Identity Crisis: What it Means to Be the Bride of Christ
Keepers of the Keys of the Kingdom: Sin Management and Redemptive Church Discipline—Keeping it Real
Nothing artificially interfered with the discipleship pathway from salvation-membership in the primitive church—“that day!” (Acts 2:41) –talk about a formula for corpus permixtum! Started the day lost and damned to Hell, and by the end of the day, you were a member in good standing in the Body of Christ.
Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. Acts 2:41
Then they lived, and sinned, and proved authentic or not. How Jesus established a church-led mechanism for preserving the holiness of the church to allay the need for churches to enact probationary measures.
“The church is the guardian and instrument of the kingdom…and the way in which the presence of the kingdom is made known…” (Wilkins, NIV AC)
The church, as an assembly of professing believers, will gather within itself individuals who are baptized and members and not actually authentic believers. What are the biblical practices and the authority of the church to address the matter of unholy people attached to a holy church?
1. The church has been authorized by Jesus to be KEYHOLDERS to the courts of His kingdom.
KEYS OF THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN
Gates—defensive—cannot stop-the place and reality of death
Keys—gatekeeper—cannot enter-the doors to life
Ministry of the keys is the proclamation of Jesus as the Christ (the gospel). In the gospel confessing church (Peter’s confession 16:16) the doors to life open to those who believe (entrance to, sins forgiven) and swing closed to those who refuse Jesus (exclusion from, rejection, defiance)—to challenge sin, evil. The church is authorized to mediate and administrate God’s saving work on earth.
Ongoing administration of the keys is sustaining Christ-centred living. Matt. 18:18 clarifies the context as enduring church discipleship and not just for Peter or the primitive start up church.
Binding and Loosing—the membership work (who’s in/ who’s out) of every redemptive community (Isa. 22:22; Matt. 16:19; 18:18)
The ratification of God’s will on earth (“will have been”)—recognizing new Christians, disciplining those who rebel (Carson) Heaven agrees with proper church authority.
2. The church is called to gracious, meticulous, and mutual member accountability in the matter of sin.
A repenting, confessing community for correction—the goal, mutual accountability (Gal 6:1; Jas. 5:16) When forgiveness is sought--Those who fail and fall—at risk: growth, health.
Restoration of the fallen through the gentle correction of the spiritual is the expected ongoing discipling of the church (Gal. 6:1).
Repentance of sins—confessing to, forgiving, and then praying with one another, is the healthy way to prevent or recover from life-disrupting consequences of sin (Jas. 5:16).
3. The church is expected to exclude from her membership/fellowship/communion those who stubbornly persist in practicing unregenerate behaviour. Refusing to dignify “cheap grace”.
A community willing to purge sin and practice redemptive discipline by expulsion—the goal-restoration (Matt. 18:18; 1 Cor. 5:5; 1 Cor. 11:30-31).
Jesus’ instruction on private sin… (in general)
Private sin kept private as long as possible--Process—Matt. 18:15-18; personal-witnesses-church expulsion
Forgiveness and reconciliation first, however long that takes providing progress is happening.
Paul’s instruction on public egregious sin…(In Corinth) ABUSE OF GRACE
The sexually immoral man
Pronouncement 1 Cor. 5:5—“Are you not to judge those inside…expel the wicked man from among you.” (5:12-13)
The disloyal participants in the Lord’s Table
Disloyalty toward Christ (fellowship with idolatry) and disloyal abuse of fellow church members (shaming the poorer) causing divisions (1 Cor. 11:30-31). –if unregenerate or acting unregenerate and participating at the Lord’s Table, expect consequences from the Lord. Judge yourselves or face condemnation.
When forgiveness is not sought or is rejected (Matt. 18:21-35; 1 Cor. 5)--Those who rebelliously defy place at risk: purity, unity, doctrine, testimony and must be expelled.
4. The church experiences some purification attrition when the light simply drives out the darkness.
The more spiritually robust a church is, the more likely is the light to glaringly contrast with the darkness—the darkness will often go away (Jn. 3:19-21; 2 Cor. 6:14-7:1; 1 Jn. 2:18-20).
As kingdom key holders, entrusted as the gatekeepers of Christ’s church, the church is Divinely authorized, commissioned, and obligated to take sin and unbelief seriously by removing anyone from the church who calls themselves a “brother” while insisting on living an unsaved lifestyle, and by preventing the unregenerate from participating in the ordinances or becoming a member of the church. As well, the disloyal and disobedient are to be dissuaded from participating in the Table of the Lord until they repent.