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The Discipline of the Church

November 3, 2013 Series: The Church

THE DISCIPLINE OF THE CHURCH    Matt. 18:15-17; Gal. 6:1; 2 Thess. 3:14-15, et al.

Almost there:

  1. Mission of the Church - disciplemaking
  2. Power of the Church – ministry of the Holy Spirit
  3. Worship of the Church – exalting God in spirit & truth
  4. Fellowship of the Church – founded on Christ
  5. Proclamation of the Church – ministry of the God’s Word
  6. Witness of the Church – spreading the Gospel by praying, going & living
  7. Leadership of the Church – elders & deacons.
  8. Unity of the Church – calling & character
  9. Service of the Church – heart & reward
  10. Discipline of the Church –


1. Problems requiring discipline 

When is church discipline required?

  • When we do fail to "walk in a manner worthy of the calling" (Eph 4:1)

How intense is this struggle against sin?

  • The weakness of our flesh (Mk 13:48)
  • The spiritual conflict between the Spirit and the flesh (Gal 5:16-17)
  • Paul's description of the Christian struggle to do right (Rom 7:21)

What help has God provided in this struggle?

  • God has provided the community, His own people to help us fight sin (Prov 2:6-9)
  • We ought to welcome and invite the correction and intervention of others in the church

2. Process of church discipline

Discipline is entirely separate from punishment and should not be confused with it: discipline is correction for our good/positive, punishment is a consequence for something bad/negative.

What is God's intention behind discipline/why does He discipline us?

  • He loves us deeply (Heb 12:6)
  • Because we are His children, His sons (Heb 12:7-8)
  • It yields the fruit of righteousness (Heb 12:11)

How does church discipline take place?

There are different approaches for different types of sins.

  • For everyday sins which we might be "caught" or entrapped in, we ought to gently restore one another (Gal 6:1-2)
  • For larger sins that emerge out of spiritual rebellion, deliberate defiance and prideful arrogance that does not heed correction, the Bible gives us other steps. The participants in church discipline are to be fellow family members in the family of Christ - concerned and loving Christian brothers and sisters. 

What are the steps of church discipline specifically?

  1. Private intervention, or 1 on 1
  2. Semi-private intervention, or 1 on 2-3 witnesses
  3. Public intervention, or 'tell it to the church'. In a large church, it might be brought to the attention of the elders instead
  4. Excommunication or 'treat like an unbeliever'

Are there any other instructions about church discipline?

  • Although this may seem harsh, the individual has been given 3 opportunities to repent publicly and let go of their deliberate rebellion against God.
  • Also, the Bible teaches that we are to treat these individuals "not as enemies" but treat them like brothers (2 Thess 3:14-15)
  • We are to act lovingly, full of forgiveness (1 Pet 4:8)

3. Priorities of church discipline

  • Restoration of the individual and reconciliation to God (Gal 6:1)
  • A case study in the Corinthian church involved a man having an incestruous relationship with his step mother. Paul insists on the holiness and purity of the church of Christ (1 Cor 5:6-8)

What are the roles and responsibilities of the persons involved?

  • The individual doing the restoring-
    a. Look out lovingly for other people who might be struggling in their fight against sin
    b. Lovingly go to people to restore then
  • The individual who needs to be restored-
    a. Know that church discipline is from God and listen, as in Matt 18. Heed what is being said
    b. Be aware that God is serious about sin and will take action in judgment (1 Cor 5:5, 1 Tim 1:20) God takes sin seriously
  • God gives an example of how a repentant brother ought to be treated (some suggest this is the same brother in the 1 Cor 5 example). We are to welcome and receive a repentant Christian brother (2 Cor 2:6-8)

4. Conclusion

  • The fight with sin is real
  • It's an either/or fight - either we follow Christ, or not. There are no other options
  • Understand and receive the process and priorities of church discipline which God has put in place 

More in The Church

November 10, 2013

The Ordinances of the Church

October 27, 2013

The Service of the Church

October 20, 2013

The Unity of the Church