The Missing Link Discovered!

(Since I’m still working through my exegetical/lexicography project, here’s something from my “drafts” folder that I’ve quickly finished for everyone’s enjoyment…)

Normally, when people talk about “the missing link”, they’re talking about some fossil remains from some transitional life form.

Not today.  What missing link am I talking about?

I’m talking about the missing link in our churches.  What is the one thing that few, if not almost none, of Western Canadian churches do that is explicitly prescribed in scripture?

Okay…there’s maybe more than one thing.  That was a bad question.

Let’s try that again.  What are some of the problems in many churches?

People leaving?

Hypocrisy?

Biblical Ignorance?

Divorce?

False Teaching?

I’m sure that the list can go on and on, if one takes the time to think about it.  So what’s something thing that directly addresses things like hypocrisy, divorce, false teaching, rampant sin, etc. that isn’t found in a majority of churches?

Preaching?  Nope.  We all got that (or at least some semblance of it).

Prayer?  Nope.  Again, that’s in every church (at least somewhat).

Evangelism?  Nope.  Many churches do that, and quite effectively at that.

Exorcism?  Okay…so we don’t have a lot of exorcism going on, but I doubt that would really address things like hypocrisy or divorce…

So what is it?

I’d suggest that it’s Church Discipline. Biblical Church Discipline is the missing element in a lot of Western Canadian churches.  Churches have a tendency to overlook sin in the lives of their congregants and members, and because of this the accusations of hypocrisy have a fair amount of substance.  People outside the church usually have more than a few illustrations of how “those think they’re better than us, but…(insert tale of co-worker/acquaintance who was stealing/committing adultery/whatever and their church did absolutely nothing)”.  When we claim to be holy, but have people in our churches living in flagrant rebellion against the Lord, outsiders are watching and taking copious notes.

So what is Church Discipline?

Why is it important?

How in the world do you do it without everyone leaving your church?

The questions are legion, so instead of going on for a few thousand words, here’s some choice resources for you to investigate from people who have a solid biblical understanding and a fair amount of practical experience with church discipline:

1. Grace Community Church pamphlet on church discipline.

2. Bill Zimmer (long time elder at Grace Community Church) working in depth through church discipline.

3.  The corresponding audio for Bill Zimmer’s teaching on point 2.

4.  Bob Deffinbaugh (pastor/teacher at Community Bible Chapel in Richardson, Texas) working through 1 Corinthians 5:1-13 as an illustration of the procedures and philosophy of church discipline.

5.  Al Mohler (president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) writing on how to reclaim church discipline – Part 1 and Part 2 and Part 3 and Part 4.

6.  Simon J. Kistemaker (retired professor of New Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary) hammering through what it means to “deliver this man unto Satan“; what it is and what is not.

7.  The Orthodox Presbyterian Church’s book of discipline.  Some great practical commentary and “how to” content.

8.  The “Discipline Issue” of the 9 Marks ministries journal.  Lots of helpful articles.

Feel free to engage, question or disagree at will in the comment section.  I’d love to hear what people are thinking about the need for, or possibly uselessness of, church discipline.

Until Next Time,

Lyndon “Proverbs 26:3 is NOT about church discipline” Unger

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3 thoughts on “The Missing Link Discovered!

  1. If I may, I would go one step further and propose that it’s a personal lack of obedience to God and His Word by the individual Christian (many of whom are hearers only and not doers – James 1:22) based on a love of self over love for Jesus. (“If ye love me, keep my commandments.” John 14:15 and “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.” 1 John 5:3). As long as we have not understood the depths of His great love for us (lack of Bible teaching?) and have not completely died to our old nature, and continue to look at ourselves instead of keeping our eyes on Jesus, we will stumble and there will need to be church discipline and accountability within the body of Christ, for His name’s sake. But because no one likes conflict, and because we (even those in leadership) often value the opinion of man above God’s Word (and long time church family friends, and church members with money), this is often not done, and the issues often get swept under the rug. This might be due to a combination of some of the ‘missing link’ reasons you listed above (lack of preaching, exegetical teaching, Bible ignorance, personal Bible study), but could the ‘missing link’ in our (polite Canadian and pacifist Mennonite) churches be boiled down to our ‘fossilized,’ ingrained old nature (pride) and the upside down order of our love which we have so much trouble bringing into submission to God? [Should be: God > others > self, but is more often: Self > others > God.] If all the commandments are based on this order of love, then it stands to reason that if this order is messed up, something will be missing.
    YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH (Matthew 22:37, Mark 12:30, Luke 10:27)

    In regards to further uncovering this missing link – dig to China and ask the underground persecuted church what is missing in the Western church.

  2. That’s the other thing we’re missing: persecution.

    Christianity was a thriving, living religion until Constantine came along. The Mennonites knew what persecution was, until their descendants got used to the settled-down life in Russia. It took an evangelistic revival then persecution under the Communists, to put fire in the hearts of believers.

    I don’t wish it upon ourselves and I certainly don’t pray for it to come, but persecution would do wonders for the health of the North American church.

  3. Yeah, I do agree that disobedience is a major problem and persecution has a way of getting rid of the chaff.

    If we’re adding to the list, I’d refer everyone to 9 Marks ministries…I’d say that a good number of churches are missing all 9 Marks.

    In my travels and conversations, I’ve noticed that almost nobody has discipline though. The reasons are numerous for that, and there’s also more foundational reasons for why almost nobody disciplines.

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