Much of what I have written here in the past focuses on the formative work of discipline in the church – discipleship. Within Scripture, however, we also find another form of corrective discipline, commonly called “church discipline”. This series forms the basics for a primer I wrote for The Austin Stone to understand church discipline.
- The Theology of Church Discipline
- The Heart Behind Church Discipline
- The Practice of Church Discipline
- The Outcome of Church Discipline
- Church Discipline FAQs
The Outcome of Church Discipline
As we have faithfully practiced discipline as a body, we are overjoyed that in almost every circumstance the individual has been brought to repentance and restored with joy.
As to how we receive repentant brothers and sisters back into the fold, Paul gives us a very clear admonition in his letter to the Galatians:
Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. (Gal. 6:1-2)
As a grace-filled community of Christ-followers, we have the privilege to welcome and restore a brother or sister who has repented with great joy! In the same way that God rejoices in the repentance of His children, so too should the church of God rejoice and restore a brother or sister who has turned from their sin. This means that we all forgive our brother or sister and seek their restoration in the community.
The church of God is the place where sinful people can forgive, restore, and rejoice together in a God who rescues us from our sin!
In the case of the unrepentant Christian, the process of discipline should produce a great brokenness for that person and a deep sense of urgent love for that brother or sister to repent of their sin. Although we cannot associate with a brother continuing in sin, we can love them through persistent prayer and pleas to come back to the fountain of joy, Jesus.
A Prayer for The Church
It is our sincerest hope that as we pursue faithfulness to the Word of God, that He would produce the outcome Peter prayed for in the churches of Asia:
Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God. (1 Pe. 1:22-23)
As we seek holiness, may it produce in us a sincere love for one another and an earnest worship of our great Redeemer, Jesus!