Biblical Church Membership
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Biblical Church Membership. Biblical Church Membership. Lesson 6 Discipline -practicing church membership as a body-. The History of Church Discipline in the SBC.

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Biblical church membership

Biblical Church Membership


Lesson 6 discipline practicing church membership as a body

Biblical Church Membership

Lesson 6 Discipline-practicing church membership as a body-


The history of church discipline in the sbc

The History of Church Discipline in the SBC


Biblical church membership

The Summary of Church Discipline, published by the Charleston Association of Charleston, SC in 1774, includes these words in its introductory paragraph:


Biblical church membership

“The constitution of churches is plainly supposed, Acts 2:47, Matt. 18:17, etc., and it is necessary, in order that the disciples of Christ may enjoy the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper, which is a church ordinance, that they watch over one another, warn the unruly, and lay censures on disorderly and impenitent persons.” (Chapter I, Section 3)


Biblical church membership

The Summary further recognizes 3 general levels of discipline:

1.Rebuke, Admonition, Censure

2.Suspension

3.Excommunication


Biblical church membership

The general practice of southern churches prior to the Twentieth Century

As described in Wills, Gregory “Southern Baptists and Church Discipline” in SBJT 4/4 (Winter 2000)


Biblical church membership

To an antebellum Baptist, a church without discipline had little claim to be a church of Christ. (Wills, 5)


Days of discipline

Days of Discipline

  • Public confession and repentance or public rebuke

  • Churches would investigate accusations of unrepentant sin.

  • In 90% of cases, repentance would occur as a result of the church’s involvement.


Days of discipline1

Days of Discipline

  • In the remaining 10%, half were formally cleared of any wrongdoing.

  • In the remaining 5% of cases the church would impose either a public rebuke or actual excommunication.


Biblical church membership

“Excommunication was exclusion from the fellowship of the church. It withdrew the privileges of membership. Excluded persons could not participate in the Lord’s Supper, could not vote in conference, and no longer bore the title ‘brother’ or ‘sister.’” (Wills, 6)


Days of discipline2

Days of Discipline

  • Excommunicated members could be restored through active repentance and resumption of normal church attendance.

  • About 1/3 of ex-communicants were so restored to full membership.


Days of discipline3

Days of Discipline

  • In Baptist churches, the discipline process happened through majority vote.

  • Though often fraught with disagreements, etc, no one questioned the process or principle itself, only the outcome.


Biblical church membership

“But Baptists persevered in church discipline because they believed that discipleship required it. Christ commanded his churches to exclude those who were immoral or who denied the doctrines of the gospel. They could not in good conscience call themselves Christians while ignoring a clear command of Christ.” (Wills, 8)


Biblical church membership

“‘Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.’ Thus will it serve as a check upon sin, and an incentive to holiness. It will further benefit the church by increasing it[s] spirituality.” (SC Pastor J.M. Chiles, 1856)


Biblical church membership

“Another reason to exercise church discipline is, that thus only can the church be led to perform the glorious work of evangelizing the world.”

James P. Boyce

Founding President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary


Biblical church membership

Examples of Church Discipline from SBC History

As described in Wills, Gregory “Southern Baptists and Church Discipline” in SBJT 4/4 (Winter 2000)


Biblical church membership

Case Study

Savannah First Baptist Church

Georgia, 1806


Biblical church membership

Case Study

Powelton Baptist Church

Georgia, 1817


Biblical church membership

Case Study

Columbia First Baptist Church

South Carolina, 1816


Biblical church membership

What happened to cause the biblical practice of church discipline to decline?


Biblical church membership

“By the 1930s discipline was quite rare—most reported exclusions were merely the cleaning of church rolls of names of members long inactive and forgotten.” (Wills, 10)


Biblical church membership

“Church discipline was common among Baptists until early this century, when it faded as people abused the system to carry out vendettas.”

Timothy George

Dean of Beeson Divinity School


Biblical church membership

1.External factors – the wider culture moved more and more towards an autonomous individualism.

2.Internal factors – churches were more and more influenced by theological liberalism, refusing to believe in Scriptural authority or moral absolutes.


Biblical church membership

“Our churches have practically no discipline. As to worldliness and minor offences, many of our churches do nothing. But what is far worse, our churches often allow the most serious moral transgressions to go unnoticed. . .What we dread today more than aught else is a disturbance in the “peace” of a church. . . .” (Editor, SC Baptist Courier, Z.T. Cody, 1921)


Biblical church membership

What the Bible Says About Church Discipline


Biblical church membership

If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED.


Biblical church membership

If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.


Biblical church membership

Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst. (Matthew 18:15-17)


Biblical church membership

I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. (I Corinthians 5:5)


Biblical church membership

I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. (I Corinthians 5:5)


Biblical church membership

For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges. REMOVE THE WICKED MAN FROM AMONG YOURSELVES. (I Corinthians 5:12-13)


Biblical church membership

Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. (Galatians 6:1)


Biblical church membership

If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of that person and do not associate with him, so that he will be put to shame. Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother. (II Thessalonians 3:14-15)


Biblical church membership

Do not receive an accusation against an elder except on the basis of two or three witnesses. Those who continue in sin, rebuke in the presence of all, so that the rest also will be fearful of sinning. (I Timothy 5:19-20)


Biblical church membership

One of themselves, a prophet of their own, said, "Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons." This testimony is true. For this reason reprove them severely so that they may be sound in the faith. (Titus 1:12-13)


Biblical church membership

Reject a factious man after a first and second warning, knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned. (Titus 3:10-11)


Biblical church membership

My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins. (James 5:19-20)


Biblical church membership

Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting…. (II John 9-11)


Biblical church membership

I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false…. (Revelation 2:2)


Biblical church membership

But I have a few things against you, because you have there some who hold the teaching of Balaam…So you also have some who in the same way hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Therefore repent; or else I am coming to you quickly, and I will make war against them with the sword of My mouth. (Revelation 2:14-16)


Biblical church membership

But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. (Revelation 2:20-23)


Biblical church membership

Getting Back to Church Discipline


Biblical church membership

“Without a recovery of functional church discipline—firmly established upon the principles revealed in the Bible—the church will continue its slide into moral dissolution and relativism.”

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary


Biblical church membership

We need to recognize the need for church discipline.


In 2008

In 2008…

SBC churches reported a total membership of:

16,266,920

SBC churches also reported an average weekly attendance of:

6,148,868


The convention passed the following

The Convention passed the following:

RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana, June 10-11, 2008, urge churches to maintain a regenerate membership by acknowledging the necessity of spiritual regeneration and Christ’s lordship for all members; and be it further


The convention passed the following1

The Convention passed the following:

RESOLVED, That we humbly urge our churches to maintain accurate membership rolls for the purpose of fostering ministry and accountability among all members of the congregation; and be it further


The convention passed the following2

The Convention passed the following:

RESOLVED, That we urge the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention to repent of the failure among us to live up to our professed commitment to regenerate church membership and any failure to obey Jesus Christ in the practice of lovingly correcting wayward church members (Matthew 18:15-18); and be it further


The convention passed the following3

The Convention passed the following:

RESOLVED, That we humbly encourage denominational servants to support and encourage churches that seek to recover and implement our Savior’s teachings on church discipline, even if such efforts result in the reduction in the number of members that are reported in those churches, and be it finally


The convention passed the following4

The Convention passed the following:

RESOLVED, That we humbly urge the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention and their pastors to implement a plan to minister to, counsel, and restore wayward church members based upon the commands and principles given in Scripture (Matthew 18:15-35; 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15; Galatians 6:1; James 5:19-20).


Biblical church membership

We need to obey the Bible’s dictates on church discipline.


Biblical church membership

“I believe this is the most important subject that can engage the pulpit at this time. Until our churches purge out the old leaven, it will be utterly vain to pray for conversion of souls. . . . An organization which has no corrective church discipline, whatever else it may be, is scarcely fit to be called a church of Jesus Christ.” (Southern Pastor, A.B. Woodfin, 1874)


Biblical church membership

“The mandate of the church is to maintain true gospel doctrine and order. A church lacking these essential qualities is, biblically defined, not a true church.”

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary


Biblical church membership

“…Fearing lawsuits and lacking courage, these churches allow sin to go unconfronted, and heresy to grow unchecked.”

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary


Biblical church membership

“…Inevitably, the false unity they seek to preserve gives way to the factions that inevitably follow the gradual abandonment of biblical Christianity.”

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary


Biblical church membership

“It has been remarked, that when discipline leaves a church, Christ goes with it.”  

John LeadleyDagg

Virginian-born Pastor and Theologian


Biblical church membership

Biblical Church Membership


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