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Monday, October 5, 2015

church discipline

We might not like those words: "church discipline".  They sound uncaring, unkind, unloving, and even mean-spirited.  But a right understanding of what Jesus meant shows that rather than being unloving, it is one of the most loving things a Christian can do.

One of the most neglected commands in the New Testament is church discipline (or “Christian restoration”).  Jesus taught this for the purity of the church body and for the good of each individual. We don’t let a member wander off in sin – we love him enough to go to him and try to bring him back.  Correction in the Christian life is a good thing.  Church discipline includes all 4 steps (Matt. 18), and only rarely ever makes it to the 4th step – but when necessary, we must be committed to follow the Lord’s command in that area, because it is the loving and right thing to do, just as Jesus said.
My point with this little blog entry isn't to describe it fully (which would take a book), or even to make an apologetic for practicing it.  Rather, it is to link to some resources on this important subject.
Links / helpful resources about church discipline:
·         From GTY:  we, as church members, have responsibilities as related to church discipline:
o   “Too many Christians regard discipline as the exclusive domain of church elders, but that is simply not the case. The purity of the church is every Christian’s concern. The responsibility to confront sin that defiles the church lies with the first person to become aware of the sin. Don’t defer it to someone else. Don’t spread the circle of knowledge further than necessary. Furthermore, prayer for the sinning brother should never be used as an alternative to obeying Christ’s clear command to confront.”
o   “If you observe a Christian brother in a morally compromising situation, you should confront him.”
o   Church discipline is the necessary response to any offense that cannot be safely overlooked without harm to the offender or to the body of Christ.
·         Also GTY, when should church discipline be used, and what happens when it isn’t?
o   “Second, biblical discipline is not about micromanaging people’s lives. The kind of offenses that require confrontation and biblical discipline are not unintentional transgressions, petty annoyances, or matters of simple preference. They are serious violations of clear biblical principles—sins that hurt other believers, destroy the unity of the flock, and sully the purity of the church. In such cases, sin must be dealt with. Such sins cannot be covered up. They are like leaven, and left alone their evil effects will eventually permeate the whole church (1 Corinthians 5:6).”
o   “The permissiveness that results when discipline is neglected inevitably leads to chaos. This is as true in the church as it is in a family. No adult enjoys being around children who are never disciplined. In the same way, a church that is lax on dealing with sin in the body ultimately becomes intolerable to all but the most immature believers. Failing to practice church discipline therefore ensures that the flock will be spiritually stunted. It is also a sure way to incur God’s displeasure (Revelation 2:14, 20).”
o   “Jesus’ instructions about church discipline in Matthew 18 are clear and unequivocal. This issue is therefore a good test of whether a church is serious about obedience to Christ. People often ask me what to look for in a church. Consistent, proper discipline is near the top of my list. One thing is certain: A church that does not discipline sinning members is going to have perpetual and serious problems.
·         From Pure Life Ministries – church discipline and porn (by someone on the receiving end)

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