Consider for a moment that you just received a text from an unknown number,
All is Discovered! Flee Now!How would you react?
In the late 19th century, and popularized by Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes), a tragically humorous anecdote was told of a person sending six telegrams to six upstanding Christian gentlemen (or pastors) stating only, “All is Discovered: Flee at Once!” The following day (or Sunday) not a single one of the men could be found, having left town in a hurry.
Tell this story at any gathering and you are sure to hear some nervous laughter. The joke is not that these six were accidentally discovered, for the author of the telegram had no knowledge or inkling of any secret sin, but that every man has a deep dark secret of which he would flee if it were found out, convicted by their own conscience.
The church has not been immune from secret sin, but beloved, there should be no unconfessed sin in your life that, if found out, would result in the end of your ministry, family, or life. This has been exacerbated in recent days by the findings of a major SBC investigation into Paige Patterson. The investigation began not because of secret sin, but because of public statements which were made in very poor judgment. Dr. Patterson had little to deny or even be ashamed of in his defense, other than a lack of clarity and of being out of line with the culture, but rather should have clarified and preached. But the investigation did not stop with public and defendable statements.
What was found that was utterly shocking and repugnant in Dr. Patterson’s investigation was that which was known by only a few people, that he had purposefully covered up rape allegations to either protect his seminary, or to protect the rapist. Either is abhorrent and a secret, which, when found out, led to his firing from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. I had supported Paige Patterson up until I learned why he was fired, as the board revealed, this was truly “new information” and was a sin worthy of firing.
Paul writes to Timothy on these matters, speaking about being slow to associate with just any man who shows interest in ministry, because you may be found taking part in his sin. Paige Patterson is a hero in the Southern Baptist Convention and by almost all accounts seems to bear fruit keeping with repentance. I truly hope that his cover-up was a serious stumble, and not the exposure of much deeper spiritual issues.
Paul continued his thought, “The sins of some people are conspicuous, going before them to judgment, but the sins of others appear later (1 Timothy 5:24).” I’ve always felt this was a direct allusion to Moses regarding whether the tribes of Reuben and Gad would provide warriors to conquer what would become Israel, “Be sure your sin will find you out (Numbers 32:23).” Some men are obviously sinners and few are surprised when they fall, such were Jim Bakker, Ted Haggard, Paul Crouch, Mark Driscoll, etc, etc, ad nauseum, but the sins of others are hidden, such as those of Josh Duggar, Paige Patterson, and Paul Pressler, and many are surprised when they are brought to light. I believe that the Apostle Paul was making the point that some sins are exposed before judgment, and others won’t appear until after judgment.
The tragedy of many is that they will never get a wake up call, “All is Discovered! Flee Now!” but their sins will only be made manifest on the great and terrible day of judgment when their faith is shown to be a fraud and their sin finds them out. For, dear reader, you may hide your sin from many people, but you will never hide your sin from God, for his Word is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. No creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account (Hebrews 4:12-13). God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus (Romans 2:16).
Our associate pastor recently recommended a wonderful book to us on teaching children to keep their body’s safe, it is called God Made All of Me by Justin Holcomb. It makes many great points (the main failing is that it does not address the gospel, but dear parent, that is ultimately your job), but the most important for me was where it talks about how secrets make people feel confused, hurt, scared, sad, etc and how secrets have no place in the kingdom of Heaven. Christ came as light into the world and the darkness fled from him, lest their deeds be exposed. There is no place for secrets in the household of faith. We could argue minutia such as not revealing the identity of a rape victim, but we will not argue whether the rape should be reported, investigated, and punished. A secret has no place in Christian's life if we have truly come to the light.
Dear reader, make this decision now, that no secret will exist in your life that, if revealed, would ruin your career, your family, your life, or your eternity. Let no sin go unconfessed to God and man, and unrepented of. The blood of Christ cleanses from all unrighteousness.
There are some whom I know whose sin is evident to all but themselves; there are others whose sin is undeniably there, but which sin is unclear; there are others whom I pray would receive a wakeup call on par with, “All is Discovered, Flee Now!” Beloved, where do you stand on this scale, if a telegraph appeared at your door tomorrow would you have enough time to pack your bags, or would you know that all of your sin is already laid at the foot of a bloodstained cross and has no power over you?
And if all truly were discovered, to whom would you flee? At the end of the age many will flee to caves in mountains and under rocks but will have no reprieve from him who is seated on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb. John the Baptist asked a wicked and perverse generation whose sin was more than conspicuous, “Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come (Matthew 3:7)!?”
Beloved, there is one Saviour, one name given under Heaven by which we must be saved, to whom we must flee: Jesus, raised from the dead, who delivers us from the wrath to come. Flee to him yourself, and call others to flee, instead of a telegram as a joke, implore men with all seriousness and love, “All is Discovered! Flee now to Christ Jesus who died for you while you were yet a sinner, defeated death, and is able to save completely all who draw near to him in faith!” For how will they call on him who is able to save and how will you declare it?
Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages, but now has been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith—to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen. ~ Romans 16:25-27