Volume. XXXV, No. 4
Sunday, 26 July 2020

From the Pastor’s Heart: Church Discipline

When we talk about Bible-Presbyterian church’s beliefs, there are three documents we must be familiar with:

They are: (1) Westminster Standards, (2) Form of Government, and (3) Book of Discipline. 

The Westminster Standards include Westminster Confession of Faith, and the Shorter and the Larger Catechisms.  Form of Government is like Church Constitutions having basic doctrinal statements, manuals for church officers and their elections, annual congregational meetings, presbytery and general assembly matters, property matters, and so on.  Book of Discipline, as the name indicates, deals with the purpose and processes of church disciplines.  All communicant members of our church are under the care of the church and subject to its discipline. 

Today I am going to talk about Church Discipline.  As you probably have already noticed, church discipline is something that Christian churches believe and practice.  At the same time, it is one of the most challenging administrative works we must do.  There are many reasons why church discipline is necessary.  If I have to choose one of them as the main reason, I would say that it is for the sanctification of the church, the Bride of Christ.  It is to keep her purity.  When sin is tolerated and ignored in churches, it multiplies and defiles them.  Paul aptly says about this problem in Galatian 5:9 says, “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.”

Churches in olden days considered church discipline very seriously enough to make the Book of Discipline as a part of church manuals.  When a member of one church moved to a different church, his former church wrote a letter of commendation for him to present it to his new church, by which the latter would know about his spiritual standing and testimonies.  If a person was disciplined by his church, other churches would not accept him until he was fully restored first. 

However, very sadly we hardly find any church exercising her spiritual authority over sinning and unrepentant sinners within her community.  There are many humanistic excuses for neglecting church disciplines.  For examples, we say that we must love and forgive.  Though so and so are bad, we are loving and we must love them regardless of their present conditions.  Or, we think about our personal relationship with them.  We are their friends.  We have been in the same fellowship groups for a long time.  I personally know of a few churches, very small in church attendance.  And most of them are related by blood, families, cousins, or other relatives.  Thus, if one of them is disciplined, the rest of the family are upset and threaten to leave the church.  If one of such close family members is a church leader, things become very complicated.  Some small churches have been crumbled by such incidents.  I know a church whose elder and his whole family and relatives left the church, when the elder’s son was disciplined for his wrong doings.  On occasion, if someone happens to be a big financial contributor or a very well-known figure in the community, for practical reasons, church leaders hesitate to discipline such individuals.  I also know of a church whose elder was the biggest giver in terms of a financial figure.  He acted wrongly and the church had to discipline him.  He was furious and left the church.  He thought that his church should not dare discipline him because he was the main financial contributor.  How sad it is!  Theoretically, church discipline is very well understood, but in reality, not many churches and Christians are willing to practice it. 

When churches accept such excuses and avoid church disciplines over sinners, their testimonies and spiritual health are going to fall into corruption and depravity.  They lose their purity.  For example, though we must love everyone, we cannot love more than God.  God disciplines His children.  He commands churches to discipline wrong doers.  We should cherish our private fellowship and relationship with the fellow members of our church.  However, we cannot and should not honour man more than God.  We should not love man more than God.  If a person misbehaves and sins continually because he trusts in his money power and influence in his church, he has all the right reasons to be disciplined.  If a man glories of his position and social status and wants to have the same amount of influence in church as in his community and organizations and does not fear sinning against God, surely then he must be disciplined. 

When we fail to discipline the sinning brethren, there are more sins produced in relation to such inactions and failures.  Sinners will become emboldened to sin even more, and weak brethren will learn wrong lessons from undisciplined sinners and take boldness to commit the same sins.  They will lose opportunities to be corrected.  Examples are in 1 Corinthians 5-6.  Churches respect and honour people mistakenly only by their appearances, against which James strongly instructed in James 2.  Churches must avoid misjudging people by their wealth and social ranks.  When churches fail to do so, their leaders will feel intimidated by all such unspiritual and unhealthy practices and fail to say wrong as wrong and become fearers of men not of God.  One huge difficulty with church discipline is that it is against worldly culture today.  Church have to confront the culture around them, which is very hard. 

One key Bible reference for church discipline is Galatians 6:1, “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.”  Church discipline is a ministry by the spiritual who are meek and humble enough to look into themselves in the process of dealing with the offenders and to learn lessons for themselves.  When unspiritual and unkind leaders use their power to discipline “failing brethren,” this discipline literally becomes an act of judgment, punishment, and condemnation.  They fail to fulfil the purpose of church discipline, which is to restore the fallen brethren, neither to destroy them nor just to get rid of them.

Matthew 18:15-17 is another important passage for church discipline: “Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. 16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. 17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.”  This passage gives us instructions about what processes church discipline must take.  First, one-on-one private meeting must happen first.  If the offender repents and turns away from his sin, we gain our brother.  Second, if the offender refuses to take heed to the instructions, then two to three witnesses should go together to talk to him again.  These witnesses will listen to all the words objectively from both parties and render a judgment.  If he continues to refuse to listen even to their words, then, the case must be brought to the church.  If he refuses to listen to the church, then he will be removed from the church and considered like a heathen man and a publican. 

We are all imperfect and have room to grow.  It means that the Hopefuls need to put collective efforts in order to purify her by biblical discipline.  Remember that church discipline is as important as church doctrines.  Church discipline is a divine will, too.


Your Pastor

More Lively Hope



  • Annual Congregation Meeting, Sat, 29 Aug, 3pm @ Sanctuary. All members are expected to attend. Children can be supervised in Hall, if needed.
  • Congratulations to Gappi Filadelfia (BPC), Batam, on their 16th anniversary today.
  • Reminder: If attending Sunday Service in-person, please contact Bro Edy P Lok by Thursday to register your attendance.
  • All Hopefuls are encouraged to use your own devices to access Lively Hope, hymns & sermon outline. Paper copies are available to those without appropriate devices. Please share with family members.
  • Family members, please sit together & remain in allocated spaces. Avoid contact with attendees in other areas.
  • Parking & space allocations: Restrictions are in place for Sunday worship. Worshippers (Sanctuary), Sunday School children & guardians, please follow all signs regarding allowed parking areas and access to different areas in church.  
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Praise & Thanksgiving

  • God’s daily guidance, protection & providence.
  • Sunday Worship Service in-person & virtual, & other fellowship activities in the past week.
  • God’s mercy & protection from COVID-19 in South Australia & many states in Australia: Low number of cases, no community transmission & further easing of restrictions.



  • Healing: Rev Mathews Abraham, Rev Pong Sen Yiew; and others who are sick.
  • COVID-19 pandemic – God’s continued guidance and protection for Australia, cases in Victoria and all who are physically, mentally & financially affected. God’s grace, protection & mercy for all healthcare & other essential workers. God’s guidance & wisdom for government leaders in managing the crisis.
  • Missions – Sis Ang Liang & family, Filadelfia B-P Church, orphanage, primary school & kindergarten (Batam).




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14 Bedford Square, Colonel Light Gardens, South Australia 5041