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·     Here is a sad fact of history for you to ponder, from an article by R. Albert Mohler, Jr. titled “Church Discipline: The Missing Mark”.  “By the 1960’s only a minority of churches even pretended to practice regulative church discipline.  Significantly, confessional accountability and moral discipline were generally abandoned together.  The theological category of sin has been replaced, in many circles, with the psychology concept of therapy.  Church members may make poor choices, fail to live up to the expectations of an oppressive culture, or be inadequately self-actualized – but they no longer sin.”

·     In our last three sermons we have explored the second stage of discipline from both the offender and the offended point of view. 

·     These messages were based on the fact that the offender realized that he or she was wrong and either went to the offended one to seek forgiveness or when confronted by the one offended, asked for forgiveness.

·     We are also aware now that this confrontation; “go and tell him his fault”, according to Matthew 18 and “rebuke him”, according to Luke 17, is not optional but is mandatory.

·     It would be wonderful if all went well at this second stage, in those private encounters, whereby we gain our brother or sister, but in this world of sin, in which we live, we must deal with the brother or sister who will not listen at this second stage. 

·     Open your Bibles to;

Matthew 18:15-18 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. 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.

·     My subject is; “Discipline the third mark of the local church, the third stage.”

·     My first point is perseverance.

·     Perseverance is a characteristic that comes to my mind here, for verse 16 says I won’t give up on you

·     Because this is not looked at and studied on a regular basis, the local church suffers here, for many will read verse 16 and interpret it to mean that this is based on length of time or a number of times

o       “We have been discussing this for the last couple of days, weeks, or months”

o       “This is the tenth time we have had this conversation”

·     Actually, my brothers and sisters, it’s neither.  For the answer is in the verse; “if he does not listen.”  In other words there is no reconciliation.

·     There is no confession of sin, no seeking forgiveness and no new relationship. 

·     One must move on to the next stage when progress is not being made toward reconciliation and this usually mean that the other person has dug in their heels and is unwilling to do whatever is necessary to be reconciled

·     And my brothers and sisters, you don’t need an advance degree in psychology or sociology or even theology, to know this.

·     You can see it in their body language, the way they speak and how they respond, even a child knows when a conversation is going nowhere.

·     But we should also keep in mind the heat of the battle.  Some of us (amen lights) don’t take criticism too well and in the heat of that moment you are not listening to reason.  Especially for some reason or another the offender feels that he or she is right or doing nothing wrong.

·     Hey, the best thing to do is to wait for a cooler moment, a better time or place and then try again.  That’s what I mean by perseverance, you have to be willing to hang in there for a while.  And you must be able to listen to them in what they are saying back to you.  You may need to get more advice, study more, read more discuss it in general with someone more knowledgeable.

·     But if he or she won’t listen, that means that person refuses to listen, he or she is ignoring the seriousness of this matter or its content, and it indicates that the he or she is determined to go their own way and will not heed, verse 16 says you don’t quit, you don’t give up.

·     Some of you may be saying now is all of this worth it?  My answer is this is not a suggestion but a command.  Not based on how you feel but your obedience.  And further more think of this, how long has the Lord been waiting for you to straighten up?  And he hasn’t given up on you yet!

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.

·     My second point, take with you one or two witnesses that every charge may be established.

·     Jesus does not say who these witnesses should be, so any two Christians may be called upon to help, therefore,

·     Much prayer is needed here with the view to gain your brother or sister and not to prove your point or gain up on them.

·     How do you do this

o       Again pray about it

o       Whoever you ask, don’t share the name of the offender until you know that they can serve in this capacity because this is still a private matter

o       Whoever you ask should be respected by the congregation because of the witnessing they may have to do later

o       Deacons and Pastors if asked do not function in their official leadership role but as private Christians but stay prayerful here because this is a tough assignment to ask a pastor to serve in when he may be involve later

o       Keep all details about the matter to the bare minimum by giving only the bare facts and nothing more

o       Let the offender know that you are doing this and why

o       If there is a person meeting the requirements and highly respected by both the offender and the offended, it would be good to ask them

·     This is one reason my brothers and sisters that discipline needs to be preached from our pulpits, taught in our classrooms and discussed in our fellowship halls because none of this should come as a surprise to anyone within the fellowship

·     Let me say this before moving on.  It is the duty of any Christian who is asked to serve, and only for the most serious of reasons should there be refusal.  Listen

Galatians 6:1-2
1 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. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. ESV

·     Verse 2 tells us to bear one another’s burdens and when this is done you fulfill the law of Christ

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.

·     Let me speak for a moment to you who are called to take part as a witness

·     Not only are you there to witness but you are actively participating in the reconciliation process

·     Actually you only become a witness if the refusal take place.  If you glance forward at verse 17 it says; “if he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church.”  So you become a witness if and when the matter is formally brought before the church.

·     Hear this well, if as the result of you being there, reconciliation takes place then the matter remains private and your role as a witness never come to past.

·     If you are called to this important task, the witness attest to and establish every charge made.  That is you are able to witness to the words spoken by yourself, to the words spoken by the brother or sister trying to bring reconciliation, and to the words of refusal by the one who is stubbornly ignored them.

·     You are there as one or two who may later witness to the charge made at this third stage of discipline and not to the sin of the second stage.

·     You may ask, okay pastor, how do I apply this to my life?

·     I would say in answer to this that

o       You need to take this serious

o       You need to get into the Word of God and study it and see what the Word is saying to you

o       Again you need to be in prayer and it doesn’t hurt to ask for prayer

o       If you have questions about issues then you need to ask the pastors or deacons about them

o       Schedule your time so that you can attend Sunday School, Wednesday prayer, Growth Group, and fellowship meetings

·     If you are asked

o       Plan to set up a meeting as soon as possible because if you are asked then the matter is serious

o       If the brother or sister refuses to agree to meet or doesn’t keep the appointment, don’t give up but do all you can to convince them to do so.

o       If all fails then you should warn the brother or sisters that you will have to carry the testimony of this refusal back to the church when the offended brother or sister institute formal discipline

o       You should inform him or her of the serious nature of his or her willfulness, the he or she is on dangerous ground and that persistence in his refusal to hear could lead to removal from the church

o       If the meeting take place you are there to lead the discussion if there are two of you then one should be designated to be in charged.  You should ask both parties to explain their side, starting with the accuser

o       You need to finally indicate whether you think that the accuser has a convincing case.  It may not be, some time there can be a whole lot made out of nothing.  If that is the case then you need to inform the accuser that they need to seek forgiveness from the accused.  And it stops there.

o       If the accuser has something real then you need to hear the explanation of defense of the accused

o       If you discover that an offense was in fact committed and believes that there is no mere misunderstanding, then this should be evaluated based on biblical standards, state the issue in biblical terms and suggest a plan to solve the problem based on biblical principles

·     Do you see the importance of being in the Word yourself because it is not just about you but it is about the life of the Church.

·     One can only imagine the number of time church going people have been asked to be the mediator or the advice giver and what was given was an opinion or advice that was not biblically sound but based on something else.  And people have accepted that and used it to no avail. 

·     New Hope I would not want that on our record and you shouldn’t want it either

·     If you are called to be the one or two other from verse 14 and if you are successful in reaching a God-honoring solution to the problem.  Note; by God-honoring, I mean a solution that conforms to Scripture  and not a solution that compromises biblical principles.  So if you are successful, you will want to set up future meetings for the two to work on reestablishing a growing relationship.  Because reconciliation is the goal and that includes, confession of sin, seeking forgiveness, and establishing a new relationship.

·     One last point and this is another message, if all attempts fail, you need to warn the brother or sister and advised the accuser to refer the matter to the whole church and if he or she will not then you must do it.  You must make further attempt to bring restoration and reconciliation.

·     I wanted to ask are you ready for this?  But New Hope you must be ready for this even now as I preach.  We can no longer use the excuse, “I didn’t know the church was suppose to do this”  We know this now.  You have been exposed to it now.  And you must live it now

“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.”

·     I asked last week are you willing to obey.  New Hope I again ask you this week are you willing to obey?

·     As I sit down and you began to meditate, meditate on these Words from the book of Ephesians

Ephesians 4:11-16
11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. ESV

Let us pray!


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