Church Discipline and Pastoral Rule (Part 4)


Church Discipline and Pastoral Rule (Part 4) IX. Sins that don't merit church exclusion 1. The following sins don't merit church exclusion: A. Sins that are not in the lists of excludable offences. i. We must do all things according to God's word (Mat 28:20; Joh 14:15). ii. If there is not a verse telling us to exclude a man for something, then we must not act outside of the scriptural commands. B. Sins that are excludable offences, but were committed prior to baptism. i. All sins that a man committed prior to his conversion are washed away at baptism (1Co 6:11). ii. No church member should be judged for sins that he committed in his unconverted past. C. Sins that are excludable offences but are not commonly known. i. Paul's instructions regarding church discipline are prefaced upon the sin under consideration being commonly reported among the church (1Co 5:1). ii. Excludable sins that are not commonly known should be dealt with privately before they become commonly known. 2. How to deal with excludable sins that are not commonly known A. If a brother errs from the truth, either in faith or conduct, a brother who learns of it should try to convert him from the error of his way (Jam 5:19-20). B. If the brother is successful in converting him, he will have saved the erring brother from death to church fellowship (Jam 5:20). C. This can only be done when the offense was private ("one convert him") and not publicly known. D. If the brother is converted from the error of his way, his sin should be hidden from others because it is forgiven (Jam 5:20). i. The matter should be covered and not told to others (Pro 17:9). ii. The loving thing to do is to cover a sin that is private and can be covered (Pro 10:12; 1Pe 4:8; Pro 19:11). iii. "Only love truly covers; anything else is but a cover up." (Jay Adams, Competent to Counsel, p. 228) E. If the sin is not commonly known, and it is therefore not a sin unto death (to church fellowship), the brother should be prayed for to be forgiven (1Jo 5:16-17). X. Restoration of church membership after exclusion 1. A church member who has been disciplined by the church should be restored to the church after he has been penitent and faithful for a period of one year. A. The church in Corinth excluded a fornicator from their membership (1Co 5). B. Paul wrote to the same church in 2Co 2:6-8 and told them to restore him. i. They inflicted sufficient punishment on him (2Co 2:6). ii. He was sorrowful for his sin (2Co 2:7). iii. They were therefore told to forgive him and confirm their love for him (2Co 6:8). C. There was a period of one year between Paul's writing of 1&2 Corinthians (1Co 16:1-2 c/w 2Co 8:10-14 c/w 2Co 9:1-2). i. Therefore, there was a period of one year between the exclusion of the fornicator and his restoration to the church. ii. The church in Corinth acted zealously in response to Paul's first epistle to them (2Co 7:8-12), and therefore, it can be assumed that they acted quickly and excluded the brother immediately upon receiving the letter. iii. In that the punishment was inflicted immediately, it must be assumed that the sorrow which came as a result of the punishment began immediately (2Co 2:6-7). iv. Therefore, the man was repentant while under church discipline for a period of one year. v. Therefore, the probation period for an excluded brother should begin when he first repents and shows sorrow for his sin and should last for one year. vi. Since the only example that we have in the Bible is a one year probationary period for church restoration, we will follow that pattern. D. An excluded member's probationary period will not begin until he shows sincere sorrow and repentance for what he has done (2Co 2:7). i. Simply saying, "I'm sorry," or "I messed up," or "I shouldn't have done that" in front of the church is not a display or sorrow and remorse for sin. ii. The sin that caused his exclusion should be confessed in front of the church and called what it is: sin and wickedness. iii. The following are examples of godly sorrow for sin: a. "I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah." (Psa 32:5) b. "There is no soundness in my flesh because of thine anger; neither is there any rest in my bones because of my sin. 4 For mine iniquities are gone over mine head: as an heavy burden they are too heavy for me. 5 My wounds stink and are corrupt because of my foolishness. 6 I am troubled; I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long. 7 For my loins are filled with a loathsome disease: and there is no soundness in my flesh. 8 I am feeble and sore broken: I have roared by reason of the disquietness of my heart. 9 Lord, all my desire is before thee; and my groaning is not hid from thee. 10 My heart panteth, my strength faileth me: as for the light of mine eyes, it also is gone from me." (Psa 38:3-10) c. "Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. 4 Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest." (Psa 51:1-4) d. "And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son." (Luk 15:21) iv. Until I see this attitude in an excluded brother, his probation and restoration process will not begin. 2. The church should restore an excluded brother to church membership in the spirit of meekness, lest we be tempted like he was (Gal 6:1). XI. How to relate to excluded members 1. Mark and avoid them (Rom 16:17). A. Mark v. - I. To put a mark upon. 8. In immaterial sense: a. To make perceptible or recognizable, by some sign or indication. b. To manifest, ‘testify’ (one's approval, displeasure, etc.) by some significant act, or by reward or punishment. III. To notice or observe. 13. To notice or keep the eye upon (a person or material object); to observe; to watch. B. Avoid v. - III. To keep away from, keep from, keep off. 8. (the usual current sense—a natural extension of 7): To leave alone, keep clear of or away from, shun; to have nothing to do with, refrain from: a. a person or place. C. Those who cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine should be noted, left along, and kept away from. D. Let them come to us; we should not go to them (Jer 15:19). 2. Note them and have no company with them (2Th 3:14-15). A. Brethren who have been withdrawn from (2Th 3:6) should be noted. i. Note v. - I. 1. a. trans. To observe or mark carefully; to give heed or attention to; to notice closely. ii. We should be aware of who has been excluded from this church and not forget. B. The church is not to company with commonly known sinners (2Th 3:14 c/w 1Co 5:9-11). i. Company v. - 1. trans. To go in company with, to accompany; to keep company with, have society with. ii. Company n. - 1. a. Companionship, fellowship, society; also transf. of things. in company: in the society of others, amidst other people, as opposed to alone; c. to keep company (with): to associate with, frequent the society of; iii. Society - 1. a. Association with one's fellow men, esp. in a friendly or intimate manner; companionship or fellowship. C. This means that we should not maintain companionship and fellowship, nor be friendly and intimate with excluded members. D. We can be civil with them, but not warm and friendly like we were before they were put under discipline. E. This may be hard for you to do. i. God's thoughts and ways are not ours and are higher than ours (Isa 55:7-9). ii. The more you start to think and act like God does, the easier church discipline will be for you to implement. 3. Admonish them as brethren, not enemies (2Th 3:15). A. Admonish v. - 1. gen. To put (a person) in mind of duties; to counsel against wrong practices; to give authoritative or warning advice; to exhort, to warn. B. Our communication with excluded brethren should be limited to telling them that they should repent and seek restoration in the church, and warning them of the chastisement they will face if they do not. C. The admonition should be done in love, not in hatred. D. If the excluded person has previously refused admonition, don't bother admonishing him or her any longer (Pro 23:9; Pro 9:7-8). 4. Do not bid a heretic Godspeed (2Jo 1:9-10). A. Godspeed - 1. to bid (wish) one God-speed, to utter the words ‘God speed (you)’; esp. to express a wish for the success of one who is setting out on some journey or enterprise. B. Do not wish success to heretics or other excluded, unrepentant sinners. C. Do not tell them that you hope that everything goes well for them. D. To do so is to show approval of their sin and rebellion and be a partaker of their evil deeds (2Jo 1:11). 5. How to deal with excluded members who are family members or business associates who cannot be completely avoided. A. We will not always be able to entirely avoid excluded church members. B. They could be our wives, husbands, children, business associates, etc. and therefore existing relationships will have to be maintained in some cases (especially marriage). C. In the case of immediate family members who have been excluded and are unrepentant ― fulfill your duty to them as family members. D. In the case of extended family members, avoid them when possible. E. In the case of business associates, treat them as other business associates with whom you are not friends. F. Always make sure they know that you do not approve of their unrepentant lifestyle.
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