The Gospel and the Church: 17. Discipline of Christ As Son Over His House

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The two first kinds of discipline spoken of before have a personal character and intend to prevent church discipline, i.e., the exclusion of the questionable person from the church, and thus general sorrow and shame. Another has truly observed that nine-tenths of Christian discipline are personal.1 If it has come to this that the discipline of Christ, as Son over His own house, has become necessary, it is not, as in the preceding cases, the question of restoring one that has sinned, but of the responsibility of all to keep the house of God undefiled. The very expression, discipline of “Christ, as Son over His own house,” should serve to impress the assembly with the deep and solemn sense of its corporate responsibility before God.
Christ holds not only the keys of death and hades in His victorious hand, but as “Son over His own house”. “He that is holy, He that is true,” holds also the key of testimony and service. And how could we expect that He, the Holy and True One, would give an “open door” to the testimony of an assembly which, whilst professedly gathered to His Name, in careless indifference stamps with that Holy Name the evil which dishonors it, thus betraying that it has little or no sense of what it owes to Him Who bears that Name and is “the Son over His own house?”
The apostle, therefore, was obliged to recall His Name to the remembrance of the Corinthians who practically appeared to have forgotten its meaning with those words: “In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, to deliver such an one unto Satan,” &c., &c. The Corinthians had forgotten what they owed to Christ as the Son over His own house, the “house of the living God,” the “habitation of God in the Spirit.”
As observed already, in this case of (church) discipline it is not a question of a personal restoration of the one who is the object of it, but of the common responsibility of all, to keep the house from defilement. The restoration of the sinning one may be the result of the church discipline; but that is another thing and has nothing to do with the necessity of the church discipline as such, nor can it alter its character. The Name of the Lord must be vindicated first.
If cases like 2 Thess. 3:6-156Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us. 7For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you; 8Neither did we eat any man's bread for nought; but wrought with labor and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you: 9Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us. 10For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. 11For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. 12Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread. 13But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing. 14And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. 15Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother. (2 Thessalonians 3:6‑15), or that of a public rebuke, are designated as church discipline in a general sense, I have no objection; only they appear to me, as I have said already, rather as means for preventing the necessity of discipline by Christ as “Son over His own house,” which is the exclusion from the assembly, and thus is at the same time the beginning and the end of church discipline in the strict sense.
The authority of Christ as Son over His own house is guarded and maintained through the presence and efficacy of the Holy Ghost (Who glorifieth Christ) in the church, as the “habitation of God in the Spirit.” In saying this I do not mean that Christ Himself could not directly take in hand and exercise this discipline for the maintenance of His authority over His own house, should it please Him to do so. There have been solemn instances of it. His power and authority are the same in our days as when “Judas went out, and it was night.”
But when the spiritual condition of a church is good, and therefore the working of the Holy Ghost not impeded, church discipline, when necessary, will be carried out with little or no hindrance. But where the state of a church is low or positively bad, as it was at Corinth, the carrying out of church discipline will be comparatively difficult.2 But for such cases of difficulty, occurring as they do but too often these last days of the church on earth, the gracious promise of the Son over His own house becomes doubly gracious, “Where two or three are gathered unto My name, there am I in the midst of them.” He does not say, My Spirit, but “I.” Even in the church at Corinth there were still such faithful individuals, as Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus; and the Lord Himself was in their midst and carried out the needed discipline through His apostle.
Two cases are especially mentioned in Holy Writ, where the Lord as Son over His own house exercises discipline. The first is that of Ananias and Sapphira; and the second, the exclusion of the wicked person from the church at Corinth.