Biblical Restoration

Al Houghton

One of the most painful issues in Christianity is the necessity to intervene and implement biblical restoration when leaders display integrity and moral failures or significant doctrinal deviations leading to heresy!

When this ministerial organization discovers one of its members in need of restoration we choose to accept and follow the biblical pattern given to us in the model based on David’s covenant of mercy. We are told in Isaiah 55:1-3, “Ho! Everyone who thirsts, Come to the waters; And you who have no money, Come, buy and eat. Yes come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen diligently to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance. Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you – The sure mercies of David.”

In addition to Isaiah’s broad call to come and receive the covenant of sure mercy, the Antioch church appears to have accepted and ministered this concept as a cornerstone of their message. Barnabas and Saul preach it as they are sent from Antioch, Acts 13:32-34 says, “And we declare to you glad tidings – that promise which was made to the fathers. God has fulfilled this for us their children, in that He has raised up Jesus. As it is also written in the second Psalm: ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.’ And that He raised Him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, He has spoken thus: ‘I will give you the sure mercies of David.'”

The covenant of sure mercy was given to all mankind and should be seen as a foundation for any restoration process. When we look at what that covenant means, we discover it was first extended to David in Second Samuel 7. The cornerstone of the covenant is verses 12-16, “When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his Father, and he shall be My son. If he commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men and with the blows of the sons of men. But My mercy shall not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I removed from before you. And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever.”

The covenant of sure mercy was given to establish and guarantee fulfillment of God’s plan through individuals. God is determined to fulfill His Kingdom work through individual vessels who have a propensity to fail. The covenant of sure mercy guarantees that God’s purpose and plan can be established through our lives even when we fail. God promised that His mercy would not depart from David as He had taken it from Saul. In First Samuel 15 we discover what God took from Saul. For Saul’s rebellion, verses 23 and 26 seem to proclaim the same penalty. Verse 23b says, “…Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He also has rejected you from being king.” Verse 26 says, “‘I will not return with you, for you have rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD has rejected you from being king over Israel.'” In verse 23 Saul loses his office but in verse 26 he loses his call. If he had lost the office and not the call, he could potentially have regained his office. But because he loses both the office and the call, there is no return. In First Samuel 16:14, “But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul…” we see Saul also loses the anointing of the Holy Spirit to walk in the office and fulfill the call.

The covenant of sure mercy simply guarantees that God’s work will be established through each individual called if they will accept the covenant of sure mercy in their mouth and walk it out faithfully. They do not have to lose their office, their call, or the anointing of the Holy Spirit to walk in the office and fulfill the call. The walking out of this covenant is what we find in David’s life in Second Samuel 12 where he is confronted over the sin of adultery with Bathsheba and murdering Uriah the Hittite. There are eight steps in David’s restoration, which we would expect, since eight is generally considered to be the number of new beginnings.

Step #1 is in Second Samuel 12:13 and without it no restoration can be successful, “Then David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the LORD.’ And Nathan said to David, ‘The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die.'” In Step #1 each individual must acknowledge openly, completely and freely their failure. Any hesitation or lack of acknowledgement ends the restoration process before it can ever truly begin. We tend to minimize the impact of our actions. Out of pain, those affected often maximize the impact leaving the restoration team the unenviable task of sorting out the difference! We require full acknowledgement for any restoration to continue!

In Step #2 David embraces the humiliation and accepts the righteous judgment of God. According to verse 18 his mourning period lasts seven days. Seven is usually the number of completion or perfection. In this case a team must make the application according to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Any restoration process is a combination of following God’s word and responding to the prompting of the Holy Spirit so that this process preserves the individual while demanding the fruit of true repentance continuing to advance toward reaching the fullness of vision God ordains.

The humility demonstrated by a repentant acknowledgement should also accept the righteous determination of depth and length of the restoration period.

Each individual desiring restoration at this point must choose to accept what the leadership team to which they are accountable deems appropriate. Both the individual and the leadership team must reach agreement on the length and depth of the restoration.

The goal is to get the person back into their ministry as soon as possible and restore the confidence of everyone involved in the true repentance of the individual. The team must avoid harsh arbitrary dictates while the individual must choose to accept what those to whom he is accountable dictate. David accepted his righteous judgment and it cost him seven days of mourning. Whether the length determined is seven days, seven months or seven years, it must be equally acceptable to both parties.

Step #3 is in verse 20. David made the decision that he had to get up. In step #3, the individual in restoration must choose to receive the mercy of God. It is absolutely imperative that the restoring organization at this point fully extend God’s mercy and help pull the individual up from the depth of shame and humiliation calling them forth to once again walk with a conscience free and cleansed from sin. The fulfilling of the call cannot be accomplished without absolute faith toward God. The last thing we want to do is continue to remind people of their failure when in fact our job is to restore them fully before the Lord and before their peers. David made a choice to get up and we must follow his pattern.

Step #4 he washed. The washing off of the shame and condemnation is impossible without our peers supplying the water. IFM commits to provide a full flowing faucet when a repentant heart is exhibited. This is a process that has to be walked out but we recognize our essential contribution and pledge an attitude of redemption toward the person, absent of pharisaism, making this as rapid a process as possible!

In Step # 5 David anoints himself which represents the joy and gladness of restored relationship following a deep cleansing. We know the gifts and callings are irrevocable so this anointing is not the maw-shakh for ministry but a sook-celebration of being clean. We believe in the restoration process when both the person being restored and those doing the restoration harmoniously come together for a second commissioning they are proclaiming for all to see that there is corporate confidence and public trust.

Everybody involved benefits when an open proclamation of a completed process can be made. This second anointing is a declaration in the natural and in the spirit that restoration requirements have been met and trust restored! David’s anointing of himself is also a picture of how we must forgive our own failures and rise in faith to once again possess our God-given confidence for ministry.

Step #6 David changed his clothes. For David, as king, to change his clothes meant to put on the kingly robes. This is a picture of receiving Revelation 1:6 into our inner most being. God has made us kings and priests. He knew our failures before He ever called us and He will do for us what He did for David – turn our failure into the platform for our greatest success. We must put on our kingly authority and choose to walk therein expecting a Davidic type redemption.

Step #7 David went into the house of the Lord and worshipped. He reconnected with God at the level of intensity for which he was known. David had become the sweet psalmist of Israel. He invented a multitude of instruments. New psalms needed his voice! David had to go back and reconnect with God at a point of fellowship for which he had earned a great reputation. The heart of worship and reconnecting with our ultimate source for ministry is absolutely essential in this process. David resumed his ministry.

In Step #8 David not only went back into the house and ate, resuming his normal schedule, but having received mercy he now, in verses 24 and 25, extends mercy to the very object of his failure. Having been king, he could have easily have done to Bathsheba what he did to Michal and banished her forever. But he did not. Having received mercy he went into Bathsheba and extended mercy. The difference is shown in God’s response to the two pregnancies and births. The first child, the child of his sin, received judgment.

The second child born to them, the child of mercy, becomes the very individual who will fulfill David’s dream of building a temple, the wisest man on earth becoming the instrument by which David’s heritage is assured. Only God can take our greatest failures and turn them into the platform for our greatest successes. This is true restoration and we should accept nothing less. However long that process takes, it is well worth it, if we can get these biblical results.

This should always be the intent of any organization doing restoration. Birthing redemption from failure in such a way that it honors God, honors the Church and honors every individual involved is our aim. It is incumbent on all of us who minister restoration that we extend the same mercy God does.

While this has not been a typical practice in the Church, it certainly must be in these last days because every individual’s contribution is absolutely essential to winding up the age. It is to this process, we at IFM are committed. Though we pray that we never have to do restoration, we must be prepared for that process and all who join the organization must know exactly how it works and how we will respond.