To the congregations of Bible-believing churches throughout the Midwestern States,
Greetings in the name of Jesus Christ.
I am writing this letter to you to remind you to stay committed to God’s directive for holiness in the local church (I Corinthians 5:1-8, I Peter 1:15-16). Unfortunately many gospel-preaching churches are disobeying God’s command to be pure and undefiled by the sinfulness of the world. Below are three examples of the kinds of sin that many churches are allowing to exist in their midst in direct violation of Scripture (I Corinthians 5:9-6:6).
*Many churches allow unmarried couples who are living together to identify themselves with the local church and to participate in Christian fellowship. The local church is not to accept any kind of sexual immorality among those who claim to be Christians. The Bible says that we are “not even to eat with such a person” (I Corinthians 5:11). Some churches openly allow those committing this sin to play in the praise band, take communion, teach Sunday school, and get baptized without changing their ways and repenting of their sins. This is a very serious violation of Biblical principles. The Bible allows that unbelievers who live like this should be welcome to observe Christian worship (I Corinthians 14:23), but they need to change their ways when they become Christians.
*Many churches allow and even celebrate unbiblical divorce and remarriage in direct violation of Matthew 19:4-9, and I Corinthians 7:10-16. The Bible clearly states that many cases of divorce and remarriage are actually adultery, and yet many gospel-preaching churches allow regular members of their churches to divorce their Christian partner and marry someone else from the same congregation. Unfortunately it is easy in our day and age for a church to become a dating center for adulterers.
*Many churches do not object to members of their congregations frequently getting drunk, which is in violation of numerous Bible passages (Ephesians 5:18, I Corinthians 5:11, Galatians 5:21).
The three specific sins mentioned above are just the tip of the iceberg. There are many others like them that are allowed to exist in the local church in direct violation of Scripture. We all who are true Christians have a responsibility to God and our brothers and sisters in Christ to do our best to clean up this mess with the power that God supplies through His Holy Spirit using the directions that God has given to us through Scripture. This will require us to exclude certain individuals from Christian fellowship for violating God’s clear directives (I Corinthians 5:9-6, Matthew 18:15-17). This will be difficult at times, but it is absolutely necessary to take a stand for church purity. God expects his clear commands to the local church to be obeyed, not ignored.
That said, however, please remember that church discipline must always be enacted in a spirit of true love both towards the offender and towards the victims. The end goal of church discipline is to bring about repentance and restoration (II Corinthians 2:7-8). Church discipline must never be enacted out of a spirit of vindictiveness or revenge so that the person who has been temporarily (we hope) expelled from Christian fellowship is not “swallowed up with too much sorrow.”
I urge you to be faithful to the Lord in this matter, since much damage to your own faith and the faith of others will result if you do not deal with sin in the local church Biblically. Already many families are being destroyed because of unbiblical divorces that are running rampant in the church. These failures on the part of some affect all of us because there is only one universal church, and all true believers are a part of it. Therefore the sins that you commit affect me, and the sins that I commit affect you. Neither of us is perfect, which is why we need to help each other do what is right.
Therefore, in accordance with Scripture, let us each strive to face the challenges ahead of us with perseverance, “strengthening the hands that hang down, and the feeble knees” (Hebrews 12:12). We know that if we fail we will also hurt the others around us. We must always remember to pray for each other and to encourage and edify each other (James 5:16, I Thessalonians 5:11). We must never give up on those of our brothers and sisters who wander from the truth, knowing that “he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins” (James 5:20).
Finally, through all these things, remember to keep teaching the true gospel; namely, that God sent His own Son to die on the cross for our sins, so that we are saved by grace through faith, not by our own good works (John 3:16-18, Ephesians 2:8-9). There is nothing that we can do to earn our salvation, since Christ accomplished all of it for us (Hebrews 9:28, 10:14).
I hope that these words are an encouragement to you and to the brothers and sisters at your local church. None of us are perfect. We all need each other’s help to live godly lives. Let us make a habit of praying for each other and remember to “consider one another in order to stir up love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24).
Feel free to contact me at my e-mail address with any comments.
Your Brother In Christ,