Expositional commentary on Scripture using an inductive exegetical methodology intent upon confronting the lives of Christians with the dogmatic Truths of God's inspired Words opposing Calvinism and Arminianism, Biblical commentary, doctrine of grace enablement, understanding holiness and wisdom and selfishness, in-depth Bible studies, adult Bible Study books and Sunday School materials Dr. Lance T. Ketchum Line Upon Line: June 2010

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Priesthood of the Home and Reproducing a Godly Seed

Since the fall of some angels and all of mankind into sin, world history is the record of the never ending battles of wants and wills. It all began when one fallen angel put his will above the Will of God and, through deception, led the father of all mankind down the same pathway of corruption. Since then, every conflict between individuals, groups of individuals, and nations of individuals has been the product of putting someone-else's want or will above that of another.

In the battle of the ages, those who battle for Truth, or “the faith,” do not battle directly with fallen angels. We battle against those deceived by them and who are being led by them through ongoing deception, false doctrines about God, and in varying degrees of unbelief regarding the Person and work of God. The Christian should not lose this perspective of the battle between good and evil. Although satanic opposition comes to us in the bodies of human beings, the human beings are only instruments in their power controlled and manipulated through demonic deception. The spiritual struggle is that of innumerable individual battles fought against false philosophies, mythologies, distortions and perversions of Truth, lies, manipulations, selfishness, greed, lusts, and a million other battle fronts of variations and combinations of corruption.

“10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (Ephesians 6:10-13).

The primary focus of this onslaught of evil is directed against the home and especially against the God appointed spiritual guardian of the home; i.e., the FATHER. To somehow think that a man can win this never ending and unrelenting onslaught, by supernatural beings with powers beyond our imagination, against the home and family is certainly an operation in human vanity. The spiritual man lives each moment in an ongoing declaration of dependence upon God and in his understanding of the absolute necessity of living in unbroken fellowship with God.

There is only one Will in existence that deserves such levels of conflict; the Will of God. It is this to this seemingly never ending struggle that the Word of God directs us in the short epistle of Jude, the half brother of our Lord, Jesus Christ centering around the statement in verse 3, “that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” The Word of God reveals the Will of God, which defines “the faith.”

“1 Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called: 2 Mercy unto you, and peace, and love, be multiplied. 3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. 4 For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. 5 I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not. 6 And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. 7 Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. 8 Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities. 9 Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee. 10 But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves. 11 Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core. 12 These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; 13 Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever. 14 And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, 15 To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him. 16 These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage. 17 But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; 18 How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts. 19 These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit. 20 But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, 21 Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. 22 And of some have compassion, making a difference: 23 And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh. 24 Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, 25 To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen” (Jude 1:1-25).

Defining what is meant by the words “the faith,” that we are commanded to “contend for,” is a critical aspect of what defines the struggle of the Christian life and the primary ministry of the father as the guardian of his home. No man will take the responsibilities of the spiritual guardianship of his home seriously until he understands the wicked purposes of the enemy and the cost of failure. Men have difficulty in dealing with intangible probabilities. Men tend to deal only with things they can see, touch, and smell. However, if a man knew there was an invader coming who would steal all that he had worked for, rape his wife and daughters, and then sell them with his sons into slavery, he would do everything in his power and intellect to provide for their protection. Why then is it that most men are apathetic about spiritual things, about church going, about Bible study, and about prayer? They are apathetic because they do not really believe there is any real danger to them or their families.

We also find the phrase “the common salvation” in the verse 2. The soteriological reductionism modern evangelicalism defines this “common salvation” as merely the salvation of the soul from condemnation and deliverance from Hell. The salvation of the Bible has three levels of deliverance of the body, soul, and spirit of a person (I Thessalonians 5:23). There are times when the word salvation is used to refer to all three of these aspects of salvation (such as in the case of Jude 1:3). There are also times when the context determines to which aspect of salvation the text is referring. The three aspects of a person’s salvation are:

1. The salvation of the soul through propitiation and justification
2. The salvation of the spirit (one’s life) through practical sanctification
3. The salvation of the body through glorification

The phrase “common salvation” in Jude 1:3 refers to all three aspects of a person’s salvation. In fact, perhaps we can go so far as to say that the words “common salvation” embody all that defines Christianity as a whole. Although any phase of a person’s ongoing salvation (he has been saved, is being saved, and will be saved) is an operation of God, He has numerous human partners in this “work of the ministry.” God has commanded all believers to preach the gospel and make disciples. God has called all believers to work together through the local church towards spiritual growth (practical sanctification). However, God has but one person that He has put in charge of the home and with whom He wants to work in a formal partnership so as to protect the family members of that home against the unrelenting onslaught of satanic deception and corruption. God calls him the father. Wives call him honey. Children call him dad. That man’s primary line of defense is to maintain unbroken fellowship with God so that His family is never left unguarded against the supernatural onslaught of evil that only God can protect against.

Secondly, understanding the numerous levels of personalities, individuals, and forces we contend against is also critical. The primary enemy is the corrupting influence of demonic forces. In defining that corrupting influence, we must include our own corrupted nature with its corrupted, selfish desires and all of our idols of the heart. Because each of us, including fathers, has a corrupted nature, we are a potential danger to our own families from within the home. In most cases, corrupted individuals become the tools with which demonic corruption is advanced in families, cultures, and nations. Warning about these corrupted individuals is what the epistle of Jude is all about and the primary focus of the command to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.”

There is no escaping this warfare in this life. A new battle is always looming on the horizon of the next moment. The army of enemy is constantly being refreshed with new deceived souls willing to evangelize the world with their deceptions and mock all that contradict their heresies. There is nothing sacred to them. The most difficult aspect of “contending for the faith” is that those individuals we contend with are also those to who we are trying to evangelize. At that level, our enemies become our ministry.

False doctrine is an attack against “the faith.” False doctrine is the most significant enemy of the family in the arsenal of satanic opposition to the will of God. Right doctrine determines right practice. Fathers who do not make learning doctrine a priority of their lives will never be able to transfer right doctrine into the practice of the lives of their families.

According to Jude 1:4, not all of the enemies of the family are demons. Some of them are false teachers who have been deceived and corrupted by demons. These people enter the local church under the guise of orthodoxy with a covert agenda to take control. Once they have gained positions of favor, they begin to sow their seeds of corruption.

We might ask why this is so easily accomplished. There is a simple reason. When a genuine man of God labors “in word and doctrine” (I Tim. 5:17), his work is often resisted by degrees. Some people resist his teaching/preaching because they think it is too restrictive on their lifestyles and practices and they quickly shut their ears to anything he says regarding these issues. Others may resist the laborious detail in which truth is presented. Others simply resist because they really do not want to labor in learning and they allow their minds to wonder towards more interesting things of the world. These individuals will welcome someone who will remove the restrictions, make church going fun, entertaining, and not require any effort of their parts to learn and live the Truth. Another dynamic is that a pastor eventually just gets so discouraged in trying to get a dead horse to run, he just gives up and starts bringing cotton candy sermons.

For those individuals who would so easily follow one of these teachers of false doctrine, they are admonished to remember where those false teachers are headed, because when they follow them, they follow them to the same destiny. Jude 1:5-7 details three instances of God’s predetermined judgment upon similar circumstances.

1. When God delivered Israel out of Egyptian bondage, but everyone over the age of 20 that followed the advice of the 10 spies who gave a discouraging report regarding being able to conquer the Promised Land died in the next 38 years in the wilderness because of their unfaithfulness in unbelief.
2. The fallen angels who followed Satan in his insurrection and rebellion against God’s divine order in giving mankind “dominion” over the creation, including angels.
3. The cities of “Sodom and Gomorrha” as they gave themselves permission against God’s will to live in sexual licentiousness and homosexuality. God’s judgment on the people and cities of “Sodom and Gomorrha” is “set forth for an example” (Jude 1:7).

Do we think that we can minimize the importance of doctrine and not suffer similar consequences at the hand of God? Do we somehow think that we are excluded from this for ordained judgment warning of which we have hundreds of similar examples in the Scriptures? Doctrine is what defines the Church as the “pillar and ground {foundation} of the truth” (I Tim. 3:15). Take away doctrine from the Church and you remove its foundations. Take away doctrine from the home and you remove its foundations. If false doctrine is Satan’s main weapon in his arsenal against the family, right doctrine is the primary weapon of opposition against him. Show me a father who does not think that learning doctrine and teaching doctrine to his family is not a priority and I will show you a household destined for destruction in one way or another. That is the warning of Jude 1:3 in the command to “earnestly contend for the faith.” Christ gave a similar warning.

“46 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? 47 Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: 48 He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. 49 But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great” (Luke 6:46-49).

The words “earnestly contend” in Jude 1:3 are from one Greek word; epagonizomai (ep-ag-o-nid'-zom-ahee). The epi prefix raises the issue of the struggle to its highest level. In other words, contending “for the faith” must be at the highest level of priorities. We are to use everything at our disposal in contending “for the faith.”

A central aspect of contending “for the faith” is teaching doctrine to our children so as to transpose it to another generation who will do the same. This has been the responsibility of fathers since the beginning of time and God has never removed that responsibility from the shoulders of the fathers. A father who is successful in everything else in life, but who fails to definitively teach his children about the character and attributes of God and how He wants us to live is a failure. However, as Christ said in Luke 6:47; “Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them;” living the truths that are learned intellectually is the primary way those truths will be transfer into the lives, not just the heads, of our children.

“1 Now these are the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments, which the LORD your God commanded to teach you, that ye might do them in the land whither ye go to possess it: 2 That thou mightest fear the LORD thy God, to keep all his statutes and his commandments, which I command thee, thou, and thy son, and thy son's son, all the days of thy life; and that thy days may be prolonged. 3 Hear therefore, O Israel, and observe to do it; that it may be well with thee, and that ye may increase mightily, as the LORD God of thy fathers hath promised thee, in the land that floweth with milk and honey. 4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: 5 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. 6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: 7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. 8 And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. 9 And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates. 10 And it shall be, when the LORD thy God shall have brought thee into the land which he sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give thee great and goodly cities, which thou buildedst not, 11 And houses full of all good things, which thou filledst not, and wells digged, which thou diggedst not, vineyards and olive trees, which thou plantedst not; when thou shalt have eaten and be full; 12 Then beware lest thou forget the LORD, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage” (Deuteronomy 6:1-12).

Read Deuteronomy 6:5. The Shema of the Old Testament was repeated twice daily, every morning and every evening. The expectation of God is the total commitment of all that we are to Him, body (might or physical strength), soul (will and personality), and spirit (desires and attitudes). Loving God (sacrificially putting Him first) involves this kind of commitment.

Read Deuteronomy 6:6. Truth must be in the heart, not just in the head. Imprinting absolutes on the psyche refers to convictions of truth that stimulate our conscience to act upon what we believe to be right and wrong. This means we accept that there is reality to what we claim to believe. That reality is evident by our moment by moment attitude about truth. Our love for God is also evident by our work at integrating God’s truth into our lives and into our relationships with others. We cannot honestly claim to love others if we fail to work at integrating God’s truths into our lives and into theirs. We cannot love others and at the same time sacrifice truth, or compromise truth.

Read Deuteronomy 6:7-9. These three verses detail the transfer of our love for God into the three other areas of relationships (husband/wife relationship, family relationship, and career or non-intimate relationships). God’s emphasis regarding loving Him seems to be centrally concerned with our attitude and actions in obeying truth. God’s emphasis in loving others seems to be centrally concerned with the integration and implementation of truth into their lives.

Deuteronomy 6:7 shows the integration of truth into our children's lives (Action+Attitude=Loving God). The emphasis is upon the INCREMENTAL IMPLEMENTATION of truth as it is INTEGRATED into every aspect of living (not just memorization). Incremental means piece by piece by piece by piece - a little here, a little there. A fortress of Biblical convictions is built one brick at a time. Each brick of truth must be carefully laid in place so that when the next truth is built upon it, the underlying structure is solid enough to support the additional stress of that new truth.

“For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little” (Isaiah 28:10).

Building truth into the lives of our children is the predominant factor in their education. Like the weaving of a basket, Biblical truth must be interwoven into the everyday education of our children. It is not something that can be done as an add-on to their education. Neither is it something that can be done separately from their education. It must be integrated with their education.

We must learn to use every opportunity in life (successes and failures) to incrementally integrate truth in the lives of our children. The surest way to accomplish this is through the continual application of truth in our own lives and in the lives of our children. There must be consistency. The surest way to destroy this is through duplicity in our lives. Duplicity is the erasure of absolutes imprinted upon the psyche.

Read Deuteronomy 6:8. The best way to incrementally integrate truth into the lives of our children is to live truth before them (by example). Can we honestly, or even intelligently, expect our children to love the Lord anymore than we do? If God’s truth is not important enough to you for you to work at translating it into the language of living, do not expect your children to make the attempt. The spiritual REALITY that is evident in your life will become evident in theirs.

Deuteronomy 6:8 is referring to being a living testimony to a reality that God’s truths are important enough to you that you will make every effort to live those truths (not just an exhibition of spiritual piety). When our lives are a living testimony of God’s truths, it brings glory to God. When our lives are just an exhibition of personal piety, it only brings glory to us. Our goal is to have our children’s lives bring glory to God by restoring God’s image in their lives.

Read Deuteronomy 6:9. God’s truths need to be integrated into our external relationships. There is a lesser degree of influence and control in external relationships. Again the emphasis is about a testimony of a living example. The intent of living truth as a public testimony is to show a testimony to what you hold valuable by what you are willing to stand for, with, or against. Your whole world is watching your attitude and actions. You are a living testimony to the reality of Christianity. Our public testimony is what we have established as a public standard. It is defined by the priorities of our lives and the truths we have determined to live by.

1. Do you love the Lord? This is measured by your attitude (God’s commands are not a burden) and actions (you obey God’s commands)?
2. What is your level of commitment to keeping God first in everything you do?
3. What efforts are you making to incrementally integrate God’s truths into your own life and the lives of others (especially your children)?

The Audio of this Message is available at the links below:
I. The Priesthood of the Home

Anonymous comments will not be allowed.Numerous studies and series are available free of charge for local churches at:http://www.disciplemakerministries.org/Dr. Lance Ketchum serves the Lord as a Church Planter, Evangelist/Revivalist.He has served the Lord for over 40 years.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Four Failures That Should Result In Excommunication

If there is one thing we learn from the Scriptural testimony of hundreds of believers throughout the Scriptures it is that people have two lives; the one God uses to teach us with and the one we have to live with after we have learned from our own failures. The life that we have to live with is often more difficult than the life with which God used to teach us. The consequences of a person’s sin continues in their influence into numerous generations after the sin itself has long descended over the horizon of that person’s lifetime. No one knows this better than the person who lives long enough to see his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren grow to adulthood. It seems like every failure is magnified in the lives of succeeding generations.

The local church, as ordained of God, is intended to be a living, spiritual organism in corporate “fellowship” with God. The only way the spiritual dynamic of corporate “fellowship” can exist within a local church is when each person in the formal membership of that local church is genuinely “born again” and living each moment of their lives filled to overflowing with the supernatural energizing (grace) of the indwelling Spirit of God. To insure that a local church maintains unbroken “fellowship” with God, a local church MUST maintain internal purity among its formal membership. When a single believer in the formal membership of a local church lives in unrepentamt sin, worldliness, or carnality, the spiritual unity (“fellowship”) with God is broken and the blessings of God upon the “work of the ministry” of the whole local church is lost until internal purity is restored either through genuine repentance of the sinner or through excommunication of the sinner from formal membership. This is what Paul addressed in I Corinthians 5:6-7; “6 Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? 7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened.” Excommunication is to disfellowship someone.

The first qualification for formal local church membership is a testimony of being a “born again” Christian. Initially, such a testimony is mainly verbal. A believer’s life should begin to manifest the genuineness of progressive transformation as that believer grows in grace (II Peter 3:18). Growing in grace is visable in the progressive transfiguration of a believer’s life as that believer begins to live the truths he learns from Scripture (Rom. 12:1-2). Orthodoxy (right doctrine) becomes orthopraxy (righteous practice) and a life is progressively transfigured. Therefore, there are four main failures that necessity the dis-fellowshipping of an individual from a local church:

1. False profession of faith

2. Refusal to genuinely repent of moral turpitude

3. Doctrinal heresy

4. Unwillingness to resolve personal offenses

As I have already said, everyone likes to garden, but nobody likes to put the weeds. Church discipline is about evaluating who are genuine Christians and those who are either false Christians or pretending Christians. If there has been life transference (salvation), there should be some visible progressive life transfiguration (practical spiritual growth; I John 5:11-12). There will always be people who profess to be “born again” children of God, but who live like children of the Devil. This is an anomaly that cannot be allowed within a local church.

9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance {and the accompanying genuine salvation}. 10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. 11 Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness {internal moral purity within the local church}, 12 Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? 13 Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. 14 Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless {living in repentance, confession of sin, and cleansed by the Blood of Christ; I John 1:7-9}. 15 And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; 16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. 17 Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked {false doctrine}, fall from your own stedfastness {in the practice of Truth}. 18 But grow in grace {progressive supernatural transfiguration}, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen” (II Peter 3:9-18).

II Peter 3:9-18 addresses the four realities that should be evident in the life and in the living of a genuinely “born again” person and commands purity and accountability in all four of these areas. According to II Peter 3:9-18, there should be the expectation of some real practices of life that correspond with the expectations of a real faith as true believers look to their futures as those futures relate to the second coming of Christ.


Perhaps the most difficult area of discernment regarding evaluating a person for formal membership in a local church is that of the genuineness of having been “born again.” It is difficult because church members are not able to know the heart of another person.

When a person expresses a desire for formal church membership, he should be carefully examined regarding his understanding of the gospel, repentance of sin (as a whole and in general, not specific sins) and “dead works,” belief/rest/trust in the “finish” work of redemption, belief in and confession of the deity of Jesus, calling on His Name to save him (signifying a moment in time or an event when they trusted in Christ), and having received the Lord Jesus in the Person of the indwelling Holy Spirit. The significance of salvation being an event (even if the date and specific time cannot be remembered) is of extreme significance to a genuine testimony of salvation.

A preliminary examination of a formal membership candidate should be made by the Pastor and deacons prior to the time the individual is questioned and approved by the congregation for formal membership. If there appears to be some area where the person lacks understanding or some issue that might be in question, those things should be dealt with at this time.

There should be extreme caution in this examination in that if a person is allowed to come into formal church membership under a false assumption of salvation, there is a very high probability that such a person will go through the rest of his life living under a delusion of salvation when it is not real. This should be explained at the time of the private questioning so that the membership candidate can understand that the questioning is being done out of genuine concern. Secondly, the person that is not “born again” does not have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and such a person cannot live the Christ-life no matter how hard he tries. Such a person is doomed to an existence of legalism and a life of continual failures. When salvation is a delusion, the Christ-life can never be anything more than an illusion. Sadly, the person with a delusion of salvation lives under that delusion never recognizing it as a delusion because he thinks that his Christian life is like every other Christian’s life. When two delusional Christians get together, they tend to reinforce each other’s delusion with the commonality of never experiencing the Spirit filled Christ-life and its accompanying progressive transfiguration. As a result, they think that what they know experientially as Christianity is normal Christianity. The delusion then reinforces the illusion.

It is important to note that the genuineness of a person’s salvation may be QUESTIONED, but no one should be removed from formal church membership because of another person’s doubt or even because a person may doubt his own salvation. A person must admit to a false profession of salvation before that person should be removed from formal church membership or give evidence of trusting in something other than the “finished” work and Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. If a person states he is now trusting in either some degree of Moralism or some form of Ritualism for salvation, that must be corrected or that person must be removed from membership.

Refusal to genuinely repent of moral turpitude

The only sin that would cause a local church to disfellowship another believer is a sin accompanied with the refusal to genuinely repent (to sincerely turn from that sin in remorse). Moral turpitude deals with sin in such a way as to see it as more than just an offense against a holy God. Moral turpitude is essentially a judicial term describing action that is criminal in that the impact of the act goes beyond the individual to effect a group or a society. This is what defines the unrepentant sinner who lives in secret sin and deception of his fellow local church members. His unrepentant lifestyle causes the whole of the formal membership of a local church to lose the supernatural enabling of the Spirit of God upon their ministry. It is the unrepented sin in the life of the unrepentant sinner that Paul refers to in I Corinthians 5:6 by the phrase “a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” Moral turpitude as a judicial term is defined as:

“act of baseness, vileness or depravity in the private and social duties which a man owes to his fellowmen, or to society in general, contrary to the accepted and customary rule of right and duty between man and man.” [1]

The heinousness of secret moral turpitude is that God acts upon the secret sin by withdrawing Himself and His blessings from the fellowship. This is what happened in Joshua chapter 7 in the sin of Achan’s moral turpitude.

1 But the children of Israel committed a trespass in the accursed thing: for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed thing: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against the children of Israel. 2 And Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is beside Bethaven, on the east side of Bethel, and spake unto them, saying, Go up and view the country. And the men went up and viewed Ai. 3 And they returned to Joshua, and said unto him, Let not all the people go up; but let about two or three thousand men go up and smite Ai; and make not all the people to labour thither; for they are but few. 4 So there went up thither of the people about three thousand men: and they fled before the men of Ai. 5 And the men of Ai smote of them about thirty and six men: for they chased them from before the gate even unto Shebarim, and smote them in the going down: wherefore the hearts of the people melted, and became as water” (Joshua 7:1-5).

Because of one man’s selfish act of secret moral turpitude, 36 innocent men were killed when God withdrew His blessing and protective custody upon the nation of Israel. That which defines the criminal action in moral turpitude is revealed in the extensive levels of impact upon the nation of Israel as a whole.

1. Joshua, the leader of Israel, was discouraged and began to wrongly accuse God of being unfaithful to His covenant promise (Joshua 7:6-7).

2. An open door was provided for God’s Name and God’s abilities to be blasphemed among the heathen and the congregation of Israel to be mocked by their enemies (Joshua 7:8-9).

3. 36 innocent men died (Joshua 7:5). These men had fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, wives, children, and other extended family members who became victims of the consequences of the moral turpitude of Achan and his family as they concealed his sin.

4. The whole congregation of Israel was defiled and accursed before God (Joshua 7:11) until they corporately dealt with the problem judicially and were once again sanctified before God (Joshua 7:13-26).

5. God established a memorial in the “great heap of stones” (Joshua 7:26) and, from that day forward, the valley where this stoning took place “was called, the Valley of Achor.” Achor means trouble. This was to be an ongoing historical testimony to the infamy of one man who brought so much trouble upon the congregation of Israel because of his own carnal selfishness.

It should be noted that the whole immediate family of Achan were required to be present at his stoning and it appears that they were stoned along with Achan, which would require their complicity in the concealing of the sin. This complicity of family members, or anyone, to conceal sin is a level of moral turpitude that must as well be dealt with during church discipline through congregational polity. It should also be noted that in order for the defilement to be removed from the congregation of Israel and God’s blessing restored through sanctification that the whole congregation was required to take part in the stoning and the burning of all the bodies and belongings of the family of Achan (Joshua 7:24-26).

REFUSAL TO REPENT OF Doctrinal heresy

Ephesians 4:2 emphatically states that there is but “one faith.” Since “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Rom. 10:17), we should understand that the “one faith” Paul refers to is one correct interpretation of Scripture that is defined as right doctrine. The word “doctrine” in the N.T. is translated from the Greek word didache (did-akh-ay'). The Greek word simply means instruction. Doctrine is the teaching that explains the meaning of the inspired Words of Scripture. Our modern term for doctrine is the word theology. Right doctrine (orthodoxy) provides the correct foundation for righteous, God-pleasing practice (orthopraxy).

Heresy is any wrong interpretation of Scripture that creates a disunity. The word heresy means disunion. It is false teaching of false doctrine that breaks the “. . . unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; 5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Eph. 4:3b-6). The word heresy actually refers to the creation of another sect or division of people that brakes away from the original fellowship by teaching things contrary to that right doctrine and its practice or the unity that existed in right doctrine and right practice.

17 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. 18 For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple” (Romans 16:17-18)

The word “mark” in Romans 16:17 is from the Greek word skopeo (skop-eh'-o). It means to focus upon, point out, or take aim at. People, both within a local church membership and without, who teach false interpretations of Scripture that lead to disunion should be singled out and pointed out. If they are members of a local church and refuse to repent of their false teachings, they must be removed from the formal membership of the church and not allowed to have any position of leadership. Since they will continue to teach their false interpretation of Scripture even after they have been excommunicated, it becomes the responsibility of the leadership and the formal members of a local church to constantly warn new believers about them and maintain a public mark upon them through continual warnings.

Unwillingness to resolve personal offenses

In most cases, Matthew 18:15-20 is used for the foundation of church discipline in dealing with issues of moral turpitude. That is not the context of the instruction of Matthew chapter 18. The context is about lifestyles that lead little children astray (Matt. 18:1-6) by living in contradiction to the practice of right doctrine. Contextually, the instruction of Matthew 18 is about how believers should treat one another and resolve personal problems in a God-honoring way. Sadly, dealing with the issues of false professions of salvation, moral turpitude, and heresy are all mixed together. According to the teaching of the Word of God, we have separate instructions regarding the way these various issues are to be dealt with by individual believers and within the context of formal local church membership. Matthew 18:15-20 gives us instructions regarding how God wants individuals to deal with personal offenses they might cause or receive.

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. 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. 18 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. 19 Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:15-20).

The word “trespass” is from the Greek word hamartano (ham-ar-tan'-o). It simply means to miss the mark. It is usually translated sin, but in this case the better translation is “trespass.” It means to err or make a serious mistake in judgment or to say or do something that causes another person grief because of that wrong statement. What is usually the case, one person says something wrong or makes a false speculation about another person to a friend or acquaintance. Then that person goes to the person that the statement was made about and repeats it or asks that person if the statement is true. The latter person is the person offended by the statement. Both the person who made the original offending statement and the person who repeated the offending statement become party to the offense and become accountable to try to resolve the offense. The false statement is gossip. The person who listened to the gossip and repeated the gossip, even in bringing it as a question to the person the gossip was about, becomes party to the gossip. Gossip is a secret assault upon the character of another person. If a person has a concern or question about an action of another person, the only appropriate person to discuss the issue with is the person in question. ALL PARTIES INVOLVED IN THE DISCUSSION NEED TO BE INVOLVED IN THE RESOLUTION.

The context of Matthew chapter 18 is the bad example that adults establish before children that lead those children into similar practices. One of the most basic principles of parenting, in teaching children self-discipline, is the principle, WHAT YOU MESS UP, YOU STRAIGHTEN UP! In Matthew chapter 18, the mess up is the question, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” This question was asked in almost complete ignorance of those little ears and little eyes that hear everything and see everything and record those things they hear and see that are endorsed by the actions of the adults they learn from. The question raised the issue of WHAT is important in life by raising a false example of WHO is important in life. Christ brings those invisible ears and eyes into the midst of those disciples and in the midst of the theological debate and shows these adults the perspective of their discussion. Congregational polity holds formal church members accountable to resolve the offenses created by misstatements and bad examples.

The testimony of any local church will never be any better than the testimony of any individual who is allowed to live in contradiction to his profession of salvation or in contradiction to his commitment to die to the “old man” and live in the indwelling power of the resuurected and indwelling Christ. The basic responsibility of Congregational Polity is the protection and maintainance of a testimony that will bring glory to God and His power to completely transfigure the lives of sinners.

[1] Chadwick v. State Bar, 49 Cal. 3d 103, 110, 776 P.2d 240, 260 Cal.Rptr. 538 (1989); Sosa-Martinez v. United States AG, 420 F.3d 1338, 1341 (11th Cir. 2005)

Audio of this is available in the two links below:
I. Four Failures That Should Result In Excommunication
II. Four Failures That Should Result In Excommunication

Anonymous comments will not be allowed.Numerous studies and series are available free of charge for local churches at:http://www.disciplemakerministries.org/Dr. Lance Ketchum serves the Lord as a Church Planter, Evangelist/Revivalist.He has served the Lord for over 40 years.