Tell the Church

Christ’s prescription when a professing believer offends us is straightforward. [1] Confront him/her privately. (Mt 18:15) If that fails to restore fellowship then [2] involve one or two others to [a] ensure there’s no misunderstanding, and [b] discretely encourage resolution. (Mt 18:16) Failing here, [3] take it to court: tell the church. Her verdict is considered binding and final; those who refuse it are treated as outsiders, unbelievers. (Mt 18:16) This is ultimate spiritual authority.

Personal offenses being the most common and critical challenge to unity, Christ is actually telling us how to handle any type of corruption among professing believers; whether it be a divisive spirit promoting destructive teachings or blatant sin, this pattern is evidently applicable.

So who or what is this church, the final authority deciding all spiritual matters impacting the well-being of the body of Christ? (Col 1:24)

The word church is from the Greek ekklesia, meaning assembly or congregation (1Co 11:18), and the fact that all are subject to its judgement implies unity. In other words, spiritual authority lies only in a unified brotherhood; without this, the church is lifeless and powerless, nothing more than decor in a broken world.

To destroy a brotherhood, and thus the church herself, impose any type of hierarchical leadership; elevate a small group to exercise spiritual authority over others. This undermines the foundation and subverts the purpose of the assembly. It’s the default model in our churches today, and the result is easily observed: spiritual devastation.

Promoting this destruction presumes that Christ uses “ekklesia” symbolically here, that He must be refering to leaders representing the assembly. Yet, being honest with the text, we must still expect the brotherhood to be informed and unified, or such leadership could not intelligently speak on its behalf.

To maintain integrity in light of Christ’s instruction, we must acknowledge the centrality and spiritual authority of a unified brotherhood. This is what Christ is building, nothing less, the strongest force on Earth. (Mt 16:18)

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6 thoughts on “Tell the Church”

  1. Q: Don’t you believe in elders ruling the church? “Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.” (1Ti 5:17)

    A: Older men “rule” in that they have more influence to guide and admonish through wisdom and godly character; they have no special spiritual authority. If they did, they’d have final authority in resolving problems between believers. But Christ says this authority rests in the assembly or brotherhood. Elders are part of this, of course, but must not dominate it.

    1. There are churches today, where only the senior pastor is the formal leader and he exercises absolute power without anyone checking or questioning his power/authority . A Church like that runs a risk of being doomed if the pastor falls into sin or, good forbid, faces a like threatening situation.
      I am in support of church leadership that is under elders or deacons.

      1. Thanks for the comment! I have also seen many examples of men taking spiritual authority upon themselves and using it to exalt themselves. Lack of leadership’s accountability to others is so damaging to the body of Christ.

  2. Q: Isn’t absence of formal leadership a formula for chaos and division? Doesn’t God use leadership to establish order in both government and family? Why is the church different?

    A: The purpose of the church is different: to enable believers to encourage and challenge each other in following Christ. Hierarchical leadership actually hinders this purpose by sidelining brothers and encouraging and enabling passivity. Order is maintained as a brotherhood seeking God together finds direction from Him.

    1. Solid stuff. Attaining a unified Brotherhood is absolutely key in this matter. Unfortunately, in this age of AMERICAN Statist Christianity where most congregations are corporate entities(501c3) and have become subservient to The State (as a Creation thereof) its quite a challenge to claim any organic authority.

      1. Thank you Dudley. It is definitely a broken system, but YHWH is still building His church in the midst of it. I hope to see it flourish again in my lifetime.

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