Israel 2016

Israel 2016
Roman architectural influence in Bet Sean, Israel

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Chronological Reading Plan for Oct 21, Mt 18

Today's reading is Mt 18. Tomorrow's readings are Jn 7-8. 

In Mt 18, Jesus begins another teaching, starting with humility. This will be a thread that continues to develop in His ministry culminating in the washing of the disciples' feet at the Last Supper. This particular teaching on humility comes just as the disciples are arguing about who is greatest (again). It is followed (Mt 18:10-14) by an admonition to be cautious about sinning. The flow of the chapter is designed to teach that self-idolization ("who is the greatest?") should be avoided no matter the consequences. Pride has to be excised at all costs! 

The parable of the lost sheep is an addendum to the teaching on humility. It shows that no one is unworthy of pursuing for the sake of the kingdom, no one is greater than the other.

Developing the sin theme further, Mt 18:15-20 lays the groundwork for dealing with blatant, unrepentant sin in a brother or sister in the faith. This is not about someone who struggles with their sin. It is about the alleged believer that sins and refuses to repent, knowing and admitting that his behavior is sinful. This type of open rebellion is a danger and a cancer to the church. The procedure is intended to restore, not punish, making every effort to win him/her over and encourage them to repent. 

The authority to do this is established in Mt 18:18-20. These verses are not a guarantee that Jesus will be present "whenever two or three are gathered in His name". Jesus is present in every believer, whether there are more than one or not! There is no need for a gathering in order for Jesus to be present. Nor is there a guarantee that, if enough people ask for the same thing, it will be given to them. Scripture is clear that there are times when people ask for things that they do not get because they ask with wrong motives (James 4:2-3). 

These verses in Mt.18 establish the judicial authority to discipline based on two or more witnesses. What this short passage is saying is this: "God will bless the church when it stands for holiness, agreeing with the decision to discipline but there is a check and balance, requiring more than one person to be involved in making the decision." Mt 18:18 simply says that the same authority that is in heaven operates on earth. It is not about who has the power to "bind" or "loosen." It refers to Christ and the Holy Spirit functioning in believers in order to bring order and honor to the church. 

For clarity as to how Mt 18:15-20 is to be used, we see the parable of the unforgiving servant. The discipline taught in vs 15-20 is intended to show grace and restore, not punish. Those who are unwilling to forgive will suffer harsh consequences. Forgiveness and grace are evidence of the indwelling Spirit.  

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