Summary: The 10th in our series on the Baptist Faith and Message
Church Discipline (BFM # 10 )
Text: 1st Corinthians 5:1 – 11
By: Ken McKinley
Now if you remember last time we talked about article six of the BFM – The Church and I told you all that there were certain essential ministries that the church does. The first one was the preaching of God’s Word. The 2nd was the administration of the ordinances of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, the 3rd one was the exercising of the gifts of its members and the 4th ministry is proper church discipline. And we’re actually going to be looking at these ministries from the last one to the first one. So today we’re looking at proper church discipline. Now this was an interesting topic for me to study in preparation for this sermon, because it’s something that most Christians haven’t talked about in over 100 years. The lack of proper discipline in churches today, is one of the most visible failures of the Church. And the problem is that we measure success in how full our church building is and how big our church building is. Somewhere along the way, some pastor decided that he could better fill his church if he allowed anyone and everyone to become members. But the problem with this kind of thinking is that it doesn’t work.
It’s the same kind of thinking that has allowed for the ordination of women and homosexuals as pastors. Churches and denominations think that if they are more inclusive then they will bring in more members and so they compromise on the doctrines given to us in God’s Word, hoping that more people will be interested in coming. And at first they do, they come, but after a period of time, we see those churches and those denominations shrivel up and fade away.
And I say this with some assurance: If Christian Churches in America don’t recover functional and proper church discipline as established in the Bible, we will continue to see our nation slide into immorality.
100 years ago, most churches not only had doctrinal statements, or creeds, or covenants, but they also had manuals of church discipline; but today, “Go and sin no more,” has been replaced with, “Judge not lest you be judged.”
So let’s look at our text again (read text).
Why did Paul write this? Did he hate the man who had fallen into this sin and want to see him destroyed? No, not at all; because this man that Paul is talking about was deeply deceived. He thought he could be a Christian while deliberately disobeying the Lord. Or he thought, and the church allowed him to think, that there was nothing wrong with what he was doing. Scripture teaches that this kind of person is deluded, and in order to show them the folly of their ways and help them, and to glorify God, then we need to show them that they are in error.
So how is a church supposed to confront someone who professes Christ, yet continues on in deliberate sin? Well Paul sheds more light on how we should do this in other passages. Turn with me to Galatians 6:1 (read). Paul was concerned with not just what should be done, but HOW it was done. Now turn with me to with me to 1st Timothy 1:20 (read). Timothy was the pastor at Ephesus and Paul tells him what to do with those who have made shipwreck of their faith. Later on in 1st Timothy, chapter 5:19-20 Paul talks about what a church should do with church leaders who are caught in sin (read). Now turn with me to Titus chapter 3:9-11 (read). Apparently, in Titus’s church, people were causing division over things that really didn’t matter.
So when we take all these passages together, we see that God cares about both our understanding of His truth and our living it out. He cares about how we live as Christians, and so we look at the things a church is supposed to do.
“Put them out of fellowship,” “Hand them over to Satan,” “Do not associate with them, or even eat with them,” “Rebuke them publicly,” “Have nothing to do with them.”
Church discipline is important because the world takes notice. They notice when the church is serious about living for the Lord, but they also notice when the church isn’t serious. The world takes notice when a pastor is more concerned with pleasing people than he is with pleasing the Lord.
Now there are some people who would say to me, “Hey Ken, this is 2009, we don’t need church discipline anymore.” And my answer to that is, “If you don’t need church discipline anymore, then I guess you don’t need the Bible anymore, because the Bible is full of examples of church discipline.” But let’s be honest, the state of the church in the US today is not very good. We do need it, and I’ll tell you why.