Sunday, July 22, 2012

Examining Church Discipline.

In a few weeks, I am going to be teaching on the subject of church discipline in my Sunday school class. It is not a very popular subject these days, especially in American churches where our spirituality is often a mile wide and an inch deep. 

We see situations today where people join a church, and agree to follow the requirements of membership, but then when they get into sinful situations and fall under the need for church discipline, they get mad, leave the church, and even file lawsuits. I've seen this happen where people are in public ministry of some sort (choir and music for example), and are found to be living in sin with a boyfriend or girlfriend, having sex outside of marriage. When they get confronted about it, they get mad, leave and/or sue if they get removed from public ministry, and then badmouth the church. What they should have done is repent of their sin and obey Scripture, AND obey their church leadership. 

Below are a few of the Scriptures that will form the basis of the lessons:

Ps 50:17 “For you hate discipline, And you cast My words behind you.

Pr 3:11 My son, do not reject the discipline of the LORD Or loathe His reproof,

Pr 6:23 For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching is light; And reproofs for discipline are the way of life

Pr 12:1 Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, But he who hates reproof is stupid.

Pr 13:1 A wise son accepts his father’s discipline, But a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.

Pr 13:18 Poverty and shame will come to him who neglects discipline, But he who regards reproof will be honored.

Pr 13:24 He who withholds his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him diligently.

Pr 15:5 A fool rejects his father’s discipline, But he who regards reproof is sensible.

Pr 15:32 He who neglects discipline despises himself, But he who listens to reproof acquires understanding.

Heb 12:5* and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons,

Heb 12:7* It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?

Heb 12:8* But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.

Heb 12:9* Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live?

Heb 12:11* All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.

Re 3:19* ‘Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.

There is one other very important verse regarding church leadership and their role in overseeing discipline:

Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you (Hebrews 13:17). 

Let's be clear. I am not advocating a servile, cultic form of church discipline where leaders cannot be challenged or questioned if their actions are violating the Word of God. Pastors and elders are not absolute monarchs. However, all too often, professing believers approach this subject like W.C. Fields—"looking for loopholes." We do this at our peril. Church discipline is necessary for a healthy Bible-preaching, Bible-teaching congregation. And it is to be done in LOVE, and RESTORATION is always supposed to be the goal. 

No comments: