Providence Presbyterian Church affirms and practices biblical church discipline. Historically Protestants have affirmed that the true Church of Christ is recognized by three marks: (a) the faithful preaching of the Bible, especially the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, (b) the faithful and due administration of the Sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, and (c) the faithful administration of church discipline.
Unfortunately, many Protestant churches today, even within the evangelical community, have compromised these marks to various degrees, and perhaps no more clearly than that of church discipline. But the Bible teaches it should be practiced (see Matthew 18:15-20, 1 Corinthians 5, Galatians 6:1-3 & 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15), that it is for our ultimate benefit (Hebrews 12:9-11), and that it is a demonstration of God’s love for His children (Hebrews 12:4-8). Given all of this, one might ponder why a church would not practice church discipline.
What is more, we are called to be Christ’s disciples (Matthew 28:18-20). Yet most miss the fact that the word “disciple” comes from the same root as the word “discipline,” indicating there is a clear relationship between the two. In short, if we take seriously the call to be Christ’s disciples and to make disciples, we will take seriously the roll of church discipline in our lives so as to welcome and submit to it when it is rightly applied (Hebrews 10:23-25 and 13:17). For, in the end, the purpose of church discipline is to aid us in the pursuit of holiness, which should be every Christian’s earnest desire (1 Thessalonians 4:2 & 7-8 and Hebrews 12:14).
In the OPC, we not only use the Bible as our standard for rightly understanding and practicing church discipline, but we have as secondary standards the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Book of Church Discipline. Not only do these secondary documents ensure church discipline is applied in a biblical and orderly manner, they also serve to set the limits of the church’s authority in discipline and establish the rights of the individual, who may appeal the decision of a Session or Presbytery should he/she believe their decision unjust. If you would like to read the OPC’s Book of Discipline to learn more, click one of the links below.