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Biblical Church Discipline

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Biblical Church Discipline What Is A Healthy Church - Chapter 11 Sunday, February 24, 2008

"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." (Matthew 18:15-17, ESV)

1.Growing directly out of a biblical understanding of church membership is biblical church discipline. Membership draws a line around the church, marking the church off from the world. Discipline helps the church that lives inside of that boundary line stay true to the very things that are cause for drawing the line in the first place.

2.What is church discipline? It is the act of excluding someone who professes to be a Christian from membership in the church and participation in the Lord’s Supper for serious unrepentant sin - sin they refuse to let go of.

3.Given that we’ve been uniquely created in the image of God, humans must uniquely image God and God’s glory before the rest of creation. Like a son who acts like his father and follows his fathers footsteps, man is designed to represent God’s character. (Pg 42)

“Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.” Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God." (2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1, ESV)

4.God created the world and humankind to display the glory of who He is. Adam and Eve, who were supposed to image God’s character, didn’t. Neither did the people of Israel. So God sent His Son to image His holy and loving character and to remove the wrath of God against the sins of the world. (Pg 48)

5.Now the church, which has been granted the life of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit, is called to display the character and glory of God to all the universe, testifying in word and action to His great wisdom and work of salvation. (Pg 48)

6.Discipline helps the church to reflect God’s glorious character faithfully. It helps the church to remain holy. It’s an attempt to polish the mirror and remove any specks. (Pg 102)

7.Read (1 Cor 5:1-11; 2 Thes 3:6-15; 1 Tim 1:20; 2 Tim 3:1-5; Titus 3:9-11)

8.Did you notice how serious were the consequences Paul mandated in these descriptions of church discipline? “Put out of your fellowship...” (1 Cor. 5:2); “hand this man over to Satan” (1 Cor. 5:5); “... not to associate with... do not even eat... with such a man” (1 Cor. 5:9, 11); “keep away from...” (2 Thess. 3:6); “take special note of him. Do not associate with him, in order that he may feel ashamed” (2 Thess. 3:14-15); “... handed over to Satan...” (1 Tim. 1:20); “Have nothing to do with them” (2 Tim. 3:5); “have nothing to do with him” (Titus 3:10).

9. This whole idea can sound harsh to many people today. After all Jesus said “Judge not, that you be not judged." (Matthew 7:1, ESV). But in the very same Gospel, Jesus also called churches to rebuke - even publically - their members for sin. In our day, a misunderstanding of Matthew 7:1 has been a shield for sin and has worked to prevent the kind of congregational life that was known by churches of an earlier day. (Pg 103)

10.We should all, without hesitation, admit our need for discipline, our need for shaping. None of us are perfect, finished projects. We may need to be inspired, nurtured, or healed; we may need to be corrected, challenged, even broken. Whatever the particular method of cure, let’s at least admit the need for discipline. Let’s not pretend or presume that you or I are just as we should be, as if God had finished His work with us. "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." (Galatians 6:1, ESV)

11.Once we have come to that admission, however, notice that much of discipline is positive discipline, or as it is traditionally called, “formative discipline.” It is the stake that helps the tree grow in the right direction, the braces on the teeth, the extra set of wheels on the bicycle. It is the things that are shaping us as we grow emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually. We are taught by books at school, and by sermons and services and classes at church. But not all discipline is positive, shaping, and formative.

12.What did Jesus Himself say about the person who refused to listen even to the church? “If he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector” (Matt. 18:17).

"I warned those who sinned before and all the others, and I warn them now while absent, as I did when present on my second visit, that if I come again I will not spare them" (2 Corinthians 13:2, ESV)

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