Tuesday, March 16, 2010


There is a new TV show about helping "pack rats" cast out unnecessary things. I would like them to do a show on our home. Our home is a reservoir of things. A main difference between us is that we both like Goodwill for different reasons. I like to "share," while she likes to increase our share.

In many ways, the Church is much like a family. Just as we have not let forty-seven years of "collecting things" cause us to divorce, neither should a church split over things that are merely irritating. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 teaches that love is long suffering, seeks not its own (way), is not easily provoked, bears all things, and endures all things. So I ask, why are there so many churches even within a single denomination? Why is the divorce rate in the church about the same as that of non-believers? Of course I am looking at statistics about professing believers. In God's true Church of born again believers, the rate is far lower, and yet is far too high. God hates divorce.

Since my focus is upon the Church, I will not use the many Old Testament passages about casting out people(s). Since I have written on divorce within the Church in past posts, I will not take the time to do so here. Instead, I will address what many churches call "excommunication." In Matthew 18:15-19, Jesus taught His disciples the process required to remove someone from the local church. The sin is not specified, leaving me to believe that any, and perhaps all sins should be handled in such a manner. While I have seen one example of this process occurring in my thirty-nine years as a Christian, I have to wonder why it does not happen far more often. I have a feeling that the Church would not hear the word "hypocrites" used as often to describe it.

Two examples of people being cast out of the church are found in 1 Corinthians 5:1-13, and in 1 John 10. Paul told the Corinthian church that they had failed to keep the assembly above reproach, so much so that even the Gentiles were appalled. This passage shows that a little leaven (a metaphor for sin) corrupts the entire assembly. Paul questions their poor judgment, and tells them that they should not only have cast him out, but that they should have absolutely nothing to do with him once he is expelled from the church. We also learn that should the rejected one repent, they are to be welcomed back into the assembly (2 Corinthians 2:1-10).

The situation in 3 John 10 is much different. While sin is involved in both cases, here we find that the sin is a deliberate attempt to hinder God's servants from His work. The sin was that of Diotrephes who attempted to keep John from ministering to them, nor would he allow others to do so. It was he that was casting out any who welcomed other believers. John warns that he would deal with Diotrephes when he came there. It was Diotrephes that needed to be cast out of the church he was destroying.

Keeping the assembly pure is of utmost importance, but removing someone requires specific steps. It also should be done in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ with the motive of purifying the church, and with the hopeful desire the offender will repent and be welcomed back into fellowship. Harmony should never take priority over holiness.


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