ABOUT DISCIPLINE IN THE CHURCH
1 COR 5:1-6
INTRO: Words such as "excommunication" or "shunning" are words which may bring to our minds very unpleasant circumstances and situations. We have perhaps seen television programs or motion pictures with religious themes in which there has been excommunication or shunning. The impression we have may well be very negative! And while the denominational world (and history) may have practices which are not firmly rooted in scripture, we do find in scripture instructions to the Lord's church about discipline ... both preventive and corrective. In the life of a congregation of God's people there may come those times when we face the necessity of corrective discipline, and those are not happy times. But it really does matter what you believe about discipline in the Lord's church.
I. GOD'S PEOPLE ARE TO BE A DISCIPLINED PEOPLE
A. This has always been the case no matter the historical period
1. Lev 19:1,2 - "Ye shall be holy: for I the Lord your God am holy"
2. 1 Pet 1:15 - "But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy..."
3. there it is - holiness profoundly implies a disciplined life
B. God gives instruction in holy living
1. Lev 19:3-37 - a series of brief instructions about holy living - old covenant
2. 1 Thes 4:1,2,7 - and in the new covenant instruction is given
3. God intends for His people to live disciplined lives and give the instruction necessary to that end
C. God also gives warnings to His people
1. notice some verses in Lev 20 - vv. 2,3,6,9,10 ... consequences of failing to follow His instructions about holy living!
2. or, Heb 2:2,3 - negligence is fatal to holiness ... and to the soul eternally
3. Ps 19:11 - an inspired assessment of God's word!
II. "DISCIPLINE" FOR GOD'S PEOPLE IS WHOLESOME AND PRODUCTIVE
A. Consider these thoughts from the Old Testament
1. Num 14:40-42 - purposes, decisions outside of God's will do not prosper!
2. Deut 4:39,40 - abiding in His instruction, things will go "well with thee"
3. Deut 28:1,2,15,58,59 - here are both sides of the "picture" well defined
4. Josh 1:7,8 - and who can ignore/forget this instruction from God?
5. the history of the Old Testament confirms this truth in life repeatedly
B. From the New Testament?
1. 3 Jno 1:1-3 - his soul prospered because he walked in the truth!
2. Col 1:3-6 - fruitfulness because of the discipline of the truth of the gospel"
3. true joy, peace, contentment, security are made possible by our making the choice to live our lives within the boundaries of God's word!
III. WHEN SIN, HOWEVER, COMES AMONG GOD'S PEOPLE...
A. An Old Testament example - the sin of Achan
1. Josh 7:10-13 - "There is an accursed thing in the midst of thee..."
2. Achan's sin brought tragic consequences on the whole congregation
3. correction was needed, necessary if the congregation was to flourish
B. New Testament examples:
1. Mt 18:17 - "...tell it to the church ... as an heathen man and a publican"
2. Rom 16:17 - "...mark them ... and avoid them"
3. 1 Cor 5:4,5 - "...to deliver such an one unto Satan..."
4. 1 Thes 5:14 - "...warn them that are unruly..."
5. 2 Thes 3:6,14 - "...withdraw yourselves ... note that man...
C. Why is this sort of action necessary?
1. Rom 16:18 - toleration of doctrine contrary to sound doctrine corrupts the hearts of the unknowing
2. 1 Cor 5:6 - toleration of immorality spreads through the church
3. 2 Thes 3:14,15 - to bring the disorderly person back into the Lord's order (as it apparently did in the case of the man of 1 Cor 5 - cf. 2 Cor 2:6-8)
D. Why is this corrective action rarely practiced?
1. perhaps because people no longer care about moral/doctrinal purity
2. perhaps because loving people do not want to appear "unloving"
3. and, admittedly, this should not be something done precipitously - but we do need to take the Biblical action when efforts to warn and correct have failed
CLOSE: If the teaching is sound, if the example of older Christians is proper, if the church is busy about the Lord's work, if the leadership shepherds the church, corrective discipline should be a rare necessity. My hope and prayer is that we are, and will continue to be, a well taught and disciplined congregation of the Lord's church.
Cecil A. Hutson
19 March 2006
You Must Hear the Gospel
You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)
You Must Believe
You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)
You Must Repent
You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)
You Must Confess
You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)
You Must Be Baptized
Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!
You Must Be Faithful Unto Death
Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)