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Questions and Answers on Church Discipline

Beacon Baptist / Gregory N. Barkman
The Truth Network Radio
January 31, 2022 1:00 am

Questions and Answers on Church Discipline

Beacon Baptist / Gregory N. Barkman

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A lot of the business meeting will follow the preaching time I thought would be appropriate for us to revisit Matthew chapter 18, and consider the instructions Christ gives the church concerning disciplinary matters.

That's why we're here in Matthew chapter 18, but I like to begin by asking this question for each of us on a scale of 1 to 10 how vigilant are you in your ongoing battle of vigilant are you is something you've just come to live with and realize what you know what sins gonna be with me until I breathe my last breath on this earth and I will fully be done with it.

When God calls me away and I'll be glorified. That's a dangerous posture to take with you.

We are to be engaged in holy warfare against the corruption of our indwelling sin that still remains with us so we ought to be vigilant if were unconcerned about sin that remains in us, that is a serious matter speaks to a deeper problem but let's take the issue of concern over sin a step further. Does God hold you and I responsible to fight against sin in the lives of others. Do we have a responsibility to others in the household of faith. Are you in some way accountable to God for the sin of others in the body of Christ in this local assembly preps to put another another way asked this question, am I my brother's keeper and answer that question is absolutely we have a biblical responsibility to lovingly confront sin in our brother's life. It's not something we look forward to it, something that challenges us, but it is something that is absolutely essential going to be obedient to the instructions of Christ. Other primary concerns that Jesus Christ has for his body are number one it's purity number two it's unity and neither can exist where the process of Matthew 18 is not practiced. The obstacles to purity in unity or sin and conflict in those maladies cannot be cured without the medicine of loving biblical confrontation. Jay Adams coined the term for churches that refuse to practice church discipline. He says we should declare them quote no church at all, is one of the marks of the biblical church.

Churches that practice church discipline.

These are the instructions our Lord is given, and we cannot take a cafeteria style approach to the Scriptures and pick and choose what we like and what we don't like difficult and unpleasant as it is, we must be obedient to the instructions that have been given to us. So once you become convinced that you have a responsibility enjoined upon you by God to confront your brother or your sister in love concerning sin in their life. There are a myriad of questions that should arise in your mind, the cry for an answer.

So tonight I want to raise five questions and try and answer them to try and help us get some clarity about what we are being commanded concerning here, let me give you those five questions and I will just walk through them number one whose responsibility is it to lovingly confront number two home should we confront number three what sins should we confront number four how should we confront and lastly, why should we confront whose responsibility is it to lovingly confront Matthew 18 verse 15 says moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone if he hears you, you have gained your brother of the Lord is telling us in this passage that the solution to sin and conflict in the body is confrontation that increases to what ever level is necessary to bring the offending brother or sister to repent me say that again. The solution to sin and conflict in the body is confrontation that increases to whatever level is necessary to bring the offending brother or sister to repentance as you walk through this passage.

It begins in verse 15 with one-on-one, you know your brother has sand he sinned against you. He's committed to sin you become aware that you have a responsibility to go to him and if he hears you. That's more than just gives you a hearing listens to what you had to say. Hearing implies cooperation agreement. Acknowledgment confession and repentance. Those things are tied up in if he hears you what happens. We won't hear you. Your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone if he hears you. You've gained your brother.

But if he will not hear you take with you one or two more, that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established and if he refuses to hear them tell it to the church, but if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector. So what happens is, it begins one-on-one, small and we trust it stays there.

That brother that sister sees the validity of what you're saying agree with you, acknowledge their sin, confess it, repent of it and the matters over what happens when the brother or sister will not hear you. Well than it opens up two or three go and confront lovingly the brother sister with the hope that they will get a hearing, but if not then you take it to the church so it just keeps opening up broader and broader when it brought to the church in the church brings pressure to bear on that brother, sister, and they refuse there than there set out into the world. That's the instructions that Christ gives his church.

So what is it at every point in the process that moves discipline onto the next stage and ultimately to the final act of excommunication and it simply is the failure to hear the failure to hear again that word here means cooperation acknowledgment agreement, confession and repentance and all that brings about restoration. Verse 17. If he refuses to hear them. That is one or two that have gone to him tell it to the church, but if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector. This ongoing unwillingness to hear reveals a stubborn unwillingness to deal with sin. Confrontation increases in scope and intensity as long as the offender persists in an repentance is the means that God has given the church to rescue into bring that brother or sister to repentance. Now every situation is different is not necessary in every case to follow all of the steps in that order that are given.

That's the prescribed way.

But there are examples in the New Testament where that patterns not followed in its the direction that God is given first Corinthians chapter 5 is one of those examples. Paul's writing to the church in Corinth and he says it is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles, that a man has his father's wife are and you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he or that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you, and because the of the public nature of it in the scandalous nature of it. It was publicly known. Paul heard about it wasn't one person had to go into people had to go and then the church step one step two were bypassed because of the public nature and the scandalous nature of the sin. So stay with these set questions whose responsibility is it to lovingly confront thoughts.

The elders yes it's the deacons yes it's all of our responsibility. Listen to what Paul said to the church in Galatia brother and if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.

Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ for if anyone thinks himself to be something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.

But let each one examine his own work and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone and not in another. For each one shall bear his own load hears instructions that Paul gives to the church in Galatia, you who are spiritual restore such a one in the spirit of gentleness and again that you who are spiritual is not you will you who are the spiritual leaders but the contrast is between being a spiritual man in the natural man, you who are spiritual you are born again, you who have the grace of God living in you. You have a responsibility and is further reinforced because it follows the next verse, one of the one another commandments bear one another's burdens. This is one of the responsibilities that we have, to one another in the body of Christ. This is how we fulfill the law of Christ. So whose responsibility is it to lovingly confront it's all of ours. It's all of ours. We have a responsibility, he uses the first person singular pronoun to indicate that each member of the church is responsible to be involved in the resolution of sin and conflict in the body. Each member the body has a personal responsibility when he or she knows about a problem in the church and that responsibility is to become a part of the solution. Question number two, whom should we confront whom should we confront well, it says if your brother if your brother a brother is a family term refers to another member of our spiritual family. Those who are not members of the church are outside the parameters of these instructions with those who are members of this body. Those who are brothers and sisters in Christ. Local members of a church that's who falls into this category whom should we confront a brother that word brother implies someone who professes to be a Christian and identifies himself or herself with the local church.

This is not instructions for those who are in the world. Paul makes that clear. In first Corinthians 5 verses 9 to 11. I won't turn there read that there to whom should we confront those who are part of this, the assembly, the family, the local church brothers and sisters in Christ. What sins should we confront what sins should we confront notice verse 15 moreover if your brother sins against you sins against you, that great word pharmacists general term used for any kind of sin, any kind of sin. The Bible does not distinguish between serious sins which are open to confrontation and minor sins which are not, we should confront our brother. When he commits any action that is forbidden in Scripture and cannot be overlooked now.

What sins become church discipline sins was instructions at the beginning or brother to brother, but hears instructions for the church at large.

So as you read through the New Testament in you begin to catalog those particular sins that fall under the category of church discipline. This is what you find your New Testament examples and there's quite a variety sexual immorality, idolatry, drunkenness, first Corinthians 5 verse 11. False teaching. Galatians 1 verse nine to John nine through 11 covetousness hurtful speech cheating. First Corinthians 511 legalism Galatians 211 to 14 divisiveness Titus 39 through 11 deceit acts 51 through six. Remember Ananias and Sapphire laziness. We've heard that dealt with in second Thessalonians chapter 3 verses six through 13 those are the categories of sins that fall under this category but it's important I think that we understand that these are sins of action is only sins of action that can be confronted. We do not have the authorization to judge attitudes nor motives that is forbidden for us were to judge actions were true address those things that are forbidden in Scripture and is important because were to be careful not to confront one another based on mere preference based on my understanding of the Christian liberty that might not align with my brother or sister so is those things that are clearly forbidden in Scripture and then it's only necessary to confront sins that cannot be overlooked.

This is a bit challenging but a bear with me. Proverbs 1911 says a man's discretion makes him slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook a transgression. First Peter four verse eight tells us.

Love covers a multitude of sins. So how do we know whether to cover or confront in a particular situation well. I wrestled with this. It's not an easy question to answer, but for tonight, let me say this. How do we know whether to cover or confront in a particular situation.

Those sins are not to be covered, but are to be confronted that have harmful consequences things become public when things are scandalous when things are clearly forbidden in Scripture we just can't ignore it. We just can't say well love covers fewer loving church you would be exercising church discipline to have that attitude completely removes the instructions it Christ is given to us here in Matthew chapter 18. Next question. How how should we confront in its essential that we approach confrontation in a scriptural manner because if we don't we run the risk of complicating, exacerbating, intensifying the problem rather than solving. So I find for biblical principles here in Matthew chapter 18 that help us with this how question how should we confront number one quickly where to go and tell him where to go and reprove him and that's in the present imperative as you are going as we are engaging in fellowship and interaction within the church. Remember, the instructions of Christ in Matthew chapter 5. He says if your brother sins against you if you bring your gift to the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then, and offer your gift speaks of quickly because when a problem is ignored. Sin and guilt can snowball the resolution that is needed will not happen until we go, so we must go and we must go quickly in the first important step in Scripture places before us before we go to confront is what it self-examination. Matthew chapter 7 verse five says where to first take the log out of our own. I and then will be able to see clearly to take the speck out of our brothers. So when sin is being dealt with in this way in the church.

It's always appropriate. It's always healthy. It's always wise to engage in serious self-examination were answering the question, how should we go we should go quickly.

We should go number two purpose purposefully by telling us to go when we know that there's a brother has sin. Jesus is saying that we should deliberately go to him with the intention of talking to him about the problem whatever is occasion this breach.

Whatever has come to our attention. We have responsibility go and with the intent of purposefully talking to him about the issue. Whatever it is the sin how we go we to go verbally.

The word translated reprove there in verse 15 speaks of convincing somebody of something, through words, the problem cannot be solved by simply ignoring somebody give them the cold shoulder. No, there has to be an engagement a discussion a you go to talk with him to confront him to reason with him with well-chosen words, those of the instructions in the notice, he says where to go tell him his fault between you and him alone were to go privately, privately and again here's the that the caveat to that if the suspected sin is not a matter of public knowledge, then it should be discussed among as few people as possible, but I think here's a good principal confession is to be made as wide as the sin is no so when sin becomes public and it becomes known broadly.

There's no way to keep a lid on it.

There's no way to keep it private and to do and when we can keep it private. There's wisdom in that and what is that, well, it's possible that there is a misunderstanding and if it's a private thing, something can be resolved. The reputation of that offended person can be protected. Your offended by brother or sister, and it's just between the two of you. There's no need for the whole church to know about telling other people about the problem before going to the person involved is essentially gossip so how are we to go where to go. Compassionately we to go gently where to go humbly where to go carefully where to go. Prayerfully, these are serious matters and then why why should we confront why should we confront well because Scripture demands it. Love demands it. The purity and the unity of the church demanded the honor and testimony of Christ demanded the restoration of your brother demands it. Verse 15 if he hears you, you have gained your brother. What if you don't go there's a bridge between you and your brother that's unresolved. There's no restoration in that relationship. That's how we go we go for the purpose of restoration to win our brother. That's always the goal of church discipline, restoration, repentance. The goal of biblical confrontation is always restoration your member the case there in first Corinthians 5 up always admonishing the church concerning their negligence in dealing with a man in sexual immorality will he addresses that same situation.

They finally do deal with the man and then Paul in second.

His second letter to the church says this to them. Second Corinthians 2 verse three and I write this very thing to you last one I came, I should have sorrow over those from whom I ought to have joy having confidence in you all, that my joy is the joy of you for out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote to you with many tears.

Not that you should be greedy, but you might know the love which I have so abundantly for you but if anyone is cause grief. He is not greet me, but all of you to some extent not to be too severe. This punishment, which was inflicted by the majority is sufficient for such a man. This man that was put out of the church so that on the contrary, you ought rather to forgive and comfort him less perhaps such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow. Therefore, I urge you to reaffirm your love to him.

This man was showing evidence of repentance and Paul was writing the church concerning their reluctance to receive this brother back and he says I urge you to reaffirm your love to him and this is what he says that I want to get to for to this end, I also wrote that I might put you to the test. Whether you are obedient in all things now whom you forgive anything.

I also forgive for if indeed I have forgiven anything. I have forgiven that one for your sakes, in the presence of Christ, lest Satan should take advantage of us, for we are not ignorant of his devices. Notice again what he said in verse 942 this and I also wrote that I might put you to the test whether you are obedient in all things and I think this is a test of obedience.

Many churches have refused to deal with church discipline have ignored the instructions of Christ. This is a test we can obey what God has said in his word concerning this matter.

These matters are we going to say you know what this is just living in a different culture and people will be offended and we we want to be known as a loving church and all the rest I've heard all the arguments know we want to be known as an obedient church, even when it's hard.

Even when it's difficult. These are the instructions that have been given to us you notice what that section ends with Matthew chapter 18 verse 20 says four were two or three are gathered together in my name, I am there in the midst of them here that we hear that verse quoted a lot, prayed a lot in. We need to understand that verse in the context was the context. The context is church discipline. There is the promise of Christ, of his special presence to those who are engaged in obedience to these instructions were water to go to confirm and confront any says it again.

There verse 18 a short essay to you whether you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

Again, verse 19 I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by my father in heaven forward two or three are gathered together in my name, I am there in the midst of them. I don't want to miss that there is a special promise of Christ's presence, to those who obey these instructions. I don't want to miss that work to fall out of favor with Christ by doing these things when I know an affirmation of his presence by obeying these things so these are the instructions and there's so much more that could be said, but I wanted to to keep it a bit short tonight so that we have time to deal with the matter at hand, but I thought important that we revisit this passage. It's been quite a while before since we've had church discipline issues here and in my recollection.

I cannot remember a time where we had to situations that we were dealing with at the same time, but that is the nature of where we are as a church tonight so I'm thankful that we have instructions from Christ were not left to ourselves. We don't have to wonder how to do this, how to figure this out whether to do this. Whether or not to do this. Here we have instructions of Christ, the head of his church and is much as we want the best for our church.

Nobody questions that Christ wants the best for his church right Christ loved his church and gave himself for the needs of the instructions is given to us and were under obligation to obey them) father, thank you tonight for your word.

Thank you for the promise of Christ's presence is special presence as we deal with that which we would rather not have to deal with but yet is necessary in a broken and sinful world Lord may these actions be blessed by you and may they bring restoration to the brothers that we are dealing with. I pray in Christ's name. Amen

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