Two or Three (Matthew 18)

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

What happens when we disagree? We don’t walk away. When you get in a disagreement, you need to go to that person. When you hear someone “discussing” someone in the church who isn’t present, you need to encourage them strongly to go DIRECTLY to them without talking to third parties. This isn’t just a suggestion, it’s what Jesus tells us to do. “It’s not my business” isn’t a phrase church members can honestly say, we are all members of one another and thus, it is our business… that’s membership. First go to them PRIVATELY. The second you talk to someone who’s not them, you’ve already circumvented the Lord’s prescription. If they aren’t reasonable or receptive to your honest, humble, biblical, loving critique, then bring a couple of other people into the mix… but these are people who are in the know, not just people “on your side.” These are meant to be “witnesses” who are somewhat already aware, not just your friends. Then what if this person isn’t willing to change? You bring it to the church.

Jesus is really clear on this one, you don’t bring it to the Deacons, the Elder board, the Pastor etc. “Elder Ruled” church is just not the New Testament model. The ultimate authority in the church is Jesus, and he is present in the assembly of the members, all of them. You take issues of membership “to the church” not a church representative. You start privately, and if they won’t listen, you get progressively more public until you bring in the entire church. Jesus, then, is in the decision the church makes. Whenever the church makes a decision, he’s in the midst of it. The way Jesus has chosen to make major decisions like who is in and out of his church is by congregational vote

About John Harris

I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.

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