Church discipline

“When I first entered upon the work of the ministry among you, I was exceedingly ignorant of the vast importance of church discipline. I thought that my great and almost only work was to pray and preach. I saw your souls to be so precious, and the time so short, that I devoted all my time, and care, and strength, to labor in word and doctrine. When cases of discipline were brought before me and the elders, I regarded them with something like abhorrence. It was a duty I shrank from; and I may truly say it nearly drove me from the work of the ministry among you altogether. But it pleased God, who teaches His servants in another way than man teaches, to bless some of the cases of discipline to the manifest and undeniable conversion of the souls of those under our care; and from that hour a new light broke in upon my mind, and I saw that if preaching be an ordinance of Christ, so is church discipline. I now feel very deeply persuaded that both are of God – that two keys are committed to us by Christ: the one the key of doctrine, by means of which we unlock the treasures of the Bible; the other the key of discipline, by which we open or shut the way to the sealing ordinances of the faith. Both are Christ’s gift, and neither is to be resigned without sin.”

– Robert Murray M’Cheyne in Andrew Bonar, Memoir & Remains of Robert Murray M’Cheyne (Banner of Truth: 1844/2004), p. 73.

See Matthew 18:15-20 (clearly defined steps of church discipline), 1 Cor. 5:4-5 with 5:9-13; 2 Cor. 7:8-12 (the fruit of godly confrontation); 1 Tim. 1:18-20; Tit. 3:9-11 (notice the difference between church discipline and dealing with the divisive man); Rev. 2:1-7 (notice how a disciplining and discerning church can still lack in passionate love for Christ).

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