Is The Church Only A Hospital Or Also An Embassy?

In our time, however, the tendency is to view the church as means of therapy, merely as a place of fellowship and encouragement, but not as the divinely instituted embassy in which the keys of the Kingdom of God are administered. Viewed thus, the very idea of church discipline seems high-handed, arbitrary, unjust, and even cruel. After all, the reasoning goes, who are those sinners to judge this sinner? To be sure, church discipline is never perfect but Jesus did command it. He knew that we are sinful when he commanded it. He knew how messy and difficult it can be. When he instituted church discipline, he was not thinking of the church as merely voluntary society for mutual edification. He was thinking of the church as the divinely instituted assembly of God’s people gathered at the feet of the Savior to hear the Law and the Gospel, to receive the sacraments, and to correct one another. Read more»

R. Scott Clark, “Church Discipline Is Not Mean” (January 12, 2018).

©R. Scott Clark. All Rights Reserved.


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  1. Like many of us, I have rarely experienced a positive outcome of church discipline—the person being discipline simply left and never returned. A few years ago I sat in our congregation as a woman who had been under discipline for two years and had even moved away, stood at the front of our congregation confessing her sin and returning to Christ’s church. She was in tears. The pastor was in tears. We were all in tears, experiencing a joy that cannot be adequately explained in words. God had restored a wandering believer through loving discipline.

  2. Have you written anywhere addressing the questions of membership within the context of a moving population and little denominational affiliation?

    For example we get many folks who come to us while their work contract or time in college is in our town. They are here for anything from 1- 6 years.

    Most are not from a reformed background, have little interest in their *own* background not to mind ours and have no real interest in membership. They are open to our convincing of its need but the time issue then rears its head and we do wonder if its worth it as they do they. I should say too, some do have a loyalty to their home church and dont want to be members with us if they are only going to eventually go back home.

    Furthermore, we have had some ‘withdrawals’ whereby they simply stop showing up. Often we hear they are attending another church, the stated reason being no more than they friends they have their. Some of these withdrawals have undergone membership classes and joined us!

    As I understand it our session has decided to pursue membership only with those rooted to our city. Do you have any advice on this?

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