Conflict Resolution in the Church

Course Introduction:

In Matthew 18:15, Jesus says, “Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go, and tell him.” Unity and peace are critical to the church, as Satan’s strategy is divide and conquer. Our Lord Jesus Christ has outlined the way to maintain unity in the church in the face of sin. Loving, gentle, but clear confrontation according to Jesus’ detailed instructions, will bring blessings to all the parties involved.

Lesson 1 - Introduction

In Matthew 18:15, Jesus says, “Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go, and tell him.” Unity and peace are critical to the church, as Satan’s strategy is divide and conquer. Our Lord Jesus Christ has outlined the way to maintain unity in the church in the face of sin. Loving, gentle, but clear confrontation according to Jesus’ detailed instructions, will bring blessings to all the parties involved.

Lesson 2 - Jesus’ Instructions on Confrontation

Sin causes divisions in the body of Christ and should not be ignored. Jesus gives clear instructions that if a brother or sister in the church sins against you, it is your responsibility to confront the matter. But there are a number of questions to ask first, and there are four levels of confronting sin. This lecture gives us a step by step instruction about confronting sin, which is taken directly from the words of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Lesson 3 - Repentance, Confession, and Forgiveness

Dealing with sin honors God because sin offends God’s holiness. But it needs to be done with love, gentleness, and the spirit of meekness, and it must be soaked in prayer. The household of God is not a museum of perfect saints, so we can expect conflict. The church is like a construction zone where God, through his Word and Spirit, is perfecting his people. The goal is for the offending party to repent, confess their sin, and request forgiveness. Jesus commands us to forgive, but only when there is an expression of repentance. Forgiveness is one of the most demanding exercises of love.

Lesson 4 - Surrounded with Prayer and Love

In this lecture, Pastor A. T. Vergunst turns our attention to the details of our Lord Jesus Christ’s instructions about the last two levels of Conflict Resolution within God’s Church. If the private level of confrontation was not successful, Christ tells us to take one or two witnesses. But who should they be? And what should be their task? This process is lengthy and not immediate, and should be given much preparation and prayer. If still unsuccessful, Christ commands us to take it to the church. But how is that done? Who should be included? How should we respond? We are to surround them in prayer and in the practice of love, for the soul of our fellow believer is in grave danger.

Lesson 5 - Excommunication and Restoration

No action a church is to perform, on behalf of the Captain of Salvation, the Lord Jesus Christ, is more serious than the cutting off of a member from the church family and fellowship. The purpose of formal excommunication is to bring the erring brother to repentance. The Lord calls us to seek the excommunicated brothers or sisters as the objects of evangelism, and if they’re hostile to us, we are to love them still. Our labor of love and compassion may lead to godly sorrow and repentance, and if that happens, we are to receive the repentant sinner back into our fellowship.