Banner of Truth Trust - 2022. bklt. 48pp.
The church is not yours or mine. It belongs to Jesus Christ. The church is graciously called into being by him for the glory and honour of God’s name. As such, every local church must reflect God’s character and display God’s holiness. For that reason, life in a healthy, happy church always involves discipline—the thoughtful, deliberate, loving investment of each member in all the others for the glory of God and the good of the whole congregation.
Grievously, life in a fallen world means that sin creeps into and breaks out in the church of Jesus Christ. What ought a church to do when sin is uncovered in her midst? How do we respond in a way that shows our love to God and to one another? How do you love someone within the professing church who is unrepentantly sinning against God?
Such questions are often answered carelessly, fearfully, pragmatically, even unrighteously. When that is the case, it typically leads to disturbing confusion, advancing tension, increasing division, and even destruction. Further sin can erupt if offences are not faced humbly and graciously, if unrepentant sin is not addressed righteously and courageously.
Mercifully, the Head of the church has not left us in the dark. He teaches us how to sail through troubled waters so that we are not left in disarray after the storm has struck. He provides clear, wise, and effective commands and counsels for his people.
This booklet summarises the principles and the practices Christ has given for the holiness of his church. It sketches out the assumptions that lie behind church discipline, grounded in the identity of the church and activity of the church of God. It speaks to the nature of church discipline, in its more positive and negative aspects. It identifies love as the primary motive behind any discipline in the church. It looks at the God-ordained purposes of corrective discipline, and the reasons why a church might have to pursue this course. It offers practical advice as to how such discipline ought to be carried out in the church of Jesus Christ. It touches on both the necessary sting and the desired success of those actions by the church. It calls the whole church and her officers to consider our duty to act when the purity and peace of the church of God is threatened by unrepentant sin.
If the church is the household of God, if it is the body of Jesus Christ, if it is the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit, then we are called to be holy. We need to know how to pursue that calling as those committed to fidelity in our doctrine, purity in our life, and unity in our fellowship.
Jeremy Walker is the pastor of Maidenbower Baptist Church in Crawley, England. He also serves as the Book Reviews Editor of the Banner of Truth magazine.