“For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.”
2 Corinthians 10:3-4
Grudem defines the power of the church as “its God-given authority to carry on spiritual warfare, proclaim the gospel, and exercise church discipline.” Let’s look at each one of these briefly.
When Christ stood before Pilate he told him, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” This is what most people don’t understand, the focus of the Church is not the symptoms of sin, but it is sin itself. The Church uses the power of God to deal with the core issues that are behind evil behavior. This is why we do not pick up physical swords and participate in jihad, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12).
Proclaim the Gospel
One of the primary ways that the Church engages in this spiritual battle is by the proclamation of the Gospel. In Matthew 16:19, Jesus says to the Apostles, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” What are these keys? It is the gospel, for the gospel “is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” It is the gospel key that opens the door into Christ’s Kingdom. This is why Christianity is the largest religion on this planet, for the gospel continues to spread to every people, tribe, language and nation. And as Jesus says in Matthew 16:18, “the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.”
Exercise Church Discipline
Once people come into the Church by the power of the Gospel, the power of the Church does not end. Jesus says in Matthew 28:20, “[teach] them to observe all that I have commanded you.”
But what happens if a Christian does not want to do what Christ has commanded? It is the local church’s obligation to deal with that particular ongoing sin. Jesus commands such in Matthew 18:15-20, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
The failure of a Church to not deal with unrepentant sin is a failed Church. In fact, a Church without Church discipline is a Church that is itself walking in unrepentant sin for it is not obeying all that Christ has commanded.