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Church Discipline (Part 11) - Church Restoration, Relating to Excluded Members

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Watch the video of this sermon on YouTube: Church Discipline (Part 11).

For a master copy of the outline and the other sermons in the series, click here: Church Discipline.

To listen to or watch the previous sermon in the series, click here: Part 10.

2. Not providing for oneself or one's family
A. If a man provides not for himself, he has denied the faith and is worse than an infidel (1Ti 5:8).
i. Infidel n. - 1. One who does not believe in (what the speaker holds to be) the true religion; an ‘unbeliever’.
ii. The church must not be yoked with unbelievers (2Co 6:14).
iii. Therefore, the church must not be yoked with those who don't provide for their own.
B. The church must withdraw from a brother who doesn't work when he can (2Th 3:6-14).
i. If a person will not work when they can, they should not eat (2Th 3:10).
ii. The church must withdraw from such a man and have no company with him (2Th 3:6,14).
C. Those that are commonly known to not work and provide for themselves when they can will be put out of the church.
3. Being a busybody
A. Busybodies are lumped in with wicked sinners (1Pe 4:15).
B. Busybody n. - a. An officious or meddlesome person; one who is improperly busy in other people's affairs.
C. Officious adj. - 3. Unduly forward in proffering services or taking business upon oneself; doing, or prone to do, more than is asked or required; interfering with what is not one's concern; pragmatical, meddlesome.
D. A church must withdraw from a busybody and have no company with him (2Th 3:6,11,14).
E. Those that are commonly known to meddle in the affairs of others and not mind their own business will be put out of the church.
4. Not keeping apostolic traditions given in the word of God (2Th 3:6,14)
A. The church must withdraw from those who don't walk after the traditions that were given in the scriptures by the apostles.
B. Tradition n. - 1. The action of handing over (something material) to another; delivery, transfer. 3. a. Delivery, esp. oral delivery, of information or instruction.
C. Apostolic traditions and instructions that were delivered to the churches in the scriptures include:
i. Assembling with the church
a. Assembling as a church for worship is an apostolic tradition.
b. Church members must not forsake assembling with the church for worship (Heb 10:25).
c. Forsake v. - 1. trans. To deny (an accusation, an alleged fact, etc.). Obs. c. To deny, renounce, or repudiate allegiance to (God, a lord, etc.). 4. To abandon, leave entirely, withdraw from; esp. to withdraw one's presence and help or companionship from; to desert.
d. A church member is free to move his membership to another church.
(i) This is not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together.
(ii) It would only become an excludable offense if the member stopped attending church and did not join another true church.
e. Those that are commonly known to forsake assembling with the church will be put out of the church.
ii. Keeping the ordinance of communion
a. Observing communion is an apostolic tradition that Paul delivered to the churches (1Co 11:23-26 c/w 1Co 4:17).
b. Church members are commanded ("this do") to partake of communion with the church (Luk 22:19).
c. Those that are commonly known to refuse to partake of communion with the church will be put out of the church.
iii. Keeping the ordinance of feetwashing
a. Feetwashing is an apostolic tradition.
(i) Jesus commanded the church to wash each other's feet (Joh 13:14-17).
(ii) Washing the saints' feet is an ordinance that is to be kept in the church (1Ti 5:10).
b. Those that are commonly known to refuse to wash the saints' feet will be put out of the church.
5. Mat 18:15-17
A. In Mat 18:15-17, Jesus gave instruction on the Biblical way to deal with an offence which is private in nature between two brethren and which is not an excludable offence.
i. Note: If the offence was an excludable offence (ex.: a brother suspects another brother of committing adultery with his wife), the Matthew 18 procedure would have to stop short of being taken before the church because if the church would determine that he was guilty, he could not then choose to hear the church and be reconciled to his brother, but would have to be excluded.
ii. Though an offence that is dealt with in the "Matthew 18" manner is not an excludable offence in itself, it can end up in a church exclusion if carried out in its entirety.
B. The method of Mat 18:15-17
i. Step 1 (Mat 18:15)
a. Brother A is offended by Brother B.
b. Brother A goes to Brother B privately and tells him that he was offended by him.
c. If Brother B hears Brother A and repents and apologizes, the problem is resolved and no further action needs to, nor should be, taken.
d. If Brother B doesn't hear Brother A, then Brother A has two choices:
(i) Drop the matter and forget about it.
(ii) Proceed to Step 2.
ii. Step 2 (Mat 18:16)
a. Brother A brings one or two witnesses to be impartial judges of the matter and once again confronts Brother B.
b. If the witnesses agree that Brother A is in right, then Brother A and they tell Brother B that he is at fault.
c. If Brother B hears them and repents and apologizes, the problem is resolved and no further action needs to, nor should be, taken.
d. If Brother B doesn't hear them, then Brother A has two choices:
(i) Drop the matter and forget about it.
(ii) Proceed to Step 3.
iii. Step 3 (Mat 18:17)
a. Brother A brings the matter before the church and once again confronts Brother B.
b. If the church agrees that Brother A is in right, then they tell Brother B that he is at fault.
c. If Brother B hears the church and repents and apologizes, the problem is resolved and no further action needs to, nor should be, taken.
d. If Brother B doesn't hear the church, then he must be excluded from the church for being implacable (see Rom 1:29-32 - Section VII,1,E) and for being at variance (see Gal 5:19-21 - Section VII,1,C) with the church and be unto the church as a heathen man and a publican (a sinner outside the church).
e. If the church determines that the Brother B is not guilty of Brother A's accusation, then Brother A will be excluded from the church for being a false accuser (see 2Ti 3:3 - Section VII,1,G).
VIII. Sins that don't merit church exclusion
1. The following sins don't merit church exclusion:
A. Sins that are not in the lists of excludable offences.
i. We must do all things according to God's word (Mat 28:20; Joh 14:15).
ii. If there is not a verse telling us to exclude a man for something, then we must not act outside of the scriptural commands.
B. Sins that are excludable offences, but were committed prior to baptism.
i. All sins that a man committed prior to his conversion are washed away at baptism (1Co 6:11).
ii. No church member should be judged for sins that he committed in his unconverted past.
C. Sins that are excludable offences, but are not commonly known.
i. Paul's instructions regarding church discipline are prefaced upon the sin under consideration being commonly reported among the church (1Co 5:1).
ii. Excludable sins that are not commonly known should be dealt with privately before they become commonly known.
2. How to deal with excludable sins that are not commonly known
A. If a brother errs from the truth, either in faith or conduct, a brother who learns of it should try to convert him from the error of his way (Jam 5:19-20).
B. If the brother is successful in converting him, he will have saved the erring brother from death to church fellowship (Jam 5:20).
C. This can only be done when the offense was private ("one convert him") and not publicly known.
D. If the brother is converted from the error of his way, his sin should be hidden from others because it is forgiven (Jam 5:20).
i. The matter should be covered and not told to others (Pro 17:9).
ii. The loving thing to do is to cover a sin that is private and can be covered (Pro 10:12; 1Pe 4:8; Pro 19:11).
iii. "Only love truly covers; anything else is but a cover up." (Jay Adams, Competent to Counsel, p. 228)
E. If the sin is not commonly known, it is not a sin unto death (to church fellowship), and the brother should be prayed for to be forgiven (1Jo 5:16-17).
IX. Restoration of church membership after exclusion
1. A church member who has been disciplined by the church should be restored to the church after he has been penitent and faithful for a period of one year.
A. The church in Corinth excluded a fornicator from their membership (1Co 5).
B. Paul wrote to the same church in 2Co 2:6-8 and told them to restore him.
i. They inflicted sufficient punishment on him (2Co 2:6).
ii. He was sorrowful for his sin (2Co 2:7).
iii. They were therefore told to forgive him and confirm their love for him (2Co 6:8).
C. There was a period of one year between Paul's writing of 1&2 Corinthians (1Co 16:1-2 c/w 2Co 8:10-14 c/w 2Co 9:1-2).
i. Therefore, there was a period of one year between the exclusion of the fornicator and his restoration to the church.
ii. The church in Corinth acted zealously in response to Paul's first epistle to them (2Co 7:9-12), and therefore, it can be assumed that they acted quickly and excluded the brother immediately upon receiving the letter.
iii. In that the punishment was inflicted immediately, it must be assumed that the sorrow which came as a result of the punishment began immediately (2Co 2:6-7).
iv. Therefore, the man was repentant while under church discipline for a period of one year.
v. Therefore, the probation period for an excluded brother should begin when he first repents and shows sorrow for his sin and should last for one year.
vi. Since the only example that we have in the Bible is a one year probationary period for church restoration, we will follow that pattern.
2. The church should restore an excluded brother to church membership in the spirit of meekness, lest we be tempted like he was (Gal 6:1).
X. How to relate to excluded members
1. Mark and avoid them (Rom 16:17).
A. Mark v. - I. To put a mark upon. 8. In immaterial sense: a. To make perceptible or recognizable, by some sign or indication. b. To manifest, ‘testify’ (one's approval, displeasure, etc.) by some significant act, or by reward or punishment. III. To notice or observe. 13. To notice or keep the eye upon (a person or material object); to observe; to watch.
B. Avoid v. - III. To keep away from, keep from, keep off. 8. (the usual current sense—a natural extension of 7): To leave alone, keep clear of or away from, shun; to have nothing to do with, refrain from: a. a person or place.
C. Those who cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine should be noted, left along, and kept away from.
D. Let them come to us; we should not go to them (Jer 15:19).
2. Note them and have no company with them (2Th 3:14-15).
A. Brethren who have been withdrawn from (2Th 3:6) should be noted.
i. Note v. - I. 1. a. trans. To observe or mark carefully; to give heed or attention to; to notice closely.
ii. We should be aware of who has been excluded from this church and not forget.
B. The church is not to company with commonly known sinners (2Th 3:14 c/w 1Co 5:9-11).
i. Company v. - 1. trans. To go in company with, to accompany; to keep company with, have society with.
ii. Company n. - 1. a. Companionship, fellowship, society; also transf. of things. in company: in the society of others, amidst other people, as opposed to alone; c. to keep company (with): to associate with, frequent the society of;
iii. Society - 1. a. Association with one's fellow men, esp. in a friendly or intimate manner; companionship or fellowship.
C. This means that we should not maintain companionship and fellowship, nor be friendly and intimate with excluded members.
D. We can be civil with them, but not warm and friendly like we were before they were put under discipline.
3. Admonish them as brethren, not enemies (2Th 3:15).
A. Admonish v. - 1. gen. To put (a person) in mind of duties; to counsel against wrong practices; to give authoritative or warning advice; to exhort, to warn.
B. Our communication with excluded brethren should be limited to telling them that they should repent and seek restoration in the church, and warning them of the chastisement they will face if they do not.
C. The admonition should be done in love, not in hatred.
4. Do not bid a heretic Godspeed (2Jo 1:9-10).
A. Godspeed - 1. to bid (wish) one God-speed, to utter the words ‘God speed (you)’; esp. to express a wish for the success of one who is setting out on some journey or enterprise.
B. Do not wish success to heretics or other excluded, unrepentant sinners.
C. Do not tell them that you hope that everything goes well for them.
D. To do so is to show approval of their sin and rebellion and be a partaker of their evil deeds (2Jo 1:11).
5. How to deal with excluded members who are family members or business associates who cannot be completely avoided.
A. We will not always be able to entirely avoid excluded church members.
B. They could be our wives, husbands, children, business associates, etc. and therefore existing relationships will have to be maintained in some cases (especially marriage).
C. In the case of immediate family members who have been excluded and are unrepentant, fulfill your duty to them as family members.
D. In the case of extended family members, avoid them when possible.
E. In the case of business associates, treat them as other business associates with whom you are not friends.
F. Always make sure they know that you do not approve of their unrepentant lifestyle.