Church Rules & Discipline
A 2 PART AUDIO STUDY BELOW:
Church rules and discipline are necessary because the Church represents Christ and the church member’s represent the church (so the church members represent Christ then logically).
Bad character and conduct of church members will reflect poorly upon Christ and His testimony.
Church leaders need to discern the wicked who have no heart to conform to Christ’s will and therefore shouldn’t be part of the church versus the willing and obedient disciples who should be part of the church, even if they are weak and unlearned.
Proclaiming the whole counsel of God and expecting that people conform to the truth preached brings revelation of Christ’s will and in doing this it divides the wicked from those who are willing disciples. “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)
Usually doing the above will cause the wicked who have no real heart to obey God’s Word to leave the church without needing to be excommunicated directly by the elders. But obviously excommunication is necessary for those who don’t leave yet have proven they are unwilling to do what God commands and be Christ’s disciples.
Allowing the wicked who have no heart to be discipled to remain in the church will hinder the true disciples, corrupt them, and keep them from being the pure testimony for Christ which they ought to be before the world.
Church meetings should primarily be about discipleship of the believer- not evangelism. Part of the discipleship of the believer is training for evangelism outside of the church meeting; and of course it’s not wrong to say things intended to bring visitors to the church and older youth to Christ. But devoting church meetings to evangelism keeps the believers from the instruction they need to mature in the faith.
And when regular members are not true disciples evangelizing these won’t help anyways- they consider themselves to be in Christ and they see evangelism as needful for others but not themselves. So trying to evangelize them week after week like you’d evangelize an outsider is pointless anyways.
A key characteristic of the New Covenant is that in the church (working as God intended it to be and maintaining His holy standards) the members do not need to be evangelized (i.e. told to know the Lord). “10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: 11 And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.” (Hebrews 8:10-12)
One thing I appreciate about our Bible studies is that we can deal with topics that edify the believer’s understanding without needing to call people to repentance and salvation all of the time. Sure, I’ll mention truths that might be helpful in evangelism, will occasionally exhort people to repent if they’re not living in line with the truth that we’re dealing with, will generally mention the need for all to get ready to meet God- all of that is okay here and there; but the messages are prepared for the edification and instruction of the believers (particularly you who are the missionaries with GMFC). That is how a church meeting should basically be too.
And as the believers are edified you can build on that week after week and see a real edifying in the Lord that will overall increase the quality of the church as well as better draw people to the group for the right reasons. To my knowledge you are all doing that and seeing that type of edifying and increase already! Yet my point is that we don’t need to worry about missing a chance to evangelize an unbeliever because they’re not coming to the church meeting anymore. The best evangelistic testimony to give to someone in that case is to come back when they are ready to repent and submit to the whole counsel of God- because they’ll be secure in their sin anyways as long as they can keep coming back to church in their sin and thinking they have an interest in Christ as they do so. They NEED to have their false security rug pulled out from under them before they’ll really be challenged to repent anyways.
Notice Revelation 2:12-16: “12 And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges; 13 I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth. 14 But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. 15 So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate.”
Without getting into the specific false doctrines talked about here, the thing I’m seeking to emphasize is that the leading elder of the church (i.e. called the angel in Rev chapters 2 and 3) was rebuked simply for allowing those who were stumbling-blocks to God’s people to remain in the church. And allowing these to remain in the church is ALSO DANGEROUS FOR THEM as well. The lessons here apply to all churches.
“16 Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. 17 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches…”
Never appoint a man to church offices without full trial and examination; or else you will be an accessory to, and accountable for, his misbehaviour in his office. Keep yourself pure from the blood of all men.
1Ti 5:22 “Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins: keep thyself pure.”
Another powerful command below to keep “saved” sinners OUT of the church:
Eze 44:6 And thou shalt say to the rebellious, even to the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; O ye house of Israel, let it suffice you of all your abominations,
Eze 44:7 In that ye have brought into my sanctuary strangers, uncircumcised in heart, and uncircumcised in flesh, to be in my sanctuary, to pollute it, even my house, when ye offer my bread, the fat and the blood, and they have broken my covenant because of all your abominations.
Eze 44:8 And ye have not kept the charge of mine holy things: but ye have set keepers of my charge in my sanctuary for yourselves.
Eze 44:9 Thus saith the Lord GOD; No stranger, uncircumcised in heart, nor uncircumcised in flesh, shall enter into my sanctuary, of any stranger that is among the children of Israel.
Eze 44:10 And the Levites that are gone away far from me, when Israel went astray, which went astray away from me after their idols; they shall even bear their iniquity.
Eze 44:11 Yet they shall be ministers in my sanctuary, having charge at the gates of the house, and ministering to the house: they shall slay the burnt offering and the sacrifice for the people, and they shall stand before them to minister unto them.
Eze 44:12 Because they ministered unto them before their idols, and caused the house of Israel to fall into iniquity; therefore have I lifted up mine hand against them, saith the Lord GOD, and they shall bear their iniquity.
Eze 44:13 And they shall not come near unto me, to do the office of a priest unto me, nor to come near to any of my holy things, in the most holy place: but they shall bear their shame, and their abominations which they have committed.
Yet another example:
Sexual Immorality Defiles the Church
1Co 5:1 It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife.
1Co 5:2 And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you.
1Co 5:3 For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed,
1Co 5:4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ,
1Co 5:5 To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
1Co 5:6 Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?
1Co 5:7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:
1Co 5:8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
1Co 5:9 I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators:
1Co 5:10 Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world.
1Co 5:11 But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.
1Co 5:12 For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within?
1Co 5:13 But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.
Do not have partiality.
1Ti 5:21 “I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality.”
And this does not only pertain to the fellowship.church. You are to separate from sinners:
2Jn 1:10 “If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed:
2Jn 1:11 For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds. “
Christian, you are the temple of the Living God! Are you going against the clear commands of the bible and yoking with and condoning sinners?
2Co 6:14 “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?
2Co 6:15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?
2Co 6:16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
2Co 6:17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,
2Co 6:18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.”
Rom 1:32 “Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.”
The church(ecclesia) is the entire body of Christ, worldwide. It has only one Head who is Christ Jesus, and, it has only one headquarters – the third heaven. In the body of Christ and every member has a function (Eph. 4:16). While some members may have a more important or visible ministry than others, each and every member has something valuable to contribute as they “work together”. It’s not about wicked denominations made by men.
Christ has given to His church apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers to build His body (Eph. 4:11). These are ministries and not titles. Apostles were used by Jesus to build the early church and although there may be be few “apostle like” people in the world today, we would greatly caution calling anyone an apostle today. They have the first place in the church (1 Cor. 12:28) and are thus elders to the elders of the churches within their sphere (2 Cor.10:13). Prophets are those who uncover and minister to the hidden needs of God’s people. Evangelists are those who are gifted to ministers non-Christians to Christ and to bring them into the church after repentance. They must then bring these repentant converts into the local church, which is Christ’s body. (Here is where a lot of modern evangelism fails). Shepherds are those who care for and guide the young lambs and sheep. Teachers are those who can explain the Scriptures and its doctrines. These five gifts are for the church worldwide; and from among them, shepherds and prophets are the strength of every local church. The other three gifts can be itinerant (from other localities).
The leadership of the local church should be in the hands of elders as the New Testament clearly teaches this (Titus 1:5; Acts 14:23). `Elders’, being plural, implies that there must be at least two in every church. This provides a balance in the leadership of the local church and also for binding the activities of Satan through the power of the Lord’s presence (Mt 18:18-20). A “one-man leader” of a church is contrary to the teaching of the New Testament. One among the elders may however be the `messenger of the church’ (Rev 2:1), if he is gifted with the Word. All believers in a local church must be subject to the authority of the elders of that church in all matters related to the local church (Heb 13:17; 1 Thess 5:12,13).
IMPORTANT: Jesus preached against some titles (Matt. 23:7-12). It is against the humble calling of a servant to be called Rabbi, Father or Reverend. The title of `Reverend’, in fact, is used only for God in the Bible (Psalm 111:9) and that is sinful if one is called “reverend” or “Rabbi” or “Father”. Everyone in the church, great or small is best to be called just a brother and a servant. “Pastor” is one of the most misused words in the entire Bible! The word “pastor” means “shepherd.” The Lord’s church is often described in the Bible as
the flock of God (Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:1-4). According to the Bible, pastors (shepherds) are the elders or overseers of the church (See Acts 20:17, 28; Ephesians 4:11; Philippians 1:1; 1 Peter 5:1-4). It is God’s pattern for His church that each congregation will have overseers or shepherds who meet the special qualifications which He has given in His Word (Acts 14:23; 1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9). There must be two or more pastors (elders, shepherds, overseers) for they are always plural when mentioned as leading a congregation (see Acts 14:23; Philippians 1:1; etc.). Jesus said of His disciples:
All ye are brethren. It is sinful for a Christian to exalt himself above his fellow Christians by wearing special clothing to set himself apart from them. It is sinful for a Christian to insist he be called by some special title such as “Pastor”, “Leader”, etc to be puffed up or to be treated with reverence. It is wrong for workers in the church to insist that special seats be reserved for them or that they be given special greetings different than the others. God is our Father. All Christians are brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ, servants together of the Most High. Let us honor God(Jesus) as our heavenly Father and Teacher. Let us humbly serve Him and take no pride in wearing man-made titles to exalt ourselves. Let us always remember Jesus’ warning:
And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be humbled; and whosoever shall humble himself shall be exalted (Matthew 23:12).
The church is to have meetings for teaching (Acts 20:9,11), prayer (Acts 12:5,12), evangelism (Acts 2:14-40) and also for mutual encouragement (Heb.3:13 – where believers who are gifted with the Word can encourage one another – 1 Cor. 14:26-40). Here you can read about the Lord’s Day, Sunday, however, we are to live holy and do HIS will each and every day. The gift of prophecy (the word here does not mean foretelling things to come; but rather opening and applying the scripture), teaching, must be desired by all who want to exercise it in the meetings (1 Cor. 14:1,39). Tongues (the gift of speaking in a foreign language) are explained here and are very rare. The heretical pentecostal / charismatic babbling is of the devil as are their false “signs and wonders“.
Women are permitted to pray and prophesy with their heads veiled in the meetings(1 Cor.11:5) and anytime they are in public, but please note, it was very rare and they were inspired to prophesy. The bible clearly states 1 Co 14:34 “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law”, women are to remain silent in the church. The apostle Paul has expressly forbidden their becoming public teachers; (1 Ti 2:12). In any case, they are not permitted to exercise authority over men or to teach.
The veiling on a woman’s head (taught in 1 Cor. 11:1-16) is meant to symbolize:
That the glory of man is to be covered in the church (“woman is the glory of man “- v. 7) and that she is submissive to the authority of the man (v. 10) – whether husband, father or elder. A woman is to veilled physically veiled anytime she is in public.
Women must demonstrate the purity of Christ in the way they dress and act – they must dress modestly and discreetly (1 Tim. 2:9) and head covering as taught here. A complete teaching here on the Women’s role in Christianity.
The church also has a responsibility to preach the good news by all means possible, to all whom it can reach, with the aim of making disciples of Christ in all nations (Mk. 16:15 with Matt. 28:19). Evangelism without disciple-making, however, is not the will of God, and is a hindrance to the testimony of Christ on earth. All Christians are to witness to others in word & deed.
Every local church must also proclaim the Lord’s death through the `breaking of bread’ (1 Cor. 11:22-34). This was not a fellowship meal, it was after they “supped”(after supper), it was distinct to honor the Lord. The frequency of this testimony is a matter on which the Word of God gives freedom to each church. It must not be forsaken completely or turn into an empty ritual.
Regarding offerings, all giving by believers must be voluntary, secret and cheerful (Matt.6:3; 2 Cor.9:7) and it’s used for the poor (and to help the “least of these our brethren” in need). So the best way is to keep a box somewhere in a meeting place where those who want to give can give without being observed. It is wrong to keep a record of giving, like on paper or in a computer or to send reports of the work to others with the intention of obtaining money from them (even if such reports are called `prayer letters’). Jesus and the apostles never did this.
A local church can be in right standing with God only as it leads disciples to the obedience of faith – obedience to all of Jesus’ commands. The smallest to the greatest of the commandments in the New Testament must also be obeyed and proclaimed with zeal. This is what makes a person great in God’s eyes (Matt. 5:19). “Least in the Kingdom of Heaven” means one ends up in hell. Don’t be a Revelation 3:16 lukewarm “Christian” lest you be spewed out.