Conflicts in a Church

Matthew 18:15-17
15
Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.
16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.
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17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

Again, like a previous entry, this is for those who are part of a local church (assembly), a local body of believers. If you are part of a universal/invisible church and body, this will not apply to you. You can go on and read another article that would be more appropriate. But for those who belong to a local body of believers, you realise, even if you have been there a short time that people can offend you. The reality is that Christians are not perfect. They may be saved and have the Holy Spirit, but it does not mean they are always walking with God. Nor does it mean they are not struggling with their flesh (Galatians 5:17). Jesus gave His disciples instructions on how to deal with conflicts in a local church.

1. Deal with the Offence One-to-One
Matthew 18:15

Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee,
go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.

This verse explains that the offended person should go to the one who has offended him and try to work things out to make the relationship right. An immaturity in many Christians is when they spread a relational problem with gossip; this only provokes and escalates the problem. Jesus said that if an issue is to resolve between you and another person, you should address it just between the two of you.

We must approach the offender in love.
Ephesians 4:15
But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

Initially, we shouldn't also mention the situation to anyone else. Jesus says that we should go directly to the one who has offended us and work for the right relationship.

If someone has done something truly offensive, God's plan is not for us to hide the problem, allow bitterness to build in our heart, or spread the issue throughout the church, but that you go directly to the other person. Having a spirit of love, humility and having an end goal of the restored fellowship is vital in this. Restoring the relationship is why Jesus said in
v.15, "…if he hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother." God's process for dealing with offences allows us to regain fellowship through restoration.

James 5:16  Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

Unlike the modern corrupted Bibles, the 1611 translators correctly used the word "faults". We are supposed to confess our faults to one another, especially in a church, or assembly of believers. We should confess our sins to God, not to other people.

We need to learn to deal with offences as quickly as possible and to keep them as small as possible. Most can be dealt with by a quick and simple meeting of two spiritual Christians—one acknowledging the offence, and the other asking for forgiveness.

Some offences are not quite so simple. So what if it is more complicated?
2. Go To Them With Witnesses
If the offender refuses to admit his wrong-doing or to settle the matter, the offended one then goes with witnesses.

Matthew 18:16
But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.

In some cases of sinful behaviour or compromise, which you have already personally addressed with the right spirit, you may need to move to this step. Perhaps you need to talk to the pastor or a godly leader in the church to ask for help.

If this fails, the final recourse is to…
3. Take The Matter To The Church.

Matthew 18:17
And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

The last and final step that Jesus gives in dealing with an offence is that the matter's brought before the church.

This instruction that Jesus gave would be impossible if the word "church" referred to a universal, invisible body of believers. Imagine trying to bring an issue before the universal body of believers. This instruction could only be done in an ekklesia, a "called-out assembly of believers", a local assembly. Perhaps those who believe in a universal church, need to rethink their position. Since they have moved onto another article, I am preaching to the choir.

Most of the time, a conflict never gets to this point. Either sin has caused someone to leave the church, or it was settled in the first two steps. The Apostle Paul told the Corinthian church how they should deal with a brother who was walking and living in open sin, refusing to repent, and expecting everyone at church to condone his behaviour.

1 Corinthians 5:11–13
11
But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.
12 For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within?
13 But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.

Sometimes this is what it takes for someone to turn from sins in their lives and make things right in a church family, church body. In every step of this process, the Lord lays out, and we need to remember that the purpose of all of this is restoration—not condemnation. When a brother or sister wilfully offends, we need to first begin by going to them one-on-one, in love, looking to reconcile.



Discover how you can receive Christ's forgiveness today!
See this video.

_________________________________________
Want to learn more?
Join us
Sundays for our Sunday Meetings 10:30am & 11:30am in the city centre.
7 Lower Mallow, Limerick City, County Limerick, 061.22.44.22 or 086.79.39.106


(At An Carraig Baptist Church, we take a literal, fundamental approach to the Bible (AV 1611). We are also a local, independent body of believers, which means we are not subject to any religious hierarchy. Being "Baptist" means, we hold to the Bible-based, Baptist Distinctives, that has been the hallmark of true Baptist churches through the centuries. You are welcome to join us at any of our weekly meetings, or schedule to meet for tea/coffee.)

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How healthy is your body?

"For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ." -1 Corinthians 12:12

(For verse links, please click and read online)

This entry is for those who are part of a local church (assembly), a local body of believers. If you are part of a universal/invisible church and body, this entry is
not for you.
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Being a part of a universal/invisible church and body, hopefully you are in one that holds pure doctrines (1 Timothy 3:15; Ephesians 4:14-16), and one that has an universal/invisible pastor (1 Timothy 3:1-7). I also hope that it is a universal/invisible church that carries out the ordinances of the Lords Supper and Baptisms (1 Corinthians 11:2). It should also be a place that, when you have an issue with another believer, you can take that issue before the universal/invisible church as Jesus said (Matthew 18:15-17). The Bible also says we need to be faithful and not to miss the universal/invisible church services (1 Corinthians 14:23; Hebrews 10:24-25), so you can fellowship and get encouragement from the universal/invisible people. (Listen to Pillar and Ground of Truth, Ecclesiology Sermons)

All kidding aside, for those who attend, and are members of local bodies of believers, like the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 1:2), the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 1:1) and the Ephesians (Revelation 2:1), you need to understand that you are a member of a body (Colossians 1:18; 1 Corinthians 12:27). God compares a church to a body because it is something we can relate to. Every member, every part of our physical body, is essential. Is there a part of your body you would want to be cut off? Imagine our body without eyes? Without a nose? Without legs? Did you know the big toe is vital for a human being to balance on their feet, yet we think so little about it. It is the same with a local body of believers. Some believers are more noticeable than others, but every individual is essential and needed for a local church to function correctly.

(I Corinthians 12:12-27)
Imagine a nose deciding, I am going to depart and go off on my own. Imagine a hand saying I don't need eyes, feet and legs, yet this is what is happening throughout the Christian world. Christians detach from local bodies and go it on their own.

How can a physical nose reach its full potential without being part of a physical body?
How can physical fingers reach their full potential without being part of a physical body?
How can a physical heart reach its full potential without being part of a physical body?
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Sounds like something out of a 1950's horror film.
How can a born-again Christian reach their full potential without being part of a body of believers?
Unfortunately, this is happening with Christians throughout the world, and it is killing Christianity and churches. It weakens Christians, because like a nose or fingers without a body, they will NEVER reach their full potential for God. (1 Corinthians 12:15-16) The reason is that they've detached themselves from a body of believers, a church, an ekklesia, a called-out assembly. Like an eye cannot say I am fine on my own; neither can a Christian because they need and should be relying on a local body of believers.

Similarly, if you disassemble a human body it dies, and it is the same as a church. A body that is disassembled and scattered is not a body. A body without parts is a hurting body. A part without a body is not functioning correctly. A local church, a local body of believers, is vital to the sustainability of a Christian. A Christian needs to be part of a local church for their well being. This is what God says in 1 Corinthians 12:12-27.

Body parts function together. Every member of a local body of believers is so vitally important. Their purpose is to function together in unity (Ephesians 4:16), unity of doctrine (Ephesians 4:13-14), unity of Spirit (Ephesians 4:4), and a unity of purpose, to lift the name of Christ and spreading the Gospel.

The Bible says God is the one who places people in a body of believers (1 Corinthians 12:28). If you are part of a universal/invisible body, don't pay any mind to what was said, but if God has placed you in a doctrinally sound (Acts 2:42; 2 Timothy 4:3; 2 Timothy 3:16; Romans 16:17) body of believers, you should stay there, immerse yourself, and get involved in all that they do. Make yourself an important, relied upon member of that body. Be consistent, faithful, and helpful and watch how the Lord blesses your life with growth and fruit. Then you'll see that church, that body of believers, grow and do great things for Christ.

Please feel free to email any comments or questions. [email protected]

If you need help finding a church,
here is a sermon that covers this very topic.
Here are some
local churches that we would recommend.



Discover how you can receive Christ's forgiveness today!
See this video.

_________________________________________
Want to learn more?
Join us
Sundays for our Sunday Meetings 10:30am & 11:30am in the city centre.
7 Lower Mallow, Limerick City, County Limerick, 061.22.44.22 or 086.79.39.106


(At An Carraig Baptist Church, we take a literal, fundamental approach to the Bible (AV 1611). We are also a local, independent body of believers, which means we are not subject to any religious hierarchy. Being "Baptist" means, we hold to the Bible-based, Baptist Distinctives, that has been the hallmark of true Baptist churches through the centuries. You are welcome to join us at any of our weekly meetings, or schedule to meet for tea/coffee.)

Read the rest of the article…