Discipline is one of those terms that for most people creates a negative feeling. After all, isn’t discipline punishment? This podcast will discuss a brief look at the necessity for church discipline as a corrective promise, not a punitive coercion. Church discipline is how the Church handles problems, disputes, error, false teaching, and sinful behavior. Most of all, church discipline’s primary purpose is to prove those who are in the faith and those who are not, no matter their profession, church discipline will establish a judicial expression of God’s sovereign election.

  1. Discipline is commanded by the Lord
  2. Discipline is corrective by the word
  3. Discipline is private and public
  4. Discipline proves her are the church. Those that stay in fellowship vs. those that do not.
  5. Discipline is exercised only on the matters commanded by Scripture: Violations of Doctrine, Unbelief, Sin against another, judgment hearts, willful disunity, abandonment, pride, being unkind, harsh words, self-righteousness, bearing false witness, covetousness and any other sin listed and revealed by the Scripture that causes disunity and harm to the church.   
  6. Discipline in the end for the church is purifying; for the lost, identifying.

ThePointSketchAs long as there has been sin in the world there have been people with problems. Adam’s first issue was the fact that he was naked and then ashamed; Eve likewise. Since then the problems of humanity have compounded to an immeasurable proportion and it is very likely that things are not going to get better for humanity any time soon. The Good News is that Jesus Christ has suffered temptation, suffered in the flesh and risen from death and ascended into Heaven to “prepare” us for the presence of God (Among Many Things found in redemption…). So, those who know the love of God IN and THROUGH Jesus Christ ALONE can have joy in the midst of the problems. As believers, we know that all things are for our good and in time we will see the outcome of such in all circumstances. We understand that God is sovereign and that nothing is out of His touch and decree and that even in the worst of times His love for us is visible, effectual and known.

To this point then let’s remind ourselves of the love of God.  First, God is love. So, He is known as love in His nature, love, holiness, character and actions. Second, if we love God it is only because God first loved us. Third, God’s love is only known through Jesus Christ the Son whom HE (God) put forth to satisfy His judgment against us and bring justice for our sin according to His holiness. We learn that there is no greater “love” than for a man to lay down his life for a brother, therefore, God loved the world in this way (so loved) that HE gave His Son.  So, we summarize the love of God in the following way:

  1. God is love.
  2. God’s love is only known through the GIVING (sending and killing) of Jesus His Son.
  3. God loves us in the giving of Jesus Christ to die for our sins in that we cannot pay for them ourselves.

So, if we understand God’s love this way according to scripture, then we can rightly assume that to DISAGREE with God’s love through the Son is to REJECT the love of God. Those who reject the love of God are condemned already (John 3:16-18) and are subject to the wrath of God’s hatred for sin and sinners. Hmmmm….. Let that soak a minute and now let’s move to the point of our conversation.

Ministry often times is man-centered. It can been seen in a selfish light of “I want a friend”, “I want a shoulder to cry on”, “I want someone to pity me.” Of course this is not exclusive nor is it the rule but everyone can resonate with such statements. Let’s consider true ministry as “An attempt or effort to love others as God has loved us.”  Thinking this way should have already opened your eyes. So, if God ONLY LOVES in the giving of His Son, then in the same manner (like in Ephesians 5:22-25) we should love each other as God loves us. We are unable to put Jesus the Son on the cross for He has already fulfilled His ministry as the Lamb but we are able to POINT TO THE LOVE of God for us and in doing so we are LOVING each other.

Ministry takes on a whole new light when we think biblically and especially when people come with their problems.1 Thessalonians 5:14 teaches that the church should be admonished when idle, encouraged when downhearted and strengthened when weak.

Everyone needs a good ear from time to time and it is always good when a believer seeks out counsel from a brother or sister in the local family of faith. In this seeking of counsel often times it comes to the point of just listening to someone whine about how bad things are rather than seeking good counsel. In the end it is always improper (according to our understanding of love) to allow someone to just fall into pity and self-centeredness for any reason. Our love for them should point them to the promises of God through His word and in the admonishing of the idle a stern warning comes first to BE IN THE WORD and BE IN THE BODY.

Without these two things no counsel will work, no hope will stick, no joy will arise. To give someone a shoulder to cry on while they live in continual disobedience and rejection of what the scripture teaches on how they are victors is “like” casting a diamond into the sea in hopes it would swim to a new family for their wealth or maybe like throwing a pearl in a pig sty. In other words, it does NO GOOD at all to just allow someone to ignore the power of God and His gospel just to have a pity party.

The answers to life come from God’s word, the power of victorious living come from the word, hope and courage come from God’s word… grace comes from God’s word. The letter of James tells us that those who see and do the word of God are victorious and rest on a solid foundation and just like Psalm 1, their feet will be planted and produce great growth. So, when someone needs wisdom, we go to scripture and show them to “ask and it will be given.” When someone needs comfort we exhort them to believe Jesus Christ when He says, “come to me all who are weary.” When one comes broken in their battle over sin we show them that Christ has suffered in every way and with every temptation but has sinned not. Others come with worry and in need of answers to their problems that they would find an escape and Godly council says, “stand fast in the fiery trials” and “do not be surprised” when they come.

Being out of the word of God and away from God’s people is like asking God to save you from burning as you set yourself on fire. Well maybe not quite as dramatic… but you get the point. At the cusp of this matter lies the ministry of the church of Jesus Christ, who are ambassadors of the living God through the redemption that is theirs in Christ. Sadly, many who want counsel want more than what the Word of God offers or want to be free from the pain of this life and sadly apart from the Word they will never find answers.

So what is the point of this rambling treatise? For all of those who diligently minister to those in need, please remember that the greatest ministry is the ministry of the word and the greatest friend is found in the body of Christ. So as we labor to answer the questions of life for others and we point them to the word of God we put our hope in Christ not ourselves. If we find some who refuse to hear and heed the word but they keep coming back for something else, it may be that we have to just clearly show them we have nothing more for them. Part of the pain of the Father’s discipline is being alone when we reject the Father’s instruction. Not to say we abandon others but we surely have to be clear that there is little we can do to help if they will not hear.

Warn the idle, encourage the downhearted and strengthen the weak through the word of God – if they do not listen, pray that God will cause them to listen and in their silent and lonely search for hope, God the Spirit will guide them back to His written word and back into the intimacy of His Holy People!

Lord Bless!


Taking a poll would likely reveal that most everyone who has ever been around church folks has seen nasty, negative, nit-picking abrasiveness that has caused relational strive and separation among the brethren.  Well, that’s not what we should see in any form among the people of God as the scripture says:

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7 ESV)

So, a treatise on the above mentioned attitudes and actions would be as necessary as writing a song about gossip, which is murder.  The point is that there is a time, place and practice for a rebuke and the scripture not only reveals in narrative, but commands it in doctrine.  A quick look at Titus and Timothy (both) would suffice along with a jog through Galatians.  To stick on a particular wave on this subject, I propose looking first at the occasion of rebuke and correction and then the tools of correction closing with the practice of correction.

The Occassion

Anytime any sin or weakness is revealed affords a good opportunity for correction among the fellowship of faith. However, the attitude on every matter is to be done in humility, knowing that except by God’s grace, each would be in the same station of error and may very will be there in the future.  Later on this.  For now, let’s quickly examine a “few” but not “all” thoughts:

  • Sinful Actions
  • Sinful Affections
  • Sinful Attitudes
  • Wrongful Doctrine, False Teaching, Poor Preaching
  • Rebellion of God’s Commands
  • Evidence of Unbelief, Lack of Trust in Scripture
  • Doubt, Fear and Anxiety
  • Divisiveness, Cliques, Favortism
  • Unforgiveness, Resentment, Bitterness
  • Gossip, Slander and Giving Ear to either
  • Anything that is unbecoming of the Lord’s Name or the Holiness of Christ’s Body
  • Anything that puts a stumbling block
  • Legalism, Self Righteousness, Moralism
  • Lack of Joy
  • Hatred
  • “Your List Here”

You see, there is a never ending list of reasons for correction and training and rebuke.  And never forget that correction is part of the purpose of the church, not to modify behavior, but to make much of Christ who has given His life for the holiness of His people.  True love is love that says hard things and does hard things, it isn’t “utopia” la, la, la happy-town, but sometimes tearful quests of challenging relationships for the good of everyone.

As each Christian looks deeply into their own lives to remove the log from their eye, they are also helping their Christian siblings get the specks from theirs.

The Tools

Well, this portion could be done in one phrase: The tools of correction and rebuke are the words of God.  The Bible.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV)

See, there is no need for “counseling” or “programs” or the like in order to work through sinful issues among God’s people.  His word is enough.  Take this to the bank of Truth, that if God’s Word is not enough, then those who consider it in need are not in the faith at all for only through God’s word can one even be given the grace to believe. (Ro 10:17, John 3) Nuff Said.

The Practice

The meat and potatoes of Christianity are found in the application of theology and doctrine of scripture. So, here we’ll take a quick succession of snapshots on several places in order to get a “feel” for what the bible teaches.  One of the most beloved places in scripture for the purity of the church is Matthew 18 where Jesus strictly resolves conflict between “TWO PEOPLE” in the fellowship by telling them to work it out together.

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” (Matthew 18:15-20 ESV)

If they don’t listen, get some help.  If they still don’t listen, let the whole church help. If then they don’t listen, kick them out until they come to faith and repentance through God’s grace.  We don’t have time to pull out the full theological implications here, but simply that this text is written to people who have been SINNED against by another. It doesn’t include aggravation (sin) or “feeling” slighted, but obvious sin.  So in the first matter of practice, individuals should KEEP SILENT and work it out with no one else finding out in an attempt to keep things between them.

This text does NOT however have anything to do with PUBLIC sin or PUBLIC error in doctrine.  Public sins, divisive teaching that is public, bearing false witness in gossip, community known actions and behaviors and the like are not counted as personal offenses and are immediately and publicly rebuked before the church. While wisdom and affection are paramount to these matters, the protection and unity of the flock is severe and must be upheld at all cost.

Scripture commands such things as revealed through the example of Peter with Ananias and Sapphira even though their sin was “hidden, God the Spirit revealed it to him. Paul did not require a meeting with the brother engaged in incest in 1 Corinthians 5 neither did he meet with Peter privately in Galatians when he rebuked him in front of everyone. Paul openly expresses rebuke toward Euodias and Syntyche in Philippi and warns Timothy about Alexander due to doctrinal errors. He tells Titus to reject any erring individual in matters of doctrine. Many other places such as 3 John and Jude do not follow Matthew 18 in regards to private rebuke.

In the end, the purpose of correction and rebuke is that this is nearly half of all true discipleship and if the church is to bring life into its heart as a people, then the word of God must be true in its full counsel among them.  Church discipline then is the training of God’s people by God’s people through His word for the sake of their holy and healthy pursuit of life together for His glory.  When people continually rebuke the gospel message and evade detection while leading others astray, they are to be publicly outed until they publicly repent and correct their error.  After all, isn’t love for the good of others?  Corinthians 12:7 through 15 teaches that it is.

For His Glory by His Grace,

Pastor James

A few thoughts on the point of the shepherd’s job and calling can be read here.

RELATED: In an recent visit to Rome, Dr. Rick Warren made some very grievous statements about the gospel as it relates to Romanism. Many prominent leaders have given public rebuke to these statements.

He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: (Luke 18:9 ESV)Assumption Rant

Assumption is sin. I am absolutely convinced that assumption in the heart of a Christian is one of the largest sins to invade their lives.  The center of assumption is bearing false witness within one’s heart about another.  We all do it, we’ve all done it, and many of us will do it again in the future.  So what makes it a sin and how do we combat it?  Assumption normally comes from what the mind “feels”.  Even when based on some evidence of words or actions, it is necessary to have wisdom in making judgments on a person or situation.  Failing to be wise, especially in truth, is either highly prideful as if we know all things, or highly wicked as if we don’t care about truth.  While assumptions are normative in our lives things related to weather, society, etc., when we assume others are a certain “way” based on external similarities, we are indeed murderers at heart.  Murderers?  Well, if our assumptions are that certain people are evil, wrong, misled, devilish, untrustworthy, unable to change etc., then yes, we are murderers.  This is especially true when we haven’t obeyed scripture in the slightest to talk, pray and reason together or to encourage one another.

Enough of the vague rambling, let me get to the point.  In the circles of theology and doctrine, it is very easy for the self-righteous and the guardians of truth to find fault with everyone else.  And it’s equally easy for that same person, who has several forests in their eyes, to “think” they see a speck of dust in another’s eye that they can’t even see for the hedges blinding them.  (Even if they did see the speck or the log, they have a responsibility to help remove it, not be judgmental.)  The point is that each of us knows a person, a pastor, or a so-called friend who makes accusations about a conversation, or worse, makes a judgment based on conclusions instead of seeking the truth.  If we peeked through the lens of Christendom we would find what many would call erroneous doctrine in every circle.  Calvin believed that paedo-baptism was good and biblical; A.W. Pink was apostate by  disobeying God’s command to “not forsake the gathering”; Spurgeon smoked like a train and suffered from depression to the point of self-pity; and the list goes on and on.  So, the perfect “Christians” of this world feel it necessary to point out all the bad things in so many people to the point that they themselves have become like god… sound familiar? (See the fall of Satan.) It’s also very ironic that so many who have the standard are more disobedient that the one’s they judge.

In the end, the essence of such thinking eliminates the gospel all together.  Let’s put the voice in the right perspective: If we think that we have the end runs on biblical understanding we are deceived.  If we think that we are more careful than others in our holiness, then we are deceived.  If we think we are better off without the body of Christ, we are deceived.  If we think we have the authority to personally divorce ourselves from each other, then we are deceived.  If we are deceived on all of these things, then how in Heaven are we not deceived about everything?  Well, here’s a kicker: when we are right in our interests, our studies, and even in our wisdom and are not investing these things into the body of Christ, we are rebellious and ultimately have no hope in the gospel that we claim has saved us.  When we think that the family is superior in its temporal reflection of the church’s eternal glory we have lost sight of the cross. (Until death do us part… not the church brethren.)  When we think that we should not invest our time and learning into the life of the church for her good and growth, we are deceived.  When we continually find ourselves in fear, paranoia and panic over the infestation of error, we are deceived and according to Hebrews 6, there remains no more sacrifice for sins.  (What??? Yes, the sin of assumption, doubt, fear and the like are just like the sins of unbelief because that is what they are.) Scoffer’s make light of such things by childishly arguing, “The Spirit gave me this understanding.”  That may be true, but when the Spirit of God teaches His people it ALWAYS is congruent with the whole of Scripture. So, those who claim that the wisdom they hold in their judgment is of God while ignoring the scripture, they are indeed being led by the spirit of evil.

The final outcome of this aggravated rant is to expose my own futile and sinful dogmas that leech the very life out of my soul when I worry.  God’s people, His true people will work through the darkest of days and be PATIENT… those who just leave, divorce themselves from the fabric of the body of Christ, divorce from the living Christ and the salvation of Christ and the hope of Christ.  “Well, I don’t need the church to be saved…” one has recently said to me.  “You’re right… you are the church if you are saved… so be her and live as she WILL live.”  Spending hours each week in the letter of Jude has been refreshing and uplifting as well as empowering and convicting.  Sometimes I believe that those who “have crept in unnoticed” are not those with wild heretical doctrines, but those with SUBTLE LYING practices that deny the power of the gospel in their lives.  They are those who feel the fear of cultural high-roads that they desire to enforce on others while pushing the sheep of Christ into a box of legalism and demonic ideals as if a Pharisee. This can also be witnessed with the continued personal discussions, blog posts, videos, cards, letters and emails that proclaim all the evil of the world when the so-called “devil” they point to is not even aware.  If a redeemed soul really loves Jesus Christ, then he would certainly want to make disciples of those who have been misled.  No, but instead this would-be disciple would rather assume the worst, hate another, and fear instead of love.  He would rather make up his own mind and allow the lie to be the banner rather than the cross.  He would rather be known as the heralder of caution than the heralder of hope.  He would rather gather himself a following of graceless goats than get dirty with Jesus who bled and suffered for the sheep.  Do not be deceived, all who cause division among the body will be corrected; either by the body in grace and forgiveness or by Christ who will cast them into the lake of fire.  I am glad to know that no sin can place me into the depths of hell and more glad to know that Christ has empowered us all to walk in Him, against the flesh which is crucified in Christ.

Love demands giving and growing for the sake of each other.  So where is the body of Christ?  Let’s see…. Here’s a thought: Do YOU speak of others the way Jesus speaks of you to God the Father?  What if HE spoke of you the way you think and speak of others?  It would be a different story for you and your eternity.  After all, JESUS knows the real you.

For His Glory by His Grace,

Pastor James


Caveat: If you think this rant is about you, you may very well be one who has been deceived.  Stop thinking so much about your feelings.  However, if you are guilty of such things, let the grace of God abound to you as you come boldly before His throne.  While there are many many circumstances and individuals who could pave this over their own issues in life and ministry, this comes from the direct study of God’s word in Jude and is expounded from continued persecution toward the body of Christ by many who profess to be the same.  Just rest in God’s grace beloved as we fight the good fight until we receive the crown of righteousness.

Because of the lack of true purity in the body of Christ through the decades, church discipline has been reserved for the mass murderers and public mass abusers of children.  Everyone else seems to be immune, especially in their own hearts, to any time of accountability to holy living.  In the last four years we have taught and taught on church discipline to the congregation and other pastors.  We have taught the holiness of God, the call and purpose of the church and the effects of sin on the individual and the body of Christ.  With all the right teaching, direction and instruction it seems that people would be welcome and ready for the true practice of discipline within the church, and for the most part they are as long as it is done in a counseling arena, helping people feel ok about their sin and just keep it to themselves. (Sarcasm)

When discipline actually becomes visible; when a person is actually brought before the church; this is when the true nature and power of the gospel is revealed in many hearts.  In an attempt to disciple and settle so many confused minds and hearts concerning this issue, Dr. Sam Storms provides a really well developed question series on this issue that I have pasted below.  I would love your comments as we all strive to continue in the faith for the Glory of God.

First, why is church discipline so neglected, if not ignored altogether, in our day? Among the many reasons that could be cited, here are a few. Perhaps the principal cause is a pervasive ignorance of biblical teaching on the subject (many believe that it is infrequently mentioned in Scripture and therefore unimportant; others are ignorant of the purpose of discipline and see it only as destroying the person).

Another factor is calloused, insensitivity toward sin; a failure to take seriously the offense of sin and a tendency toward unsanctified mercy in our treatment of the unrepentant. Undoubtedly the spirit of individualism also plays a role. We have lost the sense of community and mutual responsibility one for another. How often has it been said, as a way of justifying our passivity toward sin, “Well, it’s not really any of my business, is it?” Discipline is costly because my brother’s/sister’s business now becomes mine.

A misapplication of our Lord’s words in Matthew 7:1 (“Judge not, that you be not judged”) has certainly put hesitancy in the hearts of many in regard to dealing with sin in the local church. The fear of rejection also comes into play (i.e., the fear of being told by the offending party: “Mind your own business. You have no authority to tell me what I can and can’t do”).

I strongly suspect that fear of legal reprisal in the form of lawsuits has paralyzed many. Many people (even church leaders) simply dislike confrontation. Talking directly about personal sin with an offender is difficult; it makes us feel uneasy and uncomfortable; so why rock the boat? Many think that if we simply ignore the problem, in time it will go away. “Time heals all,” or so they contend.

I’ve known instances where discipline stalled from fear of driving the person away, especially if the offender is a major financial contributor to the church! Related to this is the fear of dividing and ultimately even splitting the church over whether and how and to what extent discipline should be applied (invariably many think the discipline was too severe, while others are convinced it was too lenient).

Many struggle with a false concept of discipline because of observed abuses. In their minds discipline is associated with heresy hunts, intolerance, oppression, harshness, mean-spiritedness, self-righteousness, legalism, etc. Related to this is the fear of being labeled a cult if we insist on too strict a code of conduct for our members.

Others resist taking disciplinary steps because it entails change. In other words, the power of tradition is hard to overcome: “We’ve never done it before and we’ve done o.k. Why risk messing things up now?” Continue reading “Church Discipline | A Welcome Idea but a Rejected Reality”