Judgment and Discipline – Part 3

You can read Part 1 of this series here.
You can read Part 2 of this series here.

Again, let’s sum up the first post. While the ultimate judgment comes from God, the Lord Jesus makes it clear that judging another is not only permissible, but is commanded to be fulfilled. However, this judgment is only to be based on issues of the heart. It is not to be done with harshness, but in a way that shows humility as well as a true desire to follow the dictates of Scripture. If Scripture is NOT the basis for judging another, then it is wrong.

And to summarize the second post. Judgment was expected both from the church corporately as well as by individuals who noted another who chose to remain in their sin…It is our responsibility to judge one who remains in their sin. When a person rejects the admonitions of a caring, loving, and humble believer who desires their restoration, that person is to be shunned and treated as an unbeliever. We are not to invite them into our home for fellowship all the while hoping that things will change in their lives. In other words, we do NOT continue to treat them as we would a brother or sister who is striving for a life of holiness.

The bottom line is this in regards to judgment – NO JUDGMENT = NO HOLINESS. NO HOLINESS = NO PURITY. NO PURITY = NO CHURCH. NO CHURCH = NO LIFE. NO LIFE = NO CHRIST!

Now that we have established the responsibility of the church in regards to judgment, how does discipline play its part in a New Testament church? There are not just problems with churches refusing to exercise judgment within local church settings, but very few actually practice any form of discipline. This is probably due to three main reasons. 1) Pastors have failed to teach the entire counsel of God which includes the necessity of discipline. 2) Churches prefer to be nice cozy social clubs where the world can come and look like everybody else who has already preceded them into the building. 3) If the church demands a life of discipline, they understand that their numbers will not necessarily be large and the offerings will get smaller.

The Scriptures teach us there are five (5) steps of discipline. However, before we cover these, it is important to understand what discipline is NOT. Discipline is NOT the means whereby we get rid of those we don’t like in the church! Discipline is NOT a catch-all for those situations where we are too cowardly to provide effective, biblical counsel to those in our congregations. While we will break down the necessary steps for each level of discipline, it is vital that we remember our churches do not belong to us. We are not seeking to establish our little kingdoms. Because the church is that which Christ paid for, we must abide by His commands and seek to establish purity no matter what the cost.

So, what is discipline? It is for the sole purpose of RESTORATION!

Galatians 6:1, “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual RESTORE such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.” The word RESTORE means, “to complete thoroughly (i.e. repair literally or figuratively), mend, make perfect, join together, prepare, restore. No person in their right mind would desire to cut off their arm or foot. No more have we any right to simply cut off those who have sinned. If they are a true believer and respond to discipline, we have restored a brother.

2 Tim. 2:25-26, “In humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.” Again, we are commanded to provide correction or discipline to those who are in opposition to the teaching of the Scriptures.

James 5:19-20, “Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.” The truth spoken about is the Word of God. When a person is turned from their error, we as believers have helped them to be turned from sin which might entrap them further. If discipline is not practiced though, it is an easier path for the sinner to tread when he or she is not held accountable.

Lord willing, in our next section, we will cover the five (5) steps of discipline and see how each apply to the life of the believer as well as the integrity and purity of the local church.

(…to be continued…)

Persecution of John Huss

200px-Jan_Hus“John Huss (Jan Hus) was born at Hussenitz, a village in Bohemia, about the year 1380. His parents gave him the best education their circumstances would admit; and having acquired a tolerable knowledge of the classics at a private school, he was removed to the university of Prague, where he soon gave strong proofs of his mental powers, and was remarkable for his diligence and application to study.

In 1398, Huss commenced bachelor of divinity, and was after successively chosen pastor of the Church of Bethlehem, in Prague, and dean and rector of the university. In these stations he discharged his duties with great fidelity; and became, at length, so conspicuous for his preaching, which was in conformity with the doctrines of Wickliffe, that it was not likely he could long escape the notice of the pope and his adherents, against whom he inveighed with no small degree of asperity.

The English reformist, Wickliffe, had so kindled the light of reformation, that it began to illumine the darkest corners of popery and ignorance. His doctrines spread into Bohemia, and were well received by great numbers of people, but by none so particularly as John Huss, and his zealous friend and fellow martyr, Jerome of Prague.

The archbishop of Prague, finding the reformists daily increasing, issued a decree to suppress the further spreading of Wickliffe’s writings: but this had an effect quite different to what he expected, for it stimulated the friends of those doctrines to greater zeal, and almost the whole university united to propagate them.

Being strongly attached to the doctrines of Wickliffe, Huss opposed the decree of the archbishop, who, however, at length, obtained a bull from the pope, giving him commission to prevent the publishing of Wickliffe’s doctrines in his province. By virtue of this bull, the archbishop condemned the writings of Wickliffe: he also proceeded against four doctors, who had not delivered up the copies of that divine, and prohibited them, notwithstanding their privileges, to preach to any congregation. Dr. Huss, with some other members of the university, protested against these proceedings, and entered an appeal from the sentence of the archbishop.

The affair being made known to the pope, he granted a commission to Cardinal Colonna, to cite John Huss to appear personally at the court of Rome, to answer the accusations laid against him, of preaching both errors and heresies. Dr. Huss desired to be excused from a personal appearance, and was so greatly favored in Bohemia, that King Winceslaus, the queen, the nobility, and the university, desired the pope to dispense with such an appearance; as also that he would not suffer the kingdom of Bohemia to lie under the accusation of heresy, but permit them to preach the Gospel with freedom in their places of worship.

Three proctors appeared for Dr. Huss before Cardinal Colonna. They endeavored to excuse his absence, and said they were ready to answer in his behalf. But the cardinal declared Huss contumacious, and excommunicated him accordingly. The proctors appealed to the pope, and appointed four cardinals to examine the process: these commissioners confirmed the former sentence, and extended the excommunication not only to Huss but to all his friends and followers.

From this unjust sentence Huss appealed to a future Council, but without success; and, notwithstanding so severe a decree, and an expulsion in consequence from his church in Prague, he retired to Hussenitz, his native place, where he continued to promulgate his new doctrine, both from the pulpit and with the pen.

The letters which he wrote at this time were very numerous; and he compiled a treatise in which he maintained, that reading the books of Protestants could not be absolutely forbidden. He wrote in defence of Wickliffe’s book on the Trinity; and boldly declared against the vices of the pope, the cardinals, and clergy, of those corrupt times. He wrote also many other books, all of which were penned with a strength of argument that greatly facilitated the spreading of his doctrines.

In the month of November, 1414, a general Council was assembled at Constance, in Germany, in order, as was pretended, for the sole purpose of determining a dispute then pending between three persons who contended for the papacy; but the real motive was to crush the progress of the Reformation.

John Huss was summoned to appear at this Council; and, to encourage him, the emperor sent him a safe-conduct: the civilities, and even reverence, which Huss met with on his journey were beyond imagination. The streets, and sometimes the very roads, were lined with people, whom respect, rather than curiosity, had brought together.

He was ushered into the town with great acclamations, and it may be said that he passed through Germany in a kind of triumph. He could not help expressing his surprise at the treatment he received: “I thought (said he) I had been an outcast. I now see my worst friends are in Bohemia.”

As soon as Huss arrived at Constance, he immediately took logdings in a remote part of the city. A short time after his arrival, came one Stephen Paletz, who was employed by the clergy at Prague to manage the intended prosecution against him. Paletz was afterwards joined by Michael de Cassis, on the part of the court of Rome. These two declared themselves his accusers, and drew up a set of articles against him, which they presented to the pope and the prelates of the Council.

When it was known that he was in the city he was immediately arrested, and committed prisoner to a chamber in the palace. This violation of common law and justice was particularly noticed by one of Huss’s friends, who urged the imperial safe-conduct; but the pope replied he never granted any safe-conduct, nor was he bound by that of the emperor.

While Huss was in confinement, the Council acted the part of inquisitors.

They condemned the doctrines of Wickliffe, and even ordered his remains to be dug up and burned to ashes; which orders were strictly complied with. In the meantime, the nobility of Bohemia and Poland strongly interceded for Huss; and so far prevailed as to prevent his being condemned unheard, which had been resolved on by the commissioners appointed to try him.

When he was brought before the Council, the articles exhibited against him were read: they were upwards of forty in number, and chiefly extracted from his writings.

John Huss’s answer was this: “I did appeal unto the pope; who being dead, and the cause of my matter remaining undetermined, I appealed likewise unto his successor John XXIII: before whom when, by the space of two years, I could not be admitted by my advocates to defend my cause, I appealed unto the high judge Christ.”

When John Huss had spoken these words, it was demanded of him whether he had received absolution of the pope or no? He answered, “No.” Then again, whether it was lawful for him to appeal unto Christ or no? Whereunto John Huss answered: “Verily I do affirm here before you all, that there is no more just or effectual appeal, than that appeal which is made unto Christ, forasmuch as the law doth determine, that to appeal is no other thing than in a cause of grief or wrong done by an inferior judge, to implore and require aid at a higher Judge’s hand. Who is then a higher Judge than Christ? Who, I say, can know or judge the matter more justly, or with more equity? when in Him there is found no deceit, neither can He be deceived; or, who can better help the miserable and oppressed than He?” While John Huss, with a devout and sober countenance, was speaking and pronouncing those words, he was derided and mocked by all the whole Council.

husBurningThese excellent sentences were esteemed as so many expressions of treason, and tended to inflame his adversaries. Accordingly, the bishops appointed by the Council stripped him of his priestly garments, degraded him, put a paper miter on his head, on which was painted devils, with this inscription, “A ringleader of heretics.” Which when he saw, he said: “My Lord Jesus Christ, for my sake, did wear a crown of thorns; why should not I then, for His sake, again wear this light crown, be it ever so ignominious? Truly I will do it, and that willingly.” When it was set upon his head, the bishop said: “Now we commit thy soul unto the devil.” “But I,” said John Huss, lifting his eyes towards the heaven, “do commend into Thy hands, O Lord Jesus Christ! my spirit which Thou has redeemed.”

 When the chain was put about him at the stake, he said, with a smiling countenance, “My Lord Jesus Christ was bound with a harder chain than this for my sake, and why then should I be ashamed of this rusty one?”

When the fagots were piled up to his very neck, the duke of Bavaria was so officious as to desire him to abjure. “No, (said Huss;) I never preached any doctrine of an evil tendency; and what I taught with my lips I now seal with my blood.” He then said to the executioner, “You are now going to burn a goose, (Huss signifying goose in the Bohemian language:) but in a century you will have a swan which you can neither roast nor boil.” If he were prophetic, he must have meant Martin Luther, who shone about a hundred years after, and who had a swan for his arms.

180px-Jan_Hus_at_the_StakeThe flames were now applied to the fagots, when our martyr sung a hymn with so loud and cheerful a voice that he was heard through all the cracklings of the combustibles, and the noise of the multitude. At length his voice was interrupted by the severity of the flames, which soon closed his existence.

Then, with great diligence, gathering the ashes together, they cast them into the river Rhine, that the least remnant of that man should not be left upon the earth, whose memory, notwithstanding, cannot be abolished out of the minds of the godly, neither by fire, neither by water, neither by any kind oof torment.”

Full text from: John Foxe. Fox’s Book of Martyrs. Edited by William Byron Forbush. ttp://www.ccel.org/ccel/foxe/martyrs/files/martyrs.html [Accessed: 11.01.2009]