A Friend of Publicans and Sinners

scpChristian Living, Friendship

The first five books of the Bible, which are called the Pentateuch, chronicle several important events of the early history of mankind. They tell us of creation, the flood, the Passover, the wilderness wanderings, and other important events.

They tell us of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and other Biblical patriarchs. They discuss the Ten Commandments and the Tabernacle. Much of the history of mankind since the Garden of Eden is covered in these first five books of the Bible.

Obviously, these books are a very important part of the Bible. Whom did God choose to inscribe His Words in this important part of the Bible? Who was this man—a man widely acclaimed as the greatest man in the Old Testament, and maybe the entire Bible? Who was this man?

He was Moses—a murderer! That is right—a murderer penned the Pentateuch! In the early days of his adulthood, he killed an Egyptian man. While it is true that he was not a serial killer, Moses, the author of the first five books of the Bible, was still a murderer!

Consider the man who penned fourteen of the twenty-seven books of the New Testament—more than half of the New Testament. This man presented to us in the book of Romans all of the great doctrines of the faith. In I Corinthians, he warned the church in Corinth about their carnality and their failure to mature in the Christian life. In his second book to the Corinthians, he defended the ministry of the Gospel.

He wrote to the Galatians, telling them to return to preaching the Gospel of grace. He wrote to the church in Ephesus and told them that they should live in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. He wrote to the church in Colosse and told them Christ is better than the Law, the Sabbath, the Tabernacle, the Temple, the Covenant, the Priesthood, the Holy Days, and the Holy Seasons.

Who was the man given the responsibility of writing most of the books in the New Testament? Like Moses, he was also a murderer! He was Saul of Tarsus, later named Paul. Before he was saved, he persecuted and killed Christians.

It is amazing that God used two murderers to pen much of the Holy Bible. Oh, my! I can hear you Pharisees mumbling under your breath. Frankly, if Moses and Paul were alive today, you would have a hard time allowing these men to be members of your local church. And you certainly would never agree with God’s decision to allow them to pen parts of the Holy Bible. You would have had to split from God on this one.

I can see you hurrying to do your YouTube dissertation about how we cannot allow such sinners in our midst. You no doubt with your puritan position would never allow them to be apart of your congregation. Of course, you would be compelled to warn the others in our sphere of influence and condemn those who are for restoration.

One man penned most of the Psalms. He was called a man after God’s own heart. He was the man whom Paul described as “a man who served his own generation by the will of God”.

Who is this man who penned most of the Psalms, and who served his own generation by the will of God? Who is this man who was called a man after God’s own heart? His name is David. Who is this man named David? Another murderer! He had Uriah killed after David committed adultery with Bathsheba.

The first book of the New Testament was penned by a man named Matthew. Who was Matthew? He was one of the twelve disciples, but before that he was a publican. He was a robber. He was a cheat. He was a thief. He was the local director of the IRS of his day, a man who used his position to cheat the people. You would think God could have chosen someone from the local seminary in Jerusalem to pen the very first book of the New Testament!

It seems to me that God should have chosen someone trained for the ministry to write the first five books of the Bible, most of the Psalms, or fourteen of the twenty-seven books of the New Testament. I am afraid that God’s choice is going to make Him look bad to His people. The very thought of the first five books of the Old Testament being penned by a murderer will certainly hurt God’s PR program. This really looks bad!

You never would have allowed your daughter to date any one of these men. Let us suppose that Moses had been nominated for the deacon board—a murderer on the deacon board? If you had been a member of the church at Thessalonica, you would not have voted for Paul. Why? He was a murderer. Certainly you would not have voted to use David’s new songs or to recite the Psalms he penned. After all, he was an adulterer and a murderer!

When our resurrected Lord made His first appearance, He did not show Himself to John the Beloved, Peter, or James. He chose to make His first appearance to a woman—none other than Mary Magdalene, a woman who had once been a harlot, and who had once been possessed by seven devils.

He could have chosen any number of people, even His own mother. However, He chose to make His first appearance to a woman, once fallen, who was later saved by His grace. He appeared first to Mary Magdalene to shut the mouths of the critics.

In Hebrews 11, that great Hall of Faith chapter, I read of many great heroes of faith. I find, however, only one woman mentioned in that chapter of heroes. Who is that woman? None other than Rahab the harlot! There are many great men and women in the Old Testament who are not mentioned in Hebrews chapter eleven. Yet, Rahab the harlot made the list, while others did not.

I read the genealogy of Jesus, and I find that three women are mentioned in His genealogy—Tamar, Ruth, and Bathsheba. Who was Tamar? She was a tainted woman, a woman with a questionable past. Who was Ruth? She was a heathen woman from the land of Moab.

Both of these women were fallen women with a sinful past. Who is the third? Bathsheba! Bathsheba? The woman who bathed on her housetop and provoked David to commit adultery with her and later kill her husband!

There is a story in the Bible about David’s six hundred mighty men. These men were chosen by God and by David to be King David’s bodyguards. These men marched around the palace when David was king. Can you picture them? These men—wearing freshly pressed uniforms and highly polished boots, flashing glistening sabers—each and every one guarding King David with his very life.

These men stayed with David during Absalom’s rebellion. David told these men to stay at the palace because he was leaving the throne; he refused to fight his own son. These men refused to stay. They said, “Whether it be life or by death, where the Lord our king is, there will thy servants be also”. These men laid aside their glistening sabers, the neatly pressed uniforms, and the highly polished boots; with old, ragged clothes they followed King David down to Mahanaim.

They said to David, “We did not volunteer to be the king’s bodyguards; we volunteered to be your bodyguards. We did not give our allegiance to the palace; we gave our allegiance to you”. They chose to stay with David through his trials and victories.

Finally, the war was over and David’s forces had won the war. David went back to Jerusalem—to the palace, the throne, his royal robe, his crown, and his royal scepter. Once again, those six hundred men had their uniforms, their glistening sabers, and their polished boots. Once again, they guarded David in the palace.

Who were these courageous men? Who were these loyal men? Oh, I know who they were; they must have been trained men, graduates of the West Point of Israel. No, they did not attend the West Point of Israel. Oh, then they must have been men highly trained for warfare against the Philistines, the enemies of God. No, they were not.

Wait a minute! These were not even Jews. These were not even part of the twelve tribes of the chosen nation of Israel. These were heathen men! These were Philistine men! They had been the enemy! Yet they became trusted bodyguards of the king.

David gave a little speech on his deathbed. While he was dying, he listed the names of his mighty men. He spoke of their feats of valor. Who were these mighty men? Yes, they were sinners who had been enemies of David at one time. Yes, they were heathen and pagans, but they had given themselves to God and to David.

It is interesting to look at the list found in Hebrews chapter eleven. Noah is mentioned in this chapter. A preacher of righteousness, you say? The one who built the ark, you say?

Let me share some gossip about Brother Noah. Did you know that Noah got drunk? Yet, in the New Testament God did not call him “Noah the Drunk”, or “Noah the Nude”; He called him “Noah, a preacher of righteousness”.

I keep on reading Hebrews chapter eleven and I find Abraham’s name mentioned. Abraham? This was the man who went down to Egypt because there was famine in the land. He left the will of God. He followed money. While he was out of the will of God, chasing money, he hired a little Egyptian girl to work for him as a maid.

When he returned to Canaan, he took the Egyptian maid with him. Guess what he did? Abraham got this girl pregnant! Oh my! I imagine that you Pharisees are having a heart attack over this situation. Abraham had an illegitimate child named Ishmael who was the father of the Arabs. The problems we are experiencing in the Middle East today are direct results of Abraham’s sin.

John Mark was a quitter and a “mama’s boy”; yet, John Mark stood by Paul while Paul was in prison. When John Mark was an older man, Paul gave him another chance.

In John chapter four, we read about the greatest personal soul winner in history. Would you like to know who that soul winner was? She was a woman who had been married five times. When she was saved, she was living with a man without being married. Within a few hours of her salvation, she brought the entire town to Christ!

The greatest revival in all of history was held in a town called Nineveh. The evangelist was a man named Jonah. Jonah went up and down the streets crying, “Repent! Repent! Repent!” Everybody repented, and the whole town donned sackcloth and ashes. Not only did everyone in town get saved, but also every person repented.

Who was that great evangelist? Seventy-two hours before, he had been running from God, and he ended up in a fish’s belly. However, the Bible says that God came to Jonah again.

I see a man preaching. Wow, what a sermon! I see three thousand people walking the aisles and getting saved. Who was this powerful preacher? This great preacher cursed Jesus just fifty days before he preached this great sermon. Just fifty days ago, he denied Jesus, the faith, and his church. Not only that, but just fifty days ago he went fishing naked!

It is amazing that Jesus associates Himself with sinners, and—more than that—the worst kind of sinners, if there is such a category! It is amazing to see how Jesus can reach down and take a sinner, cleanse him, and make him useful for the glory of God! Jesus loves sinners.

Please do not misunderstand me—I am not advocating adultery, drunkenness, nudity, murder, or any other kind of sin, including gossip. All sin is wrong. God punishes people for sin, but He does not give a life sentence.

I am, however, advocating our rescuing the perishing and restoring the fallen! By the way, the biggest condemnation God ever gave to anybody in all of the New Testament He gave against you Pharisees.

God is telling us that when we are saved, our sins are washed away. God chooses to let us know that people who have plunged to the depths of sin can still be used of God. Dr. Bob Jones Sr. often said, “God has nothing but crooked sticks to use!”

You may not love sinners, the fallen, and the heathen, but Jesus does, and His Heavenly Father does! You may not want to use someone who has been rescued from the pits of sin, but God wants to use anybody who will give himself to God.

Please listen to me. I do not care what you have done, come to Christ, and God will use you again. You may not qualify to pastor or to be a deacon, but you can qualify to go soul winning and be used by God.

Our God is a forgiving God, a salvaging God, and a using God. Our God wants to use YOU! No matter how deep you have gone, no matter what sins you have committed, there is still something you can do for God. Men may put you on the shelf, but God will take you off the shelf and put you on His playing field. Men may disqualify you, but God will qualify you to win souls for Him.

The will of God is not found in a position; it is found in a purpose. You may not be qualified for the position, but you will never be disqualified from the purpose of the Christian life.

Let us face the truth: God used Abraham, God used Noah, God used David, God used Moses, God used Paul, and God will use you. How can this be? It is simple! God looks at the entire life of an individual. God does not judge your life by a few years; He judges your whole life. His punishment does not last forever.

Luke 7:34 tells us that Jesus is a Friend of sinners. Matthew 9:10 says, “Many sinners sat at meat with Jesus”. Mark 2:15 says, “many sinners sat at meat with Jesus”. The verses in Mark 2:14, 9:11, Luke 5:30, and Luke 15:12 give insight into the heart of Jesus and sinners.

Men may ask, “Why does your Master eat with publicans and sinners?” The answer is simple. He has only sinners to work with because we are all sinners.