The Bible says in:
Acts 20:28 “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.”
1 Peter 5:2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;
Hebrews 13:17 “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.”
This means that church leaders are supposed to guard and protect the souls of their people.
One of the most effective ways that is accomplished is through church discipline.
Church discipline not only keeps the people from falling into sin, but it also keeps the wolves out.
The proper process of church discipline.
Jesus gave us the proper process of church discipline in Matthew 18:15-17 “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.”
- One person talks to the person in sin
- If they refuse to repent then 2 or 3 people go talk to them
- If they still refuse to repent, then they are brought before the whole church
- If they still refuse to repent, then they are removed from church membership. They lose any and all positions that they held in the church, they are not allowed to work in the church at all (including singing in the choir, helping to serve food, cleaning the church etc.), and they are not allowed to eat of the Lord’s Supper. If they eat of the Lord’s Supper God could kill them, because they are living in rebellion.
1 Corinthians 11:
26 “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.
27 Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.
28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.
29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.
30 For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.”
All work in the church should only be done by saved and holy people. To allow lost and backslidden people to work in the church makes them feel comfortable in their sin, and it allows for them to lead children and new Christians astray.
Pastors who refuse to implement Biblical church discipline are not protecting the souls of their people, they are feeding them to the wolves!
This same process is also to be used if a church member is overtaken by a sin.
Galatians 6:1 “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.”
1 Corinthians 5:
1 It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife.
2 And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you.
3 For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed,
4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ,
5 To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
6 Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?
7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:
8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
9 I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators:
10 Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world.
11 But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.
12 For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within?
13 But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.“
Church discipline saves souls
James 5:19-20 “Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.”
Just because someone is a church member does not mean they are saved. There are millions of church members around the world who are lost and going to Hell.
And the Bible teaches very plainly that a person who commits a really bad sin like the man in 1 Corinthians 5 is not saved.
That is why Paul commanded that the church cast him out and turn him over to Satan for the destruction of his flesh so that his soul might be saved. Meaning maybe through his suffering he would repent and get saved.
Paul was saying that by committing that sin, the man had proven he was lost, and therefore must be cast out of the church, so hopefully he would repent and get saved.
Remember the Bible says very plainly that there are sins that a saved person cannot do.
1 Corinthians 6:9-10 “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.”
Pastors who do not implement Biblical church discipline are negligent in their duty to guard the souls of their people. They are allowing their own people to feel comfortable in their sin and go to hell, and they are allowing wolves to come in and destroy the children.
The Limits of Church Discipline
Kicking someone out of the church and/or removing them from leadership is as far as church discipline goes.
Nowhere in the Bible does it say that the church can kill, whip, torture, take land or possessions away not even indirectly through the government like the Catholic church has done.
The Bible says the church is supposed to turn the person over to the Devil for the destruction of their flesh in hopes that they repent, but no where does the Bible say that the church is supposed to help the Devil destroy the person’s flesh.
Now, the church can handle civil suits between church members, but if the guilty party refuses to pay, then all the church can do is kick them out.
1 Corinthians 6:
1 “Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints?
2 Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?
3 Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?
4 If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church.
5 I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren?”
However, if an actual crime has been committed (like sexual assault) then the Church is to contact the civil authorities so civil justice can be done. Civil authorities are also ministers of God to punish criminals.
1 “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.
2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.
3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:
4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.”
The Bible does not say anything about penance either.
Nowhere does the Bible say that a person must do some physical work to punish themselves (like walking around on their knees, or saying repetitious prayers, or whipping themselves etc in order to receive forgiveness and be restored back into the church.)
When the person repents, the Church is to receive them back
2 Corinthians 2:
1 “But I determined this with myself, that I would not come again to you in heaviness.
2 For if I make you sorry, who is he then that maketh me glad, but the same which is made sorry by me?
3 And I wrote this same unto you, lest, when I came, I should have sorrow from them of whom I ought to rejoice; having confidence in you all, that my joy is the joy of you all.
4 For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you.
5 But if any have caused grief, he hath not grieved me, but in part: that I may not overcharge you all.
6 Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many.
7 So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow.
8 Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him.
9 For to this end also did I write, that I might know the proof of you, whether ye be obedient in all things.
10 To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ;
11 Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.“
Here the Apostle Paul told the church at Corinth to receive back the man that he had told them to cast out in I Corinthians 5, because the man had repented (turned away from his sin). If at any time penance would have been instituted in the Bible, it would have been here, but it was not. Paul did not command that the man do any kind of penance to be forgiven and received back into the church. He just commanded the church to receive him back, because he had repented. He had stopped doing his sin.
This is Biblical church discipline, and it must be restored or we will never see another world changing revival.