Church Rules & Discipline
Church rules and discipline are necessary because the Church represents Christ and the church member’s represent the church (so the church members represent Christ then logically).
Bad character and conduct of church members will reflect poorly upon Christ and His testimony.
Church leaders need to discern the wicked who have no heart to conform to Christ’s will and therefore shouldn’t be part of the church versus the willing and obedient disciples who should be part of the church, even if they are weak and unlearned.
Proclaiming the whole counsel of God and expecting that people conform to the truth preached brings revelation of Christ’s will and in doing this it divides the wicked from those who are willing disciples.
“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)
Usually doing the above will cause the wicked who have no real heart to obey God’s Word to leave the church without needing to be excommunicated directly by the elders. But obviously excommunication is necessary for those who don’t leave yet have proven they are unwilling to do what God commands and be Christ’s disciples.
Allowing the wicked who have no heart to be discipled to remain in the church will hinder the true disciples, corrupt them, and keep them from being the pure testimony for Christ which they ought to be before the world.
Church meetings should primarily be about discipleship of the believer- not evangelism. Part of the discipleship of the believer is training for evangelism outside of the church meeting; and of course it’s not wrong to say things intended to bring visitors to the church and older youth to Christ. But devoting church meetings to evangelism keeps the believers from the instruction they need to mature in the faith.
And when regular members are not true disciples evangelizing these won’t help anyways, they consider themselves to be in Christ and they see evangelism as needful for others but not themselves. So trying to evangelize them week after week like you’d evangelize an outsider is pointless anyways.
A key characteristic of the New Covenant is that in the church (working as God intended it to be and maintaining His holy standards) the members do not need to be evangelized (i.e. told to know the Lord).
(Hebrews 8:10-12) “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: 11 And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.”
Church is to deal with topics that edify the believer’s understanding without needing to call people to repentance and salvation all of the time. Sure, truths may be mentioned that might be helpful in evangelism and we can occasionally, when needed, exhort people to repent if they’re not living in line with the truth that we’re dealing with and generally mention the need for all to get ready to meet God. All of that is okay here and there; but the messages are prepared for the edification and instruction of the believers. That is how a church meeting should be. Matthew 18:15-17 clearly states to excommunicate the unrepentant sinner.
And as the believers are edified you can build on that week after week and see a real edifying in the Lord that will overall increase the quality of the church as well as better draw people to the group for the right reasons. We don’t need to worry about missing a chance to evangelize an unbeliever because they’re not coming to the church meeting anymore. The best evangelistic testimony to give to someone in that case is to come back when they are ready to repent and submit to the whole counsel of God because they’ll be secure in their sin anyways as long as they can keep coming back to church in their sin and thinking they have an interest in Christ as they do so. They NEED to have their false security rug pulled out from under them before they’ll really be challenged to repent anyways.
Notice Revelation 2:12-16: “12 And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges; 13 I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth. 14 But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. 15 So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate.”
Without getting into the specific false doctrines talked about here, the thing I’m seeking to emphasize is that the leading elder of the church (i.e. called the angel in Rev chapters 2 and 3) was rebuked simply for allowing those who were stumbling-blocks to God’s people to remain in the church. And allowing these to remain in the church is ALSO DANGEROUS FOR THEM as well. The lessons here apply to all churches.
“16 Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. 17 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches…”