Read Matthew 16:13-19
13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
Like Peter, those with faith in Jesus make the same confession, “Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God.” For those who in faith make this confession, there is some very good news.
We are members of the church: we are stones built on top of Peter, the first to make the confession of faith (see Ephesians 2:19-22 and 1 Peter 2:4-5)
We are members of the church: we will overcome death. ("The gates of hell,” a phrase used in the Old Testament and other Jewish and Greek literature, refers to the power of death.)
- We are members of the church: we are bound in heaven now—that is, we are forgiven of our sins and welcomed into God’s family.
J.I. Packer writes this concerning the church:
"Essentially, the church is, was, and always will be a single worshiping community, permanently gathered in the true sanctuary which is the heavenly Jerusalem (Gal. 4:26; Heb. 12:22–24), the place of God’s presence. Here all who are alive in Christ, the physically living with the physically dead (i.e., the church militant with the church triumphant) worship continually. In the world, however, this one church appears in the form of local congregations, each one called to fulfill the role of being a microcosm (a small-scale representative sample) of the church as a whole. This explains how it is that for Paul the one church universal is the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:12–26; Eph. 1:22–23; 3:6; 4:4), and so is the local congregation (1 Cor. 12:27).” (You can read the whole excerpt here: https://www.evernote.com/shard/s35/sh/3c18971b-2fea-4b1d-8ba7-d4642db1fbbb/e541b4608f17a744)
Jesus taught about the concept of binding and loosing in other places.
Read John 20:23
“If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”
Read Matthew 18:15-20
15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18 Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 19 Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”
Here again, Jesus mentions the church’s authority on earth to bind and loose. In other words, a responsibility of the church is to help someone know with certainty that they are saved because they have saving faith. We say, “You are a part of the body of Christ. You’re a stone in the church which death cannot defeat. You’re a child of God! Be encouraged!” This is binding people in the church.
On the other hand, when someone shows signs that they do not have true, saving faith, the church has the responsibility of loosing them from the church. In Matthew 18, Jesus tells people how to confront sin and ask people to repent. Eventually, people who do not repent are asked to leave the church because their unrepentant sin reveals that they do not have faith.
Binding and loosing on earth is declaring the reality that exists in heaven.
J.I. Packer writes this about the church discipline process:
"The purpose of church censure in all its forms is not to punish for punishment’s sake but to call forth repentance and so recover the straying sheep. Ultimately there is only one sin for which a church member is excommunicated—impenitence. When repentance is apparent, the church is to declare the sin remitted and receive the offender into fellowship once again.” (The whole excerpt can be read here: https://www.evernote.com/shard/s35/sh/4fae70bb-427f-4cdd-84e8-7c0b58b0eabb/ae914eb9c3644f18)
To see the desired goal of church discipline, read the following passages:
Read 1 Timothy 1:18-20 This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, 19 holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, 20 among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.
Goal = learn and repent.
Read 1 Corinthians 5:4-5
When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.
Goal = repent and be saved on the last day.