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The Discipline of the Cross

Notes & Transcripts

The Discipline of the Cross

March 2, 2003

 

Scripture Reading: 1Corinthians 5

Introduction:

Throughout history, the power of Christ and his cross have been used to quell rebellion and to advance his kingdom.

Indeed, the name of Christ and the symbol of his cross have so much power that to be rightly united with it is victory, and to be separated from it – or wrongly apply it – is defeat.

Civil War:   Constantine in 4th century Roman Empire (Christ vs. pagan)

North vs. South in U.S. – "Gods and Generals" movie (righteous cause vs. unrighteous – using Bible as justification on both sides)

                  

Rebellion in the Church (holiness vs. unholiness)

The Name of Christ – the standard of the cross – will prevail (5:4 "when you are assembled in the Name --- )

The penalty of the Roman cross was death.

Agonizing death was the reason for its existence.

The Roman cross stood as the supreme symbol of the sentence it imposed.

That is, until it attempted to assume power over the Son of God.

It had its day of execution, but its black sentence was written with disappearing ink.

The power of death had to yield to the greater power of holiness.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ from his death on the cross would be forever after written in the bolder red of eternal life that would flow through the veins of his believers.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ from his death on the cross would forever alter the meaning of the cross.

Yes, it would still be a symbol of death – but only for those who chose death in their rebellion against the holiness of Christ that conquered death.

For those who chose him, who became convicted of sin and desired his eternal life, the cross would become a symbol of holiness – a new standard of living in this life and beyond.

The cross would forever become the standard of the church of Christ – a victorious emblem of protection and direction in all that it meant – a holiness that overcomes sin and death and demands conformity by both faith and practice.

But what remained for those who would later compromise the holiness of the cross by their behavior, or attitude, or association?

For Paul in 1Cor. 5, this discipline problem in the Corinthian church is another example of divisiveness.

Divisiveness comes not only from rival gang leaders and rival concepts of spirituality in the church, but it can also come from the infection of sin among the people and the differing opinions about how it should, or should not, be handled.

Our messages so far in 1Cor. have centered on the cross, and this one is no different.

As we have said, much of 1Corinthians can be placed in the context of "the doctrine of the cross in its social application".

To remind you of whence we have come in 1Corinthians so far:

          The Community of the Cross – the cross brings us to unity with one another.  

          The Instruction of the Cross – the cross brings us to unity with the mind of Christ.

          The Crucible of the Cross – the cross brings us to unity with coming judgment.

          The Power of the Cross – the cross brings us to unity with real spiritual power.

And now – The Discipline of the Cross – the cross brings us to unity with holiness.

Big Question:

How does the cross of Christ hold us accountable to its standard of holiness?

We are held accountable for our actions.

Those who rebel against the cross must be removed from its protection in order to reconsider the agony of death and return to the victory of holiness in their lives.

We are held accountable for our approvals.

Those who are not grieved by rebels must return to a proper understanding of Christ's death on the cross in order to keep the victory of holiness in the church.

We are held accountable for our associations.

Those who befriend rebels must learn to make a distinction between the disciplinary purpose of the cross for those in the church versus the evangelistic purpose of the cross for those outside the church.

I.       Cycle One

          A.      Narrative (vv. 1-5)

          B.      Implication

We are held accountable for our actions.

Those who rebel against the cross must be removed from its protection in order to reconsider the agony of death and return to the victory of holiness in their lives.

          C.      Illustration

          D.      Application

ILLUS: # 127 – Judgment

ILLUS: #  58 – Discipline

Sacrifice the sinner to the world so the holiness of Christ might be rekindled:

“11  The high priest carries the blood of animals into the Most Holy Place as a sin offering, but the bodies are burned outside the camp. 12  And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood. 13  Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore.” (Hebrews 13:11-13 NIVUS)

II.      Cycle Two

          A.      Narrative (vv. 6-8)

          B.      Implication

We are held accountable for our approvals.

Those who are not grieved by rebels must return to a proper understanding of Christ's death on the cross in order to keep the victory of holiness in the church.

          C.      Illustration

Topic:  Little Evils

There is a cartoon floating around that depicts Noah's wife holding out her hands and asking her husband, "Where do you want the termites?"

See:  1 Cor 5:6

“12  If a person carries consecrated meat in the fold of his garment, and that fold touches some bread or stew, some wine, oil or other food, does it become consecrated?’" The priests answered, "No." 13  Then Haggai said, "If a person defiled by contact with a dead body touches one of these things, does it become defiled?" "Yes," the priests replied, "it becomes defiled."” (Haggai 2:12-13 NIVUS)

ILLUS: #  20 – Church Discipline

The insanity of 'Progressive Theology' – Feb. 2003 issue of Presbyterian Layman.

Liberal theologian takes reins of divided Church of England, Chgo. Trib., 2/28/03.

Wheaton College eases alcohol, dancing ban, Chgo. Trib., Feb. 20, 2003.

We seem to move toward priding ourselves on our tolerance. But how close can we come and not get burnt?

"Liberals are always for the inclusion of every possible point of view except those points of view that do not include every possible point of view."

-- Stanley Hauerwas, quoted in the Christian Century (Feb. 24, 1993). Christianity Today, Vol. 38, no. 1.

Comment in March 1, 2003, issue of World, last page editorial, that the terms 'liberal' versus 'conservative' are out of date. We should instead refer to 'activist' versus 'realist'.

          D.      Application

Issue of child abusing priests/improper pastors.

Issue of rape cover-up in the Air Force Academy.

III.    Cycle Three

          A.      Narrative (vv. 9-13)

          B.      Implication

We are held accountable for our associations.

Those who befriend rebels must learn to make a distinction between the disciplinary purpose of the cross for those in the church versus the evangelistic purpose of the cross for those outside the church.

          C.      Illustration

Bible Illustrator

   A man had a fine canary that could sing the notes to Amazing Grace with fantastic clarity and consistency. The canary got that way by listening to the man whistle the notes to Amazing Grace over and over again ever since the canary was a little fledgling. The song seemed to get imprinted into his brain and was an unusually beautiful rendition. During the summer, it seemed a shame to keep the bird inside the house all the time. So every day the owner placed the cage in a nearby tree for the bird to enjoy the sunshine and the fresh air. Many sparrows frequented the tree and were attracted to the cage. At first the canary was afraid, but he decided he would do what he knew how to do and began to sing. He soon began to enjoy his new companions. Now one might expect that repeated exposure to the raucous chirping that sparrows do would throw the little bird off. Perhaps he would lose all sense of melody. But the song was so ingrained that he seemed to just keep giving the only message he knew how to all those noisy sparrows. He didn't seem to judge them for not knowing how to sing gospel. Perhaps he had some hope that his message would communicate and be accepted. Gradually and almost imperceptibly the sparrows began to cease their raucous chirping, and a few began to connect the first few notes of Amazing Grace. By the end of the summer it was as if the chorus of heaven itself had invaded the man's back yard. Now if that little canary was going to be out in that tree, it was up to him to change the sparrows' tune. He could do it because he was quite convinced of his own. It would have been a tragedy if it were the other way around. We could probably say that little canary became the world's smallest evangelist doing his part to bring others into the beauty of his world.

To influence the world we must be in it, but we must not forget – we must be sure – of our song of hope.

“22  Be merciful to those who doubt; 23  snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear— hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.” (Jude 1:22-23 NIVUS)

Bible Illustrator

Marian Guinn's soul was the issue, church leaders say, when elders of the Collinsville Church of Christ denounced her for adultery before the congregation and forbade 120 members to associate with her.

   But privacy was the issue in Marian Guinn's lawsuit against the elders in state district court. She sought $1.3 million, alleging invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

   Ms. Guinn, 36, is a nurse and divorced mother of four children.

   Her suit says that in October, 1981, three elders publicly denounced her for "the sin of fornication" and ordered church members to avoid her.

   In depositions and pretrial hearings, Ms. Guinn has acknowledged her relationship with Pat Sharp, a former mayor of Collinsville.

   "It doesn't matter if she was fornicating up and down the street," her lawyer, Thomas Frasier said. "It doesn't give the church the right to stick their noses in."

   But Truman Rucker, Jr., attorney for the church leaders, said the ban was an internal church matter. "Withdrawal of fellowship was an action of discipline within the Church of Christ," he said.

          D.      Application

What we are looking at here is a difference in context regarding judgment.

Sin in the world is to be expected. Sin in the church should always make us quite uncomfortable.

Sin left unchecked in the church will destroy it, because then there would be no difference between the standards of the church and the standards of the world. And if there is not difference between the two, then there is no reason for it. It becomes a non-entity.

Conclusion:

Big Answer:

How does the cross of Christ hold us accountable to its standard of holiness?

We are held accountable for our actions.

Those who rebel against the cross must be removed from its protection in order to reconsider the agony of death and return to the victory of holiness in their lives.

We are held accountable for our approvals.

Those who are not grieved by rebels must return to a proper understanding of Christ's death on the cross in order to keep the victory of holiness in the church.

We are held accountable for our associations.

Those who befriend rebels must learn to make a distinction between the disciplinary purpose of the cross for those in the church versus the evangelistic purpose of the cross for those outside the church.

Timeless Truth:

The standard of the cross must be maintained.

The only division/divisiveness approved by the cross is the separation of the holy from the unholy.

The only discipline approved by the cross is to keep holy what it has made holy.

Just as in the military, there can be no unity – no victory – without discipline.

If you would have the holy protection of the cross, you must ultimately agree to its discipline.

Jesus said in John 12:47 that he did not come to judge the world but to save it.

Neither are we to judge the world, but there is a certain judgment we are to exercise in the church, and that judgment is the saving judgment of discipline.

The only judgment we are to exercise in the church is to participate with him in the continuing process of salvation from unholiness for ourselves and for the church.

We are to be holy because he is holy. He died so that we might be made holy.

So here is the purpose of church discipline – the discipline of the cross:

“4  It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5  who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, 6  if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.” (Hebrews 6:4-6 NIVUS)

“26  If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27  but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.” (Hebrews 10:26-27 NIVUS)

OWU Pres. Everett Piper, PhD, in reprint of his homecoming chapel address, Oct. 11, 2002, VOM, March, 2003, Partnering for the Persecuted.

We must not go the way of the culture, but of Christ.

Closing Hymn: # 481  Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus

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