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God's Love for us in Church Discipline

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God’s love for us in Church Discipline

Matthew 18:15–20 ESV
“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. 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. 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. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”
So many of you guys know that Alyssa and I know that we have embarked on a journey towards foster-adopting children in the foster system. We started this process right around the beginning of this year. We had hours of training, hours of paperwork, trips to the doctors, trips to the DMV, several house assessments, and making fixtures in our house so that our place can be a safe place for children, and thankfully we were cleared and foster-certified a couple of weeks ago. We are now in the process of looking through profiles of children and prayerfully discerning whether to pursue and continue with some of the profiles that we have received. But throughout this process we have been slowly trying to prepare ourselves and discussing how we would lovingly parent these kids. We know that they are going to be children with different needs because many of them come from traumatic experiences and broken homes. We’ve been discussing our specific roles when the time comes [who’s going to cook the meals, give them baths, do the dishes, etc.] We’re excited in thinking about how to lead the children to love the Lord and to make spending time together in family worship together. One of our main discussion points where we really have to be sensitive and strategic about is how we are to correct and discipline our kids. We know that there are certain aspects that parents would find as a common activity in disciplining their children that we are not to do as foster parents. But one thing we know, is that we are still to correct and discipline them.
To all the parents here, whether your children are still young or whether you have raised your children to become grown adults we know that when we start raising them we provide our children with specific ground rules that are there for their protection. We do not just let them run amok and for them to do whatever they want to do. We take some type of stance whether to put them on time out, or spank, or other forms of discipline, and parents, hopefully the reason why you discipline your children is because you love and care for them.
We provide rules for them to follow because we care for them and that disobeying certain rules is not helpful or beneficial to them:
Rule #1 do not touch the stove [child can burn their hand]
Rule #2 Respect and obey your parents [teach them virtues of respecting others, and obedience when they are young]
Rule #3 Curfew [because we care for them, and want to protect them]
But when these rules are broken, their are consequences to disobedience and children are disciplined and corrected so that they can learn and grow into obedience.
Parents, hopefully you guys agree with me that discipline is a necessary part of raising your children. And it’s the same for the Lord, as God’s children, God has established discipline for us to love and correct us.
Proverbs 3:11–12 ESV
My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.
We see here that God’s disciplining of us is out of His love for us as God the Father. But we also see some warnings for us if we do not heed God’s discipline.
Proverbs 13:18 ESV
Poverty and disgrace come to him who ignores instruction, but whoever heeds reproof is honored.
Proverbs 15:10 ESV
There is severe discipline for him who forsakes the way; whoever hates reproof will die.
Proverbs 15:32 ESV
Whoever ignores instruction despises himself, but he who listens to reproof gains intelligence.
God is showing to us that discipline is necessary for us as we continue in the Christian faith and walking the race that is set before us. But somewhere along the way our thinking has changed. For many of us here, we see the necessity of disciplining our children when they are young, but when it comes to us getting disciplined, that is a different story. Disciplining your children is seen as a loving act and protecting them, but when it comes to correction in our own lives, or people confronting us on sin in our lives, for many of us it is seen as invasive, judgmental, and unloving.
When people correct us we say things like “who are you to talk to me like that? who are you to judge me?”, “what about your sin?” “I am a grown man, you can’t talk to me like that?”.
Sadly this is one of the reasons in why many of the churches in American evangelical Christianity do not practice church discipline in their congregations. They say things like “it is too messy, and too difficult”. They see that church discipline is not welcoming and the goal for them is to have pews filled and have the service filled as much as possible.
“The church today is suffering from an infection which has been allowed to fester…As an infection weakens the body by destroying its defense mechanisms, so the church has been weakened by this ugly sore. The church has lost its power and effectiveness in serving asa vehicle for social, moral, and spiritual change. This illness is due, at least in part, to a neglect of church discipline” [J. Carl Laney]
Imagine this church: It is huge and is still growing numerically. People like it, The music is good. The people are welcoming. There are many exciting programs, and people are quickly enlisted into their support. And yet, the church, in trying to look like the world in order to win the world, has done a better job than they may have intended. It does not display the distinctively holy characteristics taught in the New Testament, Imagine such an apparently vigorous church being truly spiritually sick, with no remaining immune system to check and guard against wrong teaching or wrong living. Imagine Christians, knee-deep in recovery groups and sermons on brokenness and grace, being comforted in their sin but never confronted. Imagine those people, made in the image of God, being lost to sin because no one corrects them. Can you imagine such a church? Apart from the size, have I not described many of our American churches? [Dever, 9marks of a healthy church]
CBF, we understand that taking correction can be difficult. Our sin is exposed and it does not feel good. But we correct each other out of love. Look at
Proverbs 27:6 ESV
Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.
CBF we are are striving to obey the Bible faithfully and the best of our ability. So for the rest of our time today, I want us to have a greater grasp and understanding of God’s love for us in church discipline. So as we focus on our text today in we are going to try to look at the formal steps of church discipline that Jesus lines up for us. Then hopefully expand that to help us understand how discipline is actually God’s way of loving us and using us to love each other in this church in a greater capacity.
What is church discipline?
Who is involved in church discipline?
So let’s read again. The first step of church discipline is found in
Matthew 18:15–20 ESV
“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. 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. 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. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”
Matthew 18:15 ESV
“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.
Matthew 18:15 ESV
“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.
How do you practice church discipline?
First and foremost, in the first verse we get one of the goals and purpose of church discipline at the end of v.15, which is to “gain your brother” I want to get that out in the open so that is on our radar, we practice church discipline so that we can gain and restore our brother and sister in the Lord.
When do you practice church discipline?
We see that the 1st step of church discipline is to confront a sinning brother and sister by yourself. Go to him and him alone. So there is a textual issue in the original translations on whether the phrase “against you” is in the original text. So you can read v.15 as “if your brother sins” or if your brother “sins against you”, but this general first step can refer to if a brother or sister is in some type of sin that may or may not affect you. Still one thing holds true which is the brother needs correcting.
Why do we practice church discipline?
Jesus seems to be saying that the first thing the believer should do is to try to get the offender to see his sin for what it is. Jesus doesn’t say to wait for the person caught in sinning to come to you to confess the sin, but Jesus says to “Go”, meaning we take the initiative to confront the person and rebuke and confront them on their sin.
Some of these questions we will answer very briefly, and for some of them we will take a deeper look into the question and will take us a longer time. But first lets focus in on the WHAT
Jesus says to do all this by yourself. Revealing to us that there should be no attempt to bring this out into the open, it is a matter between the offender and the person who is rebuking them. The privacy of the first and initial contact allows the sin to be dealt with without and need for a wider awareness or for public scrutiny. We as a church want to protect the dignity of our fellow church members, so if there is sin in an individual church member’s life we want to lovingly confront them on their own. This means we do not ask others advice how we should talk to the person, or talk to others about the person’s sin before confronting the person. This means confronting the person first as an act of love that will best serve the other person.
Church family in speaking to another person in confronting them of their sin we must zealously guard and protect their character for their good, that is why the first initial step is to speak to them first on your own.
The more a person’s sin is known and discussed by others, even if the people who know the information mean well, the easier it is for the person in sin to feel resentful and hurt and it actually becomes more difficult for that person to repent and for restoration to take place. Church family if you have an issue with another person who sinned against you, or if you suspect them to be in unrepentant sin, do not beat around the bush or sneak around searching for informtion. Speak to that person directly.
Love the brother & sister enough not to talk to the whole world about it.
So we know that we should confront an individual in person and on our own, but what attitude should we take in talking to a person?
Galatians 6:1 ESV
Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.
First, we restore others in a spirit of gentleness. This type of attitude keeps up with the goal of “gaining our brother back”
Ephesians 4:29–32 ESV
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
In confronting someone, we need to be reminded that our speech needs to be used to build each other up, so that they can hear the grace-filled words and receive this grace. We are to be kind to one another, tender-hearted, and willing to forgive one another.
Matthew 7:1–5 ESV
“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
We read this text and people use this verse to say “See Jose, we aren’t suppose to judge each other”, but this verse isn’t necessarily saying that because immediately after Jesus says that in order for us to take the speck out of our brother’s eye, we are to take the log out of our own eyes. Meaning we do not have precedence to pronounce final judgment on someone to say that they are eternally condemned, but we have precedence as Christians to correct our brother and sisters actions and let them know whether their actions are sinful or not. But note what Jesus tells us in doing so, when we confront our brothers and sisters in their sin. Jesus says to not focus first on their speck of sin but first examine your own heart and take the big logs of sin in our lives, so that we can think clearly in our rebuke of our brother and sister.
So we see that we check our own lives first, and repent of sin in our own lives, then we humbly and with a gentle spirit confront our brother and sister in sin in private.
This is in right thinking of
2 Corinthians 13:5 ESV
Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!
We test and examine our own selves, and similarly to we ought to watch our selves lest we fall into sin as well.
This is step 1 of church discipline, we are to confront a brother and sister in sin in person in private. Here is the thing about step 1 of church discipline, it happens all the time. When we live in community with one another, our relationships are going to grow and we are going to know each other in a more intimate level, but here’s the thing, we’re all sinners and that we are going to eventually offend and say something that will hurt one another, and we can fall into sin. So step 1 of church discipline is going to happen, and what’s great in the type of environment that we are trying to cultivate is that we should be ok with others speaking truth into our lives and correcting us.
CBF member, are you too prideful to not think that that you need correcting? Aren’t we all trying to help each other finish the race of faith and walk the Christian walk alongside each other to pick each other up when we fall down? Have we ever thought that us actually picking a brother or sister up is us actually having to correct them and call them to repentance?
Step 1 of church discipline happens normally.
So if the person confronted of their sin still continues to sin and not repent of sin, we should move forward to Step 2 of church discipline.
Matthew 18:16 ESV
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.
The person in sin may refuse to take notice of when his faults are mentioned. Thus the individual who confronts the person ought to come back with one or two more people.
The purpose of bringing on one or two more witnesses is for the purpose of an established testimony.
Deuteronomy 19:15 ESV
“A single witness shall not suffice against a person for any crime or for any wrong in connection with any offense that he has committed. Only on the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses shall a charge be established.
When we bring one or two more people around, we can establish the testimony of the individual in sin. Before more steps are taken, the two/three witnesses are then able to testify that they have witnessed the person’s unrepentance, and also they can call the person to repent, and with the same goal of gaining the brother back hopefully to win the brother back by giving the person more people to hear from and hopefully different perspectives so that they can see their sin clearly and be called to repentance.
Adding two or three more people adds more force to hopefully persuade the person to repent, the goal is to broaden the circle so that the one or two who do get involved are able to listen and discern whether the person is still in sin or repentant. They are not their to gang up on the brother or sister.
These people help you think through the situation better
use wisdom in choosing the individuals who are going to help you lovingly confront the other person. It may be wise to involve someone who knows the other person well and cares for the other person.
These people should be gentle, humble, loving, and willing to take the effort to speak truth to an unrepentant brother or sister.
If the person is still unwilling to repent, then the circle of who knows gets bigger and leads us to Step 3 which is to tell the church.
Matthew 18:17 ESV
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.
Step 3 of church discipline means that that the party informs the church of the person’s sin.
Jesus is speaking of someone who seemingly set in their ways. This person did not heed the rebuke from the individual or with the small group of people. The purpose of telling the church is the the church can be made aware of the person’s sin and then the whole church can call the person to repentance.
A question that comes from this passage is if we are to tell the whole church? Who is the church? Is Jesus talking about the universal church? So if we are in church discipline and the person is unrepentant, are we supposed to make a public declaration on facebook or social media saying “Attention all Christians, John Doe is in unrepentant sin, and we are calling all Christians now to go after John Doe and to call him to repentance”, no this text is speaking of local churches, and not just any local church, churches with an understanding that membership is a part of the church. How are churches supposed to practice church discipline if they do not know who is a part of the church? and their is no formal church membership. Churches that do not partake in formal church membership are not going to have the ability to practice all the ‘one anothers’ that are spoken of in the Bible. They are not going to properly love one another, encourage one another, rebuke one another, and we see that it is easier for people to hide in sin if they are a part of churches that are not practicing church membership. If ever one is confronted in sin at a church like this, they can sneak and hide in another church to continue in sin.
When one becomes a member at CBF we have a church covenant that we hold each other accountable to, and not only that we have an understanding that we are accountable to God for one another. So when we get to Step 3 of church discipline, we tell the local church body and the church body knowing they are responsible for each member of this church, are called to love and go after the unrepentant member.
CBF family, this is good news! It is an encouragement to me, that if I am ever in unrepentant sin and in danger of falling away, that I can trust the fact that I have a church family that will love me enough to go after me and call me to repentance.
So why tell the church? So that the church can get a chance to collectively go after an unrepentant member to say “We love you, and we want you to come back to Christ?” Church family what an encouragement it is to us that if we are ever in sin, God will send an army of believers to come after you as a demonstration of His love and mercy.
CBF, we have an opportunity to apply our love for one of our own church members who is currently in church discipline. I am encouraged in hearing how many of you have reached out to him and have tried to call him to repentance. But there may be some of you who haven’t. My challenge to you church family who haven’t is do you not see it as your responsibility as a member of this church to go after your brother who has strayed. Would you not want a church family who loves you to go after you if you are in unrepentant sin.
There also may be some of you who don’t agree with the way we do church discipline, or you would rather not have as confront others in sin in fear of offending the person who is in sin, or trying to protect yourself or others from ridicule. Church family, I’m lovingly gently warning you that God holds the whole church accountable when unrepentant sin is unaddressed. It is pride to ignore unrepentant sin, when we allow sin to continue without confronting it, we are actually hating that individual and not loving them.
We tend to think of sin individualistically when that is not true. Our sin affects one another. We belong to one another, thus we are accountable to God for one another.
If an unrepentant person will not heed to the rebuke of one person, a group of 2-3, and the whole church, then tells us to move to step 4.
Matthew 18:17 ESV
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.
Jesus says to let the individual be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. If the person continues to be unrepentant sin, Jesus is implying that we are to treat him like an unbeliever. In other words treat the person like he is no longer your brother in Christ and a part of the body. This person must be excommunicated from the church. Jesus indicates that the person in sin has remained stubborn even through the pleading of others. His actions are not in line of one who is following Christ, and the church has a responsibility to excommunicate that person from fellowship.
1 Corinthians 5 ESV
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. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord. Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 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, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”
In , we see a situation where the church of Corinth has been knowingly allowing sexual immorality to take place. A man is sleeping with his father’s wife, and Paul goes to even say that the actions of this man are so bad that not even pagans would tolerate his actions. Paul’s words are to “ deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.”, “do not associate with anyone who bears the name of brother yet continues in unrepentant sin, don’t even eat with one, and says to “purge the evil person among you”
Corinthians 5 fleshes out what excommunication [step 4 of church discipline looks like]. It is to remove fellowship from this person, meaning we as a church cannot affirm this man’s profession of faith as he continues to live in sin. He is no longer a member of the church. We are to not even associate with a person, and not even eat with a person.
When we excommunicate a person, our relationship with them changes. Let me be clear, it does not mean we stop loving the person. But because the person is continue to call himself a Christian and continuing in sin, we cannot associate ourselves with him. So practically this means we do not hang with the person in a casual manner, any interaction we have with this person is to call them to repentance. The reason for this is because we cannot act like everything is fine, the seriousness of the person’s sin calls us to action and that our main concern now with the person is not our friendship but his salvation and reconciliation to Christ.
That is why Paul says to “hand him over to Satan” so that they may be saved on the day of the Lord.
James 5:19–20 ESV
My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.
2 Corinthians 2:5–10 ESV
Now if anyone has caused pain, he has caused it not to me, but in some measure—not to put it too severely—to all of you. For such a one, this punishment by the majority is enough, so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him. For this is why I wrote, that I might test you and know whether you are obedient in everything. Anyone whom you forgive, I also forgive. Indeed, what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ,
Church family, the goal for the person in sin is always to restore the person back to fellowship, even if it means excommunicating him from the fellowship so that he would see that weight of sin and repent in the end. The process of church discipline can be scary, messy, difficult but we as a church want to be faithful to God’s word in obeying everything that it says.
Jesus ends our passage with
Matthew 18:18–20 ESV
Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”
In v.17 Jesus reaffirms the church’s responsibility to exercise the keys of the kingdom that he mentions in Chapter 16, and in v. 17-18 we get two statements from Jesus that are often abused and used incorrectly.
v. 17 “two or three agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them” - this does not mean that God is this genie that will grant you anything as long as someone agrees with you. But Jesus is saying that we have the full support of the Father when we gather together to confront sin in the church.
v. 18 “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am among them” - another verse that is often abused, i hear this verse a lot at Christian festivals or concerts to let us know God is in the midst, but does that mean that the person praying on his own [God is not with them?], no this verse is in context of church discipline and Jesus is saying that when we do the work of church discipline and have to confront someone, Jesus’ presence is with us and guiding us.
Church family, this is how we want to approach correcting our church discipline. I know in our sermon today we have talked in depth of the exposing of sin in our lives and bringing it to the light. I know it can be tiring to continue to talk about the seriousness of sin, but the only reason we take sin seriously is because God takes sin seriously. God the Father hates sin and takes sin so seriously that he would send His own Son to die for us.
Non-Christian: Our sin has separated us from a holy God, but God out of his great love for us sends Jesus to come on earth to live a perfect life. Jesus through his death on the cross, takes on the sinfulness of man, he pays the price that we deserved and takes the full wrath of God and through our belief in His life, death, and resurrection Jesus gives us his righteousness, saving us from the wrath we deserved and saves us from our sin. Non-Christian, God is calling you now to faith in Christ. God out of his love for you wants to save you from a fate that will lead to eternal torment, He wants you to have life in faith in Christ.
CBF, as we consider loving our church family through correcting sin let us remember that the only way we can point other’s to repentance is when we remember that we our brother and sisters in sin can only find true repentance when we point them to the grace and mercy that is found in Christ. We are able to turn from sin when we remember the truth of the Gospel that reveals to us the lengths and depths of God’s love in sending His own Son to die for us.
As we pursue our church family in church discipline and follow the steps found here in , let us remember and cling to God’s promise in the passage before in
Matthew 18 ESV
At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. “Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes! And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire. “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven. What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish. “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. 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. 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. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times. “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”
Matthew 18:12–14 ESV
What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.
Matthew 18:12–14 ESV
What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.
Let us have the same persistence in going after our strayed church family, in the same way the shepherd goes after his lost sheep.
And as we close today, hopefully we see God’s love to us as a church family not only in Him initially calling us to repentance when we first come to faith in Him, but also as we see God’s love for us as He keeps us in the faith by calling us to repentance when we find ourselves in sin. Church family, we practice church discipline because we take God’s word seriously. We practice church discipline because we want to protect our Gospel witness to the rest of the world. We practice church discipline to protect the flock, and we practice church discipline in hopes of restoring our brother and sister back into the fold. Church family, when we restore our church family who were previously unrepentant, what a glorious day that would be for us. Let us rejoice like the father of the prodigal son, whom when his son returns throws his arms around the son and kisses him, and throws a feast for him. Church family, that is our goal when we practice church discipline, to be able to rejoice with God when an unrepentant person comes to repentance and just like the father of the prodigal son, say “the son of mine was dead and is alive again, he was lost and is now found”
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