Article 72 — Repentance
When someone repents of a public sin or of a sin which had to be reported to the consistory, the latter shall not accept his confession of sin unless the member concerned shows real amendment. The consistory shall determine whether the congregation shall be informed afterwards.
Church discipline is aimed at the salvation of the sinner and the removal of the offence from the church of Christ.
In case of repentance, after the consistory has started to add its admonitions, it shall accept the confession of sin if it is accompanied by sufficient signs of repentance.
It is the consistory’s responsibility to determine whether the whole congregation will be informed about this confession.
This shall happen if the sin was of a public nature. If the offence was publicly committed, it must also be publicly removed from the church of God.
It is really significant that this article on repentance and the reconciliation of the sinner precedes the articles describing the continuance of the church discipline procedure. This shows us again that discipline is aimed at the salvation of the sinner.
In civil courts a confession of guilt can be the ground for a conviction. Not so in covenant life of the LORD with His people!