30. Discipline—Its Nature, Subjects, and Ends

  1. Discipline is the exercise of authority given the Church by the Lord Jesus Christ to instruct and guide its members and to promote its purity and welfare. The term has two senses:
    1. the one referring to the whole government, inspection, training, guardianship, and control which the Church maintains over its members, its officers, and its courts;
    2. the other a restricted and technical sense, signifying judicial process.
  2. In the first and broader sense, all communing, non-communing, and associate members of the Church are subject to its discipline and entitled to the benefits thereof; but in the second and narrower sense the term discipline refers only to those who have made a profession of their faith in Christ.
  3. In its proper usage discipline maintains: a) the glory of God; b) the purity of His Church,; and c) the keeping and reclaiming of disobedient sinners. Discipline is for the purpose of godliness;[1] therefore it demands a self-examination under Scripture.

    The ends of discipline, so far as it involves judicial action, are the spiritual good of the offender, the rebuke of offenses, the removal of scandal, the promotion of the purity and welfare of the Church, and the vindication of the honor of Christ.

  4. The power which Christ has given the Church is for building up, and not for destruction, and is to be exercised as under a dispensation of mercy and not of wrath. As in the preaching of the Word the wicked are doctrinally separated from the good, so by discipline the Church authoritatively separates between the holy and the profane. The Church is to act as a mother who corrects her children for their good, that every one of them may be presented faultless in the day of Christ.

  1. 1 Timothy 4:7.

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