When Church discipline is exercised Scripturally, a number of benefits accrue, both to the Church as a whole and to individuals:
- One goal of Church discipline is to ensure that the Church continues, increases and is preserved in its biblical purity.
- It is an important means of being truly faithful to the Great Commission given by Christ to the apostles that they should make disciples, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever He has commanded.
- Discipline is appointed by the Head of the Church in order to ensure “the preservation of the gospel in its purity, and obedience unto the commands of Christ in its integrity” (John Owen, Works, vol. 15, p. 265).
- The seven Churches of Asia declined and disappeared because of their neglect of discipline, which is the subject of Christ’s warnings in Revelation 2:14-15,20 and 3:2. The disuse of discipline has “been the occasion of all the defilements, abominations, and confusions that have spread themselves over many churches in the world” (Owen, Works, vol. 15, p. 514). It is therefore, as John Owen notes, “sinful” to neglect church discipline (Works, vol. 15, p. 100).
- No church can, without the faithful exercise of discipline, hope for God’s blessing (Rev. 2:14, 3:16).
- The Church must be preserved from public scandal and bringing dishonour upon the name of Christ.
- The hands of the obedient and faithful are strengthened by discipline when the disobedient are reproved, convinced and persuaded.
- The offender is distinguished from the visible body of the Lord’s people, so that they cannot do further damage by public reproach or influence in relation to the Church.
- Censures are intended to bring the erring member to repentance, to glorify God, and to keep others from sinning in the same way (2 Thess. 3:14; 1 Tim. 5:20).
Matthew A Vogan