Read: I Corinthians 5:1 - 12.
There are two keys of the kingdom. In our last meditations, we have been talking about the preaching of the Word, which is the first and primary key of the kingdom. The second key is Christian discipline administered by the church. The church must also use this key in obedience to, and in honor of Christ. Several of the letters to the seven churches of Asia Minor recorded in the first three chapters of the book of Revelation contain strong warnings to churches who were not dealing with evil persons in their midst through the use of Christian discipline.
Christian discipline is an official work which the church must perform through her elders. It involves admonishing sinners who are members of the church to repent. When after repeated admonition, those continuing to live in sin do not repent, they must be excommunicated from the Christian church. Excommunication is a public declaration concerning an impenitent sinner, that he is no longer a member of the church, and that he is barred from the privileges and blessings of church membership, such as partaking of the Lord’s Supper. When a person who has been disciplined in a Biblical way is finally excommunicated, he or she is to be shunned. The members of the church are exhorted not to have any fellowship with that person in the hope that he or she will be ashamed and turn from his or her wicked course of life.
Christian discipline is a fearful work. But it has positive purposes. The primary purpose is that the sinner might repent and be saved by the mercy of God. For this, the church must continually pray while the process of discipline is being performed. There is need of discipline in order to maintain the holiness and purity of the church. There must be concern that the name of Christ be not blasphemed by the world when gross public sinners are allowed to continue as members of the church. Christian discipline must also deal with those who are false teachers in the church. If false teachers are allowed to continue in the church, the truth of Christ will be corrupted, and there is great danger that other members of the church will be lead astray from the truth by these false teachers. Paul warned the elders of the church of Ephesus that the time would come, after his departure, that evil men would arise from among the membership of the church. How shocking! Paul calls these grievous wolves, who do not spare the flock of Jesus Christ whom He purchased with His precious blood. He goes on to say that these evil men will speak perverse things, and draw away many disciples after them. See Acts 20: 28 - 30.
The elders of the church are exhorted to watch carefully against evil men. These must be identified and publicly admonished. Members of the church are to be warned concerning them. If these evil men do not repent, they must be excluded from the church.
Even the ordinary members of the church must be involved in and concerned about the work of discipline. We must submit ourselves to those whom God has appointed in the church as overseers to watch for the spiritual welfare of our souls. If we are disrespectful of the elders, we make their work grievous to them. When the elders admonish us about our sins, we must not be offended, but turn from our sins, for the saving of our own souls. If we belong to a church that is faithful in the exercise of discipline, we should be thankful to God. Finally, the exercise of discipline is a labor of love, love to bring the sinner to repentance, and also love for the honor and glory of the name of the Lord.
Rev. Arie denHartog (Wife: Sherry)
Ordained: October 1974
Pastorates: Wyckoff, NJ - 1974; Foreign Missionary, Singapore - 1979; Randolph, WI - 1987; Redlands, CA - 1990; Minister-on-Loan, Singapore - 2001; Southwest, Grandville, MI - 2005Website: www.southwestprc.org/
Address4895 Ivanrest Ave. SW
State or ProvinceMichigan
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