We must consider the missing key to true church growth. I want to preach on the topic, “Church Discipline and the Glory of God.” It all must end there. What are you going to do for eternity? You are going to be a trophy of grace for the glory of God.
To glorify God in one sense I think of young married folks–honeymooners. Sometimes you hear the phrase, Boy, he makes much of her.” I think that applies here. Glorifying God is making much of God. Scripture has revealed to us marvelous things of who he is, and we should make much of His person, His precepts, honoring and obeying His truths; making much of His power, knowing that God is with you in His power; make much of Him in His purposes. They are impeccable, perfect, and altogether glorious.
I. God is glorified by submission to His Word. We do not need another expert telling us why God’s Word is not sufficient for His Church. God has given us a significant and substantive manual for church discipline in the Scriptures. Always approach it with humility and compassion, and always obey the Word. We must have a child-like faith, not childish faith as we seek to submit our lives under the authority of God’s Word.
1 Sam. 15:20-24 – Saul did not fully obey God; he thought he could achieve God’s ends by not God’s way
The idolatrous twin towers of the fear of man and selfish ambition plagued Saul, and it is prevalent today. God is not interested in the church going forward in the ingenuity and whims of man. God is first and foremost concerned about His glory; therefore, we should do church His way. In a sense, our church should not be explainable. People must conclude, “God must be supporting that.”
Two excuses often heard for disobeying God’s command for church discipline:
1. It will hurt evangelism. There will not be an end to the glory of God, but there will come a time when evangelism will end.
2. It’s not compassionate. To obey is better than sacrifice. What arrogance to supplant God’s wisdom with our own!
Rom. 16:19 – what else would you want that to know that your obedience is being made known?
We do not want to be like those in Titus 1:16.
II. God is glorified through church discipline by the magnification of His name in the world.
There was a time in my ministry where I concluded that the world is going to hell, and God does not care about their opinion of Him. God is deeply concerned about His reputation among the heathen.
Ex. 32:12-14 – God is angry, planning to exterminate the Jews for their obstinate spirit, but Moses intercedes on the basis of God’s name and reputation
God if you exterminate these people, it will hurt your reputation. So the Lord changed his mind about the harm which he said he would do. Put that into your sovereignty theory there. God is bigger than we think he is. When Moses appealed on the basis of God’s reputation, God changed his mind.
Isaiah 52:5 – “my named is continually blasphemed all the day long”
Ezekiel 36:20-23 – “they profaned My holy name . . . but I had concern for My holy name”
God is more concerned for His name than He is for you. And that is right and righteous. It is not for your sake that God is going to act, but for His name which has been profaned.
1 Cor. 10:31-32 – everything is for the glory of God
Col. 4:5 – conduct yourself with wisdom towards outsiders, because you
1 Tim. 3:7 – an elder must have a good reputation outside the church
Phil. 2:15 – prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent children, above reproach, as lights to the world
Matt. 5:14-16 – you are the light of the world, that God might be glorified in heaven by our good works
Instruction from God whereby we strive, a type of sanctity and holiness, is a must because we bear God’s name. God is glorified through the faithful exercise of church discipline by the way it magnifies his name in the world.
III. God is glorified through church discipline by the purification of His bride.
There is a kind of corporate sanctification of the bride that God intends as a whole. There is an interdependency and reciprocal relationship in the body of Christ. Impurity in the body of Christ is loathsome to God. I wish our age could grasp a trembling before the holiness of God. I wish we could gain a hold of the holiness of God in our daily lives. Are we not like the church of Laodicea today?
The Bible teaches that unrepentant sin is like a malignancy. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. Paul gave a graphic illustration to show the urgency of honor the biblical steps of discipline within the church.
Impurity is a contradiction to our destiny.
Eph. 1:4 – we were predestined to be holy and blameless before Him
It glorifies God, grasps His goals, honors His dignity, pleases His sovereign purposes, to practice church discipline in the church.
IV. God is glorified through church discipline by the restoration of His sheep.
Prone to wander, Lord I feel it; prone to leave the God I love.
You are a wanderer. We are all wanderers. I would not put my family in a church where the church would not come after us! If me or my wife or children wander into sin, I want you to go after us. The Bible says that the wages of sin is death. Sin is lethal.
Once a person crosses over from being a repentant believer to being an unrepentant believer, then you have broken the spiritual fellowship of the church. You have separated yourself from the most vital unity–the unity of the Spirit. And He is the Holy Spirit.
We are not to grieve the Holy Spirit of God. Eph. 4:3 – we are to be diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Church discipline is maintaining the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Church unity is produced by the person and power of the Holy Spirit, and when an unrepentant believer grieves the Spirit, a disunity exists and the breach must be repaired.
Have you ever noticed when we have unfortunately come to the last step of church discipline and voted to remove a member from the church body, there is the sweetest unity when the church is purified. All of us are humbled to expose ourselves and the sin in our lives. A unity of the Spirit comes in and a fear of God and hatred for sin.
Gal. 6:1-2 – This is a guideline for restoring a wandering sheep. The word “brethren” puts a note of compassion in the whole conversation. Being caught in a sin is running from sin but the sin catches up with him. No Christian wants to live in sin. Yet Christians are sometimes caught in sin and need help. The spiritual man sees the spiritual root issue. Restoring is like putting a bone back in its joint. It make take time and be a painful experience, but it is what is necessary for a healthy member of the body.
We do not withdraw ourselves from the sins of others as burdens we should gladly bear.
When a fallen brother humbles himself to receive correction, that humbles God. The fruit of the Spirit is exhibited–gentleness, compassion, love, etc. The unity that is repaired glorifies God. The humility exhibited by the restorer himself glorifies God.
V. God is glorified through church discipline by the multiplication of disciples.
The Israelites under the direction of Joshua conquered Jericho and were told to keep nothing, but Achan kept some of the spoils. The power of God left and there were defeated at Ai. Why has the power of God left?
Josh. 7:10-13 – This is not time for prayer–this is time for action! There is sin in the camp, and it requires immediate action. God is saying, “Either you judge Achan, or I will judge you.” Too many things banned by God are in our midst. We are not faithfully exercising discipline and the power of God is no longer in our midst.
Glorifying God in one way is to make much of Him, and properly exercising church discipline makes much of His person (God is holy, holy, holy); you make much of holiness by contributing to the holiness of His bride.
You make much of His precepts–His truth and His word (Job. 23:12) – I have treasured the words of His mouth more than necessary food. When we obey Matt. 18, 1 Cor. 5, etc., we show the value of God’s Word to us and bring glory to God.
You make much of His power. His power is invincible, incapable of being overcome (Jer. 27:5). God will give power to the one pleasing in His sigh. Matt. 28:18 – all authority is given to Christ; Matt. 6 – when you follow His Word, God’s invincible power will be with you, that you should not worry about what you will wear, what you will eat; when you stand on the Word of God, you glorify God by showing the world you make much of His power when all hell raises up against you.
You make much of His purposes. Rev. 5:9 – God is making a people for Himself from every tribe, tongue, and nation; God’s singular purpose is to redeem, purity, preserve, and perfect a people for Himself and His glory. You make much of that purpose when you faithfully shepherd the flock of God, which means you must practice church discipline.
If you are not tied into the glory of God, you will not make it. The glory of God has to be the driving passion of your life, that which motivate you when it is difficult, undergird you when you buckle. The glory of God will keep you till the end.
Jeff Noblit is a pastor who in public and private is “glory of God” driven, and it is evident in His preaching and in the worship of this church. It sometimes difficult to see the ultimate end and overarching purpose of church discipline when you are working through the details, wrestling through difficult cases, and may even wonder if it is worth it. Is it worth the pain, difficulty, sleepless nights, personal attacks, being misunderstood, and facing opposition. But as Noblit has so often said, “The glory of God is worth it.” It is hard to justify a passion for the glory of God if you are not passionate about the church of God; it is hard to justify a passion for the church if you are not passionate about the purity of the bride and reputation of God’s name. And this can and must come about when we faithfully live obedient to the Word of God in our lives individually and our churches corporately. And means that we must be churches that practice church discipline.