Pastor Jeff Noblit begins this morning talking about the new aggressive church planting emphasis and the need for partnership with new churches in the Chicago, IL area. Pastor Jeff introduces Paul Washer who will bring this morning’s message.
I want to share with you why I came here. Many people think that church discipline is spawned by evil, controlling, dictating pastors who think they are God’s standard on the planet. That could not be farther from the truth. I love my children. I move here with my family because this church practices church discipline. I don’t trust myself standing alone. Do you know how prone we are to pride, self-centeredness, and arrogance? Do you know what it is like to have men in my life who will watch over me, lovingly challenge, and tell you the truth, protecting you from all these things? I am too weak to live in any other kind of church.
Isn’t it true that there is millions of children who are converted because their SS teacher asked them if they want to go heaven, join the church culture, and learn to imitate everyone else? Then when they are a teenager, they abandon the things of God. I need my children to be in a place where they are going to hear a real gospel. I need my children to sing about total depravity, to sit under true preaching, and if they make a profession of faith, I want them to be taught. And if they stray away, I want there to be elders who say, “You made the good profession of faith, and there seems to be good evidence. But you have wandered away, and if you do not repent, you will bear evidence that you never truly experienced the grace of God.”
Church discipline is about love. I love my children; therefore, they must be in a church that preaches the gospel and practices church discipline.
TEXT: 1 Corinthians 15: 1-5
In this first message, I want to share with you ways in which church discipline can be prevented.
1. We must get the gospel right.
When the gospel is truly preached, there will be a less need of practicing church discipline. One of the reasons the church is so immoral is because so many who have been convinced they are saved are really lost. The greatest need is to know the gospel of Jesus Christ. Some will say, “Of course.” But I submit to you that most people today do not understand the gospel of Jesus Christ. This country is not gospel-hardened; it is gospel-ignorant. And this is because those behind the pulpit are not preaching the glorious gospel of our blessed God.
The reason for eternity is to track down, “What does it mean that Jesus died for me?” The gospel reduced to four spiritual laws or five things people want to know?! It has been reduced to a simply creed. The Gospel!
If we would throw away all things and preach on the character of God and the gospel, it would do more things to heal churches and grow people than anything else! Wouldn’t it be sensible to make a seminary student take a class on the gospel every semester? The gospel is not just for lost people. It is for us! I don’t know a lot about many Christian things. My life has been devoted to the gospel of Jesus Christ, and I cannot get even to the foothills of the gospel!
We are called to live a certain way because of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is not motivated by “Your Best Life Now.” There is no other motivation except the gospel of Jesus Christ. They are humanistic morality. Study the men of history who have been mightily used of God. They did not go into the world for any other reason that the Gospel and love of Jesus Christ compelled them and constrained them. Look what God has done in His Son Jesus Christ!
We no longer have confidence in the power of the gospel. We have ten steps, five ways, and other ways of getting people going. If we get people to understand the gospel, then you will have to put a bridle in their mouth, not a fire in their tale!
I preached to you . . .
Can you be alone with God? That when you open your mouth, God comes out? You are not a life coach. You are a prophet! The greatest need for your people is for you to be filled with God. Not a false fire, not a Friday not motivated or pep rally, but everyday you are tracking down and tracing out who is God and what he has done for me.
If your people are going to be set on fire with the gospel, you must be set on fire with the gospel. If you are going to know it, you must know it. Just because by rote you give people the truth, it doesn’t make it a real sermon. You do not just communicate tidbits of truth. Men must not only communicate truth; they must be set on fire by it. If it does nothing for you, it will do nothing for them!
What does the world need? What it does not have – preachers. More preaching, less discipline. More preaching, more godliness. Preaching!
Today I hear discipleship. Today I hear this methodology and that methodology. I say, “To rot with that! Give me a man who will preach twice a week, and he will give me more truth than I know what to do with.” You are not called to be everyone’s friend. You are not called to be a mover and shaker, to be on the cutting edge of our culture so that you can adapt your church to make it successful. You are to get alone with God, and come to God’s people with a message, “Thus saith the Lord.”
Today, missions is a-theological and filled with every methodology imaginable. Give us a man with a Bible who will go into the plaza and preach until men are converted or the preached is taken away into prison. God has ordained preaching to be the way people are saved. Every time you get up in the pulpit, you must see yourself as you really are. Don’t let the devil steal that mantle. You are prophet, standing in the valley of dry bones. Christianity is supernatural, and I will not allow television preachers to steal that word from me. Nothing will happen unless God moves upon the hearts of men and changes them. O God, unless you move here today, all my work here will be rot.
What do we need? We need preachers! I ask you not to come away from this conference with a new strategy. I ask that you hid yourself in your study, and do not come out until you have gotten with God.
If ever there was a text that was perverted by evangelical Christianity, it is this text. Look what we have done to the Gospel. We tell people that if they want to “receive” Christ, then it means that you have raised your hand, repeated a prayer, taken only five minutes to say “yes” to these steps. God is not a cherry on top of your little cake. He is not an accessory to your life. Jesus is everything or nothing. You do not receive Him partially; He does not divide His offices. You either receive Him as Lord or not at all.
Everybody wants to go to heaven; they just don’t want God when they get there. Has there been a supernatural change wrought in your heart? And to receive Him is not to pray a prayer. It is defined as this: repent of your sins and believe. Something God does not ask you to do; it is something God commands you to do. Repent and believe.
Do you realize that we live in an age of “the idolatry of decisionism.” They are trusting in a decision and the sincerity thereof. They are not looking to Christ, but to a decision. Look what we have done. Back in the 70s-80s, we have just as many people leaving the back door as the front door, and the reason is because they have not been discipled. NO! The reason is that they have not been converted. Discipleship does not keep people in the church; the Spirit of God keeps people in the church! (resounding amen)
which you received . . .
To feed on Christ is the correct word to say, that is, to receive Christ. Christ is not a part of our life; He becomes our life.
Let’s go to Romans 10:9-10, 13, the famous text for the sinner’s prayer. We have told people that confession is nothing more than “pray this prayer.” It is agreeing to certain things, or saying “yes” and that’s it. This text means that confession is an enduring characteristic of their life. They are confessing Christ throughout their life. You can look at their life and see a perpetual confession that is true as seen in the character of their lives. Our faith is proven by our real, enduring confession that Jesus Christ is Lord. If a man does not confession of Christ, at everything dear to him, he has not faith in Christ. Confession is necessary to prove that this gift of salvation is received.
We are to be men of God. You say, “Well, it’s hard.” Yes, but you have not suffered to the point of shedding of blood. It’s supposed to be hard.
in which you stand . . .
Listen to this one point. Isn’t that enough? Why do we have to promised people all the things of this world, to have their felt-needs met? We are saved! Don’t tell me anything else! Don’t cheapen the call or go for any other reason that Jesus shed his own blood for my soul! I must raise my hands and worship God for what He is to me and that alone! I’m saved. I’m not going to hell! If you have to keep people in your congregation by adding anything else to the gospel, they are NOT converted.
We have lost our excitement about salvation. We are not passionate about the gospel. You rob your people by not preaching about their sin. She loved much, because she had been forgiven much, and this because she had sinned much. The darker we paint men, the more beautiful Christ becomes. We show men his sin, leading him to condemnation so that he would have no way out except looking to the beauty and excellency of Christ.
If you are not preaching about sin, then the Holy Spirit has nothing to do with your ministry. The Holy Spirit has come to convict men of their sin, and if you have nothing to do with sin in your preaching, then the Holy Spirit has nothing to do with you.
The preaching of the Gospel–it is enough, it is enough.
Paul Washer has wonderfully explained the greatest need in our churches. It is not church discipline per say. It is the right understanding, faithful exposition, and personal application of the gospel to our lives individually and to our churches corporately. So much of the unregenerate nature of our churches is do to the loss of the gospel, the reduction of the gospel, and the perverting of the gospel. If we are going to see renewal in our churches, if we truly want revival in our churches, then it will come through those God-besot men whose Bibles are decorated not by dust but tears, whose pulpits are not pronounced by the praise of men, but are approved by the power of Almighty God who alone can make these dry bones live. May the Lord burn in our hearts the gospel of Jesus so that we cannot keep from testifying and preaching of the glories of our God and Savior Jesus Christ and what He has done for us (Acts 4:19-20).