One facet of Bible Believing Churches has slowly faded over the years. It was not a pleasant facet and it was not a popular facet. It had to do with the handling of unruly Church members. One of the greatest deterrents of misbehavior was Church discipline. One just did not want to be caught in activities that would threaten Church action. All Churches practiced it. Some did it outside the scriptural instructions. Some put more weight on it than God does. Excommunication connected with loss of one's eternal destiny is not truth. No Church or minister has been given the power to take away heavenly citizenship. They have misinterpreted the keys to heaven passages. We do have those keys and we can open or close the opportunities of heaven depending on our willingness or reluctance to preach the Gospel.
However we cannot bar anyone from entering heaven nor can we expel anyone from heaven.
OK! that part of the issue has been dealt with, now back to the real thing.
Everything we need to know about Church operations is found in the Gospels and the Epistles. There are some reference points and ensamples in the other scriptures. We have to glean the clear description of Church discipline from the writings of Paul, the Apostle. He is the final authority on Church regimen. In most of his letters to Churches, he has to deal with Church discipline in one form or another. From gossiping women to adulterous incest. Paul ordered that the gossipers be confronted. He ordered that those who were unruly or heretical be warned and ultimately withdrawn from. The heinous sin was to be confronted and ultimately turned over to satan. Sinful behaviour was not to be hidden. The Church was not to be "puffed up" or to find some excuse to ignore blatant sin. Sin has always been likened to leaven. If it is allowed to ferment; it will soon permeate the whole.
Why have we gotten away from the practice of discipline? Does it have any effect on our ministry? Does God care?
First we need to search for causes. I believe the most obvious is that we are all sinners, saved by grace. We cannot get to heaven by our good looks or our good works. We didn't get saved by cleaning up our act! Most of us confess, that we know that we are not what we are going to be and we know we are not what we ought to be, but we are glad that we are not what we used to be. We recognize that the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. Most of us do things and think things that to men's eyes are hidden. So we feel that we don't have the right to make judgment on the behaviour of others. We are not willing to change our attitudes so why would we expect others to be any different. So we idly sit by and let our Church spin into decadency. Hollywood has won its battle. Society has overwhelmed spiritual influence with its philosophy. Sports are more important than Bible class.
Christians sit home because they are tired of boring sermons. It doesn't take much for them to skip Church. They don't enjoy fellowshipping with other hypocrites. Nobody is convicted by the preacher's messages, because he is powerless. Conversations in the Church vestibule are not much different from McDonalds. Subject matter revolves around movie stars, rock stars and sports heroes. Beer bottles in the fridge, lottery ticket stubs in the trash tell that convictions are waning. Christians dress in the attire of the harlot world. Tobacco stains and smells are the perfume of the sanctuary. No one says a thing about the sins of our generation because "everyone's doing it." So we continually spiral down further and further away from the perfect will of God. Meanwhile we make goo goo eyes at little bastard babies that unwed mother members bring into the Church service.