Gospel Order

Justice

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RULES GOVERNING CHURCH DISCIPLINE

“The world's Redeemer has invested great power with His church. He states the rules to be applied in cases of trial with its members. After He has given explicit directions as to the course to be pursued, He says: "Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever [in church discipline] ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." Thus even the heavenly authority ratifies the discipline of the church in regard to its members when the Bible rule has been followed. The word of God does not give license for one man to set up his judgment in opposition to the judgment of the church, neither is he allowed to urge his opinions against the opinions of the church. If there were no church discipline and government, the church would go to fragments; it could not hold together as a body.” 3T 428.

1. On matters regarding Personal Injuries:

“Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast [them] from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast [it] from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire. . “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. 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. 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 a heathen man and a publican. Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 18:8-9,15-18.

“Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.” Luke 17:3-4.

“In Eli's reproof to his sons are words of solemn and fearful import--words that all who minister in sacred things would do well to ponder: "If one man sin against another, the judge shall judge him; but if a man sin against the Lord, who shall entreat for him?" Had their crimes injured only their fellow men, the judge might have made reconciliation by appointing a penalty and requiring restitution; and thus the offenders might have been pardoned. Or had they not been guilty of a presumptuous sin, a sin offering might have been presented for them. But their sins were so interwoven with their ministration as priests of the Most High, in offering sacrifice for sin, the work of God was so profaned and dishonored before the people, that no expiation could be accepted for them.” PP 580.

"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" (Matt. 18:15). This is the way in which misunderstandings are to be settled. Speaking alone, and in the spirit of Christ to the one who is in fault, will often remove the difficulty. Show Christlike love for your brother by seeking to adjust the difficulty "between thee and him alone." Talk quietly together. Let no angry words escape your lips. Present the subject in a way that will appeal to his best judgment. And if he will hear you, you have gained him as a friend.

“Whatever the character of the offense may be, this does not change the plan God has made for the settlement of misunderstandings and personal injuries.” UL 106.

“Read the instruction given in the eighteenth chapter of Matthew. There is nothing more positive than this in all the oracles of God; and yet God is dishonored and His cause marred by the doing of the wrongs pointed out in this chapter. These words are for you and for me, and for all who claim to be disciples of the meek and lowly Jesus. He shows us the principles upon which we are to act in all cases and under all circumstances. There is to be no striving for the supremacy. Christ teaches that in His spiritual kingdom it is not position, not outward splendor or authority, that constitutes greatness, but spiritual excellence manifested in true conversion.” UL 136.

2. On matters pertaining to Public Wrongs:

“Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.” 1 Timothy 5:20.

“The next morning, as we were about to leave for the house of worship to engage in the arduous labors of the day, a sister for whom I had a testimony that she lacked discretion and caution, and did not fully control her words and actions, came in with her husband and manifested feelings of great unreconciliation and agitation. She commenced to talk and to weep. She murmured a little, and confessed a little, and justified self considerably. She had a wrong idea of many things I had stated to her. Her pride was touched as I brought out her faults in so public a manner. Here was evidently the main difficulty. But why should she feel thus? The brethren and sisters knew these things were so, therefore I was not informing them of anything new. But I doubt not that it was new to the sister herself. She did not know herself, and could not properly judge of her own words and acts. This is in a degree true of nearly all, hence the necessity of faithful reproofs in the church and the cultivation by all its members of love for the plain testimony.

“Her husband seemed to feel unreconciled to my bringing out her faults before the church and stated that if Sister White had followed the directions of our Lord in Matthew 18:15-17 he should not have felt hurt: "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. 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. 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."

“My husband then stated that he should understand that these words of our Lord had reference to cases of personal trespass, and could not be applied in the case of this sister. She had not trespassed against Sister White. But that which had been reproved publicly was public wrongs which threatened the prosperity of the church and the cause. Here, said my husband, is a text applicable to the case: 1 Timothy 5:20: "Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear."

“The brother acknowledged his error like a Christian and seemed reconciled to the matter. It was evident that since the meeting of Sabbath afternoon they had got many things about the matter wonderfully magnified and wrong. It was therefore proposed that the written testimony be read. When this was done, the sister who was reproved by it, inquired: "Is that what you stated yesterday?" I replied that it was. She seemed surprised and quite reconciled to the written testimony. This I gave her, without reserving a copy. Here I did wrong. But I had such tender regard for her and her husband, and such ardent desires and hopes for their prosperity, that, in this case, I broke over an established custom.” 2T 14-16.

Satan Discourages Joining the Church. -- “It is his [Satan's] studied effort to lead professed Christians just as far from heaven's arrangement as he can; therefore he deceives even the professed people of God and makes them believe that order and discipline are enemies to spirituality; that the only safety for them is to let each pursue his own course, and to remain especially distinct from bodies of Christians who are united and are laboring to establish discipline and harmony of action. All the efforts made to establish this are considered dangerous, a restriction of rightful liberty, and hence are feared as popery. These deceived souls consider it a virtue to boast of their freedom to think and act independently. They will not take any man's say so. They are amenable to no man. It was and now is Satan's special work to lead men to feel that it is God's order to strike out for themselves and choose their own order independent of their brethren.” Evangelism 318.

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