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A Sense of Sin

A Sense of Sin

An excerpt from R.T. Kendall’s Prophetic Integrity

It is impossible to remain the same when you think about or experience the glory of God because you will get a sense of your sin. That is why I object to prophetic ministry that is not accompanied by gospel preaching.

Even the great prophet Isaiah reminds us of this fact. He had been in the ministry for years, but one day it was given him to see a vision of the glory of the Lord. The seraphim cried one to another, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” The result: Isaiah exclaimed, “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips . . . for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” (Isa. 6:1–5). There was no doubt about Isaiah’s credentials; he was the prophet. But when God’s glory showed itself, he could only cry out, “Woe is me!”

While writing this very book, I was invited to be on a religious TV show to discuss one of my books, Chances Are, You Might Be a Pharisee If . . . I made the observation that the Pharisees did not have a sense of sin and that the present-day church also lacks this sense. I also said that if you read the biographies of men and women in church history, the greatest saints always saw themselves as the greatest sinners.

The TV interviewer was flummoxed; he looked uneasy. We still had another fifteen minutes to discuss the book, but I could tell that he wanted to cut the interview short. It was obvious that discussing a sense of sin with this man was utterly foreign to him. He had nothing to say. I tried to help, referring to the Lord’s Prayer, “forgive us our trespasses,” and quoting 1 John 1:8, where John said, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” He forced a smile and concluded, “Thank you for being with us today, Dr. Kendall,” ending the program.

What really matters?

I invited cross-carrying Arthur Blessitt to preach for me six consecutive Sunday evenings at Westminster Chapel in 1982. He called one of his sermons “The Heartbeat of God.” It was about soul winning, the need to see lost people saved. This was an epochal moment in my ministry, if not also for Westminster Chapel. I needed that sermon as much as anyone, because it flowed out of a vision; Blessitt had seen the glory of the Lord as he was carrying the cross alongside the Amazon in South America. The content he preached, inspired by that vision, cohered with my teaching about the glory of God. That sermon showed me how I could bring more honor to God by dignifying the reason God sent his Son to die on a cross, namely, that people would believe. But how can they believe unless they hear the Word they need to be saved (Rom. 10:13ff)?

What matters most to God? His glory and honor. The glory of God is the common denominator of God and his ways throughout the Old Testament. This same common denominator also runs throughout the New Testament. This God of glory is unveiled in the book of Revelation, when the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fall down and worship him:

“Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” (Rev. 4:11, emphasis mine)

What matters most to God is the glory of his Son, the eternal Logos made flesh, the one who died on the cross for the sins of the world. The same living creatures and elders worship the Lamb:

“Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.” (Rev. 5:9–10)

That said, do you suppose it matters to God when we focus on politics more than the reason Jesus died on the cross? Are we more interested in who is president than seeing people coming to the Lord Jesus Christ in faith? Is our focus on preserving our comfortable way of living rather than promoting the honor and glory of God?

Arthur Blessitt was right. He said the heartbeat of God is seeing the lost saved. God gets the ultimate glory when we affirm what his Son did by dying on a cross. After all, this is why God “sent” his Son (John 3:17). This is why Jesus died on the cross. The eternal logos was made flesh in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, who was (and is) the God-man. He was man as though he were not God; he was God as though he were not man. Jesus was and is one hundred percent God and one hundred percent man. As he was writing many years later, John reflected on his days with Jesus: “We have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). The glory of God was manifested in his eternal Son who died on a cross to save the world.

We should think about this in a time when we are drawn to trust in political solutions, when political solutions may not be what truly matters to God after all.

How does understanding the nature of God relate to prophecy? Would not a true prophet have foreseen that Joe Biden would be the next president? If you are a true prophet of God, why did God not tell you this? Do you believe God is omniscient and knows the future?   

Review of the book Prophetic Integrity by R.T. Kendall

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