“God’s Search and Rescue Plan”

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Several years ago, I was told a true story about a local church-going man who declared that he would never go to a church that practiced the unloving act of Church Discipline. Of course, this statement alarmed me, because it spoke volumes to me about the possible spiritual condition of this person. It also revealed either the man’s brazen heart of rebellion toward what God had so clearly spoken in Scripture [Church Discipline (or “CD”)], or it clearly unveiled this man’s outright Scriptural ignorance of this obvious God-ordained doctrine (Note: Jesus Christ, the most loving person to ever walk upon the face of this earth, taught CD [Matthew 18:15-17]).

Nevertheless, this man’s opinion regarding CD, is not an unusual one within modern-day evangelical Christianity; in fact, it’s this movement’s conglomerate confession. Further, you would be hard-pressed today to find an evangelical church-goer who would not fully embrace this man’s sentiment about CD. So then, this begs the obvious following question, Do the Scriptures teach this seemingly-unloving doctrine? And if they do, would an all-loving God really expect his people to apply it within their churches? (Note: The Biblical purpose of CD always has the restoration of the sinner in mind [2 Corinthians 2:7]). And, the answer to the question above, is yes, and besides the most well-known Scripture text on CD cited above (Matthew 18:15-17, “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”), please also try reading the other Scriptural evidence: Proverbs 27:5; Romans 16:17; 1 Corinthians 5:12-13; 2 Corinthians 2:5-11; 7:9-11; Galatians 6:1-2; Ephesians 5:11-13; 1 Thessalonians 5:14; 2 Thessalonians 3:6,14-15; 1 Timothy 1:18-20; 5:19-20; Titus 3:10-11; Hebrews 12:5-11, 14-16; James 5:19-20; 2 John 9-11; and Revelation 2:1-3:22. Finally, notice how our Lord Jesus Christ taught us CD so simply in Matthew 18:15-17. That it is: (1) a confidential meeting between two professing believers about one of their sinful actions [Matthew 18:15]; (2) a confidential meeting with two or three believing witnesses with an their erring professing brother [Matthew 18:16]; (3) a public explanation of those two confidential meetings, by the elders, along with a public exhortation by them, to the church membership, to pursue the erring professing brother in order to gain his repentance [Matthew 18:17]; and last, if unsuccessful in doing so, (4) an official severing of their fellowship [by a congregational affirmation vote of the elder’s recommendation] with the unrepentant professing brother (Matthew 18:17; 2 Corinthians 2:6-7). All of which, is in the context of what J. Carl Laney calls, “... God’s loving plan for restoring sinning saints.” So then, let us draw near to God, first, by taking heed to our heart preparation today, for encountering the living God tomorrow, in our public Worship service, both through our praises and prayers to Him, with God’s people; and secondly, through our attending to the reading and preaching of His Holy, inspired, infallible, and inerrant Word! Soli Deo Gloria! Happy Reformation Year 500!!

 

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