Church Discipline - part 1
We have preached to you about the erosion of authority, we see it in our communities, our schools, our homes and even in our local church. And in most cases this is the result of getting away from the word of God. For the word of God itself is authoritative in the way it tells the believer how to live and how to behave with others. Be reminded, New Hope, of these words;
2 Timothy 3:16-17 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.
Hebrews 4:12 12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. ESV
So New Hope, my brothers and sisters, today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in rebellion
· I do not intend to be long on this day so I ask for your prayers over these next two days.
Return with me back to Acts 20:28
28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. ESV
As I ponder and meditate on this verse praying for the insight and the fore-sight needed to not just pay attention but to pay careful attention, the subject of discipline comes to the forefront. Therefore, starting today with the introduction, my subject is; ‘discipline as care for the church’.
Listen to this quote from author Jay Adams in his book called ‘Handbook of Church Discipline’; “The terms “disciple” and “discipline” have a common Latin source. The source is a word family that has to do with education. Discipline is linked to education. But the kind of education of which the Bible speaks, and from which church discipline takes its impetus, is very different from the sort of education with which we are now familiar in America. The educational model from which the idea of church discipline stems once was known in our country, but it became extent as the result of the successful spread of the permissive, self-expression practices advocated by John Dewey and others in an earlier generation. Biblical education, from which ideas of church discipline flow, is education with teeth; it is education that sees to it that the job gets done.”
There are some preachers, teachers, and theologians who would agree with me that discipline is and should be one of the marks or characteristics of the true local church. But we also will agree that discipline is a subject, an activity, and a concept that most church goers would rather not deal with. Some of you may remember that we covered this topic in an earlier ‘Growth Group’ meeting and there have not been many questions asked about it. Let me say this, my brothers and sisters, discipline is an act of love not an act of hate or even worse an act of indifference. And in order to reach all or more of you, we need to preach it from the pulpit, so we do this as an introduction for some and a reminder for others. It is an act of love, listen to what the Lord says in the book of Hebrews;
5 And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. 6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” 7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. ESV
The Lord disciplines the ones he loves and if we love one another, then discipline must be a part of our vocabulary and a part of our action plan. This Hebrew passage also points out that discipline is not meant to drive out or get rid of someone but to gain them and it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
· To fulfill the charge of Acts 20, paying careful attention to self and all the flock, the subject of discipline as it is applied to the church must be preached.
· And you need to talk of this in your homes and ask questions of it there and here.
· It also serves as part of the equipping of the saints for the work of the ministry and for every good work.
· But the difficulty and the uneasiness that it brings allows you realize and understand just how much authority has been eroded within the local church and within your own life style.
· This week I am just introducing this subject, ‘discipline as care for the church’, because it is a huge topic and I want you to hear it and be doers of the word.
· Today, I would like to look at just two points; the first level of discipline and who especially is not exempt from discipline.
· Self discipline is the first level of any discipline for the saint; look at our text that we read earlier; ‘Pay careful attention to yourself.’ Listen to others;
· Galatians 5:22-23 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. ESV
o We have the Holy Spirit the comforter within us, we are the temple of God, and His spirit witnesses with our spirit that we are children of God.
o God has also blessed us, you and I, as believers with the fruit of the Spirit and one of the ingredients is ‘self-control’.
o The control of self allows for self discipline
o Yes you know right from wrong, good from bad, but you also know righteousness from unrighteousness. Amen!
· 2 Corinthians 13:5 5 Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? —unless indeed you fail to meet the test! ESV
· 1 Corinthians 11:28-31 28 Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. 31 But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. ESV
o The true believer, the one who belongs to the church of God has the ability to discipline themselves.
· This is what I am saying New Hope, before you even allow a situation where your brother sins against you or you sin against your brother, you should be dealing with praying and meditating on this
o If you sin against yourself, what do you do?
o When you slip up or mess up and no one else knows about it, how do you handle it?
o Can you stop yourself from doing it, from talking it, or from thinking it?
o Remember what Jesus said about this over in His Sermon on the Mount? Matthew 7:3-5 3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. ESV
· And this is not just about you, my brothers and sisters, the Scriptures speaks to me and any other man serving as a pastor when it says; ‘pay careful attention to yourself!’
o I too must learn and remind myself to trust in the Lord with all my heart and not lean to my own understanding and in all my ways to acknowledge Him and He will make straight my paths
o If I can not acknowledge Him in it then I have no business in it
· There is a puritan classic book called ‘The Reformed Pastor’ by Richard Baxter, the book was first published in 1656. I recommend that book to anyone who desire the work of the pastor. I myself will read from that book just to remind myself of the importance of looking inward with self discipline and the danger of the oversight of ourselves or taking this calling for granted
· This is a good lead in to my next point; leaders, pastors, bishops, elders, reverent doctors, are not exempt from discipline.
· We who serve as pastors or overseers are not the untouchables or the un-reachable!
· Paul’s and Peter’s encounter in Galatians shows us that.
· Galatians 2:11-14 11 But when Cephas (Peter) came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. 13 And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?” ESV
· Both men were leaders in the church but because of the love from Paul toward Peter and also his love for the church, Paul had to opposed Peter before them all.
· Don’t overlook the impact of Peter’s actions, verse 13, and the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with Peter so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy.
o Leaders actions in the church very seldom just stay with the leader, but others seeing him doing it will follow his actions
o We do like we see our leaders doing
· The issue was public and the opposing was also public; “but when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas (Peter) before them all.”
· This was not a time to wait and get him alone and then speak but since it happened in front of all it needed to be addressed before all.
· One more passage and then I will close
· 1 Timothy 5:19-20 19 Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 20 As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear. ESV
· This is what we see Paul doing in Galatians where there were many witnesses
· Brothers and Sisters of New Hope as your pastor, I am not exempt from discipline. If you love me then watch out for me as I am watching out for you.
o If there is something that you don’t understand then ask about it
o If there is something that is not setting right with you then say something about it
o Because as we move through this subject of discipline the one common thread is that must be interaction and there must be communication
o And the most important communication is prayer
I end as I started; so New Hope, my brothers and sisters, today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in rebellion.
Be doer of His holy word! Let us pray.