty.  They preach to billions of people, but their own families and friends cannot find the Gospel in their lives.  They live like the unsaved.  They commit adultery.  They are drug addicts.  They are alcoholics.  They are consumed with greed.  They have masters other than God.  They are filled with pride.  In spite of all of these things, men and women worship them and are lead to worship through them.  Does this mean that their ministries are useless—without worth to the kingdom of God?  Of course not! 

 

Denny Nissley is a good friend of mine who has a great ministry, preaching to street people and the hopeless around the world.  He also goes into disaster areas and feeds the hungry.  God redeemed him from the street and he has never forgotten the pit he was raised in—and delivered from by the grace of God.  Everyday he is grateful to God for the chance to change peoples’ lives.  He brings drug addicts into his home so that they can find hope and freedom from the bondage that has brought them down and destroyed their lives, ultimately separating them from God and His kingdom.  Recently, Denny published a book about his life and ministry.  It is packed with stories of God’s deliverance in troubled timesBGod’s faithfulness to man in all situations.  The other day Denny was speaking with the president of a large publishing house that had just purchased the small Christian publishing house that published Denny’s book.  The president admitted that he was a Christian whose life paled in light of the ministry God has given to Denny.  In the course of their conversation there was a general discussion of the need for books like Denny’sBbooks that look at the lives of living saints who are making their lives count for the kingdom of God.  “Why” he asked Denny, “is there not a series on modern saints like yourself?  Saints who are making a difference in the world with their lives?”

 

You and I might have been taken back by this sort of question from the head of a huge secular publish house.  Not Denny, of course, the difference between you, me, and Denny is that he lives most every moment looking for a way to tell whoever he is talking to about Jesus.  Denny laughed, “It is really simple.  The problem is that I am still alive and most publishers are afraid that if they write about my life while I am alive I will then run off and divorce my wife and disgrace the kingdom and God.”  Denny did not stop there, however, and here is where his moment with the publisher became relevant to this discussion.  “Does my failure to live up to the standards of God’s law make the work of the Lord irrelevant in the lives of those people I touched?  NO!”  This is the truth.  It might not make sense in light of the discussion we are having on the true motivation of the heart of a man.  What we have to see is that it does not matter what the judgment of man is concerning the ministry of another man.  What matters is the judgment of God.  We can look into the New Testament to see how Jesus viewed this.  It might rattle our theology a little bit, but any close study of the life of Jesus will do that to a man.  Jesus seemed to spend a good bit of his time destroying the judgments of man as to the reality of God.  He did not wash His hands before eating, flying in the face of the law He was supposed to fulfill.  (Matthew 15.2.)  He did not associate with the proper people.   In fact, He spent most of His time with men and women of questionable character at best.  He was the best friend an outcast person ever met.  One of the most telling moments of Jesus ministry was just before His death when His disciples complained that there was a man preaching the Gospel who was not a member of their click of twelve.  Jesus was not moved by their consternation, however.  He simple said anyone who is not against us is for us.  (Mark 9.40.)  Paul expressed the same sentiment when he proclaimed that it did not matter what a man’s motives were, it only matter that the Gospel of Jesus Christ was preached.

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C.S. LEWIS--Mere Christianity; CLAIRE BERLINSKI--Menace in Europe: Why the Continent's Crisis is America's Crisis, Too; BRUCE BAWER--While Europe Slept: How Radical islam is Destroying the West from Within; DAVID LEVERING LEWIS--God's Crucible: Islam and the Making of Europe, 570-1215; THOMAS SCHIRRMACHER--The Persecution of Christians Concerns Us All; PHILIP JENKINS--God's Continent: Christianity, Islam, and Europe's Religious Crisis

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