Now there’s a hip, cool, trendy subject in the modern American church, am I right?
For most reading this, including even most professing Christians in most supposedly “conservative” Christian churches, the term is at best odd, unfamiliar, and, more of often than not, tends to be viewed as something ugly.
Church discipline sounds hard, and the typical modern American Christian has been conditioned to avoid hard things. (After all, we’re just here to “play nice” and enjoy life as much as possible until Jesus comes to rapture us away, right?) (See: Encouragement from Satan.)
Church discipline sounds unloving…as the world defines love. (Meaning: “Nobody’s perfect” and “we’re all sinners”, so why obsess over biblical details on sinful behavior and the pursuit of personal holiness?)
Worst of all, church discipline sounds legalistic…and if there’s one thing the modern American church has come to despise, it’s anything associated with the Law of God. We’ve transformed the grace of God into a license to sin without fear of biblical confrontation and correction.
So yeah, you could say that church discipline isn’t really “a thing” here in America.
We’re not keen on it.
Truth be told, we tend to be very suspicious of it and often outright hate the idea.
Which is why we can safely (and sadly) say that “conservative” American churches who have jettisoned biblical church discipline are most responsible for producing the increasingly hostile, perverse, and openly anti-Christian culture in which we live. (See: Judgment begins with the Church…not the Democrats.)
Biblically speaking, church discipline is essential. It’s not optional. It is completely necessary for the production of a healthy church, which is itself completely necessary for the production of a healthy culture. (See: American Culture as the American Church’s Report Card.)
The primary reason that we have an imploding culture in America is that we have an openly impure, apathetic, lazy and immature Christian church in America. One of the greatest reasons for this condition within the professing Christian church in America is that the church has almost entirely abandoned (and now often openly scorns) church discipline.
Church discipline is essential to the purity of the Bride of Christ, it is essential to the growth and maturity of the Bride of Christ, and it is evidence of the calling and purpose of the Bride of Christ. Biblical church discipline is both truly loving and truly beautiful.
Biblical church discipline exposes and casts out darkness with light, which is why it should come as no surprise that it is so hated and unpopular in our culture, including the professing Christian American subculture that has led the culture down a path to darkness rooted in appeals to counterfeit, emotion-driven notions of love and beauty.
This is the cultural context in which we live in America and the West.
Church discipline happens to be the point of focus at a conference that I’m attending this weekend. (This is why my posting will be a little light in the second half of this week.)
In case you were wondering, there are not thousands in attendance.
There are not even hundreds in attendance.
Maybe over a hundred. It’s close, I think.
And this event is being hosted by an organization that often has many hundreds and even thousands attend its conferences.
But the subject here is church discipline, so…you know…
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I hope to share much of what I learn this weekend in the coming days, weeks, and years. In the meantime, I’d like to respectfully submit the following three questions and one quote for your prayerful consideration:
- Is it possible to be a true disciple of Christ while consistently refusing to pursue the discipline that Christ has lovingly revealed in His Word?
- Is a church that withholds biblical discipline from its members demonstrating love for its congregants or is it instead actually demonstrating hatred for them?
- Is it possible for the church in America to effectively advance the Gospel-fueled Great Commission without vigorously pursuing maturity, purity and holiness through biblical church discipline?
Those are the questions. Now here’s the quote:
“When discipline leaves a church, Christ goes with it.”
~ John Dagg
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Thank you Scott for this! May God convict us to pursue holiness and be taught this from the pulpits, instead of hearing "we are all sinners" …. The standard is lowered too much to accommodate "we are all sinners". Paul writes "to all the saints", "to the holy and faithful"….he does not write "to all the sinners". Teach church discipline, but also teach holiness. JC Ryle's Holiness is one all Christians should read, humbly.
What exactly do you mean by "church discipline?"
discipline in the Church (the sheepfold of the LORD Jesus ) only takes place AFTER a wrong action, word, or a sinful behavior by a member, has been revealed and dealt with within the Church. The "Church Discipline" is based on Biblical principles and the appropriate action thus is taken in the matter. The purpose for the discipline is restoration of the one being disciplined, as to a right relationship and walk with God, and the fellowship of the Saints, within the Church ! There is the call for ALL the Saved & Sealed "BORN AGAIN" saints to live a Godly life, in ALL areas of their life, in deed, speech and thought, there are boundaries in place, which must be observed ! Sometimes, there is the call for a leader to have to step down from his position as leader due to some sin issue, or inappropriate action done, in some cases, the one who has transgressed against another with the church, must be excused from gathering with the church for a space of time during his counseling by the Church leadership, for an appointed time. Should the one who has transgressed, refuse to repent (turn from a known sin or wrong against another ), refuse to address the issue, and be restored Biblical, then they are then confronted by two or more of the Elders (leaders) and asked to leave the Church, until they are willing to repent, and be restored, Biblically to a right walk with God, and the church members !
I hope this was helpful to some extent in understanding Church discipline ?
Come to Christ,
Come to LIFE !
Thank you, Scott, for an insightful, truly biblical look at this important issue. I look forward to reading what you have learned in the days ahead. I wish that we could be there with you, but we will attend vicariously through you all.