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18th Edition - Chapter 7 - Church Discipline ( page 56 )
Church Discipline    ( page 56 )
2010 Changes are in bold dark red type
General  Principles
  The Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy set forth in clear, unmistakable language the solemn responsibility that rest upon the people of God to maintain their purity, integrity, and spiritual fervor. If members grow indifferent or drift away, the church must seek to reclaim them for the Lord.
  Dealing With Erring Members - "Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear , take with you one or two more, that 'by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.' And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector. Assuredly, I say unto you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven" (Matt 18: 15-18)
  "In dealing with erring church members, God's people are carefully to follow the instruction given by the Savior in the eighteenth chapter of Matthew.
  Human beings are Christ's property, purchased by Him at an infinite price, bound to Him by the love that He and His Father have manisted for them. How careful, then, we should be in our dealing with one another! Men have no right to surmise evil in regard to their fellow men. Church member have no right to follow their own impusles and inclination in dealing with fellow members who have drred. They should not even express their prejudices regarding the erring, for thus they place in other minds the leaven of evil . . 
 " 'If thy brother shall trespass against thee,' Christ declared, 'go and tell him his fault between thee and he alone.' . . . Do not tell others of the wrong. One person is told, then another, and still another; and continually the report grows, and the evil increases, till the whole church is made to suffer. Settle the matter 'between thee and him alone.' This is God's plan." - Test. Volume 7, page 260
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God's Plan -- "Whatever the character of the offense, this does not change the plan that God has made for the settlement of misunderstandings and personal injuries. Speaking alone and in the spirit of Christ to the one who is in fault will often remove the difficulty. Go to the erring one, with a heart filled with Christ's love and sympathy, and seek to adjust the matter. Reason with him calmly and quietly. Let not angry words escape your lips. Speak in a way what will appeal to his better judgment. Remember the words: 'He which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.' James 5:20 . . .
  "All heaven is interested in the interview between the one who has been injured and the one who is in error. As the erring one accepts the reproof offered in the love of Christ, and asknowledges his wrong, asking forgiveness from God and from his brother, the sunshine of heaven fills his heart . . . The Spirit of God binds heart to heart, and there is music in heaven over the union brought about . . .
  "'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.' . . . Take with you those who are spiritually minded, and talk with the one in error in regard to the wrong . . . As he sees their agreement in the matter, his mind may be enlightened.
  "And if he shall neglect to hear them,' what then shall be done? Whall a few person in a board meeting take upon themselves the responsibility of disfellowshipping the erring one? 'If he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the the church.' . . . Let the church take action in regard to its members.
  "'But if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.' . . . If he will not heed the voice of the church, if he refuses tll the efforts made to reclaim him, upon the church rests the responsibility of separating him from fellowship. His name should then be stricken from the books.
"No church officer should advise, no committee should recommend, nor should any church vote, that the name of a wrongdoer shall be removed from the church books, until the instruction given by Christ has been faithfully followed. When this instruction has been followed, the church has cleared herself before God. The evil must then be made to appear as it is, and be removed, that it might not become more and more widespread. The health and purity of the church must be preserved, that she may stand before God unsullied, clad in the robes of Christ's righteousness.
"'Verily I say unto you,' Christ continued, 'whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.' . . .
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"This statement holds its force in all ages. On the church has been conferred the power to act in Christ's stead. It is God's instrumentality for the preservation of order and discipline among His people. To it the Lord has delegated the power to settle all queestions respecting to its prosperity, purity, and order. Unpon it rests the responsibility of excluding from its fellowship those who are unworthy, who by their un-Christlike conduct would bring dishonor on the truth. Whatever the church does that is in accordance with the directions given in God's Word will be ratisfied in heaven."  7T 261-163
Authority of the Church
"The world's Redeemer has invested great power with His church. He states the rules to be applied in cases of trial with its members. After He has given explicit directions as to the course to be pursued, He says: 'Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever [in church discipline] ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.'  Thus even the heavenly authority ratifies the discipline of the church in regard to its members when the Bible rule has been followed.
  "The Word of God does not give license for one man to set up his judgment in opposition fo the judgment of the church, neither is he allowed to urge his opinions against the opinions of the church." - 3T 428.
Church's Responsibility
"God holds His people, as a body responsible for the sins existing in individuals among them.  If the leaders of the church neglect to diligently search out the sins which brings the displeasure of God upon the body, they become responsible for these sins." - 3T 269
Webmasters Note:  See DA, 441.3
   "If there were no church discipline and government, the church would go to fragments; it could not hold together as a body." - 3T 428
Unconsecrated Resist Discipline
"There are many who do not have the discretion of Joshua and who have no special duty to search out wrongs and to deal promptly with the sins existing among them; let them not stand in the way of those why have this duty to do. Some make it a point to quetion and doubt and find fault because others do the work that God has not maid upon them. These stand directly in the way to hinder those upon whom God has laid the burden of reproving and correcting prevailing sins in order that his frown may be turned away from his people. Should a case like Achan's be among us, there are many who would accuse those who might act the part of Joshua in searching out the wrong, of having a wicked, fault-finding spirit. Sod is not to be trifled with and His warnings disregarded with impunity by a perverse people . . .
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  "Those who work in the fear of God to rid the church of hindrances and to correct grievous wrongs, that the people of God may see the necessity of abhoring sin and may prosper in purity, and thast the name of God may be glorified, will ever meet with resisting influences from the unconsecrated." - 3T 270, 271
Safeguarding Unity of the Church   (section added in 1980)
Christians should make every effort to avoid tendencies that would divide them and bring dishonor to their cause. "It is the purpose of God that His children shall blend in unity. Do they not expect to live together in the same heaven? . . . Those who refuse to work in harmony greatly dishonor God." - 8T 240. The church should discourage actions that threaten harmony among its members and should considtently encourage unity.
Although all members have equal rights within the church, no individual member or group should start a movement or form an organization or seek to encourage a following for the attainment of any objective or for the teaching of any doctrine or message not in harmony with the fundamental religious objectives and teachings of the Church.  Such a course  would result in the fostering of a devisive spirit, the fragmentation of the witness of the Church , and thus is hindering the Church's discharge of its obligations to the Lord and the world.  (see note about changes)
Reconciliation of Differences
Every effort should be made to settle differences . . .
This chapter is still under construction
  Reinstating those previously removed from membership -
   When persons have been removed, the church should, where possible, maintain contact and manifest the spirit of friendship and love, endeavoring to bring them back to the Lord.

   Those previously removed may be received again into membership when the period assigned by the church in a business meeting is concluded, when confession of wrongs committed is made, evidence is given of real repentance and change of life, and the life is consistent with Church standards and it is clear that the member will fully submit to Church order and discipline. Such reinstatement should preferable be in the church from which the member was dismissed. However, when this is not possible, the church where the person is requesting reinstatement must seek information from the former church about the reasons for which the person was removed from membership.

When dealing with perpetrators of sexual abuse, it should be remembered that restoration does not remove all consequenses of such serious violation. While attendance at church activities may be permissible with properly established guidelines, a person convicted or disciplined for sexual abuse should not be placed in a role which could put them in contact with children, youth and other vulnerable individuals. Neither shall they be given any position which would encourage vulnerable individuals to trust them implicitly.

Because removal from membership is the most serious form of discipline, the period of time, determined by the church business meeting, before members may be reinstated should be sufficient to demonstrate that the issues which led to removal from membership have been resolved beyond reasonable doubt. It is expected that readmission to membership will be done in connection with rebaptism.

Right to Appeal for Reinstatement -
   While it is the right of the church to administer discipline, this does not set aside the rights of members to seek fairness. If members believe that they have been treated unfairly by the local church, or not had the right to be heard fairly, and the church is unwilling to reconsider the case or if the officers refuse to consider their applications for reinstatement, the former members have a right to appeal in writing to the church for a hearing. The church should not neglect or refuse to grant such hearings. If it does, or if the former members still feel unfairly treated by the church after the appeal, they have the right to a final appeal for a hearing to the Executive Committee of the conference.

   If, after a full and impartial hearing, the conference committee is satisfied that an injustice has been inflicted by the church, the committee may recommend reinstatement to membership. But if membership is still refused by the church, then the conference committee may recommend membership in some other church. On the other hand, if it finds good grounds for sustaining the church in refusing to reinstate the former members, it will so record its decision.


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