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The Historical Development of the PCA Book of Church Order

Chapter 27 : Discipline - Its Nature, Subjects and Ends

Paragraph 4 : Of the Effect of Discipline

27-4. The power which Christ has given the Church is for building up, and not for destruction. It is to be exercised as under a dispensation of mercy and not of wrath. As in the preaching of the Word the wicked are doctrinally separated from the good, so by discipline the Church authoritatively separates between the holy and the profane. In this it acts the part of a tender mother, correcting her children for their good, that every one of them may be presented faultless in the day of the Lord Jesus. Discipline is systematic training under the authority of God’s Scripture. No communing or non-communing member of the Church should be allowed to stray from the Scripture’s discipline. Therefore, teaching elders must:
a. instruct the officers in discipline,
b. instruct the congregation in discipline,
c. jointly practice it in the context of the congregation and church courts.

[Historical Summary : .]

Background and Comparison :
PCA 1973, RoD, 1-4, Adopted text, as printed in the Minutes of General Assembly, p. 145
The power which Christ has given the Church is for building up, and not for destruction, and is to be exercised as under a dispensation of mercy and not of wrath. As in the preaching of the Word the wicked are doctrinally separated from the good, so by discipline the Church authoritatively separates between the holy and they [sic] profane. In this it acts the part of a tender mother, correcting her children for their good, that every one of them may be presented faultless in the day of the Lord Jesus.

Continuing Presbyterian Church 1973, RoD, 1-4, Proposed text, p. 39
The power which Christ has given the Church is for building up, and not for destruction, and is to be exercised as under a dispensation of mercy and not of wrath. As in the preaching of the Word the wicked are doctrinally separated from the good, so by discipline the Church authoritatively separates between the holy and the profane. In this it acts the part of a tender mother, correcting her children for their good, that every one of them may be presented faultless in the day of the Lord Jesus.

PCUS 1933, I-§167
The power which Christ has given the Church is for building up, and not for destruction, and is to be exercised as under a dispensation of mercy and not of wrath. The Church is to act as a mother who corrects her children for their good, that every one of them may be presented faultless in the day of Christ.

PCUS 1879, Rules of Discipline, I-4
The power which Christ has given to the rulers of his Church is for edification, and not for destruction ; it is a dispensation of mercy, and not of wrath. As in the preaching of the Word the wicked are doctrinally separated from the good, so by discipline, the Church authoritatively separates between the holy and the profane. In this it acts the part of a tender mother, correcting her children for their good, that every one of them may be presented faultless in the day of the Lord Jesus.


PCUS 1869 draft, Canons of Discipline, I-4
The power which Christ hath given to the rulers of His Church is for edification and not for destruction, as a dispensation of mercy
and not of wrath. As in the preaching of the Word, the wicked are doctrinally separated from the good, so by discipline the Church authoritatively separates between the holy and the profane. In this it acts the part of a tender mother, correcting her children only for their good, that every one of them may be presented faultless in the day of the Lord Jesus.

PCUS 1867 draft, Canons of Discipline, I-4
The power which Christ hath given to the rulers of his church is for edification and not for destruction, as a dispensation of mercy and not of wrath. As in the preaching of the word, the wicked are doctrinally separated from the good, so by discipline the church authoritatively separates between the holy and the profane. In this it acts the part of a tender mother, correcting her children only for their good, that every one of them may be presented faultless in the day of the Lord Jesus.

Steuart, Walter, Collections and Observations Concerning the Worship, Discipline, and Government of the Church of Scotland (1709; reprinted 1770), Book IV, Title I. Of Scandals and Church-discipline in general, p. 198.
The same offences upon the matter are not to be prosecute at all times, nor against all persons, and in all places, in the same manner : thus we see the Apostle Paul in some cases censuring corrupt men, as Hymeneus and Philetus, 1 Tim. i. 20. sometimes he threateneth, and yet spareth, although the scandal did merit censure, Gal. v. 12. he saith, I wish they were cut off that trouble you ; yet he cuts them not then off, because he found not the present circumstances of the church to require it. See also 2 Cor. x. 6. where he saith, having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled ; therefore it ought not always to be accounted partiality, when such differences in church procedure are observed ; proving nothing be done with respect of persons, on civil or natural accounts : and also, providing the difference be rather in the manner and circumstances of proceeding against some offences, (especially if they be such where no rule how to proceed against them is fixed,) than in dispensing with what seemeth to be material.

COMMENTARY :
F.P. Ramsay, Exposition of the Book of Church Order (1898, p.172-174), on : Rules of Discipline, I-4

146.--IV. The power which Christ has given to the rulers of his Church is for edification, and not for destruction ; it is a dispensation of mercy, and not of wrath. As in the preaching of the Word the wicked are doctrinally separated from the good, so by discipline, the Church authoritatively separates between the holy and the profane. In this it acts the part of a tender mother, correcting her children for their good, that every one of them may be presented faultless in the day of the Lord Jesus.
This paragraph speaks of discipline in general, and not of technical discipline alone. The holy are all consecrated persons, whether by reason of the consecration of themselves of their own free-will, or by reason of their standing in a sacred relation through their connection with others, as children with their parents; and those who have once become holy are, by the discipline of the church, in both its aspects as defined in paragraph 143, separated from the profane--that is, from those who are not thus holy--unless and until such persons, by their own actual rebellion against Christ, and by violation of their sacred obligations, show that they belong among the profane. The baptized child is thus classed as holy, and is so treated ; and yet, as it grows up and neglects to acknowledge Christ, it is not admitted to the most sacred intimacy of fellowship at the Lord's table. If those persons who have been admitted into the number of the holy in the fullest ecclesiastical sense show that they really do not belong there, discipline puts them in their proper class. All the steps toward the admission to full membership, or toward exclusion from it, are in the nature of separation between the holy and the profane. The Church is not a society of "good" people in contrast with "wicked" people (for its infant members are not of either class), but the society of "holy" people ; and the obscuring or the effacement of this distinction is the obscuring or effacement of the distinction between the people of God and the people of the world, and is fatal, in its tendency, to the distinct existence of the Church. The maintenance of the holiness of the Church, which is the very essence of its character, is not in order to destroy her children, but in order to save them ; for the purity of the Church as a holy society is in order to its efficiency as the instrumental agency of salvation.



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Chapter Index [links to Par. 1 of each chapter]:
FoG..
1
2
3.
4
5.
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
I. King & Head of Church
.§1.
§4
§5
RoD
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41
42
43
44
45
46
II. Preliminary Principles
§1
§2
§3
§4
§5
§6
§7
§8
DfW
47
48
49
50
51
52
53
54
55
56
57
58
59
60
61
62
63
[FoG = Form of Government ; RoD = Rules of Discipline ; DfW = Directory for Worship]