Monday, June 10, 2013

Moving The Landmarks Part 5: Church Discipline


What adult likes to have discipline, especially in a place we voluntarily go?  I know it doesn't rank up on my top 10 list of favorites. discipline is biblical.  We may not like it.  We most likely don't see it in the majority of churches, but it is biblical.

Discipline in the church brings about a touchy subject.  It brings to light wrong doings (sin) and treats the sin in accordance to scripture.  The Bible outlines various problems that happened in the early church and what was recommended to deal with the issues.  I'm sure there were many hard feelings, but sin usually brings about hard feelings and broken hearts.

The book of I Corinthians brings to light many sins inside the church.  Paul wrote this epistle to the church at Corinth, who was in the midst of debauchery of all kinds.  The outside influences had infiltrated the church.

At the time Paul visited Corinth, it had been sacked and rebuilt by the Romans by 46 B.C.  In 51 A.D. when Paul stopped in, it was a thriving metropolis and the capital city of Achaia.

"Religiously, the city had every type of cult its pluralistic society could bring to it...The moral depravity of Corinth, legendary even in the ancient paan world, vividly reflected the spiritual need of the city, which was known as a seaman's paradise and moral cesspool.  'Easy' women roamed the streets, and the atmosphere was polluted with the alluring aura of sin." (1)

Compare that description to our world now.  We have sin around us, brought into our homes, and brought willingly into our churches.  The ways of the world, fornication, adultery, incest, pride, theft, idolatry all worked their way into the church of Corinth, as it does now.  Those who lead the flock sometimes lose their ministries due to sexual scandals, others scandalize the church with thefts of the treasury, bringing in false doctrines, false prophets, you name it.  One would think reading I Corinthians was like reading about today's church.

Paul starts addressing thesin in the church at I Corinthians 3, chastising the church for not growing, but staying as babes and choosing to avoid meat of the Word.

"And I, brethren could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. (2) I have fed you with milk and not with meat for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.  (3)  For ye are yet carnal for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?" (I Corinthians 3:1-3)

Many of the churches today keep with the babe range, not growing in doctrine, in knowledge of Jesus, but instead feed only on sweetness and fluff.  Ask you everyday average Christians sitting in the pew what they believe and most likely you'll get a blank stare of a deer in the headlights look.  They don't know what they believe due to not feeding on the Word at home as well as not hearing solid doctrine at church from the pastor.

Without learning doctrines of the bible, feeding on the meat of Scriptures, babes stay babes.  They keep one foot (or both) in the world, continue on with the worldly activities and infiltrate those sins to the church.  When those sins rear their ugly heads, what is the protocol?

Paul addresses the sins in I Corinthians 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.

(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.

(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,

(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,

(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.

(6)  Your glorying [is] not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?

(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:

(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.

(9)  I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators:

(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.

(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.

(12)  For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within?

(13)  But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.

In I Corinthians 5:1, the man had married his stepmother--his father's wife, and committed not only adultery but incest.  The church at Corinth was quite proud of their liberality, and had no issue with this situation.  

"Discipline in the early church was perhaps administered in the following manner:  The congregation was called together, with the apostle presiding if available, and the person accused was arraigned before them.  After the evidence had been heard, and the accused had given a defense of himself, the judgement of the congregation was pronounced." (1)

In verse 5, "Several observations must be made concerning this difficult passage.  It involved excommunication from the church (verse 2).  It involved the chastisement of the man.  The reference seems to be the destruction of the physical appetites that prompted this gross immorality.  Paul has the ultimate restoration of the offender in view, that the spirit may be saved.  This last purpose shows that the phrase destruction of the flesh cannot mean that the person could be brought to death.  God does not want him killed; He wants him restored." (1)

Most folks have heard, "a little leaven leaveneth the entire loaf".  This is true.  Once a little bit of yeast or other leavening agent enters the recipe, it cannot be removed.  Instead, it grows, releasing gasses to make the bread rise.  This is the same with sin.  Once sin is allowed into the body of Christ, it is near impossible to get out.  It never truly leaves, there is always a stain.  

In our modern churches, discipline is often put to the wayside.  We don't want to hurt feelings, don't want to chase off members (especially if they tithe), don't want to rock the boat--much like Corinth.  We most often revel in the liberal "tolerance" of allowing anything and everything in the name of "love".  

In a churches I know of, a man and woman lived together, one separated from their spouse but not divorced, the other already divorced.  Rather than encouraged to right the wrong, they were encouraged to participate in services, sing in the choir, one was given an office in the church.  The spouse of the separated party brought their own new "live in friend" to the church as well, with total tolerance and inclusion from the pastor and congregation.  Another person is allowed to teach Sunday School to the youngest of the children, but is never ever in a service any other time the doors are open.  Another teacher lives in sin but is allowed to continue teaching and sing in the choir.  Openly homosexual couples are allowed to act as married husband/wife without a hint of opposition.  The younger people, teens and such, allowed to destroy the church's property without rebuke, allowed to curse at teachers, tear up the rooms, steal, all without any accountability.  

Other examples of lack of discipline in the church--The First Baptist Church of Hammond, made famous by Jack Hyles, with Jack Shaap as pastor, who had extra marital affairs and wasn't disciplined for years while it happened, just as others within the church were let to do as they pleased. 

 " A church that doesn’t discipline immorality commits a great sin and gives God’s enemies much ammunition against the cause of Christ, and that is exactly what First Baptist is guilty of. They can say that they disciplined Jack Schaap’s adultery. Good. 

What about Jack Hyles’ sin? And yes, it was proven that he committed ministry-disqualifying sins.

What about Dave Hyles’ sin? It was common knowledge at First Baptist that he was a serial fornicator when he was at First Baptist working with his dad and even before that when he was a teen. Common knowledge. 

What about the sin of First Baptist deacons who committed immorality? 

What about the sin of the preacher graduates of Hyles Anderson, with Dave Hyles at the forefront, who went to communities across the nation and even to other parts of the world in the name of Jesus Christ and the gospel and who abused the sacred trust of their office by committing grave sin with women and children in their own flocks? 

We are not talking about one or two men. We’re not talking about five or ten, even. We’re talking about dozens. We’re talking about an absolute plague for fornicating preachers with close ties to First Baptist Church of Hammond and its college.

We have documented some of these frightful cases in the book 
The Hyles Effect

In fact, you can see mug shots of some of these men in the January 2013 edition of the
Chicago Magazine in the report “Let Us Prey,” but the nine men mentioned in that shocking report form only the tip of the iceberg. 

Someone might say that these men were not members of First Baptist at the time of their sin and weren’t therefore under its authority, but they were known to be graduates of First Baptist’s school and followers of First Baptist’s renowned pastor. They proudly used the name of Jack Hyles and First Baptist of Hammond wherever they went. 

When has First Baptist made public pronouncements against these men?

Instead, Jack Hyles repeatedly helped to move these men to other communities and to keep them in the ministry, and oftentimes, like in the case of his own son Dave, they repeated their sin in the new community with terrible moral and spiritual consequences. The consequence of these sins by Hyles Anderson graduates continues to this day. 

First Baptist Church of Hammond supported Hyles in putting these foxes into various unsuspecting henhouses and did nothing to reprove this great sin. "(2)

Another example would be of Annanias and Sapphira, found in Acts 5:1-11.  Both lied to those in authority in the church, namely the Apostles.  God dealt directly with discipline for them. 

"But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession,
And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet.
But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?
Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.
And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things.
And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him.
And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in.
And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much.
Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out.
10 Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband.
11 And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things."  (3)

When the church doesn't deal with the sins against Him, in His house, leads to destruction of not only the person in sin, but the congregation over time that allows it to continue.  The building may stand, the people may still attend, but God can't be where deliberate sin is.  He won't be in a place where people gather to worship but openly flaunt sins in His face.  If the Pastor, elders, and/or deacons won't take responsibility for the flock, weed out the sins that are open in the church, the church will suffer.  Those within the church will suffer.

In the meantime, many pastors continue to move the landmark of discipline away from the mark set by Paul and the early churches, moving on to a tolerant, liberal way of "church".

All scripture in KJV, some from Blue Letter Bible
(1) KJV Study Bible, Thomas Nelson, Liberty University
(2) The Way of Life, David Cloud, "The Sin of First Baptist Church of Hammond"
(3) Acts 5-11 KJV from Bible Gateway

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