The Pastor and Church Discipline

Here is the fourth in a series on Pastoral Theology from Reformed Baptist Seminary. This is the second message from Donny Martin. Church discipline is never easy and while necessary for the purity of the local church, it should be approached with much grace and humility. Far too often, church discipline devolves into a verbal slugfest rather than a means whereby the local church seeks to bring full restoration to a fallen brother or sister in Christ.

“Church discipline is the church’s Christ-given kingdom responsibility to teach, mature, reform, correct, and restore its membership through the means of instruction, mutual body life ministry, correction and censures that range from preaching and teaching, through suspension from the Lord’s Supper, to expulsion from the fellowship of Christ’s visible church.”

Our prayer is that it will be both an encouragement to pastors or future pastors and even to those who serve in other aspects of ministry but not necessarily leadership roles.

Judgment and Discipline – Part 4

Part 1 of series here.
Part 2 of series here.
Part 3 of series here.

In light of certain ministers signing The Manhattan Declaration, there are several questions that arise. Is discipline necessary in such a case? How does discipline play a vital part in the integrity of the local church? How do we maintain our roles as pastors in a world that accepts just about everything simply because the name evangelical has been slapped on as a label? How do we instruct our people in the matter of discipline while recognizing that such discipline is for the purpose of restoration? And finally, does discipline really matter when the majority of evangelical believers will either deliberately ignore the matter of discipline or they will fall for the lies of the evil one who was the first to question, “Has God REALLY said such and such?”

It is not my intention to rehash the first three parts of this series, but I want to reiterate one point. 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!

When it comes to discipline in the local church, we must remember that the Bible teaches that each local assembly is to be autonomous. They are to govern themselves. There is no Scriptural mandates for a denominational hierarchy that is to set the standards for the church and then ensure those are obeyed otherwise discipline against the pastor and church will be enacted. Simply put, I do not believe there is any Scriptural command that permits one local church to discipline a member of another local church. Therefore, for those who believe that ministers like Al Mohler and Ligon Duncan should be disciplined, I would urge caution because this would be a matter for his own local church to enact against their pastor if they believe that he has crossed the line of doctrinal integrity.

However, I am convinced that the Bible not only teaches independence and self-governance, I am as strongly convinced that the New Testament makes it clear that the early churches were inter-dependent. They made their own decisions, but did not have the liberty to enact decisions which would reflect on a sister church or the testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ. With that in mind, how does one local church respond to a sister church that is descending a slippery slope into heresy, false teaching, or even going down the road towards an all-embracing gospel? How do 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15 and 2 Corinthians 6:14-17 play a part in the way we deal with others?

We who are true believers are required to follow the commands of Scripture such as found in 2 Cor. 6:14-17, “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them And walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people. Therefore, come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you.”

The admonition is clear. We are not, cannot, must not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. In the matter of TMD, regardless of what Mohler, Duncan and others say, this was drafted to be a theological document. Thus, in signing their names to this, they have broken the commands to be unequally yoked with unbelievers. We are called to be separate in every aspect of our lives. We are in the world, but not to be of it. Thus, the remaining problem is how do we respond when evangelicals we respect choose to break the commands of Scripture.

2 Thess. 3:14-15, “And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.

This post is not intended to question whether Mohler or Duncan are true believers. The issue is how to respond in a biblical fashion to those who are brothers, yet failing to follow the “word in this epistle.” The Scriptures are clear that we cannot be yoked with those who are of the world, and it is just as clear that we have a responsibility not to keep company with those brethren who would act and teach contrary to the commands of God’s Word.

Therefore, in the matter of church discipline which is local church specific, the commands in 2 Thessalonians 3 show that we still have a responsibility to perform. It is with the purpose in mind of restoration at all times, not with ostracizing a brother or trying to throw him under the bus. My prayer is that Mohler, Duncan and others will repent of their desire to link up with the enemy and repent of such. My prayer is that they will seek forgiveness from those they are leading astray as men called to shepherd their flocks. If they do not and continue on their current path, then other evangelical leaders/pastors/believers have a responsibility to disassociate with them until they do.

The problem with evangelicalism is that we do not take biblical separation seriously. We will condemn those who cross certain lines, but it is only verbal. Rarely is further action involved. Evangelicals talk a good talk, but that is where it seems to stop. They will continue to endorse one another’s books, invite each other to conferences, share pulpits, and do everything that was done before the offending brother crossed the line. If we are going to be serious about our positions, we are going to have to show to the world that refusing to keep company with a brother is vital to the integrity of each local church. If we are going to seek purity in our churches, we cannot continue to endorse IN ANY WAY those who fail to heed the commands of Scripture. Pastors are called to a high office and to be servants of the Most High God. It is for the sake of the gospel that we stand firm, no matter what the cost to us or our ministry for in the end we will give account before God, NOT to each other.

I challenge my fellow pastors that if we are going to verbally call into question men like Driscoll for his vulgarity, like Piper for his saying that Wilson and Wright do not preach a false gospel, like Mohler and Duncan for signing The Manhattan Declaration, etc., then we must back up what we say publicly. We must refuse to endorse their materials, must admonish our people when they blindly follow these men, must stop inviting them to conferences and sharing pulpits with them, and MUST ABOVE ALL continue to seek full restoration with each other as part of the Body of Christ for whom Christ died. If we do not, then we are being hypocrites. If they are wrong, then they are wrong and pacifying the masses may be good for future book sales or endorsements, but it does not bode well for the future of true evangelical Christianity.

What we underhandedly endorse today will only become the new standards for tomorrow, and the false teachings and ecumenicalism of tomorrow will become the stepping stones towards a greater liberalism than we see today! May God give us strength to stand firm in the face of ALL opposition. May He grant us mercy and keep our feet strong so that we do not waver from the faith once delivered to the saints!

For the sake of the Gospel,

The Desert Pastor

Judgment and Discipline – Part 1

Does Matthew 7:1 preclude one true believer from finding a fault or dealing with a matter of sin against another? Was Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount informing His listeners that they were essentially to ignore on-going sin or the slighting of the name or character of the Most Holy One of Israel?

Within much of professing Christianity, there appears to be a perverse pleasure that comes with misquoting Scripture or taking it out of context. This is normally done for one of two reasons. First, it suits the purposes of the individual seeking to defend their position (whether that be poor doctrine or sin). Second, this is used as a tactic for defending the position of another (like a minister) while making sure that nobody is allowed to hold that person accountable.

The problem is compounded when the favorite verse of many evangelicals is trotted out of the stables, “Judge not so you be not judged!” The parading of this verse is expected to answer all those who would dare to hold another “Christian” accountable for their words or actions. Judgment is thus fortunately averted and all is at peace within evangelicalism with the exception of those “nasty” legalistic types who think that Scriptures are to be taken and obeyed literally.

Many have come to DefCon who fit into the categories already listed above. They hear us taking a stand against charlatans, wolves in sheep’s clothing, false prophets, heretics, mockers of the Lord Jesus Christ, etc. and want us to back off their favorite personages. They do not want their hero to be held accountable to the Word of God or even to local churches. If one DARES to speak up, their favorite verse is brought out as some kind of token “proof” that those individuals are allowed to relish in their sins and that those who condone them are right in doing so.

Putting aside personal feelings (which are bound to get hurt) and pet peeves (which do no justice to the entire Word of God), let’s see what the Scriptures have to say about both judgment and discipline. This blog may come in more than one part as we seek to understand what God has to say about these two vital teachings found throughout the New Testament. Let’s begin with Judgment.

1. Judgment ultimately falls under the remit of God for it is He Who puts up one and puts down another. God alone has the power to bring the final judgment which will befall all who reject Christ as Saviour. He alone does what He will and there is none who can stay His hand or even say to Him, “What do you think you are doing?”

2. Judgment fell directly from God in both Old and New Testament settings. However, there are many recorded instances where God chose to use human instrumentality. This is evident in the warnings given, in the admonition against sins committed, and even at times in the administering of that judgment.

3. In Matthew 7:1, Jesus is actually dealing with the actions of the Pharisees and scribes who would condemn a person based on personal, private opinion of another. More times than not, the Pharisees were exceptionally good at studying the Bible and making their own conclusions about the most trivial of matters while leaving important doctrine undone. The Jewish listeners would have understood this very clearly and it was one more reason why the Pharisees hated Jesus. He was stepping on their turf. They wanted to be able to judge, condemn, and castigate their fellow Jews for the minutest of details. This is clearly pointed out when the Lord Jesus Christ addresses the heart issues of His hearers. “You say adultery, I say simply looking with lust is the same. You say murder, but I say that hating another is the same.”

4. Jesus knew the REAL issue surrounding Him during His earthly ministry had nothing to do with the white-washed sepulchers walking around on two feet. The REAL issue was what was in the heart of man. He knew that if the people covered their sins by making a pretense at religion, they would feel they had pacified the wrath of God. This is what the apostle Paul addresses in Romans 2:1-2, “Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things.” Paul knew that the issue was the heart of man. He knew that many were only seeking to judge others based on what they were already doing but in their heart. They were saying one thing and secretly practicing another.

5. In John 7:24, Jesus continues dealing with the religiosity. He says, “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” In other words, any judgment that must be done is to be conducted with no partiality and not based on tradition or mere man-made rules. All judgment must be performed and it must be performed based on the principles that are found in the Word of God.

So, let’s sum up this 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.

Does this fit in line with what we at DefCon are seeking to do? The answer must be YES. To date, all that we seek to post here is not for the purpose of nit-picking at others over what many would deem inconsequential matters. Our desire is and always has been that the Lord Jesus Christ be exalted and glorified in all things. When things are being done in what passes for Christianity (particularly in America) that fly in the face of clear Scripture, WE MUST JUDGE. We MUST take a stand against those things which bring harm to the testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ. We MUST rise up against those who would pervert the things of Christ. To do otherwise is to deny the commands of our Saviour.

(…to be continued…)

My Recent Absence!

In a nutshell, the last month has seen the evil one completely decimate the already small congregation which I pastor.  Freemasonry reared its ugly, Luciferian head within our midst.  Some in our church preferred the ungodly, worldly alliances instead of the covenant they made with God’s people.  Instead of making things right with the Lord and forsaking the wicked connections they had probably unwittingly made years ago, they chose to start calling others within the congregation.

For the rest of this post, please go to The Desert Pastor.

Sermon of the week: “Church Discipline” by Jeff Noblit.

We wrap up October’s theme of church discipline with Pastor Jeff Noblit’s sermon aptly entitled Church Discipline. I hope the Wednesday sermons of the week throughout of October have helped you better understand the mandate and purpose of discipline within the Church.

Sermon of the week: “Protecting Church Purity” by Jeff Purswell.

jeff-purswell.jpg We continue our five-week series on Church discipline with week four’s sermon Protecting Church Purity by Jeff Purswell.

The doctrine of Church discipline is one that most American Christians are unaware even exists and which many others choose to ignore. However, not only is it a reality, it is a biblical mandate for the Church regardless if most pastors in America choose to ignore it (many times for fear it will hurt their church attendance numbers).

Jeff Purswell is pastor of Covenant Life Church.

Sermon of the week: “How to Conduct Church Discipline” by Chuck Betters.

This week DefCon presents the final installment of Pastor Chuck Betters’ three part series on the lost art of Church discipline.

Chuck Betters’ final sermon on this matter is How to Conduct Church Discipline. I highly recommend this series on this much-neglected doctrine of the Church (you can listen to part one here and part two here).

Chuck Betters is pastor of Glasgow Reformed Presbyterian Church in Bear, Delaware.

Sermon of the week: “Why Church Discipline” by Chuck Betters.

October is “Church Discipline Month” on DefCon. All of our featured Wednesday sermons of the week (there are a total of 5 in October) will be on the much neglected subject of Church discipline.

Last week we began with part one of a 3 part series on the lost art of Church discipline by Pastor Church Betters (you can check it out here). This week we continue with Pastor Betters’ series with part two entitled Why Church Discipline?

Chuck Betters is pastor of Glasgow Reformed Presbyterian Church in Bear, Delaware.

Sermon of the week: “The Mandate of Church Discipline” by Chuck Betters.

October is “Church Discipline Month” on DefCon. All our featured Wednesday sermons of the week (there are 5 in October) will be on the much neglected subject of Church discipline.

We start off with part one of a three part series on the lost art of Church discipline by Pastor Church Betters entitled The Mandate of Church Discipline.

Chuck Betters is pastor of Glasgow Reformed Presbyterian Church in Bear, Delaware.

Jeff Noblit on Church discipline coming to South Carolina.

Wendi from Declared Righteous by Christ Alone asked if I would be willing to publish an advertisement on an upcoming Church discipline conference by Pastor Jeff Noblit. Knowing Pastor Noblit’s uncompromising preaching, I am honored to get the word out.

Exactly one month from today, Pastor Jeff Noblit will be at Holly Ridge Baptist Church in Blacksburg, South Carolina speaking on Church discipline.