More Than Worth It (Pg. 2)
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WHAT WE STAND TO GAIN
- The Favor of God
By practicing biblical church discipline, we stand to gain the favor of God. It is appropriate to apply "Well done thy good and faithful servant!" to local congregations in addition to individual Christians. The favor and pleasure of God should be our primary motivation for embracing biblical church discipline.
- The Growth of Our Brother or Sister
Discipline also leads to growth. Church discipline is almost certainly the most neglected avenue of Christian growth in the body of Christ today. Yet lovingly administered church discipline helps believers grow in obedience to Christ.
- Power in the Pulpit
Another benefit pastors often miss by not practicing church discipline? Obeying Christ in difficult ways empowers our preaching. A congregation that watches its ministers faithfully apply the Word will take that Word more seriously, and listen more intently. And, as he leads the congregation in obeying God's Word, the preacher himself will grow in rightly grasping and boldly applying God's Word in his preaching.
- The Unity of the Church
Unity around anything other than the whole counsel of God is not unity. It is merely a shadowy, patchwork peace constructed on whatever bits of God's Word we deem acceptable. Only authentic unity, a unity that embraces all of God's Word, can claim the blessing of God.
- Evangelistic Contrast
In a day that has seen many churches reduce its evangelism to programs and its outreach to gimmickry, we too often forget the inherent evangelistic appeal of the people of God being who they're meant to be. This works itself out in what we might call the evangelistic ministry of contrast: as the church grows in holiness, it creates an increasingly stark contrast with the lost culture around it. When this happens, the world begins to see that the church presents a genuine countercultural alternative, an alternative that emanates from convictions clearly founded on a higher standard than its own.
CHOOSING THE BETTER ROAD
It was some years after the sad conversation that I recounted earlier that I crossed paths with another minister, roughly the same age as the first. He was likewise the pastor of a good-sized church. He, too, was conservative in theology and held a high view of Scripture. We were talking about ministry, life, and the challenge of church discipline, and he too said something I will never forget: "You know, I just want to pastor a New Testament church once before I die. I believe we can be that, and I want to lead my people to be that."
Two men. Two paths. Two alternatives. The first brother, I am convinced, is going to pay a high a price for pursuing ease and comfort. The latter may occasionally pay a temporal price in discomfort and possible conflict, but his reward will be great.
Choose the better way. Isn't the choice obvious?Wyman Richardson is the pastor of First Baptist Church in Dawson, Georgia, and the author of
Walking Together: A Congregational Reflection on Biblical Church Discipline (Wipf & Stock, 2007).
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