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The Hurt That Helps (3 Of 4)

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The Church

(Part three of four)

                     "The Hurt That Helps"

ill. Swindoll's house - rotting possum in the attic.

     For some time, the world has sensed something wrong in the church of Jesus Christ in America.  There has been a smell of something that was not right. In the last several years, greed, immorality, sexual perversion, debauchery has come crawling out of the walls of the church.

     Eph. 5:25-27

     This is what Christ died for. So that He could have a pure and spotless Bride.

     Pure and spotless bride of Christ.

     This church is to be pure and spotless, sometimes it looks    more like a harlot.

     Righteousness must be enforced. "As a father must discipline to correct a child, and as a teacher must chasten students to help them learn, so must those who are charged with the spiritual oversight of God's people lovingly correct those who fall short of the pattern of righteousness.

     The contemporary church is faltering threatened more by impurity from within than by persecution from without.

                        -John MacArthur

     If we are to be the pure bride of Christ, we must take sin very seriously; and that in the midst of a society that doesn't believe in the concept of sin.

     (today) The Hurt that discipline

     We can't have a serious treatment of what the church is to be without seriously looking at our call to be a holy Bride for Christ.

     Carl Laney writes...

     "Church discipline.  It sounds severe - and rather old-fashioned.  You may be thinking, "isn't that what Nathaniel Hawthorne's Scarlet Letter was about?  I thought church discipline went out with child spankings in favor of a more understanding, affirming approach toward problems and problem people? People today hesitate to talk about matters as serious as church discipline.  Evangelist Luis Palau has remarked that church discipline "is one of the least talked about subjects within the church. Many are afraid to discuss it.  Most believers would rather talk about victorious Christian living." p.12

     Today's intense individualism would prefer a more "live and let live" approach.

     In Scotland, during the time of John Knox, church elders were expected to visit the homes of the parishioners and inquire whether there had been any quarrels; and any family members who had were to be reconciled before they received communion. Only those who had received metal tokens of fitness would be allowed to participate in the Lord's Table.  (p.37)

Three major hindrances to administration of church discipline:

     (1) Fear of the consequences or outcome

     (2) Ignorance of the proper procedures,

     (3) Preference for avoiding problems

     (1) Fear of the consequences or outcome

     ill Pastor Sherrill

          call three weeks ago - power struggle with a board member who had been involved in an ongoing adulterous relationship

          call this week and the Pastor resigned; last week was his last Sunday.

              Matt. 18:20 is a promise to those involved in seeking to bring about restoration. He will be there with us.

     The Belgic Confession (1561), which grew out of the Reformation, identified the marks of the true church.

     "The marks by which the true Church is known are these: if the pure doctrine of the gospel is preached therein; if she maintains the pure administration of the (ordinances) sacraments as instituted by Christ; if church discipline is exercised in punishing of sin; in short, if all things are managed according to the pure Word of God, all things contrary thereto rejected, and Jesus Christ acknowledged as the only Head of the Church." (p.43)

     John Calvin, In his Institutes writes, "As the saving doctrine of Christ is the soul of the Church, so discipline forms the ligaments which connect the members together, and keep each in its proper place.  Whoever, therefore, either desire the abolition of all discipline, or obstruct its restoration, whether they act from design or inadvertency, they certainly promote the entire dissolution of the Church."

     Historically, it has been seen as that important.


     If we don't discipline ourselves as a body, our love will be impure.

     I Peter 1:22 "Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart."

     (2) Ignorance of the proper procedures,

What sins?

Scriptural offenses that call for the application of church discipline


A.   Practice of immorality - I Cor. 5:1-9

B.   Perpetration of Heresy - Romans 16:17; I Timothy 2:17-18

C.   Perpetration of Doctrinal Error - Titus 1:9 and 3:10

D.   Rebellious /non-biblical behavior - Matt. 18:15-17;


E.   Perpetration of a Disorderly Life - II Thess. 3:6-15

F.  Divisiveness - Romans 16:17-18

G.   Greed, idolatry, swindling, slander, drunkenness-I Cor. 5:9-  11

The procedure of discipline

A. personal self discipline Gal. 5:22-24

B. Procedure

     Step #1   One on One  Matt. 18:15

              This is not the job of the elders.  It is not   biblical to, upon seeing a brother compromise, to run to an elder and say, "You need to do something."

              This forces you to prayerfully work through any      judgmental motives.

     Step #2   One or Two others Matt. 18:16

              The seriousness of the offense is confirmed.

              This may be several visits, with time for repentance.

     Step #3   Tell it to the Church Matt. 18:17

              If the offending person will not repent, then

     Step #4   As a Heathen or Tax Collector

              The starting point of fellowship would be the gospel.But, this person can not be considered a member in good standing. Not yet.

Scriptural restoration must be administered with:

     ...gentleness - Gal. 6:1,2; II Tim. 2:25

     ...humility - Gal. 6:1,2

          God to you (Heb. 12)

          Father to son (Prov. 13:24)

     ...patience - (4 step process of Matt. 18:15ff)

     ...absence of hypocrisy (Matt. 7:1-5)


     ...hopes and prayers aimed at restoration (Gal. 6:1)

     (3) Preference for avoiding problems

     In order for us all to be bolstered to be pro-actively involved in living a disciplined life as a church, we need to take a look at God's purposes for church discipline:

The purposes of Church Discipline:

     A. to restore fallen family members - Gal. 6:1

     "Brethren, even if a man is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, lest you too be tempted."

     B. to protect the testimony of the church - I Cor. 5:1

     "It is actually reported..." (common knowledge)

     C. to correct the misbehavior of the erring child of God

          I Cor. 5:5

          To deliver over to Satan - meant that a person would be more vulnerable to Satan's schemes.

     D. to maintain the purity of the church I Cor. 5

If we try to avoid conflict, the church will experience...


1. Lack of Purity

     Eph. 5:25-27

     Pure and spotless bride of Christ.

     This church is to be pure and spotless, sometimes it looks    more like a harlot.

     Throughout the Scripture, it is apparent that God pursues with zeal the holiness of His people.  In I Peter 1:16 is a summary of God's desire for those who are called by His name: "You shall be holy, for I am holy."

     I Cor. 5:7-8  Leaven infects the whole lump of dough.

           A little impurity tolerated will devastate the body over time.


2. Lack of Power

     Joshua 7

     The classic biblical example of this truth is found in Joshua 7, which tells of Achan's sin and Israel's defeat at Ai.  The Israelites had embarked on the conquest of the promised land  and had just experienced a tremendous victory at Jericho.  Anticipating another great victory, Joshua sent 3,000 men to capture the small fortress city of Ai, but instead of another woerwhelming victory, the Israelite forces were routed!  As the Israelites fled, the men of Ai killed 36 of the Israelite warriors.  Israel was defeated, the nation was demoralized, and Joshua was dismayed.  Ai was such a small city.  Why had the lord's army suffered such a humiliating defeat?

     As Joshua called out to the Lord, seeking the reason for Israel's defeat, God spoke and revealed the root of the problem.

(Josh. 7:11-12a)


     The Lord commanded Joshua to gather the Israelites together and determine the guilty party. It was discovered that Achan had taken some forbidden articles. That sin resulted in a loss of military power.

     One man's sin. A whole nation suffered for the failure of one man. 

     "The individual functions with the larger context of the community of which he is a part.  Achan robbed the whole nation of the purity and holiness which it ought to possess before God."


     Sin in the camp resulted in the loss of power for the whole nation.


3. Lack of Progress

      Heb. 12:11 perhaps best describes the tensions felt aroung the subject of church discipline.

"All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness.'

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