When conviction becomes correction

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Conviction correction Eastertide

Sunday 04/28/24

Title: When conviction becomes correction

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When conviction becomes correction

This is our 4th week of Eastertide in which we are remembering the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord and our union with Him in the same.

Now I have sensed in my heart the need to readdress an issue which I may have inadvertently preached too heavily upon or at least not presented it – as balanced as I should. 

It is never my desire for the righteous to feel condemned or for a devout heart to unjustly question their honest devotion.

It is taught often and with a firm hand that our faith MUST be accompanied by works and in teaching this, I am only representing the gospel with honesty.

That having been said, this does not mean that anything shy of sinless perfection is apostate.

We are in a process of salvation. Our souls are BEING saved and the teaching of this is also an honest representation of the gospel.

I’m afraid sometimes I am not just teaching and preaching to those in the Kingdom whom God has given me, but to others as well who may hear our teachings and so sometimes I press points which are less necessary among our group than perhaps is always warranted.

I am of course talking about two specific things.

First, is the prospect I addressed last week. That of people being lured into a false sense of eternal security due to simply believing the right things but possessing no follow through. Or said another way, people who confess Jesus but who do not live for Him. Who espouse union with the Vine but bear no fruit of that union.

This is a real danger, and even though we know this here in this assembly, it still bears repeating. I do not however, want you to feel browbeat with it so if such has been your experience I apologize. 

I would not deliberately wound one of Jesus’ Own.

The second thing is the prospect of those who ARE born again but who stand in jeopardy of divorcing themselves from Jesus through denial of Him – either by verbal confession or the ongoing, and unrepentant confession of their lifestyles.

To be clear, no one has approached me about this. I’ve received no complaint of feeling beat up or evoking condemnation in the church. Nevertheless, in my own times of reflection it has come to my heart that I needed to say this. If for no other reason, I do not desire to be judged by a measuring stick which is harsh and without mercy. 

So I want to be careful in my teaching the whole gospel with honest representation, to not overpreach an issue to the point of wounding some – and I do believe this can be done.

So where is the line in the sand? 

Where does a child of God finally reach that point of no return?

I do not pretend to know and the scriptures do not – to my knowledge – reveal a “one-size-fits-all” answer to this question. 

The best answer IMO is the one offered me in college when I asked the founder of the college and professor of the class I was taking if someone could “sin away their grace”, to which he replied, “the trick is to not find out.” 

Good advice! 

But I suppose the reason no clear cut answer is offered in scripture is because we are all individuals and the exact same external actions of one person might spring from an entirely different heart geography than in another. 

Also, if God had placed a line in the sand, so to speak, humans are of such a nature to dance as close to that line without crossing it as possible. 

At any rate I don’t believe it works that way anyway. 

Salvation is the result of true and honest relationship, founded in and upon ongoing and ever increasing trust. 

A person who is of the character to seek to abuse that relationship by dancing as close to the line as possible is not likely someone who knows the Lord in an honest relationship anyway. I am NOT saying that such does not describe any one of our actions or decisions in the past from time to time, but that such is not the normal and ongoing expression of heart in a child of God’s life.

We want to honor Him, even when it costs us in terms of pursuing our own desires and pleasures.

So what do we do with passages like we read last week in Matthew 21 where Jesus spoke of the kingdom of God being taken from the likes of the Pharisees and given to a nation who will produce the fruit of it

Or the passage in Ephesians 5 where Paul said that “no sexually immoral or impure or greedy person, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of the Messiah and of God.

Well looking up the individual words will only get you so far. 

In taking our passage in Ephesians as our token example – the word ‘is’ in verse 5 is speaking of existence

So it would seem to indicate a person whose existence is defined by these sins. 

Again I fall back on plumbing as my goto example since I so greatly dislike it. I have done far more plumbing in  my life and I care to even recall, but I am by no means a plumber

One could not define my existence as one, though I have often been in a position of having to be engaged in that activity.

So I believe this to be the sense here. 

I believe Paul could hardly be saying that a child of God who struggles against sins, but who – through weakness falls into them, has no inheritance in God’s kingdom. 

Now that there ARE implications for this is clear and the scriptures do warn against it, but Paul here seems to be pointing to those who have a devotion and abandonment to these sins. 

There are also verses 7-17 which cannot be read separately. 

Everything Paul says in verses 1-6 is leading to and continues in verses 7-17 and I believe these following verses place these sins within a context and further deliver their meaning.

Eph. 5:7-17,

“(7) Therefore, do not become their partners.  (8)  For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light–”

Here I believe Paul is bringing more clarity to what he was saying in the previous verses.

Don’t exist in darkness for you no longer are darkness but light. So live in agreement with who you have become.”

I is helpful, I believe, to understand the strength of these words. 

Paul is not merely saying that God’s children are enlightened by their union with Christ. Not at all! 

The words “You were Darkness. You are light” are in the emphatic position. The word light is phos, referring to light itself, not some mere lamp. It is used in the absolute sense.

In context therefore, it would seem that Paul is saying that as children of God who’s very nature has been radically and entirely altered to be in conformity to Christ’s – do not participate with those who ARE darkness by living lives conformed to darkness.

Again this is not to soften our offense at sin, but to be careful not to cause the deep seeded root of fear and condemnation in the heart of true believers.  

Paul goes on to reason…

“(9)  for the fruit of the light results in all goodness, righteousness, and truth–  (10)  discerning what is pleasing to the Lord.  

(11)  Don’t participate in the fruitless works of darkness, but instead, expose them.”  

The word “participate” means to have in common with. To be a sharer together with others in.

Though I cannot be emphatic here, it seems as if Paul is warning against becoming not only callous to sin, but so callous as to feely participate in sin as would a sinner.

Again I want to be careful here. I am NOT wanting to make it sound as if sins which are committed only infrequently are no real concern to the child of God. Such would be a terrible message and one that is 100% incompatible with the truth of the Gospel! 

NO sin should be tolerated in the life of a believer! 

But Paul here is talking about sin in the life of a believer which could eventuate in apostasy and therefore a surrendering of all claim to eternal life and an inheritance in God’s kingdom. 

So while ANY sin should be viewed as intolerable in our lives, I believe Paul is talking about an ongoing and unrepentant participation in sin such as we had before we became light in the Lord. 

In addition to this, and Paul offers us a key to pleasing God by saying that, he is “the fruit of the light is discerning what the will of the Lord is.” 

“(12)  For it is shameful even to mention what is done by them in secret.  (13)  Everything exposed by the light is made clear,  (14)  for what makes everything clear is light. 

Therefore it is said: Get up, sleeper, and rise up from the dead, and the Messiah will shine on you.  

(15)  Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk–not as unwise people but as wise–  (16)  making the most of the time, because the days are evil.  

(17)  So don’t be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”

We know that sin does occur in the body of Christ. We know this from scripture and from examples in our own assembly in the past which had to be dealt with. But we need not look external to our own selves to find examples of sin. We all know it personally! 

The church of Corinth had many examples of sin in it. 

Of note was one so bad as to be unusual even for unbelievers and was continued and unrepented of. 

The one caught up in this sin was given opportunity to repent and would not and was therefore removed from the assembly. 

This one did eventually repent and Paul encouraged the saints in Corinth to take him back in and reaffirm their love for him and his position among them. 

So even in this seemingly extreme case, it did not make this brother an apostate.

But what would happen if the sin were private and therefore not known and called out by the assembly?

What if due to its private nature, the saint felt safe in the continuance of it and rather than it being held in some sort of check or eventually conquering it, the sin grew in intensity and frequency?

The scriptures are not clear on this, but I can speculate.

Paul addresses sins in 1 Corinthians 11 as not properly discerning Christ’s body which was offered up for us and in this way our message very directly connects with the focus of Eastertide. Let’s turn to 1 Corinthians 11 and read what Paul says to these believers,

In this place Paul is addressing their partaking of communion which is far more sacred than many modern Christians understand. 

While the symbols of Christ’s body and blood in the broken bread and the wine are in fact mere symbols and not actually the literal physical body and blood of our Lord Jesus as our Catholic brothers and sisters are taught – it still, in its symbolism – is a partaking of, a sharing in and a proclamation of our participation His body which was broken for us and HIs blood which was shed for us! 

So to claim a share and participation in His body and blood while actively in unrepentant sin is a most egregious sin against Jesus’ very body and blood themselves. 

Let’s read it…

1 Corinthians 11:26-32,

“(26) For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you PROCLAIM the Lord’s death until He comes.  

(27)  THEREFORE, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy way will be guilty of sin against the body and blood of the Lord.  

(28)  So a man should examine himself; in this way he should eat of the bread and drink of the cup.  

(29)  FOR whoever eats and drinks without recognizing the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself.”  

The words “recognizing the body”, means to distinguish between it and common food. To give it honor and distinction befitting a representation of our Messiah’s body and blood.

It is a ‘treating as common’, something which is infinitely uncommon or holy!

And is this not what we do when we sin? We have become not only partakers of Christ’s body, but in fact ARE Christ’s body over which He is the head.

What we do therefore, preaches Christ. Therefore, our actions either represent or misrepresent Him. 

They honor or dishonor. 

They esteem or treat lightly the very person, body, blood and sacrifice of our Lord and Savior. 

Can you see that this is holy ground!

I think that if we could divorce ourselves from the equation and simply judge it based upon its merits, we would conclude that any such action is worthy of utter rejection and condemnation. 

Yet God in His mercy does not jump to such an awful and irreversible decision regarding His Own.

Lets keep reading…

“(30)  This is why many are sick and ill among you, and many have fallen asleep.”  

Really? Is that the judgment any of us truly believe such a flagrant disrespect for Jesus merits? But God is merciful and will not suffer us to be rewarded according to what our iniquities deserve!

“(31)  If we were properly evaluating ourselves, we would not BE judged,  (32)  but when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord, so that we may not be condemned with the world.”

So it is God’s objective to keep His Own even against their own HUGE lapses in good judgment.

But what of ongoing, systemic sin which is not only allowed but almost indulged in and celebrated?

Turn with me to Hebrews 12 which is where we will end today.

Hebrews 12:1-29,

“(1) Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,  (2)  looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  

(3)  For consider Him Who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.  

(4)  You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin.”

…and this is perhaps a part of the gospel, if any, which I have neglected to bare down hard upon.

Like Paul said,

“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me.  I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.”

And such IS the truth, but it is not just by the fact of God’s influence that we stop sinning and start living unto Him, but by our response to that influence. 

Remember, grace is the divine influence upon the heart AND it’s reflection in the life

It is not God steering the heart or commandeering the heart but influencing the heart. 

Grace is not complete just by influencing me to live unto God, but is only made complete when I allow myself to be so influenced that it alters my behavior – it changes the way I live my life! 

So there is a component of effort on our part – that is why it is called good “WORKS”.

That the works are not performed FOR God from some script found in the Old Testament law, but by His direct influence within and upon our hearts in a relationship of right standing before Him is the difference! But it does require a response from us! A response which the writer of Hebrews identifies as an active resistance against sin! James says it is to submit to God and resist the devil. 

Hebrews 12…

“(5)  And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: 


This reminds me of the passage in Peter which says, that those who do not produce the fruit or evidence of their union with Christ have become “shortsighted, even to blindness, and have forgotten that they have been cleansed from their old sins.” 

Peter also says,

“(10) Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble;  (11)  for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” – 2 Peter 1:10-11 

Going on in Hebrews 12…

“(7)  If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten?  (8)  But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons.  

(9)  Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. 

Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live?  

(10)  For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness.  

(11)  Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable FRUIT of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.  

(12)  Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees,  (13)  and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed.  

(14)  Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord:  (15)  looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled;  (16)  lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food SOLD HIS BIRTHRIGHT.”

Wuest says,

Esau is described as a profane person. The Greek word is bebelos. The word as it is used here means “profane, unhallowed, common.” 

It has the opposite meaning to hagios “holy, set apart, consecrated.” 

The profane character of Esau manifested itself in his act of selling his birthright to satisfy a physical appetite, that of hunger. 

The birthright consisted of the honor and privilege of being the next family priest at the death of the father. 

Esau had no appreciation of the spiritual side of life. His life centered about the gratification of the desires of the body. Thus, in parting with his religious privileges, he declared himself a non-religious of the or godless person.”

The encouragement is to not be like him! 

“(17)  For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears.  

(18)  For you have not come to the mountain that may be touched and that burned with fire, and to blackness and darkness and tempest,  (19)  and the sound of a trumpet and the voice of words, so that those who heard it begged that the word should not be spoken to them anymore.  

(20)  (For they could not endure what was commanded: “AND IF SO MUCH AS A BEAST TOUCHES THE MOUNTAIN, IT SHALL BE STONED OR SHOT WITH AN ARROW.”  (21)  And so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I AM EXCEEDINGLY AFRAID AND TREMBLING.”)  

(22)  But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels,  (23)  to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect,  (24)  to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.  

(25)  SEE THAT YOU DO NOT REFUSE HIM WHO SPEAKS. For if they did not escape who refused Him Who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him Who speaks from heaven,  (26)  Whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, 


(27)  Now this, “YET ONCE MORE,” indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain.  

(28)  Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear

(29)  For our God is a consuming fire.”

So we are to strive against sin, not by self effort to obtain righteousness before God, but by the influence and strength offered us by the Spirit of God in and from an already existing  place of right standing before God.

But the opposite is true as well as is stated in Hebrew 2:3 which says, How shall be escape if we neglect so great a salvation? The word neglect means to be careless with and make light of.

So I hope I have begun here to bring into some sort of balance what the warnings in scripture actually mean both for the mere professors of Christ and for those who know Him, but who could apostate themselves through neglect, careless treatment of our salvation and unrepentant participation in those things which Christ died to redeem us from.



Hi my name is Mark and though I am opposed to titles, I am currently the only Pastor (shepherd/elder) serving our assembly right now.

I have been Pastoring in one capacity or another for nearly 30 years now, though never quite like I am today.

Early in 2009 the Lord revealed to me that the way we had structured our assembly (church) was not scriptural in that it was out of sync with what Paul modeled for us in the New Testament. In truth, I (like many pastors I am sure) never even gave this fundamental issue of church structure the first thought. I had always assumed that church structure was largely the same everywhere and had been so from the beginning. While I knew Paul had some very stringent things to say about the local assembly of believers, the point of our gatherings together and who may or may not lead, I never even considered studying these issues but assumed we were all pretty much doing it right...safety in numbers right?! Boy, I couldn't have been more wrong!

So needless to say, my discovery that we had been doing it wrong for nearly two decades was a bit of a shock to me! Now, this "revelation" did not come about all at once but over the course of a few weeks. We were a traditional single pastor led congregation. It was a top-bottom model of ministry which is in part biblical, but not in the form of a monarchy.

The needed change did not come into focus until following 9 very intense months of study and discussions with those who were leaders in our church at the time.

We now understand and believe that the Bible teaches co-leadership with equal authority in each local assembly. Having multiple shepherds with God's heart and equal authority protects both Shepherds and sheep. Equal accountability keeps authority and doctrine in check. Multiple shepherds also provide teaching with various styles and giftings with leadership skills which are both different and complementary.

For a while we had two co-pastors (elders) (myself and one other man) who led the church with equal authority, but different giftings. We both taught in our own ways and styles, and our leadership skills were quite different, but complimentary. We were in complete submission to each other and worked side-by-side in the labor of shepherding the flock.

Our other Pastor has since moved on to other ministry which has left us with just myself. While we currently only have one Pastor/Elder, it is our desire that God, in His faithfulness and timing, may bring us more as we grow in maturity and even in numbers.

As to my home, I have been married since 1995 to my wonderful wife Terissa Woodson who is my closest friend and most trusted ally.

As far as my education goes, I grew up in a Christian home, but questioned everything I was ever taught.

I graduated from Bible college in 1990 and continued to question everything I was ever taught (I do not mention my college in order to avoid being labeled).

Perhaps my greatest preparation for ministry has been life and ministry itself. To quote an author I have come to enjoy namely Fredrick Buechner in his writing entitled, Now and Then, "If God speaks to us at all other than through such official channels as the Bible and the church, then I think that He speaks to us largely through what happens to us...if we keep our hearts open as well as our ears, if we listen with patience and hope, if we remember at all deeply and honestly, then I think we come to recognize beyond all doubt, that, however faintly we may hear Him, He is indeed speaking to us, and that, however little we may understand of it, His word to each of us is both recoverable and precious beyond telling." ~ Fredrick Buechner

Well that is about all there is of interest to tell you about me.

I hope our ministry here is a blessing to you and your family. I also hope that it is only a supplement to a local church where you are committed to other believers in a community of grace.

~God Bless!

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