Offending Others to Stumble

I have been busy looking for a new church home due to some issues that have come up with the leadership.

It is hard to find a place you fit in and one that clicks with what you believe, but when you need to leave you need to leave.

The issue that caused the break was between the head pastor and my wife.  Now he is a good pastor and a wonderful teacher, but he started a separate ministry from the church that took up a great deal of his time.  It took up so much time that he needed someone else to step in as head pastor.  From what I understand of the situation, he basically told the elder board that he needed someone else to lead the church while he built the ministry or he was gone for good.  The board went along with the request and we got a new head pastor.

Now the new head pastor had several leadership issues that he struggled with and the struggle caused a rift in the church.  The new head pastor did do some good things while in the church, but the damage was far too great for him to remain the head pastor.  He stepped down and the old head pastor came back.  He apologized for leaving and the hurt that was caused with the last head pastor and promised to never leave again.

The problem with that is that he did once again step down and the elder body raised up the second pastor and made him the lead.  Once again he had issues with leadership styles and the church was hurt again.  When they replaced the new head pastor this time, several who were loyal to him left while the old pastor came back.  This is where my wife took offense.

In her mind, when he promised not to leave again and then did so, he broke her trust and she took offense at that.  This is something that she struggles to forgive, but I have faith that the forgiveness will occur.  Her lack of trust is not limited to the head pastor but the elder body as well.  They are the ones who are charged with guiding the church, yet they made big mistakes that seemed contrary to what God desired.  If they are not listening to God to make their decisions, can we truly trust them to lead the church in the direction that God has deemed appropriate?

What I have struggled with in my thoughts is that even though it is wrong for my wife to not forgive the head pastor, I wondered if he held any responsibility for the hurt that he caused.

“But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a huge millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the open sea. Woe to the world because of stumbling blocks! It is necessary that stumbling blocks come, but woe to the person through whom they come.  (Mat 18:6-7)

With the recent issue with George Zimmerman being found not guilty of breaking the law in the State of Florida, there was a huge backlash because we all knew he was guilty of contributing to the situation.  If  he never would have followed Trayvon, then the events most likely would not have gone the way that they did.  In the same way, if the head pastor had not broken his word to pursue his other ministry, my wife would not have felt betrayed by him or the church.  It is my wife’s choice to be offended and her choice to not forgive, but he still had a part in her actions.

I wonder how many of us have played a part of some sort in the stumbling of a person.  How many times have our words or actions fallen short of the glory of God and caused an offense to occur with someone else?

When we look at the current state of the Church and the departure by those in the millennial generation, is there a chance that our action or reaction to some social issue contribute to them leaving?

Atonement and the Blood

The other day I was reading an article on a Jewish site addressing the error of Christians insisting on the need of blood in the forgiveness of sins.

I have heard many of the arguments against the need for a blood sacrifice to be forgiven as there are many examples of this in the OT.  Leviticus 5:11 stipulates that a tenth part of an ephah of fine flour is adequate for forgiveness if you cannot afford more.

So, if God did not require a blood sacrifice for sin before Christ, why was a requirement after Christ?

While I was reading the article, I felt the Holy Spirit draw my attention to the words atonement and forgiveness and then heard Him say they were not the same.

I felt like my mind had been blown by something so apparent and obvious, but I had failed to notice as I had not registered that they were different nor the significance of their differences.

As Christians, we often point to Leviticus 17:11 as showing the need for a blood sacrifice.

for the life of every living thing is in the blood. So I myself have assigned it to you on the altar to make atonement for your lives, for the blood makes atonement by means of the life.  (Lev 17:11)

Notice the passage does not say forgiveness but rather atonement.  Now let’s look at what God had said about the Day of Atonement.

and the LORD said to Moses: “Tell Aaron your brother that he must not enter at any time into the holy place inside the veil-canopy in front of the atonement plate that is on the ark so that he may not die, for I will appear in the cloud over the atonement plate. “In this way Aaron is to enter into the sanctuary — with a young bull for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering. (Lev 16:2-3)

First we see that atonement can only be made on special days by the high priest only and only when God’s presence was over the atonement plate.  The atonement plate is also known as the mercy seat which is part of the Ark.  In this case, Aaron is to enter into the sanctuary with a sin offering.

He must also take two male goats from the congregation of the Israelites for a sin offering and one ram for a burnt offering. Then Aaron is to present the sin offering bull which is for himself and is to make atonement on behalf of himself and his household. (Lev 16:5-6)

Notice that Aaron is not seeking forgiveness for his sins but rather atoning for his sins with this offering.  If Aaron had failed to have repented and sought forgiveness for his sins, he would have been dead before he approached the presence of God.


The Jewish people had sought forgiveness throughout the year, but they still required the atonement process to have that covering put upon them.  Every year, no matter how good they were, Israel still had to make atonement to God.  God even said that this was a perpetual statue as there would always be a separation between God and man.

That was true until Christ.

Jesus is the High Priest who makes an everlasting atonement for mankind with His own blood that was shed.  Yes, we have forgiveness for sins, but more importantly we have atonement and reconciliation back with God.