Confession & Discipline : A Demonstration of The Gospel

The more I attend my new church, the more I am encouraged about the church, the more I love the church. When I say the church I mean the catholic or universal true church, not my local assembly alone. This is a huge turning point for me because for the past few years, I have been very disappointed in the American church as it has generally succumbed to prosperity theology, liberal theology or outright heresy in doctrine and ecclesiological practice. It’s not out of bounds to even question the authenticity of many professing churches when I compare them to the church and pastoral epistles in the New Testament.

So the reason for my encouragement you ask?  In today’s service I witnessed two expressions of the gospel that seems foreign to the church. I witnessed an elder’s public confession of sin and church discipline. Without going into unnecessary detail, the former elder tearfully admitted his violation of 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and how his sin affected his employment, his relationships including his marriage resulting in the heavy discipline of the Lord.

Some still may be wondering why this was encouraging for me. I was encouraged by: the conviction and discipline he experienced which validates his sonship (Hebrews 12:5-11), his humility to confess which testifies of his agreement with the truthfulness of God (1 John 1:8-10), and the mercy he received and will receive from God and from the body (Proverbs 28:13 & Psalm 32).

It is imperative that we understand the scope of the gospel. I think when we think of the term “the gospel” we relegate that to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ only. While that is the foundation of it, it is not the totality of it. The gospel is evidenced not only in justification, but in sanctification and ultimately our glorification. The Apostle Paul said in his introduction to the Romans:

16For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.”

Working backwards in these two verses, it’s obvious the believer or the one who has been imputed righteousness by faith will live by that same faith.  The same faith that justified us is the same faith we’re called to live in.  This is what Paul meant when he said from faith to faith. Or it can be said this way: from initial faith (justification) to the consummation of faith (glorification).  Saying it this way implicitly includes our sanctification, which occurs as a result of being justified and is a precursor to being glorified.

The key issue is to notice from what and what is being revealed from faith to faith.  Paul says from the gospel, the righteousness of God is being revealed.  More specifically, the evidence of this gospel is the imputed righteousness of God progressively manifesting practically in our lives.  This progressive manifestation of God’s righteousness is evidenced in our continual growth not only through love, patience, kindness, etc., but also in humility, submission, confession, correction, and repentance. Confession and repentance are signs of a contrite heart, which please the Lord.

While I do not rejoice in the sin of the former elder, I do rejoice because of the faithfulness of God to glorify Himself and to continually conform him to the image of His Son and bring him to glory.

Soli Deo Gloria!

d.

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9 thoughts on “Confession & Discipline : A Demonstration of The Gospel

  1. Very encouraging fam… Encouraging when I think about the idea of the faith that saved me is the same faith I’m to use to walk out my salvation. Recently I’ve been meditating on “the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God” Gal 2:20. By the elder confessing his failure like he did he showed commitment to God… Thats awesome! Very encouraging indeed. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Thanks for sharing. It’s humbling to see an elder go before a congregation and admit the sin he sinned against God first and then whatever person(s) that this affected.
    Even though I’ve never seen this first hand at my church, I’ve heard about it being half done (in that way) or only done (sat down) for a little while. I pray that God restores him and heals him and those whom were touched by this.

    Also, the scripture reference and the reminder of how the gospel is not just “death, burial and resurrection of Christ,” but also growing in righteousness by sanctification. It encouraged me that God is completing the work he started in me and all His own.

    God Bless!

  3. Donald & Kia,

    I wish I could put into words how encouraged I was to see his humble confession and the way the church responded to his brokenness.

    Considering how liberal many churches are becoming in doctrine and practice, it was joyous to see a demonstration of God’s faithfulness and an adhererance to truth, even in this situation.

    Grace & Peace,

    d.

  4. yo … this is a solid post, dave. and i can see why you were encouraged. i’m glad things are going biblically in your new local congregation, and i hope that continues.

    but what i got out of this is when you wrote the following:

    “It is imperative that we understand the scope of the gospel. I think when we think of the term ‘the gospel’ we relegate that to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ only. While that is the foundation of it, it is not the totality of it. The gospel is evidenced not only in justification, but in sanctification and ultimately our glorification.”

    this really spoke to me, fam. the reason is that this past sunday i had to do an event on campus and therefore missed the regular sunday meeting at CCBL, so i decided to hit up an emerging congregation up in baltimore. it’s a new church plant called Freedom Church, and a lot of the fam in baltimore have really been excited about it and what it intends to do in northeast baltimore. so i attended their service sunday evening … and MAN! i’m excited, too. anyway, one of the things michael crawford, one of the pastors there, said is …

    “HOW HAVE YOU BEEN RECONCILING YOUR LIFESTYLE TO THE GOSPEL?”

    he expounded on what you were just saying, dave, which is that “Gospel” isn’t simply the insurmountable and amazing “repent and believe” that we receive during conversion … or even, gasp, a musical genre.

    IT’S A LIFESTYLE.

    crawford was asking HOW we live LIFESTYLES of repentance from sin and faith in Christ.

    and even moreso, his challenge was to examine the loving, giving, selfless character of the biblical Gospel … and reconcile our lifestyles to THAT.

    so … questions like the following come up: * how do you live the Gospel when you’re cut off on the highway? * how does your daily fellowship with the Lord reflect the Gospel? * do you respond to the needs of siblings in Christ in a way that illuminates the Gospel? * is your activity in your community reflective of the Gospel?

    you catch my drift.

    when i heard that, i was like, GULP!

    no, this isn’t a works-based Faith, but as we all know, a person who has been truly transformed and who walks with the Lord will also be a person whose faith is manifest in their submitting to being a conduit for God’s work in the earth.

    and at Freedom Church, their whole purpose is to (1) equip the church through discipleship, teaching, etc., (2) be the Gospel in their communities, and (3) impact the culture … all of this through living lives that reflect the Gospel.

    anyway, i am leaving the pulpit now, lol! but your remarks are confirmation of where God has been patiently taking me.

    g&p!

  5. Amen, Eve!

    Indeed, His redemption is supposed to be progressively and comprehensively evident in our lives in a very visible and tangible way.

    Does the church make their semons available in CD or mp3 format? I’d like to hear the sermons.

    Praise the Lord for His faithful work in you. And as always, thanks for your edifying words, sis!! I’ll keep the DC fam in prayer!

    d.

  6. “no, this isn’t a works-based Faith, but as we all know, a person who has been truly transformed and who walks with the Lord will also be a person whose faith is manifest in their submitting to being a conduit for God’s work in the earth.”

    @eva – I love that language.

    David this is something you and I talk about every time we have a conversation. I’m also having a love affair with my new church home. I’m seeing things enacted within the service that are pages out of the Bible as well. On one hand, it’s a shame that we have to be shocked or relieved to see such. On the other, I find such hope that God is at work in this generation. It’s like the heavenlies has said, “Enough already!”, and is moving hearts to revival and back to the basics!

    To get y’all more hyped–I’m gonna take a side step:

    My pastor did a sermon today on Romans 1 (We are in a study of the book. This is week 2). He outlined it as “The Problem, The Result & Solution”. I will try to do him justice and not confuse the profound illumination God gave this man. He began by giving some illustrations of his mountain climbing hobby. Then asked us with passion, and I paraphrase, “Are you not afraid of standing at the precipice of lack of worship?” In other words, he honed in on verse 1:21 as the foundation of this. Citing that the wrath of God is ultimately being revealed against a lack of honor, gratitude, thankfulness, etc. (i.e.worship). And the spectacular sins listed are merely the sinful symptoms of this greater malady, self-idolatry. We go to God and say, “I don’t want your way” and God says, “Okay, go ahead have it your way.” (a practical way to see the giving over or the exchanging in verses 23 & 24). You may listen to the sermon here–it will be up in a couple days. Just keep checking back to get his context.

    But then dude caused me to almost holla when he said this, “The reformed community don’t believe their own doctrines (i.e. Sovereignty of God, etc.) because they don’t pray.”

    This comment came in the context of him later passionately asking us what is the appropriate response to The Doctrine of Sovereignty of God (and you can add any other doctrine in its place). He said the appropriate response is a heart of prayer! So simple.

    He said, we (especially in Reformed Community) have made the Bible a manual for our self-righteous judgments. He said the Scriptures are a MANUAL OF MERCY!

    Yo! Dude cooked the message up today! Gotta listen. I’ll have to share with you “live” how he illustrated the handing over of us to our lusts. Then Christ turns around and gets handed over for us because of our malady! Oh my!

    Here is my Church’s website. Click under worship and you can download or here sermons. I haven’t heard any of them on there. I will be joining in their October session and just plugged in (return from an extended stay in NC last week) today.

    Oh, then my new sunday school class put us on to this book called When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting The Poor…and Yourself by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert

    I’m so open. God is doing a major overhaul on me. I’m officially seeking God to purify all my biases and perceptions. I’ve professed to be wise, but I see I’m a fool. Wisdom is calling I must go sit a her table!

    🙂
    Tish

  7. Oh speaking of leadership confessions, might I add, that I had lunch with my pastor today and he and I got a chance to chat about the cancer of pride. Specifically, how it’s always lurking even in our good. He invited about 20 new-comers to lunch with him. Sitting there he confessed, freely to all of us, how he was complimented earlier today by some distinguished visitor (before service) over how he leads his congregation in prayer. He said that made him feel a little bit too good. He said when it was time to start service he was so aware of that compliment and hated it. He said it was messing w/ him and he got impressed with himself. Me knowing this myself, we began to share about our struggle with spiritual pride–in that area. That is in our case over valuing highly prayer.

    What’s funny is how our brothers and sisters in Christ try to protect you from pride by refraining completely from giving anyone any compliment or encouragement. Satan is so cunning because the usually creates more inner issues and later confusion. I find that what alleviates such is to simply trust God to handle a person’s pride issues.

    Blessed is the man who can receive a compliment and not have to over compensate by responding with spiritual platitudes that give empty glory and honor to God. Take the compliment and keep it moving. If your heart is tender toward God, trust He will correct you. If you love Him more than yourself, you will respond to His conviction swiftly. If your heart is not tender, your pride will cause you to stumble and fall hard!

    So I wanted to clarify in him making that comment about reformed community. He was generally speaking and not assuming everyone needs to pray everyday for 2 hours. Prayer is about desperate dependency. And that dependency simply reveals itself in a person’s overall disposition and choices, especially when those choices affect others.

    He was speaking against what is normative in some circles whereby we rather debate, correct, or isolate from others before we hurt for our brother or sister who is wayward or off in their doctrine and cry out in prayer for them.

    Ok, I’m really done!

  8. Tish,

    I’ll peep the sermon. I also DL’d Martin’s and have it on the iPod for listening.

    Concerning the pride / prayerlessness, I can relate. After I came to accept the D.O.G., I found myself feeling “elite” because I understood what most of the community here didn’t. How inconsistent is that???!!!?? So yes, I can totally understand what your pastor meant. Thankfully, that didn’t last too long.

    d.

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