I just wanted to post my “Amen!” to Dr. Kim Riddlebarger’s recent post which emphasizes the logical conclusion of an absence of church discipline.
In chapter 30 of the Westminster Confession of Faith, “Of Church Censures,” a good summary of the biblical case for church discipline is outlined.
I. The Lord Jesus, as king and head of His Church, has therein appointed a government, in the hand of Church officers, distinct from the civil magistrate. (Isaiah 9:6-7; 1 Timothy 5:17; 1 Thessalonians 5:12; Acts 20:17-18; Hebrews 13:7, 17, 24; 1 Corinthians 12:28; Matthew 28:18-24)
II. To these officers the keys of the kingdom of heaven are committed; by virtue whereof, they have power, respectively, to retain, and remit sins; to shut that kingdom against the impenitent, both by the Word, and censures; and to open it unto penitent sinners, by the ministry of the Gospel; and by absolution from censures, as occasion shall require. (Matthew 16:19; 18:17-18; John 20:21-23; 2 Corinthians 2:6-8 )
III. Church censures are necessary, for the reclaiming and gaining of offending brethres, for deterring of others from the like offenses, for purging out of that leaven which might infect the whole lump, for vindicating the honor of Christ, and the holy profession of the Gospel, and for preventing the wrath of God, which might justly fall upon the Church, if they should suffer His covenant, and the seals thereof, to be profaned by notorious and obstinate offenders. (1 Corinthians 5; 1 Timothy 5:20; Matthew 7:6; 1 Timothy 1:20; 1 Corinthians 11:27-34; Jude 23)
IV. For the better attaining of these ends, the officers of the Church are to proceed by admonition; suspension from the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper for a season; and by excommunication from the Church; according to the nature of the crime, and demerit of the person. (1 Thessalonians 5:12; 2 Thessalonians 3:6, 14-15; 1 Corinthians 5:4, 13; Matthew 18:17; Titus 3:10).