A Healthy Church Member Seeks Discipline (Part3)
August 17, 2014 | Speaker: Bro Jurem Ramos
We are looking at the seventh mark of a healthy church member, which is,one who seeks discipline.
Last week we started looking at the more practical aspects of this topic. I discussed, for example,
How have Christians in the past handled church discipline?
Who should the church discipline?
What sins should be disciplined?
- Some of the implications of this seventh mark and
- An interesting discovery: church discipline is equivalent to accountability.
I. The implications of the seventh markSome of theimplications of the seventh mark of a healthy church member are the following:
- Join and be committed to a church that disciplines its members biblically.If you want to become a healthy church member (or to put it differently, if you want to become a spiritually mature Christian), don't just join any church. Along with the faithful teaching and preaching of God’s Word and the gospel, and the proper administration of the ordinances of the Lord’s Supper and baptism, look for a church that disciplines its members because these are the three important marks of a true church.
- Willingly submit to the discipline in that church.If you want to be a healthy church member, it is not enough to join a church that disciplines its members; you mustalso willingly submit to the discipline in that church.Don’t undergo discipline grudgingly, being reluctant and resentfully unwilling to allow yourself to be disciplined when needed.
- Willingly submit not only to the positive aspect of discipline in the church but also to the negative aspect.
- Formative discipline.
- Corrective or restorative discipline.
- If a sin seems too serious to overlook, we are to go to our brother in private and appeal to him to repent.
- If he will not listen to repeated personal appeals, 2we are to take one or two other believers along, so that they too can urge the brother to turn back to God.
- If the brother persists in his sin, we are to seek the formal involvement of the church, initially by seeking assistance from our elders, and if necessary, by informing and asking for the prayers and assistance of the entire congregation.
- If even these efforts do not bring our brother to his senses, Jesus commands us to treat the person as an unbeliever, which means we no longer have normal, casual fellowship with him, but instead use any encounters to bring the gospel to him and lovingly urge him to repent and turn back to God.
- Join and be committed to a church that disciplines its members biblically.
- Willingly submit to the discipline in that church.
- Submit not only to positive aspect of discipline which is formative discipline; submit also to the negative aspect which is corrective or restorative
II. Church Discipline is equivalent to accountabilityI had an interesting discovery while I was researching about church discipline. In the Peacemaker Ministries website, I read this paragraph: Church discipline (which may also be referred to as “accountability”)1 is one of the most maligned ministries in the modern church. It is also one of our most desperately needed ministries and one of the greatest blessings God has given to his people. In the footnote, it says, 1 “Church discipline” and “accountability” are used interchangeably. The former term is more traditional, while the latter is often more palatable to church members who have a negative view of discipline. Both terms may be validly used to communicate the concepts covered in this article. I totally agree with thatview. Let me prove that by turning to Hebrews 3:12-13. 12 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called "today," that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. In this passage we see the accountability process and its effect. And when you compare that to church discipline, you will see that both have the same process and effect. Context of the letter to the Hebrews: This epistle was written primarily for Jews who became converts to Christianity. When they were newly saved, they were willing to endure suffering and persecution (10:32-33 - But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, 33 sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated.). They showed compassion on those who suffered, maintained joy in the midst of loss, andexpressed confidence in the future (10:34 - For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one). But now they were facing a great temptation. They were in danger of drifting away from their commitment to Christ (2:1; 10:39) because of increasing persecution. Their confidence in God’s promises had been shaken, and they were on the verge of losing faith in Christ and rebelling towards God (3:6-14; 10:35-36; 12:25). Some had already neglected attending their meetings (10:25). These readers were apparently tempted to abandon their Christian faith and return to Judaism. To encourage the believers, the author of Hebrews expounds Scripture in order to show the superiority of Christ. He shows that Christ is better than the Prophets 1:1-3, better than the Angels 1:4—2:8; better than Moses 3:1—4:7; better than Joshua 4:8-16; better than Aaron 5:1-10. He also gives a contrast between the imperfect and incomplete provisions of the Old Covenant, given under Moses, and the infinitely better provisions of the New Covenant offered by the perfect High-Priest, God’s only Son and the Messiah, Jesus Christ. But in addition to all of his exposition of Scripture, he also exhorts them to be accountable to one another. This is where Heb 3:12-13 comes in. 12 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called "today," that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. In this passage, the author of Hebrews warns against allowing the unbelief of a hardened, sinful heart to cause one to fall away from God, or commit the sin of apostasy.The way to prevent this tendency was to call on the church to walk together in mutual encouragement, persuasion, and admonition, as long as it is called “today” (i.e., the day of grace before the coming of the day of glory and judgment at Christ's coming). This passage reminds us that if we want to mature in the Christ, we need not only the exposition of God’s Word, but the exposure to other members of the body of Christ. We need other believers who will help us to grow. If we are to persevere in the Christian life and go on towards maturity, we need to be accountable to other believers. What do we mean by accountability? To be accountable is to be liable to be called to account; it is to be answerable to another person; it is to be subject to the obligation to report, explain, or justify something; it is to be willing to explain one’s actions; to be open, unguarded and non-defensive about one’s motives; to supply the reasons why. By accountability, we are not talking about coercive tactics, the invasion of privacy, or bringing others under the weight of someone’s preferences, restrictions, legalism and manipulative or dominating tactics. Rather, by accountability, we mean developing loving relationships with one another in the church that allow others to teach, exhort, encourage, correct, admonish and rebuke us so that welive up to the standards of God. Is that not what church discipline does? The process of church discipline that we see described by the Lord Jesus in Mt 18:15-17 is through relationships in the church and the effect is so that those who stray will be restored to a right relationship with others and with God. And so in case you are struggling with the term “church discipline, think of accountability, as Hebrews 3:12-13 teaches. Now, in the remaining time that we have, let’s look’s continue where we left off last week, looking at the more practical aspects of church discipline. We ended our study last week by look at what sins should be disciplined. Now let us look at the four categories of sin that warrant church discipline.
III. Four Categories of sin that warrant church disciplineAccording to Scripture, there are four categories of sin that warrant church discipline. These are:
- Violations of Christian love.
- Matthew 18:15 "If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.
- 1 Thessalonians 4:6 that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter [of sexual immorality], because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you.
- Matthew 5:22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, 'You fool!' will be liable to the hell of fire.
- Eph 4:31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.
- Romans 1:29-31 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents.
- Violations of Christian unity
- Galatians 5:19-21 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
- Romans 16:17-18 I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. 18 For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.
- 1 Timothy 6:3-5 If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, 4 he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, 5 and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.
- Titus 3:9-10 9 But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. 10 As for a person whostirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, 11 knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self- condemned.
- 3 John 1:9-10 I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority. 10 So if I come, I will bring up what he is doing, talking wicked nonsense against us. And not content with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers, and also stops those who want to and puts them out of the church.
- 1Th 5:12-13 We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves.
- 1Co 3:16-17 Do you not know that you are God 's temple and that God' s Spirit dwells in you? 17 If anyone destroys God 's temple, God will destroy him. For God' s temple is holy, and you are that temple.
- See what God did to Korah, Dathan, On, Abiram, and 250 chiefs in Numbers 16.
- Violations of Christian standards.
- 1 Corinthians 5:11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, orswindler—not even to eat with such a one.
- Violations of Christian truth -- teaching false doctrine or rejecting essential doctrines of the faith
- Apostasy - a public denial of the essential truths of God's Word (i.e., a belief in the inspired Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as the final authority for belief and behavior; a belief in the Trinity; a belief in the complete humanity and the complete deity of Christ; a belief in the utter sinfulness of all humanity; a belief in the virgin conception of Christ and His Incarnation as the eternal Son of God; a belief in Christ's substitutionary atonement as the only way of salvation; a belief in the bodily resurrection and return of Christ; a belief in salvation by God's grace alone through faith in Christ alone; a belief in the eternal damnation of the lost and the eternal glorification of the saved).
- False teaching - a deliberate and persistent teaching that rejects the foundational doctrines of Scripture (Gal 1:8-9; 1Ti 1:20; 2Ti 2:17-18; 2Pe 2:1; also implied in Rev 2:14-16; Phil 3:2-3, 15-19; Ro 16:17-18).
- Galatians 1:8-9 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.
- 2 John 1:7-11 For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist. 8 Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward. 9 Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, 11 for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.