Are there members of your congregation – believers who you know and respect – who have been ensnared by sin? As pastors, restoration is part of our role: we must strive to bring them back to Christ. But how do we do this effectively? Where is the how-to guide? In this sermon Ronald Kalifungwa pieces together a pastoral, theological system to help us pursue restoration.
Why do we preach? Why do we counsel? It’s to form people into the image of Christ.
“This is never going to be one-size-fits-all, but having a structure, or framework, to work within is critical. It’s a map, of sorts, for leading the lost sheep back to Christ.”
The Restorers & The Restored
This is the third and final sermon in a three-part series on the ministry of restoration by Ronald Kalifungwa. His first sermon focused on the restorers – on pastors in particular – who are called to walk alongside those who may be struggling in their churches and flocks. In the second sermon. Pastor Ronald turned to the restored – to the believer themselves – exploring who they are and why they fell into sin.
“We’ve seen that the restorer must be a Christian, a spiritual person, concerned about those who are bearing burdens and skilled at restoring the fallen. On the other hand, the restored is one who may not always have fallen into sin. He might not have had that experience in his past. But he’s now been overtaken in sin and is hopeless about it. But he is, indeed, restorable, or reclaimable.”
How Do We Aid Restoration?
“Moved by a desire to bear each other’s burdens, Christians in general, and pastors in particular, must swiftly take the trouble of helping to restore people. But how do we go about helping to restore a brother or sister who has been overtaken in a trespass?”
How do we go about helping to restore a brother who has been overtaken in a trespass?
Ronald Kalifungwa answers this question by considering four elements which, viewed as a constituent whole, give us something of a methodology of restoration.
“We need a pastoral, theological system of sorts as a tool in helping the fallen. We need structure to the way we do things. For there is no one structure. I have just suggested one to us. There is no one biblical structure so to say, but it’s helpful to have some way of doing things. That you must begin with this, and then this, and then this, and then this.”
A Four Point Framework
The four points are these: the goal of the ministry of restoration, the practice of the ministry of restoration, the manner and the caveat to the ministry of restoration.
All of these hinge on this one verse: Galatians 6:1. “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.”
Pastor Kalifugwa goes into detail around how to tackle each of these four areas. He give helpful examples from his own pastoral ministry and refers to various passage of scripture to support his approach.
Ultimately, Follow The Master
“Your purpose is to attain this goal: be available for those who fall. Be prepared to help those who fall. Prepare yourself biblically, prepare yourself theologically, prepare yourself character-wise. And finally, and more importantly, emulate the master, the Lord Jesus Christ. And it will be well!
Many under your charge, many along your path, will find help in a time of trouble. And if we are all doing it we will have a great number of people restored – added back to the Church – who are overcoming their troubles and who are uniting their lives and their voices in praise to Jesus, our King, our Priest, our Prophet, who alone indeed is responsible for restoration.”
Text: Galatians 6:1-2
Date preached: 9 January 2018
Location: Grace Ministers Conference, Johannesburg, South Africa
Please turn your Bibles again to Galatians 6. This is my final sermon and so I think it is fitting for me to begin by expressing my gratitude to you, especially to the organising team for the conference, for the opportunity you have given to me to minister to you in this way – and for the fellowship you have extended to me. Thank you ever so much.
In Galatians 6, that chapter was read for us earlier on, so I will just read the first verse again, which verse of course has been the basis of this short series of studies we have done in the ministry of restoration.
Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one.
Paul writes, “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.”
The Restorers and The Restored
We’ve seen on the one hand that the restorer must be a Christian, a spiritual person, concerned about those who are bearing burdens and skilled at restoring the fallen. And on the other, that the restored is one who may not always have fallen into sin. He might not have had that experience in his past, but he’s now been caught in sin – he’s now been overtaken in sin – and is hopeless about it. But he is, indeed, restorable, or reclaimable.
Finally, The Restoration
We finally come to the question of the restoration itself. And as we open up this matter it is helpful to bear in mind, again, that the main point of the passage – which is on the need to bear each other’s burdens – is the context in which we are discussing the need to help those of our brethren who may have been overtaken by sin.
Moved by a desire to bear each other’s burdens, Christians in general, and pastors in particular, must swiftly take the trouble of helping to restore them.
How do we go about helping to restore a brother who has been overtaken in a trespass?
But how do we go about helping to restore a brother who has been overtaken in a trespass? Or a sister who has been overtaken in a trespass? We will answer this question by considering four elements which, viewed as a constituent whole, will give us something of a methodology of restoration.
4 Steps To A Methodology Of Restoration
And the four points are: the goal of the ministry of restoration, the practice of the ministry of restoration, the manner and the caveat to the ministry of restoration. Those four things.
1. The Goal of The Ministry of Restoration
Let’s begin with the goal of the ministry of restoration.
The goal of course is to restore. We are dealing with a brother who has been caught in a sin – he has been overtaken by sin – and he cannot help himself. Although he has the means, by virtue of the fact that he is a Christian; he is in the church perhaps, but he has fallen so far that he doesn’t have the energy to make use of those resources. He needs your help.
Any process involving helping men who have fallen should always have restoration in view.
Any process involving helping men who have fallen should always have restoration in view. And so Paul says, “If a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one.”
We’ve already defined what that means. A reminder is not harmful. The word translated restore can also mean to repair, or to put in order.
Sin Damages Our Spiritual Machinery
In Matthew 4:21 the same word is used to refer to mending nets that are torn. They are in tatters and they have to be put back in order. The same word – translated repair there – is the word Paul uses here in Galatians 6.
A person who has fallen into sin has damaged the machinery of his spiritual life to the point where he urgently needs to be repaired.
A person who has fallen into sin has damaged himself. He has damaged the machinery of his spiritual life to the point where he urgently needs to be repaired. He urgently needs to be taken back to the path of spiritual growth. And restoration will have taken place when, as Paul would put it in Galatians 4:19, “Christ has been fully formed in them.”
The Purpose of Ministry
That, as a matter of fact, is the purpose of ministry. Why do we preach? It is to form people into the image of Christ. Why do we counsel? It is to form people into the image of Christ. Why do we go after those that will have fallen and damaged themselves? It is to bring them back to reflecting the image of Christ.
Why do we preach? Why do we counsel? It is to form people into the image of Christ.
And Paul conceived of the Galatians as being in his womb. A child normally takes between 36 to 40 weeks in the womb of her mother. She needs to be nurtured carefully, formed fully, before she would be delivered into the world. And Paul felt that the Galatians were in his womb and he would not have considered his ministry completed until they were fully formed and ready to be delivered into the world, as it were.
He says in Galatians 4:19 “My little children, for whom I labour in birth again until Christ is formed in you”.
Certainly this man who is overtaken in any trespass is like a threatened miscarriage and needs to be handled carefully: placed comfortably back into the womb and nurtured carefully until he is fully formed again, ready to be delivered – unleashed – back into the world.
Becoming Conformed To The Image of Christ
That is the purpose. Jesus is the true Imago Dei, the image of God. His life here on earth was the perfect embodiment of all that is righteous, good, beautiful and true. His was the perfect life, the ideal life. And God predestined us – from the foundations of the world he predestined us – to be conformed to the image of his dear son.
The purpose of God in predestination would not have been fulfilled if those he chose don’t eventually become like his dear son.
And the purpose of God in predestination would not have been fulfilled if those that he chose do not eventually become like his dear son, the Lord Jesus Christ, that he would be the firstborn among them all who will have been adopted into his family.
That’s the purpose. So as you follow after the fallen, and after the weak, sometimes you will come across Christians who are indifferent to the things of God! Because they are obviously in a backslidden state. As you follow after them, with a view to helping them, the purpose is to bring them again to the place where they can reflect Christ our Lord.
What Does Christ Fully Formed in Us Look Like?
And that Christ has been fully formed in them will be evidence by a display of what Wilhelmus à Brakel refers to as the virtues: the things that shine forth the image of God.
To quote Wilhelmus in his book on The Christian’s Reasonable Service he divides the virtues into two categories based on the summary of the Decalogue. Namely, to love God above all and one’s neighbour as oneself.
In other words, the virtues are about the glorification of God. Having a love toward God, a love toward Christ, possessing the fear of God, having obedience toward God, hoping in God; possessing spiritual strength and courage! The profession of Christ and his truth, contentment, self-denial, patience, and uprightness.
Some of those are just a summary of the fruit of the Spirit which he outlines in Galatians 5. Regarding love toward one’s neighbour we are to have humility, meekness, peaceableness, diligence, compassion and prudence.
When a man is reflecting the image of Christ, he will be shining forth such virtues.
2. The Practice of The Ministry of Restoration
But how do we as ministers then help to bring about such a restoration to the life of our falling saints? Well the question is what leads us to our second point. Namely, the practice of the ministry of restoration. And the practice must involve a fourfold process.
Now I don’t find this process clearly laid down for us in the Bible. I have pulled one principle and another from various parts of the Bible and come up with something of a systematic theology, if you like, of how we are to help our fallen brothers and sisters. A fourfold process.
The Fourfold Process of Restoration
First give them hope. Give them hope. This man has been caught in a sin in a manner similar to the way a fish is caught in a net. The fish can’t free itself from the net. It can try all its gimmicks and summon all its power – it can’t swim its way out of the net! It’s caught!
This man has been caught in a sin in a manner similar to the way a fish is caught in a net. The fish can’t free itself.
Even so, a saint in this condition can’t free himself from the sin in which he has been entangled. This is what will give him a sense of hopelessness.
It’s a little bit like carrying that virus that I spoke about this morning. It’s in your body. If you had a way of opening up your body so you can remove it, you would do that. But you can’t! You must live with it. It is in this sense that a believer, like the Apostle Paul, will speak in terms of being sold as a slave to sin. It’s not as if he lives in sin, but that sin lives in him! And he cannot remove it, he cannot exorcise it out of himself. He must stick with it.
Well, a believer who has been caught in a sin feels something of that helplessness and hopelessness. As a helper, you must begin by giving him hope.
First Give Them Hope
What will that look like? Well, as you come to assist him, don’t take a condemnatory posture like the Pharisees would have done. “How can you sin? How can you fall? You are not worthy of the community! We will have nothing to do with you!”
Brother, be sympathetic, and be empathetic and be inspirational. This was and is the way of the master – as our High Priest is one who shares in our nature as humans and who lived among us. Even though he was not a sinner, yet he could see who a sinner was, what a sinner goes through, what they suffer, the dangers they face. And if they didn’t repent, what they stand to suffer forever in hell!
The Lord looks at that and empathises and sympathises.
Even so, like your master, show him that he is not the only one who has been caught in a sin and who struggles with sin. And that although you have come to help and to walk alongside him, that you too struggle with sin. You too sometimes feel overpowered and you’ve come to help him. Because you do understand what he might be going through.
He Can Be Freed By The Lord
Show him that he’s not the only one, that there are many others, and that he can be freed by the Lord himself. You cannot free him. You can help, you can be a channel, you can be an instrument. You cannot free him. The Lord himself, the heavenly physician, can and must free him.
Give him hope.
Allow me to read à Brakel again – I’ve been reading him recently. Now, if you have been through the Puritan Seminary you can hardly help it!
He says, and he was writing about the backslider: “Tell him”, he says, “that if he is conscious of his own declension and desertion and that although he is powerless, but if he misses God and has a desire to experience a sweet communion with God again, he has a desire to unite with Christ again – to walk in love, to walk in obedience, to walk in service of God – that that in itself is testimony to the fact that he is of the Lord. Tell him that. Those who are not of the Lord don’t care about being restored, about coming back. They don’t miss anything! But if he is in this sorry state and he is missing God, and Christ, and the people of God, it must be because he has life. Tell him there is hope! There is hope.”
God Has Rescued Many Others
Another thing you must do as you seek to inspire hope in the man is to remind him that God has rescued many others. As a helper you yourself might have been in a similar condition. You might have been caught in sin, and look where you are now! You’ve been restored, you’ve been empowered, you are serving the Lord again! Give yourself as an example and point to many others that grace has touched and drawn back to their Lord.
Give yourself as an example and point to many others that grace has touched.
Encourage him in that way.
Tell him to take courage and to focus upon the promises of God. A promise such as, “In a little wrath”, this is from Lamentations 3 [correction Isaiah 54]:
“I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the LORD thy Redeemer.” (Isaiah 54:8)
“O you afflicted one, Tossed with tempest, and not comforted, Behold, I will lay your stones with colourful flowers” (Isaiah 54:11)
“All your children shall be taught by of Lord, And great shall be the peace of thy children.” (Isaiah 54:13)
Tell them about that, point them to those promises. They need hope otherwise they can’t go forward.
Zechariah refers to the people of God as “prisoners of hope”. What an expression! Prisoners of hope. Give him hope so he can go forward. That’s the first think you need to do.
Deal With The Underlying Sin Problem
Secondly, deal with the problem of his sin. Deal with the problem of his trespasses. What does Paul say? “if a man is overtaken in any trespass”. Any trespass! He has a virus – a spiritual virus in his system. You need to deal with that or else he will continue to struggle.
He has a spiritual virus in his system. You need to deal with that or else he will continue to struggle.
You can train him to do one good thing and another good thing and you can train him to even behave spiritually. But if you don’t deal with that virus he will not really rise. So deal with the problem of his sin.
Lasting Change Is Rooted In The Bible
Now to do this you must first of all use the Scriptures under the power of the Holy Spirit.
This is what will bring about lasting change. Lasting change must be rooted in the Bible. In 2 Timothy 3:14-16 we find very interesting and powerful expressions of the characteristics of the Bible.
It is God breathed, it’s the word of God. Furthermore, Paul says it’s profitable – the Bible is able to impart benefit upon you, upon the man you are helping. In other words, the Scriptures are helpful and serviceable. First of all in positioning you as a minister, as a helper, and secondly in helping your fallen brother.
They are profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.
How To Use The Scriptures
But how exactly do the Scriptures help to bring about change for people such as this man who is overtaken in a trespass?
Well the first is: use the Scriptures to teach the fallen brother. To teach him about his condition, to teach him about his standing before God, to teach him about the God he has failed to obey and to love and to follow. Use the Bible!
Name The Problem, Find The Cure
People have a tendency to use terminology that the Bible doesn’t use to describe their condition. What would you make of this description? “Well I was dismissed from my job for misappropriation of funds”. What does the Bible call that? Theft.
If it’s misappropriation of funds where do we go to in the Bible to find a solution for dealing with misappropriation of funds?
But we can go to various places in the Bible to find medication for the problem of theft – and ever so many other things.
Teach On God’s Standards
So use the Bible to teach the sinner about his condition. Use the Bible to teach them about God and his standards – standards that they have veered from. Use the Bible to do that.
I remember dealing with a brother, he hadn’t quite fallen to the extent that the man we are discussing here had fallen, but he was given to fear. He didn’t have a great sense of assurance of his salvation. He was always afraid and afraid to a point where he was being rendered ineffective as a Christian.
He didn’t have demons. He lacked understanding of the biblical doctrine of justification.
I went to see him and we worked through the Scriptures, and I was able to show him that this tendency is sinful. I was also able to show him that he lacked understanding of the doctrine of justification by faith. That he wasn’t putting on the breastplate of righteousness when he was tempted to fear and to doubt what God had done for him. And so we took time to study that doctrine. And the more he understood it, the more he experienced freedom.
He didn’t have demons. He lacked understanding of the biblical doctrine of justification.
Teach that. This is what Paul is doing to the Galatians, you see? Through the bad influence of the Judaisers they were losing their edge; they were losing their sense of freedom. How does he respond to that? He takes them to the Bible and he takes them to the doctrine of justification by faith. And that is how they found their freedom again.
And this implies that as a teacher you must read and study the scriptures – and study them doctrinally and theologically. Use the scriptures to teach.
Bring Conviction Of Sin
Secondly, use the scriptures to bring conviction of sin. The Bible is profitable not just for teaching, but for reproof. 2 Timothy 4:2, in charging the young man Timothy, as he preaches Paul says he must convict through the use of the scriptures.
And to do that in our day and age, is not to be politically correct. And so what do preachers do? They never preach in a way that is pointed, in a way that will convict, in a way that will rebuke people, because they are afraid! Not only of losing people but of offending them.
And yet if people don’t feel that they have sinned, they won’t do anything about their sin. And you have a duty as a preacher, as a pastor, as a shepherd, to convict them of sin.
This man hasn’t just found himself in this situation. He cooperated with the falling process.
If they will change from their bad habits, or their sinful ways of living, they need to be convicted from the Bible.
That is to say we need to bring them to an acknowledgement of their failure to meet the standards of God’s word. They need to have an uncomfortable sense of guilt and shame about what they have done.
Show Him, So He May Be Ashamed
This man hasn’t just found himself in this situation. He cooperated with the falling process. He was careless, he was neglectful of the means of grace. He loved sin! He made the choice to sin and to be enslaved and he needs to be shown that so he may be ashamed.
The Holy Spirit of course is an active participant in this process. Part of his ministry is to convict, to convict men of sin, of righteousness and of judgement. He is never apart from the process.
And as you minister to this person – to the needy – your hope is that they will cry in a manner similar to the way people cried on the day of Pentecost as they heard Peter expound the scriptures. “Men! What shall we do?” And they shouted in that way because they were cut to the heart – they were convicted of sin and wanted to do something about it.
Therefore, explain to them and show them how they have deviated from the word of God, so they may be broken and made sorry.
Correct Their Conduct
The third is use the scriptures to correct their conduct. Culture is not your grid here. Scriptures are. The opinions of men are not your criteria here. The scriptures are. The scriptures are useful for correction.
The opinions of men are not your criteria here. The scriptures are.
To correct means standing something up, or making something to stand again. To rectify what has gone wrong. And the Bible has this quality, and power, and ability to correct. It convicts us of failure to follow it, but it also demonstrates to us what the right way is.
One of the uses of the law is to act as a map. To show us clearly, “That’s the wrong way, that’s the right way. Go that way! That’s a dangerous way, you will destroy yourself – go that way!”
And you need to show this man how he strayed, how he deviated, what the straight path is, and therefore, where he ought to be going. In a manner similar to the Evangelist in the Pilgrim’s Progress, show him, tell him, “Do you see yonder wicket-gate? Do you see that narrow way? That’s the way you must go”.
The Power of Repentance
And what you are trying to do here is to bring the man who is overtaken in any trespass to repentance. Without repentance there will be no progress.
It reminds me of a man I was helping years ago – in the ’80s in my first pastorate. He’d been in a backslidden state for a long time and now he was starting to come to church, he was developing an interest in the things of God. But he felt that he wasn’t making any progress.
He was trying to pray but he wasn’t being righteous. He was reading the Bible but he wasn’t being righteous. He was coming to church, but he wasn’t yet enjoying the things of God and he was still being drawn by the sinful things that had brought him down earlier on. And he couldn’t understand why he wasn’t making progress.
God Has Not Dealings With Unrepentant Sinners
And I asked him if he had repented? And he asked, “How do you mean?” So we went over the doctrine of repentance, working mainly from Psalm 51. And I was able to show him that if he had experienced repentance – true repentance – that he must have come to a realisation that he had sinned against God. That he must have confessed sin and that he must have felt a godly sorrow in his heart. He must have felt ashamed about the way he was living, the way he was conducting himself. And that he must have had the desire in his heart to be parted from these ways. He must have come to the place where he was now hating and abhorring his sin, and finding Jesus beautiful.
I asked him, “Did you experience this? Did you know or did you experience anything of this?” And he said “No”. I said, “That’s the problem. You still love your sin. You haven’t repented from it. And God has no dealings with unrepentant sinners”.
Have You Repented?
That’s why in the Church we excommunicate them! Because the Church is the community of repentant and repenting people. Have you repented my friend? That sin you struggle with so often, that besetting sin that weakens you so often. And if you are a pastor, that sin that demobilises you and robs you of power and of effectiveness. Have you repented of it?
The people you help must be brought to repentance in this manner.
Proverbs 28:13 says, “He who hides his transgressions will not prosper, but he who repents of them and renounces them will obtain mercy.”
Bring them to repentance. So use the scriptures.
Apply Christ To Their Condition
The second thing by way of dealing with the problem of sin is that you must apply Christ to their condition. Ultimately, only Christ can forgive and repair the breakdown of sin. John the Baptist says in John 1:29 “Look! The Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”
In counselling practice we sometimes say that when someone comes to you for help, you must assume that they have the problem of sin. In the world we must assume that they are innocent until proven guilty but in this context we must assume that they are guilty until they are proven innocent.
And there is only one solution to the problem of sin, Christ. Apply Christ.
There is only one solution to the problem of sin, Christ. Apply Christ.
Is There No Balm in Gilead?
I think you’ve heard the story of Rowland Hill. I hope I am correct in saying that it was Rowland Hill who had been preaching in those revival days in the Welsh Revival. And preaching the law so pointedly and so powerfully that people were under the conviction of the Holy Spirit: they sensed their sin and they fell to the ground because they were overpowered by this deep sense of sin.
And because they couldn’t cope with it a number of them were being taken out – being saved from the preacher as it were – until someone cried from the congregation, “Roland is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there?” To which he responded, “But God commends his love towards us in this – that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
And those who were attending to the weak, began to bring the sinners back into the church so they may experience something of the power of that balm.
Christ Is The Healer
Christ is the healer. Christ is the saviour. Christ is the solution to the problem of their sin. Apply him to their condition.
So many sinners don’t know how to apply Christ for sanctification purposes.
Often, when we become Christians, we think that we can carry on on our own after we have been justified. As if we don’t need Christ for our sanctification. And so many sinners don’t know how to apply Christ for sanctification purposes. And your duty as a pastor is to help them apply Christ to their condition.
How Do You Apply Christ To Them?
What exactly must you do as you apply Christ? Well first of all you must give them a vision of God’s glory as revealed in the face of Christ.
In 2 Corinthians 3:16-18 – it’s a very important passage in this regard. Paul says this: “Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away”. And then he goes on to say, “Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty”. He goes on to say, “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed”.
Hold The Glory of The Lord Before Them
We behold the glory of the Lord and as we behold the glory of the Lord we are being transformed.
Into the same image that we are beholding, we are being transformed from glory to glory – just as by the spirit of the Lord – hold the glory of the Lord before them. That’s what will change them, that’s what will transform them.
You can see why churches are so weak these days. Christ is not preached enough, his glory is not held before the people enough. They must see that glory to be transformed.
Show Them He Is The Lamb of God
Furthermore, you must give them a vision of Christ as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. That was the summary of John the Baptist’s ministry. “Look! The Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).
Show them that the lamb can take away their sins.
Show Them Christ is The Sanctifier
Thirdly, you must give them a vision of Christ as the sanctifier. In Ephesians 2:10 we are reminded that we are created in Christ for good works. In Christ!
If you have fallen in a sin and you are not able to do good works anymore you must see to it that you see Christ as the repairer of your condition – so again you can do those works in him.
Show Them Christ is The Glorifier
Fourthly you must give them a vision of Christ as the glorifier and the consummator. Yes, he may be delivered from this sin that he has been caught in – doesn’t mean he will become perfect and sinless.
The day of redemption yet awaits us when our saviour will appear in the skies. And when he appears he will transform our lowly bodies to become like his glorious body, to become like his celestial body. And in those bodies we will never sin again. Indeed, he will also change the atmosphere in which we live! We will exist in a place where sin is not present.
Tell them about that! That Jesus will take care of that too! For now they must strive against sin, they must fight against sin, and as they do so they must look ahead to the day when they will sin no more.
Train Them in Righteousness
There’s a fifth thing you must do. Train them in righteousness. Of course we find that word train in 2 Timothy 3. And Paul says the scriptures are not only profitable for teaching and for reproof and correction, he also says they are profitable for training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16).
Not just training for the man of God, by which you will become perfect, but also the people he himself is training. And the word translated train is used for training in the same way that parents do when they are raising their children.
Training is not just interested in informing the mind but in tutoring the person: in walking with them.
Instruction informs the mind, doesn’t it? But training is not just interested in informing the mind but in tutoring the person, in walking with them, in showing them how to do this righteousness. And someone who has been caught in a sin needs something of that training.
It’s like someone who’s been found in an accident and they have been maimed. They are paralysed for a while and as they heal they need to be taught how to walk again. They need to be taught how to do things again. They might have been able to do them before for many years, but now they have lost something of that ability and they need to be taught to do it again.
What Training In Righteousness Involves
That’s the kind of training Paul has in mind. Training them in righteousness will include first of all helping them to establish godly disciplines. Train them to utilise godly disciplines, four disciplines in particular – and I’ll do no more than mention them.
Read & Hear The Word of God
Train them to read the word of God. Secondly, train them to hear the word of God. John Wells offers some practical advice in this regard. He wrote “We are most acceptable and most spiritual in ordinances when we bring the whole man to them, the whole man to this message that is being preached. When the knee doth bend and the eye doth weep and the heart doth yield and the soul doth stoop and the ear incline in holy duties. God’s great work was to make the whole world for man and man’s great work in spiritual approaches is to give the whole man to God.”
Train them to give their whole to God as he speaks through his servants.
Stephen Charnock, a Puritan, he counsels, “without the exercise of faith the duties are out of Christ. As you listen to the word of God exercise faith, apply it, and believe that word!”
Hide The Word of God In The Heart
Another thing you must train them to do is to hide the word in the heart. The prophet David – if we may so call him – he counselled in Psalm 119:11 “your word have I hidden in my heart that I might not sin against you.”
Those who fall forget the word: they forget to hide it in their hearts.
Those who fall forget the word: they forget to hide it in their hearts. Train them to hide the word in the heart.
Train them also to be much in prayer; to practice prayer. Kent Hughes says prayer is like time exposure to God. Our souls function he says is like photographic plates and Christ’s shining image is the light! The more we expose our lives to the white hot sun of his righteous life, the more his image will be burned into our character. His love, his compassion, truth, his integrity, his humility.
Train them to use godly disciplines.
Establish Godly Relationships
Another thing. Help them establish godly relationships. This is best done in the church. In the church are people who will pray for them and encourage them and rebuke them and inspire them and stir them to love of good works. Help them to be functional members of the church.
Some people fall into sin because they are not connected to the Church. They are not accountable to anybody. They are not accountable to spiritual leaders. They are not accountable to their fellow believers. And so they fall by the wayside.
Assignments Are Helpful
Take them back to the church. Help them to become functional members of the church: to exercise their gifts in the church, to attend upon the public means of grace often. Train them. And as you do so give them assignments – this is very important – give them assignments, give them targets concerning the reading of the word, concerning meditation and memorisation of scripture.
Give them assignments concerning the formation of accountability relationships and check up on those assignments. Sometimes you have to do it every day, or every week, or every couple of weeks. Check on them, see that they are doing them and that these assignments are having an effect upon their lives.
Thirdly, and I’ll do no more than glance on this, the manner of restoration.
3. The Manner of The Ministry of Restoration
Paul says here in Galatians that we are to restore them gently, gently. Gentleness doesn’t mean we simply say what they are doing is OK, even if it’s not. It doesn’t mean we tolerate their behaviour. Gentleness means communicating in humility and tenderness. Respecting the fact that this person probably feels guilty and shame already, and so we handle them with tenderness.
Gentleness doesn’t mean we simply say what they are doing is OK, even if it’s not. It means communicating in humility and tenderness.
In other words, we must treat them as Jesus treated the woman who was caught in adultery in John 8. As Jesus treated the Samaritan woman in John 4. He wasn’t condemning, but neither was he tolerating their behaviour. But you can’t miss the fact that he was tender, that he was shepherding them. It must be with gentleness.
Finally, the caveat.
4. The Caveat To The Ministry of Restoration
Even as we engage in the ministry of reconciliation, Paul says consider yourself lest you fall; lest you also be tempted and fall (Galatians 6:1).
Consider yourselves. And that word translated consider can mean, be on your guard against something. Here you are to be on your guard that you yourself are not tempted and find yourself falling in a manner similar to the person you are helping may have fallen.
We are to be on our guard against our own weak and corrupt natures. We are to be on our guard against displaying a Pharisaic spirit; against being self-righteous, against being harsh and against being censorious. We are to watch against that.
And when we are dealing with certain types of sin – say of in sexual nature – we are to be on our guard that in the process of helping, we don’t find ourselves entertaining a sexual relationship with the person we are helping. We must watch.
So what am I saying as I conclude?
A Helpful System & Goal
That we need a pastoral, theological system of sorts as a tool in helping the fallen. We need structure to the way we do things and there is no one structure. I have just suggested one to us – there is no one biblical structure so to say. But it’s helpful to have some way of doing things. That you must begin with this, and then this, and then this, and then this.
And your purpose is to attain this goal: be available for those who fall. Be prepared to help those who fall. Prepare yourself biblically, prepare yourself theologically, prepare yourself character-wise. And finally, and more importantly, emulate the master, the Lord Jesus Christ.
And it will be well! And many under your charge, many along your path, will find help in a time of trouble. And if we are all doing it we will have a great number of people restored – added back to the Church – who are overcoming their troubles and who are uniting their lives and their voices in praise to Jesus, our King, our Priest, our Prophet, who alone indeed is responsible for restoration.