Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Gospel and Good Discipline

Many good churches are bringing back church discipline. There is a renewed teaching and understanding of the proper balance between confrontation and restoration. The Gospel is central to this balance. We must be confronted anew by the death of Christ because of sin and His resurrection to assure us of our new life in the Kingdom of God. Church discipline exists to call back erring brethren who are straying so that they can renew their life in Christ. It also exists to keep the church pure so that the Gospel message may be clearly heard in the world.
But there is another kind of discipline. Within the church members must hold each other accountable to live according to God's holiness. But between churches there is also a need for accountability. It cannot function exactly like discipline within the church but it still needs to exist. Think with me: a pastor is getting carried away with some fad. It is a fad that tends to blur and downplay the message of salvation. His fellow pastor friends see this trend and confront him. If he does not listen to them they cannot really call him up on disciple but they might end up separating from him. This separation should not be motivated by spite (“He didn't listen to me!”) or a false piety (“I just cannot be around someone like that.”) but by the Gospel. The desire to exert all our influence to bring that person back to the clear preaching of the good news of the Kingdom.
I believe much of the abuse of separation in Fundamentalism has been the failure to keep the Gospel as the central theme of separation. To maintain contact with those in evangelicalism who were really carrying out ministry in a manner that obscured the Gospel. We must separate from those who are not upholding the truth of scripture but we must leave the door open enough that we can continually call out to them with the Gospel, remind them of the need to stand and clearly proclaim the Good News and show by our love that the repentance and faith are at work to change our hearts.

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