Share This Episode
The Bible Study Hour James Boice Logo

The Litigious Church

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
July 22, 2021 8:00 am

The Litigious Church

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

On-Demand Podcasts NEW!

This broadcaster has 586 podcast archives available on-demand.

Broadcaster's Links

Keep up-to-date with this broadcaster on social media and their website.

July 22, 2021 8:00 am

A church struggles to come to terms with what it means to serve the Lord. But it's not easy. All around are greedy and debauched people. Inevitably some of sinfulness has begun to infiltrate the church. Sound familiar? This scenario is not just our own; the early church of Corinth faced many of the same problems! Dr. Boice's study in 1 Corinthians reveals a striking similarity between own battles and the struggles the early church, here on The Bible Study Hour.

Insight for Living
Chuck Swindoll
Running to Win
Erwin Lutzer
Renewing Your Mind
R.C. Sproul
Connect with Skip Heitzig
Skip Heitzig
Matt Slick's Top 6
Matt Slick
Renewing Your Mind
R.C. Sproul

Welcome to the Bible study our radio and Internet Ministry of finance of confessing Evangelicals featuring the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce for more information please contact us by calling toll-free 1-800-488-1888 and now the alliance is pleased to present the Bible study our preparing you to think and act biblically is not very often that I title a sermon with a word that I'm not even sure how to pronounce what I have done it tonight. My bike, I can think of ever having done that before I had to look it up. I suppose the reason for that is that that's word relatively new in common speech about that. It's a new word but I can't recall in reading literature ever seeing that it least not in a memorable setting is the word litigious. It means prone to litigation are prone to go to court reason. This is somewhat of a new word is that the proneness to go to court about which it speaks of something relatively know at least in American life. I do recall a year or so ago seeing an article I believe in time magazine entitled the litigious society made the point that there has been a change in the way we do things in that when there was a dispute between people. Several generations ago. Generally, it was settled in an informal way by neighbors working it out together often neighbors would help in that area and then there was a period in which people would tend to work things out by laws that is by having a local assembly or state door.

Even perhaps, the Congress passed a law in a certain area or conduct is ambiguous and the law would be as we cite the law of the land was the thing by which people live by laws and their interpretation or under dispute and what has happened in our time is that disputes have increasingly found their way into the courts, and this article in Time magazine was pointing out that people today run the court, often with suits what's apparently the drop of a hat. I was flying back from Toronto early this morning and ordered to be here and preach and I happen to notice the airlines magazine. I picked it up and it had an article in it about lawyers said. I'm not sure if I am remembering the figure correctly, but by the last decade of the century there would be 1 million lawyers in the United States. And then there were three dots and the word that follows was unfortunately while it may be unfortunate that that happens in the secular world what Paul says in the six chapter 1st Corinthians is that it is extremely unfortunate when that attitude passes into the church of Jesus Christ more than that it's a shame that you happen not just that we live in a litigious society we associate with the litigious church.

Many things which in previous generations were properly dealt with are now dealt with as we know, by litigation.

This is the third problem that Paul is dealing with in this very interesting and helpful letter to the church at Corinth.

His first letter first of the problems that existed in that church. As you know was stair pride human wisdom.

I thought they were so smart, so important, so instructed in the affairs of this world that they were blown out of all proportion and exalted over one another. They were so glad they were wise they were so glad they were noble.

They were so glad they were like the common ignorant folk and Paul grappled with that head on calling it a sin which it is bad and challenging them with this great fact God has set himself against the wisdom of the world God's business in this world is to tear the world's wisdom.

Now, because the world by his wisdom crucified Jesus Christ instead of that, says Paul.

God uses the foolish things of the world.

Those who don't have reputation. Those were not important in the world's eyes. Those who lack munificent education uses those as a channel of his blessing and if the Corinthians would do things in God's way. They had to readjust their thinking at that point. The second problem he dealt with was this question of the morality she gets to in chapter 5. There was great immorality in the church and again the same thing. It happened instead of repenting of this instead of being ashamed chagrined that such a thing could happen in the church, the Christians in Corinth proud about boastful, says Paul, I will probably although he doesn't spell it out because they thought they were some rule where not like the narrowminded fundamentalist sometimes a very narrowminded, but we broad-minded why we can include this sort of thing within the church. We can understand how it happens. Balls is a shameful posture that points was church discipline is that you're very lax. It's not that you're so strong in your liberality are actually very weak in your liberality not maintaining the discipline of the church's instructions are very clear twice over in unmistakable language. He says what you must do is expel the wicked man so examined that we saw that you have to understand it within the purpose of church discipline. Church discipline is meant to be remedial brought the center back we saw in this case. That is what happened because in second Corinthians.

When Paul refers to this incident. Again, he says yes, the man is repented. Now bring them back in order that he might not have sorrow upon sorrow and he rejoiced. What was happening here in chapter 6 we come to this third matter. Paul doesn't spell out exactly what was happening, but apparently what was happening is that Christians in the church at Corinth were going to law with one another.

Now we have to treat this in a balanced way. I read through a number of the commentaries on this particular chapter, first Corinthians and I discovered that I think wisely in the part of the commentators that men of various theological persuasion. Charles Hodge, on the one hand, was written the great commentary in first Corinthians or Harry Ironside, on the other sort of informal commentary becoming quite a different background. These men and others like them of agreed that you have to be very careful here in handling this passage not get the idea that somehow the courts or civil government is utterly illegitimate because it's not all you have to do is read the Bible to discover the contrary, these men remind us that it is real to give one example. God himself established judges were to hear cases that came from the people. When the deal justly in these affairs, or again were reminded that the apostle Paul when he was arrested through the hostility of the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem and brought before the courts of the day the Roman courts didn't hesitate at all appeal to Caesar because he was a Roman and he had certain rights of the Roman court to be recognize that God has set up governments and did say blessing when it functions properly and so Paul appealed to Caesar and there's not a word in the Bible anywhere to suggest that he was wrong in doing so, having said that, there is a legitimate role of the courts is quite obvious when we read this Paul is talking about something that is quite wrong in the Christian community for several things that were wrong. Several things that were to be folded in their conduct way to understand this is to take them in inverse order.

What Paul does in this chapter is talk about the thing that was most evident in any traces it back to its cause of any traces that backed was still further cause the weight understand it. Beginning with the root of the matter is to go to cause number three and move back to number two and entry number one now the third thing is what you find in verse eight. Instead, he says he's contrasting it with what he said before but instead you yourselves cheat and do wrong and you do this to your brothers. That's the fundamental problem.

This is what was going on in the church you had men and women within the church of Jesus Christ were cheating defrauding their brothers.

I hadn't been going on.

None of the other things would've happened and so when you go back to the original problem.

This is the problem.

Obviously, that's what Paul is concerned about because you'll notice that the verses immediately following this again to talk about the nature and characteristics of those who will inherit the kingdom of heaven is over against those who will not. And Paul says you are like some of those were ungodly before your conversion, your different you must live differently much understand that his major concern is the problem of verse eight.

Those last verses don't seem to fit you say always changing the subject areas. Getting to talk about antinomianism and something entirely different, but is not different. See what is concerned with this upright Christian character and so when he begins to talk about the failure of the church. This is the point at which he begins to format a second fault came in this is that the Christians were fighting one another. First of all, they were cheating defrauding one another and then out of that came the kind of disputes that eventually spilled over into formal legal contests in the third thing. The thing with which he begins the section is that in order to resolve those appeal not to someone in the Christian community. It was capable of justice in such a matter, and wisdom, but they appealed rather to the secular authorities of Matt, he found to be outwardly and obviously offensive any of you has a dispute with another dairy take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the saints. So that's what Paul is talking about. Now I see analyzes it even poses two solutions in the first solution is this, if at all possible. Christians should find someone within the Christian community capable of judging in such matters. I save at all possible because sometimes it is impossible, it is impossible. It's a disgraceful thing Paul is writing sarcastically here he saying even in this church which seems to be behaving itself so badly there at least. He said somebody is capable of doing that. He sarcastically talks about the lowest among them. If you have disputes about such matters, appointed judges even men of little account of the church I be somebody there even if you don't think well of them is able to handle a matter such as that.

So I say you see if it is the case that in the Christian community you are unable to find anybody that has enough wisdom to settle that kind of a dispute.

It is a great disgrace. It ought not to be even a church like this should have been people who could do that but I still say it's not always possible and unfortunately sometimes the situation is so disgraceful that people like that are not to be found.

It's interesting that in our day with everybody going to court. Christians also going into court against one another sometimes in official ways is one organization sues another has arisen up in America, a group of Christian lawyers who are committed to working these things out in the Christian wives Christian legal or arbitration society. And that's a good thing. And sometimes, unfortunately, but often enough Christian organizations are get into this kind of a tussle of appealed this Christian society and solutions have been reached without going to the court. That's the first solution, Paul proposes, and this is Paul's way proposes a second. The second solution is more radical than the first. What he says in this area is found in verse seven and following. The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means that you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wrong.

Why not rather be cheated on a saying you see, you find it impossible to work it out.

Isn't it better for the sake of the testimony of Jesus Christ to allow yourself to be cheated by someone who was doing that, rather than to bring disgrace upon price night only enter qualification at this point because in such matters. Qualifications are called for is a difference, I believe, between what you will endure is an individual in this area and what you should endure on behalf of someone else, like different. You understand for somebody to cheat me and for me to say well alright so Christian brother. Even though I'm in the right. He's in the wrong rather than pursue this I allow myself to be cheated. He can take that go on discounted loss. Alright, it ought to trust God for the outcome.

That's an entirely appropriate individual Savior. But if somebody else is treating you party number be. It is not Christian behavior for me to stand by and say well Christian for you to get cheated. Go ahead and get cheated.

I don't care. None of my business is not Christian behavior. On the contrary, at that point I should enter into the fray in order to maintain so far as I'm able, justice, and that particular case we have to face that you say whether when we get into struggles with other Christians. Whether that goes to court or not, whether were really doing the right thing when we try press the pointer whether we ought not wear we ourselves are concerned to be willing to be defrauded baryon side in the commentary, I mentioned a moment ago tells of something happened to him when he was a young boy he was in Canada. One of the cities in Canada and his parents said I want you to come to church and see a dispute going on and see what was going to happen, I suppose I thought it was going to work out well, but when he got there didn't seem to be. You may know that sometimes the most unpleasant things you see in life happen.

Congregational meetings and this is what was going on in this particular church there was a tremendous battle going on between two of the leaders and finally one of the leaders stood up and he was just shaking in his anger and he said there are certain things I will not tolerate him. The one thing I will not tolerate is to be defrauded of my rights and that was a Scottish brother. There who seem to have been hard of hearing or at least he was pretending to be, and he said as a lawyer will sometimes do in court. What was that I didn't quite hear that and he repeated it again. One thing I will not tolerate is the biggest rotted of my rights. Pardon me, I didn't quite get that.

Would you say that again he made it say the third time it's harder to repeat something in anger 1/3 time and then finally this old Scotsman said yes I thought that's what I heard you say is it really the pattern of Christians not to be defrauded of their rights. Jesus came to this earth, not to get his rights but to get his wrongs, and at that point is Harry Ironside remembers the man who had shaken with anger began to shake and contrition that he broke down and began to weep and he said yes that's correct and I am wrong then I withdraw the objection. What a marvelous way to have disputes resolved that should be the pattern in the Christian church.

I want to say something about the role of the states because although Paul doesn't develop it here.

Dealing with another problem. It is part of the total picture. What is the role of the state does the state have a legitimate authority even over the lives of Christians not necessarily in antagonism between themselves and to be able to resolve that between themselves, but over Christians generally one of the great illustrations of the proper role of the state was found and I'm sure you realize this is the trial of Jesus Christ and it was significant not simply because it was Jesus on trial, but because Jesus stood there in that capacity as the head of the church before pilot two was the representative of Caesar, which was the greatest power in the Roman world at the time the issue was the issue of authority who had authority. Jesus was accused of being the king and pilot began to interrogate him on that point. He said are you kidding Jesus explained the nature of his kingdom was a kingdom of truth.

He said the political kingdom, my servants would fight, but it's not kingdom of truth and pilot recognize that was a different sphere.

He wasn't threatened by the kingdom of truth and so we went out and said the Jews, I find no fault in him, and then they shifted complaint. I said well alright if you want, crucify Amtrak charts. Let's try this when he made himself out to be a son of God. That's blasphemy. He deserves death by our lawn that got to because he probably didn't really believe that Jesus was the son of God. Certainly not in the Christian sense but you know there were half divine half gone be sin, the Roman world, so they thought that maybe Jesus was somebody special. People like I can get at you if you do something wrong. So we really was afraid when he heard this, he went back and he began to talk to Christ again and there were aspects of the trauma. Jesus didn't reply. That is where pilot got in the areas that didn't concern him when that happened. Pilot said are you standing there saying nothing. Don't you know that I have power to crucify you were to set you free.

At that point Jesus said what I believe is the most significant statement in all the Bible concerning the legitimacy of human government and its limitations. Jesus said you would have no authority in our Bible say power is not Edward Dumas, which means explosive power crop loss which means the power to rule, though that would be a legitimate word we evident words like theocracy and democracy and plutocracy, and so on was not word use the vortex to see it. Which means authority and he said you would have no authority over me, except it were given you from above. Therefore he who committed meet under you has the greater sin that's interesting is to see if Jesus had merely said you have no power except it were given to you from above would simply mean in the order of this world.

Some beings are more powerful than other beings, and in a kind of context you can talk about sin, capitalism, mouse, cat is sitting more powerful than the mouse. That's all just toss but Jesus said authority. Authority is something which is given something which is delegated, something which is given by the greater to the lesser you see when Jesus began to talk that way.

Jesus was saying God is the authority and he is given some authority to you as the head of the Roman government in this area and therefore why would legitimate your authority. It does limited and if you pronounce wrongly, it is sin. That's very important for us to remember in our day. Christian sometimes make the mistake of withdrawing from the state is that the state has no legitimate authority in all we do that if we undermine the state. In so doing, we do so at our peril.

We need to state God is established the state for justice and defense, and those are biblical guidelines.

On the other hand we do with the secular world does. That is the state absolute forgetting that the authority of the state and his courts comes from God, then there is no check upon the government and law becomes not a human attempts to administrate the eternal law of God, but it becomes arbitrary and the majority vote, perhaps in some systems even the decision of the small body of men like those of the Supreme Court becomes morality of the land out the very end of this Paul begins to talk about how Christians must live in.

These are strong words have such an attempt to water them down because well we believe in justification by faith that strokes great doctrine. We don't want to sin works with justification and that's good is how Paul says let's hear what he says.

He says do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of say the unjustified will not inherit the kingdom of God, but the wicked, wicked, those who act wickedly and he spells it out. Don't be deceived. Either the sexually immoral nor idolaters, nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves, see here he's getting steady. Speaking to the situation.

He's mentioning these other things, all they would agree with that.

Just the way we do all course idolaters get in heaven. They worship false gods and adulterers, well we know that's bad sin and male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders.

All of that, yes, but you see what they were guilty of me says it earlier in the chapter was cheating and wronging one another now is getting to them or he says thieves are the greedy drunkards or slanderers nor swindlers. These will not inherit God's kingdom say well that's impossible even justification by faith course he does.

Where we find it most clearly in the word of God is in Paul's writings while Dennis Paul contradictory always not contradictory agencies of truth that we tend to overlook the truth is simply this, there is no justification without regeneration. Nobody is justified by faith was not born again, those were born again by definition have a new nature in its nature of God and they will begin to grow in righteousness and live in a way which repudiates such sins disable kata Christian. Well, I guess. Unfortunately, Christians lie can Christian sometimes swindle one another. Yes they do.

That's what he's talking about here. That's the problem, but he saying you see I cannot make it strong that cannot be a pattern of life with you.

If you call yourself a Christian because if you live this way, you are no Christian you are not born again you are not justified, but what does he say to expect something so much better of them.

He says that's what some of you are. That's the background. Some of you came out of yes all of these sins were present in the lives of you who are now changed and members of the church. Praise be to God, you are now changed. He says look you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the spirit of our God.

People looked at those phrases wash, sanctified, justified and said will baby Paul's getting it back where it is the truth that justification comes first, then sanctification.

I don't think Paul makes mistakes or if he did with the Holy Spirit was not making a mistake when he inspired these words, what Paul is talking about is three different ways of looking at the subject of sin when he says you are wash from sin. What is he speaking about sins defilement your washed were dirty, but now you're washed clean when he talks about sanctification, what is he talking about sins estrangement. Sin separates us from God.

But now we are sanctified and separated on the him when he talks about justification.

What's he talking about sins guilt you were guilty before the bar of God's justice. But God, the great judge of all has declared you righteous through the work of Jesus Christ was the conclusion I suppose the conclusion is in two parts. Number one.

Examine yourself to see whether this really describes you have even watched.

Have you been sanctified, have you been justified. They go together.

You can have one without the other. Is this true of you make your calling and election sure because nothing is more important in all of this life, but then secondly if you have live that way is one who is been forgiven everything through Christ who gave everything for us to spray our father is hard for us to read the hard words of Scripture because they speak hardly to us.

Her father would ask you to speak to us through this text bring about. We pray that kind of self examination which is beneficial to the soul grants we might live, not as we were. But as those who have been changed by the work of Christ and by the Spirit of our God in Christ. You are listening to Bible study hours with the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals. The alliance exists to promote a biblical understanding and worldview. Drawing upon the insight and wisdom of reformed theologians from decades and even centuries gone by. We seek to provide Christian teaching that will equip believers to understand and meet the challenges and opportunities of our time and place.

Alliance broadcasting includes the Bible study hour with Dr. James Boyce every last word with Bible teacher, Dr. Philip Aiken, God's living word with pastor, the Rev. Richard Phillips and Dr. Barnhouse in the Bible featuring Donald Barnhouse. For more information on the alliance including a free introductory package for first-time callers or to make a contribution.

Please call toll-free 1-800-488-1888. Again, that's 1-800-488-1888.

You can also write the alliance at Box 2000, Philadelphia PA 19103 or you can visit us for Canadian gifts mail those 2237 Rouge Hills Dr., Scarborough, ON M1C 2Y9 ask for your free resource catalog featuring books, audio commentaries, booklets, videos, and a wealth of other materials from outstanding reformed teachers and theologians. Thank you again for your continued support of this ministry

Get The Truth Mobile App and Listen to your Favorite Station Anytime