Abandoning church discipline is abandonment of God’s plan

Published 9:03 am Friday, April 6, 2018

There is no doubt that where discipline is lacking, weakness will eventually follow. This is evidenced throughout the land as we see fewer and fewer congregations of the Lord’s Church willing to correct wayward and unruly members. Imagine living in a society where citizens blatantly ignore the rules and regulations that were designed to protect them. Then, picture in your mind, those who violate the rules doing so without fear of retribution. Consider homes where children are never corrected for misbehavior. The results of such scenarios are homes and societies existing in total chaos. There is no doubt that a majority of individuals would see this as unacceptable. However, within the Church many are willing to turn a blind eye towards those which violate God’s Word. Such should never occur within the body of Christ.
Few realize the full scope of Church discipline. Church discipline begins when new Christians are taught the first principles of the Gospel. In such teaching they learn the laws of God and develop a desire to fulfill these commands. However, discipline may reach as far as withholding fellowship from impenitent apostates within the body of Christ. As we consider practicing church discipline we must do so by the authority of God’s Word. Consider the following biblical evidence concerning Church discipline.
In teaching the church, Paul said, “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them” (Romans 16:17 KJV). Paul is stating that we should not follow their teachings.
In Matthew 18:15-18, Jesus taught one who has wronged his brother and is unwilling to repent when confronted by the offended party, other witness or the entire church should be treated as the Gentile and the publican. In the context of that day this would mean that there should be no fellowship with such a person.
Paul, in Galatians 6:1-ff, teaches that we are to treat those overtaken by sin as brethren. Therefore, the action of discipline must be administered out of love for the erring one, and concern for the purity of the Church. Paul states it this way, “Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us” (2 Thessalonians 3:6 KJV).
In Titus 3:10-11 KJV, Paul said, “A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject; Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.” A heretick is a Christian who holds and teaches opinions that are foreign to the Gospel of Christ whether it be by private or public teaching or as evidenced by their lifestyle.
While these passages in no way cover the full extent of the New Testament teaching on the matter of church discipline, they serve as sufficient evidence that the church has the authority and obligation to practice church discipline.
In next week’s article we will consider more fully the purpose of church discipline.
(Tony Hoss is minister at the Centerview Church of Christ, Elizabethton. He can be contacted at 737-2287 or by email at: tmagho1@comcast.net)

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