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Judgment and Discipline – Part 4

Part 1 of series here.
Part 2 of series here.
Part 3 of series here.

In light of certain ministers signing The Manhattan Declaration, there are several questions that arise. Is discipline necessary in such a case? How does discipline play a vital part in the integrity of the local church? How do we maintain our roles as pastors in a world that accepts just about everything simply because the name evangelical has been slapped on as a label? How do we instruct our people in the matter of discipline while recognizing that such discipline is for the purpose of restoration? And finally, does discipline really matter when the majority of evangelical believers will either deliberately ignore the matter of discipline or they will fall for the lies of the evil one who was the first to question, “Has God REALLY said such and such?”

It is not my intention to rehash the first three parts of this series, but I want to reiterate one point. The bottom line is this in regards to judgment – NO JUDGMENT = NO HOLINESS. NO HOLINESS = NO PURITY. NO PURITY = NO CHURCH. NO CHURCH = NO LIFE. NO LIFE = NO CHRIST!

When it comes to discipline in the local church, we must remember that the Bible teaches that each local assembly is to be autonomous. They are to govern themselves. There is no Scriptural mandates for a denominational hierarchy that is to set the standards for the church and then ensure those are obeyed otherwise discipline against the pastor and church will be enacted. Simply put, I do not believe there is any Scriptural command that permits one local church to discipline a member of another local church. Therefore, for those who believe that ministers like Al Mohler and Ligon Duncan should be disciplined, I would urge caution because this would be a matter for his own local church to enact against their pastor if they believe that he has crossed the line of doctrinal integrity.

However, I am convinced that the Bible not only teaches independence and self-governance, I am as strongly convinced that the New Testament makes it clear that the early churches were inter-dependent. They made their own decisions, but did not have the liberty to enact decisions which would reflect on a sister church or the testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ. With that in mind, how does one local church respond to a sister church that is descending a slippery slope into heresy, false teaching, or even going down the road towards an all-embracing gospel? How do 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15 and 2 Corinthians 6:14-17 play a part in the way we deal with others?

We who are true believers are required to follow the commands of Scripture such as found in 2 Cor. 6:14-17, “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them And walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people. Therefore, come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you.”

The admonition is clear. We are not, cannot, must not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. In the matter of TMD, regardless of what Mohler, Duncan and others say, this was drafted to be a theological document. Thus, in signing their names to this, they have broken the commands to be unequally yoked with unbelievers. We are called to be separate in every aspect of our lives. We are in the world, but not to be of it. Thus, the remaining problem is how do we respond when evangelicals we respect choose to break the commands of Scripture.

2 Thess. 3:14-15, “And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.

This post is not intended to question whether Mohler or Duncan are true believers. The issue is how to respond in a biblical fashion to those who are brothers, yet failing to follow the “word in this epistle.” The Scriptures are clear that we cannot be yoked with those who are of the world, and it is just as clear that we have a responsibility not to keep company with those brethren who would act and teach contrary to the commands of God’s Word.

Therefore, in the matter of church discipline which is local church specific, the commands in 2 Thessalonians 3 show that we still have a responsibility to perform. It is with the purpose in mind of restoration at all times, not with ostracizing a brother or trying to throw him under the bus. My prayer is that Mohler, Duncan and others will repent of their desire to link up with the enemy and repent of such. My prayer is that they will seek forgiveness from those they are leading astray as men called to shepherd their flocks. If they do not and continue on their current path, then other evangelical leaders/pastors/believers have a responsibility to disassociate with them until they do.

The problem with evangelicalism is that we do not take biblical separation seriously. We will condemn those who cross certain lines, but it is only verbal. Rarely is further action involved. Evangelicals talk a good talk, but that is where it seems to stop. They will continue to endorse one another’s books, invite each other to conferences, share pulpits, and do everything that was done before the offending brother crossed the line. If we are going to be serious about our positions, we are going to have to show to the world that refusing to keep company with a brother is vital to the integrity of each local church. If we are going to seek purity in our churches, we cannot continue to endorse IN ANY WAY those who fail to heed the commands of Scripture. Pastors are called to a high office and to be servants of the Most High God. It is for the sake of the gospel that we stand firm, no matter what the cost to us or our ministry for in the end we will give account before God, NOT to each other.

I challenge my fellow pastors that if we are going to verbally call into question men like Driscoll for his vulgarity, like Piper for his saying that Wilson and Wright do not preach a false gospel, like Mohler and Duncan for signing The Manhattan Declaration, etc., then we must back up what we say publicly. We must refuse to endorse their materials, must admonish our people when they blindly follow these men, must stop inviting them to conferences and sharing pulpits with them, and MUST ABOVE ALL continue to seek full restoration with each other as part of the Body of Christ for whom Christ died. If we do not, then we are being hypocrites. If they are wrong, then they are wrong and pacifying the masses may be good for future book sales or endorsements, but it does not bode well for the future of true evangelical Christianity.

What we underhandedly endorse today will only become the new standards for tomorrow, and the false teachings and ecumenicalism of tomorrow will become the stepping stones towards a greater liberalism than we see today! May God give us strength to stand firm in the face of ALL opposition. May He grant us mercy and keep our feet strong so that we do not waver from the faith once delivered to the saints!

For the sake of the Gospel,

The Desert Pastor

About Mark Escalera

Name: Mark Escalera - (formerly The Jungle Missionary) Blog: DefendingContending.Com Ministry: I am a sinner saved by grace, and learning every day how much more I need the Lord directing my life. In a graceless world, my desire is to show to others the grace that has been extended to me. Have been married for almost 25 years and we have been blessed with five children with the oldest three serving in the US Air Force. My passion is seeking to minister the precious life-giving Word of God to those dead in trespasses and sins! Humbled that He would choose me as one of His children! Preferred translation: English Standard Version (ESV) Currently studying: Psalms Currently reading: The Attributes of God by A.W. Pink

4 comments on “Judgment and Discipline – Part 4

  1. Well said, DP.

    As you said, the local church is responsible for discipline of its members, however Mohler and Duncan are also the heads of parachurch organiziations, being presidents of the SBTS and the ACE respectively.

    As heads of parachurch organizations, presumably their denominational boards of governers, trustees, etc. would be required to censure them, assuming they violated by-laws, which by-laws presumably ought to be grounded in scripture.

    What are your thoughts on this subject?

    In Christ,
    CD

  2. CD,

    Thanks for your response. Your question branches into areas that pose even bigger problems for the local church simply because so many have chosen to remove themselves from the biblical pattern. The Scriptures are clear that as believers and members one of another that are first responsibility in the matter of discipline is going to be within our local church. Church discipline was not given to organizations, or denominational headquarters, or parachurch organizations (which I believe are contrary to the principles of God’s Word anyway).

    So when you have a church that is not practicing discipline within its midst, then it is hard to see parachurch organizations practicing any type of censorship. This is why Manfred in another comment has been disappointed in the lack of response from the SBC Executive Board. The SBC, in particular, does not operate under biblical guidelines for the most part anyway and discipline is frowned upon. This is why men like Timothy George, Rick Warren, and a host of others who have crossed the line into liberalism or rank heresy can still be accepted within the SBC.

    But to answer your question directly, yes, I believe in the current structure, the denominational boards of governors, trustees, etc. would be the ones to censure from them business positions for violating any by-laws that are grounded in Scripture. However, once again, we will never see that happen when the local churches these men pastor refuse to do so, you will never see it happen on the bigger scale of man-made organizations.

    Hope that clarifies.

    The Desert Pastor

  3. DP,

    Thank you for this peice.

    You have open my eyes to a number of things.

    Bless you

  4. Desert Pastor:
    Entire 4 part series is excellent. Thanks for posting.

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