14. They had church discipline (Matt 18:15.17).

There are two things about this proof that stand out.

1. This takes place prior to Christ’s death on the cross, which by Acts 20:28 and Hebrews 9:15-21 tell us expressly that the church came into existence at the cross, and was not in existence prior to that point.  Moreover, this is simply an explanation of what to do in the church in the event a brother will not listen, and thus not reconcile.  Nowhere in the Gospels prior to Christ’s death on the cross do we see anyone removed from the disciples that followed Christ by either Christ, or the apostles.  Even Judas Iscariot wasn’t removed by the Lord or the other disciples, but rather removed himself.  Thus, we do not see church discipline practiced at all, but only explained once.

2. Now, just what is church discipline?  Is it not the removal of an offending member so that the Lord may deal with that member and the leaven is taken out of the body?  Did not Israel do this as well, that is, remove those who offended the covenant?  Does not every successful organization remove unruly members?  So then, this is also proof of nothing in particular.

However, if one is in the process of creating an entirely new institution, then instruction like that presented in Matthew 18 is essential prior to the institution becoming a reality.  In short, without instruction prior to the fact, the people involved are certainly not going to know what to do when the simplest of issues arises after the church is in existence and functioning.


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