In an age where 'church discipline' has fallen out of favor in the context of many churches, Eric Bargerhuff calls the church to a deeper understanding of its nature and purpose as an expression of God's 'fatherly love' towards his people. As a biblically mandated activity instituted by Christ himself in Matthew 18, church discipline is an essential practice of any faithful church that is committed to sharing the Gospel and making disciples.
Tackling some of the false notions and assumptions surrounding church discipline, Bargerhuff sets forth a historical, biblical, theological, and practical position that centers its identity and purpose on a proper understanding of the cross of Christ. Since the punitive wrath of God was poured out for sin on the cross of Jesus Christ (a penal substitutionary atonement), it is therefore necessary to reject the notion that church discipline is 'punishment,' but rather it should be seen as God's hand of forgiveness and grace extended for the purpose of restoring, reconciling, and rescuing one of his own, a 'sheep that has gone astray.' It is to be regarded as God's love in the actions of a forgiven and forgiving community.