Sermon

God's Word Faithfully Preached from the Pulpit

Christian Discipline toward Repentance and Holiness (Proverbs 3:11-12 and Matthew 18:15-20)

INTRODUCTION:

  • Last month: Heidelberg Catechism on Lord’s Supper
    • Bilang sakramento, ito’y isang kaparaanan ng Diyos upang ibigay ang Kanyang biyaya ng pagpapalakas ng ating pananampalataya (means of grace)
    • Pero hindi ibinibigay ang pribilehiyong ito sa mga hindi mananampalataya (unbelievers) o sa mga taong nagsasabi na Kristiyano sila pero namumuhay sa kasalanan (hypocrites).
    • And the church excludes these people by the use of the “two keys of the kingdom,” hanggang sa sila ay ganap na magsisi at makita ang pagbabago sa kanilang buhay.
  • What are these “keys of the kingdom?” (*Biblical, not like “5 Love Languages”)
    • TEXT: Matthew 16:18-19
    • “Peter” — Only as representing the 12, but the authority given by Christ is to the church, not only to Peter
    • “Keys of the kingdom” — “Keys” implies “opening” and “closing.” Not to be taken literally.

      The ordinances and means na itinalaga ng Diyos sa Kanyang iglesiya kung saan—sa pag-gamit nito—ang mga tao ay either naa-admit or nae-exclude mula sa pribilehiyo ng komunidad ng mga Kristiyano at sa mismong kaharian ng Diyos.
    • “Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven…” — Implications to be explained further later on. But the this shows that Christ has given authority to the church here on earth, so that the judgment given by the church on a certain person would be the judgment of Christ himself.
  • What are identified as the “2 keys of the kingdom?”
    • The Word of God, particularly the preaching of the gospel. Kung saan, kapag ang tao ay tumanggap sa ebanghelyo (repentance & faith), siya rin ay tinatanggap sa kaharian ng Diyos at sa lahat ng privileges ng Christian community. Pero kung hindi siya sumampalataya at manatili sa kasalanan, wala siyang kaligtasan at excluded siya sa privileges of the church.
      • Examples in Acts, that whenever the Jew rejects the gospel, the apostles would declare that they are still in their sins (“judgment is bound”). But to those who accept, their sins are declared forgiven (“judgment is loosed”).
      • Even today, every time the gospel is preached, we declare: “Repent and believe the gospel, and you will be saved.”
    • Focus in church or Christian discipline. How is it a key of the kingdom of heaven? Is it significant? Why? 
  • Sermon Points: 
    • Church Discipline instituted by Christ
    • The Purpose of Church Discipline

SERMON POINT 1: Church Discipline instituted by Christ

  • TEXT: Matthew 18:15-20
    • vv. 15-18 Process of church discipline (if personal sin and unrepentant)
      • Personal sin (e.g., hurtful words, debt w/out payment) — Private muna
      • Public and scandalous sins (e.g., adultery, prostitution, murder) — Wise to go to the church already, since the sin has been deep and unrepented of already.
      • “Church” here refers to the elders, who represent the church so they will continue to rebuke the unrepentant
        • 1 Timothy 5:20 — “As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest stand in fear.”
      • Once the person continues to be unrepentant, there’s the excommunication.
      • POINT: Kinakailangan na ang kasalanan ay ma-address, at kung sino man ang nagpapatuloy sa kasalanan ay dapat disiplinahin. (NOTE: Not perfection, but sinful lifestyle without repentance)
    • vv. 15-17 — The scope and nature of church discipline (among its members and ministerial)
      • Among members — READ 1 Corinthians 5:12-13 (Not that we can’t judge outsiders, but only members are subject to the authority to discipline)
        • RELATE: Hence, when churches take away membership, there will hardly be any church discipline. Sin will not be addressed.
      • Ministerial — Not “stone him to death” or “take away legal property,” but “let him be to you a Gentile and tax collector” (i.e., unbeliever)
    • vv. 18-20 (Similar to 16:18-19) — The authority in church discipline (i.e., the validity or bearing of the judgment of the church in discipline)
      • Related passages: READ John 20:23
      • CLARIFY: Not that men can forgive sins or withhold forgiveness (i.e., confession room). Only God can forgive sin. The church can only give or withhold outward privileges, but only God can give or withhold the inward privileges of salvation.
        • So, possible that a person be misjudged and wrongly disciplined by the church, yet still be a true Christian. (E.g., disciplined due to not submitting to the church’s false doctrine)
        • Christ as the source of authority. Church has no inherent power independent of Christ.
        • Hence, the church should discern to act according to how Christ would act in such circumstances. Kaya hindi pwedeng 1 lang magja-judge (at least 2-3 witnesses).

          And it should be not just for some petty mistake, but sinful acts and lifestyle.
      • Nevertheless, when the Church acts according to the Word of God (e.g., God’s law, not human laws)—then the authority of the church carries the authority of Christ himself.
      • ILLUSTRATE: A nation’s ruler has no inherent power, hence when issuing a decree/ordinance, he states, “By the power vested upon me by the law.” Then his words become authoritative.
      • Matthew 18:20 — IMPLIES that when the church disciplines us biblically, it is as if Christ himself brings upon us the same judgment.
  • APPLY:
    • Example: R.C. Sproul’s story of asking a woman, “Are you sure you’re okay being excommunicated from the church?” The thinking that I can still be a member of God’s kingdom even if not part of the local church. Well, yes (visible and invisible church). But how can you be sure you’re a true Christian when the church perceives that you are unrepentant and hypocrite? If you are excluded from the benefits?
    • Sadly, many churches find discipline as insignificant or even hurtful (e.g., we’ll lose members). But as a church, we must exercise it and acknowledge it in obedience to Christ.
    • Example: That’s why for incoming members, we want to know if you’re under discipline from another church and for what reason (if yes). Because church discipline according to the Word carries the judgment of Christ himself.
  • SERMON POINT #1: So Christ clearly instituted discipline for the church, and we must not neglect it or think lightly of it. But the question is—for what reason?

SERMON POINT 2: The Purpose of Christian Discipline

Para mapahiya? Trip, trip lang ng mga officebearers?

TEXT: Matthew 18:15b — “gained your brother” (i.e., “you achieved the goal”)

  • Even in the end, “let him be to you a Gentile and tax collector.” And what did Christ do to the tax collectors? He reaches out to them and calls them to repentance.
  • Galatians 6:1 — “If anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him (goal) in a spirit of gentleness (manner).” 
    • Restore to what? Restore to the fellowship and in the way of righteousness
  • READ 1 Corinthians 5:5 
    • “deliver to Satan for the destruction of the flesh” (not in hell, but in torments of guilt, shame, and physical consequences of sin, and the lack of privileges of the church fellowship)
    • “so that… may be saved” (cf. 2 Corinthians 2:5-8 — “forgive and comfort him,” “reaffirm your love for him.”)
  • RELATE: Reminder for officebearers / undershepherds, that the goal and manner by which we exercise discipline is towards restoration. As a church, even when someone is excommunicated, we still long for their restoration (according to the opportunities we have with them, e.g., friends)(Not snubbing/ignoring)
  • IMPLY: The ultimate purpose of church discipline is to admit or exclude people to the community of God’s kingdom. But also bring us to true repentance and holiness—to promote obedience to Christ our king.

EXPLAIN: Many Christians and church despise “discipline” because it is seen negatively as mere “punishment.” 

Biblical definition: While there is punishment, but it is part of the overall training.

  • Now church/Christian discipline is part of the true marks of the church (Belgic Confession Art. 29). The church cannot and should not simply discipline without faithfully preaching the will of God for our lives. 
    • ILLUSTRATION: Parent just spanking a child without explaining and teaching what is right… And though you don’t always spank, the awareness of discipline keeps the child obedient.
  • Likewise, church discipline is not separate from the instruction and discipleship of its members… Stricter measures of church discipline are exercised only for the unrepentant. But we know that there is church discipline as part of the overall rule of Christ over his people (e.g., Accountability, “Kumusta ka na?” “We miss you this Lord’s Day, kumusta?“).
  • Christ is not only our Prophet who proclaims his Word to us. He is also our King who establishes his government among his people and make sure that his subjects are following him.
  • He is our shepherd-king. And as a good shepherd, he guides us to the paths of righteousness, to the right way we should go. (*Hymn Savior like a Shepherd Lead Us, a line saying: “teach us when we go astray”)
  • READ Hebrews 12:5-11 — A demonstration of God’s love for us. And though it is painful, God’s purpose for discipline is to train us in righteousness. So that we will indeed grow in Christlikeness.
    • ILLUSTRATION: Disciplining a child. (Time when caring for DJ. It’s hard, but you have to. Because you love the child and want him to learn what is right.)
  • The same way with the discipline God brings even through the church.
    • “The essential and ultimate purpose of discipline is to carry into effect the instructions of Christ, by securing the obedience of the members to the will of Christ and promote their spiritual edification.” ~ James Bannerman (paraphrase)
  • SERMON POINT #2: Hence, church discipline is both necessary and beneficial for our spiritual growth.

IMPLICATION & APPLICATION

  • For unrepentant professing believers
    • If not disciplined (not yet found out, or not yet suffering consequences), be warned lest you are an illegitimate son. Yet still it is mercy from God.
    • If under discipline for a legitimate sin, take it seriously. Not thinking, “Well, you can discipline me, but God is still with me.” Humble yourself, repent… Take it seriously with the hope of being restored. Submit to the admonitions and counsels of the leaders of the church. It is for your good.
  • For unbelievers
    • On the one hand, realize that being a Christian is not simply believing or joining a local church. It’s about holiness.
    • On the other hand, let it encourage you that Christ will not only be your Savior who will forgive and cleanse your sins. He will also be your King who will rule over you and guide you in the paths of godliness through the church.
    • So come to him in faith and submit to his lordship. And be part of a church that will instruct and guide you to follow God’s will.
  • For all believers
    • Yes, discipline should give us some sense of fear (cf. 1 Timothy 5:20). But let’s not forget the reason why Christ instituted it. It’s not merely about excommunication. Not even about legalism and perfection. It’s about growing in purity, godliness, and ultimately assurance of faith.

      Of course, we don’t obey God simply because we fear his discipline (but out of gratitude). Yet reality is, we will make mistakes and be receiving reproof and discipline (one way or another).

      Nevertheless, it will all teach us to obey. And as we grow in obedience, even through discipline, it assures us that we are indeed children of God.
    • So in the end, let us be thankful for church discipline. For in it, we are confident that Christ, our King, shall continue to reign and rule over us his people—helping us to fight sin and live in holiness until we finally reach the eternal reward in heaven.
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