Church Discipline and the Church’s Credibility

Church discipline visibly demonstrates the seriousness of sin as well as both the holiness and love Christ calls His church to live (Matthew 18:15-20). When church discipline is first implemented, the immediate fallout may appear to be all negative.

However, in time the church will benefit by having honored God with obedience, and the credibility of the church and her message will experience a renaissance. The fellowship in the church body will be more reflective of our Lord Jesus Christ in both love and holiness.

This is not to say that everyone will then believe our message, but whether they believe it or not, they will be evidentially convinced that we do. That is the kind of assurance that is often lacking today.

God is Equally Pleased to Save Some, and Damn Most!

John Piper said, “The book of life…represents God’s free and unconditional election…. In the New Testament the book of life is synonymous with the list of those who are elect and predestined for eternal life.”[1] John Calvin said, “Those, therefore, whom God passes by he reprobates, and that for no other cause but because he is pleased to exclude them from the inheritance which he predestines to his children.”[2] (italics added) Continue reading →

Christian Sadness in the Death of a Loved One

Christians can feel free to cry at a funeral. While we do rejoice that our loved ones who know Christ as Savior go to be with Jesus, death is still a sorrowful time. Jesus did weep at the death of Lazarus (John 11:35). We are not like those without hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13), but as humans, we do feel deeply the absence of a loved one. Maybe we do more because we know God did not create man to die, but to live (Genesis 1-2). Continue reading →

Think About IT: Forget Not from Whence I Came

Short memories produce crass Christians.

Christians need to guard against becoming so accustomed to being a Christian and being around Christians that they saunter down the path of harshness toward the lost. As though the difference in us and them originated in us.

“It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all” (1 Timothy 1:15).

God’s Sovereignty and Man’s Libertarian Freedom: In Balance

Millard Erickson holds to a compatibilist view of moral freedom, as do virtually all Calvinists. Compatibilism is the perspective that determinism and moral freedom are compatible; hence, the name. To wit, man makes a free choice when he chooses according to his greatest desire; however, what is often overlooked is that the desire from which he freely chooses is the product of inviolable determinative antecedents. Thus, man does not have the ability, given the same past, to make a different choice than he does in fact make at any given moral moment; accordingly, man’s free choice is not just certain, but it is in fact necessary given one’s past. Continue reading →

Think About IT: The Losses of Trusting Christ

Salvation is free, but the life of faith can be costly indeed!

The history of Christianity is one of untold sacrifice by countless followers of Christ. They have given their lives in the darkest parts of the globe to share the gospel, stood and spoken the truth in love in loveless times, carried the burdens of others so others may know Christ, and given time, money, talents, and security to be used in advancing the kingdom.

We are the beneficiaries of a myriad of Christians who lived their lives so that others might benefit. Their focus was on what they could do by the power of Christ for others.

In tragic contrast today, a growing number of those who claim to be followers of Christ are eager to evaluate how much God loves them by how much He gives them.

We should ask, are we any better than Christians who preceded us, more valuable to God, or more righteous and more deserving? No, a thousand times no. We are called, just as Christ called them, to live so that others might know Christ.

And others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground. And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect” (Hebrews 11:36-40).

Think About IT: Complaining and Dishonor

Complaining people dishonor themselves some, but God most!

There are of course times that God calls us to discern or expose weaknesses, fallacies, or flaws either in our present situation or even in others, but far too often, complaining or being markedly critical masquerades as just “telling it like it is” or “speaking truth” when in reality it is nothing more than carnal grumbling.

Some who routinely exhibit brash impertinence seek to excuse their insolence by claiming to have the spiritual gift of “discernment” or “prophecy.” I for one am not convinced that the prophets deserve being portrayed as always so impudent.

A critical spirit very often and rather undeservedly dishonors the individual and others who are created in the image of God, but most often and principally dishonors God. It commonly does more to exhibit one’s own propensity to see the flaws of others more than the work of God in their lives. It obscures one’s awareness of his own flaws, which others must painfully and constantly endure; at least it detracts from blessing others and praising God for His work of grace in others.

“Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).

How Did the Church Lose the Will to Follow Christ in Church Discipline?

How does it happen? A path all to often followed over an extended period of time might look something like this.

The nefarious process begins with a subtle loss of desire for holiness, then an equally slight emphasis on something else that is spiritual, which seems to balance the scales from the injustice of selectively ignoring sections of the Word of God. In time, this is followed by faintly and implicitly equating holiness with extremism or legalism, and moderate libertarianism with grace; then comes the openly disparaging remarks concerning church discipline. Eventually the world’s wisdom and ways of selfishness and relativism are no longer resisted, but rather they are welcomed, and the world eventually lays her death grip on every aspect of the church.

By this time, the church no longer wants to be radically different from the world because she sees this as a threat to the lost receiving the church and her message, or possibly thinks the lost would view the church as anachronistic—the cardinal sin to the church of modernity and postmodernity. The result is that the church becomes half-church and half-world, for which neither God nor the world has much use. Tragically, the church is the last to understand this final fate awaiting all churches that dine at the table of the kosmos—world. This is all done of course by basting the delectables of the world with sanctified Christian clichés until they appear scrumptious, but the end is the same as the world’s, only with greater deception.

“But like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy’” (1 Peter 1:15–16).