C hu r ch Ac t ions 55 Spirit to fill the believers. As members of Christ’s body, we are charged to do the same. Among us, this church action usually takes place in a worship meeting when a servant of the Word places his hands on the head of the person concerned and says a prayer of intercession. The laying on of hands is also used to dedicate a newborn child. We do this after the example of Jesus, who laid his hands on little children and prayed for them. When parents present their baby to the gathered community, they acknowledge that the child belongs to God. In a special prayer, the child receives a blessing and the parents are commissioned to raise the little one in God’s stead. Church Discipline and Forgiveness 74 Christ entrusted the church with the gift of church discipline, commissioning it to confront and over- come sin and to declare forgiveness in his name to the ­repentant: “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.” “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” To be a disciple involves discipline – training and correction – through Christ and his church: “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline.” We continue to need this gift throughout our lives. None of us is without sin, and there is no shame in admitting this. Mark 16:15–18 Luke 2:22–38 Matt 19:13–15 Eph 6:1–4; Deut 6:7 Ps 78:4–8 Matt 18:15–20 1 Cor 5:1–13; Lev 19:17 Luke 17:1–4 Matt 16:19 John 20:23 John 15:1–4; Deut 8:5–6 Rev 3:19 esv Prov 3:11–12; Job 5:17 1 Jn 1:8–10