Is Church Discipline/Withdrawal Authorized and Permanently Mandatory?

Is Church Discipline/Withdrawal Authorized and Permanently Mandatory?

The New Testament teaches that the church belongs to Jesus and must be handled the way Jesus sees fit (Matthew 16:18-19; 28:18; Acts 20:28; Colossians 3:17; 1 Timothy 3:15; etc.). An essential part of the doctrine of Christ is the topic of church discipline (Heed the warning of subtracting from God’s Word: 2 John 1:9-11; Revelation 22:18-19). Some major passages addressing church discipline/withdrawal (whether it involves a false teacher, impenitent member…) are as follows: Matthew 18:15-20; Romans 16:17-18; 1 Corinthians 5:1-13; 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15; Titus 1:10-16; 3:10-11; 2 John 1:9-11; etc.).

As Paul addresses his concerns about the Corinthian church coming together in one place to worship and not treating the worship properly, he states in 1 Corinthians 14:37, “…the things I write to you are the commandments of the Lord.” Paul spends an entire chapter on Jesus’ doctrine concerning church discipline in 1 Corinthians 5. Paul is appalled that a member of the Corinthian church was engaging in fornication (in the form of incest) without repenting and the church was doing nothing about it. Such immoral behavior and lack of discipline not only jeopardized the soul of the fornicator, but also the passive church. Jesus instructed HIS church (through Paul’s inspired letter): “he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you” (verse 2); “when you are gathered together…deliver such a one to Satan” (verse 4-5); “purge out the old leaven” (verse 7, imperative mood); “not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral…not even to eat with such a person” (verses 9, 11); “Therefore put away from yourselves the evil person” (verse 13, imperative mood). Not only are Paul’s writings about church discipline authorized by Jesus, but they are also mandatory (the imperatives in verses 7 and 13: “purge out…put away”) and permanent (not cultural). As long as the church exists on this earth, the members are expected to come together in one place to worship God AND to withdraw from any impenitent member who is not willing to be restored back to Jesus – this is the law of Christ (Galatians 6:1-2)! The purposes: (1) “that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus” (1 Corinthians 5:5); (2) “a little leaven leavens the whole lump…purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump…keep the feast…with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (to keep the bride of Christ pure, 1 Corinthians 5:6-8). If we truly love Jesus, His bride and the souls of our fellow brothers and sisters of the church of Christ, we will keep this commandment of Jesus (John 14:15).



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