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When the Church Gets Excommunication Wrong

Core Christianity / Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier
The Truth Network Radio
October 7, 2020 1:00 am

When the Church Gets Excommunication Wrong

Core Christianity / Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier

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October 7, 2020 1:00 am

Episode 548 | Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier answer caller questions.

Show Notes

1. What does Deuteronomy 29:29 mean when it says, “The secret things belong to the LORD our God”?

2. How do we harmonize John 19:14 when Jesus stood before Pilate at the sixth hour and the timing of Christ’s crucifixion commencing at the third hour in the synoptic gospels?

3. If someone is being excommunicated from a church, is it a problem if the other members of the church are not allowed to know why that person is being excommunicated? 

4. Romans 14 admonishes us not to cause our weaker brother to stumble in matters of food. Yet, during Lent, should I eat fish when I eat with my Roman Catholic friends on Fridays or Ash Wednesday? Should I follow my conscience that tells me I can eat all of what the Lord provides no matter what time of year? 



The Way of the Dragon or the Way of the Lamb: Searching for Jesus’ Path of Power in a Church that Has Abandoned It by Jamin Goggin


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Does the church have the right to excommunicate someone for any reason or for reasons that are kept secret from the congregation that is one of the questions will be answering on today's addition of core Christianity hi this is Bill Meyer along with Pastor Israel Sanchez and this is the radio program where we answer your questions about the Bible and the Christian life every day. You can call us right now with your question. At 833, the court, that's 1-833-843-2673 and you can email us with your question at questions at core, first up today if you hate taking out the trash.

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Let's get to our first question of the day Rodney posted this on our website.

He says, what does Deuteronomy 2929 mean when it says the secret things belong to the Lord our God. Hey Rodney, thanks for that question we read the whole verse Deuteronomy 2929 the secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law. CM this distinction here between that which is secret that the secret things belong to God. Don't concern yourself with that and then that which is revealed that which God has given to us.

So what is referred to here with regard to the secret things that belong to the little I think it's talking about God's decree God's eternal decree with God has destined from before time began. If you will and will be told her looked at that's in God's hands. I don't know what God has decreed from all eternity and is actually not helpful for us to try to figure that out.

A lot of times the people think about doctrines like doctrine of predestination. For example, this is where they get really really confused and they start to disappear into God's eternal decree to figure out what God has destined from all time will here's what we need to focus our attention, not in trying to ascend to God's decree.

If you will to figure that out. We need to rest in what God has revealed to us and he said that all those who believe in Jesus Christ will be saved and so we turn to Jesus by faith in what God has revealed to us in his word, in particular in his law helps us to know what God wills for each of us and so II think that there's a sense here, Rodney, and which were being told. Look rest in what God has said in his word what God has revealed. Don't try to figure out the future and you know what God is destined from all time with that's that's in the Lord's hands which you can rest in and know is what God is revealed through his word and his law and ultimately in his son Jesus Christ. That's we go want to know God look to Jesus and draw near to Jesus and so that's I think one of the things it be referred to an end. By the way, this is the verse. It's often gone to when people talk about the distinction between God's creative will and God's precept of will and I kind of already explained, with no God's decree of will is what God is decreed from all time, Paul talks about this in Ephesians 1, for example, God's eternal decree whereby he.

He works together all things according to his own purposes.

The counsel of his will. But then you also have God's revealed will. We don't know God's decree per se. We know what God has revealed. And that's were being told here in Deuteronomy 29.

We know what he's revealed to us to our children that belongs to us so that we might know his will and do all the words of this law. That's what Moses said there and so that's the distinction it's been drawn that the distinction between what God is revealed for his people and that which belongs to God. The secret things. His decree, thanks for your question.

Your listing to core Christianity with Pastor Israel Sanchez. If you have a question for us. We'd love to hear from you. Here's the phone number is 833-843-2673 right here's another question that came in a drill, this one from Thomas in Belfast, Northern Ireland. He says how do we harmonize John 1914, when Jesus stood before Pilate at the sixth hour, and the timing of Christ's crucifixion, commencing at the third hour in the synoptic Gospels that really important question. One of those verses that I think for some people you know is a stumbling block because they see that as a look, here's a contradiction. And of course there are places where people will go in the Gospels in particular were where critics of the Bible will go on those. They look. This can't be inspired by God because there's there's a contradiction here and if this was God's word. We wouldn't see any contradiction here will couple of things you have to keep in mind, at least with regard to this verse, Thomas, there is no contradiction and there are different ways in which Bible scholars have certain parts this out there some people that will say will John and the synoptic gospel writers like Blake Mark for example there using two different methods of telling time. Some will say that John is using the Roman method and the synoptic site marker using more of the Hebrew method that's one way in which people sort of unraveled this supposedly contradiction, but I think a much simpler way is just to recognize that these powers that are being referred to, you know, the third hour the sixth hour.

It's not like me think about the fact that they did have watches back then, like we do today so that they had certain general sense of the time of the day based on the sun and whatnot even in John chapter 19 verse 14 that the verse that you're referring to. It says now it was the day of preparation of the Passover.

It was about the sixth hour in which what you find is with these different hours. There's a little bit of overlap to meet probably what you're thinking about is a chunk of time that lasted probably a few hours and so between those two times the time that you have described in John's Gospel than the time that you have described in Mark for example, there's a little bit of overlap, so there doesn't have to be any contradiction here. The probably referring to about the same time there just thinking about it a little bit differently and so another thing you have to keep in mind when you're reading the Gospels is getting different perspectives here. Another doesn't mean that there contradicting each other's just know John says it was about the sixth hour and Mark in Seo is about the third hour there, not mean basically this is just from their perspective, the time that these things took place in one of the things. After that, I think this does that supports the historicity of the Gospels. These guys didn't get together and say well let's get our stories 100% in line so that people won't think will I know they're just sharing their own eyewitness accounts or the eyewitness accounts that they had heard about and so it's really important for us to understand these are historical documents. These people were with Jesus or or around those who were with Jesus and there were lengthy information that they received to us. I think it actually supports the fact that many surreal people inspired by the Holy Spirit who were recounting for us the acts of our Lord Jesus for our benefit and so there really is Thomas no contradiction here at all. As I already said that the best way to sort of unpack is just to say look, these these hours the third hour the sixth hour in the referring to blocks of time and there would be some overlap, so there's no contradiction your listing to core Christianity with Pastor Israel Sanchez. If you have a question for us. We'd love to hear from you. Here's the phone number is 833 the core that's 1-833-843-2673 church okay yet. This is a really important question.

If the church is practicing excommunication. Is it a problem if the other members of the church are not allowed to know why the person being excommunicated is being excommunicated. Well, that there really can be a problem here and I can think in my mind of of some instances were.

Maybe it's best to not share all the details and I think that that could be prudent but if someone is being excommunicated and the leadership of the church are single work were casting this person hour excommunicating them or cutting them off the fellowship but it's sort of done behind closed doors and no one is allowed to know anything that could be in some circumstances, abuse, ecclesiastical abuse and so every situation is going to be a little bit different and because a lot of churches don't even practice church discipline and excommunication.

I just want to explain what it is that were talking about so that if you're not familiar with this process you'll be informed Jesus in Matthew chapter 18 talked about the process of dealing with sin in the church.

He said in verse 15 and following. If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them tell it to the church and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. In other words, Jesus is saying there treat them as a nonbeliever. Verse 18. Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them is a Jesus gave his disciples a very clear process for how to deal with sin in the church summary sins against you, go to that individual. And maybe they recognize that they said they they apologizes reconciliation will great that if they are persisting in sin and in you confronted them and they're unwilling to repent or unwilling to say yeah I I'm sending I need help. Well, maybe take two or three others with you to confront this person if they still are unwilling to repent. Jesus is tell it to the church now there are different interpretations as to what that means is Jesus referring there to the whole church is the same look just talk to everybody in the car geisha to make a big announcement or is he referring to the leadership of the church.

The church is represented by the elders of the church. In particular, take it to that governing body. The ruling elders of the church so that they can address this and if they're still not willing will then you continue in the process of church discipline. You treat them as a nonbeliever, you cut them off from communion. That's what excommunication is, is it saying your your cut off essentially from the body of Jesus Christ are your living in ways unrepentant which jeopardize your eternal soul. Your your your showing by your actions that you don't have communion with Christ. And so the removed from the table of the Lord. It really is a severe censure in the church and it has eternal consequences.

I mean, we often don't think about this, but again, verse 18. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, Jesus. Jesus has a high view of the church and of the ministry that he gave to the church. The church through the word of God binds and looses through Christ is the teeth of the kingdom of God are given to the officers of the church of so I think that this is really really important, but to your question. There are instances I think where may be when a person is being excommunicated.

It's not the wisest to share everything as to why they're being asked to make it, but I think that the church does need to know some things that I've seen this as well, where a church might try to practice excommunication, but they they do it all kind behind closed doors and nobody knows what's going on in the problem with that is really the goal of excommunication is restoration and Paul for example, in first Corinthians. He talks about when when a brother is been cut off delivered over to St. don't even eat with such a one, the church should know this so that the church could do its job by saying look were not were not going to treat your sin lightly and Paul makes it very clear. If there's a so-called brother who's a fornicator, a drunkard and an idolatrous someone who's been excommunicated. Don't pretend like everything is fine. Don't just go and have a good time and eat and drink and Alex, it's okay. You know, whatever the person is just an off doing their thing for a little bit of time know we have to take this really, really serious, and so I think it is important for the church to know at least some of what's happening.

But as I said it.

It's not always prudent for the elders of the church or the leadership of the church to share all the details, and so there has to be wisdom here and I don't know what what the particular situation is that you're referring to.

I wish I had you on the line right now so that at least we could get a little bit more clarity. There are instances where church leadership can be abusive and sort of do things behind closed doors and they don't want accountability, broader accountability, and so they don't let anybody know kind of what's happening. I think that's a danger for the neural are also instances where maybe the way in which church leadership is being abusive is by sharing too much and shaming an individual so we have to use wisdom, ultimately what we want to be led by guided by the Scriptures with Jesus says there in Matthew 18 of the other passages related excommunication that you see in places like first Corinthians, but I would encourage you if you have questions. If you feel like maybe there's something off about the situation in your church. If there's a discipline case it's happening. I would say no, talk to the leadership there. Sit down with the pastor and with the elders and express your concerns with humility and say look this doesn't seem right. It seems like maybe this is being brushed under the rug or or like there is an accountability hearing and try to get some more understanding and maybe that will give you some clarity make you so much for your call. No injury from a historical context. We know that in the early church. For the most part, people were meeting in house churches and in small groups of individuals.

Nowadays we have churches or thousand 5000, 10,000 individuals.

It's a very different story for a pastor to get up in front of 10,000 people to excommunicate someone that the vast majority of the congregation doesn't even know yet will you know that raises all sorts of other questions, doesn't it, Bill. Like how you even practice discipline in a church of 10,000 people. It's it's hard know because that the question is do your elders know you. That's a really important question is question each of you should ask yourself do my elders know me you have a relationship with my pastor where I can honestly say this person watches over my so I could reach out to this person and say hey I need some guidance. I need some wisdom and I think ordinarily that's the way in which the church is meant to operate. Now I'm not saying you know you can have these really large churches in it at minute this is amazing. It seems like God really blesses some some pastors and some ministries and and they just they explode in their preaching the gospel faithfully preaching God's word faithfully and one of the challenges that those churches face is how do we make sure that were still caring for the people of our church. Well, that were still practicing church discipline. By the way, that phrase sometimes you know he gets a bad rap just down so negative. Church discipline and we think immediately of excommunication but really all of us are always participating in the discipline of the church insofar as were encouraging each other, day by day. While it is called today like the author. The Hebrew says in Hebrews 3 less were hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. When you encourage a brother or sister in the Lord to be steadfast to walk with Jesus when when you're building each other up in the faith that's a part of the quote unquote discipline of the church it's it's a positive element only when were continuing in sin does it take this turn of okay we need to address this in and it could lead to excommunication down the line. If a person is unwilling to repent. But you're right, Bill and me.

There is an especially in a church of 10,000 people at say it probably wouldn't be very appropriate to stand up on a Sunday morning for the pastor to say hey and you know Billy Bob. He did X, Y, and Z and so them people have no idea who that guy is. They just wouldn't work. But like I said that's where larger churches really need to think about and strategize as to how they're going to shepherd the people in their church. I'm not a mega-church pastor so we haven't come up against that and so I'm grateful that you know as a pastor, I know the people in my congregation and I think that's what shepherds are called to do their call to know the sheep to care for the sheep and to exercise discipline when it's necessary to board this is core Christianity with pastor Adm. Sanchez and along the lines of the purpose and the functions of the church. We actually have a great resource on that topic. We want to tell you about yet. I am excited to share this with you and hold eight things everyone should know about the church and it's free. When you sign up for our weekly newsletter, equity, and we love the church. I'm sure you could tell that by listening to the program and I want to encourage everyone to worship and to serve in a healthy church with a healthy church a healthy church is where the word of God is faithfully taught and worship is conducted according to the the way in which Jesus commanded us to worship him in spirit and in truth and so I want to check out this resource to help you understand what the church is and how to best honor God through your participation in your own local church at a record, to download eight things everyone should know about the church. You can also call us for that resource or any one of our resources. Here's the number it's 833-843-2673. That's 833, the court right it or let's get to an interesting question that came in from Joe, he says, Romans 14 admonishes us not to cause our weaker brother to stumble in matters of food yet during Lent. Should I eat fish when I eat with my Roman Catholic friends on Fridays or on Ash Wednesday. Should I follow my conscience that tells me I can eat whatever the Lord provides no matter what time of year at thank you for that question and it is an important one.

You know how we behave ourselves and are we behaving ourselves in a way that's causing brothers or sisters in the Lord to stumble and there are all sorts of sort of gray area issues that could be stumbling blocks for some people you think of you know may be an individual's background. Maybe they came to Jesus after a long struggle with alcoholism and so you know, if I were to have a glass of wine at dinner around them. That would be a stumbling block to them work it on the context Darren Romans 14 another place like first Corinthians.

The big issue was meat that was sacrificed to idols and no Paul says very clearly. An idol is nothing that he another not really don't even exist. We believe in the one true God, but some people who have a little bit more sensitive conscience is right that there they're having a hard time eating food initially was potentially offered up to an idol and for conscience sake than don't even mess with that you want to care for your brother or sister that has to be the priority and so are our quote unquote Christian liberties should never lead us to act in a way that causes brothers or sisters to stumble that would not be loving, and so with your question.

You know to do. I eat with my Roman Catholic friends on Fridays or Ash Wednesday, or should I follow my conscience that tells me I can eat all of what the Lord provides him.

Jesus made it very clear it's not what goes into the body that defiles it all goes into your stomach defiles you, but what comes out now if you want to be sensitive to them and say sure I'll be on a diet that Your Honor or whatnot.

During this time, for your sake, that's up to you Maddie.

One thing you don't want to do is you don't want to be punk about it. To use the technical theological term enough you don't, you don't need to go and say well I I have all this liberty.

Here's what I meant to do and just rub it in their face, and I think you still want to be charitable and that the decision is up to you. Another big distinction that I think it's really important for us to understand we know when for having this discussion about causing a brother or sister to stumble is the distinction between giving offense and taking offense. This is really really important there.

There are times where we actually by our actions. Give offense and that's what Paul is saying we mustn't do don't actually give offense to anyone by your actions causing a brother or sister to stumble in those situations, you should repent and make sure that you're being charitable, loving, and not doing things that are harming another person's faith in Jesus Christ. So that's giving offense, but there is also instances where people just take offense where it has nothing to do with you know, causing them to stumble because of that we conscious. They just want to control you. You think about how the Pharisees were with Jesus. They took offense at Jesus. They said he is a glutton and a wine paper and they give him all these problems and Jesus didn't bow down to their requests.

He knew that they were there were hypocrites they were taking offense at Jesus because of his actions eating with sinners, but Jesus wasn't ever actually giving offense is so those two distinctions I think are really really important, but the guiding principle here brother just has to be love, Joe.

Ask yourself this question. Am I loving my Roman Catholic friends by how I'm interacting with them, and sometimes love means this sharing the truth and and maybe the truth in that context, this book is not what goes into your mouth defiles you, but what comes out and that's something we all suffer from corrupt hearts. That's why we need Jesus. That's why we need the forgiveness of our sins.

That's all we need, that the real cleansing which comes not by what we eat or what we drink by faith in Jesus. So encourage them.

What that means that blessing.

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