We all knew it was coming and we all know it is only the beginning. But we know that God still has His people in His bundle (1 Samuel 25:29) of life. Faithful elders in one of our American towns are under public attack for withdrawing fellowship from a member who has divorced her husband and entered a very public lesbian relationship.
Notice just three important key points that Christians should remember:
1. The denunciation of this sin and the withdrawal are Biblical requirements for those who are following Scripture. (Romans 1: 26-28; 1 Corinthians 6: 9-11, 1 Corinthians 5:1-8). The Holy Spirit left no room for disputation about that.
2. Publicizing sin is never the purpose of withdrawal of fellowship. Elders did not/do not wish to make it known in communities that there’s sin in the church. (That’s antithetical to their purposes.) The sinner announced her sin in a broad and public way. The addressing of the sin was done/is done in private communication up until the date of withdrawal . Even then, the nature of the sin is not always specified and the announcement of withdrawal is made only to the members of the local body for which the elders are responsible.
3. When one becomes a member of the church in a community, it’s an exercise of religious liberty. No one forces anyone to be a member of the New Testament church. People willingly place their souls under the care of the shepherds of a church, willingly giving elderships the responsibility to follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance in protecting their souls from loss in this commanded way. The assigned task of elders is grave (Hebrews 13:17). May we support and encourage those who are serious about their responsibilities.
True persecution of godly men and their families has ensued as a result of their commitment to following the Scriptures. I would ask each woman who reads to pray fervently for the church right now; especially for her elders and their families. This is the quickly emerging and fiery persecution that the people of God are facing in a country in which religious liberties are at stake. This one thing is sure: Our citizenship in heaven is secure. Romans 8:28 is happening this week. Things will work out for the ultimate benefit of His people even if that benefit is the ultimate rest around the throne. There IS a way of escape for godly people who are determined to follow the directives of the Holy Spirit given in Scripture, even if we find that way to be fraught with peril and even if the escape route guides us more quickly to death and victory (1 Corinthians 10:13). Let’s be prayerful for the men of God who are privileged to partake in a significant way right now in the sufferings of our Lord (2 Timothy 1:8). As mothers and grandmothers, let’s be doubly vigilant to prepare our children for life in the new America in which there will be fewer and fewer lukewarm members of the body. Those who commit to being in the body will be signing up for persecution like we’ve never faced in this country. Our kids have hard days ahead of them.