LAWSUITS BETWEEN BELIEVERS

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WE BELIEVE THAT CHRISTIANS ARE PROHIBITED FROM BRINGING CIVIL LAWSUITS AGAINST OTHER CHRISTIANS OR THE CHURCH TO RESOLVE PERSONAL DISPUTES. WE BELIEVE INDEPENDENCE BAPTIST CHURCH POSSESSES ALL THE RESOURCES NECESSARY TO RESOLVE PERSONAL DISPUTES BETWEEN MEMBERS. WE DO BELIEVE, HOWEVER, THAT A CHRISTIAN MAY SEEK COMPENSATION FOR INJURIES FROM ANOTHER CHRISTIAN’S INSURANCE COMPANY AS LONG AS THE CLAIM IS PURSUED WITHOUT MALICE OR SLANDER.

I. Introduction

A. I knew of a Baptist church that took another Baptist church to court to see which church was a true church. At one time, both of the churches were one church, but as time progressed, the church split, and both sides claimed to be the true, original church. The court threw the case out.

B. I knew a Baptist pastor who took his church to court to get paid for past vacation days he had not taken. The court threw the case out.

C. I knew a church that took a doctrinal dispute to court and the entire community got into the discussion of what "outer darkness" is.

1. Some said one thing and others said something else entirely.

2. The church became known for that court case, and nothing was ever settled.

D. I knew a church in a small community that took a neighbor of theirs to court because of a disagreement over a sewer.

1. Either the church or the neighbor let their sewer run over onto the other’s property, and was slow in getting it fixed.

2. Either the church or the neighbor felt they had to bring suit against the other to get them to stop the sewer overflow.

3. The lawsuit spoiled the testimony of the church in that small community.

E. Examples like this are a rebuke to the entire Christian community.

II. I Corinthians 6.

A. Reasons why church members should not take other church members to court.

1. It is necessary to fully understand I Corinthians 5 and how that chapter fits with chapter 6.

a. In chapter 5, the church was not taking care of church business, as they should.

b. In chapter 6, the church was allowing others to take care of their business.

c. They refused to judge that which God said was a sin, a rebuke, and a hindrance to worship and witnessing, then they wanted the secular world to judge that which they considered a sin, a rebuke, and a hindrance.

1.) Isn’t it amazing?

2.) The church would not take care of what God considered a sin, yet they wanted somebody to take care of what they considered a sin!

d. Because the church would not take care of their own business, they came to the place of allowing others to take care of their business.

1.) The church is not taking care of any of their business.

2.) They have become lazy, and have not paid attention to their own personal responsibilities.

2. I Corinthians 5:12,13 states, For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? 13 But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.

a. God judges those not in the church and the church judges those who are members of the church.

b. Many churches today do not want to stand for anything; therefore they fall into more sin.

1.) Many churches do not want to practice church discipline because they do not want to hurt anybody’s feelings.

2.) Because these churches do not practice church discipline, they fall into all kinds of wickedness and sin, and reproach.

B. Churches must understand what judging is.

1. Examples of Godly, Biblical judging.

a. Matthew 19:28 declares, And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

b. The apostles will judge the 12 tribes of Israel, sitting on 12 thrones.

1.) The word "judging" is the same Greek word used in I Corinthians 6:2,3 for the word judge.

2.) God gave Israel judges during the books of Judges.

c. Judges are judicial, not legislative.

1.) They enforce the laws; they do not make the laws.

2.) Our forefathers knew the difference, but today, that principle is unknown.

d. The local church does not have, and never has had, the right to be a legislative body.

1.) We are a judicial body.

2.) We do what God declares we should do, using the Bible as a guide.

3.) We are never to do what we think we ought to do.

C. Saints will judge angels; therefore we are fully qualified to judge each other.

1. When people judge angels, they would necessarily be above them.

2. There will be a change of status in eternity.

3. Hebrews 2:7-9 states, Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands: 8 Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him. 9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.

4. Hebrews 2:7 is a quote from Psalms 8:5 (For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.) continuing to Hebrews 2:9 – Jesus was made a little lower than the angels when he was made a human, but (I John 3:2 declares, Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.) we will be like Christ in eternity.

5. Romans 8:15 – We have received the spirit of adoption.

6. Romans 8:23 – We are waiting for the completion of the adoption process, the redemption of our bodies.

7. Galatians 4:5 – We are redeemed from under the law that we might receive the adoption of sons.

8. Ephesians 1:5 – We are predestinated unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself.

9. The Bible assumes that saved people will naturally seek out other saved people and separate themselves from the world (or perhaps that lost people will separate themselves from saved people), they would automatically be scripturally baptized, then become a member of that local church, or they would form a scriptural Baptist church.

a. Today, many people believe in a universal church, so they cannot understand what it means to believe in a local church.

b. Many local churches are full of confusion because they are not following Christ, therefore many people do not want to have anything to do with them.

D. I Corinthians 6:1, 2 – judge in this world is the same word as judge in eternity.

1. The word judge means to come to a determination.

2. The determination is always by the Word of God, never our own personal opinions, or preferences.

E. Saints are saved people, who are in the church, not saints as in Catholicism.

1. This shows that saints automatically gravitate toward other saints, thus a church is formed.

2. Today, that does not seem to be the case, as there are saints in every denomination and every church.

3. That is why Christ declares to them in Revelation 18:4 to Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.

F. True Godly churches are a community separate and apart from the rest of the world.

1. Christ told us to come out from among them and be ye separate, II Corinthians 6:14-18.

2. One of the very major problems in this world is that people want the church and the world to be one and the same.

G. I Corinthians 6:4 - If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church.

1. The point is not to pick out the person in the church that is the least learned to decide cases.

2. The point is that the person that might be considered the least able to judge a matter in the church is much more able than any person in the world to judge the same matter.

H. I Corinthians 6:6 - But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers.

1. The church had caused unbelievers to rebuke believers, which is a bad thing.

2. Unbelievers have been able to look into the very personal matters of church members in order to make a judgment of right or wrong, which is a bad thing.

3. Verse 7 – It would be better to suffer wrong rather than let unbelievers make a judgment of personal matters instead of the church making that judgment.

4. Verse 8 – Church members taking church members to court has caused a great harm to the spiritual growth of brothers.

5. Verse 9-11 – The unrighteous are not even in the kingdom, much less able to make any sort of spiritual evaluation of what God considers right or wrong.

6. Verse 11 – Remember when you were in the world? And all the trouble you were in?

7. Verse 12 – Going to court puts you under the authority of the courts – unbelievers. Paul will not be under the authority of any person except God. A good thing for us to keep in our minds.

8. Verse 13 – There should be a separation of secular and spiritual things.

a. When church members take church members to court, they are putting more emphasis upon temporal things than eternal things.

b. God is going to destroy all temporal things.

c. Only the things done for Christ (spiritual things) will last.

9. Verse 15 –Fornication is an ungodly power that is over the flesh or spirit.

a. When a church member goes to court, they are putting themselves under the authority of the court – thus other church members will be affected.

b. Thus the entire church will be affected, not only because young church members will not understand how to conduct themselves when there are disagreements, but because the present situation requires some sort of solution which is prescribed by the court instead of by the local church.

III. Conclusion.

A. Because of this present evil world, and the need for insurance, there are certain concessions made.

1. Insurance is a required evil today.

2. Insurance companies will not pay unless they are forced to pay.

3. Because of this fact, it is sometimes necessary for church members to sue other church members.

B. Ephesians 4:31-32 states, Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

1. Even though it is sometimes necessary for church members to sue other church members, there is never a reason to have bitterness, wrath, or anger toward other church members.

2. I remember a case in a church where the insurance company forced church members to sue each other.

3. They joked with each other about suing each other, and had no hard feelings toward each other at all.