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"Amillennialism 101" -- Audio and On-Line Resources
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Open and Shut

From the July 1, 2009 edition of Tabletalk

Q. What is the Office of the Keys? 

A. The preaching of the Holy Gospel and Christian discipline; by these two the kingdom of heaven is opened to believers and shut against unbelievers. 
(Heidelberg Catechism, Q&A 83)

Church discipline is one of those topics no one really wants to talk about. Not only do people fear that such discipline entails church officers snooping around in their private business and then outing their private sins to others in the church, church members also don’t want to be perceived as being judgmental toward others. If snooping is what biblical church discipline entails, then people would be right to be worried. Fortunately, this is not the case.

One example where church discipline is applied in the New Testament is in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. Paul describes a situation in which a member of the church (presumably a prominent member) has taken “his father’s wife.” Paul seems completely perplexed that someone could do such a thing. “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans” (1 Cor. 5:1). Not only was this man’s behavior a violation of biblical commandments, but such an act was considered scandalous among pagans outside the church. Paul’s remedy for this was to excommunicate this man: “You are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord” (v. 5).

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Reader Comments (5)

Why do Reformed spokesmen not include the absolution of sins as one of the keys of the kingdom? Scripturally the two are linked and in Lutheran theological traditions it is an exercise of the keys. Would it not be associated with proper discipline/order as discipline is not only punitive but restorative as well. Typically church discipline is discussed under the heading of punitive categories, as in I Corinthians. But that seems to limit the Scriptural aspect of discipline or paideia.
May 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRaymond Coffey
Does Jesus have Isaiah 22:22 in mind when He speaks in Matthew 16:19??
May 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMichael Finney
Does Jesus have Isaiah 22:22 in mind when He speaks in Matthew 16:19?
May 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMichael Finney
Pastor Riddlebarger,

Is the preaching of the Gospel always accompanied and by those who administer discipline?

May 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJoy
Well, in theory, this works until your point of contention is with a pastor or elder then you enter the caste system of laity and clergy, which you thought you left behind when you left Rome, but not so quick there young buck and if you survive that sessional beatdown you can graduate to the GOBN at presbytery where you get to be made an example of for good measure. I seriously wonder if the talent and character is their at a pastoral and leadership level to consistently pull off church discipline that is both equitable and righteous.
May 18, 2010 | Unregistered Commentersean

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