Jonathan Leeman at Church Matters points out that a congregation needs to fully understand the doctrines of salvation if they are ever going to understand what church discipline is all about. And it does seem that so many Christians – even in good churches – find it difficult to accept that a church might deal with unrepentant sin in such manner. I know it comes up at our church and one of the most requested documents lately has been our position paper on the topic.
If the members of a church only understand the gospel partially, that is, the gospel as
- “Jesus is the one who fills the God-shaped hole in our hearts,”
- “Jesus loves you and has a wonderful plan for our lives,”
- “Jesus has come to declare God’s kingdom and make everything new,”
- “God will bless and prosper us if you only believe that he will,”
- “Jesus came to show us how we need to love others,”
- “If you say the sinner’s prayer, you won’t go to hell,”
- “Jesus came to give us purpose and life abundant,”
then the idea of removing someone from the congregation for unrepentant sin is far less likely to make sense to them.
If the members of a church only understand conversion partially, that is, conversion as
- “just believe,”
- “just pray these words after me,”
- “we’re all on a journey,”
- “it’s not about sin-management, it’s about following Jesus,”
Then the idea of removing someone from the congregation for unrepentant sin is far less likely to make sense to them.