Is Church Discipline Mean?

Church discipline is really a call to repentance and faith.

The tendency is to view the church as means of therapy, merely as a place of fellowship and encouragement, but not as the divinely instituted embassy in which the keys of the Kingdom of God are administered. Viewed thus, the very idea of church discipline seems high-handed, arbitrary, unjust, and even cruel. After all, the reasoning goes, who are those sinners to judge this sinner?

 

The true church can be recognized if it has the following marks: The church engages in the pure preaching of the gospel; it makes use of the pure administration of the sacraments as Christ instituted them; it practices church discipline for correcting faults. In short, it governs itself according to the pure Word of God, rejecting all things contrary to it and holding Jesus Christ as the only Head. By these marks one can be assured of recognizing the true church—and no one ought to be separated from it. — Belgic Confession, Article 29

Church discipline is essential to the life of the visible church. It was instituted by our Lord Jesus himself in Matthew 18:

“If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed’ (Deut. 19:15). If 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. Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” (Matt. 18:15–20; NASB 95 modified)

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