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The writer of the book of Hebrews said that “all discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness (Hebrews 12:11).”

Paul writes of discipline from God as being for the good of the believer. Church discipline is no different. It is always for the good of the individual offender as well as the whole church.

Many contemporary Christian leaders reaffirm the positive effects of church discipline.

“The ultimate purpose of discipline is always positive, never negative,” writes Christian counselor Jay Adams in an article in the Journal of Pastoral Practice called “Disciplining, Counseling and Church Discipline.”

“It has a very positive goal—enabling us to learn what God wants us to be and do,” he continued.

In fact, says Adams, “when churches refuse to exercise discipline, they take away a God-given right. They rob their congregations of a precious privilege…every congregation must have discipline if its members are to learn, to grow, to be what Jesus Christ wants them to be. Without discipline, a church is chaotic and the lives of its members suffer.”

Luis Palau, an Argentine-born evangelist, writes in the July 1, 1983 issue of Discipleship Journal in an article called “Discipline in the Church,” that “the Bible makes the church responsible for disciplining its members.

“Church discipline is not a pleasant subject,” he continues. “It is one of the least talked about subjects within the church. Many are afraid to discuss it. We would much rather talk about the ‘victorious Christian life.’

“But we cannot lead victorious Christian lives until we understand Christian discipline. The more we learn about what God teaches on this subject, the better equipped we will be to handle crises in our personal lives, our families, and our churches.”

J. Oswald Sanders, in the book Spiritual Leadership also stresses the need for church discipline and calls it a “necessity to maintain godly and loving discipline if divine standards are to be maintained, especially in matters of soundness in the faith, morals, and Christian conduct.”

Concludes Palau: “Discipline is a grim subject, isn’t it? But the Lord loves each of us and wants to cleanse us and restore us to complete fellowship with others in the body of Christ whenever we disobey Him. And because He desires that the church be pure and filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, he has given us instructions on how to remain pure. May the prayer of all of us be that our congregations cling to that purity.”

—By Phil Kushin

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