Note3: This statement has been superceded by a New Statement dated November 1, 2000.
Living Hope Evangelical Fellowship
April 30, 2000
Elders' Statement Regarding Gary Ezzo's Church Discipline
Church Statement: One way God calls upon us to love one another in "fulfilling the law of Christ" (Gal. 6:1-2; Matt. 22:29) is by our humble effort to restore a brother when he sins. The Bible does not describe church discipline as a form of punishment inflicted upon those who refuse to conform but rather as a positive ministry which is designed for the benefit of the individual, the church, and the glory of God. Just as God's discipline of Christians is for their welfare and as every father disciplines his own children whom he loves (Heb. 12:6-7), so also church discipline is a ministry of love in which the entire church family must participate. In our understanding of Scripture, biblical discipline will be exercised wherever the local church truly seeks to be a family of families (1 Tim. 3:14-16).
Though it grieves us to speak of our brother's failings, our greater commitment to God's glory, the authority of Scripture and the purity of the flock which God has entrusted to us to shepherd compel us to bring public rebuke when a public minister continues in sin (1 Tim. 5:19-20).
When a pattern of sin surfaced in Gary Ezzo's life, as his elders we sought to restore him in accordance to God's Word (1 Tim. 5:19-20; Matt. 18:15-18; 1 Cor. 5:12-13). Speaking to him in the authority of Christ's name (1 Cor. 5:4) we lovingly called upon our fellow church member to honor God by acknowledging and turning away from his deceitful speech by which he was inflicting harm upon others. Over the last several weeks we have pleaded with Gary to repent, in the hope and prayer that he would to turn from sin and begin to walk in truth and integrity.
It saddens us to know that Gary has failed to repent of former sins which we confronted, and even sadder still we have learned from him that he continues to widen the circle of his lies, slander, gossip and false accusations. Because of his persistent unwillingness to respond to biblical admonition (1 Tim. 5:19-20; Matt. 18:15-18; Luke 17:3), which he received from his elders and church family, we are fearful that Gary's heart has been hardened by the deceitfulness of sin and as a consequence he is resolved to continue in disobedience to the will of God (Heb. 3:13-14). Confronting Gary in a biblical process has revealed that when it comes to himself and other matters that reflect upon the question of his integrity, there is a pattern in Gary of struggling with truth. Rather than waiting on God's provision, when confronted in his sins Gary readily sets aside integrity and seeks to protect himself by a rejection of the very spiritual authority God placed over him for his own spiritual welfare. Furthermore, by the fruits of his life, especially his words, Gary has manifested a lack of Christian character essential to leadership in the church.
Therefore, upon the authority of God's Word and the authority God invests in the church, and upon the basis of facts established by biblical process, Gary Ezzo has been excommunicated from Living Hope Evangelical Fellowship (1 Cor. 5:13; Matt. 18:17). In the end, it was his impenitence that caused us to put him out of the church . The pattern of sin which made that measure spiritually necessary also explains why as Gary's elders we believe he is biblically disqualified from all public ministry. Although his excommunication from our church means that LHEF is no longer carrying out a process of restoration we pray that God will use this measure to win back Gary's heart and restore truth and integrity to his life.