The Grace of God is abundantly displayed in discipline. (Hebrews 12:1-17)

  1. Our reminder that we will struggle against sin (vs. 4)
  2. Our goal is to be like Christ (vs. 3)
  3. Our task is to persevere (vs. 1-2).
  4. Our status is children of God (vs. 5, 7-8).
Our status as children of God (vs. 5, 7-8).
  1. This means at times, as we struggle against sin, that the Lord will discipline those He loves (vv. 5-6).
  2. The motivation for our discipline is “our good” (vs. 10) .
  3. The result of our discipline is that we should “share in his holiness” (vs. 10).
  4. The feeling of discipline is “painful” (vs. 11)
  5. ... yet the assurance of discipline is “pleasant” (vs. 11)
  6. ... and the goal of discipline is “the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (vs. 11).
The New Testament normalizes The Father’s discipline in a believer’s life.
  1. formative discipline: When a believer struggles against sin and grows!
  2. formal discipline: When a believer stops struggling against sin, but rather struggles against other believers seeking to correct the believer.
The authority to enact discipline.

Jesus, in Matthew 18, establishes the authority and responsibility of the church (cf. Matthew 16:13-28) to enact church discipline (cf. Romans 16:17-18; 1 Cor. 5:1-13; Gal. 6:1-2; 2 Thess. 3:6-15).

  • Jesus gives the church ultimate authority and responsibility (vs. 17).
  • The final step of church discipline is for a professing member to be considered outside the church and removed from the church’s membership (“let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector” vs. 17).
  • The process has a simple principle: keep the confrontation of the erring brother/sister as small as possible (vs. 15-16) to bring about true repentance.
What Formal Discipline is not:
  1. It is not gossip or slander. It is confirmed, verifiable and biblically communicated.
  2. It is not confined to a particular type of sin(s) or influence of that sin (Matthew 18). It is a fallacy to see discipline as something that is necessary if it is only affecting someone else. This is a low view of the body of Christ and His testimony to the world.
  3. It is not punitive. The wages of sin are punitive; the church exists by and deals in grace.
  4. It is not permanent. The door to Christ and His church is never closed: restoration is the hope.
  5. It is not a pronouncement of one’s salvation. Though there is an implication for one’s assurance, we do not know a heart like God does.
  6. It is not a prohibition from coming to this church, although physical separation may be necessary at times (safety, conscience of others, etc.).
What Formal Discipline is:
  1. Church discipline in our context is only for those who profess Christ, and are members of Grace (Matt. 18; Heb 12).
  2. It means the church no longer affirms one is part of the body of Christ (1 Cor. 5:2, 5).
  3. It is for sins that are unrepentant (refusing to turn in action even if their mouth says sorry), verifiable (“everyone” agrees; not an interpretation of someone’s heart), and significant (hardness of heart and heavy in consequence).
  4. Church discipline always has the goal of restoration; restoration should be done wisely and as expeditiously as possible (2 Cor. 2:6-7).
  5. During the process of church discipline the elders may ask an individual to modify their worship attendance, not participate in the Lord’s Supper, or refrain from the church campus, especially if the sin in question is a danger to others, particularly the vulnerable (Pg. 40).
  6. The elders of this church will instruct and inform the congregation of those in the “tell it to the church” stage of discipline during a members-only meeting.
  7. Under most circumstances, the congregation will have ample time to pray, reach out as appropriate, and call the individual to repentance (although there are exceptions) (1 Cor. 5:1; Pg. 39).
  8. The congregation has sole authority to enact church discipline and accept membership resignations; the elders only lead the congregation to wield this authority biblically (Matt. 18).
  9. After an individual is removed from membership, the elders should instruct the congregation on their interaction with the removed individual:
    1. In many cases, they are to be evangelized like any unbeliever (care should be taken to have a clear gospel burden; Matt. 18).
    2. In some cases, they are to be separated from as false teachers or as divisive (Rom. 16:17; Titus 3:10-11).
    3. Family members should continue to honor family obligations to the best of their ability (Eph 6:1-3; 1 Tim 5:8; 1 Peter 3:1-2).
Why is discipline so important for the church to practice?

It is our commitment as elders that discipline, no matter the stigma or stage, is an act of love commanded by God (Heb. 12:5-6), an exercise of protection and purity for the church (Heb. 12:10-11), and a testimony to the lost that Jesus indeed saves us from our sins (1 Peter 2:9-12).

“When the Church leaves church discipline, Christ goes with it.” (John Dagg 1794-1884)