on the necessity of discipline and on the body

It is time for my regular sermon summaries, wherein I think my messages over. This way, I get to preach them twice, once to everyone in church, and once to myself as I try to summarize them.

The morning message concluded our short series on Discipleship and Child Training. I got the main ideas for this message from an outline by Wayne Mack, referenced in earlier posts. The message was entitled The Necessity of Discipline. We covered first the necessity that the disciple-maker be a disciple, then we discussed the notion of ‘admonition’ or ‘correction’. Disciple-making is the process of challenging and changing the thinking of men who are habitually in the mode of flesh-dominated, world-influenced thinking. From that mindset, we must admonish in such a way as to develop biblical thinking processes.

But there is something else needed – discipline. This idea is contained in the word ‘paideia’, the word translated ‘nurture’ in Eph 6.4. We went to Heb 12.4-13 where the word is much used and translated ‘chasten’ or ‘chastisement’. Here is our proposition: “Effective Christian training, whether it be children or disciples, requires discipline to form disciples.” In understanding the nature of the discipline we are talking about, we looked at the word ‘paideia’ and the accompanying words in Greek. The word refers to a process whereby the Greeks employed slaves to educate their children, including putting the child completely under the authority of the pedagogue who instructed, corrected, and disciplined the child in order to educate him. Our Hebrews passage is an expositon of Prov 3.11-12, which says, “My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction: 12 For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.” So when we speak of the nature of discipline, it refers to the bands and restrictions placed on the disciple for the purpose of changing his mind and behaviour. The Lord employs this kind of discipline repeatedly, in both testaments. The discipline is intended to make us willing to yield. God could put so much pressure on you to make you do his will, but he doesn’t do that – he puts enough pressure on you to give you the opportunity to yield to his will willingly.

In our world, the solution to bad behaviour is often thought to be ‘more education’. But our society frowns on discipline of any kind. They are willing to multiply words, but that is all that worldly education amounts to, words heaped upon words. Whether you listen and learn is left up to you, no one will make you learn. No one will discipline you in the modern educational system. They will just ‘talk to you’. The current generation is the most “talked to” generation in history, and seems to be among the least restrained and most undisciplined. Could it be that what is lacking is logical, just, loving, firm discipline?

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The afternoon service was much more satisfying to me than last week. Our title was It’s a Body with this sub-title, “it functions by interdependence [servant-fellowship]”. What I am trying to do with this series is to preach my philosophy of local church ministry. This idea, the idea of the body, is an important metaphor for the church. In the message, the first thing I did as a means of extended introduction was to read every passage in the New Testament talking about the church as ‘the body’. That meant we had about ten texts for our message instead of one. I offered a summary statement in each passage to give a bit of an idea of the overall doctrine. Then, for the body of the message, we concentrated on the ideas presented in 1 Cor 12, where Paul is arguing with the Corinthians about their strife over tongues. In essence, they are missing the point of the body. They are being too individualistic, too self-centered. That is not what the church is about, it is about interdependence, or what I call ‘servant-fellowship’. The concept of interdependence is given in 1 Cor 12, the key to interdependence is given in 1 Cor 13 – the love chapter. This is where we need to be, and this is the kind of spirit the Lord himself taught.

The Lord’s teaching really illumines what I am trying to produce in the local church. There is a term that is widely bandied about by many teachers these days: ‘servant-leadership’. I understand what people are trying to say with this term and I agree with it to a point. But I think the term misses the Lord’s teaching. See Lk 22.25-27 and Jn 13.12-17. Jesus totally de-emphasizes the leadership bit. He puts all the weight on ‘serve’. Is it possible that we make a subtle error by including the concept of ‘leadership’ in the mix?

Here is the emphasis in the Bible: “serve” and “among you” – not ‘servant-leadership’ but ‘servant-fellowship’. Proposition: The local church as the body of Christ lives by the bonds by which it is connected through the indwelling and interacting Spirit of Jesus Christ.

How is that lived out in a local church? Well, we love one another and serve one another. I spoke of several ways we do this. I mentioned ‘The Baptist sacrament: fried chicken (or is it coffee?)’ – in other words, taking meals together. I mentioned specific things we have done in our church: a barn raising for one of our members, a current ministry some of our folks have of bringing others with them to church (the Duncan bus, from a town 45 minutes north of the church building), or seniors shopping days where some of our folks are serving our older saints who no longer drive, or meal ministries to those who are sick and unable to feed their families, or even cutting the lawn and building maintenance. All of this is done by people who love one another and who are responding to the prompting of the Holy Spirit to serve one another.

The body also functions in serving one another by excising cancerous cells. This can involve surgery, chemo, or radiation. It can be painful, but it is necessary. These are means by which we serve one another.

The whole challenge to our church body is to be a body. Some sort of hang around on the periphery, holding to themselves and refusing to wholeheartedly join in. They are missing the point and need to get hold of the concept of ‘body’ and ‘servant-fellowship’.

Regards,
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

PS… I have been laying linoleum today in my bathroom renovation project. In the process I have been filling up my mind with posts I want to put out on the blog… Three more to go, but they will have to wait till tomorrow.

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