As You Are

Posted on 11/15/2009 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.

AUDIO: dialup - broadband - podcast

TRANSCRIPT: (does not contain everything found in the audio above)

*** listen to the audio for introduction and prayer ***


Public Prayer Requests:


*** There are no public prayer requests this week. ***


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Please turn around and click one of the offering plates by the doors, and give as the Lord leads.

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HIS BANNER OVER ME

He is the Vine and we are the branches,
His banner over me is love.
He is the Vine and we are the branches,
His banner over me is love.
He is the Vine and we are the branches,
His banner over me is love.
His banner over me is love!

He is the Shepherd and we are his beloved,
His banner over me is love.
He is the Shepherd and we are his beloved,
His banner over me is love.
He is the Shepherd and we are his beloved,
His banner over me is love.
His banner over me is love!

He calls us to His Banqueting Table,
His banner over me is love.
He calls us to His Banqueting Table,
His banner over me is love.
He calls us to His Banqueting Table,
His banner over me is love.
His banner over me is love!


MIGHTY IS OUR GOD

Mighty is our God
Mighty is our King
Might is our Lord
Ruler of everything

His name is higher,
higher than any other name
His power is greater,
for he has created everything


TO HIM WHO SITS ON THE THRONE

To him who sits on the throne
     and unto the Lamb
To him who sits on the throne
     and unto the Lamb

Be blessing and glory
     and honor and power forever
Be blessing and glory
     and honor and power forever

*** listen to the audio for the message introduction ***


Last week, we talked about spiritual battles, specifically demonic activity and mental strongholds. Unfortunately, and this was expected, some of the people here were offended and promised to never return. We were accused of being bigots and of judging people.

And as we've done several times before, I thought it might be a good idea for us to take another look at the vision of this church, and where we stand on the issues of judgment and acceptance.

I'm not going to talk very long, and if you'd like to say a quick prayer that my voice will hold out in spite of this cold, that would be appreciated. And a prayer for instant healing would be great as well!

First, I'd like to make a very bold statement, and it is this:

We are not here for people who want to stay bound. Do you have a pet sin that you've embraced as a part of who you are? A sin that you plan to keep, and that you want us to accept and excuse?

If so, we're going to end up disappointing and offending you. Neither I nor my wife nor anyone on the ministry team are under the dillusion that God didn't do as good a job writing the Scriptures as we could. None of us think we could make it better, and therefore, you'll never hear me or anyone else stand behind this pulpit, or anywhere else for that matter, and explain away anything written in the Scriptures, or water down anything the Bible says is true.

If want to have your sins accepted as good, then you'll have to look elsewhere. And, unfortunately, there are plenty of other places in the virtual world that call themselves Christian churches and ministries that will say your sins are not sins, they are simply the way God made you.

But I will boldly declare that any preacher, minister, or other such leader or group of so-called ministers who do so have rejected the truth and can only lead you to hell.

In fact, any so-called minister who says that God will accept any lifestyle that involves sex outside of the marital union of one man and one woman, that minister has rejected God, and unless they repent, they are heading for eternity in hell.

And that's not my opinion. It's what the Bible says. And if I were to say otherwise in a desire for some sort of false unity, then I'd be guilty of the same sin.

Let's take a look together, in 1st Thessalonians chapter 4, verses 3 through 8:

1 Thessalonians 4:3-8 (NKJV)

3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality;
4 that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor,
5 not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God;
6 that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified.
7 For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness.
8 Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit.

Since the focus of today's discussion isn't sexual sin, I'm not going to spend any more time on this issue, but if you take even a casual look at what the Bible says is sexual purity, you're bound to notice that Jesus said the Godly reason for marriage is that God made them male and female, and that even fantasising about any sexual or romantic union outside of that is sinning in your heart.

But the thing I'd like to point out here is verse eight, which says that the one who rejects the call to sexual purity doesn't reject man, but rejects God.

I've been accused, along with everyone else here, of rejecting people because we will not explain away what the Bible says about sexual purity, and because we denounce sexual sin according to the Bible's definition of it. But the verse we just read makes it clear that it has nothing to do with accepting or rejecting people; instead, it is a matter of accepting or rejecting God.

And if I am willing to stand up here and reject God by rejecting the Scriptures regarding sexual purity that condemn fornication, adultery, homosexuality, and any type of lust, then I would be rejecting God. That's what the Bible says. And if I would dare to openly reject God, then what in the world do I think I have any business in claiming to be a Christian minister who can lead you in the ways of God?

So to those who would get offended and leave for some place that won't declare such things as sins that will take you to hell, I would make this appeal: Not necessarily to stay here, but if you leave us; by all that is holy, don't try to find a place where the Bible says they have rejected God! Feeling accepted is not worth following someone who has rejected God! Instead, look for another place where they believe and boldly proclaim the WHOLE Word of God, and not a place where they reject God by rejecting or re-writing parts of what he says in his Holy Word.

And to others in ministry, and that includes everyone here who is a part of the family of God, I would like to pass along this mandate from the Word of God:

2 Timothy 4:1-5 (NKJV)

1 I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom:
2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.
3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers;
4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.
5 But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

Well, the time has come, the time when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers, and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and will be turned aside to fables.

Sound doctrine says that we wage war against demonic forces. We talked about this last week, and when I shared the testimony of a Christian lady who had a very real first-hand experience with a spirit of homosexuality, a number of people got offended and left.

But this wasn't really a surprise. Do you think that the demons that hold people bound will just sit quiety by and allow themselves to be exposed?

No, those same demons who have been given free access to the minds of those they hold in chains, were shouting into those minds in self-defense, causing their captives to think thoughts such as, "These people are judging me! They're rejecting me! They hate me and think I'm evil! They are bigots and homophobes! They think I have demons, which is not true! I'll just go somewhere where they'll love and accept me, instead of a crazy, homophobic, hateful, bigotted place like this!"

But the truth is that we love them enough to tell them the truth in hopes that they will be set free from the chains that are holding them bound.

And my prayer today and every day is that somehow the truth of Scripture is revealed to them, that they see into the realm of the spirit, and that they both acknowledge and reject their sin so that they can be set free and have that weight removed from their souls.


Just as the passage we read a moment ago says those who reject the truth about sexual purity are not rejecting man but are rejecting God, so it is true that we who reject sexual sins, including homosexuality, are not rejecting the people who practice them; instead, we are rejecting the demons that hold them bound, and the deception this particular sin brings.

And the reason for this? It's certainly not because we reject those held captive by sin. Quite the opposite is true. It's because we accept you as being loved by God. You are the reward of Jesus' suffering, the Lamb who was slain. He purchased you for his own by his blood. He bought you away from demons, from deceptions, and from sin, so that, rejecting all those things, you could be set free to walk in fellowship with God.

Not the "feeling" of fellowship, which many people walking in sin have, thinking they talk with God and he talks with them; No, I'm talking about the real deal -- that fellowship which satan works night and day to keep you from having.


About four and a half years ago, my wife and I discovered the virtual world of Second Life. And the first thing I noticed is that there were no active Christian ministries here. The only church I found had been abandoned and taken over by someone who filled it with pornography.

And so our vision was to bring the presence of God into the virtual community, through the preaching and teaching the Word, worship, prayer, and ministry.

By preaching and teaching the Word, I don't mean parts of it, or a revised version of it which doesn't offend people as much or which excuses things the Bible really condemns.

That type of psuedo-Christianity is for those with itching ears, those who won't endure sound doctrine. And notice the words that passage uses; it says, "they will not endure sound doctrine." You don't have to "endure" something that is always pleasant and never offends you. Instead, you have to "endure" something that challenges you, and that may sometimes offend you.

And we've lost people like that the entire four years we've been here.

This passage talks about those the seeker-friendly church tries to not offend. They are looking for something to fulfill their own desires, to make them feel accepted and right with God.

But here is our pledge to you.

First of all, if you want to change to please God, then you don't need to hide any of your failures from us. We will accept you completely.

We all mess up. But there's a huge difference between falling down and staying down. If you want to stay bound, if you want to hold on to your lifestyle of sin, then we can't help you. That's all there is to it. We will wish you the best, but that "best" is that you will come to an end of yourself and the Holy Spirit will reveal to you your desperate condition and your need to come to the Savior on his terms and reject your life of sin and compromise.

So have you failed? Have you fallen? There's no need to hide it. There's no need to feel ashamed. We're not going to reject you or judge you. If you want to get things right with God, get back up, and leave the past behind you, we will stand with you every step of the way.

You don't have to be "good enough." Our own goodness is worthless anyway. It is Jesus who makes us "good enough." It is Jesus who gives us the desire to please God. And it is Jesus who sets us free by his blood and who yokes together with us to walk on the paths of life together.

So if you've been offended by something you've heard from this pulpit, good. The fact you're still here just means you are still willing to endure sound doctrine. And when we acknowledge that we have areas in our lives that don't line up with the Word of God, then we have hope, because that's the first step to being set free.


I'm going to go ahead and close out this service. And my invitation to you, my challenge, is that you either dedicate or re-dedicate yourself to being a man or a woman of God who endures sound doctrine, who doesn't look for teachers who say what you enjoy hearing, but who preach the whole Word of God without apology.

And I also challenge you to never reject anyone who is searching for the truth, nor those who want to please God and who are seeking for freedom from their sins.

Remember Jesus, who said it is not the well who need a physician, but the sick. Those who refuse to acknowledge they're sick or who want to hold on to their sickness, really can't be helped. But remember these words of Scripture in Isaiah 42:3, speaking prophetically about Jesus:

Isaiah 42:3 (NKJV)

3 A bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He will not quench; He will bring forth justice for truth.

Are you bruised? Jesus will not break you, he will heal you. Are you smoking like a candle wick that's just been blown out? Jesus will not quench you, he will re-light you with the fire of his Holy Spirit.

And we are ambasadors of Christ, to not break the bruised, and not quench those whose flames have gone out, but to search for those who really want help, and to declare the truth of the Word of God and to bring them to the cross.


Anyone here who's on the ministry team, please come stand at the front now.


I apologize that the service is so short today, next time maybe I'll take Zycam at the first sign of a cold like Rush Limbaugh tells everyone to.

Seriously though, I hope some things were cleared up today. And I hope we can all lay down our guards, at least in the company of true believers, and that we can conduct ourselves in such a way that when other believers are open and honest with us, we don't make them regret it.

This altar is open for a time of prayer, worship, and ministry. You're all invited to get out of your seats and come gather at the front.

If you need to go, you're free to do so. If you'd like someone to talk or pray with you, please instant message me or someone else on the ministry team.

If you can stay until after this time at the altar, you're all invited to join us in the room to your left for a time of fellowship.

Come. Let's seek God together, surrendering ourselves to his hand so he can change us into what he wants us to be, coming to him just as you are.