Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Church Discipline for Assurance of Salvation

Thanks to the efforts of men like Mark Dever, church discipline is once again a hot topic among Southern Baptists. Church discipline was a marker of healthy church life among baptists of previous centuries, but in the early 20th Century, the practice simply faded away. Of course, the biblical texts mandating discipline and disciple-making never changed, merely the willingness of the church to be obedient to the full counsel of God's Word.

There are many biblical arguments in favor of church discipline (which is really the process of disciple-making, not some form of punishment) that we should note as careful students of God's word. But, I'd like to suggest today that one argument that is rarely addressed is the argument for the assurance of salvation. I argue (along with Dever and many others), that there is no assurance of salvation for anyone who is not committed to membership and regular attendance in a local church.

The accountability of the local church provides one avenue by which men and women can find assurance that they have indeed received the doctrines of grace. Conversion must be personal, but it is not only personal. We are converted into the body of Christ which is a community of believers. The true penitent convert will seek out relationships with other Christians whereby he can minister and be ministered to. After all, the spiritual gifts that all Christians have received are given, not for personal edification, but for the building up of the body.

So, by reclaiming members not in attendance, we offer them the assurance of their salvation. By dismissing members who choose not to be active in attendance in the local church even after attempts at reclamation have been made, we erase confusion over what we affirm as a church to be authentic Christianity. This is not a practice in most Baptist churches (or any others for that matter), but it is an issue that we should all investigate seriously, seeking God's guidance for our activity.

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1 comment:

Brandon Sandifer said...

Amen and Amen!