SDA Sabbath School Lessons
Thursday November 14, 1996

Church Discipline

Matt. 18:15-18

Any organization must have a way of upholding its fundamental principles. The disciplinary authority with which Christ invested His church is never to be exercised in a dictatorial, critical manner. Redemption and restoration are the key purposes of all valid church discipline.

Read Matthew 18:15-18. How does Jesus' counsel regarding church discipline suggest the responsibility of members to one another? How does the carrying out of these responsibilities aid in the church's growth?

"As the erring one accepts the reproof offered in the love of Christ, and acknowledges his wrong, asking forgiveness from God and from his brother, the sunshine of heaven fills his heart. The controversy is ended; friendship and confidence are restored. The oil of love removes the soreness caused by the wrong; the Spirit of God binds heart to heart; and there is music in heaven over the union brought about.

"As those thus united in Christian fellowship offer prayer to God, and pledge themselves to deal justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God, great blessing comes to them....

"And even if he does not repent, even if he stands outside the church, God's servants still have a work to do for him. They are to seek earnestly to win him to repentance. . . . His brethren are to encourage him in the right way, treating him as they would wish to be treated were they in his place, considering themselves, lest they also be tempted."-Gospel Workers, pp. 500, 501.

"Whatever you may bind upon the earth shall be that which has already been bound in heaven" (Matt. 18:18, Randolph 0. Yeager, The Renaissance New Testament). Christ was not suggesting in this verse that the church was infallible or had the right to establish its own directives or judgments, but that the church can require only what heaven requires and can forbid only what heaven forbids.

What are some occasions for exercising discipline in the church? 1 Cor. 5:1-5, 9-13; 2 Thess. 3:6, 10-15.

The word discipline comes from a Latin word, that means "teaching" or "learning." How can church discipline be a form ofteaching or learning?

Without being disloyal to the church, how can you help someone whom the church has disciplined?