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As noted earlier, church discipline
is one of the marks of a true church. It
is the duty of Chlist's bride to purify
herself from anything that would
profune the Blidegroom. Private and
public admonition, toward those who
persist in sin, is a necessary function
(Mt. lS:15-20; 1 Cor. 5:1-13). The
Westminster Confession (XXXIV,4)
avers that the Holy Spirit is that member
of the Trinity (economically speaking)
by whom, "the church will be
... purified."
Such discipline (church
censures), says the
Confession (XXX,3), is
necessary for: "the
reclaiming and gaining of
offending bretheren; for the
deterring of others from the
like offences; for purging out
of that leaven which might
infect the whole lump; for
vindicating the honour of
Christ, and the holy
profession of the gospel; and
for preventing the wrath of
God, which might justly fall upon the
church, if they should suffer His
covenant and the seals thereof, to be
profuned by notorious and obstinate
offenders. "
Church discipline is to occur by
means of the "keys of the Kingdom"
(Mt. 16: 17-19; 1S:15-20). The "keys,"
according to the Westminster divines
(XXX,2,4), are committed to the
officers of the church, and consist of
the Word of God, and church censures
canied out in obedience to the Word.
Biblical discipline is "to proceed by
admonition, suspension from the
sacrament of the Lord's Supper for a
season, and by excommunication from
the church, according to the nature of
the crime, and demerit of the person."
Matthew IS: 15-20, is the biblical
locus classicus on the subject. Here we
learn that when church officers
faithfully carry out their task of
discipline (vv. 15-lS), Jesus Chlist is
with them; He "is in the midst of them"
(vv.19,20).AndthewaythatChrist is
with His church at such times is through
His S phit.
This is what Christ told His diSCiples
in John 14-16. He would not leave
them alone as they can'ied out their
ministerial functions (14: 18); Hewould
send the parakletos to dwell with them
and in them (14: 16,17); thus, it would
be best for them if He went away
(16:7). Jesus is continually with His
church through the person of His Spirit
(Mt. 28:20). The S phit functions as the
emthly, indwelling advocate, whereas
Christ is now the heavenly advocate (1
Interestingly, the name parakletos,
given to the Holy Spirit by Chlist,
literally means "one called alongSide."
It was the title given to lIial lawyers
(advocates) in antiqUity. Perhaps there
is reference to the Spirit's role in church
censures in the name.
According to Pieter Potgieter, "the
course of history between the
resurrection and the second coming of
Chlist is a course of inevitable viCtory
for His Kingdom. In this process the
Holy Spirit is fully involved. The
outpouring of the Sphit on the day of
Pentecost is nothing less than the
indisputable sign of this velY victOlY in
the world."(Potgieter, p. 3).
Section four of chapter XXXIV of
the Confession closes by stating that by
the minisny of the Holy Spirit, "the
church will be preserved,
increased ... and at last made perfectly
holy in the presence of God." We have
studied the final part of this teaching in
chapter three. There we saw that each
and evelY Christian (individually and
corporately) will be preserved
throughout eternity; they
will be glorified. The
indwelling Parac1ete is the
seal and earnest which
assures this (Eph. 1:13,14;2
Cor. 1:22).
But the Confession also
speaks of the Spirit's role in
preserving and giving
increase to Christ's church.
The Spirit is the "church
bnilder," according to the
apostle Paul (Eph. 2:22). He
is the "other advocate," sent
by Christ, to continue His
earthlyminisnyOn.14:16-lS,26; 16:7-
15; Acts 1:1,2). Thus, He assures us
that even in the worst of times, "there
shall always be a church on earth to
worship God according to will." The
Westminster Confession of Faith
XXV,5. The Spirit will preserve Christ's
Not only this, the Spirit is also the
one who assures Christ's church that
the "gates of hades shall not prevail
against it" (Mt. 16:1S). We can expect
times 0 f great gospel prospelity in the
New Covenant era, prior to the second
advent of Jesus Chlist. The Great
Commission will be fulfilled; the
nations will be discipled (Mt. 2S: lS-
20). Chlist, in the person of His Holy
Spirit, will be with His church always
to assure her victOlY (v. 20). The
Puritans, who were strongly
December, 1993 l' THE COUNSEL of ChaIcedon ;. 11
Posnnillennial in their eschatology,
often referred to this time as "the latter
day glory of the saints." For more on
this see lain H. Murray, The Puritan
In explaining what Christ meant
when He enjoined the church to pray
"Thy Kingdom come" (Mt. 6:10), the
larger Catechism (Q 191) states:
"In the second petition, (which is,
'Thy Kingdom come'), acknowledging
ourselves and all mankind to be by
nature under the dominion of sin and
Satan, we pray, that the
11:9)." Joseph c. Morecraft, III,Studies
on the Church ofJesus Christ, pp. 90, 87.
The book of Acts should then be
somewhat paradigmatic as to what we
should expea to see in the whole of the
New Testamentera.]. Gresham Machen
agrees. He writes:
"The triumphes of the gospel,
however, were not confined to the age
of the apostles. The apostolic age was
prophetic of the Christian centuries.
There were many days of darkness; but
the church always emerged again
16:5; 17:4,12; 18:8; 19:10,26; 21:20;
28:30). "Regardless of the obstacles
and trials the church faced ... Nothing
could stop its expansion."
2) Geographical growth 0:8; 5: 16;
9:31; 13:46,49; 17:2ff; 18:5ff;19:8ff;
28:17-31). "According to Acts 1:8, the
gospel is to spread from Jerusalem,
through allJudea and Samaria, until it
reaches 'the remotest part of the earth'."
3) Heterogeneous growth (2:9-
11,16-21; 6:7; 8:9-12,26-40; 9:39,43;
10:1; 13:7; 16:14,27; 17:4,12,34;
kingdom of sin and Satan
may be destroyed, the
gospel propagated
throughout the world, the
Jews called, the fullness of
the Gentiles brought in; the
church furnished with all
gospel-officers and
ordinances, purged from
corruption, countenanced
and maintained by the civil
magistrate: that the
ordinances of Christ may
be purely dispensed, and
"The fact that no one person
has all of the gifts of the
Spirit reveals to us the need
for the unity of the church, the
fellowship of the body, for the
full spiritual development of
the individual and the
corporate community."
18:3,8; 21:5). The early
church was "comprised of
people from every race,
people, nation, and walk of
life." There were men,
women, priests, tanners,
converted magicians,
centurions, philosophers,
proconsuls, and so forth.
4) Qualitative growth
(2:37-47; 4:31-35; 9:31;
16:5; etc.). "Numerical
growth alone is not the goal
of evangelism and world-
miSSion. It is numerical
growth coupled with spiritual made effectual to the
converting of those that are yet in their
sIns, and the confirming, comforting,
and building up of those thatarealready
converted: that Christ would rule in
our hearts here, and hasten the time of
His second coming, and our reigning
with Him forever: and that He would
be pleased so to exercise the Kingdom
of His power in all the world, as may
best conduce to these ends."
Joseph Morecraft, maintains that
the book of Acts is a book which reveals
. the power of the Holy Spirit. "God
personally builds His church by His
Spirit." Further, "the purpose of the
book of Acts is to show the triumphant
progress of Christianity, to show the
ever expanding influence of the gospel
as it breaks through all bartiers-
religious, ethniC, and national-until
'the knowledge of the Lord covers the
earth as the waters cover the sea' (Is.
triumphant. So it will be today. God
has not deserted His people; He will
attest His truth with the power of His
Spirit; there is no room for
discouragement. One thing, however,
should to be remembered; thevictories
of the church are victories, not of
brilliant preachers, not of human
wisdom or human goodness, but of the
cross of Christ. Under that banner all
true conquests move." J. Gresham
Machen, The New Testament: An
Introduction to its Literature and History,
Morecraftcites four particular ways
in which we see the Holy Spirit bringing
about church growth in the book of
Acts: Morecraft, pp. 88-9l.
1) Numerical growth (2:41,47; 4:4;
5:14; 6:1,7; 8:6,12;9:31,35,42; 10:44;
11:21,24,26; 12:24; 13:49; 14:1,21;
12 THE COUNSEL of Chalcedon December, 1993
growth. The focal point for Luke in his
numbers of believers who are being
built up in Christian maturity of life
and thought. .. Church growth involves
a growth in quantity and in quality."
At the end of chapter one we studied
some of the implications of the doctrine
of the person of the Holy Spirit. Now,
at the end of chapters two through
four, we shall look at some of the
implications of His work: Millard J.
Erickson, Christian Theology, pp.
1) The entirety of salvation, along
with the gifts and graces given to
Christians, are bestowals of grace from
God the Spirit, not human
with "paganism in the raw" are the
cheapest of cheap shots. But then
again, unfounded prtggishness has al-
ways been at a discount behind the
tenured walls of our honored "institu-
tions of higher learning.")
Their violent acts must be seen in
the light of the realities they faced. It
was literally a life and death situation
(for them as well as for the benighted
people of Mexico). Ifthey failed, not
only would they die, but (and what
was just as important to these men) the
people who had been deceived by "the
old Dragon" would pertsh. Descola
remarks, "the violent acts of the Con-
quistadors. . . . though sometimes
performed 'in the name of' religion,
were never 'under the pretence of
religion." (Eidsmoe, op. cit., p. 162)
That is to say, though they might, at
times, have gone too far, the conquis-
tadors were never insincere. They had
legal warrant (from the Pope) and they
were on a crusade, not to defeat the
Mohamedans but to convert the hea-
then. Their religion was "not a pretext
but a banner." (Ibid., p. 163)
To the hypocrttes of our age who
know nothing but pretense, this seems
impossible. And the fact that most
scoff at this view of the conquistadores
says far more about the bankruptcy of
our times than it does about the sins of
those in the past. (I
accomplishment. Thus, the gifts and
graces are to be used for His glory.
2) Because it is the Spirtt who
empowers every believer in Chrtstian
life and service, personal inadequacies
should not deter or discourage us.
3) Since the gifts are sovereignly
dispensed by the Spirtt to the church,
possession or lack of a particular gift
should be no cause for prtde or regret.
4) The fact that no one person has
all of the gifts of the Spirtt reveals to us
the need for the unity of the church,
the fellowship of the body, etc., forthe
full spiritual development of the
individual and the corporate
5) The fact that we can come to the
Spirtt in prayer encourages us to pray
for His sanctifying work in us, both
individually and corporately. Prayer
for guidance, a greater understanding
of His inspired Word, the advancement
of His Kingdom, etc., should be a part
of our daily walk with God.
"Come gracious Spirit, heavenly dove,
With light and comfort from above;
Be Thou our guardian, Thou our guide;
O'er every thought and step preside.
The light of truth to us display,
And make us know and choose Thy way;
Plant holy fear in every heart,
That we from God may ne'er depart.
Lead us to holiness, the road
Which we must take to dwell with God;
Lead us to Christ, the living way,
Nor let us from His presence stray."
(Simon Browne) n
16 THE COUNSEL of Chalcedon December, 1993