Thursday, August 02, 2007


Come To Jesus Just As You Are

Most of us have seen Gone with the Wind. Some of us have read the book. Did you know the novel was based on real people?

In real life, Scarlett wasn't an O'Hara, though. Her real name was Emelyn Louise Hannon. And Rhett wasn't a Butler. His real name was Rhett Turnipseed.

I guess you can see why his name was changed -- uh, with all due respect to any Turnipseeds who may be reading this!

Rhett and Emelyn's lives were similar to Rhett and Scarlett's, right down to Rhett walking out on his true love to join the Confederate army. That's the way the book ends.

But that's not the way things ended for the real couple. The Turnipseed family of South Carolina has kept the history of their famous Rhett.

After the Civil War, Rhett became a drifter and a gambler. But on Easter 1871, Rhett attended a revival meeting in Nashville. There he surrendered to Jesus and, soon after, he enrolled in divinity school and became a pastor.

Did Rhett and Scarlett ever cross paths again? Yes.

Rhett was worried about a young woman of his church. He even traveled to St. Louis, where he found her working in a house of prostitution in St. Louis. However, he was told that the madam of the house had no intention of letter her go.

And who was the madam? None other than Scarlett -- I mean, Emelyn.

Reverend Rhett challenged Madam Scarlett to a game of poker. If he won, the girl he came to fetch would be free to leave. The reformed gambler drew on his old poker skills and won with a royal straight flush.

The story has an even happier ending. The young girl married well and became the matriarch of a fine Southern family. And Scarlett? She left prostitution, joined a church, and opened an orphanage for Cherokee children. She died in 1903, and her grave is marked to this day.

I'm sure you know there's a fictional sequel to Gone with the Wind, but give me this sequel for my money! A story about how God changes lives will always thrill me!
Here is one of those stories in God's Word.

John 8:1 but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2 Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. 3 The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst 4 they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. 5 Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” 6 This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. 7 And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. 9 But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10 Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” (ESV)

An adulteress is brought before Jesus for judgement and expereinces life change!

1. Textual questions on John7:53 through 8:11.
a. From manuscript current evidence, it seems unlikely that this portion (7:53-8:11) was part of the original text of John's gospel, or at least in this place.
o The majority of ancient Greek manuscripts omit this section
o Many later manuscripts mark this section with asterisks
o One group of manuscripts inserts it after Luke21:38
o A few have this section after John 21:24, and one has it after John7:36
i. All this shows that ancient scribes were ignorant of its exact position, but were anxious to retain it in the gospel records. They knew it belonged, but they didn't exactly know where.
b. Some ancient Christians (like Augustine and Ambrose) omitted this story, not so much because of the textual evidence, but because they thought it made Jesus appear to condone sexual immorality.
c. At the same time, the character of the story makes it seem obvious that it is genuine, and most scholars note that it is historical and factual. Early Christian writers mention this event as soon as the early second century (100 a.d.). We have every reason to believe that this actually happened, and that John really wrote this. And were it not so, there are so many times when similar events took place, that it is highly likely.
John usually introduces the teaching segments of John’s Gospel with a narrative, a miracle or a meeting with a person that exemplifies the truths that the Lord teaches. It is very likely that this occurred here in John 8. The event actually happened and in all likelihood was recorded here in John 8:1-11.

The Trap (vs 1-6a)
Read vs 1-5. This sounds like an honest request for help in pursuing justice, but notice vs 6a. They weren't interested in justice--they were only interested in trapping Jesus! What kind of trap?
The Old Testament listed adultery as a capital crime (Lev. 20:10).
Anyway, the religious leaders hoped to impale Jesus on the horns of a dilemma:
a. If he agreed with the Old Testament law and called for her execution, they could accuse him of sedition before the Romans, because since 30 AD the Romans had taken away the Jews' right of capital punishment.
b. If he said she shouldn't be stoned, they could accuse him of false teaching and discredit him with the people, because of what the Old Testament law mandated. Common people usually prefer harsh punishment for proven criminals.
c. As Ray Stedman wrote, "They knew that Jesus was ‘The Friend of Sinners,’ that he was always on the side of the unfortunate and that he spent his time, not with the righteous, the wealthy or the respected, but with publicans and sinners. They obviously expected him to turn this woman loose. If he said that, he would be contradicting the Law of Moses and they would have him. They thought surely they had him trapped."

Not surprisingly, Jewish civil law had very strict conditions under which this crime was punishable by execution.
It required that they be caught in the act (Num. 5:13). Rabbi Samuel said, "In the case of adulterers, they (the witnesses) must have seen them in the posture of adulterers." Another scholar of Talmudic law says, "(It is not just an issue) of their having seen the couple in a `compromising situation,' for example, coming from a room in which they were alone, or even lying together on the same bed. The actual physical movements of the couple must have been capable of no other explanation, and the witnesses must have seen exactly the same acts at exactly the same time, in the presence of each other, so that their depositions would be identical in every respect." [1] It sounds like they were OK here.
But the same law stated that both parties were to be produced and prosecuted (Deut. 22:22). The last time I checked, it took two people to commit adultery! If they caught the woman "in the very act," then where is the man? It is obvious that there is a conspiracy here! The whole story could have been fabricated, but the most plausible explanation is that these men have set the woman up to use her in their attempt to discredit Jesus. They probably sent an "undercover agent" to solicit her services (maybe one of them), then on a pre-arranged signal burst in, let him go and dragged her to Jesus. This makes them accessories to the crime and therefore guilty of adultery themselves!

What did Jesus write in the dirt? Nobody knows for certain because it doesn't say. Whatever he wrote (at least initially) didn't back them off because of what they say in vs 7a. Maybe he simply wrote the 6th commandment. What is important not what he wrote on the ground, but what he said to them (read vs 7b).
1. The view held by Augustine, Melancthon, Brentius, Toletus and a' Lapide, cross referenced this passage with Jeremiah 17:13 which says, "They that depart from me shall be written in the earth." This view says that since the Pharisees distorted much of the law, and their hearts were far away from God, it was their names that were written on the ground.

2.In Numbers 5:17, if a woman was suspected by her husband of being unfaithful, he would present her to the priest in the temple. The priest would then make her drink a concoction of water and the dust from the Temple floor. Therefore, what the Lord was doing was turning the attention of the accusers of her unfaithfulness to this law by drawing in the dirt. Thus doing so, he was proving to them that although they claimed to follow the Law perfectly in this matter, they did not follow the right procedures. This view was held by Burgeon and Lightfoot.

3. But as Gordon Hugenberger and some commentators have suggested, what Jesus wrote not only can’t be known, it’s not important. What is important here is that he wrote with his finger. In chapters of Scripture where allusions to Exodus abound—from tabernacles to living water from rocks to Jesus comparing himself with manna from heaven back in chapter 6—writing with his finger readily alluded to similar finger writing back in Exodus too; namely, God’s writing of the law on stone. Exodus declares God did that with his finger. Whether the Pharisees would have picked up on it or not, Jesus symbolically signaled that not only is he the bread of life and living water

All anybody cared about here was a verdict. So Jesus gave them one. He went with the law: “Go ahead and stone her.” But with one conscience-shattering proviso for the ages: “Let whoever among you is without sin cast the first stone.” In one fell swoop, Jesus forced their attention away from the woman’s sin and onto their own. In doing so Jesus exposes our own deceptive tendency to criticize and disparage the faults of others as a way of exonerating ourselves. It’s a long established psychological phenomenon that the things we condemn most fervently in others are those very things of which we are most guilty.
Matthew Henry writes, "Whenever we find fault with others, we ought to reflect upon ourselves, and to be more severe against sin in ourselves than in others. We ought to be favourable, though not to the sins, yet to the persons, of those that offend, and to restore them with a spirit of meekness, considering ourselves and our own corrupt nature. ... We either are, or have been, or may be, what he is. Let this restrain us from throwing stones at our brethren, and proclaiming their faults. Let him that is without sin begin such discourse as this, and then those that are truly humbled for their own sins will blush at it, and be glad to let it drop."

1. When You Come To Jesus Come Just As You Are
Tom Blair tells the story of two men who were on trial for armed robbery in the San Diego Superior Court, "An eyewitness took the stand, and the prosecutor moved carefully: ‘So, you say you were at the scene when the robbery took place?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘And you saw a vehicle leave at a high rate of speed?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘And did you observe the occupants?’ ‘Yes, two men.’ ‘And,’ the prosecutor boomed, ‘are those two men present in court today?’ At this point the two defendants raised their hands, thus sealing their fate." Those two men were convicted by their own guilt just as the scribes and Pharisees were. When we are in Christ’s presence and we are convicted by our own conscience, there is nothing we can say. There are no excuses, no arguments. We know we are guilty.
George MacDonald wrote in his poem "Sweet Peril":
Alas, how easily things go wrong! A sigh too much, or a kiss to long,
And there follows a mist and a weeping rain, And life is never the same again.
She was guilty. There is no question about that. But it is also a candid reminder that "all have sinned an come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). No one rises up to meet the divine expectation for mankind. This woman was not the only one who had a problem; we all have a spiritual problem. We have all failed in the sight of God. We all got an "F" on our spiritual report card.

2. When You Come To Jesus As You Are You Will Find UnderstandingA young girl probably 15? If adultery, usually execution was by strangling.
Lev 20:10 "If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death. 11 If a man lies with his father's wife, he has uncovered his father's nakedness; both of them shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them. 12 If a man lies with his daughter-in-law, both of them shall surely be put to death; they have committed perversion; their blood is upon them.
But if it was adultery against a fiancé, then it was by stoning
Deut 22:22 "If a man is found lying with the wife of another man, both of them shall die, the man who lay with the woman, and the woman. So you shall purge the evil from Israel. 23 "If there is a betrothed virgin, and a man meets her in the city and lies with her, 24 then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city, and you shall stone them to death with stones, the young woman because she did not cry for help though she was in the city, and the man because he violated his neighbor's wife. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.

3. When You Come To Jesus As You Are You Will find Grace
Jamison-Fausset-Brown comments, "What inimitable tenderness and grace! Conscious of her own guilt, and until now in the hands of men who had talked of stoning her, wondering at the skill with which her accusers had been dispersed and the grace of the few words addressed to herself, she would be disposed to listen, with a reverence and teachableness before unknown, to our Lord's admonition. ... While a sanctimonious hypocrisy is not unfrequently found among unprincipled professors of religion, a compassionate purity which wins the fallen is one of the most beautiful characteristics of real religion. But until Christ appeared, this feature of religion was but dimly realized, and in the Old Testament but faintly held forth. It was reserved for the Lord Jesus to exhibit it in all its loveliness."
A. Remember that God is good (all the time)
Psa 11:7 (TLB) 7For God is good, and he loves goodness
Dan 9:14(NIV) …the LORD our God is righteous in everything he does
B. Remember that we are not good (most of the time)
Psa 51:5(NLT) For I was born a sinner—yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.
Rom 3:23(NIV) 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Matt 5:20(NIV) For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.
Isa 64:6(NIV) 6 All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags….
C. Remember that Jesus changes everything
10Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11“No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
1 Pet 2:24(NIV) 24He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.
Hab 2:4(NIV) … the righteous will live by his faith
Rom 3:21-22(NIV) 21But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.

4. When You Come To Jesus As You Are You Will Find Forgiveness
King Author and Queen Guenevere. You will recall in the play that King Author's most trusted and renowned knight Lancelot gingerly slipped his toe across the marital boundary. It started with an innocent look. Just a look, without premeditation or an evil intent. However, it was a short, slippery step from a look to lust, from infatuation to the bed of infidelity. The look led to a touch. The touch sometime later led to a kiss. The kiss led to adultery. And the adultery led to tragedy.
Mordred, who caught Guenevere and Lancelot in their unfaithfulness taunted the King. Of course, Lancelot escaped, but Guenevere was captured and sentenced to death by the court. In the climatic scene where Arthur is called upon to give the signal to commence the execution, Mordred taunts him with wicked joy.
"Arthur! What a magnificent dilemma! Let her die, your life is over; let her live, your life's a fraud. Which will it be, Arthur? Do you kill the Queen or kill the law?"
Ok Jesus, what will You do? You are the teacher of the Law. You teach with authority. Let us hear Your answer. Kill the Law or kill this sinner?
Jesus stooped wrote in the sand (vv. 6b-8). Soon one by one each of the accusers departs. And only the woman is left!
The woman did not make any excuses (v. 11). She was guilty. She knew it. She stood condemned. She didn't have to be convinced of that fact. She needed grace. She did not deserve it. "The wages of sin is death." "The soul that sins will surely die." She couldn't earn it. She was a spiritual pauper in the need of the riches of God's marvelous grace.
Jesus said to her, "Neither do I condemn you; go your way; from now on sin no more" (v. 11). Let those words soak in. "Neither do I . . . " "Neither do I condemn you."
How could Jesus offer such a sinner no condemnation? He did it the same way He does to us. He knew that He was going to the cross to die for her sins. "For while we were still helpless" sinners. That is the way all sinners are. Helpless. A helpless sinner doesn't merit forgiveness. A helpless sinner doesn't earn forgiveness. "For while we were still helpless [sinners], at the right time Christ died for the ungodly" (Romans 5:6).
Moreover, "God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (v. 8).
To every guilt-ridden sinner who puts their trust in Jesus Christ as their savior the LORD God comes today and whispers in your ear "neither do I condemn you." "There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1).

5. When You Come To Jesus As You Are You Will Find RepentanceA. T. Robertson observes it is imperative of prohibition, "No longer go on sinning."
Jesus did not tell the woman to clean up her act and then He would forgive her. He said, "Neither do I condemn you; go your way; sin no more." He said, now that you are saved, don't continue with your sinful lifestyle. He didn't say be obedient and then I will save you. He forgave her.

Repentance Is More Than Admitting Sin
Repentance Is More Than Confessing Sin
Repentance Is More Than A Change Of Mind
Repentance Is More Than Being Sorry For Your Sin
Repentance Is More Than Regret For The Consequences For Sin
Repentance Must Be For The Love Of God
Jesus’ first sermon was, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
Jesus told a brand new Christian who had been caught in the very act of sin to just stop doing it. And because of her relationship to Jesus, she could stop sinning
Mrs. Winter , an addicted alcoholic stopped it! A woman in adultery stopped it!
One of the miracles of true Christianity Is that of real instantaneous conversions, where people stop compulsive sins immediately.
If you’re a gambler! You stop it! If you’re a drinker! You stop it! If you’re a snow dropper! You stop it!
For love of God’s own Son!

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