Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Discipline In Church???

Church just got real. 

Back on December 4th, 2013, we were talking about how to "Have Church." Out of everything we discussed, one thing has caused some questions. I said this...
"We are to encourage each other. Comfort each other. Strengthen each other. We are to morn together. Laugh together. Celebrate together. And yes, even to keep each other in check. There is a real reason for discipline in our Church. It is for our own good. To help keep each other from falling." 
"Wait a second Pete. Are you saying that the Pastor has the RIGHT to DISCIPLINE me if I do something he doesn't like? Seriously? What are you talking about?" Yes, and so does the rest of the Congregation. 

Well, I guess Church just got real. So with help of a Special Guest, Stephen McQuoid of  Liberty Community Church U.K., we are going to discuss this topic in more detail today. 

This is what happens when you make Church REAL. Meaning, Church is more than just going, dropping a Twenty in the bucket and saying Praise Jesus. Church is more than an hour and a half a week, if you can make it, then going home to Football and BBQs. 

Jesus said 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 18:15-20}

John also talked about this. "Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.
 If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed:
 For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds."
 {2 John 1:9-11}

In his letter to Titus from Nicopolis in Epirus, Paul wrote "As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him," {Titus 3:10

So what is the real reason for Church Discipline? Please welcome Special Guest, Stephen McQuoid of  Liberty Community Church U.K.


Discipline With Care: Why Should We Use Discipline in the Church?

Church discipline is tough. Maintaining any form of discipline in the church will take both courage and determination. Church leaders will truly have their work cut out for them if they decide that, in some way, church members must be held accountable for their actions. Given this, questions must surely be asked as to why we should bother with church discipline at all.

The honour of God

The first reason why maintaining church discipline is so important is that we need to have a concern for the honour of God. In 1 Samuel 17, the young shepherd boy David was sent by his father to check on the welfare of his brothers, who were recruits in the Israelite army. As he arrived at the battlefield, he was stunned by what he saw. The Israelites and the Philistines were lined up on either side of the battlefield. The giant Goliath was challenging any individual in the Israelite army to fight him in a representative battle, but none was willing. His huge stature and warlike appearance were more than their courage could confront. Saul had raised the stakes by offering the reward of tax exemption as well as his daughter’s hand in marriage, but there were still no takers.

Despite his youth, David was not intimidated by Goliath. But what did concern him was the cowardice of God’s people. He described the situation as a ‘disgrace’: ‘What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and removes this disgrace from Israel? Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?’ (v. 26). For David, however, the issue was not that this situation made the men of Israel appear cowardly, but that it reflected badly on God. For Goliath to impose himself as he did was a direct challenge to the ‘living God’ whose armies he threatened. David was concerned for God’s honour, which was being compromised by the behaviour of his people.

This concept can also be seen in the New Testament, where Paul urges believers to ‘conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ’ (Phil. 1:27). The sacrifice of Christ compels us to live in such a way as to demonstrate the power and glory of the gospel. Ultimately, our lives will have a bearing on the credibility of the Christian faith. As Jesus said in Matthew 5:16, ‘let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven’; we are to live in such a way that people recognize God’s hand in our lives and praise him for what he is doing in us.

Our concern for God’s honour should be the primary motivation for having a disciplined church. The church belongs to God, not to any individual or group of individuals. We are the bride of Christ (2 Cor. 11:2; Rev. 19:7; 21:2), and when we live lives that are unholy and inappropriate, we dishonour God. The church is a billboard declaring the glory of God. If the message being communicated does not reflect something of the glory and majesty of God, his honour is at stake.

The reputation of the church

Closely linked to the honour of God is the reputation of the actual church. The church needs to have credibility for its own sake. If it has no credibility, it will not be an attractive witness to a needy world. No one will be persuaded by the church’s proclamation of the gospel if those who comprise its membership do not demonstrate the power of the gospel in their own lives. The church is also a voice in society, providing a conscience and correcting injustice. But if the church loses its moral authority because of the behaviour of some of its members, its voice will be muffled and its impact minimized.

I recently attended a conference in one of the oldest and most Catholic cities in North America. As I walked around the city, I was impressed by the sheer number of Catholic churches, monasteries, convents, schools, colleges and even a Catholic university. I said to my guide, ‘The Catholic church must be one of the must potent forces for good in the city.’ She responded rather melancholically by saying that the impact of the church had been greatly reduced in recent years because of allegations of priests involved in child abuse. These were not dealt with properly and consequently the church lost any credibility in the eyes of the community. A church with no credibility cannot function properly; its potential and attractiveness are simply lost.


The health of the body

Another reason for good discipline in the church is the health of the body. One of the most powerful images in the New Testament is that of the church as a body (1 Cor. 12). We are not just a collection of individuals thrown together for some kind of religious experience; rather, we are an organic unity. Through the blood of Christ and the unifying power of the Holy Spirit we find oneness. We are able to feed off one another, to benefit from the mutual encouragement that being together brings.

Of course, the opposite is also true. Although we can have a beneficial effect on one another, if one member of the body is spiritually sick, he or she can also cause great damage to the rest of the body. In 1 Corinthians 12:26 Paul says, ‘If one part suffers, every part suffers with it.’ This can be applied in a number of ways. Certainly, there should be such a quality of relationships within the church that, if one member is suffering in some way, the other members should have such empathy that they feel the pain of their fellow brother or sister. But, equally, we are so closely knit together that we actually have an impact on one another, whether for good or ill. For the sake of the wider church, therefore, discipline must at times be applied so that the ‘body life’ of the church remains healthy.

In a church near where I live, the elders had to ban a young woman from the services because her actions and influence were so pernicious that she was having a hugely detrimental impact on all with whom she came into contact. Though rare, sometimes such strong measures are required to keep the body healthy.

The unity of the Spirit

Another reason that necessitates the application of discipline is the unity of the Spirit. Paul is clear in Ephesians that we are joined by the Spirit, who makes us one: ‘Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called—one Lord, one faith, one baptism’ (Eph. 4:3–5). In any family, however, there can be issues that bring stress to relationships. In my experience, few things cause more disunity than when one member of the church is living a lifestyle that is obviously wrong. The divisiveness comes from various angles. To begin with, the individual concerned will be spiritually hampered by the sin and will therefore not be enjoying a close walk with Jesus Christ. This makes that person less able to engage meaningfully and lovingly with fellow Christians. Secondly, that person’s lifestyle will inevitably lead to gossip within the church which is, by its very nature, destructive. Thirdly, once the devil gets a foothold in the door of the church, he will exploit this gap to the maximum by doing as much damage to the individual and the church as possible. He will drive a wedge between the fallen church member and the rest of the body, thus causing feelings of isolation and rejection. Clearly, any sense of unity which the church members feel will be under threat if the situation continues.

The spiritual life of the individual

While thinking of the damage that can be caused to a church if discipline is not applied, we also need to think about the damage that is done to the individual. At the heart of any sinful situation is an individual who is struggling in his or her walk with Christ. Those of us who are parents can understand the situation well. When our children do wrong, we recognize the need to discipline them. We do not punish them to cause harm; rather, it is because we love them and we want the best for them. We want them to live fruitful and successful lives. Likewise, we need to apply discipline in the life of the church because the sin of any individual affects that individual first of all. The application of discipline is to enable him or her to come back to a close relationship with Christ and to continue in the Christian life. It is, therefore, a real act of love.

Check out  Discipline with Care: Applying Biblical Correction in Your Church by Stephen McQuoid, published by Day One Ministries as part of their Ministering the Master's Way series.

Do you know Jesus as your Savior? Have you been adopted into the Family of God? If not, say this Prayer. Right now. Wherever you may be. Say it in your own words, and do not doubt in your heart. God will hear you. He will send the Spirit of Life to you. Let us Pray..

"Oh heavenly Father, Lord God. I am a sinner. I know this. I know there is nothing I can do to change that. But I know you can. I accept Jesus's sacrifice for me. I repent my sins. Please send the Spirit of Adoption into my life. Help me to get to know the real you. Save me. Please. In the name of Jesus, Amen!"

That's it. It really is that simple. Now go tell someone what you have just done. "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." {Romans 10:9} You need to find a Church that God leads you to, and be Baptized the way Jesus said to be. You are now a Child of God. A new Creature. You "have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him." {Colossians 3:10}

If you want to tell me, or comment, question, give testimonials, or just say "Hi," the Email is opntalk@gmail.com

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen. {2 Corinthians 13}

2 comments:

  1. Ugh. It's not that complicated. Just be compassion. Forgive. Love and walk in the light. It's really easy!!! God is just another word for love. Be love. Be god. There is no "That if thou shalt confesssssss......" It's just love.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Greetings Peter,

    The only way you can come into my house, is, A - I open the door. B - I give you the key. Any other way you become a thief and a robber, and have no right to be there. Without confessing, and accepting the gift, the key, Jesus, you cannot enter in. Your right, it's NOT complicated. God made the way simple for all. The choice is yours.
    Peter

    ReplyDelete

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