Q & A 83. Q. What are the keys of the kingdom?
A. The preaching of the holy gospel and Christian discipline toward repentance. Both of them open the kingdom of heaven to believers and close it to unbelievers.
Q & A 84. Q. How does preaching the holy gospel open and close the kingdom of heaven?
A. According to the command of Christ: The kingdom of heaven is opened by proclaiming and publicly declaring to all believers, each and every one, that, as often as they accept the gospel promise in true faith, God, because of Christ's merit, truly forgives all their sins. The kingdom of heaven is closed, however, by proclaiming and publicly declaring to unbelievers and hypocrites that, as long as they do not repent, the wrath of God and eternal condemnation rest on them.
God's judgment, both in this life and in the life to come, is based on this gospel testimony.
Q & A 85. Q. How is the kingdom of heaven closed and opened by Christian discipline?
A. According to the command of Christ: Those who, though called Christians, profess unchristian teachings or live unchristian lives, and who after repeated personal and loving admonitions, refuse to abandon their errors and evil ways, and who after being reported to the church, that is, to those ordained by the church for that purpose, fail to respond also to the church's admonitions— such persons the church excludes from the Christian community by withholding the sacraments from them, and God also excludes them from the kingdom of Christ. Such persons, when promising and demonstrating genuine reform, are received again as members of Christ and of his church.
Matthew 18:15–20 gives the procedure and authority for a church to practice church discipline. Jesus instructs us that one individual (usually the offended party) is to go to the offending individual privately. If the offender refuses to acknowledge his sin and repent, then two or three others go to confirm the details of the situation. If there is still no repentance—the offender remains firmly attached to his sin, despite two chances to repent—the matter is taken before the church. The offender then has a third chance to repent and forsake his sinful behavior. If at any point in the process of church discipline, the sinner heeds the call to repent, then "you have gained your brother" (verse 15, ESV). However, if the discipline continues all the way through the third step without a positive response from the offender, then, Jesus said, "let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector" (verse 17, ESV).
The process of church discipline is never pleasant just as a father never delights in having to discipline his children. Sometimes, though, church discipline is necessary. The purpose of church discipline is not to be mean-spirited or to display a holier-than-thou attitude. Rather, the goal of church discipline is the restoration of the individual to full fellowship with both God and other believers. The discipline is to start privately and gradually become more public. It is to be done in love toward the individual, in obedience to God, and in godly fear for the sake of others in the church.
The Bible's instructions concerning church discipline imply the necessity of church membership.
Paul concluded his letter to the Corinthians by doubling down on the fact that the church, by listening to the false apostles, were acting against the authority of Christ. In opposing Paul, they were opposing God. The Lord would correct the situation because He had many people in that city, as He assured Paul in Acts 18. Paul warned them and instructed them to examine themselves (13:5). Was Christ truly residing in them by His Spirit? If so they would respond to Paul properly, since he was working on their behalf. Their restoration was his prayer and goal. Being like Corinth, so worldly minded and divided, many modern churches today need this spirit.
Luke 17:1-4 – Handling Sinful Offenses – Sermon Outline
Intro: Should we forgive when someone does not repent? Should we ignore their sin and just "let it go"?
Need: Christ warns of the seriousness of sinning and harming others with our sin, requires us to rebuke those who sin against, and then, when they repent, requires us to forgive and fully reconcile with them.
Theme: Sinful offenses are a serious reality in the Church that must be addressed.
Being a stumbling block to Christ's sheep stirs the Shepherd's wrath. (1-2)
Take heed to yourself to avoid being a stumbling block to others. (3a)
When sinned against and tempted to stumble, rebuke and then forgive. (3b-4)
What would our churches look like if we imitate God? We talked last time about the need to "put off" and "put on," and here, we see that God transforms believers so they don't have to behave like the world anymore.