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Church Discipline - part 8

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·     Here is how an individual can forfeit his or her right to church membership.  Listen very closely to these passages of Scripture and notice the common behavior of the offender, it is applied in one and specifically stated in the other.

Matthew 18:15-17
“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. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. ESV

1 Corinthians 5:1-2
It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. 2 And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. ESV

·     Do you hear it?

·     In both passages the offense is ongoing in the 1 Corinthians passage that is mentioned in the statement that; ‘it is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you’ not was but is.

·     In the Matthew passage, do not forget how all of this started.  It started with the conditional statement; ‘if your brother (sister) sins against you’.  With the statement and the stage where we are now, “And if he refuses to listen even to the church,”.  We must be aware then that the offense that got all of this started is still continuing.

·     That is your brother or sister is still sinning against you!

·     Let him (or her) be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector

·     Today I want to begin answering the question why

·     Why should this person, male or female, be to you New Hope as a Gentile and a tax collector

·     First what is this statement, spoken by Jesus, saying to a Jew and what should it say to you today?

·     A Gentile was a person who was not born a Jew and thus could not accept the Jewish teachings and practices.  From the stand point of the Jew or Hebrew, there were two races of people, the Jew and the Gentile.

·     A tax collector was a Jew who was working for the enemy against his own people.  His job was to collect the tax and in many cases he was able to cheat his own people to increase his wealth.  He was a traitor, turn coat, uncle Tom, or a sell out.

·     Today the church would refer to these two descriptions as a nonbeliever and an apostate.

·     A nonbeliever is a person who has not been born again, who has not repented of their sins and accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior; just like the Gentile was not born a Jew.  From the church view point there are two races of people the believer and the nonbeliever (Jesus referred to this as the sheep and the goat)

·     An apostate is a backslidden believer or a believer working for the enemy by returning to the world and the world’s behaviors.  Actually he is a traitor to the church, a turn coat (double minded), a hypocrite.

·     Why should this person be this to you, a Gentile and a tax collector?

·     You know a little history but you don’t know their heart

·     And that is important New Hope for your prayers may change but your prayers should not cease.

·     Your faith must kick in now and remind you to trust and continue to trust in your awesome God with all of your heart, especially now and lean not to your understanding, especially now, when emotions and thinking may be frayed and pushed to the edge.

·     Your prayer must still be to the mighty God who has the power to save the lost and turn the backslider and give you the grace to long suffer in it.

·     Do you trust Him, New Hope, today with all of your heart, when physically you are tired and emotionally drained?

·     But there is more to this answer why.

·     This person, who I called brother or sister, prevents forgiveness from taking place.

·     Yes 1 Peter 4:8 says; “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” But sometime you can’t ignore sin and thus you have verse 15 to begin with.

·     The desire and prayer from the beginning is to gain my brother.  You are praying for restoration and reconciliation but this person will not listen and has refused to listen.

·     Thus forgiveness can not take place

·     Brothers and sisters, refer to my message of March 28, 2007 on forgiveness and be reminded that at any point if the offender repents Luke 17:3 says forgive him

·     And be reminded that this forgiveness is three fold

o       You no longer dwell on the sin that was forgiven

o       You promise not to raise or bring up the issue again to the offender, to others, or even to yourself

o       There is a complete change in the relationship that follows, a new relationship

·     This passage says let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector because;

o       He did not listen to you in private

o       He refused to listen to the one or two counselor that went with you in private

o       He refused to listen to the pastors and the church fellowship

·     This refusal to listen implies that repentance has not taken place and thus the relationship is forfeited and restoration and reconciliation can not take place

·     Brothers and sisters, the Lord has giving us in this passage an extreme situation that requires much prayer especially for obedience.

·     I remind you again that much prayer and comfort is needed for the person (persons) offended as well as for the offender.

·     Just from a practical stand point, a situation has raised itself to the point where something must be said from the private level and has worked itself to the point of being before the entire church who are effected by this.  And in most practical situations the offender probably would have removed themselves from the fellowship, in this passage this has not occurred.  The offender is still active and refusing to listen, refusing to be reconciled.

·     And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

·     There is another reason why this is so and membership has been forfeited and here I invite you to go back and listen to the entire message giving January 7, 2007.

·     In that message I answered the question on how does and individual become a part of the church.  I used a word there called ‘conversion’

·     Conversion is the practical side or your response to what is termed the gospel call, in which you sincerely repent of sins and place your trust in Christ for salvation.

·     Note here the statement sincerely repent of sins.  Whose sins?  Yours.

·     Conversion is turning from sin and that is called repentance and turning to Christ and that is called faith.

·     Brothers and sisters it is our job as pastors to make sure that each of you come through the front door correctly and thus prevent the increase of the decay and erosion of authority by not emphasizing true conversion and end up with individuals who have 

o       Faith in Jesus Christ and still living a life of sin

o       Faith that Jesus is my Lord and Savior but still holding to your own opinions or controlled by your own feelings and emotions

o       Trusting in the Lord Jesus as the one who died for your sins but still leaning to your own understanding

o       Individual who have a comfort with living a lukewarm life style, weak prayer life, and non existent Bible study

·     Repentance is defined as a heartfelt sorrow for sin, a renouncing of it, and a sincere commitment to forsake it and walk in obedience to Christ.

·     This conversion that included faith and repentance is not a one time activity but is an on going activity.

·     Listen again and be reminded for in this we find the why of letting him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector

·     Faith is three fold including; knowledge, accepting the knowledge as true and trusting this knowledge to govern your life.

·     Repentance is also three fold, be reminded of this New Hope, and repentance includes; intellectual understanding that sin is wrong, an emotional approval of Scripture regarding sin, that is a sorrow for sin and a hatred of it, and a personal decision to turn from it, that is a renouncing of sin and a decision of the will to forsake it and lead a life of obedience to Christ instead.

·     Why is this so serious at this point?

·     Because at each stage after this offense moves from the individual to the one or two counselors, to the pastors, to the entire fellowship, but especially at the pastoral level, there is time for correcting the offended.

·     Brothers and sisters, you can rest and be assured that when the pastors talk with the fellowship, there has been much study and prayer looking at and listening to both sides

·     And we as your pastors can be trusted that if it reaches this point in discipline or restoration, we will, by the will of God, bring this to you with Scripture and instructions.

·     It will not be based on our opinion, our mathematics, our engineering, our economics, but it will be based on the Word of God and we will be able to stand before you and say; “This is what the Lord says!” about this, that, or the other

·     Just like in our homes, in our schools, on our jobs, in our society, if an individual insists on being stubborn and refuse to listen then drastic measure must be taken.

·     You do this at home saying ‘if I have told you once, I have told you a thousand times but since you don’t want to listen then now and there is usually some consequence or as long as you are under this roof you will listen to what I have to say or, you know the rest!

·     Since you won’t listen to the rules in this school, you are in school suspended, out of school suspended, or expelled from attending this school.

·     Since you won’t listen to and follow the safety rules on this job, clock out, pickup your pay, you’re fired!

·     The last time you were before this court I let you off with a warning and I told you if you appear again, I would not be so lenient on you.  Since you would not listen, you will now serve time in jail removing you from society.

·     This stage of discipline says that I may not know where your heart is whether you are a true non believer or an apostate but at this point you have refused to listen to the local church and you have thus forfeit you right to membership.

·     Those words are tough but even they must be spoken with love and still a desire to reach this brother or sister.

·     I pray, my brothers and sisters, that if you hear His Words today, do not harden your hearts in rebellion against the Lord.

·     Let us pray!

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