Q & A: A Man After God’s Own Heart

DAvid and Bathsheba

Question and answer from the Bible Answer Man broadcast.

Kay in St. Louis, MO: Hi. Thank you for taking my call, Mr. Hanegraaff. I am wanting you to plot a discourse, perhaps, on David on the phrase that he was a man after God’s own heart. It’s my understanding that that was stated early in his life, and yet later in his life with Uriah, Bathsheba incident, for example, he sins as dispassionately as he prays. Tell me your perspective on it. At the end of his life was he still a man after God’s own heart, do you think?

Hank: I don’t think there’s any question about it. He’s Israel’s quintessential king, he’s a man after God’s own heart. That is not because he doesn’t sin. It is because he desires fellowship with his heavenly father and therefore confesses his sin, most notably in Psalm 51 where he says “Have mercy on me, O God. According to your unfailing love, blot out my transgressions, cleanse me from my sins.” And he asks God to restore to him, grant to him a willing spirit and the joy of his salvation. “Create in me,” he says, “a pure heart, O God. Renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of my salvation. Grant a willing spirit to sustain me.” And then he says “Then I will teach transgressors your ways and sinners will turn back to you. Save me from blood-guilt, O God, the God who saves me, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.”

He was well aware that he not only had an affair with Bathsheba, but as a result of that affair he had to have Uriah killed on the battlefront. So he had blood on his hands and this was pointed out to him in no uncertain terms when Samuel pointed a boney finger at him and said “You are the man, the man who has taken someone else’s wife.” And Samuel used an illustration to get through to David, who was living in denial with respect to his own sin. And this was not even the greatest of his sins. I mean, it was a great sin, but there were many other great sins in David’s life, including the census that he took, demonstrating that he was leaning on the arm of flesh rather than on the arm of God.

And David is not just anyone. He is the leader of God’s people and therefore his responsibilities and his judgment is a stricter judgment, very much like what James says about teachers. “But not many of you should be teachers because in teaching there is a stricter judgment.” So David sinned horribly, but he had a heart that panted after God as a deer pants after water brooks.”

Kay: So you believe that his repentance after the fact is reason for that statement to continue to be true throughout his life.

Hank: Yeah, because he cared about God’s Law and he recognized that that Law was significant in that it ultimately was the schoolmaster that pointed him towards the coming King Who would forever sit upon the throne of David – David, of course, being Israel’s quintessential king – that promise fulfilled in Jesus Christ. So he’s looking forward to the promise. And so David, like Abraham, like the patriarchs, was not fulfilled through the Law but fulfilled through faith. The Law, the types and the shadows, temple priests, sacrifice, all of that was merely pointing forward to the coming of Jesus Christ, and that was why he actually says later on in this same psalm, “You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it. You do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. No, the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit. A broken and a contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” Then he says “May it please you to make Zion prosper, to build up the walls of Jerusalem. Then there will be righteous sacrifices, whole burnt offerings to delight you; then bulls will be offered on your altar.” So he’s looking past temple priests and sacrifices to what temple priests and sacrifice signified, the ultimate sacrificial Lamb who would take upon Himself the sins of the world.

Kay: Could it be said of modern man, women, that someone who has, in fact, lived a life and then they fail. We have those Godly men and women who unfortunately make a false step in one direction that is not a godly step, but their heart still is following heart after God?

Hank: We cannot be cavalier about sin, and this is what contextualized it. I’m really glad that you pressed me on this, because this needs to be said as well, and I probably would have neglected to say this, but it’s really tying a ribbon around the package, if you will: If you look at David’s life, the one thing you see is that a sword never leaves his family. In other words, the consequences of his sin followed inexorably like night follows day. While he was forgiven, there were consequences to his sin, and I say the same thing follows today. There are consequences to our sin and those consequences follow just like night follows day or day follows night. So we can’t simply sin in a cavalier fashion.

If we then confess our sins, we know that He’s faithful and just. He will forgive us of our sins, cleanse us from all unrighteousness, but that doesn’t mean that the consequences go away. There are consequences to sin. Those consequences can be great, indeed. If someone with a platform falls there is a big blemish on the name of Christ and that is no small thing when Christ’s name is dragged through the mud. But that does not eclipse their salvation. They are still saved, not by what they have done, but rather saved by what Jesus Christ, the Lord of the universe, has done on their behalf.

Kay: What would you say about the call on their life?

Hank: God uses broken vessels, is what I would say. I think that there is such a thing as restoration that takes place, even in ministry. But that restoration has to be sincere. Through that restoration God continues to use David to this day. He repented, though the sword never left his home, and we can see the consequences of his sin in graphic detail in the Scriptures today. I’m still edified when I read Psalm 51 or Psalm 139 in the Bible. It’s extraordinarily edifying to me as I see God’s grace in the midst of my sin.

The reality is, we can look at graphic examples like David and we can say, pounding our own chest, “Look at me, I have not done such a thing as David has done.” But I wouldn’t want my life flashed up on a screen on Sunday morning in a church. If it were, I would duck under the pew and I would hide because I am imperfect in thought, word and deed, and if all my impure thoughts, and words and deeds were flashed onto a screen Sunday morning, I would be embarrassed. This is simply a recognition that we are all sinners in need of a Savior. That’s why Paul can call himself the worst of sinners, because he has come closest to the brilliance of God’s holiness and seen in the light of God’s holiness the full extent of his own sins.

Kay: Do you think we’re too judgmental on these leaders who fall?

Hank: I think many times we are, but to say that a leader falls is not a small thing, nor should we be cavalier about it, but we should be willing, not to run away from them, but to run towards them and help them in the process of restoration, recognizing that we, too, are sinners in need, when we fall, someone picking us up, dusting us off again and recognizing that God is our ultimate judge.


Hank Hanegraaff gives a poignant overview of what happens in the hereafter as presented in his book, AfterLife: What You Need to Know about Heaven, the Hereafter & Near-Death Experiences.

Q & A: Salvation and the Judgment of Works

In the beginning

Question and answer from the Bible Answer Man broadcast.

Gregory in Salt Lake City, UT, on KUTR: I was a Mormon, a very devout Mormon, nine kids, the whole ball of wax, for 46 years. Recently a Christian. I’ve got two questions. I’ll ask the second question first so you’ll know where my first question is going to lead to.

The Bible clearly says that we’re all going to be judged according to our deeds. So that’s the second question. Let me set that up with the first question. You know when you deal with a Seventh-day Adventist, a Jehovah’s Witness or a Mormon, one of the most difficult things is the Pharisaical or the Judaiser type attitude of it’s works, it’s works, it’s works. The Mormons’ third article of faith even says mankind may be saved by obedience to the laws – which we know is impossible according to Romans – and ordinances. So here is my question: Would the apostle Paul be upset with me if I used this example with a Mormon friend? You have a brain tumor and it’s going to kill you. A physician walks up to you and says “I’ve got the skills, I’ve got the expertise. I can fix that brain tumor. I can make it like it never happened.” So you accept this person’s gift and you say okay. So he puts you on the table and he fixes you. Now, what reason would you have to boast knowing that you really had nothing to do with this? Is that kind of the message that Paul is trying to communicate? A physician is healing you and you, the patient, had nothing to do with it other than to accept what the physician was going to do for you? How do you tie that notion of we’re all judged according to our works?

Hank: First of all, great illustration and well-articulated question. I appreciate the way you’ve put this together. This is one of the things we so often miss in evangelical Christianity. We talk about one side of the equation and not the other side of the equation. It is true that we are saved by God’s grace through faith on account of Jesus Christ alone, not of works lest anyone boast. Paul’s very clear about that in Ephesians 2:8-9, explicitly stating that but also many other places as well. In fact, the panoply of Scripture communicates that very thing.

However, the other side of the equation that you allude to is that while you cannot work for your salvation, you can work from your salvation and what you will do in the end will be judged. Which is to say there are degrees of reward in heaven and degrees of punishment in hell. This is precisely what Paul is driving at when he points out that no one can lay another foundation other than our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. But on that foundation we can build either using wood, hay and straw or gold, silver and costly stones. The Day of the Lord is going to reveal what kind of material we use to build on the foundation of Jesus Christ. If it is discovered that we are using inferior materials, then they will be consumed by the breath of the Lord’s mouth, but we ourselves will escape as one escaping, Paul says, out of a burning building.

So the image there is that there some who will have little to show for the time they spent on earth. So if you look at the grand picture, so to speak, when the Lord appears a second time, there is that separation of sheep and goats. Jesus said “Do not be amazed at this. A time has come when all who are in their graves will come out, some will rise to live” – the sheep – “and some will rise to be eternally condemned” – the goats. But then we’re going to be judged according to what we have done. And that’s why Jesus says over and over again “Do not store for yourselves treasures on earth where moth and rust corrupt and where thieves break in and steal, but store for yourselves treasures in heaven where moth and rust do not corrupt and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, your heart will be also.

So it’s important to recognize that we are saved by God’s grace through faith on account of Jesus Christ alone, but we are saved unto good works.

Gregory: So judgment and salvation are different. So you can have salvation but God is still going to judge you after He’s promised you salvation.

Hank: There’s no question about that.

Gregory: He’s going to say yes, you are saved, however, He’s going to consider the deeds that you’ve done. Can you elaborate more?

Hank: It’s what Jesus essentially said. You can follow this thread through the entirety of the Bible, but you start at the beginning and you pull the thread right back from Revelation to Genesis, the idea is “Behold, I’m coming soon. My reward is with me. I’ll give to everyone according to what He has done.” Again, this is an indication that what we do now counts for all eternity. My dad used to describe this as people in heaven looking like pails that are full of water although they are different sized pails. In other words, some are going to have enlarged responsibilities and capabilities in heaven, but the beautiful thing in heaven is, here, when someone has a greater platform than someone else we can be jealous. We can be envious. But there we will look at another station in life eternal without even a modicum of jealousy or envy. We will absolutely be thrilled with the station that God gives to someone else.

Remember we’re not all going to be clones in heaven. We are going to have our own identities. The DNA that makes you you, Gregory, and the DNA that makes me me, will be our DNA for all eternity, although that DNA will be renewed or resurrected in a restored universe and will flower to what it was intended to be if sin had never entered the world. But you’re going to have your own pattern. You’re not going to be a clone of me and I’m not going to be a clone of you. We are going to be those who have their own DNA flourished to complete perfection, and you’re going to have a station in life that’s different from my station in eternal life. We will have different responsibilities and opportunities.

Gregory: I’m glad that you’ve explained that because it confuses me when some of my fellow Christians say you’re saved and that’s it and then I hear talk about being judged by deeds and rewards and I’m glad that you’ve explained that because it has confused me somewhat.

Hank: A lot of Christians are confused at that level and I think that’s because while this theme was a constant theme in the ministry of Jesus Christ, it is not much of a theme in contemporary sermons. Because of that I devoted an entire chapter to this subject in both my books Resurrection as well as in my book Afterlife.

Gregory: So true Christians all get salvation but the reward is not the same.

Hank: That’s precisely right, yes. We work from our salvation, we don’t work for our salvation. The illustration that I pointed to and I outline in my book Resurrection is really quite significant. I’m thrilled with this notion of what Paul says in 1 Cor. 3. He says “No one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.” He says “If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is because the day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it’s burned up he will suffer loss. He himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.”

So he’s illustrating the sober reality that some Christians are going to be resurrected with precious little to show for the time they spent on earth. They are going to be saved, but only – again, as Paul says – as one escaping through the flames. And this is going to be the lot of even the most visible Christian leader whose motive in ministry was selfish rather than selfless.

So again, in this chapter – and I’ve got a whole chapter on it – I point out that we must all, as Paul says, appear before the judgment seat of Christ that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. That’s 2 Cor. 5. And that is not speaking of the reward of salvation, but rather the rewards of service. So the more we live lives that deserve reward, the more we end up bringing glory to our heavenly Father.

Again, I’ve written about this in two different places, Resurrection and my book Afterlife. Great question, Gregory. Welcome to the forever family of God and may we continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.