Church—A Hospital For Sinners
By David J. Stewart
If there's one thing that every church ought to be, it's a hospital for sinners. Sadly, most churches today are nothing more than social clubs, entertainment centers or gathering places for the self-righteous. It is tragic, but true, that oftentimes when a person sins, they are shunned away by the very people who ought to embrace them with God's love and help them grow in the Lord.
Pastor Jack Hyles used to often say, “The Christian army is the only army in the world that slays its wounded.” Brother Hyles used to also say, “First Baptist Church will become a great church when we stop saying, 'He has sinned, or 'She has sinned' and we start saying, 'We have sinned.' ” Amen! There is a tendency in our churches for Christians to become self-righteous, failing to comprehend just how sinful all of us truly are in God's eyes. I say assuredly, if we were all to receive what we deserve, the ground beneath us would immediately open and swallow us alive into the fires of Hell. Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” No one has arrived in the Christian world. We're all just a bunch of sinners—sinners saved by grace if we've been saved.
It's so important that we purpose in our heart as Christians to be forgiving of one another, to receive those who have “messed up” their lives so to speak, those who have ruined their lives by sin. Ephesians 4:31,32, “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.” The Bible teaches forgiveness. Matthew 18:21,22, “Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.” Yet, many Christians won't forgive even ONCE. How sad.
I recommend that everyone read the excellent book, JACK HYLES ON JUSTICE, which addresses this matter thoroughly.
Church is a place for sinners, for those who have messed up their lives, for those who have made a mess of everything because of sin. In Matthew 9:10-11, Jesus said He came to heal THE SICK, “And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners? But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.” In 1st Timothy 1:15 the Apostle Paul stated, “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.” In Luke 19:10 Jesus said, “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” If we are to exemplify our Lord Jesus Christ, then we must reach out to the ungodly with the Gospel. We are to reach out to fallen brethren in the spirit of meekness to guide them back to God through the Scriptures.
One thing is certain, no one should ever be made to feel unwelcome at church. As long as they are respectful of others and do not disturb the church service, they need the preaching of the Word of God as much as anyone else. Shame on those churches who shun sinners away, extend a cold-shoulder and cast judgment upon those who have sinned, or have been accused of sinning. It is not our place to judge nor condemn one who sins. Oftentimes people are shunned away on the basis of mere allegations and unfounded rumors.
Although 1st Corinthians 5:11 forbids Christians from maintaining close friendship with fellow believers who live in open sin, this certainly does not exclude them from being welcomed at church services. If the most vile of sinners, saved or unsaved, are not allowed to attend church services, then pray tell me where are they supposed to go for spiritual help? Jesus was a Friend of drunkards and prostitutes and publicans (Matthew 9:10,11). Jesus didn't approve nor partake of their sins, but He befriended them with the Gospel.
We must never forget that church is supposed to be a hospital for sinners, where the lost can find Christ the crucified One, and the backslidden can find Christ the compassionate One. We all need The Great Physician, Jesus Christ!