E. M. Bounds | Concerted Prayer
Concerted Prayer (Sermon)
E. M. Bounds
Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual restore such a one in the spirit of meekness, considering thyself lest thou also be tempted.
The work of the church is not alone to members but it is to watch over and guard them after they have entered the church. And if any are overtaken by sin, they must be sought out, and if they cannot be cured of their faults, then excision must take place. This is the doctrine our Lord lays down.
It is somewhat striking that the church at Ephesus, (Rev. 2) though it had left its first love, and had sadly declined in vital godliness and in those things which make up spiritual life, yet it receives credit for this good quality: "Thou canst not bear them that are evil."
While the church at Pergamos was admonished because it had there among its membership those who taught such hurtful doctrines that were a stumbling-block to others. And not so much that such characters were in the church, but that they were tolerated. The impression is that the church leaders were blind to the presence of such hurtful characters, and hence were indisposed to administer discipline. This indisposition was an unfailing sign of prayerlessness in the membership. There was no union of prayer effort looking to cleansing the church and keeping it clean.
This disciplinary idea stands out prominently in the apostle Paul's writings to the churches. The church at Corinth had a notorious case of fornication where a man had married his step-mother, and this church had been careless about this iniquity. Paul rather sharply reproved this church and gave explicit command to this effect: "Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person." Here was concert of action on the part of praying people demanded by Paul.
As good a church as that at Thessalonica needed instruction and caution on this matter of looking after disorderly persons. So we hear Paul saying to them:
Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly.
Mark you. It is not the mere presence of disorderly persons in a church which merits the displeasure of God. It is when they are tolerated under the mistaken plea of "bearing with them," and no steps are taken either to cure them of their evil practices or exclude them from the fellowship of the church. And this glaring neglect on the part of the church of its wayward members, is but a sad sign of a lack of praying, for a praying church, given to mutual praying, agreement praying, is keen to discern when a brother is overtaken in a fault, and seeks either to restore him, or to cut him off if he be incorrigible.
"Is what you are living for worth Christ dying for?" - Leonard Ravenhill