Saturday, January 1, 2011

What God Through TRUE Repentance Can Do

Pastor Harvey Burnett & The Dunamis Word wishes a Happy, Wonderful, and Prosperous New Year to all. May the Lord's face shine upon you like never before in 2011 as the day of our redemption draws near.


Pastor/Evangelist Jimmy Lee Swaggart
Prior to 1988 Pastor/Evangelist Jimmy Lee Swaggart, known by millions simply as "Brother Swaggart" was preaching all over the country and traveling overseas conducting what we now call mega conferences. He was pastoring over 7,000 members at his church Family Worship Center in Baton Rouge, LA. (then a part of the Assemblies Of God), bursting at the seams with a thriving Christian bible college, and receiving donations, from an estimated 8 million American TV audience, (over 500 million viewers world wide) Donations were estimated to be in excess of $150,000,000 annually (that's over $500,000 per day). He was achieving all of this while preaching against sin in all forms from the White House to skid row. 

Before May 1988 however, it would be discovered that Evangelist Swaggart frequently visited at least one prostitute regularly, Debra Murphree, from New Orleans. According to her, Evangelist Swaggart didn't see her to have sex, but to spend some time engaging in other forms of sexual fantasy. Even though she would incidentally fail a polygraph test and claims abounded that Evangelist Swaggart had been set up due to retaliation of another TV Evangelist, Marvin Gorman, whom Swaggart had previously claimed was an adulterer. In spite of a possible set up, Swaggart would yet go on to repent before the word claiming that he had sinned and acknowledging his faults before a national TV audience that made world news and even interrupted regularly scheduled programming.

If that wasn't bad enough this same minister, in Oct. 1991 was caught with another prostitute, Rosemary Garcia, in Indio, CA. and would later go on to tell the church that God told him not to step down and that what he had done was "none of the church's business". By the way, to pour salt in the wound, around the same time he was successfully sued for over $10 million by Evangelist Marvin Gorman (mentioned previously) as the court sided with Gorman that Swaggart's claims were without foundation. 

Thank God That's Not The End Of The Story

Some 19 years later Evangelist Swaggart is back to preaching teaching and doing many of the things he used to do, before his moral failures, only he seems to be doing it all better than ever and much more wisely and

with a greater personal committment. His son, Donnie Swaggart, is co-pastor of Family Christian Ctr. and the entirety of what can be deemed as "Jimmy Swaggart Ministries" is on the rise through increased church attendance and  giving. New ventures include the development and acquisition of a new Sonlife radio and television network, and significantly growing enrollment at World Evangelism Bible College And Seminary. In other words, the entire outreach is ever growing and broadcasting the message of the cross, grace, forgiveness and holiness in Christ 24 hours a day 7 days a week on a commercial free basis. 

Evangelist/Pastor Donnie Swaggart
Restoration, hope and what Jesus can do through the cross is the message of this ministry and it is proving to be a highly successful approach and methodology. One thing that is apparent is that there is no hint of "stardom" in the eyes of this ministry which makes it, as a world wide ministry, a rather unusual and highly refreshing change of pace from modern ministry and what too many claim they must be in order to be successful. 

It' Ain't Over...

One could say that it certainly looked like that this minister was on the way to the back seat among ministers who have failed never to rise again. The sin was indeed grievous. However the grace of God is a serious and real grace. With that said REPENTANCE must be a serious and real repentance.

Revelation 2:2-5 ~ "2-I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: 3-And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. 4-Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. 5-Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent."

Although this minister could have followed the thoughts of modern  exegetes and blamed his trials and tribulations on people and ultimately God himself, he choose not to do so. He choose an alternate form of reality. He choose repentance because he realized that God was exactly who he said he was and that his sin was exactly what god said that sin would be...DEATH. 

REPENTANCE, or turning away from the flesh and self rationalizations, back to God is how this minister and ministry is rising again. Not just a repentance or being sorry because one is caught. True repentance, like salvation, is a process and is more than a mere form of remorse. It is a life changing and life altering experience and one that delivers the ultimate realignment of perspective to the mind, heart and spirit of an individual. Many people repent as if to say that they are remorseful or sorry for certain things, but the Christian finds true repentance and its meaning in the cross and in turning away from sin and shame to life found within Jesus Christ.

In this case it took Evangelist Swaggart the greater part of 19 years and the loss of all types of supports, and the elimination of conflicts before he was led to the point of being ready for the Lord's use. Was the Lord using him prior to all this? Of no doubt he was. Was the Lord glorified through his life with unrepentant sin, conflict and excuses being made? Absolutely not.

It Takes Time

One should know that true repentance takes time. Yes, a person can be truly sorry for what he/she has done immediately and certainly connect with God, but the realization of the depth and danger of sin is sometimes understood over time. What happens when a father realizes years later all that he could have lost and was loosing before turning away from an affair? It may take some time for a woman to realize that her affair was about to cost her much more than she was actually willing to pay in a million lifetimes. The deception of sin is that adults can handle it and make their own decisions in it. Like an alcoholic or drug addict, the person in sin, especially from the pulpit, is deceived into believing that they can stop and change anytime. However, sin is a controlling force which takes away all perceptions and sensibilities. It takes the mind and relinquishes the individual of their right mind or what they would have normally done and renders them with an inability to think clearly. This is exactly how the bible describes those who are led of a "carnal" mind. Unless God, by HIS grace allows a person's mind to come to themselves, sin will overtake and destroy the life of an individual, no matter their works for the sake, cause and kingdom of Christ.  

The problem is that we're living in a time when people fail or fall into sin from the pulpit and immediately create an excuse for it, all the time singing, "We fall down, but we get up". It's here that many start claiming that everyone has failed and that God can and will forgive anyone of anything. While that may be true  to some extent , individuals don't know what they actually give in exchange for their sins. Example:

Moses had no idea what it would cost him to smite the rock instead of speak to it. Esau had no idea that the mishandling of his birthright would eventually cost him his full future inheritance. Abraham had no idea what another nation being born through Haggar would cost him, his household or the nation of Israel.  David as valiant as he was had no idea that his sin of taking Bathsheba and the constructed murder of Uriah would cost the life of an innocent son and further facilitate conflict within his own family that would plague him for life. Solomon, the son of Bathsheba, with all of his wisdom, had no clue that the all of Israel would be plagued for years because he allowed paganism and idolatry to exist through his many "strange" wives. The list goes on and on when we consider that sin has a greater price and loss of years than many give credit when they exchange themselves for it. 

We should ask, does the pedophile realize that even though he/she can be forgiven that they have given up their opportunity to serve in certain capacities in this world and ministry? Does the murderer realize that even though he or she can be saved, that payment for sin may cause one to spend a life behind bars? Yes, all of these sins can be forgiven, but sin has a cost sometimes far beyond what is realized on the surface. This is why individuals as they live closer to God are even more repentant considering what could have happened or the punishment and judgement that they could have faced if it weren't for the GRACE of God.    

What If...

As I said we are living in the time when people think a Daniel fast (21 days), or 40 days of purpose and re-dedication, or 3 months or a good anointed prayer is time enough to heal from the grip of sin that is so deep and pervasive within the flesh. Some of the pulpit magicians simply say, "jump up spin around three times and sit into a blessing, destiny or deliverance". Others say simply sow a gift of a cetrtain amount and "watch God deliver your harvest"...What is that???

 Paul said that it was only after 3 years that he went up to Jerusalem to see Peter (Gal. 1:18) and didn't go back again until after he had been preaching for 14 years (Gal. 2:1). It was at that time and during that that initial stage that he allowed the Lord to speak to him, confirming the message of the cross and power of Jesus whom he had met on Damascus road.

Yet pulpit and ministry leaders who have displayed serious failures in moral judgements, while claiming that they are not the "average preacher", also claim that they need no time for reflection; they just simply want to continue to "do the will of God"...Yet others claim that time out of the pulpit (a mere vacation) is the answer and that all they have to do is sit down for a season. The focus in these sort of cases is not on people, nor the will of God. It is on fame, money, power, authority and control.  
What if these type of leaders would really repent and connect with God?

What if the Thomas Weeks, Juanita Bynums, Eddie Longs and a host of others who claimed that they were greater than ordinary preachers, actually repented instead of trying to make albums and have self-help conferences? 

What if the Robert Tiltons and Peter Poppoffs of the world would actually repent of their charlatanism, gains-making and seduction of the minds and repent for lies of miracle water, vow-paying, and fake healings? (I've got an upcoming post on the proven and publicized deception of these men) 

What if those that are in leadership would take more pride in being a display of spiritual strength and accountability than displaying the pride over what they drive, the clothes they wear or the circles they run in?

What if repentance, humility and service were virtues hailed as being fit for a spiritual leader, as oppoed to worldly posturing and positioning?  

What if those that supported ministries such as many of those of the charlatans that I mention, would actually hear God and remove their dollars and stand in and on God's word instead of the lies of many of these supposed ministers?  

What Can Wash Away My Sin?
Nothing But The Blood Of Jesus!

Jimmy Swaggart, who I watched many Sunday afternoons and mornings, is rising because of God and because of his true repentance both before God and man. His life has been an example of both mistakes and victories, of both joys and tears, and as a fellow minister of the gospel I can only say that I am godly proud that his repentance was a true one and that God is using him to speak a word of hope to all them that are lost and encouragement and direction to all of us who are saved.

True repentance doesn't seek fame, or the accommodation of the world and worldliness. True repentance seeks the face of God in turning from the ugliness of self, sin and shame. 

For all those who trust in salvation by any other method other than the cross and faith in the atonement and finished work of Jesus, I would like to say that there are many who have gone there and done that long before you. What has been found out is that there is yet nothing that can satisfy the soul, and the longing of the heart, like Jesus. 

Salvation can't be found in a baptismal pool, no matter who's name is used or formula that is being implored. Salvation can't be found simply by shaking a preacher's hand, or by letter of transfer, but it can be had by Christian experience of trusting in Jesus, following him and turning from wickedness. Yes, salvation is a growth process, but true repentance takes root immediately and changes hearts, minds and ways beyond imagination. Paul wrote to them who  HAD BEEN sanctified in Christ Jesus, not them who were trying to be sanctified. (1 Cor. 1:2)

Romans 5:1 ~ "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:"

Quite naturally, unrepentant leaders will continue to do evil, seduce minds and hate all of them that stand for the truth in the process. Then Lord help those that have been seduced by pimps, charlatans, and apostates, and those who, in many cases, will follow their footsteps to hell.

However, a remnant will hear, read the vision and understand that God is calling for HOLINESS and righteousness from HIS people in these times, and that holiness cannot be negotiated with or reconciled by sin and unrighteousness.  

If Jimmy Swaggart is an example of anything, I believe he is an example of what God can do when one truly repents, trusts in the work of Christ and seeks to be a vessel that God can use and is pleased with, not just on the surface, but in the heart and mind. The material growth of this ministry has nothing to do with that repentance. The system of accountability, direction toward Jesus and submission to God's will are the key factors here and the things that I point to in this article.

As ministers we must be reminded that fellowship with God and true repentance will do infinitely more for the cause of Christ than a million TV and radio programs and building programs. We must know that failure to live in the humility of the cross, will do more damage to the kingdom of Christ than any anti-God or heretical belief system ever thought of or presented.

Let 2011 be the year when the church goes back to it's foundation of repentance, prayer and purity as found in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ!

Blessed!

15 comments:

  1. Atheist John Loftus claims that his deconversion was partially due to an adulterous affair that he had while he was a minister actively involved in ministry:

    "The biggest question of all was why God tested me by allowing her to come into my life when she did if he knew in advance I would fail the test?"[John Loftus, 'Why I became an Atheist'pg. 26]

    Now, he took the path that (if God existed) of blaming him for setting a test in front of him that God knew he would fail.

    Now there are a host of problems with this type of sentiment, but as it relates to the article, we can see clearly that there are at least two paths that a person can take when confronted with deep moral and personal failure.

    1- An individual can blame God and reject him and what he has required (like John did)or

    2- They can humble themselves, seek the Lord, and rediscover the foundation of what is important and substantive in life.

    Now, as I state in the article, repentance won't make a person wealthy or rich, and in many cases they will loose their position and other things as a result, but true repentance will make a person better and make others around them better as a result.

    The victory is not in having never been tested or tempted. The victory is having overcome the test or the temptation by either not relinquishing themselves to it or by rising from failure and obscurity into blessing and greater humility.

    When what was supposed to kill you doesn't...That's victory!

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  2. Amen all through this message, Pastor Burnett, and Happy New Year.

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  3. LaPreghiera,

    Thank you and Happy New Year to you also.

    I tell you what, I have enjoyed my little time off even though I was working I was able to take some time to do some things that I needed to get done.

    Blessed!

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  4. Ive said it before and I'll say it again. True repentance changes everything. No matter what has been done, if you can repent, things (and you) will change.

    Thanks Pastor for this story!

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  5. Wonderful article! Gosh it is so refreshing to hear this message of believing in Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross!

    Jimmy Swaggart is a wonderful example of the power that is in the finished work of the Cross! YOu have certainly shown so many the hope that there is in Christ!

    Thank you so much for an article that shows a minister that HAS truly repented. Now if the "saints" will just hear the message and quit looking at the messenger, they might just be blessed!

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  6. Marcia,

    Thanks you for commenting and you're comments are on point.

    There is another aspect of what he did, at least in my opinion. He stopped the "competition" factor. He got away from the charlatans that are only counting numbers and money.

    So the preaching of the cross will separate you from individuals who influence you negatively.

    Look at it, a minister afraid of what someone will say about them in public??? A preacher contemplating exaggerating because they are in "competition" for air time???

    That's nonsense but that's what they do in the big-time world of modern powerless ministry.

    So thank God that Swaggart distinguished the difference in some areas. He certainly remains faithful to his pentecostal roots, which is wonderful, but he has managed to strip away all of the flim flam that many of these church "pimps" (for lack of a more accurate description)are caught up in.

    Only God could do that.

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  7. Thanks be to God who makes us triumph in all circumstances. Rev. Jimmy Swaggart influenced my life for good through a tape "How soon before the rapture of the Church." For me to allow the devil to have him is unimaginable! Thank God he is back! I am now a pastor like him.

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  8. This was a wonderfully written article that really showcases the forgiveness of God, and what true repentance can truly do.....I'm going to repost this blog Pastor Burnett. Thanks again.....

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  9. I don't quite buy what this article is saying-I still catch Jimmy and his son Donnie on a satellite channel-Jimmie and family still live like kings off the "tithes" of their flock--his heir,son Donnie,is on his third marriage at last count.Donnie often preaches what seems to me to be a prosperity gospel.
    As far as genuine repentance on the part of Jimmy? Only God knows--but after getting caught twice with prostitutes and being 75 yrs. old, it would seem like one would have to be insane not to change your ways.
    David Cavall

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  10. interesting article... I remember Jimmy Swaggert... I remember the affair, the tearful confession from the pulpit.... another pastor falls.... but as I examine what has occurred in his life, I cannot help but think, of course he would succeed... of course he would rebuild a strong ministry.... he had a moral failing and God forgave him. Its just that simple. God forgives. Swaggert never gave up on the message that is Jesus Christ... He walked in that which he believed with all his heart and that is his sins would be forgiven because Jesus paid it all... His now repentant lifestyle would be remodeled.. reborn... and in a whole new version of glory. And i am sure his sons are living that which God has directed them to be from time of their youth.... the will of God is evident. NOw, do I personally follow Jimmy Swaggert??? no. Do I judge him? no. But it is not up to me. it is up to God. And I thank God for forgiveness and redemption through his son Jesus Christ....

    Happy New Year Supt. Burnett!!!

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  11. David,

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting. There are at least two thoughts that come to mind in light of he points you raise.

    1- How could Donnie Swaggart avoid being unaffected by his father's struggles? I mean I would expect there to be something that Donnie has struggled with as a result of all this. I suppose he would have been around 30 or so when things began to fall apart and I'm sure this sort of thing would have an effect spiritually and psychologically. That's no excuse for multiple marriages and divorces, but if you have facts on that you're welcome to speak to it.

    2-So far as Jimmy's lifestyle, personally I don't see excess, but once again, I'm not as familiar with inner workings etc. Most of these guys who do live excessively hail it, flaunt it, and it's easily seen and examined. In all the documentaries on his life, materialism hasn't been one of the shortcomings ever presented.

    Now, it may be that many think that a preacher shouldn't earn a certain amount of money from ministry, that there should be a ceiling on earnings. I don't know your view, but that's another post in itself. What I do know is that it costs a great deal to do what he is currently doing and the outflow of money has to be significant.

    So what I'm "trying" to say is that God honors repentance, whether that's through 3 divorces, prostitutes, drugs, moral failures etc. That doesn't excuse behavior, neither does God's forgiveness make it more palatable, but the fact of the matter is this:

    Luke 7:40-50~"40-And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on. 41-There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. 42-And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? 43-Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged. 44-And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. 45-Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. 46-My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. 47-Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. 48-And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven. 49-And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also? 50-And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.

    Finally, so far as doctrine is concerned, they are further away from WOF doctrine than anyone I now. I've heard and examined their teaching on this, so, once again, if you have something specific, let us know as that's also worthy of being discussed.

    Thanks.

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  12. I meant..."KNOW", not now...can't see my keyboard I guess.

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  13. Happy New Year Pastor Burnett! Wonderful article. Yes I remember all of the Jimmy Swaggart drama back in the day. It was when I was a newbord babe in Christ! My family and I used to love his ministry. I thank God that's He is married to the backslider, because I'm a witness! As long as God allows a person to wake up every morning, there's room for repentance of that soul, whether sinner or backslider deep in sin after knowing the truth. I briefly catch Donnie on TV every now and then and from what I've heard the few times I've watched, he was preaching against the prosperity doctrine.

    If Jimmie Swaggart has truly repented, praise God and may his name be found written in the Lamb's Book of Like, along with mine, yours and all of those that have saving faith in Jesus Christ and Him alone! Bless you!

    Godlysoldier

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  14. As a Pentecostal minister, I maintain that Jimmy Swaggart still is in need of repentance.

    His "Message Of The Cross" is not Biblical.

    His judgmentalism is very much intact when he attacks people who don't agree with him on his TV show.

    He has never repented of his second fall in 1991 and no "restoration" was ever reported.

    Yet his ad copy that paints him as an expositor of Biblical truth without compromise in a day of apostasy is more and more offensive everytime I hear his judgmentalism on TV.

    I believe in the Cross of Christ .. but not in the idolatrous way Swaggart's take renders it. His greatest need is for repentance. That is what I pray for him and nothing else.
    http://spiritwatch.org/fireswag1.htm

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  15. Rafael,

    Thanks for the commentary. A lot individual have differing opinions over Swaggart's repentance and restoration. As I have followed the changes for over 30 years I believe his repentance is authentic even through the setbacks. He has yet arisen and sought reparation for his actions.

    however, the part about what you are saying that interests me is that you allude that Swaggart's message of the cross is unbiblical. Please, support those assertions. If we are not saved by Jesus atoning work of redemption upon the cross then by what means is salvation provided?

    Thanks.

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