One of the main issues of church organization is to deal with discipline. How discipline helps to preserve church unity is sometimes a touchy subject and easily may be misunderstood. But from a biblical perspective, church discipline centers on two important areas: preserving purity of doctrine and preserving purity of church life and practice.
As we already have seen, the New Testament maintains the importance of preserving the purity of biblical teaching in the wake of apostasy and false teaching, particularly at the end of time. The same goes for preserving the respectability of the community by guarding against immorality, dishonesty, and depravity. For this reason the Scripture is spoken of as “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16, NKJV).
Read Matthew 16:19 and Matthew 18:15-20. What principles did Jesus give to the church regarding discipline and admonishing those who are at fault?
The Bible supports the concept of discipline and of our accountability to each other in our spiritual and moral lives. In fact, one of the distinguishing marks of the church is its holiness, or separation, from the world. We certainly find in the Bible many examples of difficult situations that required the church to act decisively against immoral behaviors. Moral standards must be maintained in the church.
What principles do these passages teach us to follow when addressing difficult issues in the church? Matt. 7:1-5; Gal. 6:1-2.
We cannot deny the biblical teaching about the need of church discipline. We cannot be faithful to the Word without it. But notice the redemptive quality in many of these admonitions. As much as possible, discipline should be as redemptive as possible. We need to remember, too, that we are all sinners and that we all need grace. Thus, when we administer discipline we need to do it in humility and with a keen awareness of our own failings, as well.
|How, in our dealings with those who err, can we learn to act with an attitude of redemption more than of punishment?|