TEXT: Matthew 16:13-17; Matthew 18:15-20
INTRO: Jesus founded His church for the basic purpose of offering God’s truth to a lost world full of false hope and worthless promises. Every disciple is to be a church member convicted and called by God to accept Jesus Christ as the Anointed One, Son of the living God and live by His commandments. What authority does the church possess to handle the task?
A.THE CHURCH’S AUTHORITY TO DISCIPLINE: A CASE STUDY (18:15-17)
A.The church calls individuals to initiate relationship reconciliation. (READ 18: 15)
B.If you are wounded you must seek to make the wrong right
Matt. 5:23-24: believers who have been the offenders to also seek to initiate reconciliation.
Rom. 12:18, “If possible, one your part, live at peace with everyone.”)
Christians are always to initiate healing – and the church expects it!
C.The church should instruct that the matter be handled privately if possible.
This is about reconciliation, not dividing the body, and creating cliques
D.The church requires perseverance and the use of witnesses if necessary.
If private confrontation fails, the offended party must try again, this time with witnesses.
The matter is not to be left unsettled.
The role of the witnesses is to assure the attempt to reconcile is handled validly and with integrity. D. The church is to settle the issue corporately if necessary. (READ vs. 17a). After all else has failed, the matter must be brought before the assembly of believers.
If there is no repentance unto reconciliation, the church must authorize a plan of discipline for the offender. Discipline is the responsibility of the church not individuals!
E.The church’s means of discipline. (Read. vs. 17b)
If the offending party refuses to accept the decision of the church, he or she is to be “dismissed from the fellowship of the church and the benefits that accompany that fellowship.”
The offender is to be to the church “like an unbeliever and a tax collector to you?”
By refusing the authority Christ has given His church, the offender indicates a possibility of disobeying any other command of Christ and should be avoided so this spirit of rebellion does not affect the remainder of the body.
To the Jews: a tax collector/ publican did not cease to be a Jew, but were treated like selfish outsiders who brought hurt to their own people for personal gain.
Like Jesus, the church must seek reconciliation when the offender repents.
Jesus reached out to tax-collectors (Matt. 9:9). Sinners are to be loved, but sin is not to be tolerated..
II.The church’s purpose in settlement is to prevent a rift in the body and call the offender to repentance.
1.) “excommunication”: “It is a medicinal penalty of the church. Its purpose is not necessarily to obtain justice or satisfaction but is meant to awaken an individual’s conscience to repentance.”
Believers, even when put out of the church, do not lose salvation, but must be disciplined to grow. Hebrews 12:11, “No discipline is enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields the fruit of peace and righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”
- LESSONS ON THE AUTHORITY OF THE CHURCH.
- The authority mentioned here is in the local church primarily. Authority for the local church lies in the local church.
- Membership in the church is intended for all believers and the church has the right and responsibility in whether it will accept or reject any candidate for membership. (Otherwise discipline cannot be carried out.) Membership is confirmed by assenting vote of the congregation hearing the request and presentation in regular assembly. It may be rescinded upon request of the member or by corporate church action for discipline.
- The church has the right and responsibility to establish, teach, and expect from its members practices based on standards set forth in God’s word and in response to church need (Acts 6) Thus, the church has the right to discipline its members in accordance with those standards and for the benefit not the hurt of any and all involved.
The church is the Bride of Christ and, as such, is given the stewardship of Christ’s disciples and the authority to accomplish that stewardship.