How to Deal with Problems in the Church
By Pastor Nick Bibile
How shall we deal a sinful situation? What about the neighbors? We have witnessed to the neighbors, will there be a bad testimony of our church? It will be the talk of the town among the neighbors. How can we face them as we may be ashamed to face them.
Mathew 18:15 Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ 17 And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.
Luke 17:3 3 Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. 4 And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him.”
Galatians 6:1 1Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. 2Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.
What if we don’t want to forgive him?
Matthew 6:14 14 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
1 John 1:8 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
What about the neighbors? We have witnessed to the neighbors, will there be a bad testimony of our church? It will be the talk of the town among the neighbors. How can we face them as we may be ashamed to face them.
Let us take a true incident and how apostle Paul dealt with this situation.
1 Corinthians 5:1 1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles—that a man has his father’s wife! 2 And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you. 3 For I indeed, as absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged (as though I were present) him who has so done this deed. 4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5 deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
It came to the ears of Paul, and it is true that a man who is attending the Corinthian church is in gross sexual sin, he is sleeping with this father’s wife. Not his mother, his father re-married and this person who is attending church is sleeping with his father’s wife. Paul says this kind of sin is not even among the unbelievers. And you are tolerating, you should mourn of this sin and expel the man from the church.
Now let us take from the neighbors perspective. This incident would have been the talk of the town. The Corinthian church would have been the laughing stock of the people. Neighbors would have said, ‘look at the those Christians, they are a bunch of hypocrites.’ The church instead of being the light to the people had become a stumbling block, bad testimony. Unbelievers around the church may have said, ‘even we don’t do these kinds of sins.’
The situation looks so grim, deeply bad, Paul and the elders of the church could have done the following things.
Paul could have said, ‘I am going to quit the ministry to the Corinthians.’ Because now we cannot witness to the people anymore and the church has become a stumbling block to the neighbors and I am going to take the easy way out. Paul would have told the elders, I am quitting and you take care of it. Then Paul goes to concentrate on other areas.
Elders of the Corinthian church could have said, ‘the way to resolve this issue is to move to a peaceful location, our church is black listed and there is no way we can witness to our neighbors anymore.
Now notice Apostle Paul didn’t side step and avoid the issue, he faced the situation head on. Jesus said, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
We can learn a lot from apostle Paul. He was a fighter, he never gave up when problems came in front of him. He was shipwrecked, stoned, went without food, he face all kinds of issues from the church yet he depended upon the supernatural power of God as the battle belongs to the Lord.
Now let us continue in the story of the Corinthians as still we did not solve the issue of the neighbors. As our testimony seems to have damaged among the neighbors. The man who was sleeping with his father’s wife was expelled from the church. However we see that this man repented of his sins and Paul is urging the church to forgive his sins and to love him, see 2 Corinthians 2:4-11
Yes, neighbors will talk, gossip and add more seasonings and juicy things to the story. But God will take care of them. When a person truly repent of his or her sins, the neighbors will noticed that this person is truly changed, we don’t see the way he behaved in the past. Something had truly happened to this person, it must be from God. The bad testimony can turn into God’s glory.
Sometimes our failures can bring glory to God. Yes, we have to face the consequences of sin yet, yet God is glorified. See the sin of Adam and Eve. Looked like a failure and Satan had victory, yet God is glorified. We never wouldn’t have known grace of God, mercy of God, the true love of God if not for the failure.
Yes, there was a great problem in the Corinthian church but was it a failure? No. God was glorified. There was true pain and sorrow in that problem, there was deep sin against God in that problem, however God is glorified at the end. Sometimes what Satan meant for evil, God will turn around and make it for good. If not for this evil thing that happened in the Corinthian church we will not be talking about it today. It is a lesson and an encouragement for us.
Joseph brothers tried to kill him, they meant for evil, but Joseph said, Gen 50:20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.
They crucified our Lord on the cross, they meant for evil but God meant for Good.
Romans 8: 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
Don’t be discourage of your failures, see the failures of apostle Peter.
It is truly amazing how the Lord selected Peter to be one of his disciples. The Lord chose the poor, the lowly and the uneducated. . Peter was very honest and very transparent. You can see his expressions clearly. Peter was cheerful, confident, quick in actions, not a slow type person. He was the speaker of the disciples, he was the first to talk, even at the transfiguration he couldn’t keep his mouth silence, but said to the Lord “Master, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah”—not knowing what he said. He was the strongest and the weakest of the Twelve. He was kind-hearted, quick, intense, hopeful, zealous, very emotional, also changeable, and will run from one extreme to the other. He received from Christ the highest praise and the highest rebuke. He was the first to confess him as the Messiah where he received his new name of Peter, but he was also the first to prevented him to go to the cross and Jesus rebuked him by saying, "Get thee behind me, Satan." He protested, when Christ would wash his feet; and then, suddenly changing his mind, he wished not his feet only, but his hands and head also to be washed, meaning give me a full bath Lord. He was quick to cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant, then in a few minutes he confessed to a servant girl he is not a disciple of Jesus. He truly promised to be faithful to Christ, even if everyone forsook him, he will not but the same night he betrayed the Lord three times.
The Lord was so close to Peter yet Peter denied him but later repented and wept bitterly of his sins.
Luke 22:61 And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” 62 And he went out and wept bitterly.
Matthew Henry said, “One look from Christ melted him into tears of godly sorrow for sin.”
After the resurrection when the women found out the tomb of Jesus was empty the angel told the women to go and tell the disciples especially Peter.
Mark 16:6 "Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you."
Peter failed yet brought glory to God. Peter used Mark as his secretary to write
the gospel of Mark. God used him mightily to strengthen and to encourage the
new church. During the time of Emperor Nero’s persecution of the Christians,
tradition say Peter’s wife was crucified before Peter. Then Nero crucified
Peter. History tell us Peter was crucified upside down as he said, it was not
worthy for me to be crucified in the same manner of the Lord.
Acts 14: 21 And when they had preached the gospel to that city and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, 22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.”
What was the secret of the early church that they were able to go through trials and temptations? The answer is Love.
John 13:34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.
If we knit together as one body, we can go forward with the power of God.
Philip 1:3 I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, 4 always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, 5 for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, 6 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;