Sunday, 18th April 6.00 pm Order of Service

WELCOME

HYMN Take time to be holy

1 Take time to be holy, speak oft with thy Lord;

Abide in Him always, and feed on His Word.

Make friends of God’s children, help those who are weak;

Forgetting in nothing His blessing to seek.

2 Take time to be holy, the world rushes on;

Spend much time in secret with Jesus alone —

Abiding Jesus, like Him thou shalt be!

Thy friends in thy conduct His likeness shall see.

3 Take time to be holy, be calm in thy soul;

Each thought and each motive beneath His control;

Thus led by His Spirit to fountains of love,

Thou soon shalt be fitted for service above.

William D Longstaff (1822–1894)

PRAYER

READING Matthew 18:15-20

15 “If your brother or sister sins,[ go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

18 “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

19 “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

SERMON CHURCH DISCIPLINE

We are looking this evening at Church Discipline. You may think this a terribly boring subject – or even irrelevant but it is vitally important for Christ’s work in the world that the Church exercise discipline properly. It makes sense that the Church simply cannot permit certain things to go on within her ranks without disciplining those who are bringing down the good Name of Christ and His Church. So, our first reason for trying to keep the Church pure is for the sake and the honour of Jesus. We have read these short verses in Matthew 18 :- they are Jesus’ command with regard to Church Discipline – Jesus was concerned that the Church should exercise discipline indeed He very rarely used that word “CHURCH” – but He does here in this connection of discipline. So what we can say is that it is one of Jesus’ high priorities!

As we read these verses, it also becomes very plain that Church Discipline must always be done in LOVE – NEVER in anger. We must always be keen to restore and forgive the wrongdoers and gladly welcome them back into the fold of the Church.

Verse 15 Starts off “IF YOUR BROTHER SINS AGAINST YOU” Jesus tells us: FIRSTLY – we must go to the person PRIVATELY and speak to them about it. Clearly the hope must be that as we speak to him in love and concern that he will come to his senses and repent of his wrongdoing and the matter will be at and end.

Maybe the person will have to make some amends (e.g. restoring any stolen property or time or reputation).

HOWEVER, it may be that the person remains unrepentant – unwilling to say sorry. WHAT NEXT? Here is a brother or sister who has fallen and our greatest desire must be to help them up again.

SECONDLY, WE ARE TO ENLIST one or two other brothers or sisters who are reliable and confidential. With this group of 2 or 3, the backslider is to be approached. Again, the great hope is that this disciple will see sense when it is presented to him by 1 or 2 other Church members. These 1 or 2 are also witnesses to the believer’s response!

If the wayward person STILL refuses to repent:

THIRDLY then there is no option, but to bring the matter to the attention of the local Church. The congregation must be brought to bear pressure upon the fellow. Surely anyone in his right mind is going to listen to the entire Church? And in this way they will be forgiven when they say sorry. BUT there will be some who will not listen even THEN – and Jesus says there is no option, but for such wicked folks to be put OUT of the Church – to be refused COMMUNION with the believers. Still there is the earnest hope and prayer that the sinners will return to the fold in due course.

II THE AUTHORITY OF THE CHURCH

Now, some may say BY WHAT AUTHORITY can the Church treat a sinner so – and so Jesus goes on to explain in verses 18-20.

  1. In verse 18, Jesus says that the authority we have is none other than the authority of GOD HIMself! As we take decisions in the Church in this regard – we do so in prayer and in the Name of God — and God is pleased to put His stamp of approval on the prayer-sought decisions of the Church, based always upon His revealed will in the Bible – of course!
  2. In verse 19 Jesus says that our authority, as a Church, comes from AGREEING in God’s Name. He puts the same desires in each of your hearts – and what a wonderful thing it is when believers are of one mind!
  3. And how is it that we have the authority of God? And how is it that we can agree together about things? Well, then answer is really very simple – we find it in Jesus wonderful words in verse 20, “WHERE 2 OR 3 GATHER TOGETHER IN MY NAME THERE I AM WITH THEM!” Isn’t it wonderful to have that amazing promise of Jesus?

Now, it comes in the context of Church discipline, but the promise is true for all time – and for every occasion – where two or three are gathered in the Powerful Name of Jesus – he PROMISES to be with them right in the midst of them. Jesus has promised to be RIGHT HERE this evening – do you believe it? Oh, friends, let’s take these wonderful words of Jesus to heart this evening – more than that – let’s take JESUS HIMSELF into our hearts today!

PRAYER

Hymn Oh, the best Friend to have is Jesus

1 Oh, the best friend to have is Jesus,

when the cares of life upon you roll;

he will heal the wounded heart,

he will strength and grace impart;

oh, the best friend to have is Jesus.

The best friend to have is Jesus,

the best friend to have is Jesus,

he will help you when you fall,

he will hear you when you call;

oh, the best friend you have is Jesus.

2 What a friend I have found in Jesus!

peace and comfort to my soul he brings;

leaning on his mighty arm,

I will fear no ill or harm;

oh, the best friend to have is Jesus.

Chorus

3 When I pass through the night of sorrow,

and the chilly waves of Jordan roll,

never need I shrink nor fear,

for my Saviour is so near;

oh, the best friend to have is Jesus.

Chorus

4 When at last to our home we gather

with the loved ones who have gone before,

we will sing upon the shore,

praising him for ever more;

oh, the best friend to have is Jesus.

Chorus

Benediction

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