Church Discipline Has a Positive and Negative Dimension

“A person is brought into the church by baptism and is nourished, or disciplined, by the preaching of the gospel and the administration of the Lord’s Supper. All true believers need to be disciplined by these means until the Lord comes again; therefore, they should receive the preaching of the Word from their pastors and partake of the Lord’s Supper when it is served by the church elders. By these means, church leaders carry out the positive form of church discipline. It is positive in the sense that members are encouraged, built up, and strengthened through God’s appointed means and appointed messengers. Scripture exhorts believers to “obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you” (Heb. 13:17). By contrast, discipline in its negative form involves the “punishing of sin” (BC, Art. 29) in those who are unrepentant. Discipline promotes God’s holiness (Ezek. 36:16-21; 1 Cor. 5:1-5), protects the church from infection (1 Cor. 5:6; Heb. 12:15-16; 2 Tim. 2:14, 16-18), and restores the rebellious, making clear the seriousness of their resistance to Christ’s Word and church (1 Cor. 5:5; 2 Cor. 2:5-11; Heb. 3:12-13; 10:24-25; 12:11-16).” -Daniel Hyde, Welcome to a Reformed Church


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