Bobby Jamieson gets it right in this recent article over at 9Marks.
A church that neglects or disregards redemptive church discipline is denying the Gospel to the wayward one. For this reason, the Reformers framed three marks of a true church and included discipline as an essential identifying trait.A congregation that was absent of this mark was to be excluded from being viewed as an authentic church.
Here are some excerpts that convey well-reasoned gospel truth.
“When it comes to life in the church, I think that many of us treat church discipline as a dirty chore. From private rebuke to public exclusion, we can resent the whole process. We hold our nose and look the other way as we go through the motions, eager to be done with all the mess.
I don’t deny that dealing with sin in the church can be uncomfortable, painful, and even disheartening. But we shouldn’t treat church discipline as a dirty chore.
Corrective church discipline begins—and, praise the Lord, very often ends—with one church member privately confronting the sin of another member. In Matthew 18:15-20, Jesus himself commands us to do this when our brother sins against us. Then Jesus provides further instruction about what to do if the individual doesn’t repent, ultimately culminating, if necessary, in excluding him or her from the congregation.
…When we confront a sinning brother, we should have in hand not only a rebuke but also a blank check of forgiveness. If the brother repents, the check gets quickly written and handed over, and we’ve both won (v. 15).
…Church discipline is the gospel in action. Just as God doesn’t leave us in our sin but comes to us in rebuking grace, so we also extend that grace to others. So, despite the pain and discomfort it can bring, we shouldn’t treat dealing with sin in the church as a dirty chore.
Instead, we should count it a solemn privilege to imitate the Good Shepherd who left the ninety-nine on the hillside to go after the one straying sheep—which is each one of us.”