Suggested further reading: 1 Corinthians 5:1-13
We have a clear argument in these verses for the exercise of
discipline in the Christian congregation. Our Lord commands
disagreements between Christians which cannot otherwise be settled to
be referred to the decision of the church to which they belong. It
is evident from this that he intends every congregation of
professing Christians to take cognizance of the moral conduct of its
members. He intends every congregation to have the power of excluding
disobedient and refractory members from participation in its
ordinances. He says not a word about temporal punishment and civil
disabilities. Spiritual penalties are the only penalty that he permits the
church to inflict, and when rightly inflicted they are not lightly regarded.
It can never be right that all sorts of people, however wicked or
ungodly, should be allowed to come to the table of the Lord, no
man forbidding. It is the bounden duty of every Christian to use his
influence to prevent such a state of things. An increasingly high
standard of qualification for church membership will always be found one
of the best evidences of a prosperous church.
Christ holds out gracious encouragement to those who meet
in his name (v. 20). This saying is a striking proof of our Lord's
divinity. God alone can be in more places than one at the same time.
There is comfort in these words for all who love to meet
together for religious purposes. At every assembly for public worship,
at every gathering for prayer and praise, at every missionary
meeting, at every Bible study, the King of kings is present, Christ
himself attends. We Mayoften be disheartened by the small number who
are present on such occasions compared to those who meet for
worldly ends. But at all such meetings we have the company of Christ himself.
There is a solemn rebuke in these words for all who neglect
the public worship of God. They turn their backs on the society of
the Lord of lords. They miss the opportunity of meeting Christ himself.
For meditation: Verse 20 proves that we cannot worship Christ
as well by staying at home as by going to church.