Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 15, 1959

Neglected Church Discipline

Wendell Watts, Montgomery, Alabama

In this day and time when the church is being torn asunder, when brother is making slurring and slanderous remarks against brother, when there is much bickering both pro and con concerning orphan homes, church cooperation etc., one is left to wonder about the true condition of the church. Are we pleasing to God? Is Jesus made to be sorry because of the condition of the church which he purchased with his own blood? Are we by our actions and accusations bringing reproach and ridicule upon the Lord's body?

Perhaps it would be best if we directed our minds and manners in a different direction. While we are now quibbling and quarreling over matters that some say the Bible gives no definite instructions about and are weakening the church in the process, we are overlooking God's commandments concerning other matters of which there can be no doubt whatsoever.

Primary among these is the matter of church discipline. The Sacred Scriptures paint a perfect picture concerning this subject. While most brethren agree upon the teaching of God's Word concerning Church discipline, few put these teachings into practice. Why do we spend so much time talking about things on which we can't agree and yet fail to obey the orders which we all claim to comprehend? Why?? When we fail to follow God's instructions we are in reality working for the devil, hindering the progress of the church, and causing souls to be lost — perhaps our very own!!!

Since there is a dire need of discipline among God's people today perhaps it would do well to refresh our minds regarding God's commands on church discipline.

In II These 3:6 the Bible declares "Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us." In verse 14 of the same chapter Paul stated, "And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed."

However, before withdrawing from one, we are to do everything possible to convert him. The procedure to follow is found in Matt. 18:15-17. Hear the words of Jesus, "Moreover, if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone; if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican." After exhausting every means possible to restore a disorderly brother and finding it still necessary to withdraw, then the whole church should withdraw from him. This includes even the members of the brother's fleshly family. They too, are to withdraw from him in order that the withdrawal may be complete.

Even after withdrawal though, we are "to count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother." (II Thess. 3:15). Withdrawal, then must be done in love, with the hope of bringing him to the point where he will turn from his sins: it should never be done to destroy his soul, but to save him.

When repentance is worked, discipline is ended. All are to forgive the penitent (II Cor. 2:7) and confirm their love toward him (II Cor. 2:8). Only when we do this can we be obedient in all things. (II Cor. 5:6).

Discipline properly administered has a three fold design (1) good of the wrong doer (Matt. 18:15) (2) welfare of the church (Eph. 5:27) (3) Good of the world (I Cor. 9:27.)

That there is a lack of church discipline no one can deny. In Matt. 23:23 Jesus warned the Pharisees of their Hypocrisy with these words "Woe unto you, scribes and. Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith these ye ought to have done, and not to leave the other undone." Can Jesus point the finger of accusation at us today and accuse us of omitting the "weightier matters of the law"? Are we guilty of hypocrisy as were the Jews?

Let us all remember that Christ desires to present unto himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish .

May God help us all to build up the church thru obedience to his commands rather than to tear it apart thru quibbling and quarreling.